Monthly Archives: January 2015

Slide Audiobook by Garrett Leigh Narrated by Michael Lesley

Dreamspinner presents: http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Slide-Audiobook/B00O9FOHKQ/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1422386962&sr=1-1

slideBlurb

Don’t look back. Don’t you ever look back…

Shy tattoo artist Ash has a troubled past. Years of neglect, drug abuse, and life on the streets have taken their toll, and sometimes it seems the deep, unspoken bond with his lover is the only balm for wounds he doesn’t quite understand.

Chicago paramedic Pete is warmth, love, and strength—things Ash never knew he could have, and never even knew he wanted until Pete showed him. But fate is a cruel, cruel mistress, and when nightmares collide with the present, their tentatively built world comes crashing down.

Traumatic events in Pete’s work life distance him from home, and he doesn’t realize until it’s too late that Ash has slipped away. Betrayal, secrets, and lies unfold, and when a devastating coincidence takes hold, Pete must fight with all he has to save the love of his life.

Review

Ash and Pete become roommates through a mutual friend. Neither “knows” the other is gay (or bi) but both are crushing on the other.

Pete is stoic, works hard, plays a little, and is the perfect foil for Ash.

Ash is broken. He’s had a very, very hard life and we learn bits and pieces of it as the story develops. From an abusive childhood, to living on the street, to self-mutilation.

After a particularly bad night, Ash and Pete move their relationship forward and become lovers. It isn’t an easy road. Ash isn’t an “easy” boyfriend. But Pete is strong enough to handle almost anything – but not cheating.

Pete comes home one night and finds Ash in the arms of another man. He essentially kicks Ash out and doesn’t hear from him for weeks. Suddenly, Pete receives a call from a mutual health-care worker friend reporting that Ash is in the hospital and Pete is listed as his Emergency Contact.

When Pete finds Ash a new world of information opens up and he realizes there is more to Ash than he was led to believe.

Now it is up to the both of them to try to find a place where Ash can heal and Pete and Ash can find their place – as partners.

**

This is a book I put off reading for a long time. It looked so heavy. But it kept getting really amazing reviews and I knew I “wanted” to read it, but I needed to be in the right head-space for it. So… I waited until I was trapped in a car for a long drive and listened to the audiobook.

It didn’t disappoint on the “heavy” factor. It is a hard book to read(listen to). It is angsty and painful and tough. But… it is really good. The writing is excellent. The descriptions are rich and powerful. The MCs are fully developed and very three dimensional.

That being said… I didn’t love it. Though I could appreciate the writing and the world building and give those high marks, I didn’t really feel that attached to the relationship between the two MCs.

I know there is a sequel and I am planning on listening to it, and I have hopes that it will cement (for me) their bond and let me feel more for them as a couple than I do for them as individuals.

The narration was amazing! Michael Lesley who I first heard in Tell Me It’s Real is fantastic. His Ash is totally different from Pete and the emotions are well played and very real. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this (as far as entertainment value goes) and think that I was glad I waited for the audio version before tackling this book.

So: Writing 5 of 5 hearts, World Building 5 of 5 hearts, Storyline 4 of 5 hearts, Romance 2 of 5 hearts, Narration 5 of 5 hearts

Overall 4.2 hearts

4

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Les Faits Accomplis by Anna Martin

Dreamspinner Presents: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5732

les faitsBlurb

Adam Hemlock rules the elite New Harbor Academy. With his mother in Paris, he throws hedonistic, alcohol- and drug-fueled parties for his equally rich, desperately bored classmates. How’s a guy who lives life to the extreme to stay entertained? Take on a challenge, of course, and hope the exhilaration of the play-by-play fallout chases away the indifference. At the big pre-senior-year bash, Adam’s offered a dare—seduce the new kid. Adam initially laughs off the idea but changes his mind when he sees Jared.

Jared Rawell has spent the past two years at a Texas military school, where his father sent him to “pray away the gay.” He sees the academy in more liberal Washington as a chance to start over and achieve the grades he needs to get into an Ivy League school. When a beautiful but terrifying girl offers Jared a deal—don’t sleep with Adam Hemlock and she’ll help Jared get through senior year—he sees no reason to say no. But nothing is as simple as it seems.

With layers of hidden agendas, backstabbing, lying, cheating, drugs, and entitled teenage egos, Jared and Adam must navigate a high school minefield while waiting for the inevitable explosion.

