Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Last Thing He Needs Audiobook by JH Knight Narrated by Michael Stellman

Dreamspinner Presents:
http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/The-Last-Thing-He-Needs-Audiobook/B00V8S7KOW/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1427654492&sr=1-1

last thing audioBlurb
Tommy O’Shea is raising his seven younger brothers and sisters without any help from his drug abusing father and stepmother. Since he was fifteen years old, he’s managed to keep the children fed and out of foster care. It takes up every ounce of his energy and the last thing he needs is romance complicating his life further.

Rookie cop Bobby McAlister doesn’t belong in Tommy’s harsh world, but Tommy can’t push him out. As their unlikely friendship turns into a tentative relationship, they weather the daily storm of Tommy’s life with a lot of laughs and more than a few arguments.

Tommy isn’t used to trusting outsiders, and he’s never asked for help in his life. But when a tragedy strikes the O’Shea family and threatens everything he’s fought for, he’ll have to learn to do both to recover from the brutal hit.
Review

(Book reviewed here previously.)

Tommy O’Shea has a rough, rough life. He’s in charge of his 6 younger siblings, didn’t finish high school, has drug-addled parents messing things up, and he’s very, very poor.

Bobby McAlister has been around for most of Tommy’s life. He’s an only child who lives at home with his recently widowed mother. He’s a gay cop who only wants to love and be loved.

It isn’t easy for Tommy to trust, everyone he knows has let him down, so when Bobby comes around, he is immediately treated with a heavy dose of skepticism.

Through time, perseverance and a lot of love, Bobby worms his way in and the result is this amazing love story written by JH Knight.

JH Knight a new author to me, but she now goes on my “must read” list.  I was blown away.
The story is so sweet, so tender, yet tough and gritty at the same time.

The problems Tommy and his family face are realistic and heart-breaking and I really loved that the “gay” part was really the least of their worries.

This was a story about trust, devotion, optimism and most of all, family. Despite all the odds and all the reasons why things really should not have worked out, family prevails, and in ways we could never predict.

I really loved the relationship between Bobby and his mother, June. I just think her involvement in the story added that the icing to this delicious cake of a book. She rounded out the family and brought everyone in that much tighter. She reminded us that you’re never too old to need a “Mommy”.

I felt the love scenes were erotic and touching and just numerous enough to add texture to the story without being the focus. The kids were amazing and I really hope we see more of their stories in the future.

I fell in love with this book and will definitely be reading it again.

JH Knight gave us a WONDERFUL present with this “Epilogue”:  https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/7586073-have-yourself-a-merry-little-free-short-read

Audio

Michael Stellman did a fantastic job with his narration here. He doesn’t do anything over the top with the voices but does a really solid job with the emotion and the timing of the story. He subtly changes the tenor to differentiate the different characters and it allows you to become immersed in the story. I really got swallowed up by both the wonderful words of JH Knight and the way it is so artfully told by Michael Stellman. This is one of those audiobooks I will listen to again and again and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

6 of 5 hearts!

amazing

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How to Howl at the Moon Audiobook (Dog Shifters of Mad Creek #1) by Eli Easton Narrated by Matthew Shaw

Pinkerton Road Presents:

http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/How-to-Howl-at-the-Moon-Audiobook/B00UVVHOTI/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1427652540&sr=1-1

howlaudioBlurb

Sheriff Lance Beaufort is not going to let trouble into his town, no sir. Tucked away in the California mountains, Mad Creek has secrets to keep, like the fact that half the town consists of ‘quickened’—dogs who have gained the ability to become human. Descended on both sides from Border Collies, Lance is as alert a guardian as they come.

Tim Weston is looking for a safe haven. After learning that his boss patented all of Tim’s work on vegetable hybrids in his own name, Tim quit his old job. A client offers him use of her cabin in Mad Creek, and Tim sees a chance for a new start. But the shy gardener has a way of fumbling and sounding like a liar around strangers, particularly gorgeous alpha men like Sheriff Beaufort.

