Five Sided Heart by Max MacGowan

Reviewed by Kiwi


TITLE: Five Sided Heart




PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press



RELEASE DATE:  May 16, 2016


SUMMARY: Noah Trevelyan has lost his moorings. Disowned over his sexuality as a teenager, he hasn’t been back to his home on the Outer Banks since his fisherman father kicked him out. But when he returns for the Old Man’s funeral, he discovers his father left him the house and boat in his will. Noah must choose whether to stay or go, but he won’t be alone. There’s Ian, working to overcome the emotional scars left by a domineering ex-boyfriend, and Ty, a cheerful housekeeper who’s struggling to take care of his Alzheimer’s-stricken aunt. There’s Joshua too, running from the destruction of his old life, and Gabriel, who was once beaten and left for dead, and doesn’t know how to survive on his own.


Will they find in each other the strength and courage to keep living—and learn, together, how to love again? A polyamorous relationship is the last thing any of them expected to find in the Outer Banks, but it might be what they need most, and it might even be their redemption—if they can keep their group from breaking apart under the pressure.



REVIEW: I’m a huge fan of ménage stories; those types of relationships always fascinated me. I’ve read many a ménage story by never have I read one featuring five men at once. I went in not really knowing what to expect. How was the dynamics going to play out? How does a relationship actually with that many people in it? I was expecting a big ole orgy type of deal and that would’ve been fine.


That is not what you get in this book. What you end up with is a story about five men, who love and cherish each other. You read about a relationship that has its ups and downs, good times and bad but these men weather the storms and come out stronger and close because of it. These men were in a relationship TOGETHER and even though it was so many of them, NONE of them were left out. Yes, each man had a different dynamic but you never at anytime get the sense that one man loves another more than the other. What you ended up with was a beautifully executed story that could’ve gone awry.


Yes, there was group sex but it was tastefully done; it wasn’t written as any type of orgy or anything of the sort. The author did a pretty good job with this and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.


RATING: ❤️❤️❤️❤️





Dreamspinner Press

Xenia Melter Guest Post for Casto


Casto_FINAL_1Places and Settings in Casto

Writing a novel can be a complicated process and sometimes one will stumble over problems that seem insignificant at first until you trip over them every time you write a new chapter. In my case, it was places and settings. Although I do have an overactive imagination and am able to come up with various types of story twists, I’m really bad at imagining and describing landscapes or houses. And don’t even get me started on realistic measurements for distances. I was never meant to be a girl scout and my way of using a map is holding it folded in my hands while looking for somebody who can point me in the right direction. Preferably with instructions like ‘If you turn left after the big church with the goat shed in front, then…’. Something along the lines of ‘In 300 meters you turn right and after 2 kilometers you will…’ is guaranteed to get me lost. So how could somebody like me go about inventing an entire world and map it out?

Getting single places into my head map wasn’t that difficult. The Valley as one of the major locations was quite easily built although I had to revisit my description more than once. The rest of the continent where the story takes place wasn’t that easy since the places had to serve the story, not the other way round. I’m a ‘messy’ writer, I do single scenes when they pop into my head and then build the story arch around those scenes. Of course I do have a major arch in the back of my head, but where I set out and how I ultimately get there are two very different things indeed. So thinking about the places before I knew where the story would go was useless. I had to build my world as I went along.

As I already mentioned, the Valley was more or less easy. I live close to the mountains, so all I had to do was take a look outside, allow my imagination to run wild for a bit and then describe what I see. I also like the idea that the home I truly love is part of the books and in a good way.

The housing situation in the Valley posed more problems to me and I quickly realized that my initial idea of having some kind of village situation wouldn’t work. So I decided to have something akin to a center with the main building where Renaldo, Canubis and the Emeris live, the Great Hall, where all the important meetings are (I went a little Viking there) and a cluster with the stables and the smithy. The other houses are scattered loosely around to reflect the feral aspect of the Pack.

I wanted the interior design of the chambers to reflect directly on the characters who live in them and concerning the bathrooms I do admit to stealing ideas from Spas I have visited and mixing them together.

Renaldo’s rooms are exquisite but not overbearing. They enhance his physical beauty, give an insight as to how he perceives and treats beauty himself and they provide a perfect background for the explosive relationship Casto and Renaldo share.

