Categories
adult - 18+ Angst Level Bodyguard Contemporary Exploration Gay Heat Index Hurt/Abuse m/m May/December Mild level angst Music/Rock Star New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Scorching/high heat Virgin

Fret (The Rock Series book 1) by Sandrine Gasq-Dion

fretBlurb

Former Navy SEAL Axel Blaze lives a solitary life. He doesn’t do emotions, and he doesn’t do babysitting. Used to being on his own, his job consists of Wetwork (a charming term coined by the KGB) for his former Master Chief, Mac. When an out-of-the-ordinary job lands on his doorstep, Axel heads down a path that includes a famous heavy metal rock band and one quiet, vulnerable, guitar-shredding virtuoso named Gareth Wolf.

Gareth Wolf’s life changed in an instant when a car he was a passenger in crashed, hurting his brother’s best friend and the band’s lead guitarist. They created the band, Skull Blasters, as kids. Gareth had always been happy in the background, playing roadie. With the lead guitarist’s injury, Gareth is suddenly thrust into the limelight and into a frenzied life he never imagined for himself. Finally fed up with living a lie, Gareth comes out as gay in a newspaper interview and finds himself in the bulls-eye of a crazed stalker. Somebody wants Gareth hurt – or worse – and Mac has been hired to be sure that doesn’t happen. Babysitting duty is NOT Axel’s strong suit, but Mac won’t be budged.

Enter Axel Blaze. Against his better judgment, the big man takes the job to protect the shy musician. The more time he spends with Gareth Wolf, the more he admires the man. Where’s a simple assassination when you need one? The situation becomes more volatile for each man as the attempts on Gareth escalate just as Axel finds himself falling for the quiet lead guitarist.
Strong, funny, smart-ass — and kinda sweet Axel is everything Gareth has ever wanted in a man. Too bad he’s off limits. As the stalker grows bolder, Gareth and Axel move closer emotionally – but is it too late? All Axel knows is that they don’t stand a chance if he can’t find the maniac trying to kill the man he’s come to care about. A lot.

Everyone knows that relationships that begin in pressured or volatile situations eventually fizzle out. Or do they?

Review

Gareth and his brother have been beaten down by life, but came up swinging. They formed a band and have hit the top after touring with Black Ice and Ivory Tower (from Ann Lister’s Rock God Series). Now Gareth wants to come out and live honestly (and quit having sex with women and start having sex with men!) When he does come out a crazy stalker keeps trying to hurt him, so the band hires a bodyguard, Axel Blaze to protect him.

Axel is a tough ex-Seal, gay, but doesn’t “do” relationships. He has a hard time letting anyone touch him beyond the basic necessities and an even harder time opening up emotionally.

At first Gareth resents the need for Axel and Axel doesn’t make it easy for him. But the constant stream of near misses proves Axel’s importance and skill at life saving and the constant time spent together shows the two how much more they could have if they just let it happen.

**

This was a tremendously sweet, sexy and fun story. There are a few areas where I didn’t exactly follow the logic of the “stalker”, but in the end that really didn’t matter.

The smexy times and chemistry between Axel and Gareth is wonderful and the slow burn to the final coming together was well worth the wait.

I loved the HEA and really enjoyed all the parts leading up to it. The low angst, high steam is just what I was craving and I highly recommend it.

I’m really looking forward to more in this series.

4.5 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for review)

Skull Blaster Publishing Presents

http://www.amazon.com/FRET-Rock-Book-Sandrine-Gasq-Dion-ebook/dp/B014RHMFMC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1441521642&sr=1-1&keywords=fret+sandrine

(Free on Kindle Unlimited!)

Categories
adult - 18+ Angst Level Author Provided Book Contemporary Gay Heat Index Hidden Lovers Hurt/Abuse m/m Mild level angst New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Rent Boy Scorching/high heat

Like a Lover (Helping Hands Book 2) by Jay Northcote

*Helping Hand is the first in the series. This story is a spin-off and both books can be read as standalones.

loverBlurb

Josh has a plan: get through uni with a good degree and no debt. Focused on his goals, he pays his way by working as an escort. He enjoys the no-strings sex because he doesn’t have time for a relationship. Falling in love definitely isn’t part of the deal—especially not with a client.

