Review: Cowboys Don't Come Out by Tara Lain

Rand McIntyre settles for good enough. He loves his small California ranch, raising horses, and teaching riding to the kids he adores—but having kids of his own and someone to love means coming out, and that would jeopardize everything he’s built. Then, despite his terror of flying, he goes on a holiday to Hana, Hawaii, with his parents and meets the dark and mysterious Kai Kealoha, a genuine Hawaiian cowboy. Rand takes to Kai’s kid brother and sister as much as he drools over Kai, but the guy sports more prickles than a horned toad and more secrets than the exotic land he comes from.

Kai’s earned his privacy and lives to protect his “kids.” He ought to stay away from the big, handsome cowboy for everyone’s sake—but since the guy’s just a haole on a short vacation, how much damage can he do? When all of Kai’s worst fears and Rand’s darkest nightmares come true at once, there’s not much chance for two cowboys who can’t—or won’t—come out.


So this one didn’t work for me.

I am usually a sucker for the closeted MC and when you have two, well color this ginger happy because it’s double the swoon… but it wasn’t.

For me, when a character is so deep in the closet as both Rand and Kai are, I need to know why. I need to know so I can be on the journey with them to coming out. But I never got the depth of need for either of them to hide in this and with that, never came the chance for me to feel any emotion for either of the men.

Rand, doesn’t make sense. Like, ever to me. When someone has as much internal dialogue as he does, I expect to get to know him but I don’t ever think Rand got to know himself. I will never understand why he even went on this forced family holiday with his parents when he is a grown man who runs his own business. The vacation felt like one a teen would be forced to take and beg his parents for a private room so he could feel more adult but Rand, seems to have regressed to a child when he is around his parents. It’s bizarre and then there is his leading so many women on by dating them or pretending to like them because he needs to. Um, dude. I get you are gay and closeted but being a total dick to women and using them to make you feel better about not telling your parents you like men, is unacceptable.

But then there is Kai whose POV randomly shows up at 30% and… I dunno. I lived on Maui (Upcountry in Pukalani, just across the highway from Makawao and where the ranches/cowboys are) and knew a lot of gay men out there and there wasn’t a big deal about it even way back when I lived there. Not gay men or women so the fact that Kai is so closeted, again, made zero sense. Yes, I know every situation is different but that just confused me.

Ugh.

The whole repetitious “Cowboy’s Don’t Come Out” deal and the comparison to Brokeback Mountain that kept coming up, just rubbed me the wrong way. The men acted juvenile to me with how they approached one another. That first “I know he is gay!” moment with the flashlights was on the side of ridiculous. Good lord. The sex was really bizarre and not sexy to me at all and that end… really? They are in the closet for how long and when they come out it’s just ‘oh, cool! You wanna sandwich?” deal. No drama, no hate no… nothing so WHY were they so in the closet.

The drama with Kai’s siblings at the end was way OTT and I won’t even go into it. I mean you ask but don’t say anything and then you are all “Oh yeah. Totes dude.” I just… I’m done.

Me and this book, we did not get along. Not even island nostalgia could save this one.


Find on Dreamspinner Press or Goodreads!

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Pieces of Me (Spectrum Nights #1) by Melanie Hansen

Melanie Hansen and IndiGo Marketing are here today to celebrate the release of 'Pieces of Me' (Spectrum Nights #1). Check out the exclusive excerpt below and $50 Amazon gift card giveaway!

Title:  Pieces of Me
Series: Spectrum Nights, Book 1
Author: Melanie Hansen
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: January 16th
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 89800
Genre: Romance, Photographer/photojournalist, hurt/comfort, step brothers, friends to lovers, model (ish), reunited, family drama, angst

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Synopsis



Deep in the heart of the Florida Panhandle, Scott Ashworth’s bleak life stretches out before him with not much hope for the future. His hardscrabble days are brightened by the arrival of a new stepbrother, Rylan Mahoney, who quickly becomes the friend Scott so desperately needs. Their relationship has just started to deepen into more, when during the course of one terrible night, what Scott overhears sends him fleeing from his home, never to return.

Flash forward six years, and Scott is now the hottest club host on the Phoenix gay scene. He takes what he wants, does what he wants, and does whom he wants. It’s a good life, but the journey to local popularity and fame wasn’t an easy one. For all that Scott’s looks are a blessing, at the same time they’re a curse—the source of his alcoholic mother’s inexplicable hatred.

Rylan dreams of photojournalistic glory. He’s in Phoenix looking for the story of a lifetime, but the project isn’t coming to fruition. Needing rent money, he accepts a gig at Phoenix Pride hawking lewd lollipops and edible condoms…all while wearing gold lamé hot pants and a matching bow tie. When Rylan’s house keys and street clothes go missing after his shift, he’s desperate, until a stranger in a convertible stops to help.