Review

Adam is a senior at an elite school outside Seattle. He’s rich and one of the “leaders” of the school (read: spoiled rich boy who leads a group of other spoiled rich kids). His dad died when he was young, his mom is awesome but travels a lot. He’s gay and has had sex with every available boy at the school, so he’s forced to go to the city if he wants any action.

Jared is from Michigan, but was recently sent to a military school in Texas by his ultra conservative father to “work the gay out of his system”. It failed, so Jared went to finish out his schooling with his ultra-cool aunt in Washington.

Clare – super mean rich girl – makes a bet with both Adam and Jared. To Adam she challenges him to get Jared’s virigin anal sex cherry. To Jared she challenges him to resist Adam’s seduction. (Neither knows of the other’s bet.)

Fortunately, Jared is no dummy, and though he still wants to keep his virginity for someone that matters, he has no problem hanging around with Adam. In fact, he likes the guy and they have some pretty intense chemistry. He’s even considering “giving in” when Jared learns of the bet and is crushed by the betrayal.

Adam, meanwhile, has also “fallen for” Jared and was in the process of trying to get out of the bet when Jared overheard.

Some weird stuff happens (too spoilery to tell here) that makes all the “cool kids” very confused, including Adam, but still keeps Jared and Adam apart.

In the end, Adam convinces Jared to give their relationship a try – for real – and we get a pretty satisfying HFN that looks like a HEA.

**

So… I am torn about this review. On several levels it was a really good book. There are aspects that feel very real – bullying, peer pressure, drugs, cliques, high school sex (it happens whether we want to believe it or not, these boys are over 18 in this story at least), miscommunications, etc. The writing itself is excellent (as is the editing). The characters are well developed and the storyline makes sense even if it is extremely frustrating.

However… I never “fell” for either Jared or Adam. They were not likable enough for me to root for them. Sure – Jared was basically a good guy who got suckered into doing things for the wrong reasons, but there was never that “hook”, that thing that makes him vulnerable and loveable. He was nobody’s hero. He was just a kid who had a little bit of a rough time before we met him, but by the time we see him he has it pretty good. His aunt is loving and pretty awesome. He’s got a great future mapped out. He’s pretty self-possessed (way more than I’d expect the average 18 year old to be) and he knows where he’s going.

Adam is the “poor little rich boy” you see in many stories. He’s “forced” to do things to stay “safe” in the horribly cliquey group at his school, and he’s very jaded. Sure – in the end he makes himself vulnerable to Jared, but it was hardly a hardship. He never “loses” anything to gain Jared’s love.

Together they have tremendously hot sex. The chemistry is scorching. But the emotional part… lacking.

I just never liked anyone in this story. Perhaps it dredges up too much past feelings of my own, but honestly I wanted to wash my hands of each and everyone of them and tell them to grow the eff up and be grateful for what you have and quit being so selfish and evil. The only person with any redeemable qualities was Jared’s tutor Dylan and had he and Jared hooked up I may have liked this story more.

Even the parents were ridiculous. Jared’s mom and dad were stereotypical: too soft mom lets the overbearing ass-hole dad send Jared to Texas. But then he gets this lovely aunt who “fixes” everything. And Adam’s Dad was awesome but dead, but his mom loves everything about him and though she’s gone a lot still showers him with love and makes him healthy. So why did he turn out to be such a douche? No real explanation is given, at least not one that satisfied me.

So… though I love Anna Martin stories and was excited to read this, I can’t give it high marks.
I’d give it 5 of 5 hearts for writing, 2 of 5 hearts for the romance, 2 of 5 hearts for the storyline and 4 of 5 hearts for the World Building. Overall 3.25 hearts

3

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Twisted Roses by Skye Dragen

Dreamspinner presents: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5815
twistedBlurb

Payne has always had trouble fitting in, and being abandoned by his parents has left him reluctant to trust anyone. He knows he’s different, but he has no idea how different until his grandfather invites him to Blackwater Falls—a beautiful estate he’s offered as his inheritance. Payne thinks it’s too good to be true, and it turns out he’s right.

Walking the wooded trails of the estate begins to awaken something in Payne. As he discovers his Fae nature, he learns his family’s legacy: to serve as caretakers to a preserve for Sidhe, Fae, and other magical creatures. Word of the return of the long-lost Fae prince reaches the preserve’s inhabitants, and Payne must navigate a world of political intrigue he can’t begin to understand as various factions seek to entice him to their Courts.