When Rupert meets Josh in a bar, he’s smitten on sight. He’s never paid for sex, but when Josh propositions him, he can’t resist. He should’ve known one night would never be enough. Luckily for him he has an inheritance to fund his addiction to Josh, because his job in IT support wouldn’t cover the cost.

With each encounter the lines get blurred, creating something that feels more like a relationship than a business transaction. But they come from different worlds, and to go from client-and-escort to lovers seems impossible. If they want a future together, Josh and Rupert have a lot to overcome.

Excerpt:

“I like your lip ring,” Rupert said. His gaze dropped lower to Josh’s collarbones. “What are your tattoos of?”
“Swallows.” Rupert would just be able to see the wing tips that showed in this low-necked T-shirt. “Two of them.”
“Have you got any other tattoos?”
Josh gave a slow, teasing smile. “Maybe. Do you want me to show you?”
Rupert met his eyes again. There was a flicker of uncertainty before he answered. “Yes. I’d like that.”
Josh turned over the possibilities in his mind. It had been a long time since he’d had sex for anything other than for money. He usually saw clients at least three nights a week. They scratched the itch for him, and he didn’t have the time or inclination to hook up with other guys. He hadn’t dated since he’d started working as an escort. Josh didn’t like lying about his job, but most guys didn’t want to date escorts.
It would be easy to pick Rupert up tonight, though, and have no-strings sex with him for fun rather than cash. But Josh’s rent was due.
“Me too. But it’ll cost you,” he finally said.
Rupert frowned, obvious confusion crossing his features as he tried to make sense of Josh’s words. “What? I don’t—”
“You’re hot, and I wish I could do this without asking you for money. But a client let me down this evening. I have a hotel room booked and paid for next door, and I need someone to cover the cost for me.” The lie came smoothly. “I can’t afford to have sex for free tonight.”
Rupert’s mouth dropped open. Shock was evident on his face, but there was something else that was harder to read. His cheeks flooded pink again and his eyes went dark. “You’re….” His voice came out husky, and he cleared his throat. “You’re a….”
“A sex worker. An escort, to be precise. Hooker, rent boy, you get the gist. I’m an expensive one too. But my clients think I’m worth the money.” Josh waited, tension making a muscle tick in his jaw as he forced himself to stay still and hold Rupert’s gaze. On the occasions he’d tried picking up clients face-to-face, their reactions had varied. Interest, anger, excitement, disgust… he’d seen them all. He steeled himself, ready for rejection.
Rupert licked his lips. “How much?” he finally asked.

Review

In Helping Hands we met Josh as the roommate of Jez and Mac. He’s known in the house as a “player”, but in reality, he’s a rent boy. So each night out he works hard for the money in order to go to university. His parents are out of the picture and he doesn’t want student loans.

Rupert is a shy IT guy who normally has a hard time meeting people. When he’s stood up at the same bar as Josh one night, the two strike up a conversation. When Josh makes it clear that he’d love to spend more time with Rupert, but it’ll cost him, something takes over Rupert and he finds some new-born confidence.

The sex is phenomenal and both parties are left a bit shaken. They quickly make plans to be together again, and again, and again. Though there is always an exchange of money, it begins to feel wrong as their emotions get involved.

Finally, on a long “working” weekend where Josh poses as Rupert’s boyfriend, the lines get so blurry as to be non-existent between “client” and “lover”.

**

This book was another wonderful example of Jay Northcote’s ability to give us a very sweet romance, no matter the circumstances. Yes, there were times when I wished she’d delved a bit deeper into the emotional impact Josh’s job had on both parties, but I appreciated that from early on Josh admitted to fantasizing about Rupert while with his other “clients”.

I think that – if you can believe it- there was more sex in this story than needed to be. I wanted to have more of an emotional connection between these guys than I saw on page. Yes, they did do some other, non-sex related things with each other, but I didn’t get to see enough of it to really buy into their HEA.

Rupert is a super sweet MC and though Josh isn’t a bad guy, I didn’t ever see him as being quite “worth” of Rupert… he just needed to spend more time with the guy as himself, not as his escort.

