Tag Archives: bullying

Hesitant Heart (Hampton Roads Club #1) Morticia Knight

💫Reviewed by The KimiChan Experience💫

TITLE: Hesitant Heart

SERIES: Hamptons Road Club # 1

AUTHOR: Morticia Knight

PUBLISHER: Knight Ever After Publishing (2nd Edition)

RELEASE DATE: October 26, 2018

BLURB: Sam is a naïve young man who arrives in Hollywood to escape his brutal father. When the older, sophisticated Aaron rescues him, Sam discovers what it means to fully surrender himself to another.

Eighteen year-old Sam Cunningham is used to living with lots of secrets. He’s had to hide his true nature his entire life or else incur the wrath of his strict and abusive father. When he’s faced with a horrible ultimatum, he flees to Hollywood where he hopes he can escape the fate his father has planned for him.

Aaron Rubenstein is a wealthy and sophisticated man who loses himself in painting portraits of bound men to help stave off his loneliness and despair. Unable to find a lasting connection with anyone, he’s had to resort to paying lovers not only for their affections, but to be allowed to indulge in his darker passions. Aaron’s only respite is his nights at the Hampton Road sadomasochism club where he’s a respected Dominant.

Naïve and inexperienced in the ways men can please one another, Sam takes a job at a bathhouse where he first glimpses a beautiful older man. Aaron notices the sweet towel boy watching him with interest every time he patronizes the Temple of Eros bathhouse. A traumatic incident for the innocent towel boy triggers Aaron’s protective tendencies and he’s compelled to rescue the gentle Sam from the clutches of the Temple’s manager.

They embark on a journey together that teaches them both things about themselves that they never knew. As their bond deepens and Sam is trained for his first night at the Hampton Road Club, an unknown danger lurks. Will Sam’s father find him and destroy both men’s chance for true happiness together? Or will Aaron protect his boy and keep him for always?

Reader advisory: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series.

REVIEW: This story is absolutely fabulous. In fact, every single book that I’ve read written by this author is fabulous. Knight’s stories, characters and storylines are always well written and memorable. This series is unique in the sense that it takes place in a different era. The 1920s-1930s. That is what initially caught my attention; I wanted to see how she would create a story with BDSM in that particular time period. And let me tell you, it was glorious.

Sam is a young man who ran away from home to escape his abusive father. It’s there where he meets the wealthy and kind older sophisticated gentleman, Aaron. Together they travel a journey of sexual freedom and discovery for Sam and for Aaron, he’s finally found someone he can be himself with. Both men are happy together but of course, Sam’s past threatens to take away the happiness they’ve found with each other.

This is a fantastic May/December M/M BDSM romance set in the Roaring Twenties. I don’t know of any other storylines, books in the genre that combines all of those elements together. This author did such a wonderful job with these characters and this storyline. The little details of the fashions, technology, language of the times really held my interest. This is the first book of what is shaping up to be an amazing series.

This is a definite must read.

Side note: This is the 2nd edition of the series.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

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A Vampire’s Heart (Ellowyn Found #1) Kayleigh Sky

💫Reviewed by The KimiChan Experience💫

TITLE: A Vampire’s Heart

SERIES: Ellowyn Found #1

AUTHOR: Kayleigh Sky

PUBLISHER: Kiss Drunk Books

RELEASE DATE: November 13, 2018

BLURB: Vampires live.

And they hunger…

Otto Jones, a cop assigned to the seemingly random murder of a vampire, would rather hide out in the nearest bar than waste his time on a dead vamp. He hates the bloodthirsty demons. But when the king of the vampires commands him to work with one of the lesser princes and find the killer, he has no choice.
Prince Jessamine Senera is ready to sacrifice his happiness in a loveless marriage for his family’s benefit… but not yet. He dreams of adventure, excitement, and true love. He lives on romance novels and detective stories and wishes he could drink synthetic blood like every other vampire. But he can’t. He needs human blood to survive and is hated by vampires and humans alike.

As Otto and Jessa draw closer to an entity that doesn’t want to be discovered, Otto finds the heart he thought long dead opening to the romance-loving Jessa. No good can possibly come from falling in love with a vampire, but when a shadowy assailant attacks Jessa, Otto will descend into the darkest pit of the earth to rescue him.

REVIEW: This is a new to me author and was absolutely blown away by this story. This book was very well written. The storyline, dialogue and characters were wonderfully fleshed out.