Dragon Aden Canicus offers to tutor Payne, and the tension between them is instant and growing. But prickly and aloof Aden keeps Payne at arm’s length. Unable to trust their connection when his family is threatened, Payne seeks other allies. Their direction leads him down a dangerous path where a dragon’s affection is the least of his concerns and may even end his life.

Review

Payne was “abandoned” by his dad at birth (later he meets him again at 17) and his mom at 8. When his dad returns to tell him his grandfather is dying, Payne reluctantly agrees to go to him. His grandfather lives in a magical place, a place where Pixies, Fae, Dragons and all other sorts of creatures live because Payne himself is half-Fae and about to be “awakened” or made a full Fae.

In fact, Payne is really Payneful, a Fae Prince-to-be. But, Payne has no knowledge of this world of magic and must learn before he can take his proper role. Aden, the Dragon-shifter is to be Payne’s tutor. He and Payne have a mysterious history, a link that is somehow other worldly, but secret… for now. But that doesn’t stop the immediate attraction between the two. Aden, however, is determined that Payne learn and grow-up and achieve his awakening before acting on any attraction they may feel.

During Payne’s education there are several road blocks, temptations and an important mission to be accomplished, all while trying to seduce Aden into consummating the lust between them. Finally, there is a daring rescue, followed by a near death experience and an epic save leading to a HEA with a lead in to what I hope is a sequel.

**

I was both a bit compelled and daunted by this book at first. I was leery of the Fae (not my favorite subject matter) but excited by the Dragon shifter and the “meant to be” story line. I just love fated mates and that feeling of overwhelming passion for another. What I got was an amazingly well developed world with loads of compelling and fully described creatures AND a tale of fated mates (sort of).

Payne is a pain (in the ass!). He is childish, churlish, impatient, impractical and impetuous. Aden, bless his soul, is the epitome of patience and perseverance. I loved the dynamic between them. It was hot and sexy but you could see beneath it to the deep and abiding love that supported it.

I loved the magic in this story: the singing, the chanting, the spells, the dancing. I loved how the creatures were gray: neither all good nor all bad. Each had their own set of rules and foibles and it was as interesting as it was messy.

I loved the love between Aden and Payne. It was sweet, sexy, deep and enduring. (When they do come together it is HOT! I love Aden’s tongue! 😉  )

The epic battle (final hurdle) was appropriately tense and yet (of course) had a wonderful happy ending.

I have to give this a rating of 4.5 instead of 5 or more for a few reasons. 1) I really wanted to see what happened after Payne’s awakening and the story stops there – now if we get a sequel I will be ever so pleased but I’m not sure if that is in the works or not 2) I really wanted more of Aden and Payne after they became a couple. We spent so, so much time with them fighting the attraction and only a small amount with them together. Again, a sequel will help this out, as well.

Overall I was very impressed by this new (to me) author and very much enjoyed this book. I highly recommend it.

(Also – Loved the cover!)

4.5

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Frat House Troopers by Xavier Mayne Narrated by Peter Brooke

Dreamspinner Presents:   http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Frat-House-Troopers-Audiobook/B00IGHJSTS/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1422386682&sr=1-1

frat houseBlurb

State trooper Brandt’s new assignment to infiltrate a sex-cam operation puts him in a very uncomfortable position, especially since he’ll have to perform naked on camera for his audition. Fortunately his partner and best friend, Donnelly, has his back—whether that means helping Brandt shop gay boutiques for sexy underwear or offering Jäger and encouragement while he researches porn.

Despite his mortification, Brandt gives the audition his best “shot”—and becomes an overnight sensation. But to meet the man behind the operation, he’ll have to give a repeat performance, this time live on webcam opposite the highest bidder. Donnelly makes sure to win that auction for his partner’s sake, but their plan has a flaw: faking it is not an option.

In the aftermath, Brandt is a humiliated mess trying desperately to come to terms with what he’s had to do for the job and his own mixed feelings. But Donnelly has been on a journey of discovery of his own. Suddenly everything the two men thought they knew about themselves and each other gets turned inside out. Meanwhile, they still have a case to solve… but it may not be the case they thought it was.

Review

Brandt and Donelly are best friends and partners on a police force. They are called in to bust a “porn” ring that supposedly exploits college kids to make gay videos for the internet.