Lance’s hackles are definitely raised by the lanky young stranger. He’s concerned about marijuana growers moving into Mad Creek, and he’s not satisfied with the boy’s story. Lance decides a bit of undercover work is called for. When Tim hits a beautiful black collie with his car and adopts the dog, its love at first sight for both Tim and Lance’s inner dog. Pretending to be a pet is about to get Sheriff Beaufort in very hot water.

Review

(Book review previously done on this site.)

Lance is a fourth generation “quickened” shifter, hailing from a long line of Border Collie shifters and the Sherriff of Mad Creek.  A “quickened” shifter is a dog (born a dog) who was so beloved by his or her master that they receive the “gift” of turning human at will.  That ability is then transferred to their off-spring and thus a shifter is born.

Tim is a horticulturist whose hybrid plant ideas were ripped off by his ex-boss.  He’s currently living on the last of his money and hopes to build back his business with the help of a friend.

Tim also is very nervous in front of alpha-males and Lance is ALL alpha.

At first, Lance thinks Tim is growing an illegal crop and stoops to using his shifted form to spy on Tim.  But the lonely and sad and socially inept Tim cracks through Lance’s tough shell until both the dog and the man can’t get enough of Tim.

However, how is Lance going to break it to Tim that the dog he loves is really the man he fears?  And… is Tim’s boss going to make trouble for Tim in his new home?  And someone really is growing illegal drugs near Mad Creek and they don’t like competition.

**

Through a combination of  amazingly astute observations on the various dog breeds and imagining them to be humans, Eli has managed the unbelievable – a unique shifter story!  Sure, there are some common threads, but by and large this is a truly unique look at shifter lore.

Because they were dogs first the transition to being human is both touching at times (Roman’s devotion to his past master) and hilarious (the friendly and chatty Mr. Beagle).

You know that since it’s Eli Easton, the writing is impeccable.  The sex is hot.  The emotion is deep and abiding.  And the humor is sharp and witty.

If I could describe a perfect book it would be this:  Eli Easton writing a shifter book.  And yet, it gets even better because it’s going to be an entire SERIES!  It’s true – there is a heaven!

The slow burn between Tim and Lance is delicious and when Lance finally “comes out” to Tim it is both hysterical and touching.

I loved the meddling mother and the “vindictive” vet scene.  Superb!

All in all I can’t wait for the next book, am so excited the audio book is on it’s way and will likely have read this book at least three more times before I get my hands on the audio version.

PS

Look here for fun facts about writing the book and a sample of the audiobook.  http://elieaston.com/

Audio

Matthew Shaw did a fantastic job of narrating Eli Easton’s new shifter book.  From interviews, I know Matthew voiced some of Eli’s games in the past and so he’s a new narrator to the m/m genre.  He did great!  He was funny and easy to listen to.  His voice is rich and flowing, with the right amount of emotion and “acting”.  I really enjoyed listening to this story and will be listening to it again and again!

6 of 5 hearts!

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Creature Feature Audiobook by Poppy Dennison and Mary Calmes Narrated by Jeff Gelder

Dreamspinner Presents:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5457

CreatureFeatureAUDMedBlurb

Diagnosis Wolf by Poppy Dennison

Thanks to his good-for-nothing brother, Andrew Hughes is up to his eyeballs in debt and needs a job fast. When a nursing position opens up in Myerson, Arizona, Andrew has no choice but to take it, despite a warning about how difficult a patient Caleb DiMartino can be. Andrew can deal with a little trouble—but Caleb’s strange family, the armed guards, and the unknown cause of Caleb’s mysterious illness may be beyond his skill set.

Landslide by Mary Calmes

For three years, paranormal courier Frank Corrigan has been working for incubus demon Cael Berith. Cael knows Frank is his mate, but Frank is pretty sure Cael doesn’t even like him, never mind want to spend the rest of his life with him, so their personal relationship is at an impasse. When Frank’s sister, Lindsey, gets bitten by a werewolf she’s sleeping with—and possibly witnesses a murder—Frank rides to her rescue. If he’s lucky, he might just save his love life too.

