Outcome (Aftermath #2) by Cara Dee

Cara Dee Presents:  http://www.amazon.com/Outcome-Aftermath-Book-Cara-Dee-ebook/dp/B00NML5KGI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1427768959&sr=1-1&keywords=outcome+cara+dee


Three years ago, Chase Gallardo ran toward freedom with his fellow survivors after having spent five months in captivity. He hasn’t stopped running since. Only now, it’s the memories he’s constantly trying to escape. Haunting echoes of a man who forced Chase to play the part of another, the kidnapper’s younger brother. Chase may have survived, but that doesn’t mean he’s really living. Until one day, when his employee tells him there’s a man sitting at the bar, wearing only underwear.
Remy Stahl has given up—almost. For a year, alcohol, drugs, and faces without names have kept him company. But he has two friends who refuse to give up on him, and they lock him up in his house in an attempt to save him from himself. But never underestimate an addict’s desire to see the bottom of another bottle. Remy escapes, and he doesn’t give a rat’s ass that he’s nearly naked.

This is the sequel to Aftermath, where Cam and Austin met, struggled, and fell in love. Outcome takes us back to Bakersfield with Chase and Remy’s story. Fueled by anger, guilt, and shame, they’re not off to an easy start. But it’s only a matter of time before they learn how much they need each other in order to move on.


(From previous site)

If you remember Aftermath – which you MUST read before you read this – you’ll recall that Chase was one of the captives held by Remy Stahl’s brother.  In fact, Remy was the “name” Chase was given and his role to play in the demented farce he was forced to play in the basement.  At the end of Aftermath, Chase is contacted by Remy in an attempt for Remy to express his immense regret that Chase suffered at his brother’s hands.

In this, the sequel, we pick up where Aftermath left off, Chase is a year out of captivity and he is feeling more secure in his life.  He has refused Remy’s apologies thus far and doesn’t think he will ever be ready to face him.

Remy, on the other hand, is checking out.  He is in a drug driven downward spiral that is only halted when his friend pulls him in and puts him in a forced “detox” situation.

Running from this detox, Remy runs into Chase by accident.  This spurs Chase into re-evaluating his feelings and the two enter into a somewhat strange, but infinitely mutually helpful relationship with each other.

They have many ghosts to vanquish and we see some very interesting new developments in the kidnapping case which may serve to split them apart.


I absolutely loved Aftermath and was so pleased to see the sequel.  This is a lot easier to read than Aftermath – mostly because we’ve already seen most of the horrors the men had to survive.  Instead, this was a delightful, healing sequel that showed us more of Cam and Austin and allowed us to see Chase and Remy come to peace with their pasts (more than just the past that they shared with Remy’s brother.)

Their love story is sweet and sexy and you will want to read this all in one seating, it’s so engaging.

I highly recommend this and give it 5 of 5 hearts.



Rare (Roads #2) Audiobook by Garrett Leigh narrated by Michael Lesley

Dreamspinner Presents

Paramedic Pete Adams lived through the year from hell watching his lover, Ash, fall apart, and the precarious balance between work and home is becoming more strained. His heart is always home, with Ash, but the dark side to his job is weighing him down.

Tattoo artist Ash Fagin is recovering from a nervous breakdown triggered by revelations about his traumatic childhood. His battle with mental illness is far from over, but with Pete by his side, he’s feeling good again, so good he doesn’t notice something missing until it walks right into his living room.

Ash believes he’s had enough coincidence in his life, but when a voice from the past comes looking for him, it takes the devastating injuries of the one he loves most to convince him to let a ghost become the family he never knew he wanted.


Ash is recovering from his breakdown and Pete is helping him as best he can while wrestling with his own demons.

Though Pete has been the strong one in the past, his job (in general) and some tough calls (specifically) drain his energy and force him to really rely on Ash for a change.

Things in Ash’s life are changing too.  A mystery woman enters his life who may or may not be significant in his past.

There is more drama and angst – as is to be expected – but overriding it is the love that Pete and Ash share. It only deepens and strengthens as each of them grows and heals.


I can’t say this is a “happy” book, but it feels lighter than the first. I was grateful to see Ash healing and moving on (mostly) from his past and I loved seeing more of Pete as a real person and less the idealized boyfriend.

I felt like I connected with the MCs more in this book and thus liked this book a bit more than Slide.