Aegid’s and Kalad’s rooms are ‘louder’, they reflect the colorful life the two warriors have had so far. Especially Kalad’s character is very outgoing and open to the point of being intimidating and overwhelming which is exactly what the room itself does to Daran when he first sets foot in it. As the story goes on, other rooms are displayed as well and they usually serve the purpose of highlighting either a character or a certain part of the plot.

Elam, the gold-digger city I created after I had seen a documentary about rich companies exploiting nature’s resources with poison and chemicals, not giving a damn how their actions ruin entire countries, not to mention the poor people whose services they buy for a few cents a day. To me, Elam is a symbol for what we do to our own planet and it shows in the way I describe the city. After a first reading, I thought I had been too hard on a place that only exists in my head, but as I tweaked the story again and again, I made Elam look even worse. It is definitely meant as something to abhor the reader, to make them despise the place as much as I do.

Of course there are also cities I created for the sheer fun of it and they are, in some ways, the utopian images we were encouraged to come up with in school. As the story progresses, I find myself inventing new places and I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.


About the author

Xenia Melzer is a mother of two who enjoys riding and running when she’s not writing stories. She doesn’t like beer but is easily tempted by a Virgin Mojito. Or chocolate. Truffles are especially cherished, even though she doesn’t discriminate. As a true chocoholic, she welcomes any kind of cocoa-based delight.





All is fair in love and war. Renaldo has lived happily by that proverb his entire life. But he has finally met his match, and he’s about to discover how unfair love and war can be.

When demigod and warlord Lord Renaldo takes a beautiful stranger captive during an ambush, he is delighted to have found a distraction that will keep him entertained during the upcoming siege. Little does he know, Casto is keeping more than just one secret from him. Slowly, Renaldo gets sucked into a turbulent roller-coaster relationship with his mysterious prisoner, one that begins with hatred and soon spirals into a whirlwind of conflicting emotions. And when it seems that things can get no worse, an old enemy stirs right in the heart of his home.

Determined to keep Casto by his side, Renaldo has to find a balance between the capricious young man and his own destiny as a ruler and god to his people.


Mute Witness by Rick R. Reed


The abuse of a little boy turns a community against a loving gay couple, and nobody comes out of it unscathed. Sean and Austin have the perfect life: new love, a riverfront home, security. Their love for one another is only multiplied when Sean’s eight-year-old son, Jason, visits on the weekends. And then their perfect world shatters. Jason goes missing. When the boy turns up days later, he’s been so horribly abused he’s lost the power to speak. Immediately small town minds turn to the boy’s gay father and his lover as the likely culprits. What was a warm, welcoming community becomes a lynching party out for blood. As Sean and Austin struggle to stay together amidst innuendo, the very real threat of Sean losing the son he loves emerges. Yet the true villain is much closer to home, intent on ensuring the boy’s muteness is permanent.


Kimi’s thoughts:

Sean and Austin’s story unfolds with the reader becoming acquainted with just how storybook perfect their life together is. Even the fact that Sean’s son Jason is only there for weekends is marred only by the sad fact that his mother is angry and reactive towards Sean, never having forgiven him for coming out as gay and upending the life she thought she had with him.  Shelley has since remarried, but that merely adds another dimension to just how imperfect her life really is- her new husband not only is homophobic, but is rather fond of drinking.

When Jason goes missing while Shelley is at work and her husband was watching him, Sean, Austin, and Shelley’s lives are turned upside down. Things go from bad to horrific when a local hermit stumbles over the boy in the woods- badly injured and unable to speak a single word. Suspicion is cast first upon the hermit who found him- Junior Parsons, then upon Sean himself. The town gossips are having a field day and the police are determined to solve the case, no matter what.

You’d think the police wanting to find the person who’d raped a child would be a good thing, but when prejudices and innuendo interfere in an already delicate situation, you get a powder keg. Sean and Austin’s relationship is torn apart, while Shelley reevaluates how she’s treated Sean, who she knows to be a good man and a doting father. If I have one complaint, it’s this: Sean loves so Austin very, very much, so why does he push him away at the very time he needs someone to lean on? I understand he’s gone off the rails, but I honestly don’t see the whole pushing away thing being so plausible in the way it unfolded here.

