Category Archives: M/M

Review – My Regelence Rake by J.L. Langley (3.5 Stars)

Before you find your prince, you have to kiss your share of rakes.

With his days occupied with duties as Captain of the Guard, and nights consumed with upholding his reputation as a rake, Lord Sebastian Hastings’s schedule is filled. There’s no extra time to be anyone’s bodyguard, but the royal family’s safety is a task he sees to personally.

Prince Colton Townsend has loved Sebastian for as long as he can remember, but he’s done pining for a man who has vowed never to remarry. So he consoles himself with the second love of his life—horses. Stable building and horse racing consume his every thought, at least until he’s stuck with Sebastian dogging his every step.

While looking over the prospects at an auction, Colton is trying to ignore his sexy, pesky bodyguard when he feels compelled to take on a bully to protect an abused horse. Sebastian is dragged into the fray, and their good deed sparks a string of nasty rumors.

There’s only one way to quell the political storm: marry. But instead of solving everything, Colton realizes his new husband is a bundle of secrets, none of which he’ll give up easily. Unless Colton makes one, last-ditch effort that could break his heart for good.

Warning: Contains an obnoxious filly, a love-struck prince, a meddling king, a matchmaking duke, vicious rumors and hunky ex Special Forces soldiers.

J.L. Langley was one of the first m/m writers I encountered, and is still an autobuy for me. She’s not terribly prolific, so it’s always a reason for celebration when one of her books comes out.

My Regelence Rake has been a long time coming—the previous book in the series, The Englor Affair, was published in 2008. I wish I could say that it was worth the wait, but of the three books in the series (begun with My Fair Captain) My Regelence Rake is easily the weakest.

Don’t get me wrong—if you like Ms. Langley’s writing, and I do, hence the autobuy status—MRR is still a fun romp through what is a cleverly built futurescape. The conceit of these books is that there are planets in the far future (the date of January 12th, 4831, opens the book) which have chosen to replicate the era of Waterloo, the Prince Regent, and Jane Austen. One of these planets is Regelence, where same-sex marriages are the norm, and young males as protected and hedged ´round with rules as young girls were in the original. (The other is Englor, and the second book takes place there; while it is also Regency in culture, same-sex marriages are not the norm, and the situation creates a different type of tension.)

The planet is ruled by King Steven and his Consort, Raleigh; they have five boys, each of whom (at least so far) gets his own novel in the series. My Regelence Rake tells the story of Colton, who is in love with Sebastian, Viscount Wentworth, the rake of the title, who has demons of his own to battle—although he is and always has been in love with Colton, he has a Past that makes him feel that he is not good enough for the young prince. Circumstances throw them together, of course, and between Sebastian being assigned as Colton’s bodyguard and the mystery of Sebastian’s past, the two find themselves in various predicaments.

Although there are plots and subplots in each of the books, they are linked by a common thread—another mystery, involving the intergalactic navy that protects the planets in the union of whatever part of the galaxy, and betrayals and kidnappings and all sorts of fun stuff.

In fact, I think that that was what disappointed me the most about this book. The other two played more with the intergalactic stuff, and that world-building and the interplay between the sci-fi elements and the Regency-like cultures made the stories fun. This book sacrifices that interplay to focus on the social constructs of Regelence culture. But the “historical” elements of the planetary societies are the barest minimum, basically what everyone “knows” about the period:  Tattersall’s, private clubs, gambling, balls. Nothing in depth, nothing that smacks of any real research, so while it might appeal to those with a Regency jones, it falls short of feeling real. The main plot is situational, based on Sebastian’s Past and his involvement with Colton; while there are occasional references to the intergalactic naval mystery, they don’t affect the story one way or another.

Another problem I had was with the relationship between Sebastian and Colton. Part of what I enjoyed in the first two books was the culture clash between Nate—a starship captain—and the prince Aidan, and Simon—officer of the more conventional Regency planet of Englor and heir to that throne—and first-time-away-from-home Payton. Here there is no such culture clash; it’s more of the traditional romance with difficulties thrown in, and there’s nothing of the sense of wonder and exploration and edginess that made the encounters in the previous two books so entertaining… and hot.  MRR is still pretty hot, but not up to the level of the first two books.