To prepare for this they go to the “gay part of town” and meet some hysterical guys who outfit them convincingly and also become their “tutors” on how to be gay.

Brandt must go undercover and join the crew, going so far as to masturbate online to fulfill his undercover roll.

While “performing his duty” Brandt discovers many things about himself, his partner and the so-called porn ring.

In the end the two partners must admit that there is an attraction between them that has to be addressed, a hidden agenda in the police force that has to be rooted out and a true love to be explored – maybe for the rest of their lives.

**

When I first saw this book I was a little leery of the title. It seemed to “campy” and goofy for my tastes, but when I read the description I was compelled. Double GFY. Friends to lovers. Police men. Ooo la la. Count me in!

There are some “over the top” moments that are clearly done tongue in cheek – Bryce who works at Camp & Dragg (a clothing store) and his friend are hysterical. But the emotions, the look at the porn industry – those are more “real” and definitely worth reading.

The “mystery” was a little obvious, but so what. For me the relationship between Brandt and Donelly was why I bought the book and it was awesome. I absolutely loved their relationship and have since read this book several times.

5 of 5 hearts

Audio:

Peter Brooke does a fantastic job with this!!!! He is awesome. The cop voices are tough and gritty, Bryce and the “gay voices” are swishy and comedic. The sex is scorching and the overall entertainment is 6 of 5 hearts!

Due to the overall awesomeness of the listening (and reading) experience I give this 6 of 5 hearts.

amazing

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Friends With Benefits by Cheyenne Meadows

Dreamspinner presents: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5989

friends benefitsBlurb

Playboy wolf shifter Wiley can’t duck out of his pack’s biggest annual event, despite knowing his grandmother has possible suitors lined up and waiting. Wiley has no intention of settling down, and the situation dangles just above disaster. Thankfully, Wiley’s best friend, lion shifter Ram, agrees to pose as Wiley’s boyfriend for the weekend.

They find out fate has other plans when they kiss on a dare, and the passion erupts, so hot and intense they fear the couch may spontaneously combust beneath them. Neither man is able to push the small act of affection from his mind, but both struggle with uncertainty and the ramifications of following where their libidos lead.

If they can’t outrun their feelings, they’ll have to muster the courage to face their fears before they lose everything, including their friendship.

Review

Wiley is trying to avoid a family matchmaking by bringing home his best friend Ram as his “boyfriend”. Ram agrees because he’s a nice guy and wants to help.

While at the family picnic, they are forced to acknowledge that they’ve been in denial about their feelings for one another. Neither is ready to commit to being Mates, but it looks like their combustible passion will force the issue.

**

Man I wanted to love this book. First, we get that awesome Reese Dante cover. She is so amazing! Second, I really enjoyed the previous book I’d read by Cheyenne Meadows, Feline Persuasion. Third, Shifters!

But… even if you allow for some of the bizarre-ness that can come with shifter romances, this was just too much for me. I was very put off by the grandma storyline and Ram’s constant “she’s hot”. The little kids with the weird sex questions was a turn off, too.

The “hurdle” of Wiley being a playboy rang false when we never heard anything about him lusting after others or his prior exploits or any inkling at all of his feeling constricted as the relationship between him and Ram developed. Instead, he seemed almost virginal in his responses to their lovemaking.

The dirty talk wasn’t sexy, it was cheesy and porn-like. (And not good, sexy porn either!)

I wasn’t sure why Ram freaked out like he did after they had sex – that never made much sense – and I wasn’t at all convinced of their longevity as a couple, even after their mating and the “I love yous”.

I dislike shifter books where we don’t’ see them shifted! In this book, there was no real connection to Wiley and Ram being shifters. It was more like any two friends who become lovers and end up having a lot of (I will admit very hot) sex. Sure, their feelings might be a little motivated by their animals, and there is the biting, but in my opinion, if you took “shifter” out of the story, there wouldn’t be a heck of a lot missing. (Well, some of the weird family stuff, but even so that could be just a quirky family, not necessarily explained by being shifters.)

I also didn’t understand the “aging”. Are they immortal? Grandma is 800 but acting like a teen-ager. At 60 Wiley is still living at home and in UnderRoos? It didn’t make a lot of sense.

So… though I really love shifter books, give them LOTS of latitude in terms of expectations, this one was really pretty bad.