Otherwise, it’s a very well written drama that kept my attention, though I did guess who the evil monster was before it was revealed. That didn’t take away from the story though I did blink a bit hard over the whole guy at the river sex scenario, as it felt rather out of place and at first, I wasn’t entirely sure what had actually just happened. I will confess that reading this left me feeling raw- not just because of what happened to young Jason, but the sheer volume of unlikeable people in the book. I admit I even found Sean hard to relate to a lot of the time due to the way he suddenly distanced himself from Austin. Still, it was a good read that made me stop and think (and life is full of people we don’t like much, if at all, so ::shrug::).

Rating: 4


Dirty Angel by Barbara Elsborg

Art profile portrait of beautiful man with body of athlete. Photo.

Dying Sucks

Particularly when you discover there really is a hell. Aden thinks there’s no way he can avoid going down, but when an angel and demon can’t agree over his fate, Aden is given one more month to gain redemption. He doubts he can find a way to become a better man in so short a time. But it’s worth a try, right?

Living sucks

Particularly when you can’t shake free of an obsessive ex. Brody might be managing to hold down his job as a vet, but his personal life is a mess. If he doesn’t pull himself together soon, he’s going to be sliding downhill too fast to stop.

One wet night, on a dark country lane, two worlds collide and destinies change forever.

Kimi’s thoughts:

I love a great anti-hero, and this is exactly what I got. Aden has lived a rough life and it’s marked him. he’s not one of those inspirational sorts that rose above abuse and poverty to become a pillar of the community. He’s the guy that as a kid figured out how to take what he wanted, just make sure to not get caught because the punishment would make his life even more hell. As an adult, he had the common sense to restrict his vices to avoid arrest, but that didn’t mean he lived the straight and narrow. he still stole what he wanted, just making sure it wasn’t done in a way that could get him caught. He lived his life to excess, until one day, that caught up with him in a manner no one could have predicted. His last actions coupled with other incidents from childhood onwards lead him to hang in the balance as judgement finds him 50/50.

He’s given a second chance, one with a strict time limit and terms that can cut it short- with a trip straight to literal Hell.

Brody is a complicated character as well. He’s tormented with inner demons that lead to self-doubt and destructive tendencies. he has an ex who is absolutely obsessed with him, in the unhealthiest way possible. Unable to believe he deserves better, he gives in to temptations that physically and mentally hurt him, again, and again, and again. He’s moved house and changed jobs hoping to force a clean slate on himself and to make himself move forward. When Aden  appears in front of his car, the two men each see something inside the other that they each can not see for themselves.

It’s a chain reaction, each one setting the other off and the series of events that follow build up to a climatic conclusion that left me nearly breathless (not exaggerating!). It wrapped up to a satisfying conclusion that wasn’t schmaltzy but which was definitely a HEA. Well, as HEA as two complicated men can be.

Rating: 5

Buy from Amazon


The Shattered Door by Brandon Witt

shattered door

After a tortured childhood and years of soul-searching, Brooke Morrison has finally settled into a comfortable life. While his sexuality prohibits him from practicing his degree in youth ministry in a church setting, he’s found a fulfilling job as a youth counselor at a residential treatment facility in Colorado. He falls in love, marries the man of his dreams, and makes peace with God. He’s happy.

Then his buried past drags him back to the Ozarks.

The life Brooke has worked so hard to build is crumbling in his hands in the face of painful memories and past abuse, and his confidence is withering. In El Dorado Springs, where his nightmares come to life, Brooke desperately seeks closure life doesn’t offer. Brooke must find value in himself, in his marriage, and in the world around him—and create the hope and perseverance to keep his past from swallowing him whole.


Kimi’s thoughts:

I’m going to start off first by stating that this is NOT a romance. It’s LGBT fiction, and while it does have a relationship within it, it is not the focus of the story. It is in fact, a difficult read.

Brooke comes from a devout Christian background and has reconciled his sexual orientation and personal faith. He’s grown up hearing all the hellfire and brimstone that is typical of evangelical  faiths, and has faced the consequences of being true to himself and coming from such a background. When he has to return to the Ozarks, he’s thrust back into the social circle of  the church he grew up within, and it takes it toll. Boy, does it ever, for despite the efforts of the new preacher, some prejudices are deeply rooted in people’s hearts. Some so deeply that it obliterates everything else, including the love they should have for their own child.