The man is absolute sex on legs, and Rylan is jolted when he recognizes him—his stepbrother Scott Ashworth, long missing but suddenly larger than life. Reunited after six years apart, Scott and Rylan are determined to put their past behind them, but fate intervenes and leaves their future in jeopardy once again.

Excerpt

Rylan winced, trying not to groan. Apparently he was to advertise something “Lickable” and “Suckable,” since those words were now emblazoned on his chest in bright-red temporary ink.
“Okay,” Sloan said briskly, stepping behind the folding table and lifting a tray up from the ground. “In case you didn’t know, I specialize in penis lollipops. I call them―wait for it―Cock Suckers.” He cracked up, and Rylan managed a smile, wondering if it looked as sickly as it felt.
“How original,” he muttered, but the sarcasm went right over Sloan’s head because he beamed.
“I know!” Sloan exclaimed. “And they come in various sizes: average, mouthful, and choke me.” Sloan held up a fistful of colorful lollipops, waving them at Rylan proudly. “Rainbow colors, of course. Cherry is my favorite. Try one!”
Rylan held up his hand to demure, but Sloan unwrapped the cellophane from a penis and shoved it at him anyway. With a dubious look, Rylan lifted it to his lips, and gave it a cautious lick. Sloan was staring at his mouth avidly, and Rylan lowered the sucker and lied, “It’s good.”
“It helps with sales if you suck on one all throughout your shift,” Sloan informed him. “Guys like to see a hot young thing with a cock in his mouth, even a candy one. If you notice someone watching you, put on a show, make it really sexy and suggestive. Get them to come over and look at the merchandise.”
Rylan nodded, all the while thinking, Like hell I will, and Sloan widened his eyes encouragingly. “Go ahead. Show me how you’d do it.”
Rylan gulped, the cloying sweetness of the lollipop coating his tongue and drying up his mouth. “Excuse me?”
“Suck your dick!” Sloan gestured at the lollipop in Rylan’s hand. “I want to see how you’re gonna do it.”
Rylan opened his mouth to say, “You can’t be fucking serious,” before thinking better of it. Rent and food. Rent and food, he chanted to himself. If sucking a candy cock was what it took to get those, then by God, he would suck it.
Feeling horribly self-conscious, Rylan lifted the candy to his lips and was about to slide it inside his mouth when Sloan suddenly burst into laughter.
“Oh, you absolute cutie,” he wheezed, slapping his thigh. “I was messing with you! You’re gonna have to be a good sport out there, and that was my test. You passed.” Still chuckling, he began arranging the lollipops on a tray, alternating them with some colorfully wrapped condoms. Rylan was so relieved to be let off the hook that he couldn’t even be mad about the trick. He discreetly tossed the penis pop into a nearby trashcan with a grimace of distaste.
“Flavored rubbers,” Sloan mumbled to himself as he worked. “Cock Suckers.” He raised his voice to address Rylan. “I’m also putting in a few samples of my new product, some squeeze packets of flavored lube, okay? Those are free for when someone buys the condoms.”
Rylan nodded, and Sloan finally pronounced the tray ready. He looked Rylan over one more time. “You look hot,” he said approvingly. “Hot and cute and sweet all at the same time. Must be the glasses in contrast with the sexy bulge. Do a good job selling today, and maybe we can make this a permanent gig. I do several trade shows in the area each month.”
Over my dead fucking body, Rylan thought, but he managed a bright smile. “That sounds great, Sloan,” he replied, injecting every ounce of sincerity he could muster into his tone. Kiss his ass until you get your money.
God, being broke sucked.


Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords


Meet the Author

Melanie Hansen has spent time in Texas and Florida prisons…for work. She’s been in a room with a 17-year-old mass murderer who was also one of the most soft-spoken and polite teenagers she’s ever met. After a 13-year career as a court reporter, she can tell many stories both hilarious and heartbreaking.

She grew up with an Air Force dad, and ended up marrying a Navy man. After living and working all over the country, she hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to her stories about people finding love amidst real-life struggles.

Melanie left the stressful world of the courtroom behind and now enjoys a rewarding career transcribing for a deaf student. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail

Tour Schedule

1/16     Boy Meets Boy Reviews
1/16     Gay Book Reviews
1/17     My Fiction Nook
1/17     Outrageous Heroes
1/18     MM Book Escape
1/18     Happily Ever Chapter
1/18     Dog-Eared Daydreams
1/19     Bayou Book Junkie
1/20     Urban Smoothie Read
1/20     Alpha Book Club

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Audiobook Review: A Home for the Holidays by Joe Cosentino

Bobby McGrath’s Christmas trip to the beautiful Italian island of Capri to meet his eccentric extended family offers stunning views—none more stunning than his third cousin, Paolo Mascobello, a real stocking stuffer. As the two young men embark on a relationship, Bobby, a driven law student, learns to relax and bask under the old Italian moon, and Paolo realizes there’s more to life than a frolic on the beach. For the two to find everlasting amore, Paulo must overcome his fear of commitment and learn to follow his dreams, and Bobby must get his wish for happily ever after.

