Category Archives: Exploration

Toxic (Treacherous Chemistry #2) Avylinn Winter

                  ✨REVIEWED BY: Patricia Nelson

TITLE: Toxic

SERIES: Treacherous Chemistry Book 2

AUTHOR: Avylinn Winter

PUBLISHER: Pride Publishing

RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2017

BLURB: When true love is a lie and pleasure turns to pain…

Adam Webb spent most of his teenage years in love with his best friend, Gabriel Connor, only to be thrown out of their shared apartment when he finally found the courage to reveal his feelings.

Seven months later, Adam’s effort to save their lost friendship finds him more than he ever asked for. After all, being thrown out has to better than being thrown into a wall. However, Adam isn’t ready to give up. Trapped and isolated in a dangerous relationship, he falls deeper and deeper into Gabriel’s world. Despite Adam’s attempts to push them away, his friends are determined to help, but the man who fights hardest is Cameron McCain, Adam’s photography teacher–a man who treasures what Gabriel does not.

They say love should conquer all. But when passion breeds fear and love turns toxic, will Adam make the right choice?

REVIEW: I was totally blown away by the gritty, heartbreaking, in-your-face, take no prisoners, grab-you-by-the-throat, no holds barred honesty of this compelling story. The author doesn’t sugarcoat, or try to gloss over, just how people can be sucked into a dangerous situation where it’s nowhere near as easy to escape from as you might think. This book carries a powerful message, and left me thinking about it long after I reached the end. This story may have triggers for some people, but for me, it was well worth the journey.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

Pride Publishing

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The Warehouse by Jason Collins

                           💫💫Reviewed by Michele💫💫

TITLE: The Warehouse

SERIES:

AUTHOR: Jason Collins

PUBLISHER: Self publish

RELEASE DATE: March 19, 2017

BLURB: : After breaking away from the small conservative town where he was born, Nicholas Cole has been working as a dancer at The Warehouse, a dimly-lit bar where men can retreat from public view and indulge in hidden fun. His coworkers welcomed him with open arms and watched as he grew to be their top dancer. Never one to be distracted by a relationship or a handsome face, Nicholas seeks the constant excitement of dancing for large sums of money and teasing the countless men who worship him.

When a party of women and straight men walk through the door, Nicholas is surprised to say the least, but one guy in the group catches his eye.

Personal fitness coach Clint Meyers is attached to the arm of a pretty girl who seems to monitor his every move, but she doesn’t notice when Clint’s eyes land on Nic’s barely-clothed body. His coworkers insist he’s wasting his time lusting after a straight guy, but Nicholas is captivated by Clint’s ripped physique and chiseled face. The two men begin to meet in private and bond over their love of fitness, but Nicholas is distracted by the presence of a strange new loner who shows up at The Warehouse and refuses to accept rejection. As Nicholas copes with an unwanted and potentially dangerous admirer, he and Clint start to explore – and push – Clint’s boundaries.

REVIEW: Okay so let me very honest, I didn’t even read the blurb before I began reading this book. I was genuinely excited to read Jason’s latest because I had heard some positive comments from other friends of mine. So as I read the first say 15% of the book I was uncertain as to where the story was headed. This part of the story is a very raw and probably very realistic look at what goes on at a club with go-go dancers. Nicholas, one of our main characters is a go-go dancer in a bar called “The Warehouse”. He was extremely good looking and in great shape so he was easily a very popular guy. Nic came across as somewhat conceited though, which made him less attractive to me.

As the story progresses we meet Clint, a very handsome physical trainer who is also straight…or so he thinks. I don’t particularly like him either. He comes across bi-curious and weak. But as I continued reading and getting to know all the secondary characters, Greg, Allen, Kelly and Kenneth my feelings change about the MC’s. Their relationship moves very slowly as Clint tries to figure things out.

I ended up enjoying the book a lot. However, I felt our MC’s never got enough time together. Certain parts of the story dragged on too long, and not enough time was given to Nic and Clint. I wanted a lot more of them.

I give this 4 stars.

RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

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Losing Faith by Scotty Cade

Reviewed by Kiwi

TITLE: Losing Faith

SERIES

AUTHOR: Scotty Cade

PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press

RELEASE DATE: June 10, 2016

BLURB: Father Cullen Kiley, a gay Episcopal priest on hiatus from the church, decides to take his boat, T-Time, from Provincetown, Massachusetts, to Southport, North Carolina, a place that holds an abundance of bittersweet memories for him. While on a run his first day in Southport, Cullen comes upon a man sitting on a park bench staring out over the Cape Fear River with his Bible in hand. The man’s body language reeks of defeat and desperation, and unable to ignore his compassion for his fellow man, Cullen stops to offer a helping hand.