Garrett Leigh is a very good writer and I really appreciate her ability to create these very deep, complex, wounded characters. When you’re in the mood for angst and heart-ache but you need to know there’s light at the end of the tunnel – I’d turn to her for a sure bet.


For me, Michael Lesley turns this book from a good to great. I just adore his take on Ash. I can almost see and feel him through his voice alone. Michael does a tremendous job of giving us the emotion, the variation in characters and the timing to draw us deeply into the story and immerse us in the character’s lives.

4.5 of 5 hearts



Brute Audiobook by Kim Fielding narrated by KC Kelly

Dreamspinner Presents: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5296


Brute leads a lonely life in a world where magic is commonplace. He is seven and a half feet of ugly, and of disreputable descent. No one, including Brute, expects him to be more than a laborer. But heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and when he is maimed while rescuing a prince, Brute’s life changes abruptly. He is summoned to serve at the palace in Tellomer as a guard for a single prisoner. It sounds easy but turns out to be the challenge of his life.

Rumors say the prisoner, Gray Leynham, is a witch and a traitor. What is certain is that he has spent years in misery: blind, chained, and rendered nearly mute by an extreme stutter. And he dreams of people’s deaths – dreams that come true.

As Brute becomes accustomed to palace life and gets to know Gray, he discovers his own worth, first as a friend and a man and then as a lover. But Brute also learns heroes sometimes face difficult choices and that doing what is right can bring danger of its own.


(From previous site)

Aric “Brute” is a giant of a man living in a place and time where magic is common but uniqueness is often linked with superstition and thus feared.  He is orphaned early in life and forced to live with an abusive uncle.  He grows and grows until he towers over all the people around him, and his face will never win him any beauty prizes.  Forced by fear into a life without education or training, he is goes to work to do the only thing he thinks he can to survive: carry heavy things.

One day the Prince travels through Brute’s town and has an accident.  Brute saves him but gets injured in the process.  The Prince rewards Brute with a special job and takes him to live with him in the palace.

At the palace Brute is placed in charge of a special prisoner, Gray Leynham.  Grey has a terrible and sad story to tell and lives a life full of misery, chained to the walls in the palace, fore-seeing people’s deaths.

Together, Brute and Grey form a fragile alliance that blossoms into something earth shatteringly powerful.

Kim Fielding has written an amazingly beautiful and heart-wrenching story that will have you reaching for your Kleenex with both extreme happiness and sadness.

This has the flavor of an old-time fairy tale, mixed with a smidge of sex – really, just a smidge – to spice things up.  It is a deeply touching love story full of hope and forgiveness.

I truly loved this book and look forward to re-reading it time and again.


KC Kelly does a fantastic job of narrating Brute.  He does all the voices quite well, and I found myself making comparisons with it and The Princess Bride.  (Where the grandpa is reading the his grandson…)  The pacing is well done and the stuttering of Grey is just perfect.

I highly recommend the book giving it a 6 out of 5 hearts and the audio version a 5 of 5, for a total of 5.5 of 5 hearts!



Thirty Things by Cate Ashwood

Dreamspinner presents



All their lives, Finn and Nate have been inseparable, sharing everything, and when a childhood accident left Finn broken, Nate stood by his side as all his other friends left. After all their years together, there’s one secret Finn still hasn’t revealed: he has been in love with Nate since they were eight years old. Hiding his feelings for twenty-one years—terrified of what might happen if Nate ever found out—has been difficult, but losing his best friend would be worse than living with a bad case of unrequited love. Unfortunately for Finn, Nate doesn’t make it easy.

Nate believes there are some things that just have to be done before your thirtieth birthday. As a gift to Finn, he plans an adventure to check off a list of thirty things to experience before hitting that milestone. Starting in Crawfordsville, Indiana, they tour the country, trying new things and meeting interesting new people. Nate’s having the time of his life, but he can tell Finn is holding something back. As the days count down, navigating the back roads suddenly seems easier than figuring out where their relationship is heading.

One thing’s for certain. There will be no turning back.


This is a stupendously cute story of friends turned lovers. Finn has been crushing on Nate his whole life and it takes a trip across country for Finn to realize that Nate feels the same way.

I loved the individual tasks (30 of them) Nate set up – I want to go on that trip too! (For the record Portland is an awesome town!) It was a fun, light read full of sweet moments, some sexual tension then release and lots and lots of feels.