Review
(From Previous Site.)

Diagnosis Wolf:
Andrew is a nurse sent to the house of a shifter (not a werewolf) who has been possibly poisoned by enemies of their family. Caleb (the shifter) finds Andrew to be very attractive and it’s his protective instincts of Andrew that help him to start the recovery process. Andrew’s brother has gotten into deep water and is hoping to use Andrew’s connection to the rich DiMartino family to get out of debt. When push comes to shove, Caleb and his family manage to solve the medical mystery and defeat the bad guys (with Andrew’s help, of course.)

Landslide:
Frank is a special human, immune to most effects of paranormal power and as such acts as a liaison between the various “species”. On one mission he meets Cael, a demon of great power, who claims to be his mate. Frank doesn’t believe him and makes the poor demon wait 3 years before finally succumbing to seduction and finding true love. In the meantime they defeat some bad guys and mostly make you giggle.

**

This is the first time I’d read anything by Poppy Dennison and it was wonderful. It is a full story, richly detailed, and though it lacks the “fated mate” scenario in some shifter stories, it has enough of those elements to keep my sappy heart happy. The love was sweet and the sex was hot and the action exciting.

And then there’s Mary’s story… how can you NOT love a Mary story. Frank is hysterical. Ever the doubting Thomas, he thinks Cael (like the vegetable Kale) is “repulsed” because he’s not a twink and therefore not Cael’s type. Of course, Cael is ridiculously patient and let’s the misunderstanding go on for three years… three years! (Mary must have a thing for three years… remember Sam and Jory?!? ) But when they do get together it is sweet and sexy and very, very satisfying.

Audio
Jeff Gelder does a nice job with both narrations. The recording takes a minute to get used to, there is a vague tinny sound to it, but it kind of lends itself to the creepy nature of the stories and it blends into the background after awhile.

He didn’t do any over the top voices or any serious “acting” but he doesn’t distract from the stories themselves either and it was a nice listening experience.

I give the book a 5 of 5 hearts, the audio a 4 of 5 hearts and an overall 4.5 of 5 hearts. I highly recommend both the book and the audio version.

4.5

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Black John Audiobook (Johnnies #4) by Amy Lane narrated by Gomez Pugh

Dreampsinner Presents  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6302

black john audioBlurb

John Carey is just out of rehab and dying inside when he gets word that Tory, the guy who loved him and broke him, has removed himself from the world in the most bitter way possible—and left John to clean up his mess.

Forced back to his hometown in Florida, John’s craving a hit with every memory when he meets Tory’s neighbor. Spacey and judgmental, Galen Henderson has been rotting in his crappy apartment since a motorcycle accident robbed him of his mobility, his looks, and his boyfriend all in one mistake. Galen’s been hiding at the bottom of an oxy bottle, but when John shows up, he feels obligated to help wade through the wreckage of Tory’s life.

The last thing John needs is another relationship with an addict, and the last thing Galen wants is a conscience. Both of them are shocked when they find that their battered souls can learn from and heal one another. It doesn’t hurt that they’re both getting a crash course on how growing up and getting past your worst mistakes sure beats the alternative—and that true love is something to fight to keep if your lover is fighting to love you back.

Review

(Book reviewed on this site previously.)

Where to start….

Well, first we all know Johnnies right – the made up porn studio that introduced us to Chase and Tommy, Dex and Kane, Ethan and Jonah and in a related way, Alejandro and Donny.  We LOVE Johnnies.  John… we don’t love so much.  He was a coke head, douche in Dex in Blue and though he had glimmers of the kinda guy Dex might befriend, by the time we actually meet him, he’s gone over the edge.

This is his story.

We start out with John getting out of rehab, he’s still pretty shaky, but determined, only to find out that this newly sober John has to fly to Florida (across the world practically) to help clean out the apartment and distribute the remains of his first (and only?) love who has committed suicide.

Uh…Thanks Amy for taking it easy on us.  NOT!