Southport Baptist Church’s Associate Pastor, Abel Weston, has a hard time managing his demons. When they get too overwhelming, he retreats to Southport’s Historic Riverwalk with his Bible in hand and stares out over the water, praying for help and guidance that never seem to come. But Abel soon discovers that help and guidance come in many forms.

An unexpected friendship develops between the two men, and as Cullen helps Abel begin to confront his doubts and fears, he comes face-to-face with his own reality, threatening both their futures.

REVIEW: This book is in one word: amazing! It was touching and beautifully written. I will say that I wasn’t too excited about this one because of the subject matter but decided to give it a go because it was written by this author. Needless to say that I am so very glad that I made the decision to do so. This man, with his words, has this way of drawing you into his story that I find absolutely magical. His descriptions, which I had in the past described as wordy (which I sincerely apologize for now) were perfect. I get it! This author’s descriptions weren’t wordy at all! He was actually using them to draw you in; he wanted you to experience the emotions of each character, to actually feel their experiences. He did this in a way that is subtle; you don’t even realize until afterwards of what he’s done. Thinking back to his previous fictions I’ve had the pleasure of reading, I realize how he’s always done this.

These two men’s personalities couldn’t have been more different, so much so
That I didn’t think they would be compatible enough to get together. But of course, Cade found a way for them to connect and form an unbreakable and beautiful bond. This subtle build to perfection is what makes this story such an enjoyable read. I can tell you that I was captivated from the first page to the very last.

What I like about this story is that here, you have these two men of the cloth (what I refer to any clergy) who you think are supposed be…oh, I don’t know. I know as a youth, I certainly didn’t think of religious leaders as having their own demons to contend with. Cade of course writes these characters in a way that dispels that myth. He wrote these men in a way that said to me that these are men of god but they’re still only men. And they have demons to contend with just like we all do.

I loved this story. It was so very touching and beautiful. And of course, well researched! That’s one of the many things you can expect when reading this author’s work: an extremely well researched, perfectly edited book. This is a definite must read and one that I highly recommend you read.

RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

 
Dreamspinner Press

 

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Vanya Says Go by Wayne Goodman -Blog Tour with Excerpt and #Giveaway

In 1906, Mikhail Kuzmin published “Wings,” the first book in Russian to discuss same-sex relationships in a positive light. With “Vanya Says, ‘Go!,’” Wayne Goodman retells the story from the perspective of the young man at the heart of the tale. The original work contained only three sections, but a fourth has been added to round out the story and provide some closure.
Kuzmin was one of the most celebrated poets of his time, the Silver Age of Russian Poetry. While his poems were quite successful, his somewhat-autobiographical novel “Wings” met with skepticism and criticism. Kuzmin used many constructs from poetry (characters who appear all too briefly with no second mention, plot jumps with little connecting material, long-winded orations); however, his descriptions of scenery are exquisite, and the dialogue is quirky and colorful. “Vanya Says, ‘Go!'” is crafted for the modern reader while keeping much of the original Russian style. It is a window into a time and places long gone. The story is narrated by the main character, who at 16 years of age is dealing with being an orphan foisted off on friends of distant relatives and attempting to acquaint himself with his sexual orientation while also discovering various religious and philosophical frameworks.

“An exemplary study in classic Russian literary charm… with a choice cast of picaresque characters. Goodman draws the reader into the desperate historical moment of pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg, and artfully stages Vanya’s gay yearnings against its fast-moving currents.” — Edmund Zagorin

“The author accurately evokes a long-lost Russia through his marvelous characters and descriptions… the underlying commentary on the decaying social order, and the romance of that forgotten time period.” — Andrew Demcak

“Set in Old Russia… this is an interesting, fact-based story of an orphaned gay youth and his attempt to find himself, his own opinions, and love.” — Daniel Curzon

  • Goodreads
  • Purchase:
  • Amazon US | Amazon UK | SmashwordsWatch Wayne Goodman read from Vanya Says “Go!” on Facebook

     