Narrator: Joel Leslie
Listening Length: 1 Hour 45 Minutes


Guest Reviewer: Shee Reader

Our story opens with Bobby McGrath having a hilarious conversation with his mother on the telephone. Bobby, a law student, is about to embark on a trip to meet his Italian relatives for Christmas.

He arrives after a long trip on the island of Capri, to see the amazing villa and the extended family surrounded by amazing views, none more gorgeous than Bobby’s cousin Paolo Mascobello. Paolo is charged with acting the tour guide to the visiting American and a relationship develops quickly. Paolo is a man with hidden depths and Bobby is soon entranced, and gifts Paolo with his virginity.

The characterisation is nicely done, the descriptions of the beautiful island had me feeling like I was there with the two lovely men. The dialogue is well written, engaging and is frequently funny. I liked Bobby from the outset, and Paolo quickly grew on me. Their chemistry is hot and the friendship that develops is lovely. Bobby sees something in Paolo that his family sneers at - his talent, and it’s just the thing Bobby needs to try to persuade Paolo to come home with him.

The Narration is very good, great characterisation and a beautiful Italian accent I really enjoyed listening to. That said, it was a little scary that Joel Leslie’s “Bobby’s mom” voice sounded scarily like my jewish auntie from Philly!

The ending is sweet, and a little surprising. My favourite bit being Bobby suspecting the mother’s cooked up the whole thing to get the two men to meet!

I’d highly recommend this sweet little Christmas tale of love and beauty.

A free copy of the audio book was provided in return for an honest review.


Find on Dreamspinner Press or Goodreads!

Review: Thanks a Lot, John LeClair by Johanna Parkhurst

A Companion to Here's to You, Zeb Pike

Sixteen-year-old Emmitt LaPoint has secretly been writing letters to his hockey idol, John LeClair, for years. So it’s probably only fitting that Emmitt’s small Vermont town seems desperate to make him the next LeClair. After all, Emmitt is about to lead his high school hockey team to the state championship, he has a near-perfect GPA, and he’s liked by almost everyone.

But even golden boys have problems, and Emmitt has more than his share. His father’s back in town to breathe down his neck. He’s happily dating his coach’s nephew, Dusty, but almost nobody knows he’s gay—and that secret is getting harder and harder to keep.

When Emmitt discovers Dusty is keeping secrets of his own, he’s forced to decide exactly what kind of golden boy he wants to be.


This is the book I never knew I wanted until I read it! 

Johanna Parkhurst is one of those authors who I love. Her YA/NA stories are so well written, her characterisation and storytelling suits me perfectly. I pick up a book by this author and can't put it down - yet I feel she gets a bit overlooked by the plethora of more well-known names in the M/M genre. Maybe because she does write more YA/NA rather than older MC's, I don't know but I would absolutely recommend her to everyone.

Here's to You, Zeb Pike, was one of my favourite reads a couple of years ago and I am so excited to revisit those characters in this follow up story. It was great seeing things form Emmitt's point of view. How seeing the 'golden boy' from his own eyes and how things are never as simple as they seem to the rest of the world. It's a good lesson for us all, we can't really know what anyone's life is like other than or own. 

With thoughtful and insightful writing, Parkhurst captures these characters perfectly; not just the MCs, but the extended families and friends of them. Growing up is hard. Growing up gay is harder for many, many people - even those lucky enough to have understanding family and friends. Thanks a Lot, John LeClair, shows us this perfectly. 

I really would recommend people read this author. She should be far better known than she is - in my humble opinion anyway!




A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.
 


For more information, see on Goodreads or Harmony Ink Press

Guest Review: Love Struck by Alex Pietsch

Chase is used to fighting to survive. Dante is used to fighting in the ring. When a chance meeting brings them together can these two fight their attraction?

Chase is homeless, hungry, and just about broke. While trying to think of a way off the streets he’s attacked by a mugger and things turn ugly fast.

Dante is rich, fit, and dead set on boxing his way to being the next champion. While out for a run he happens to see Chase and can’t help but step in to protect him.

Sparks immediately fly between these two and over time they can’t help but admit their attraction to each other.

But Chase never wanted to fall in love, just wanted some fun while he made enough money to get out of town.

And Dante swore he'd never let himself get distracted from his goal of being champ.

Things only get more complicated - and more steamy - the longer they’re together.


If you like steamy gay romances with lots of emotion and a hint of sports, you’ll love the sweet and sexy journey these two characters go through!


Reviewer: Shee Reader

Chase is a homeless man in his twenties that is desperate to not only survive on the streets but save enough money for a bus ticket to a bigger city. As he’s resting in an alley, an old man seemingly strung out on drugs or alcohol tries to mug him at knife point. A passing runner (our other main character Dante) comes to Chase’s aid but is unable to avoid Chase being cut by the mugger.