That being said… I enjoyed reading this and the writing was excellent – as always – and I will certainly look forward to any more books in this series.

3.5 of 5 stars

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(Copy provided by author for review)

To buy:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B014O4TCMY

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B014O4TCMY

Author Bio:

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her husband, two children, and two cats.
She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story–just to see if she could–and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.

www.jaynorthcote.com

Categories
adult - 18+ Audiobook Contemporary Dreamspinner Exploration Gay Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Humor Hurt/Abuse m/m Mid level steam/heat New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Sexuality

Ethan in Gold (Johnnies #3) Audiobook by Amy Lane Narrated by Sean Crisden

EthaninGoldAUDMEDBlurb

Evan Costa learned from a very early age that there was no such thing as unconditional love and that it was better to settle for what you could get instead of expecting the world to give you what you need. As Ethan, porn model for Johnnies and aspiring porn star for www tube v adult movie site, he gets exactly what he wants—comradeship and physical contact on trade—and he is perfectly satisfied with that. He’s sure of it.

Jonah Stevens has spent most of his adult life helping to care for his sister and trying to keep his beleaguered family from fraying at the edges. He’s had very little time to work on his confidence or his body for that matter. When Jonah meets Ethan, he doesn’t see the hurt child or the shamelessly slutty porn star. He sees a funny, sexy, confident man who—against the odds—seems to like Jonah in spite of his very ordinary, but difficult, life.

Sensing a kindred spirit and a common interest, Ethan thinks a platonic friendship with Jonah won’t violate his fair trade rules of sex and touch, but Jonah has different ideas. Ethan’s pretty sure his choice of jobs has stripped away all hope of a real relationship, but Jonah wants the whole package—the sexy man, the vulnerable boy, the charming companion who works so hard to make other people happy. Jonah wants to prove that underneath the damage Ethan has lived with all his life, he’s still gold with promise and the ability to love.

Review

Evan had an experience early in life that forced his parents to both over-protect him and divorce themselves from him in the physical sense. He became – as a result – touch deprived and sort of manic about it. Starting a job in the porn industry making x-rated movies for www.watchmygf.xxx just seemed like a great way to get all that touch he craved.

Jonah is a quiet guy who loves his dying sister. He’s a virgin and really only wants to share that with someone who will be there for the long haul. Though he and Evan are attracted to each other – the odds of them being “the one” for the other seem pretty low

But… they take the time to work on their friendship and explore what could be between them.

**

This is quite different from the first two and the last book in the Johnnies series. Yes – it’s Amy – there’s angst – but it’s a little more distanced and not nearly so present in this story like it is with the others.

I loved the thought that to Evan giving up porn was a down-side. (in contrast to the others who were so ready to drop it when they found their love.) It gave us the perspective that some people really do CHOOSE this as a their profession for it’s positives. And to Evan it really was all positives.

Evan’s family, Jonah’s family, seeing the other guys and seeing some of the action from a different perspective… these things seemed to fill up most of the story, in my opinion. My biggest complaint (and why this is my least favorite book in the series) is not that I didn’t love the MCs or their stories – quite the opposite. I just felt more distanced from them and their relationship as it got overridden by all the other stuff from all the other people stealing their limelight.

Still in all – of course it’s a wonderful book and a bit lighter to take after the major angst of Chase and Dex- sort of angst-lite if you will and well worth the read/listen.

Audio
Again Sean Crisden does another amazing job and I really appreciated that he did all the books so we got all the voices back when we re-visited previous MCs. I never really liked Evan’s voice much – so it got kinda annoying at times, but not really enough to distract from the overall enjoyment.

4.5 of 5 stars for the book and the audio

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Purchased for Review

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5074

Categories
Angst Level Book College/University Contemporary Dreamspinner Exploration Football Gay Geek/Jock GFY/OFY Hurt/Abuse m/m Mild level angst New Adult Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Purchased Scorching/high heat Sports

Steamroller by Mary Calmes (Book Review)

SteamrollerBlurb

About the last thing Vincent Wade expected was for Carson Cress to ask him out. Vince is a dedicated biology student and a bit of a loner. Superstar quarterback Carson is larger than life, and he lives under a public microscope. There’s no way they should work. But Vince is learning that sometimes people just come steamrolling into your life and all you can do is hang on for the ride or lose your heart in the process. If their relationship can survive the fallout when an injury derails Carson’s future plans, maybe Vince can finally find something to believe in.