My Regelence Rake is still an entertaining book by anyone’s standards. If it had been the first book in the series, though, I might not have read the others. As it is, I have hopes for the other two brothers in the royal family of Regelence and really look forward to reading those. Hopefully in sooner than four years, though.

Review: Gasp! by Z.A Maxfield gets 4.5 stars

Z.A Maxfield’s newest book Gasp! is not to be missed.  The characters are strongly written and will pull you into their story right from the beginning.  Jeff Paxton is former military, and after serving in Afghanistan the young man is suffering from not only PTSD, but survivor’s guilt as well.  Nigel Gasp is a famous/infamous rock star.  Unfortunately, Nigel is not as young as he used to be which is causing more than a few insecurities to pop up.  Jeff never expected the favor he was doing for his sister to turn into anything more, yet the author chooses just that situation to bring together two men in desperate need of love, and ends up giving the reader a story that will hold their attention until the last page.

However, while the author brings these two together, she does not make their journey an easy one.  Between the issues that Jeff carries as a result of his time in the military, and Nigel’s sudden desire to check out, the men have more than a few obstacles to overcome.  The angst in this story is, at times, a little heavy but necessary to the story line.  Readers should know though that there are some light heart moments in Gasp! as well.  Not only does Nigel’s need for cross dressing lead to more than a few laughs, but Jeff’s encounter with a bear had me laughing out loud and I almost felt sorry for the young man, especially when the sheriff showed up .

Fans of Ms. Maxfield are sure to love her newest story and if you have not yet read one of this author’s books, then Gasp! is a great place to start.

Review: 5 stars for One Small Thing

When you read a lot, you begin to notice the little trends that occur.  At the moment one of those trends is the single gay man unexpectedly becoming a father.  Usually when this happens, it is because the guy is helping someone else become a parent and has to take responsibility after a tragedy occurred.  Other times, it is because a sibling has pasted and the main character has to now raise his niece or nephew.  One Small Thing takes a totally different path however.  In this story main character, Rue Murray, ends up having a one night stand.  When the girl ends up pregnant, with no desire to be a mother, Rue doesn’t hesitate to step up to the plate.  I liked this new turn as it gives this new trend a fresh spin.  The authors did a wonderful job showcasing the uncertainty and fear that Rue goes through during this time in his life, which allowed the story to come across realistically.

The other main character in this story is Erik Van Nuys.  Erik is a science fiction writer who suffers from a variety of phobias.  These phobias have caused a number of problems in his life.  When he’s forced to move into a new apartment, he becomes Rue’s new neighbor, which leads to more than he can handle.  I really loved Erik.  The way he works around his issues made me laugh, especially after he starts babysitting little Alice.  Another area which will keep the reader entertained is watching Erik as he shifts from straight science fiction to gay romance science fiction.

Erik and Rue are two vastly different characters. That the authors kept this in mind and allowed the men to move from total strangers to friends, and then to lovers, made their relationship more believable.   Due to their differences, however, the men have many stumbling blocks to overcome and when misunderstandings occur it looks as if those differences may just end up keeping them apart.  I liked watching as these two become, along with baby Alice, a family.  The authors brought the connection between these two across wonderfully, as well as showed the men’s growing maturity as they dealt with being parents.

Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea make a great writing duo.  Their books are always entertaining and keep the reader’s attention.  After reading one of their stories I always find myself looking for more.  If you have yet to try one of their stories I would say give One Small Thing a try, you won’t be sorry.

Review: 4 stars for Seizing It

 

Seizing It,  is a terrific story that’s centers on two interesting characters, Kit Hall and Dale Miller.  Kit is the receptionist at a veterinary clinic.  Much to his family’s dismay the young man as become withdrawn from others because of his epilepsy.  The fact that he has also been dealing with an abusive ex hasn’t helped matters much. Having known people who have suffered from epilepsy, as well as those in abusive relationships, it was easy to see the author had done her research.  This made the story more realistic and made for a better all around story.