Tory and John grew up together, realized they were gay together, started doing porn together but I can’t really say they loved each other because Tory never treated John like someone he loved.

As time passes Tory descends down a spiral of sex and drugs and after years and three trips to rehab John decides Tory needs to do it on his own, cause whatever John is doing, isn’t helping.

Thus the birth of Johnnies.

Flash back to today, John is at Tory’s apartment where he meets the neighbor, Galen.  Galen is a lawyer who had a terrible accident three years ago, and has since been caught up in a cycle of depression and pain med addiction.

So… of course John is super attracted to Galen, but really – can he? Should he? Is it remotely smart for him to take on another addict?

**

If I were to rank my favorite Johnnies books the order would be Dex, Super Sock Man, Chase, John, Ethan…. Black John is a good book, Amy doesn’t write anything bad.  The angst is so painful.  Tory hurt John so much.  Dex (inadvertently) hurt John so much.  But… the one piece I missed with Black John that Chase and Dex and even Super Sock Man had was a bit more of a connection between the lovers.

I loved that John could finally help Galen and that Galen wanted to be strong enough to show John he deserved someone whole.  But I didn’t see them as a couple long enough to feel as attached to them as I have in other Amy Lane books.

On the other hand I absolutely loved that we got to see more of Dex and Kane again!

There is a bonus epilogue found here:  http://lovebytesreviews.com/2015/02/02/bonus-epilogue-for-black-john/  that really wraps things up nicely – Thanks Amy!!!

Audio

Gomez Pugh is amazing!  I love this new addition to the Johnnies series!  Gomez has a great voice and does a tremendous job at differentiating the different characters.  OMG! I was cracking up at his version of Tommy and Kane.  Tommy has this great Boston accent and Kane has a sweetly Hispanic lilt.  John is dry and self-effacing, Galen is deliciously southern, Dex is quiet and stern, Ethan is deep and rumbly… it goes on and on.  Though I loved the narrator for the previous books (Sean Crisden is one of my favorite narrators!) I really loved these added touches.  It absolutely bumped this great book to amazing and I highly recommend listening to this if you are a fan of the series.  It was delightful!

 

6 of 5 hearts!

amazing

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All Kinds of Tied Down Audiobook by Mary Calmes Narrated by Tristan James

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5618

AllKindsofTiedDownMedBlurb

Ian has always resisted being tied down. His partner, Miro, just has to convince him that getting tangled up in heartstrings isn’t so bad.

Deputy US Marshal Miro Jones has a reputation for being calm and collected under fire. These traits serve him well with his hotshot partner, Ian Doyle, the kind of guy who can start a fight in an empty room. In the past three years of their life-and-death job, they’ve gone from strangers to professional coworkers to devoted teammates and best friends. Miro’s cultivated blind faith in the man who has his back… faith and something more.

As a marshal and a soldier, Ian’s expected to lead. But the power and control that brings Ian success and fulfillment in the field isn’t working anywhere else. Ian’s always resisted all kinds of tied down, but having no home—and no one to come home to—is slowly eating him up inside. Over time, Ian has grudgingly accepted that going anywhere without his partner simply doesn’t work. Now Miro just has to convince him that getting tangled up in heartstrings isn’t being tied down at all.

Review

(From previous site)

Mary Calmes is my hero because she could write a book about anything and make it work. However, I love her for her “A Matter of Time” series, which is probably one of her most popular, and this book brings many of those characters out to play!

This is a book about US Marshals Miro and Ian who are best friends and partners. Miro has been pining for Ian for years, but since Ian is “straight”, Miro has put his feelings on ice, for the sake of the friendship. In a nutshell it’s a GFY (gay for you) romance where Ian and Miro have to overcome their fear of losing their friendship and partnership to get together as lovers. But it’s so much more than that, because Ian has some issues he needs to resolve that not even his best friend knows about, and we also have other obstacles on the path like wayward prisoners, gunfire, broken bones, and Ian’s mysterious “second job”.