 

Review

Vincent is that snarky, obviously gay guy who kind of “reverse snobs” the “cool kids” before they can hurt him.

Carson is the golden boy. Never can do any wrong. Living the lie of being straight and playing football for his parents.

Carson wants Vincent, but Vincent isn’t going to make anything easy. He’s distrustful, and not eager to be anybody’s secret.

It takes an epic change in Carson’s life for Vincent to realize that Carson means it when he says that he and Vincent will be together forever… and like a steamroller, he always gets what he wants.

**

This is one of my first m/m books ever and it pleased me so much I’ve kept going and never looked back! It hits every single one of my buttons. Geek and jock. GFY. A very, very HEA. Humor. Passion. It’s so much fun to watch Carson court Vincent and for bitter and cynical Vincent to become putty in his hands.

Of course – it’s Mary – it’s gotta be amazing!

5 of 5 stars!

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(Now we just need an Audiobook to make it perfect!)

 

 

(Purchased for Review)

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3199

 

 

 

Categories
Audiobook Bi-Sexual Book College/University Exploration Gay GFY/OFY Hurt/Abuse m/m Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat New Adult Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Purchased Virgin

Winter Chill Audiobook by Aria Grace and JJ Hunter Narrated by Michael Pauley

winter chill audioBlurb

Indie Walker started college with a basketball scholarship and a plan to stay focused on his studies. His roommate and best friend Daniel is one of the most popular guys on the wrestling team. When a power outage during a winter storm forces them to get closer than ever before just to survive the night, their relationship changes forever. Neither are gay but the physical chemistry they have is undeniable. Unfortunately, Daniel’s issues at home might be too severe for them to overcome.

Review

Indie and Daniel are roommates at college. When Christmas break rolls around a snow storm moves in essentially trapping the two in the dorms. They become closer to one another first as friends then begin to explore a more physical side of their relationship.

Indie is sure he isn’t/can’t be gay, though Daniel is more willing to embrace the idea. However, when something happens between Indie and Daniel’s evil step-mother to drive the two apart, the alone time makes both boys realize they want more from their relationship.

**

This is a very sweet, a little bit sexy, first time for both boys, GFY/OFY novella.
I liked that the boys mostly spoke with one another as you’d expect, for their age. I thought the step-mother thing was a bit too melodramatic to be believable, but it served its purpose.

I really, really liked the narration by Michael Pauley. He did an excellent job with giving the boys a distinctive flavor and the emotions and smexy times were handled very well.

(I’d like to say that I do wish more thought had gone into the cover.  One naked chest does not really explain a thing about the book.)

Overall a 4 of 5 stars for both book and audiobook.

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(Copy Purchased for Review)

To Buy

Aria Grace Presents

http://www.audible.com/pd/Erotica-Sexuality/Winter-Chill-Audiobook/B00U7TCKUW/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1439754902&sr=1-1

Categories
adult - 18+ Audiobook Bi-Sexual Contemporary Dreamspinner Gay GFY/OFY Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Scorching/high heat

Dex in Blue (Johnnies #2) Audiobook by Amy Lane Narrated by Sean Crisden

DexInBlueAudMEDBlurb

Ten years ago David Worral had plans to go to college and the potential for a beautiful future in front of him. One tragic accident later, he fled to California and reinvented himself as Dex, top porn model of Johnnies.

Dex’s life is a tangled mess now, but the guys he works with only see the man who makes them believe even porn stars can lead normal lives. When Kane, one of Dex’s coworkers, gets kicked out of his house, the least Dex can do is give him a place to stay. Kane may be a hyperactive muscle-bound psycho, but he’s also a really nice guy. What could be the harm?

Except nothing is simple—not sex, not love, and not the goofy kid with the big dick and bigger heart who moves his life into Dex’s guest room. When they start negotiating fractured pasts and broken friends, Dex wonders if Kane’s honest nature can untangle the sadness that stalled his once-promising future. With Kane by his side, Dex just might be able to reclaim the boy he once was—and if he can do that, he can give Kane the home and the family he deserves.