Dante scares off the attacker and then persuades Chase to come back to his boxing gym with him so the cut can be cleaned and doctored. Even at this stage, there seems to an attraction between the two men, but it remains unspoken. For reasons known only to himself, Dante allows Chase to sleep in the dusty attic and even offers him a job cleaning up around the gym.

The story develops quickly, introducing a bad guy in the form of champion boxer Ollie, who eventually accepts Dante’s challenge for his title. Fearing the media attention will cause the outing of his ‘relationship’ with Chase, Dante asks Chase to leave, and Chase does.

Much of the story is given in dual point of view, and the reader gets a decent, if disjointed look into the two guy’s thought process, but there seemed to be a distinct lack of conversation or communication between them. I get that the premise there was their mutual awkwardness, but there seemed to be a few leaps and bounds in the relationship that had nothing to back it up. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but as the reader, I felt that there was a bunch of stuff missed out. We never really learned why Chase had finished up on the streets, or why Dante himself had been in the same situation at one time, but had managed to reach ‘billionaire’ status.

The upset due to the separation was tangible, especially for Chase, but the circumstances that brought them back together was a little contrived. I liked that Dante was a boxer, and I’m no expert on the sport but it seemed very curious to me that Dante arrived for his title fight in the huge arena in Vegas with no trainer, assistant or entourage at all.

Still, the ending was happy, and I enjoyed that. This was a nice rolling story that could have been more grounded and deeper, but was still enjoyable on the whole.


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Review: Love is Heartless (Love Can't Series, #2) by Kim Fielding

Small but mighty—that could be Detective Nevin Ng’s motto. Now a dedicated member of the Portland Police Bureau, he didn’t let a tough start in life stop him from protecting those in need. He doesn’t take crap from anyone, and he doesn’t do relationships. Until he responds to the severe beating of a senior citizen and meets the victim’s bow-tied, wealthy landlord.

Property manager and developer Colin Westwood grew up with all the things Nevin never had, like plenty of money and a supportive, loving family. Too supportive, perhaps, since his childhood illness has left his parents unwilling to admit he’s a strong, grown man. Colin does do relationships, but they never work out. Now he’s thinking maybe he won’t just go with the flow. Maybe it’s time to try something more exciting. But being a witness to a terrible crime—or two—was more than he bargained for.

Despite their differences, Colin and Nevin discover that sparks fly when they’re together. But sparks are short-lived, dampened by the advent of brutal crimes, and Colin and Nevin have seemingly little in common. The question is whether they have the heart to build something lasting.



Detective Nevin Ng worked hard to become a well-respected member of the Portland Police Bureau. Once an angry kid in the foster care system, he now divides his days between criminal investigations and a long string of one-night stands. This routine is upset when Nevin gets called to a crime scene, and meets preppy property developer Colin Westwood.

Colin grew up with money and a loving family - things that Nevin never had. When the pull between them becomes undeniable, Colin sets out to convince relationship-shy Nevin that giving them a chance would be worth it.

Colin and Nevin are complete opposites. The two have very different ideas on love and life. Luckily, I’m a sucker for an opposites-attract romance.

Nevin only does one-night stands - two nights if the sex was particularly good. Colin’s been dreaming of his wedding since he was a kid.

Nevin can’t get Colin out of his mind after they first meet. Colin’s different, and intriguing in a way that Nevin doesn’t want to look at too closely.

For his part, Colin’s willing to take a chance, even if Nevin makes it clear that he won’t give his heart. Colin, who has dealt with a heart condition since birth, wants to stop playing it safe and see where life takes him.

Both MCs have scars from their pasts, but are more than willing to take what’s offered - sex, and nothing else. I loved the beginning of their relationship- the banter and flirting with an undercurrent of something more.

description

Also, the sex? Hawt. Colin, quiet and unassuming, turns out to have a toppy streak. And Nevin, the always-in-control cop, had no trouble letting go in the bedroom.

The relationship builds slowly. It takes a while for Nevin to admit to himself that what he feels for Colin isn’t just a physical attraction. And even once he does accept that he’s falling for Colin, Nevin has trouble putting his feelings into words. On his end, Colin was patient and understanding, willing to take things at Nevin’s pace.

While trying to navigate their fledgling relationship, Nevin and Colin also become entangled in a crime spree. The mystery/crime helps drive the plot, and the relationship, along, but doesn’t overwhelm the book. However, it does play a part in Nevin realizing that he and Colin could really build a forever-after.

The ending was so sweet and fluffy, with everything tied up nicely. It was a long road, but Colin and Nevin end up with a solid HEA.

If you’re looking for a not-too-angsty contemporary romance with complex MCs who slowly build something permanent, give ‘Love is Heartless’ a try!


Find on Dreamspinner Press or Goodreads!

Did you see today's Love is Heartless Blog Tour stop here?