In the meantime there is a lot of sexual tension. Mary knows how to do sexual tension well and it runs hot between these two boys. We are kept on needles and pins waiting and wanting for Miro to get his chance with the hot, if somewhat awkward Ian. When the two do get together (not a spoiler right?) it is hot! Smokin’ really. But oh so sweet, and tender. Just as we have come to expect from Mary.

I loved how Mary brought in characters from Acrobat, A Matter of Time, Where You Lead and Parting Shot into this story because there are bits and pieces of those characters in Ian and Miro. It’s always fun to see these old characters re-surface, but they do not overwhelm the book and if you have never read even one of her books (shame on you!) you won’t be confused about a thing.

Mary writes amazing secondary characters, too, and she has given us a gaggle of amazing women who are Miro’s friends as well as some men who should perhaps (hopefully!) get their own books, i.e. Drake, Cabot and Holley.

The story moves along swiftly and I really enjoyed that there was not one single “crime” that we followed but a series of events, it felt more like the real work of the Marshals. The common theme for each event – OUCH – poor Miro somehow ends up injured in each one!

I think Mary Calmes excels in her contemporary fiction, and this book does not disappoint. I give it a 5 out of 5 hearts for a sweet, sexy, scintillating, superb and sentimentally wonderful read.

Audio

Tristan James. Le sigh. I just love his narrations. He does another really great job with this story. I really enjoyed his version of Ian’s voice – just perfect. Tristan’s pacing is wonderful. He has a great vision of how to keep the tension up and how to play the flat perfection of Miro and the vaguely bewildered Ian. His secondary characters were wonderful and I was so sad he didn’t narrate the Matter of Time series – his Sam Kage was amazing!

I highly recommend this narration of All Kinds of Tied Down and give it 6 of 5 hearts

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A Good Vintage Audiobook by Ashlyn Kane narrated by John Solo

Dreamspinner Presents
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6149

a good vintageBlurb

Luke Scherer has turned bad romance into an art. When he catches his latest deadbeat boyfriend selling Luke’s belongings – and his own body – to cover his debts, Luke decides he needs a vacation. He just doesn’t expect his Napa Valley retreat to be a step into his past.
Eight years ago Mal Kuijpers was grieving his wife while his vineyard floundered. Hiring Luke for the summer put the business back on track and a smile back on Mal’s face.
Nineteen-year-old Luke had just gotten out from under his father’s thumb and started saving for his education, his last screw-you to his old man. Then he made the mistake of falling for his boss, his dad caught up with him, and Luke panicked-and fled.
Now they have another chance. Mal has his own share of closet skeletons, including a family he doesn’t talk to and a dead wife he sometimes does, and he’s gone without romance for years. He works hard to convince Luke he’s worth more than a casual fling and asks for nothing in return, but Luke needs a relationship of equals. If Mal can believe in himself and Luke can believe in love, two hot summers might yield a lifelong reward.

Review

Luke is sent to Mal’s vineyard when his latest boyfriend is found selling Luke’s stuff and his own body! Mal was in Luke’s life years ago when Luke was young and running away from Luke’s abusive father. Mal, at that time, was a recent widow and considered himself too old and too sad to get involved with Luke at that time.

Now – Luke is feeling too cautious and insecure to want to jump right into another relationship, but Mal is ready and isn’t shy about letting that be known.

There are other roadblocks: Luke lives in LA, Mal in Napa. Luke is just now starting to really see his life on track and doesn’t see how moving to the country can help his fledgling architecture career. Not to mention that Mal was married to a woman for years. Luke doesn’t want to be an experiment.

However high the hurdles, these guys do manage to work through them all and we get a very HEA.

**

This is the first book I’ve read by herself, but I’ve really enjoyed her collaborations.
I think that if I had been reading this book it would have been a bit easier to appreciate the “flashback” style she used (at the end of each chapter is a snippet from the past to give us the back story of Luke and Mal). As a listener it was a bit disconcerting to be wrenched from a scene and thrust into the past… but it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.