Otto’s character is a flawed hero. He’s has his demons and has not moved past the grief over losing his sister. It’s this grief, anger and distain towards vampires drives virtually every decision—good and bad—that he makes.

Jessa’s character is a complete opposite of what you would think a vampire’s personality would be. He’s gentle, kind and soft spoken. He was more human by way of personality and temperament.

These characters are so well written, you end up caring for them. The storyline moved among smoothly, the plot was well thought out and the dialogue is superb. This book held my attention from the first page to the last and I’m really looking forward to seeing more from this author and this series.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

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X-Factor by Sean Michael

Reviewed by Kiwi

TITLE: X-Factor

PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press

RELEASE DATE: April 27, 2016

SUMMARY: Game designer Henry Delloit loves his life, his mountain community, his isolated dream home, and the snow. He also loves that the X-treme Games blow into the area for a month every year, bringing with them hundreds of athletes.

Ecco Rasmussen loves boarding. He knows he’ll never make it to the big time, but as long as he can get on his board and go, he doesn’t care. If only his manager, Blake Dobbs, would cut Ecco a break. The man’s possessive and mean, and believes he owns Ecco.

When Henry and Ecco meet at the Branchberry Games, it’s lust at first sight. An injury on Ecco’s qualifying run offers an opportunity to spend quality time together at Henry’s home, away from the crowds and out from under Blake’s thumb.

At this rate, lust might turn into love, but not if they can’t keep their romance hidden from Blake.

First Edition published by Torquere Press, 2010.

Second Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, EDR: April 27, 2016

REVIEW: I’ve always enjoyed this author’s books, whether it be his series (Hammer is my favorite) or his stand alone books. Its this that keeps me drawn to his work. This book however, didn’t do it for me unfortunately. It wasn’t a bad stories in the sense that it was poorly written. It’s really well written: the characters are interesting and well thought out. The glitches for me was the dialogue and the execution of the storyline.

Let me give a brief summary: Ecco is a snowboarder with a manager with some major boundary issues that’s creepy and possessive, sliding towards abusive.

Henry is a well loved resident of the area who looks forward to the games that come through town one month a year. These two meet and it’s attraction at first sight. These two men get together and embark on a sexual relationship that soon turns into somethings more. But they’re not going to have their happily ever after. They have to keep the relationship a secret from Ecco’s bizarrely possible manager.

I absolutely love how the story focuses on these two men and their budding relationship. The book was saturated with sex which is par for the course with this author’s work.

The only thing that absolutely did not work for me was the dialogue. It was just too juvenile for my tastes. I just couldn’t with the constant dude, rock on, for real, dudes, and oh mans. The dialogue was more suited to teenaged skater boys than a grown man.

Dialogue aside, I rather enjoyed the book.

RATING: ❤️❤️❤️

BUY LINKS:

Dreamspinner Press

Torquere Press

 

 

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Deliver Me Audiobook by Remmy Duchene Narrated by Paul Morey

Dreamspinner Presents
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6260

deliver meBlurb

The severe bullying he suffered as a teenager left Jack Flemming scarred both physically and emotionally. Now an adult, he has carved out a life for himself as co-owner of the Mechanic Shop. He enjoys his volunteer work with the throwaway boys, and has a supportive best friend. When the past resurfaces in a phone call from Zachariah Durban, Jack discovers that while living is easy, forgiveness is much harder.
Zachariah Durban did a bad thing when he was a young punk of a teenager. But right after he did it, he knew it wasn’t right. Still, he ran away and made something of himself as a big shot author. Now, living in the south of France with writer’s block hitting him hard, Zachariah knows something has to change – starting with earning Jack Flemming’s forgiveness.

Review

Jack and Zachariah “don’t call me Zac” were friends in high school until one day Zachariah and his football friends do something truly horrible to Jack that leaves him near death.

Now, fifteen years later, Zachariah has writer’s block and he’s calling on Jack for help.
After some resistance, Jack agrees to meet with Zachariah in Southern France and they work out their differences and realize that they still harbor deep feelings for each other and more.