I give it 2.5 stars for the cover, good grammar and editing, hot sex and some funny lines.

2.5

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The Sol of Jupiter by Thaddeus J.

Dreamspinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5552

sol of jupiterBlurb

Turner Michaels is an idealistic junior enlisted communicator that wants nothing more than to successfully execute his duties. After being transferred to a light armored reconnaissance unit in the middle of the Mojave Desert, the young U.S. Marine starts to feel a bit overwhelmed and out of place from his usual role of support – that is until he is reunited with his old friend Jace Sozio. Reconnecting with one another is simple, but neither of them could have imagined the intense yet awkward attraction that would grow between them. Though admitting these feelings to one another poses a dilemma for the men, as neither wants it to threaten their close friendship. Taking things to a whole new level raises a number of other questions as well. First and foremost, would their peers accept them, or would they have to forever hide their relationship? And admitting their true feelings for one another is easier said than done. Their harsh supervisor is demanding and makes life miserable for the pair, and they also have a number of very good (though sometimes annoying) friends that make them question if they even need enemies. But with the help of their family and inspiring leaders the two will discover that loyalty and support are stronger than bigotry and misperception. Proving that the Corps indeed is a sacred brotherhood where men can trust one another with their very lives.

Review

This is a love story between two friends (from basic training on) during the times of DADT.

It is a very, very military story (lots of lingo) with little erotica involved. For some this may be a turn off. For others a chance to enjoy learning something new and for others a chance to have an m/m novel without a lot of sex scenes to skip/skim.

For me, it was not exactly my taste. I prefer more steam in my novels and since I don’t have a military background it was a bit more tedious to get through all the jargon/lingo. I was looking forward to some hot military man on man action… but I wasn’t exactly disappointed, just had to adjust my frame of expectation. The writing was excellent and very detailed, so you really felt you were there.

So I give it a 3.5 of 5 hearts and for those of you with a little different palate you might rate it higher.

FWIW I like the updated cover a lot!

3.5

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The Burnt Toast B&B by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz

Riptide Presetns http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/burnt-toast-bb
burnt toastBlurb

After breaking his arm on set, Wolf’s Landing stuntman Ginsberg Sloan finds himself temporarily out of work. Luckily, Bluewater Bay’s worst B&B has cheap long-term rates, and Ginsberg’s not too proud to take advantage of them.

Derrick Richards, a grizzled laid-off logger, inherited the B&B after his parents’ untimely deaths. Making beds and cooking sunny-side-up eggs is hardly Derrick’s idea of a man’s way to make a living, but just as he’s decided to shut the place down, Ginsberg shows up on his doorstep, pitiful and soaking wet, and Derrick can hardly send him packing.

Not outright, at least.

The plan? Carry on the B&B’s tradition of terrible customer service and even worse food until the pampered city-boy leaves voluntarily. What Derrick doesn’t count on, though, is that the lousier he gets at hosting, the more he convinces bored, busybody Ginsberg to try to get the B&B back on track. And he definitely doesn’t count on the growing attraction between them, or how much more he learns from Ginsberg than just how to put out kitchen fires.

Review

Wow! Not what I was expecting.

Better!

Ginsberg is a transgender stuntman who got injured on the job and needs a cheap place to recuperate. He finds Derrick’s B&B and signs on for a room.

Derrick is a closeted gay man who has huge, huge, huge gender issues. He thinks being gay is not masculine. He thinks bottoming is not masculine. He thinks cooking and cleaning is not masculine. So… his job, his sexuality, his desires… all not masculine – so he hates himself and his life.

Ginsberg does what he can to try to save the B&B despite being subjected to every inconvenience known to man (Derrick’s trying to get him to leave so he can close the place down.)

In a very unlikely match, Ginsberg and Derrick finally realize they meet one another’s needs and start an affair only to have Derrick ass-out and make him leave the only place Ginsberg’s ever identified as “home”.

Finally, with some help from his ex, Derrick realizes his mistakes and makes amends – just in time!

**

This is not your typical m/m storyline. It’s quirky. Sometimes dark and painful. It covers topics we don’t see all that often (transgender) and though we have seen gay men who hate themselves, I haven’t seen it quite this fiercely before.