Giveaway + Blog Tour: Love is Heartless (A Love Can't Novel) by Kim Fielding


Clubhouse fave is here today talking cars and characters. And there's a chance at an ebook of Running Blind AND a $10 DSP gift certificate! Plus promote Love is Heartless (see our review here)


Driven

My first car was a 1972 Dodge Dart with an odometer reading of 192,000 miles. It was a gift from my then-boyfriend’s stepfather, who felt sorry for us because we lived in rainy Portland and our only other form of transportation was my boyfriend’s motorcycle. He paid $300 for it, plus another $100 to have it painted at Earl Scheib. It wasn’t fancy. We had to put in a quart of oil every time we filled the gas tank. But it kept us dry and got us where we needed to go.

For those of us who are lucky enough to own a car, what we drive often says a lot about us. That Dart said we were poor college students. As our income increased, so did the value of our vehicles, but those cars always revealed something about our family and personalities. For instance, for a few years I drove a ’55 Ford pickup named Fred, a reflection of the facts that we live in a rural area and that I like some whimsy in my garage. After the second kid was born, we ended up with something boring but more practical—a midsize SUV. The kind with three rows of seats, so that on long road trips we could seat the girls far away from each other.

Now the kids are older. The 17-year-old has inherited that SUV, complete with a collection of bumper bashes and door dings. That vehicle says she’s 17 and grateful to be driving anything at all. My husband drives a comfortable newer SUV that’s suited to his longish commute to work—except when the weather is perfect, in which case he takes his convertible MR2, which I call his midlife crisis car. I usually drive a Mini with a giant skull and crossbones on the roof, a perfect blend of practical and fun.

The characters in my books drive cars that reflect who they are. Ery Phillips from Bone Dry has a Mini too, but his is yellow with black bonnet stripes and is named Bea. Jimmy Dorsett from Rattlesnake had a crappy old Ford until it died, stranding him in a small town. Jeremy Cox from Love Can’t Conquer has a big, black SUV. His boyfriend, Qay, likens it to the vehicles favored by third-world dictators.

In my newest book, Love Is Heartless, Nevin Ng is a police detective. But you’d never catch him in a boring old Crown Vic. Nope, Nevin has a ’67 GTO in Plum Mist. He has a tendency to park it in loading zones and near fire hydrants. He’s not impressed with Colin Westwood’s drive—a BMW sedan Nevin thinks is soulless. The Beemer is a company car, and Colin doesn’t pay much attention to cars. Well, until he meets Nevin.


Does your car say something about you? If you could pick any car to reflect your personality, what would it be?

Blurb:

Small but mighty—that could be Detective Nevin Ng’s motto. Now a dedicated member of the Portland Police Bureau, he didn’t let a tough start in life stop him from protecting those in need. He doesn’t take crap from anyone, and he doesn’t do relationships. Until he responds to the severe beating of a senior citizen and meets the victim’s wealthy, bow-tied landlord.
Property manager and developer Colin Westwood grew up with all the things Nevin never had, like plenty of money and a supportive, loving family. Too supportive, perhaps, since his childhood illness has left his parents unwilling to admit he’s a strong, grown man. Colin does do relationships, but they never work out. Now he’s thinking maybe he won’t just go with the flow. Maybe it’s time to try something more exciting. But being a witness to a terrible crime—or two—was more than he bargained for.
Despite their differences, Colin and Nevin discover that the sparks fly when they’re together. But sparks are short-lived, dampened by the advent of brutal crimes, and Colin and Nevin have seemingly little in common. The question is whether they have the heart to build something lasting.

Buy links:

Find Kim!
Website: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KFieldingWrites/
Twitter: @KFieldingWrites

Author bio:
Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.


Be sure to enter to win an ecopy of Running Blind & a $10 DSP gift certificate! Maybe leave a comment on Kim's car question too!

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Review: You Are Not Me ('90s Coming of Age #2) by Leta Blake

Follow Peter into the summer following his senior year to face new beginnings, new friends, and old baggage.

After a tumultuous final year of high school, Peter Mandel needs a break. It's the summer of 1991, and his secret relationship with his ‘best friend’ Adam Algedi is put on hold as Adam goes away to Italy for the summer. On the cusp of adulthood, Peter has a couple of months to explore who he is without Adam at his side.

Enter Daniel McPeak, a slightly older, out, responsible college guy with a posse of gay friends and an attraction for Peter. Drawn into the brave new world of the local gay club, Peter embarks on a whirlwind of experiences—good and bad—which culminate in a hotel room where he has to make the ultimate choice.

But Adam will come back eventually, and there are promises that have to be kept. As autumn draws near and college awaits, can Peter break free of the binds of twisted first love? And what exactly is Daniel's role in his life - a brief temptation, or something more?

Join Peter in the second book of this four-part coming of age series as he struggles to love and be loved, and grow into a gay man worthy of his own respect.


I have to admit to some reluctance to starting this book, mainly because I remembered how complicated the relationships were from the first book in the series. It's not a simple read. The characters are complex, not all good, not all bad. I know that this is something I love in my reading but sometimes I just want an easy read. That said, when I actually started reading I was once again hooked.

