Romance review: For Real by Alexis Hall

For Real by Alexis HallFor Real by Alexis Hall

Published by: Riptide Books

Format: Kindle ARC

Genre: M/M Romance

Reviewed by: Liz

Score: 9/10

I can’t tell,” says one character to another, “if I’m being seduced or bludgeoned.”

Which is something you will need to know when starting “For Real” – it will do both at the same, and you will love every second of it. Much like with the rest of Alexis Hall’s work, you have to be ready to enter into an exceptionally personal, tight, and vulnerable point of view, where the narrator misses no pertinent detail. The words quickly slither under your skin and into your mind until you are in the scene, with these people, experiencing what they experience, and feeling what they feel.

Ostensibly, this book is billed as a BDSM novel, but what it truly is at its heart, is an unapologetic and stunning romance centered around – and also having nothing to do with – kink. If you go into it expecting carefully worded negotiations around safewords, soft and hard limits, and which toys are allowed to go where, when, and how, you may be a bit disappointed. However, if you are looking for a beautifully realized love story with a stunning backdrop of sexual compatibility that goes beyond the physical, it’s hard to imagine you won’t find it here.

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New Adult Fiction Review: Sweet by Tammara Webber

Sweet by Tammara WebberSweet by Tammara Webber

Published by: Amazon Digital Services

Format: Kindle ARC

Genre: New Adult Fiction

Reviewed by: Judith

Score: 9/10

Every time I crack open a new Tammara Webber novel, my internal monologue runs a little something like this: “HOLY $(&#$@$*#&$^! How can someone write this well? I mean, it shouldn’t be possible. Seriously, now, no one can write this well. Can they? Maaaaaaaaaan. She is killing this one with all these amazing words and feelings and…I really should go to sleep but…just one more chapter? Yeah, you convinced me. One more…okay, two. Two more. Aww, man, it’s 3 am?! And my book is done???”

Even if you end this review here, please remember: Tammara Webber’s Sweet? There’s no question. Get it, devour it, and thank me later.

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Quickie Review: View from Forever by Charles Sheehan-Miles

view from foreverA View from Forever by Charles Sheehan-Miles

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult M/F Novella

Format: Kindle ARC

Score: 9/10

Plot: Dylan Paris is a working class kid from Atlanta. A former high school dropout who is trying to clean up his act, Dylan is stunned to be selected for a six-week foreign exchange program to Israel.

Alex Thompson is the daughter of a wealthy US Ambassador. Several weeks overseas with an exchange program is just what she needs to get out from under her over-controlling parents.

They only have five weeks before they go back to their homes.

They have completely different lives.

The last thing either of them want or need is to fall in love.

Review: Just to be clear, I am a die-hard Charles Sheehan-Miles fan. This guy can write. No, really. He can write articulated, moving, heart-felt characters in these totally plausible situations that’ll have you spending the first half of every book falling in love with the characters and the second half having your heart ripped out by them. It’s a delicious combination and Charles definitely knows how to work it. In fact, he is the undisputed master of what I like to call nuanced coming of age NA. He writes a heady blend of nostalgia, teenage angst, and mature characterization. A View from Forever is a perfect example of this. This is a prequel novella to his highly lauded, Just Remember to Breathe, but it can most definitely be read as a standalone. In it we get to see how two characters meet, fall in love, and are separated by circumstances outside of their very limited control. It’s a sweet backstory that is only hinted at in Just Remember to Breathe but it puts their later relationship in a more dramatic context and gives us deeper insight into Dylan and Alex’s motivations. The book reads a bit young – more mature YA than NA – which is fitting with the age of the main characters. Watching these two tip-toe around new feelings and setting it against the exotic backdrop of Israel certainly makes for some heady reading. The romance is top-notch, the build up to it long and tension filled. But it’s also 100% PG which is frankly, a breath of fresh air in a time of glamorized sex among teens. All in all, a lovely edition to The Thompson Sisters’ canon.