**

Oh man. I really, really wanted to like this book and I really don’t want to write a review full of negativity… I liked the premise so much… I liked the writing and the narration… it seemed to have a nice flow… but…

First, I never understood why Zachariah treated Jack the way he did. It was brutal. Not just a prank, but brutality. And Zac’s answer to why he did it – “I don’t know, it seemed like the right thing at the time”. And, “I thought it was a harmless prank. I wasn’t thinking.” These just don’t jive for me. Even for a 17 year-old boy, none of that makes any sense. Jack was his friend. Even if he wasn’t publicly friends with him or if he was ashamed of the friendship, even if he was scared by his own feelings, even if he was feeling bullied by his football friends (which he never claims to be any of these), the amazingly abusive bullying he took part in makes absolutely no sense and then he simply walks away from him that night and then runs away from him once he finds out Jack’s in the hospital? It just doesn’t make sense.

If I were Jack I don’t believe there would be any way in hell I’d forgive him. Especially when he had not one real reason for doing it.

Second, if we ignore the first major hole in the plot and accept the fact that it happened… what causes Zac’s renewed interest? There are plenty of reasons he could have for wanting to reconnect, but we are given none. Then, when Zac decides he wants to see Jack again, he essentially bullies Jack into flying to France to see him. Why didn’t he just get on a plane himself if it was so important? And why did Jack get on the plane? That made no sense either. Zac almost got Jack killed and it’s Zac who needs closure – let the man come to you! Not to mention Jack has a business to run, kids who depend on him and the man almost got you killed!

Third, now that Jack is in France he goes to see Zac, then runs away when Zac can’t do anything but say he’s sorry, but Jack still stays in Zac’s house. Why not go to a hotel? Why not go home? The next time Jack sees him, Zac tells him he “wants him” and Jack punches Zac and then goes to live with Zac’s sister for a week. That makes no sense either. Again, this super-bad bully treats you like crap, you fly out to France to get closure, Zac can’t say anything that makes you feel better about the past and in fact tells you he wants you (from out of the blue and from a supposedly straight guy) so you appropriately get mad and then you stay with his sister? For a week? And Zac is supposedly looking for Jack this whole time but doesn’t ask his sister about it or talk to her the entire time. It struck me as confusing and very unbelievable.

Fourth, after some awkward discussions, Jack and Zac decide to date and after the second date they have sex. And then they fall in love and go to their high school reunion… it just kept getting more and more unbeliveable.

I don’t want to belittle the author’s efforts because I know that it’s hard to put together a complete story and plug all the little plot holes, but these are large, gaping holes, wide-enough-for-the-Nile-River holes. Obviously, since the book is now an audiobook it must have sold pretty well, but it didn’t gel with me.

I liked Jack’s character and really wanted him to make a stand. If there had been any sort of remotely understandable reason for Zac to act like he did and if Zac had taken some real steps toward making himself forgiven, the story could have been excellent. But having Zac say – “I don’t know why I did it” – just makes no sense and sets the rest of the story up poorly. I couldn’t like Zac. I couldn’t. He never redeemed himself to me and since Jack falls for him (never stopped loving him in fact) he ends up being someone I can’t like either.

Audio

Paul Morey did the narration for the audiobook and he did a nice job. I enjoyed his husky voice and liked the narration well enough to continue where I would have set the book down without finishing. Part of the reason I keep using Zac instead of Zachariah is that hearing Paul say that name over and over became really bulky. I understand why the character didn’t like the nick-name, but reading/hearing the full name repeatedly got distracting. But – having two lovers named Zac and Jack is awkward too.

Overall, I cannot really recommend this book. The MCs don’t act the way I think real people would react and the resulting romance is unbelievable as a result.

I give it 2 of 5 hearts for the narration, the cover and the premise.

2

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Inclination by Mia Kerick

inclinationBlurb

Sixteen-year-old Anthony Duck-Young Del Vecchio is a nice Catholic boy with a very big problem. It’s not the challenge of fitting in as the lone adopted South Korean in a close-knit family of Italian-Americans. Nor is it being the one introverted son in a family jam-packed with gregarious daughters. Anthony’s problem is far more serious—he is the only gay kid in Our Way, his church’s youth group. As a high school junior, Anthony has finally come to accept his sexual orientation, but he struggles to determine if a gay man can live as a faithful Christian. And as he faces his dilemma, there are complications. After confiding his gayness to his intolerant adult youth group leader, he’s asked to find a new organization with which to worship. He’s beaten up in the church parking lot by a fanatical teen. His former best pal bullies him in the locker room. His Catholic friends even stage an intervention to lead him back to the “right path.” Meanwhile, Anthony develops romantic feelings for David Gandy, an emo, out and proud junior at his high school, who seems to have all the answers about how someone can be gay and Christian, too.