Though there were times I thought some of the relationship stuff was a bit unrealistic: why Finn was still a virgin, why he kept assuming Nate was just experimenting, why he thought this could ever be anything other than a real relationship… they were minor.

The writing and editing are excellent and the story left me smiling!

4.5 of 5 hearts



Meatworks by Jordan Castillo Price 

JCP Publishing Presents:



Desmond Poole is damaged in more ways than one.

If he was an underachiever before, he’s entirely useless now that he’s lost his right hand. He spends his time drowning his sorrows in vodka while he deliberately blows off the training that would help him master his new prosthetic. Social Services seems determined to try and stop him from wallowing in his own filth, so he’s forced to attend an amputee support group. He expects nothing more than stale cookies, tepid decaf and a bunch of self-pitying sob stories, so he’s blindsided when a fellow amputee catches his eye.

Corey Steiner is a hot young rudeboy who works his robotic limb like an extension of his own body, and he’s smitten by Desmond’s crusty punk rock charm from the get-go. Unfortunately, Desmond hasn’t quite severed ties with his ex-boyfriend, and Corey isn’t known for his maturity or patience.

Meatworks is set in a bleak near-future where cell phone and personal computer technologies never developed. In their place, robotics flourished. Now robots run everything from cars to coffee pots. Taking the guesswork out of menial tasks was intended to create leisure time, but instead robots have made society dependent and passive.

Desmond loathes robots and goes out of his way to avoid them. But can he survive without the robotic arm strapped to the end of his stump?

(Posted on previous site.)

First I had to look up “rude boy” as a term – the urban dictionary defines it basically : [rude boys and girls] “were developed by the first ska bands to mimic the depression(or) post war gansters of america. The word ‘Rude’ is refrenced to Jamaican culture where it is slang for mischevious or obscene.” And that, my friends does really define our friend Corey. But in a totally sweet way. He is a bit like a mischievous boy, not out to hurt anyone, but not up to a heck of a lot of “good works” either.

Desmond, on the other hand is kind of the quintessential “slacker”. He’s not your typical romantic hero by any stretch of the imagination. But I think that’s kind of the point. This isn’t really your typical romance. In fact, some my argue that it isn’t a romance at all. This might influence your decision to read it, but let me tell you this much – romance or not, it’s a great book.

JCP is an amazing author who always produces detailed, rich, full, three-dimensional characters who (many times) lead ordinary lives in an extraordinary way. This book is full of texture and subtext, and is (no pun intended) meaty. And, though it may not quite fulfill the most die-hard romantic souls out there, it is definitely romantic and really, quite hopeful at the end.

Mostly this is a book about Desmond’s growth as a person and as a person with a “disability”. He loses his hand in a stupid accident with his “buddies” and struggles with accepting the new prosthetic limb he is given. In JCP’s book, the world of robotics has advanced and more or less taken over life as we know it. Not quite a dystopian future, but futuristic with a bit of darkness. Desmond rejects robotics, including his new arm, which is robotic. As a result, he doesn’t really do much of anything – except drink a lot and look at his sea monkeys. He’s been dumped by his social worker boyfriend for keeping up too many walls and isn’t really looking to replace him.

Part of Desmond’s contingencies for collecting disability pay from the government hinges on him going to a support group. Since he doesn’t want to/can’t work anymore, he goes along with the program, and ends up meeting Corey, another “gimp” who lost his hand in an industrial accident.

There is somewhat instant attraction between the two and a small love story progresses from this first meeting through the final pages, but it is not really the main thrust of the story, and though it definitely ends at least HFN, you don’t quite get a bunch of warm fuzzies from it, but you’re not sad either.

Most of what makes this book so damn good is the care that JCP uses in moving Desmond along on his “woe is me” life style and how he manages to confront a bunch of demons, both before the accident, during his relationship with the social worker and after through the mistakes he makes with Corey.

The language and metaphors JCP uses to tell this story is so evocative and stirring. They way she uses Desmond’s arm as an analogy for both literally and figuratively coming to grips with his life is excellent. The phrasing is gritty and humorous and pulls you right into the story. I highlighted tons of this book – so much of JCP’s words say one thing, but tell so much of the story, in a different way.

Some examples:

“Exact same egg we had in Health Class,” Corey said. “I’ve heard some of the new models have a diaper button, too.”
“Just what the world needs. Robotic shit.”

Desmond’s words definitely have more meaning than the sarcastic humor he displays for Corey here.