What you’ll enjoy: the writing is phenomenal – Charles knows how to plot and build suspense until you’re just begging for something, anything!, to happen to force the characters’ hands; there is a sort of dreamy nostalgia to this story that will make you long for those care-free days when you had nothing more stressful going in life than falling in love; steamy international setting; totally clean with only a hint of kissing to whet your smutty appetite.

What you might not enjoy: honestly, there’s not much to dislike! Possibly the short length and what feels like a bit of a forced side-story about a missing friend of Dylan’s. All in all, the good far outweighs the bad with this one.

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Quickie Review: Smoky Mountain Dreams by Leta Blake

smokey mountain dreamsSmoky Mountain Dreams by Leta Blake

Genre: Contemporary M/M

Score: 9/10

Plot: Sometimes holding on means letting go.

After giving up on his career as a country singer in Nashville, Christopher Ryder is happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee. But while his beloved Gran loves him the way he is, Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. Even when he’s center stage he aches for someone to see the real him.

Bisexual Jesse Birch has no room in his life for dating. Raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children’s mother, he doesn’t want more than an occasional hook-up. He sure as hell doesn’t want to fall hard for his favorite local singer, but when Christopher walks into his jewelry studio, Jesse hears a new song in his heart.

Quick Review: Leta Blake is the reigning queen of sexy and her newest book just drives that point home. From the outside, Smoky Mountain Dreams seems like it will be a light hearted romp through a Dollywood-esque theme park. There’s the cute singing guitar player with a heart of gold and the hot bisexual dad just looking for a connection with someone after the loss of his wife. Simple, easy, right? And yet like her amazing Training Season, Leta manages to make this situation anything but. The conflicts and difficulties these two face run from the mundane — Jesse’s kids are trepidatious and unwelcoming — to the large scale — Jesse’s wife might not be as far removed from his life as Chris thinks. The relationship these two start is one fraught with difficulty but Leta makes it a wild, sexy ride to the finish line.

You’ll definitely enjoy: Chris has a heart of gold and seems like the perfect boyfriend for anyone (read: me); the naughty bits are hellaciously sexy and graphic in a way that does not feel tawdry but certainly is satisfying; Chris’ Gran is hilarious and belts out these stories and one liners that will have you laughing; theme park setting!

You might hate: the conflict that threatens Jesse’s relationship with Chris seems a bit overdone and Jesse’s reaction to Chris finding out a big secret is awful and degrading; Chris seems so in need of love that he confuses a good time between the sheets as the big L and he is quick to forgive Jesse anything; insta-love; theme park setting!

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NA Review: Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins

Off campusOff Campus by Amy Jo Cousins

Published by: Samhain Publishing

Format: Kindle

Genre: NA M/M Romance

Reviewed by: Judith

Score: 9/10

Amy Jo Cousins is my new favorite writer: she whips up light-hearted romance like Five Dates and then sucker punches you with a heavy-hitting, quick-witted, sexual identity questioning read like Off Campus. Girlfriend has got IT and knows how to play me like a fiddle. And all I want is a whole lot more…

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Sci-Fi Romance Review: The Silvers by Jill Smith

the silversThe Silvers by Jill Smith

Published by: Bold Strokes Books

Format: Kindle edition

Genre: Sci-Fi Romance (possibly mm but there’s an alien so…it’s actually m/a?)

Reviewed by: Judith

Score: 9/10

While the cover has been the subject of many a disturbing tweet (note to publishers: that cover is not…the greatest. You think I kid but I’m asking seriously, why would you use that? I would never in a million years have purchased this book except for the urging of trusted sources. No, really, not at all. EVER. It’s – what’s the word? Oh yes, AWFUL), the book itself is a rich and beautifully written find that lingered far longer than it should have and actually had me questioning my own humanity at points. It’s a rare romance novel that is able to do that!