    EXCERPT
    A few days later the Kazanskys occupied their usual positions around the dining room at breakfast. Nata, Boba, and Koka sat in the alcove, Kostya and Anna at the table. When I walked into the room, no one paid me any attention. I just wanted a few slices of their stale, dark bread, some of their foul-smelling, oily butter, and a small cup of their nasty coffee.
    Just as I reached for the butter knife, Konstantin Vasilyevich sputtered, “What’s this?” He set down the newspaper that had been obscuring his unshaven face. “Listen, everyone. Listen to this.”
    Nata, Boba, and Koka stopped stirring their coffees, Anna Nikolayevna looked at her husband, and I dropped the knife back onto the dish with a clunk!
    “Mysterious suicide,” Kostya read to us, “Yesterday, in Furshtadtskaya Street, at the apartment of an English citizen, L.D. Stroop, a suicide.”
    My heart stopped. I had heard that stupid expression before, thinking it silly because no one’s heart could stop without an impending death. However, at that moment, I fully understood the feeling and the meaning of the words. Had my Stroop taken his own life? He had sounded very upset about some situation, but I couldn’t believe he would kill himself. At least not before seeing me one last time.

    Giveaway: Win a SIGNED paperback of Vanya Says, “Go!”

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    About the Author
    Wayne Goodman has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area most of his life (with too many cats). When not writing, he enjoys playing Gilded Age parlor music on the piano, with an emphasis on women, gay, and Black composers.

    Links: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Clockwork Heart (Clockwork Love book 1) by Heidi Cullinan

clockworkFrom Samhain:

As the French army leader’s bastard son, Cornelius Stevens enjoys a great deal of latitude. But when he saves an enemy soldier using clockwork parts, he’s well aware he risks hanging for treason. That doesn’t worry him half as much, however, as the realization he’s falling for his patient.

Johann Berger never expected to survive his regiment’s suicide attack on Calais, much less wake up with mechanical parts. To avoid discovery, he’s forced to hide in plain sight as Cornelius’s lover—a role Johann finds himself taking to surprisingly well.

When a threat is made on Cornelius’s life, Johann learns the secret of the device implanted in his chest—a mythical weapon both warring countries would kill to obtain. Caught up in a political frenzy, in league with pirates, dodging rogue spies, mobsters and princesses with deadly parasols, Cornelius and Johann have no time to contemplate how they ended up in this mess. All they know is, the only way out is together—or not at all.

 

Kimi’s thoughts:

As one might surmise from the blurb and cover, this is a steampunk adventure romance. It has a lot going for it- despite the time it is set, it has a contemporary vibe in tone and doesn’t bog itself down in trying to be overly historical. It stays true to it’s aim, that of of providing swashbuckling adventure with pirates, soldiers, airships, and clockwork while serving up a dollop of romance. It’s a sweet romance on many fronts but this is Heidi Cullinan so it’s not syrupy and there is a definite edge to how our heroes like to play.

The villains are properly heinous, though much less fully fleshed out as characters than our heroes. The plot itself is fast moving though the late introduction of the parasol wielding princess felt a bit overly convenient. All in all though, this was a great way to spend some time if in the mood for something lightly spiced and most definitely fun.

Buy from Amazon

4

kimisig

How to be a Normal Person By TJ Klune

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6963

HowToBeANormalPersonLGBlurb

Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.

Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.

Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.

But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

Review

This story almost defies description. If you’re a fan of TJ’s you know how he likes to rant. Well, this is almost one crazy rant after another.

It’s really hysterical and at times very moving.

It’s basically a love story about two men who aren’t “typical” in any way. They have many idiosyncrasies and somehow they work magically together as a couple.

I know that the whole “asexual” aspect – to me- was fascinating. I’m not well versed in the subject, so I can’t judge how well it was portrayed, but since TJ himself identifies as such, I can only imagine it’s accurate. I loved learning about that and seeing it played out in a romance genre known for it’s sex scenes.

There were times I was moved to tears (when Gus thinks Casey is leaving forever and when he returns) – TJ is good with the feels!

I recommend this to anyone interested in learning something new, laughing out loud and reading a sweet and sometimes sentimental love story.

I only give it a 4 and not a 5 of 5 because I still think it could be edited down to a more concise and tighter story (maybe a few less tangents).

4 of 5 hearts

4

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Cold Feet Audiobook by Jay Northcote Narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies

Dreamspinner Presents
http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Cold-Feet-Audiobook/B016J9TQXM/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1446220523&sr=1-1

cold feet audioBlurb

Best friends snowed in together. When the heat rises, will they get cold feet?

Getting snowed in at a remote cottage in Wales with someone he’d fancied for ages isn’t exactly how Sam expected to spend Christmas. His feelings for Ryan are pointless. Ryan’s straight—or so he thought.

Until now, Ryan’s kept his feelings for Sam buried. Why ruin a friendship over what might only be gay experimentation? Playing it cool seems safer, until a cold snap makes sharing body heat vital. In their Welsh safe haven, anything seems possible.