Peter is facing a summer without Adam, and we see how he starts to deal with life without Adam. We see him grow into himself and his confidence. Anyone who read the first book can't help but have some dislike for Adam and want to see Peter without the blinding light of his best friend/lover by his side. It's interesting to watch. It's interesting to see him venture out on his own, to learn his own self beyond Adam. He still looks t life through the lens of his camera, though he is starting look at it without that barrier at times too. I truly liked the Peter we saw emerge in this book. Not all his decisions were great - in fact, some were downright stupid - but they were his decisions, made for his reasons, good or bad. 

I like that this is set in the 90's, this was my era, I must be of a similar age to Peter and I am finding revisiting this time particularly interesting. Especially with regards to attitudes towards homosexuality. For personal reasons it has made me reflect back on that time, a time which feels all too recent to me,  yet in many ways also seems a lifetime ago. For this reason I feel I understand Peter and Adam better. It helps me know where Adam is coming from, even if I don't always particularly like him.

This is a great second part to this series and I am looking forward to reading the next part. I'm enjoying seeing how these characters develop and grow - and I can't wait for the HEA promised at the end of the series!!

For more information see Goodreads.
A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Hearts Alight by Elliot Cooper

Dave Cunningham hates the rampant consumerism that’s come to dominate his family’s Hanukkah celebrations. But a chance to bring a bit of a holiday happiness to his long-time crush, Amit Cohen, helps put him in a more festive mood.

In the quest to craft the perfect gift, Dave tries to urge a few personal details out of stoic Amit. Unintentionally, he learns the Cohen family’s secret: Amit is a golem. But Amit has a problem that runs deeper than his magical origin, and a Hanukkah miracle might be the only thing that will keep the budding flame between him and Dave from going out.







I went into this pretty naïve about what a golem was and admit to googling it. Once I did a bit of light research, getting the gist of a golem being probably made of clay and unfinished in the eyes of God, I was more than curious how this would all work out.

Dave, I get him. Though our religions are different, the way he feels about the present-palooza that is taking over Hanukah is how I feel with the commercialization of Christmas. Through all we think we have to do, have to buy and to keep up with the Joneses, it lessens the true meaning of the holiday. I mean, I do get trying to blend the modern traditions with the old but still… ugh.

Anyway.

But Dave, he is willing to put it aside to hang out with his friend Jake and get a chance to see his crush, Jake’s uncle Amit. Goodness, that first glimpse of Amit at the bar all stoic and silent just pulled at my heart. Seeing him through Dave’s eyes really gives you the chance to see Amit for the beautiful man that he is. He is also the man Dave is trying to make a gift for, the perfect gift and one that isn’t bought. When a jerk wad makes fun of Amit and Amit takes off, Dave goes after him and we get to learn a secret.

Your secret sort of challenged everything I thought I understood about the world. And just...everything. So I kept thinking about it and what it meant and what it could mean.

Knowing the small amount of information regarding golems, I found it so very endearing that Dave takes Amit to his father’s shop and shows him the dreidels he has made. The way he takes care of them and who he makes them for makes a lot of sense and when Amit tells his secret about being a golem and Dave touches him… the connection and chemistry was amazing to witness.

I like that Jake tells Dave Amit can “recharge” his batteries when touched by someone who cares. Obviously, Jake and Shoshanna care about him but the difference between familial love and that of a romantic love could be what keeps Amit Earth bound, even after he’s fulfilled his spiritual obligation.

The date playing D&D and Amit setting up his character was adorable. I loved his character’s name and all that he put in as traits. The uncertainty of the new relationship with Amit and Dave was bittersweet as Dave accepts Amit but there are the facts of his being non –human that could make things difficult.
The first night of Hanukah with Dave’s family was just adorable and the exchange of gifts between Amit and Dave were sigh worthy. This story, was so hopeful and heartfelt that I wasn’t ready for it to end. I just hope whatever Dave learns from Joe is magical enough to let this new relationship continue for a very long time.


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Blog Tour + Opportunity: The Haunting of Timber Manor by F.E. Feeley Jr.


F.E. Feeley is here today to promote his new paranormal mystery with a touching message on remaining steadfast even when facing a monolith.

Be sure to check out the writing opportunity too!


Regaining hope

During these moments of uncertainty, I look back into humanity’s shared history. People who survived during incredible moments. From 9/11, through the Holocaust, The French Revolution, to The Civil War and Slavery. There – always constant – maybe not always visible – hope cast its spindly threads and kept people alive.

And it’s during these great and terrible moments in humanity’s existence that a great leap forward happens either in technology or social awareness.

It’s sort of a like a mother giving birth. Through the pain, through the stretch marks, and the flirtation with death to deliver the child – the pain gives way to her hope that is placed in the squalling baby who now rests against her breast.

