Steamy Romance: More Than Make-Believe by Tymber Dalton

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16083209-more-than-make-believe

Blurb

When you fall for a fantasy, how do you know it’s more than make-believe?

Travis Collins, a straight college student, finds himself in a financial bind. He’ll do anything legal, including going gay for pay and spending a weekend as “Craig Rocke,” with gay porn star Marston Cougar. Marston tells him to remember it’s all fantasy for the camera even though it feels like more.

Gary Carmeletti, also known as Marston Cougar, has a respectable day job. He started out making gay porn to pay for college. After getting his heart broken, he has a no-dating rule. Now paired with “virgin” Craig, he finds it hard to keep it make-believe when he’s losing his heart.

Gary’s niece needs surgery, and he almost has enough money to quit for good. But now that he feels a true connection with his fantasy costar, will he be able to find a happily ever after when he feels it’s more than make-believe?

Review

This is one of the first m/m romances I remember reading and it (to me) is so romantic. Travis is so hopelessly in love with Mars and spends the entire time they are filming trying to himself out of it! The whole “big brother/reality TV” thing is absolutely NOT my thing and it in and of itself almost ruins this for me – but the set up is almost like a fake marriage and so it works.

As you can imagine this is full of hot smexy times, but it is also very tender and touching as well. I absolutely LOVED the ending and I still consider this one of the sweetest “hot” romances I’ve ever read.

Highly recommended!

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Audiobook: Bobby Green by Amy Lane Narrated by Gomez Pugh

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Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bobby-green-by-amy-lane-9320-b

 

Blurb

Johnnies: Book Five
Vern Roberts couldn’t wait to turn eighteen and get the hell out of Dogpatch, California. But city living is expensive, and he’s damned desperate when Dex from Johnnies spots him bussing tables.
As “Bobby,” he’s a natural at gay porn. Soon he’s surrounded by hot guys and sex for the taking, but it’s not just his girlfriend back in Dogpatch—or her blackmailing brother—that keeps him from taking it. It’s the sweet guy who held the lights for his first solo scene, who showed him decency, kindness, and a smile.
Reg Williams likes to think he’s too stupid to realize what a shitty hand life dealt him, but Bobby knows better. What Reg lacks in family, opportunity, education, and money, he makes up for in heart. One fumbling step at a time, they connect, not just in their hearts but in their bodies, where sex that’s not on camera, casual, or meaningless, becomes the most important thing in the world.
But Reg is hampered by an inescapable family burden, and he and Bobby will never fly unless he can find a way to manage it. Can he break the painful link to his unrealized childhood and grow into the love Bobby wants to give?

Review

(Book Reviewed Here Previously)

I love the Johnny series! It ranks up with the top 3 of series I read and read again. I was really looking forward to Bobby’s story and I was not disappointed. (I don’t think you have to have read all the books to appreciate this but I think you should. I think there’s a lot of background in the other stories that help you to appreciate Bobby’s story and there’s a lot of things going on with other characters that help you to understand Bobby and his situation better.)

Digger is such a tough character. As is V. These two characters are both so easy to love and so hard to love in the way because they don’t fit any sort of typical mold. I appreciate the fine line Amy draws here with Digger’s IQ and that she fully shows us that despite the numbers Digger is a fully functioning adult who maybe doesn’t always make the best decisions. He also has a hard time with “gray areas” or nuance but many people are like that. V, on the other hand is so clearly in pain and suffering but Digger can’t forget his promise to her – despite all the time that has passed and the changes that have occurred in her mental status.

Vern’s story is no less heart breaking. He can’t identify with his true self because he’s spending so much time fighting for his mom and for his own life.

One aspect of the story that really helped me to see our guys in a forever relationship was how long it took them to have sex. The sex should have been the easy part – but it wasn’t and our guys realized this. I really appreciated Digger’s lack of understanding of the situation and how frustrated he was and confused because, – you know – love is confusing sometimes, too. Bobby didn’t know where he was with that either so the whole thing was just confusing.

The writing is beautiful and touching as always and this will gladly join my “favorites shelf” beside the others in the Johnnies Series.

PS

I really hope they get Sean Crisden to do the narration for this!

 

Audio

Welllll – they didn’t get Sean but Gomez is awesome!  I liked the idea of Sean and consistency, but if they couldn’t go there, I was glad they got someone as great as Gomez.  He gives everyone a unique voice/presence, he’s great with timing and emotion, and so easy to listen to.  Highly recommended!