Dale is the new vet taking over the clinic where Kit works.  The way that these two first meet is intense and makes for some oops moments later in the story.  There is a chemistry between the two men that’s hard to miss. But in order for them to have a relationship Dale has a lot of hurdles to over come where Kit is concerned.  With his history, it is easy to see why Kit behaves the way he does, and I like that Dale knows just what to do to help the young man.

Between the actions of Kit and Dale, as well as the many wonderful secondary characters, readers will enjoy this fast paced story that will grabs their attention from page one.  Seizing It, was my introduction to author Chris T. Kat, and this story made me a fan of the author.  I can’t wait to see what the she plans on next.

Review: 4 stars for Rougaroux Social Club: Bayou’s End

 

Lynn Lorenz authors several different series, each one polar opposite of the others.  Her series, Rougaroux Social Club, centers on a pack of werewolves located in the Louisiana bayou.  The pack dynamics are slightly different than want we usually see, which gives the series a fresh feel for those that like to eat these types of stories up.  The newest addition to this series is titled Bayou’s End, and is the story of Peter Graham and BillyTrosclair.

Those that read the first story may remember these two.  Peter is the young artist who made several unsuccessful passes at Ted, the pack alpha’s mate, before hooking up with a visiting art instructor.  Billy is one of the alpha’s deputies and is currently in charge while Ted and Scott are out of town on a much needed vacation.

After leaving his ex, Peter goes looking for Ted, hoping the private detective would be willing to help him.  What he finds in St. Jerome is more than what he ever expected.  The first meeting between Peter and Billy is intense and one of Peter’s secrets is revealed right away.  I did not see this little twist coming and liked that it made the connection between Peter and Billy that much stronger.  I was also surprised by the way Peter was treated by his ex, who I wanted to smack.  Unfortunately, Peter is one of those characters that trouble just loves to follow.  This of course makes things a little difficult for Billy who is trying to juggle his pack duties, his work duties, and now the duties of being a new mate.

Although the passion between these two burns up the pages, the author does not make everything easy for them.  There continues to be discord among pack members concerning same sex mating’s.  This leads to a few twists and turns that soon pull Peter into the cross hairs.  While the way Peter’s problems were resolved surprised me, I did like the way in which the author wrapped everything up.

Readers may want to keep in mind that this story touches briefly on the subjects of date rape and physical abuse.  While the author does not throw these subjects up constantly they are important to the background story.

Ms. Lorenz has a new addition to this series coming out soon, and I for one can’t wait.

Review – Speechless

Speechless

by Kim Fielding

If you are looking for a sweet little romantic love story, look no further!

Travis is working a crappy machine shop job in Portland, OR.  He has no friends, no car and not much of a life.  Every day on his way home from work he passes a handsome man playing guitar on his front steps.  Drew has aphasia and cannot speak or write.  The boys meet, become friends and have a wonderful romance.

You would think that because Drew can’t speak that you don’t understand what he is thinking.  But Fielding is great, we get expressions, gestures and Travis figuring it out.  It works really well and Travis talks enough for the two of them.  But the dialogue doesn’t overwhelm the story either.  It is quiet, thoughtful and lovely.  It makes you slow down and realize there are many ways to communicate, we just tend to talk too much to notice.

Speechless is a short story, around 60 pages, but it doesn’t feel rushed in any way.  The romance is adorable but there isn’t much smexing.  It happens but there isn’t much description or play by play, so if that is what you are looking for, you won’t find it here.  Instead you find two men, who both have disabilities, that find love and acceptance.  But while they have disabilities they aren’t disabled.  They don’t allow it and find ways to be better and stronger than what other people “see” and expect.  This novelette was well written and even though there isn’t a ton of conflict, there isn’t meant to be.  It is more of a “don’t stand in the way of your own happiness” type thing due to fear or expectations.