Sometimes those that are burdened with the pain of reality become the strongest defenders of their own hope, tried by fire, and rise to the occasion.

And then sometimes we fall.

We human beings tend to be myopic. We’re nearsighted. We only see things in relation to what and who surrounds us.

It’s hard to take a step back and see a broader picture unraveling around us.

When 15 terrorists turned airplanes into rockets and plunged them into the heart of our democracy – it was upward toward two burning towers we looked and kept our eyes. And underneath our gaze, firefighters and police officers – our hope- rushed toward their end. But now, when you see a fire truck I imagine somewhere in your brain you think back and understand who and what they are.

Hope. Constant. Strong. Hope.

Today is no different. Darkness seems to have won. But darkness itself is not a thing. It’s a lack of a thing – sort of like a hole in a shirt.

And when the light comes on, darkness is dissolved.

When you hear the worst things that can be said about humanity – remember the speaker isn’t speaking something containing a thing. Their words are harsh because they LACK a thing. Education, compassion, empathy….and a void is easily filled and often filled with fear.

Think of the fundamentalist be they an evangelical, Islamic, Judaic, or atheistic. Crazy isn’t relegated to the religious. Absolutism is a human characteristic.

They don’t have the most faith or the most truth, though they claim they do, they – in fact, they have the least. They’re loud, frantic, sometimes dangerous.

Because they’re empty and they have no hope.

The words, “I don’t know” are dangerous to them.

So, they try and take your hope away in myriad ways.

But hope slips passed and right through them. And should they even take a life – or several – hope solidifies around those left behind and all they’ve done is transfer that hope that existed once in someone to them.

And hope becomes stronger.

So, I can’t tell you how to regain hope. I can’t give you something you already have.

I can only point out to you that it still resides in you and those around you if you step back and look at the broader work being constructed around you.

In these days of uncertainty there seems to be so much anger in the air that one can cut it with a knife.

My hope has slipped like a transmission searching to cling onto its next gear in the past several months.

Things feel rough.

So, I crawl back into my mind.

I turn on the radio and sing.

I find a moment to take a breath.

I go and visit those I love whether in real life or in cyberspace.

And its then that I remember what hope, is. That slipped gear finds it’s spot and pushes me forward. Ever onward.

To me, hope is the first to come to the party and last to leave.

It’s a constant in our universe, and when times are good, hope is bountiful.

And when things are bad, hope is pulled taut and becomes steel hard and the one thing that holds us onto life.

Hang tight, baby. Hope is here. It always has been.



Blurb:
2nd Edition

Memoirs of the Human Wraiths

While recovering from the recent loss of his parents, Daniel Donnelly receives a phone call from his estranged aunt, who turns over control of the family fortune and estate, Timber Manor. Though his father had seemed guarded about the past, Daniel’s curiosity and need for family compel him to visit.

Located in a secluded area of the Northwest, Timber Manor has grown silent over the years. Her halls sit empty and a thin layer of dust adorns the sheet-covered furniture. When Daniel arrives to begin repairs, strange things happen. Nightmares haunt his dreams. Memories not his own disturb his waking hours. Alive with the tragedies of the past, Timber Manor threatens to tear Daniel apart.

Sheriff Hale Davis grew up working on the manor grounds. Seeing Daniel struggle, he vows to protect the young man who has captured his heart, and help him solve the mystery behind the haunting and confront the past—not only to save Daniel’s life, but to save his family, whose very souls hang in the balance.

First Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, 2012.


Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Series Memoirs of the Human Wraiths

Buy Links:
DSP
Amazon
B&N

About the Author:
Hello there, I am F.E. Feeley Jr, author of The Haunting of Timber Manor and Objects in the Rearview Mirror. Thank you for coming to view my page. I was born and raised in the city of Detroit where I graduated from high school. Afterward, I joined the military and now am a published author here at Dreamspinner Press. Married to the love of my life (John) who lets me write horror novels. I write about ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Well, the other things that go bump in the night. So, if you're not too scared of the dark, check out my books, I'm sure you'll like 'em.

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Review: The Road To Frosty Hollow by R.J. Scott & Meredith Russell

Former Marine Nick Sheridan is at a crossroads. With his entire life ahead of him he struggles to find direction and his place in the world. Car sharing to get home for his sister’s Christmas wedding seems like a good idea at first. Spending the time with the man he kissed and left years before, maybe not so much.

Cameron Bennett lost most of his teenage years to cancer and he now lives every day to the fullest. He decides to drive from Seattle to Vermont for his best friend’s wedding and capture moments of it on film. He hadn't planned on car sharing with the man who kissed him ten years ago, but somehow he ends up with a brooding Nick by his side.

Along the way, the men learn that sometimes life plans mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. Love can be found in the most unexpected of ways, and facing your demons head on is sometimes the only way to live.

RJ Scott and Meredith Russell make a fine writing team and I really enjoyed this winter story in the run up to Christmas. Even the cover makes me warm and snuggly - but snow does that for me, makes me want to reach for the hot chocolate, a blanket and a book.