As Ryan’s reserve melts away, Sam wants more than stolen kisses under the mistletoe. But a sudden thaw means making decisions. They could face the New Year together—unless one of them gets cold feet.

Review:

(From book previously on this site)

Sam and Ryan are best “mates” (I love the British!) from university planning on a holiday in the country when the snow comes. Instead of being a casual thing with four roommates – now it’s an intimate stay between the two.

Sam is openly gay and has known he’s had feelings for Ryan forever. Sam knows those are pointless as Ryan is straight. (We’ve heard that before, right?!)
Ryan has had feelings for Sam pretty much since Sam came out and made Ryan look at sexuality in a different light. But Ryan doesn’t have the fearlessness Sam does, so he hesitates from jumping in the “gay” pool and watches for a while. Being snowbound forces those feelings to the surface and he and Sam begin to explore their feelings (and each other!).

**
This is a lovely short-story perfect for the holidays. The set-up for forcing Ryan to confront his feelings felt natural and their easy, slow start into moving things physical also fit the age and the setting. There is a bit of steam and smolder, but most of this is about their changing feelings and their emotions. Though we do get a very HEA ending, it also left us feeling that this was really the beginning of their relationship and we were just glimpsing its origins.

This isn’t as angsty as some of Jay’s other novels, certainly not as steamy, but it is every bit as sweet and sentimental – full of all the wonderful “feels” that she is great at delivering.

Of course, I’m always a sucker for the GFY theme, coupled with the British and the friends to lovers… it hit all my buttons in a big way!

Audio

Matthew Lloyd Davies is wonderful! He does all the voices so well, including the women! I love the varieties of accents he uses to give the speakers a local flavor. Very nice narration.

I highly recommend this holiday treat and give it 4.5 of 5 hearts!

4.5

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Betrothed by Therese Woodson

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6877

BetrothedBlurb

Faery royalty have always married for duty rather than love. Prince Chrysanths should be no different—except with a human for a father, the prince known as Puck already is different. When he is betrothed against his will to Prince Sky, Puck flees to his father in the human world, only to have Sky follow.

Prince Sky Song of the Clouds isn’t thrilled with the prospect of marriage either, but is bound by duty to follow through. If he can’t win Puck over, the faery realm might very well dissolve into utter chaos. Too busy arguing, Puck and Sky are unaware there are others with a vested interest in seeing the betrothal fail. In a bid for Puck’s crown, they’ll seek to keep them apart, even as Puck and Sky realize that duty and love don’t always have to be mutually exclusive.

Review

Puck is heir to the Earth throne and Sky to the Air throne. They are forced into a political alliance/marriage that though neither wants, only Puck throws the most resistance at.

Puck pouts and returns to his father on Earth where Sky is forced to follow, even though he could be hurt. There Puck treats him like crap for two weeks, trying to get Sky to renounce the betrothal.

Sky perseveres however and eventually even Puck realizes that there is more than just politics at play and that perhaps an alliance between them won’t be all bad.

**

The first half of the book is full of Puck being an ass. He’s an admitted brat, but slowly and surely he and Sky grow closer. They are super cute together. Sky’s learning of the human world is sometimes adorable and the growing attraction between them is sweet.

When they finally do give it a go as a couple I was entranced and fully engaged in their love story. My only complaint was that we spent so much time with them struggling that I’d have appreciated them as a happy couple for longer than a chapter or two.

This was a wonderful book by a new to me author and I highly recommend it.

( I LOVE the cover too!)

4.5 of 5 hearts

4.5

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Holiday Hoax Audiobook by Skylar Cates Narrated by KC Kelly

Dreamspinner Presents
http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/The-Holiday-Hoax-Audiobook/B015HQB6OA/ref=a_search_c4_1_2_srTtl?qid=1443754449&sr=1-2

holiday hoax audBlurb

I’m Evan Goodman, budding actor, future star, college freshman. Oh, and let’s not forget—recently dumped. If only my family wasn’t expecting to meet my new boyfriend over the holiday break. Enter JD Laurens—a sweet and quiet science major who mostly keeps to himself. When he gathers the courage to come out, poor JD gets abandoned by his only family right in front of me, and now he has nowhere to go for Christmas. But I have a proposition for him: pretend to be my boyfriend for the holidays so I can take him home. It’s a win-win. What could go wrong?