I read another review of this story who said it was “cute with a side of angst”.  I couldn’t say it better myself.  So sweet!  4 star short story.  It even gave me little happy tears (though I warn you that I am a sap!).

Review – Bonds of Earth by G.N. Chevalier (5 Stars)

Scion of Hudson Valley aristocrats John Seward and the son of poor Irish immigrants Michael McCready have only one thing in common—they have both been broken by the First World War, John in body, Michael in spirit. Once a promising young medical student, Michael now does massages—and more—in a Bowery bathhouse, while John lives the life of a recluse in his family’s country mansion.

When Michael is blackmailed into taking a job as a gardener on the estate, their paths cross. John is too wrapped up in his own crippling pain and misery to even acknowledge Michael, while the young gardener only sees that John’s selfishness makes his servants’ lives difficult. But as time goes on, Michael realizes the extent of John’s injuries, and John realizes that Michael might hold the key to his survival.

Bonds of Earth is the kind of book that sucks you into a time far removed from the present, and makes you feel as if you’re living there, right beside the characters. The men—and the side characters as well, John’s other servants, Michael’s family and the transvestite bathhouse owner that rescued him as a young boy—are real people, with faults and foibles; sometimes they’re admirable, and sometimes they’re irritating. John and Michael, despite being thrown together first through the machinations of the little granddaughter of John’s servants, and later, through Michael’s role as John’s physical therapist, honestly can’t stand each other at the beginning, and even through the end of the book sometimes have difficulty understanding or trusting each other. It only makes their relationship more realistic. There are moments when you’re so in sync with the emotions of the characters that you wish you could reach through time and space and comfort them. Or, sometimes, slap them.

And not just the main characters, either. I wanted to yell at Thomas Abbott, John’s servant, for mule-headedness; hug Sarah, the granddaughter, who has had so much tragedy in her young life, and stab Uncle Padraig repeatedly. Millie, the bathhouse owner, has her own story that I’d love to sit and hear, though I know it would make me cry. And as far as Margaret, Michael’s beloved sister, is concerned…!

Chevalier also has a deft hand with the historical elements here; never too heavy-handed, s/he sketches the time and setting in such a way that the behavior and reactions of the characters flesh out both. I picked up very little anachronism—I don’t know enough about the use of massage and physical therapy in the medicine of the day to know if that was accurately presented, so that didn’t bounce me out of the suspension of my disbelief. About the only quibble I have with the book is in the persona of the kindly Doctor Parrish, who plays a bit of a deus ex machina in several spots. However, I didn’t find it overpowering or unbelievable, just a little convenient.

I love stories set in the early twentieth century—it’s a time of such radical change and turmoil, the elements of a gentler, more refined age (at least in perception) juxtaposed against a backdrop of invention and revolution. Bonds of Earth does a lovely job of that juxtaposition—the quiet gardens and wholesome village life throws the horrors both John and Michael suffered in the nightmare of the European war into high relief, making them just that much more horrible. We suffer with them as they find their way through their nightmares, their traumas, their memories, into the small quiet space where they can find each other.

Bonds of Earth is a wonderful, slice-of-life historical that I can recommend unreservedly.

Buy it here or here

Review – A Bar Tender Tale – Melanie Tushmore

Where to start with this one? Perhaps with the admission that I put it down a few times in the beginning, slightly annoyed by the litany of Things That Show Nathan Is Very Gothic. But I got over my annoyance with that later, realising that in fact, I own a loofah with a bat on it, so maybe it wasn’t all that bad. I decided I could just go along with him not having grown up yet.

Like I say, I got past that, and enjoyed the fact that the prose was good, despite a few early awkward attempts at exposition that made me abandon it again in a fit of pique a few times for a short while.

I’m telling you this because once I got over these admittedly minor annoyances (it’s worth bearing in mind that I am particularly highly strung when it comes to good storycraft), the book was good enough for me to get genuinely excited over. I came to enjoy Nathan as a character, especially, and he went from being irritatingly Very Gothic You Guys to genuinely interesting and endearing.  Auryn, his love interest, whilst less well-developed, is an interesting enough character who Nathan is clearly interested in, which is the important bit.