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(Magnificent FanArt Thanks to Karrie Jax!)

Review
This was one of my very first Amy Lane books – maybe the very first – I forget. But it’s still one of my all time favorite books of hers and of the genre.

In book two we see Dex fighting his own battles. He has had exactly one male lover and is not – yet- convinced he’s gay. He has many luke-warm girlfriends and one of them convinces him to give gay for pay porn a shot. So he does. And it’s like he’s finally able to be himself. He. Loves. It. And he’s good at it.

We are now several years down the line and he’s moved to the production side of things. He’s just dumped his lover because he’s tired of being the booty call on the side when he has feelings involved.
Kane is a simple guy with a big dick. He likes girls but can deal with the “boy sex” if that’s what it takes to give him some control of his life. He’s never been one for school and when his sister’s daughter needs chemo, he steps up to the bat doing the gay for pay thing to help pay the hospital bills.

Dex and Kane end up as roommates when Kane’s sister throws him out of his own house (yeah, it never makes a lot of sense) and Dex needs a shoulder to cry on after dumping the crappy lover.

Because – you know – the porn and all – they give each other comfort in a physical way and suddenly a moment of support has kind of turned into a “thing”.

For Kane – who never really questions things too deeply – the “thing” is comfortable and nice and he wants to keep it. But he doesn’t really do “labels” and he doesn’t really identify as “gay” so how can Dex be his boyfriend?

Dex has been down this road before and can’t do it anymore. When Kane ends up inadvertently flirting with a girl at a holiday party and messing things up more by not understanding why that’s a bad thing in Dex’s world – Dex puts down an ultimatum.

Luckily – Kane finally figures out that “anything that keeps him and Dex in the same bed is a good thing” and he fights for that tooth and nail.

**

This book has it’s fair share of angst. Right off the bat – first chapter, Dex’s lover is killed. OH MAN. That hurt. Lola, the sister, is a super-bitch and keeps Kane from his niece because he’s “dirty”. The ex-lover tries to screw things up as does Johnnie himself. Finally, Dex’s family has to make things really ugly but in the end all the tragedies serve to make Kane and Dex more tightly drawn together.

What I love about this book and what keeps me coming back to it again and again is the love. It’s so clear that these two are made for each other. The feels in this book are tremendous without feeling out of place for two men.

I love that both are sometimes “toppy” and that both lean on the other at one point or another.

The secondary characters are as rich as the MCs and the storyline about the niece and Johnnie and the receptionist… so wonderful without distracting from the main love story.

The sex is scorching hot and the emotions wonderful. I can’t say enough great things about this book!

Audio
Sean Crisden – narrating God that he is – does an exceptional job with this. I LOVE his Kane. He’s wonderful. My favorite scene is the “I’m not a booty call” scene. He does the emotion so perfectly! He even manages to give all of Dex’s family their own unique voices – including the women!

Again, I can’t recommend this enough. It’s absolutely best if read in the series but can totally stand on its own without any problem whatsoever.

6 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for review)

To buy

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5048

 

Categories
Contemporary Friends to lovers GFY/OFY Heat Index Humor m/m Mid level steam/heat NetGalley New Adult Review Copies

Reckless Hope (Letting Go #2) by j. leigh bailey

reckless hopeBlurb

What’s life without a little risk?

Or a lot of risk, if you’re Sebastian Carlisle. He’ll never live up to the legacy of his dead brother, so why try? Being the wild child in a family of stuck-up rich snobs suits him just fine.

Until he meets Micah Burke, and everything changes.

Micah’s got too much going on for a relationship. Even if he could trust Sebastian, a distraction—a sexy, reckless distraction with a death wish—would only derail his carefully scheduled life. If it were just Micah, maybe that would be fine, but his mother and sister depend on him, and he can’t let them down. Or at least that’s what he tells himself.

A hot moment leads to a hot night leads to a connection neither of them are ready for. And when a crisis hits Micah’s family hard, Sebastian will have to shed his bad-boy image and decide whether he can be the man Micah needs—and Micah needs to decide whether he’ll let him.