Anyhow, when they do finally connect physically, its amazing and awkward and funny and tender … again not your typical hot and horny man on man action. (I, for one, would have liked to see some more of this – if only to really emphasize how love and sex are unique to each couple and not constrained by society’s “normal”. I love the “bonus hole”! and wish it could have seen more action 😉

All in all I thought it was a great book, a lovely continuation of the Bluewater Bay Storyline (we get to see some of the old characters like Eli and Carter), and a really nice look at subjects not normally seen.

4 of 5 hearts

4

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Before I Wake by Eli Easton

Eli Easton Presents http://www.amazon.com/Before-I-Wake-Eli-Easton-ebook/dp/B00S35AHDE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1422228426&sr=1-1&keywords=before+i+wake+eli+easton&pebp=1422228428216&peasin=B00S35AHDE

before wakeBlurb

Nurse’s aide Jonesy is drawn to Michael, the comatose victim of a hate crime whose homophobic parents have rejected him. Jonesey sits with Michael, reads to him, and encourages Michael to wake up. Jonesy may not be the smartest guy in the world, but he knows Michael needs him. And if he also thinks Michael is the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen, well, Jonesy knows better than to hope for things that can never happen.

Michael is lost in a dungeon, a dark and terrifying place. His only comfort is the sound of a man’s voice. Can Michael come back? Does he want to? Maybe Jonesy can convince him that some things are worth living for.

THIS IS A SECOND EDITION, published by the author. It has a new epilogue, new formatting, and a new edit.

Review

This is a very sweet short story about a very caring, if a little simple, nurse’s aid named Jonesy and his in-a-coma-boyfriend Michael.

Michael is the victim of a hate crime, left in a hospital and sentenced to death by his folks who tell the hospital to turn off his machines as they have no money to provide for this “abomination’s” care.

Fortunately Michael’s will to live is strong enough, and he survives without his machines and Jonesy steps up to take over his care.

With only a few pages Eli Easton manages to make us fall in love with both these amazing characters and to have belief in the essential goodness that resides in humanity.

5 of 5 hearts

5

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Outing the Quarterback by Tara Lain

Dreamspinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5374

outingBlurb

Will Ashford lives in two closets. He meets his wealthy father’s goals as both the quarterback for the famous SCU football team and a business major, but secretly he attends art school and longs to live as a painter. And he’s gay. But if he can win the coveted Milton Scholarship for art, he’ll be able to break from his father at the end of his senior year.

In a painting master class, Will meets his divergent opposite, Noah Zajack. A scarred orphan who’s slept on park benches and eaten from trash cans, Noah carefully plans his life and multiple jobs so he has money and time to go to art school. Will’s problems seem like nothing compared to Noah’s. Noah wants the scholarship too and may have a way to get it since the teacher of his class has designs on him, a plan Will isn’t happy about.

When a gossipmonger with a popular YouTube channel finds evidence that Will is gay, the quarterback’s closet doors begin to crumble. Hounded by the press and harassed by other players, Will has to choose. Stay in the closet and keep his family’s wealth, or let the doors fall off and walk out with nothing. Nothing but Noah.

Review

Will is in his last year of business school (to satisfy Daddy) playing the straight, star quarterback for SCU. What he really wants is to be a gay painter, but he can’t afford to be honest with either his sexuality or his preferred profession. His goal is to win a scholarship for next year and be honest then.

Noah is an out and proud artist, working 3 jobs to pay tuition, hoping for the same scholarship Will is after because he’s so broke he’s having a hard time paying the bills. In the meantime he’s having an affair with his teacher, who is also a judge for the scholarship.

So… you can guess what happens. Will and Noah meet. They start a relationship. Noah and his professor end their relationship (this isn’t taken well by the prof.). Will gets outed by the media. Noah loses the scholarship (sort of) due to sour grapes. Will and Noah make a go of it and with some razzle dazzle Noah ends up with a scholarship, Will ends up in art school and we get a really lovely HEA.

**
I’m a huge Tara Lain fan and this book just sort of underwhelmed me. It took several starts for me to finish, I just wasn’t swept overboard by any of the elements. The attraction between Will and Noah wasn’t spectacular. The storyline was predictable, which can be fine if there are other things to hook you in, but I just didn’t feel any zing with this story.

I really liked the secondary characters, Jamal and his sister Ev, and am excited to read Jamal’s story in the next installment, however.

I thought the writing was excellent, it was edited well, and of course I loved the happy ending, but overall, I just wasn’t wowed.