I really like Mal as a character. He was seasoned but still had an air of innocence to him that was refreshing. He didn’t play games and that was nice. I did think that it was odd that the couple would “fool around” without having sex for as long as they did, but I loved the relationship building that occurred.

The secondary characters were rich accompaniment to the main characters and I thought they added nicely to the overall book.

Audio

John Solo did a GREAT job with this narration. Mal’s voice is growly and divine! He didn’t make Luke over the top but was definitely a different character than Mal. I thought he handled the women’s voices well and overall I really enjoyed listening to this story.

Book 4 of 5 hearts
Narration 5of 5 hearts

Overall 4.5 of 5 hearts

4.5

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Mano’s Story (Sequel to Little Squirrels Can Climb Tall Trees) by Michael Murphy

Dreamspinner Presents:
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5977

mano storyBlurb

Sequel to Little Squirrels Can Climb Tall Trees

Mano and Jake, friends since childhood, are each the brother that the other never had, hermanos. It doesn’t matter that Mano is gay and Jake is straight. They have each other’s backs. When he grows weary of being used as a pawn by his parents as their marriage collapses, Mano moves in with Jake’s family.

Jake and Mano both need a chance to start over, so they move to Hawaii and work for Jake’s uncle, Mano working as a lifeguard. In his free time, Mano explores his sexuality and finds he has no shortage of men in his bed. But after watching his parents’ relationship disintegrate, Mano guards his heart and keeps it strictly sexual.

Determined to become self-sufficient, Mano returns to college while still working full-time. When he meets the man of his dreams, he’s too scared and unsure of himself to pursue him. For years he went out of his way to avoid getting close to a man, so now when he wants to, he doesn’t know how. With the encouragement of Jake and others, Mano searches for the courage to go after what he’s always really wanted.

Review

We met Mano in Little Squirrels Can Climb Tall Trees and I was psyched he got his own book. He was so funny and interesting in that book that I was sure this would be a really light hearted, sensual, fun story. It has those elements but that’s not all there is to the book. It’s not a typical m/m romance in a lot of ways.

We don’t meet Mano’s love interest until 57% of the way into the story. The first entire half is Mano learning about his sexuality and getting a new “lease on life” after leaving his Washington DC life behind.

After spending the first half of the book being worried about never finding love, pretty much as soon as he meets Jordan they are a couple and moving things to permanency. The rest of the book is wrapping up their relationship issues and Mano finishing school.

So, this truly is Mano’s story, far more than his and Jordan’s. There is a fair amount of Mano’s and Jordan’s story, to be sure, but it doesn’t happen til later and while we wait Mano is NOT celibate.

For some, having on-page sex with someone other than the MC can be disconcerting, though these interactions shaped Mano into who he is today.

I didn’t think this story was as tightly written as the first book and seemed to take more tangents. Mano’s character was not what I was expecting and I had some preconceived notions to set aside, but even allowing for that, I didn’t connect with him as much as I had Kyle and Joseph from book one. I did enjoy that we get to see a fair amount of Kyle and Joseph though – they are still so cute together!

Overall, I was a bit disappointed with this book because I had high expectations for it. Overall it wasn’t a bad book – don’t get me wrong – it just wasn’t what I was expecting and didn’t resonate with me as much as book one.

3 of 5 hearts

3

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Fire Horse (Polo #1) Audiobook by Mickie B Ashling Narrated by Max Lehnen

Dreamspinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6147

fire horseBlurb

Preston Fawkes is ten the first time he meets fifteen-year-old Konrad Schnell at the San Antonio Polo Club. Captivated by the mystique surrounding the sport of kings, Pres vows to learn the game at the hands of his newly acquired friend and mentor. The hero worship soon grows into something deeper, but the friends are separated when Preston goes off to boarding school in England.

The relationship that follows is riddled with challenges―their age gap, physical distance, and parental pressure taking precedence over feelings yet to be explored. Although their bond goes deep, they deal with the reality of their situation differently: Preston is open and fearless while Konrad is reticent and all too aware of the social implications of making a public stand.