Review

Micah is the epitome of the son who carries the world on his shoulders. He supports his paralyzed mother, cares for his teen-aged sister, works two jobs – one in a nursing home, and attends college part-time. He’s busy. He’s got no time for silliness.

Sebastian has the world at his feet. He’s reckless, carefree, and loves getting into trouble. At first Micah is a sexy challenge, then he’s his touchstone.

When push comes to shove Micah needs a responsible partner, not someone to drag him into trouble, the question is, can Seb be who Micah needs and will Micah ever let anyone in to help?

**

Oh man! This book tugs at your heart strings! Micah’s story is so touching and sweet. He’s such a good guy and needs so much for someone to love him and help him.

Seb is deeper than you think and actually the perfect foil for Micah’s steadfastness.

Together they are a perfect couple and I loved how slowly but surely their romance developed.

Though they are both young, they’ve lived through so much trauma that their “always and forever” feels real and authentic.

The writing is excellent and the story wonderful. I can’t wait for book three in January!

5 of 5 stars

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To buy

Carina Press
http://ebooks.carinapress.com/B9422DDB-905A-48AC-9DAB-139FAFA19E40/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=37482223-4303-4D86-95AC-04497D36C1F3

 

(Copy generously provided by NetGalley)

Categories
Angst Level College/University Contemporary Gay Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Humor Hurt/Abuse m/m NetGalley New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Scorching/high heat Trans

Lonely Hearts (Love Lessons Book 3) by Heidi Cullinan

lonelyheartsBlurb

With the quiet help of his wealthy family, Sebastian “Baz” Acker has successfully kept his painful past at bay. But as the end of college draws near, his friends—his buffer zone—are preparing to move on, while his own life is at a crippling standstill.With loneliness bearing down on him, Baz hooks up—then opens up—with Elijah Prince, the guy Baz took a bullet for last year. The aftershocks of their one-night stand leave giant cracks in Baz’s carefully constructed armor. For the first time, the prospect isn’t terrifying.

Accustomed to escaping his demons by withdrawing into his imagination, Elijah isn’t used to having a happy herd of friends. He’s even less comfortable as the object of a notorious playboy’s affections. Yet all signs seem to indicate this time happiness might be within his grasp. When Baz’s mother runs for a highly sought-after public office, the media hounds drag Baz’s and Elijah’s pasts into the light. In the blinding glare, Baz and Elijah face the ultimate test: discovering if they’re stronger together…or apart.

Warning: Contains sex in a Tesla, sex in a cupboard, sex under a piano, kinky role play, and a cappella RuPaul songs. Just a couple of boys groping, battling, then finally loving their way to becoming me.

Review

This is book three in a series, and while technically it can be read on it’s own, it is definitely much better read – in order – as part of the series.

We met Elijah in book 2. He was the son of the crazed religious zealots who was a rent boy, homeless on the streets of the city for awhile, and then Aaron’s roommate. His folks got crazy when they found out he’d only “faked” being converted back from being gay and was, in fact, still gay – and attempted to shoot him! Baz, who we’ve also met before, got in the way of the bullet and sustained an injury but survived to add another scar to his repertoire.

Baz is the poor rich boy whose parents are the “Illinois equivalent to the Kennedy’s”. He was bashed as a teenager and is now crippled sometimes with chronic pain and eye difficulties.

Baz and Elijah had actually met before all the shooting when Baz had rescued Elijah from a trick gone bad and sent Elijah back to the evil parents.

Ok – now here we are today at Walter and Kelly’s wedding (woot!). Elijah is depressed. Baz is depressed. Elijah has a super crush on Baz and Baz is always “worried” about Elijah’s well-being.

They hook up. (Mild form of saying they have super-hot-monkey-sex in Baz’s new Tesla!) From there on the two are mostly on again/ off again lovers then boyfriends.

But… there’s a lot of drama. Elijah has so much guilt surrounding his “Poor Elijah” fund that he takes on a sucky food service job to allay the guilt (though he doesn’t need the cash.)

Baz is feeling unsettled because all his friends are “growing up” without him and graduating and now he needs to decide what he wants to do with his life.

Plus the media is in a frenzy because Baz’s mother and uncle are making moves in the political arena that put Baz and his life in the spotlight.