3.5 of 5 hearts.

3.5

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Patient Privilege by Allison Cassatta

Dreamspinner presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5549

patient priv.Blurb

Dr Erik Daniels hasn’t had it easy. After losing love and fighting addiction, he becomes a successful substance abuse counselor and helps people regardless of their insurance or ability to pay. It isn’t the dream life he had in San Francisco, but at least he has something to be proud of. Everything seems to be getting back on the right track until Angel, a heroin-addicted male prostitute, crosses his path. Erik not only sees a lot of himself in Angel, but a lot of potential as well. He quickly realizes he’s willing to sacrifice a lot to get him on the right path–but is he willing to jeopardize his career?

Review

Erik Daniels is a rehab counselor who got into the profession after succumbing to his own alcohol addiction, which ruined his career and his relationship with Marshall, several years ago. Now, he’s working in a run-down rehab clinic but feels great about his life. He meets Angel and Jon in the hospital after almost losing a different patient and can’t get the young couple out of his mind.

Angel is a heroin addict and a rent boy who is loved by Jon. Jon pushes and pushes to get Angel into rehab but Angel doesn’t think he’s worth it or that the clean life is worth it. Finally, with Erik’s help, Angel agrees.

Things are complex though. Angel doesn’t love Jon. Jon loves Angel. Angel pushes Jon away and so Jon finds a new “love”. Angel is crushed so Angel turns to Erik for love.

And… Erik loved Marshall but Marshall pushed Erik away when Erik hit rock bottom and went into rehab. Now, suddenly, several years later, Marshall returns wanting Erik back, and Erik sort of wants Marshall back, but fears Marshall’s not good for Erik’s recovery. Marshall pushes for a relationship, so Erik and Marshall start a long-distance fling, then Marshall pushes Erik to move back to San Francisco, but Erik resists. Meanwhile, Erik falls for Angel but knows it’s unprofessional and maybe wrong, but Erik can’t resist. Until, finally, Angel and Erik end up together.

Phew, that’s a lot of drama!

There were parts of this book I really loved: the writing, the theme, the MCs, and even the secondary characters. I thought Allison Cassatta did a great job creating believable characters and a rich environment for them to interact in. She’s got a lovely writing style that flows well and is easy to follow and it was easy to become immersed in her story.

But… there was a lot I didn’t like: First, I didn’t feel comfortable with Erik and Angel’s love story. It felt too co-dependent and very unhealthy for Angel (who never even reclaimed his real name for Pete’s sake. Erik is still calling him Angel (not Luke, his given name) at the end of the book, without an explanation as to why. If he’d said something like, “I feel more like Angel than Luke so I’m keeping it” I’d have understood, but it’s just kind of left there, unexplained.

Second, Angel is too young (emotionally – not in years) for Erik and Erik is not in a good place to become his lover. I was willing to let the Doctor/Patient thing go IF, and that’s a big IF, it was explained and justified. I don’t feel it was. The end, where the two get together, is just too rushed for that to be overlooked as a real, significant, hurdle.

Third, I never liked Angel’s reasons for any of his actions. I didn’t get why he chose to live on the streets, I didn’t get where he fell in love with Erik, I didn’t get why he was so devastated when Jon did what he was told and found someone else. Sure, I get that he was a proud young guy who was rejected at home, but it seems he gave up trying to find his way with little effort and didn’t ever come back to a healthy place where I felt he had a chance at long term sobriety.

Fourth, I really didn’t like that most of the on page sex and relationship stuff was between the MCs and their secondary characters (Jon and Marshall) and not with each other. Those relationships really felt unsettled, especially between Marshall and Erik. I definitely agree that Marshall and Jon were not the right men for Angel and Erik but I didn’t feel we got enough time with Erik and Angel as a couple to feel good about their relationship. Erik and Angel were left feeling very co-dependent on each other and it didn’t feel healthy, even at the end.

I think if the story’d been a bit longer I’d have felt better about things. Maybe it was because the story ends with Erik and Angel hooking up and then the epilogue, a year later, tells us of the couple’s successes. If I’d read more about that time I’d have a better connection to that success. The ending just felt rushed.

So – overall I have to give this story a 3 of 5 hearts instead of the 4 or 4.5 that I was leaning towards in the beginning because I just didn’t feel good about the ending – even though I loved that they seemed so happy together at the end.

3

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