Will Anthony be able to balance his family, friends and new feelings for David with his changing beliefs about his faith so he can live a satisfying life and not risk his soul in the process?

Review

There are a few things to know before you decide if this is the book for you.

First, this book is written as a first person present narration. For some people this is hard to read. (Read a sample before you buy it if you are picky about writing styles.) It’s well done here. It reads sort of like a diary or journal, but in the present tense, sort of like you are just glimpsing into the brain of Anthony as he goes through life.

Second, this is definitely a YA novel. There is almost no intimacy of any kind, a little bit of kissing but even a hand-job is aborted because “it’s not the right time for that”.

Third, this is all about being Catholic and/or devoutly Christian. Not just that Anthony is those things, but this is about his struggle with being gay and a Christian.

Fourth, it is written very well and would do well to be read by any young gay person or parent of a gay child who struggles with merging ideas from the church with being gay.

There were parts I really enjoyed. I loved the progression along the fear axis Anthony takes, from denial, to anger, to regret, to anger again, etcetera. I loved how supportive his family and his (to-be) boyfriend were in this struggle.

I didn’t grow up Catholic, never attended Parochial schools, did not have that vision of God as it was described in the Bible or in this book… so I couldn’t really relate to this story personally. But, I could totally see how it would be wonderful if that was your history.

As for me, I got mired down in the religious stuff and was disappointed the romance wasn’t a bigger part of the story.  That’s just my personal preference.

However, knowing that this is a coming of age story about a gay boy dealing with his religion and there is a little romance thrown in, I think if you choose this book based on that information you will be quite pleased with your choice.  Note:  This story is very respectful of religion and does not bash any religion.

Writing/Editing 5
Romance 3
Storyline 4
World Building/Characterizations 4

Overall 4 of 5 hearts

4

Buy from Amazon

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Emi-chan’s thoughts:

I’m almost 14, so I’m probably looking at this book differently than most reviewers (they seem to be mainly adults). There were a lot of things I liked about this book, and there were things I felt irritated about. First off, I am going to admit to being an atheist, so my reaction is probably not the same as a kid who is a Christian.

I was very angry with the kids and youth leader at Anthony’s church. While I don’t understand the need to believe in some invisible god being in the universe, I do firmly in one’s right to do so as long as they a aren’t hurting any with how they express that belief.  Telling people they are awful, perverted, and going to hell to suffer an eternal torment? Yeah, that’s seriously uncool. Also, being a kid is hard enough and becoming a teenager and having to deal with crushes and stuff is even harder without people adding more for us kids to have to agonize over.

I felt bad for Anthony’s family too. I could tell his family really loves Anthony, without any strings attached. To find out your kid is gay and you’ve raised him to believe wholeheartedly that to be a Christian means following doctrine so closely because it’s “the way”, only to discover you’ve unwittingly led him to soul deep despair? That had to be hard, especially given that Anthony felt as if he’d be a huge disappointment to them. I really liked how his family  rallied around him, knowing that Anthony was the same “perfect” son they’d always had, and that meant he couldn’t be wrong for being born gay. That it wasn’t wrong for him to be made, by their God, to love another male.

The romance in this isn’t the usual sort found in YA books. Anthony is terrified and spends a lot of the book trying to reconcile his faith with his gayness. He’s literally terrified that he’s going to go to Hell. It’s eating him up inside. When he crosses paths with David and finds they have this as a common ground, their relationship grows. It’s based on faith and mutual respect. I quite liked how the boys’ stopped themselves from going too far with their feelings. They recognized they weren’t ready yet for sex, so stopped. I did feel awful that they seemed to feel a bit of shame, because sex shouldn’t come with a shame tag. I guess that religiously, they have issues with sex before marriage though.