Review

Evan is “dating” this self-centered, cheating, popular guy from his major who drops him right before Christmas. He goes to the Donut Shop to fuel up for his trip home for the holidays and sees JD “out” himself to his very mean, hateful brother, who tells JD never to come home – ever. (And it turns out JD’s brother is his ONLY family- big jerk!)

Evan hatches a plan to save both JD and himself from a horrible holiday. JD can play Evan’s boyfriend, Tyler, (who the family was expecting to meet) and JD can have a place to go over Christmas.

Needless to say – the tricking doesn’t fool anyone, and mom is suspicious of Tyler/JD. But – as you can imagine – JD is a far better boyfriend to Evan than Tyler ever was and what started as a hoax ends up as a HEA.

**
Your heart will bleed for JD and the way he just shines in the face of Evan’s family is so touching. Neither Evan nor JD have much “experience” so the smexy times are pretty tame, but very sweet. This reads almost like a young adult title, but that doesn’t stop it from being a really sweet and fun book full of goofy holiday games and sappy moments.

I really enjoyed this and didn’t miss the smexy times.

Audio

KC Kelly did an absolutely fabulous job with this. He is excellent at the pacing and emotion and does a really nice job with JD voice.

5 of 5 hearts

5

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Rearranging Stars by Diane Adams

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6776

RearrangingStarsBlurb

The freedom to love comes with a cost.
As a guardian angel, Drake’s destiny is written in the stars. Choice is not part of an angel’s life. Drake never thought twice about it until he’s unexpectedly thrust into watching over Grey, who inspires passion in Drake but endangers his very identity as a guardian angel. Grey is more than just another human—he can see angels. When he discovers that unlike his previous angel Drake will talk to him, Grey becomes determined to pull Drake off the sidelines and into life. Attraction flares between them from the beginning and causes Drake to question his purpose for the first time. His distraction results in a decision that changes everything—and not just for him and Grey.

Review

Drake is a guardian angel, who despite protocol, feels compelled to “remember” each and everyone of his charges, even after they’ve passed. He gets placed on a case mid-stream when one of his fellow angels “goes corporeal” (turns into a human and gives up being an angel).

Grey is a human who has always been able to see guardian angels, but Drake is the first he’s gotten to talk to him and even touch! Grey acts as his own sort of guardian by patrolling his neighborhood streets to keep things as safe as he can for his people.

Drake and Grey are attracted to one another, though Drake knows absolutely and literally nothing about such physical and emotional things. Grey delights in showing him the wonders of “being alive” and experiencing life rather than just observing.

When things get very “real” and Grey gets hurt while Drake is on the job, Drake decides it’s too much to risk and asks to be pulled from Grey’s guard duty, though they’ve both admitted their love for the other.

However – it’s too much for them to take AND there’s something brewing among the angels that has Drake’s friends getting involved to bring Grey and Drake together in the hopes that their relationship will serve a higher purpose.

**

First let me say that I’m a Diane Adams fan. I really enjoyed her series “The Making of a Man” and was really excited about a paranormal book from her.

I’m not sure the order of writing, but I do know this is a re-print of an earlier title. That being the case it may have been one of her earlier books, I don’t know. But what I do know is that it lacked some of the tightness her other stories had and that there were some basic flaws that made enjoying the creativity of this story a harder for me.

The premise and the world-building were great. Angels aren’t vehicles of heaven – they just “are”. They don’t have an agenda, they just protect. They don’t judge don’t necessarily even care about what they see, they just observe. This has some consequences and in the past has led to some rebellion. Currently, there are angels worried about another rebellion. I liked this take on the angel theme, and was glad to see a departure from some of the more historical/religious way angels are usually portrayed.

I also loved the idea of a guardian angel falling for his charge. Sure, it’s been done before, but it’s a lovely idea and in this case has some interesting twists.

What I found difficult was all the inconsistencies around what angels were to do, why they would “go corporeal” and how they would come to that decision, what happens when they cross over, why Drake was so fixated on memories, what roll Grey was to play in the end and what the other pair of lovers had to do with things. It felt kind of vague in some ways and didn’t seem to follow a discrete set of “plot rules” in a way that made me understand character motivation well at all.

Though it may sound silly, it was hard having two MCs with names like Grey and Drake. They were so similar I kept forgetting who was who and had to re-read passages over and over because I’d gotten confused.

The gang stuff really didn’t work for me and the attack on Drake just felt awkward and strange for a modern story.

By the end I wasn’t sure what exactly was happening with Grey and Drake and just who they were and what they were going to be doing for the foreseeable future.

So… though I really liked parts of this story, the fact that felt so rough around the edges had me giving just a bit lower rating.

3 of 5 hearts

3

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