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

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

 

Chase in Shadow (Johnnies #1) Audiobook by Amy Lane Narrated by Sean Crisden

ChaseinShadowAudMEDBlurb

Chase Summers: Golden boy. Beautiful girlfriend, good friends, and a promising future.

Nobody knows the real Chase.

Chase Summers has a razor blade to his wrist and the smell of his lover’s goodbye clinging to his skin. He has a door in his heart so frightening he’d rather die than open it, and the lies he’s used to block it shut are thinning with every forbidden touch. Chase has spent his entire life unraveling, and his decision to set his sexuality free in secret has only torn his mind apart faster.

Chase has one chance for true love and salvation. He may have met Tommy Halloran in the world of gay-for-pay—where the number of lovers doesn’t matter as long as the come-shot’s good—but if he wants the healing that Tommy’s love has to offer, he’ll need the courage to leave the shadows for the sunlight. That may be too much to ask from a man who’s spent his entire life hiding his true self. Chase knows all too well that the only things thriving in a heart’s darkness are the bitter personal demons that love to watch us bleed.

Review

Wow. Okay. First, if you haven’t read an Amy Lane book and you are starting with this series – take heed and have plenty of tissues on hand!

Amy can write fantastical fantasy with crazy and sometimes funny figures, she can write humorous contemporary romance with quirky and quant characters, and she can write heart-wrenching, gut-twisting, hanky-shredding, angst-filled stories that rip your heart out and make it bleed.

This is that last kind.

But – and this is HUGE – she gives you a tremendous pay out. This is important. In her stories she will absolutely drag your heart out through your nostrils but then she mends it, patches it up, and fluffs it with so much caring and tenderness and purely sweet and luscious goodness that when it goes back into your chest (usually at the end) it feels so much better than when you started.

In this series we have Johnnie (who we hear from in his own story Black John) a director of gay pornography. He runs a respectable shop, no taking advantage of the models, clean, safe, etcetera – but it’s porn. Now it’s often called gay for pay, but the so-called straight guys… not always so straight.

That’s where Chase comes in. Chase is gay but he “can’t be”. He has had a horrible childhood – one where he sees his own mother’s suicide and lives with a father who somehow blames Chase for her death.

He turns to porn to make money, though he has a girlfriend he “loves” and wants to be with. He takes on the name Chance and finds his true home with Johnnies.

There Chance meets Tango. Tango is really Tommy, and Tango/Tommy has no problem being gay. They hook up and find an immediate love connection. But Tommy can’t take it that Chase continues to stay with the girlfriend and internalizes his own pain with a horrible eating disorder.

(I warned you – Angst. City.)

We know from early on in the story that Chase attempts suicide. The story explains the whys and the hows and then the what happens next.

Mercy, Chase’s girlfriend is not particularly vilified – although her decision at the end strikes me as not necessarily in line with the rest of her persona and is particularly harsh given the circumstances.

Chase and Tommy are a match made in heaven – both kinda screwed up but oh so passionate. It’s wonderful to watch them fall in love and it was absolutely horrible to watch each of them fall apart as a result of this love.

We also get to meet the cast of characters that fill the coming books and that, too, is fascinating.

I really loved how Amy was able to really get into Chase’s head and show us that in his mind he had NO CHOICE but to do what he did but then – at the last frickin’ moment – it all got so clear for him.

The time spent in the psych ward was hard to read and maybe drug a bit, but I think it helped to really cement the huge change in direction that occurred in Chase’s thinking.

Like I said at the beginning – Amy knows how to bring on the Angst (with a capital A) – but she also brings you back down with an incredible happy ending – one that we get to see develop in the next books even more.

I absolutely love this book, this series and the author. (FWIW this is my second favorite book in the series – Dex is my favorite – but they are all so dang good!)

Audio:

Sean Crisden is a master! I love all his narrations and this was one of the first I’d listened to. He makes a point of keeping all the various characters separate which is a huge undertaking in this series. We end up with a total of 4 couples and lots of side characters and they all are voiced somewhat differently. So giant Kudos there! He also has a way of making the emotion feel so authentic. He does “perform” the stories – not merely read them.

6 of 5 stars

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To Buy

Dreamspinner Presents
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4948