The overall message that love is love, and that if God is love, he can’t hate you over love, is something I think more people need to accept. Too much hate is spread around and wars happening because people want to use God as an excuse. I don’t think if God is actually out there, he’d be too happy with that. I may not be a Christian, but I study religion (a school subject here in the UK) and Jesus seems to say a lot about loving one another and not being judgmental. This book is good for pointing out how wrong that is, using the Bible itself to show why Christians who think being gay is a sin are wrong. Every person who is even slightly religious should read it, as well as anyone who is trying to understand what the religious fuss is all about.

emi-chan

Rating: 

 

Us Three (One Voice book 1) by Mia Kerick

Dreamspinner presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4857

us threeBlurb

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

In his junior year at a public high school, sweet, bright Casey Minton’s biggest worry isn’t being gay. Keeping from being too badly bullied by his so-called friends, a group of girls called the Queen Bees, is more pressing. Nate De Marco has no friends, his tough home life having taken its toll on his reputation, but he’s determined to get through high school. Zander Zane’s story is different: he’s popular, a jock. Zander knows he’s gay, but fellow students don’t, and he’d like to keep it that way.

No one expects much when these three are grouped together for a class project, yet in the process the boys discover each other’s talents and traits, and a new bond forms. But what if Nate, Zander, and Casey fall in love—each with the other and all three together? Not only gay but also a threesome, for them high school becomes infinitely more complicated and maybe even dangerous. To survive and keep their love alive, they must find their individual strengths and courage and stand together, honest and united. If they can do that, they might prevail against the Queen Bees and a student body frightened into silence—and even against their own crippling fears.

Review

I had avoided this title for a long time because the subject of bullying is such a hard one. When I saw the sequel had come out I just knew I had to put on my big-girl panties and read it and boy am I glad I did.

Casey is a small, effeminate boy who gets tortured by the popular GIRLS at his school. The opening passage happens his freshman year and it takes him one and a half years before he’s comfortable attending public school again. It’s hard to read, no doubt about it, but only because you just know stuff like this happens EVERY DAY – or worse.

We meet Casey again as a Junior. He’s still the object of subtle bullying almost every day but his sincere and honest faith and hope in humanity keeps him from giving up on high school all together. He’s taking a French survey course and is assigned two very disparate partners to work with on a project.

Nate is a “loser, burnout, druggie” who is barely holding on to his family and struggling not to drop out of high school all together. He doesn’t talk much but when he does it always leaves an impact.

Zander is a jock. He’s a great soccer player with a fairly absent mother and a beloved older brother who is away at college. Zander knows he’s gay but is deathly afraid of being out. As a result he feels complicit in the bullying that Casey (and others) face simply because he doesn’t stop it.

When the three boys get together something about them clicks. Both Zander and Nate feel protective of Casey. He’s this bright and shiny beacon of hope and it hurts them to see him so pummeled by the mean girls in school. They have a wary respect and attraction for each other as well, but neither knows what to do with all these feelings.

As the weeks progress it becomes clear that in addition to being friends, these boys mean something to each other in a way far deeper.  Casey, surprisingly, is the instigator and glue that drives the relationship.

Their first call to action is to simply be together as partners in class and face the hostility of the popular girls on that front. Later, this expands to protecting Casey (and themselves) from jealousy and hate on many fronts.

So much happens that it can’t really be summarized easily. The boys finish their project, proceed delicately forward on their romantic relationship, begin to fight for Casey and later to fight for the bullied everywhere.

In addition to that, both Nate and Zander have to deal with their own home lives and this, too, is difficult.

Finally, after Casey faces a climactic and nearly crushing blow, the boys and the school rally together to do what’s right and we end up with a very solid HFN which leads us to book two.

**

I won’t lie to you. This is a hard book to read. I found myself rushing through the painful passages because they are just SO painful to read. But when you get to the other side it is so beautiful.

I was skeptical of a three-way relationship in a high school setting, but it just works for these boys. They are all absolutely integral to the relationship’s success and for the success of the anti-bullying campaign.

The other part I really liked, and we see in the subsequent sequel, is how the relationship also strengthened each boy individually and gave him strength to fight on the home front as well.

I absolutely adored Casey’s family. At first I was so frustrated with them, but as the story progressed I realized their naiveté is what makes Casey the pure shining light that he is and if they’d been different so would have he. When they rally around the boys and their relationship at the end it just made me want to cry it was so sweet.

I applaud Mia Kerick for the sex in this book. It felt honest and real and touching and was absolutely age appropriate.

I was so glad to have the sequel on hand because I was NOT satisfied with the ending. Yes – it is hopeful and leaves the boys in a good place, but I was dying to know what happened next. As a result I had to dive into book two and ended up with a book hangover because I couldn’t put that book down either!

I highly recommend this book and the series, even if you aren’t a YA fan, you will find you can appreciate this book for what it is.

5 of 5 hearts

5

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