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Quickie Review: Five Dates by Amy Jo Cousins

Five Dates by Amy Jo Cousins

Genre: m/m romance

Score: 9/10

Plot: Helping his sister Lucy raise her kid has put Devin’s love life on hold. When he loses a bet to her and the penalty is to go out on five dates with men she’s chosen from Guys4Guys.com, he thinks that’s bad enough. Finding out she used a thirteen-year-old picture of him to score a date with a young guy who looks like a rock star? Epically bad.

Jay thought he wanted to fall for an older man. But his last boyfriend left him feeling humiliated and determined to stick to guys his own age. When he realizes he’s been conned into a date with exactly the kind of man he’s sworn to avoid, he’s ready to walk away on the spot. Only Devin’s swift apologies convince Jay to accept dinner to make up for the deception.

Review: Five Dates is one of those books that’s just so much fun to read you’ll devour it in one sitting. It’s a light hearted comedy of errors wherein Devin loses a bet and his sister decides to make due on it by forcing him on five dates blind dates culled from a gay dating site. First up is the latino god, Jay. Devin knows Jay’s out of his league but he meets the younger man anyway. Devin and Jay’s attraction really sizzles and the rest of the story rests on the “will they? won’t they?” aspect of their relationship. They have fantastic chemistry, uber sexy scenes, and some pretty hilarious moments where Jay rescues Devin from disastrous dates.

You’ll enjoy: the humorous writing style and easy flowing conversation; the infrequent naughty scenes that will have you fanning yourself; self-deprecating hero, Devin, who just wants to live his life if his sister would let him; the funny and gorgeous love interest, Jay, who is fierce and loyal and exactly what you would want in boyfriend.

You might not enjoy: the buildup to their relationship happens in the blink of an eye and Jay seems to really get into playing “the other man” though a few days prior he couldn’t stand it; there isn’t enough naughty; all the problems they seem to have at the beginning are breezed by in favor of a quickie ending.

Final score: 9/10

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Romance/NA review: Just Between Us by J.H. Trumble


just between usJust Between Us by J.H. Trumble

Published by: Kensington

Format: Kindle edition

Genre: MM Romance/NA

Reviewed by: Judith

Score: 9/10

Let’s get this out of the way right now: this is not a typical romance – this is so far beyond typical that typical isn’t even a blip on its radar. This isn’t a book about the s-e-x and it’s not about watching two pretty boys fall in love. It is a very gritty, very real book about 2 men learning to live and love while battling HIV for one and homophobia in the home for the other. Warning: so so good and you will most certainly cry. Like buckets full. In public.

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Romance Review: The Backup Boyfriend by River Jaymes

The Backup Boyfriend by River JaymesThe Backup Boyfriend by River Jaymes

Published by: Amazon Digital Services

Format: Kindle Edition

Genre: M/M Romance

Reviewed by: Judith

Will a hot doctor and his sweaty mechanic ever get their acts together to turn a fake relationship into something real? Heck YEAH and it is hot hot HOT!

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In the Company of Shadows: Evenfall by Santino and Ais

Evenfall Volumes I and II by Santino Hassell and Ais

Series: In the Company of Shadows

Published by: self-published

Format: Mobi

Reviewed by: Judith

Genre: Sci-Fi, Romance, and M/M

Final score: 9/10

As you guys know, I’m kind of helpless at finding new stuff to read. Correction: seriously hopeless to the point where every few weeks I whine and beg and plead with Ellen, Onni, and anyone who will listen for recs of their favorite books. It’s annoying, I know, but a girl’s gotta read!

It was nearing that time again when a really intriguing cover caught my eye on the “best of” lists of one of my favorite blogs (namely Boys in Our Books).  It was for this book called 1/27 anthology and the cover was just vague enough to make me wonder. I had never heard of it and the BIOB “best-of” list is exasperating in that you can’t click on the photos and be immediately thrust onto the buy page of the book. But after a bit of investigative work, I discovered that 1/27 anthology was actually part of this series called In the Company of Shadows. And better yet, it was a many volumed series and was free! So I downloaded the first two halves of Book 1, Evenfall and dove in. HOLY CRAP was I not expecting that ride…

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