Their paths intersect and twine, binding them as tightly as a cowboy’s lasso, but fate may alter their plans. How will love overcome the divots in the turf as they gallop toward the future—one where obstacles no longer stand in their way?

Review
This book starts with Preston as an injured Polo player being told he should never play again and he’s lucky to be alive. We know he has 2 ex-wives and 2 children, and that Kon is NOT in his life, currently. (This should give you an idea of where things are headed…) Then we get to the flashbacks which take up the bulk of the book.

As a boy of ten Preston meets Konrad, a boy of 15, for the first time and learns from him what it means to be a Polo player. He acts as his groom and Kon mentors him in the sport.

Preston’s hero worship of Kon changes on the night he realizes that Kon is gay and that the feelings in his gut may be more than just friendship. Kon, as he should, rebuffs the now 13 year old’s advances.  He puts him off because a) he’s too young and b) the two are about to be separated by Kon’s joining the American Polo team and Preston’s going overseas to study.  But first the two share a passionate kiss.

Preston meets Ned at Eaton, a boarding school in England. Ned shows Preston how to be properly English and Preston gives Ned Polo lessons. After a while, Ned  becomes Preston’s tutor in gay sex as well as his close friend.

Preston and Ned don’t become boyfriends though, because Preston is saving that for Kon, whom he stays in touch with and occasionally meets.

Finally, when Preston is 17 he and Kon spend a chunk of time together and move their relationship forward, becoming lovers and long-distance boyfriends.

Here is where things go horribly wrong. Their relationship is discovered and Kon is forced to join the military and …. Well if I tell you it’s a big spoiler. Needless to say what happens next keeps Kon and Pres apart until the end of the story and for YEARS.

**
I really, really wanted to like this. I loved the idea. Polo, young love, age gap, geographical gap… It had a ton of potential.

The pre-eighteen year old sex did not bother me – that’s reality for a lot of people and I thought it was mostly handled well.

What did bother me: Kon never really seemed to love Pres as much as Pres loved him. Kon seemed to lust for Preston, but not love him. Preston was a jerk, and hard to like, so I don’t blame Kon. As an adult, Pres only gets worse.

The plot twists were far too many and too hard to believe. At times it was like a soap opera in the way that the lovers were kept from one another – for YEARS. If we have that much angst I need a huge batch of happy to make up for it and the reunion at the end did NOT make up for all the unhappiness. After all the torment we see our MCs through, they get about one paragraph of happy ending and the “celibacy issue”… I just didn’t buy it at all.

I did not like the on-page sex with people not the MC. That, more than the age thing, did really bother me.

I thought the writing was ok, but I didn’t feel a lot of authenticity from the characters. Preston’s dad was practically bi-polar (smacking Preston around then giving him a new pony.) Preston’s step-dad just going out and renting his 16 year old son porn seemed nuts. Preston’s mom even marrying Preston’s dad didn’t make much sense. Ned – putting up with Preston’s crap for so long.  And there are other areas where it didn’t feel real.

I just couldn’t connect well to either MC very well, thought the plot holes were too big to ignore and found the romance lacking.  If you are a fan of drama, you might like this.  There is a LOT of it.  If you want a tender and satisfying, relationship story, this is not for you.

Audiobook
Max Lehnen is hit or miss for me. I have heard him do some nice narrations, and I have heard him butcher some. In this case he had some tall orders. He had to do a wide range of ages, including aging the MCs from 10 to adult. He had several accents to do, Texan, British, and Preston’s odd British/Texas blend, women, kids, etc. I thought for the most part he did a great job handling such a demanding narration, though some of his accents were definitely better than others.