Mr. Witt has written a powerful story that works on so many levels- exposing hatred and prejudice for the soul destroying cancers that they are. He’s shone a light on the darkest corners of the Christian faith, and it’s not pretty what we find hiding there. Despite this, it is not a condemnation of faith- just the evil that people often conceal behind it.The story digs its claws in and no matter how distressing the experience we share vicariously with Brooke as we read, we can’t look away. I often had to put this down to take a break, but I couldn’t simply step away. I kept processing it. This book made me smile. It also broke my heart into a  million pieces. I laughed, and I ugly cried so hard that my eyes burned.

Buy from Amazon

Rating: amazing


Guest Post by Kathy Griffith, Author of The Ancient

The Ancient (1)-2Hi, thanks for this opportunity to touch base with everyone ! My subject for this post is fighting through what’s stopping your writing flow and being the best you can be for yourself.

My name is Kathy Griffith, and I came to this writing thing later in life; about five years ago to be exact. I’s wanted to write all my life but I kept burying it putting it off until it was barely there. Life took precedence as it often does, and all through my adult years, my years of raising children, watching them leave the nest, and dealing with periods of depression and feeling sorry for myself.

Five years ago, for my 60th birthday, my daughter gave me a present–an intro to a writing correspondence course. I bit the proverbial bullet and took the test. I must say, it helped to get myself out there and I did learn a lot, and I started searching out what I really loved and wanted to write about. Forget that old nugget about writing what you know–if all writers did that, we wouldn’t have Hogwarts, Narnia, or Westeros. I picked vampires. I’ve loved the whole vampire trope since I was a kid, so I did my research, then I read some of the stuff out there. I didn’t really care for most of the vampire fiction, so I decided to write something that I would read–and I did. But, knowing how I was, I buried it and added more and more to the slush pile, not doing anything with it, but I justified it because hey, I was writing, wasn’t I?

Then I lost my job and couldn’t find another.

I got tired, really tired of telling myself the same excuses so I dusted off one of my favorite pieces and kicked it around a little, hoping to submit it somewhere. I got to within a few chapters of finishing it–and decided it was utter crap. I’m sure some of you can relate. I took out some of my favorite parts, gutted the rest, and started over, adding a few items and tailoring it for my newfound favorite genre–LGBT paranormal romance. Seven months later, I had my vampire, Alasdair Connery, and his story The Ancient. I submitted it to agents, publishers, and–nothing. Utterly petrified, I tried KDP and did it myself in February of 2015. A little more than a year later, I have the sequel, another urban vampire tale, and a few other little interesting tales, including two short stories without a breath of vampires or LGBT issues in them.

All I’m saying here is, it’s never too late to try something. You might surprise yourself, but then again–you might have known you had it in you all along. Stay fresh, friends.

I’d like to showcase my crown jewel, so to speak:

The Ancient–A story of Alasdair Connery, the father of all vampires, and his beginning in the prehistory of Scotland (cover image attached). Here’s a little description of him from a wedding he attended, trolling for new blood so to speak: he finds more than he bargained for.

“Mr. Alasdair Connery.”

He stood at the patio entrance, drawing attention to himself without seeming to realize it. He was young, surprisingly so, appearing to be in his late twenties. His dark glittering Asian eyes scanned the crowd, seeming to suffer the greetings of his fellow employees with gentle good humor. As a sign of respect to the newly wedded couple, he wore a short tuxedo jacket, shirt, and tie, but instead of trousers, he wore a soft cashmere kilt in a dark blue and black plaid tartan wrapped around his lower body, seeming to embrace every curve. Soft soled leather shoes covered his feet and dark hose his lower legs. He was short of stature, barely five feet four inches, but his arms were long and his shoulders powerful, as if he were used to manual labor. He carried himself like a man a full foot taller. His ebony hair was so black it had a purple cast to it, and he wore it swept straight back from his high forehead, wrapped up in a thick braid that reached down the entire length of his back to the curve of his buttocks and tied with a red silk cord. His face, dusted with the lightest of dark stubble, was a pale mocha, like café au lait heavy on the milk, and he wore his high sculptured cheekbones and slim, aristocratic nose like a badge of honor. His small smile showed sensuous, molded lips.

Buy the Ancient from Amazon

And don’t forget the the sequel:


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