Elijah’s still in the news from being the victim of his crazed parents but he’s also now dating Baz and that isn’t good for the campaign – what with his background and such.

And… there’s Lewis/Lejla the almost trans friend Elijah makes while doing dishes.

So… lots of stuff and a little bit of the music scene too.

Eventually, they get it all sorted (of course they do!) and find their own version of the Disney Princess Happy Ending – and we get to see Laurie and Ed again! (Woo Hoo!)

**

Wow – I get it now. Even in summarizing this story I have to include many, many, many words!

This is a long story – 355 pages as compared to the 270 of book 2, but not as many as the 379 of book 1. There is a lot – a lot– of detail and a lot of drama.

But… there are a lot – a lot – of feels, too.

I really love Heidi Cullinan’s characters. They are rich, flawed – very flawed sometimes – real, emotive, charismatic, sometimes cantankerous yet charming, and very well developed. Even if you hadn’t read about them before, you know by the end of the book that you have a solid sense of each of these MCs as well as their cadre of friends.

She also has a way of taking these guys through some really awful stuff and making it seem manageable in a way that is realistic. No quick fixes or band-aids, but hard work and sacrifice. (For the most part – see the end for what I mean.)

In this book, we also have some seriously HOT sex, too. These boys can be DIRTY and it shows! But – somehow – it’s also very loving and revealing and tender at the same time.

I absolutely adored Lewis/Lejla and I hope s/he might be featured more in future works. Her story was so honest and heart-felt and really high-lighted some of the difficulties in actually becoming trans that get sort of swept away with the whole emotional process.

Of course it was so great to see our friends Walter and Kelly, Aaron and Giles again – moving on with life and being cute with each other. And the extra-special I about smiled my face off – Laurie and Ed from Dance With Me! Squeeee! I love that book and I LOVE those guys! I was stoked when Ed kinda put the eye on Baz but then said he had enough man waiting on him at home! Whoo-ee. Love those two!

I had just a few issues with this book.

First – the length. I really and truly felt it could have been shortened without losing any of the specialness. It felt – at times – like we were accounting for every minute of every day and every emotion either boy felt. A lot of the “agonizing in my head” stuff both Elijah and Baz did really could have been summarized because by the end I kind of felt bashed on the head with it. And I’m not sure that I needed to know every feature of the Tesla to appreciate that it was fancy and expensive. And I didn’t need to know every decoration on every table at the wedding. And I didn’t need to know about every movie made by Miyazaki.

Second- the ending. I’m going to sound hypocritical here but stay with me a moment when I say that the ending was too rushed. We spent agonizingly long pages outlining Baz’s pain and lack of direction and tons of time hearing Elijah’s self-deprecating and clearly depressed inner workings and in the span of only a handful of pages those two major problems are seemingly solved by bumping into the right guy at the right time and agreeing to eat more healthy and limit the cigarettes and alcohol.
Of course I’m being glib, but it felt that way. Especially Elijah’s part of the equation. I just didn’t buy that he would full scale decide he had everything to live for, reject drugs as a method of self-medicating, and embrace this new, organic, yoga-filled life when he’d been the poster child for self-destruction not 20 pages ago.
I think, realistically, long-term, intense therapy, AND some significant life-style changes over a long period might grant him some relief…

I mean, I really appreciated the sensitivity that Heidi shows around chronic pain (both with Ed and Laurie and now Baz and Elijah) and how a person’s definition of “sexual intercourse” can be different based on fulfilling different needs. So, maybe a bit more attention to the importance of in-depth psychotherapy for someone whose parents SHOT at you is warranted.

However – by large margins my complaints are pretty minimal in the face of how much I did appreciate where this book goes and the overall feeling of happiness that we end up with for these two very, very lost boys.

I highly recommend it to fans of the series and for those who might want to read it on it’s own I say Go For It! It’s really good, Heidi is a phenomenal writer and despite being a bit wordy, the ride is absolutely worth the time it takes.

4.5 of 5 stars

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This copy was generously provided by the Publisher through NetGalley

To buy

Samhain Presents
http://www.heidicullinan.com/Lonely-Hearts