I give Max Lehnen 4 of hearts and the story 1 of 5 hearts which gives this an average of 2.5 hearts

2.5

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Fairytales for Modern Queers by Emily Reed

Dreamspinner Presents:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5996fairy tales

Blurb

Gay teenager Hart could finish his fairy tale for class if his horrible stepsiblings would stop harassing him. Talia’s depression is like a sleeping curse and may kill her if she doesn’t ask for help. Independent, overweight bisexual Sienna deals with her “nice guy” neighbor while visiting her grandmother. When a mysterious girl climbs up Rachael’s fire escape, Rachael might finally break free from her overprotective mother. Transgender Amelia is bullied regularly for her identity, but she’ll show everyone exactly who she is. Princess Rellyn must face down a dragon since she’s seventh in line and battle her father since she’s not a boy, and she’s not sure which one is scarier. An adventurous knight whisks away genderfluid Noll when all they want is a quiet life on their farm. Mermaid Astrid wants revenge on the man who betrayed her, but is confused by her attraction to the one sailor immune to her song. Asexual Myka might love Princess Lysandria, but Myka must learn to control her inner werewolf before the king marries her off to “cure” her. With the help of a witch, blacksmith’s apprentice Malcolm must find his missing prince.

You’ve never heard stories like these at bedtime

Review

These are short – sometimes way too short – little LGBTQ takes on the old fairly tales.  In each there is a character or character that falls into that community who takes on a more modern/unique role.  Each story is a different set of people, using an old fairy tale as a template for a modern story.

The writing is good.  The idea is magnificent.  I really think that for the YA audience these will really ring true and find a home in the heart of the LGBTQ YA community.

However, for me, it felt like just as I was invested in the story – it ended.  So it was a little off-putting and frustrating.  I’d like to see these stories more fleshed out, I definitely think there is more that they have to offer.

I really liked that it wasn’t just gay or trans but a variety of gender roles/sexual orientations.  There really is something for everyone in this anthology.

Overall, I give it high points for the attempt with a little bit taken off for brevity.

If you are a YA fan I’d give this a try, it really is remarkable.

4 of 5 hearts

4

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Fight For Identity (The Good Fight book 3) Audiobook by Andrew Grey Narrated by Andrew McFerrin

Dreamspinner Presents:
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6152

fight for identityBlurb

Will Martin’s racist father, Kevin, hates Native Americans and wants to keep them off his property, never mind that part of the ranch land is sacred ground for the Sioux. When they request access for prayer, Kevin refuses—but Will doesn’t share his father’s views. Ever since he first saw Takoda Red Bird during one of the Sioux sacred ceremonies, Will has been fascinated. He grants the tribe access.

Takoda defies Kevin on a regular basis. He often sneaks to the sacred site on the rancher’s land for prayer and knows Will has seen him there. When, out of spite, Kevin places the land up for auction, Takoda knows it is time for action and bands together with Will to stop the sale.

In the fight that follows, Will gets more than he expected. He starts out helping the tribe preserve their identity… and ends up finding his own.

Review

Will and his father Kevin do not agree on many things. Though Will has agreed to come help his dad with the running of the family ranch he won’t compromise on his basic beliefs, even if it means being disowned.

Takoda belongs to the local group of Native Americans who want to use Will’s land for their ceremonial prayer, as they have done for years. Will’s dad says no, but Will is adamant that the ceremonies be revered.

Though they met when they were younger, it is not until they meet as adults that the attraction between them flares to life.

Will and Takoda move their relationship forward at a brisk pace and this pits Takoda and Kevin against one another over land rights. Kevin tries to gain the upper hand by putting the land in question up for sale but we find out that the land isn’t actually his to sell.

Faced with losing everything, Kevin grudgingly begins to accept the relationship between Takoda and Will and begins to see reason.
**
This is the third book in the Good Fight series and in each book we learn a bit about Native American culture, demonstrating Andrew Grey’s amazing research skills.

I really enjoyed learning about this part of American culture that is so often misrepresented and definitely under-represented.

The chemistry between Takoda and Will is hot and their love for one another sincere and sweet.

I really liked this series and recommend it.

Audio
Andrew McFerrin narrates this entire series and he does a wonderful job with it. He manages to give Takoda an “accent” without making it feel cheesy or over the top. I really think listening to this book adds to the overall enjoyment and increases its entertainment value.

4.5 of 5 hearts

4.5

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