What really rescued this book from okay to brilliant was something I don’t see very often: a story that ended in the place it ought to have, without being overwrought. It finishes up without an ‘and then they lived happily ever after andadoptedsixcatsanddiedineachother’sarmsbecauseit’strueloveyouguys’ ending, but with a simple fade-to-black on what is obviously a happy relationship, but doesn’t have to be forever. It’s such a refreshing change that despite a bit of a rocky start, I’m giving it a solid (wait for it)…

4 stars. For excellent concept, good execution, and a solid ending that wasn’t overwrought or too sappy.

Review – Laurel Heights by Lisa Worrall 5+ stars

Thankfully for everyone around them, Detectives Will Harrison and Scott Turner aren’t partners.  The fact that these two can’t stand each other is clear for all to see.  The men have totally different personalities, and handle cases in completely different manners.  The one thing they do have in common is hiding the fact that their gay.  When they are assigned to work undercover on a murder in a gay exclusive neighborhood, secrets become a little hard to keep.

When I asked to review Laurel Heights by Lisa Worrall, I was hoping it would be good.   I was wrong however, this book was outstanding.  The characters are well written, and the plot is full of so many twists and turns that you will find yourself reading this book in one setting just to see how it ends.

Will and Scott are exact opposites in everything from how they dress to how they run a case. More than once the men end up bumping heads and their partners have to come in and pull them apart.  The tension between these two is so strong that it is easy for the reader to see the fine line between love and hate.  The reader also knows that with as strong as that tension is, the passion will be just as intense, and they are not wrong.  Watching these men go from enemies to lovers is something else.  The chemistry between them pops off the page and I loved the fact that the author threw a little bit of humor in.  When the men are caught making love by their partners the comments Scott and Will tossed back and forth about their sex faces made me laugh.

Unlike some stories that mix romance with mystery/suspense plot lines, Laurel Heights is wonderfully balanced.  The mystery subplot in this story involves the murder of two young men, members of an exclusive gay neighborhood.  When Will and Scott go undercover, moving into one of the available homes, the remaining members of the community are automatic suspects.  At first, as the neighbors are being introduced, it is hard to imagine any of them being a killer.  When everything is said and done and the killer is finally revealed more than one reader is sure to be surprised.

When I got to the last page of Laurel Heights I was shocked and went to the author’s blog in hopes of finding out when the follow up story would come out.  Unfortunately I did not find anything, so let me take this moment to say to Ms. Worrall, “Please.  Please.  Please.  You can’t let the story end there, there has to be more.”

Review: Blue-Eyed Soul by Fae Sutherland and Chelsea James 4 Stars

Remey Dufrense followed his dreams and became a rock star.  While his tour bus was driving through a small town in Massachutes he felt a connection that made him realize that he’d found his true home.     Finally reaching a point when he can take some time off, Remey bought a home in Haven and can’t wait to move in.  As soon as he gets there he knows he’s made the right choice, only some of the local residents aren’t as excited.

This is a great story by co-authors Fae Sutherland and Chelsea James.  The characters are terrific and pull you right into their story.  Remey is a well-known rock star who is looking for a small town to settle down in, some place that reminds him of home but is more forgiving of his sexual orientation.  Aleksander is the band teacher at Haven’s local high school.  He’s also a single father who knows exactly what life with a musician is like and will do anything to protect his little girl from getting hurt. Even though the connection between Remey and Aleksander is there from the beginning the authors give them a few obstacles to overcome.  I like that the authors took into account the press hanging around, Aleksander’s daughter, and the fact that the men come from two different worlds, as they felt their way along the budding relationship.

Blue-Eyed Soul is the type of story that will earn the authors many new fans.  The characters are easy to care for; I was just as upset as Aleksander when Remey had to leave Haven for a business obligation.  The situation the men find themselves in may not be one that everyone would find themselves in but the authors do a great job making the story believable.  If you have not yet read anything by these authors this is a terrific story to start with.

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