Nick and Cameron are basically set up by Nick's sister (Cam's BFF) but it's so perfectly done. A brief fumble years ago has affected both of these gents more than they realise. Both felt the other had read nothing more into it and both were wrong. Sounds like a naff set up really, doesn't it? But it's not - it just works making this a warm and comforting read.

The dynamics between our two MC's is great, it works really well. The journey is physical, emotional and metaphorical - all things that sound a little like roll your eyes territory, but it really isn't because these writers work together to make a fabulous read. It's a Sunday afternoon read, in my opinion. You know the kind when you're curled up with a beverage of choice listening to the rest of the family go about their Sundays as you fall into a story.

I'd recommend this read - and not just for Christmas either!

For more information see Goodreads.
A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

Review: From the Ashes (Fires of Redemption #1) by Xen Sanders

Sociopath. Killer. Deviant.

Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called this and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded countless crimes to build his father's inhuman empire. Yet to professor Sean Archer, this fearsome creature is only Tobias Rutherford--antisocial graduate researcher, quiet underachiever, and a fascinating puzzle Sean is determined to solve.

But one kiss leads to an entanglement that challenges everything Tobias knows about himself, aberrants, and his own capacity to love. When his father orders him to assassinate a senator, one misstep unravels a knot of political intrigue that places the fate of humans and aberrants alike in Tobias's hands. As danger mounts and bodies pile higher, will Tobias succumb to his dark nature and sacrifice Sean--or will he defy his father and rise from the ashes to become a hero in a world of villains?







Smart.

That's the first word that comes to mind when I think of this book. The writing style is both emotive and evocative qualities that I found very satisfying. Sanders puts sentences together in clever and beautiful ways that put you in this world immediately.  


I give him pieces of myself, as if only his hands can arrange the puzzle of them into something human.



Tobias tells this story from his perspective. He's an aberrant (think X-Men) and he's lonely. The loneliness he feels is pervasive and visceral. His father is a despotic megalomaniac who has taken over Thailand and turned it into his headquarters, Xinth, and filled it with aberrants to do his bidding. His father believes all humans are the enemy and are meant to be ruled by intimidation and fear. And violence. 

He's trained Tobias to be his executioner.  

Tobias feels trapped in a life not of his choosing, one foisted on him by his father's and society's expectations, but somehow the embers of the person he wants to be haven't flamed out. Sean is the spark that ignites those embers and forces him to consider the possibility of his ideal self. 

It comes down to choice for Tobias. Will he choose to break free of his father? Will he fan the flames of fear that humans have towards aberrants by becoming what they fear most? The idea of choosing to stray from everything he's ever known and accepted as truth about himself doesn't come easily to him. More often than not he thinks himself incapable of making the adjustment even when faced with an alternate reality. 

Tobias is something of an anti-hero. He has a bloody past as his father's enforcer and he talks often of enjoying the pain and suffering of others but not much of his sociopathy translated to the page which I found disappointing.  


The vast majority of the book centers around Tobias and Sean's burgeoning relationship which is very erotic in an ethereal way. I wouldn't label this erotica nor would I say it's explicit. What it is, first and foremost, is romantic. I bought into them and their coupletry lock, stock and barrel.

I want him to see me-really see me, the monster, the aberrant. I want him to know how beautiful he is...and how much more beautiful he would be if I could leave marks of pain and blood all over his body, see the strain and torment rippling through him. I want to possess him. I want to destroy him.

I liked the dark ones, what can I say? I was pleasantly surprised to see Tobias has a touch of the masochist in him a.k.a. my achilles' heel.

It seems their relationship is doomed from the start which makes the tone somewhat melancholic but doesn't tip over the line into bleak. What helped temper it was that I could see what Tobias was too close to which fueled my optimism for Tobias and Sean. 

I couldn't help but like Tobias. He pulls on the heartstrings. Sean is still a big on an enigma and I can't shake the feeling that he's withholding something. 

There is great exposition with regard to scientific aspects of this book much of which went over my head, but I still found interesting nonetheless. Ir you're worried that it negatively affects the pacing, don't; it remains steady throughout with the last quarter or so being action packed. 

From the Ashes is definitely a first book in this series. It doesn't end on a cliff, though. There is an HEA/HFN but there are loose ends. 

Why not 5 Hearts then?

Primarily, there is a loose end regarding Langdon that had plenty of time to get resolved and never did. The other thing is as much as revelled in the writing style as the narrative evolved there were times when I thought it became repetitive. Lastly, I find the worldbuilding lacking.

I'm looking forward to where this series is going and I would recommend it to MM romance, sci-fi and superhero fans. 

I may be an aberrant- but he makes me human, and that's something I never want to lose.



"You defeat the devil when you hold on to hope."


~RTJ



A review copy was provided.

Find out more on Goodreads.