He tilted his head and studied my bare neck – which was a weird shade of gray/green where the nickel of the old hardware chain had rested against the skin all these years. Funny, how I never realized how bad it was until I popped the lock and watched the chain slide off. It probably wasn’t a permanent stain, but only time would tell.

I think JCP is using the chain in this section to mean so much more than the actual removal of an old piece of jewelry. It could mean his old way of life, his old relationship, his old body… And like the stain on his neck, really, only time will tell how much has truly changed.

I found Desmond’s relationship with Jim to be fascinating. Was he good with Desmond, certainly not, but could he have been? I don’t know. Is Corey the best guy for Desmond? Again, I don’t know. But is he the best guy for him right now. Definitely. I remember how Corey related to the robotic egg and I think – yeah, there is a ton of potential here and if Desmond can grow with Corey, the two could really be an amazing couple.

On one hand, I would really love to follow up with these guys and see where they go together. But on the other hand, I kind of like being able to make that future up for myself. In the end notes, JCP does not suggest there will be more of these guys (at least not planned) so I don’t know if we will see them again. But, that’s ok. This is a complete story, with an ending that really does satisfy. Yes, it would be great to read more about them (like any good book), but I think we are left where they had to be left. Happy enough. Working on life together, for now. Still not perfect, but much better together than apart.

On a final note – there is a bit near the end that I just loved, the part with the magic marker and the polaroid picture and Corey’s response to it. So graceful, funny, sweet and sexy too. (You’ll know what I’m talking about when you read it.) Fabulous!

I definitely recommend this book – 5 of 5 hearts – it’s not as romantic some romances you might find, but it has so much heart. The writing is brilliant and – as usual – JCP’s cover is AMAZING!



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.


(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!!!


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!



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?

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.

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



Fairytales for Modern Queers by Emily Reed

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


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


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



Signs by Anna Martin

Dreamspinner Presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6171

After spending most of his life in special schools, Caleb Stone now faces public high school in his senior year, a prospect that both excites him and threatens to overwhelm his social anxiety. As a deaf teenager, he’s closed himself off to the world. He speaks a shorthand with his parents and even finds it hard to use American Sign Language with people in his local deaf community. But Caleb finds comfort in his love of photography. Everything he can’t express in real life, he posts on his Tumblr.

Struggling to reconcile his resentment for his father’s cruelty with the grief of losing a parent, Luc Le Bautillier scrolls through Tumblr searching for someone who might understand his goth look and effeminate nature. When Luc reblogs a photo by Caleb, sparking a conversation, they both find it easier to make friends online than in person.

Luc and Caleb confront their fears about the opinions of the outside world to meet in New York City. Despite Caleb’s increasing confidence, his parents worry he’s not ready for the trials ahead. But communication comes in many forms—when you learn the signs.


Caleb is a deaf, high school photography enthusiast who only wants to be normal. His past has made him a misfit in the deaf world and his present makes him a misfit in the hearing world. He is an amazingly hard worker and doesn’t realize how lonely he is.

Luc is a Goth teenager living in Manhattan. He’s surrounded by people who don’t understand him and only has a handful of people who truly care about him.

Both boys are looking for high school to end and yet both really couldn’t want more different things from life. Luc likes attention and hates the East Coast. His mother really isn’t… there and his sister is the person who he looks to for love and support. Caleb is an only child who is close with his parents but only wants to blend in and be invisible and can’t wait to move to NY.

When Luc sees a picture taken by Caleb online he is instantly attracted to it and the boy behind the art. They make a long distance, electronic connection that eventually leads to video chats, multiple daily texts and emails and finally an in-person meeting.

Though neither boy is “out” and neither has ever had a boyfriend (or girlfriend) they know that they are interested in the other “that way”.

From this point forward the boys move their long distance relationship along, growing closer and closer, spending more and more time together, both emotionally and physically.

When Luc needs a shoulder to cry on it’s Caleb he seeks out. When Caleb gets disappointing news, Luc is the one who can bring him out of his funk.

Finally, high school is over, Caleb is scheduled for an important surgery and college can be the next thing the boys tackle… together.


Wow! This is an amazing book. It is so simple in its premise: boy meets boy, boy kisses boy, boy falls in love with boy, HEA. But… each MC is so richly drawn and carefully constructed that the simple story only showcases the complexity of its characters.

The boys live polar opposite lives, but somehow have similar experiences of isolation and loneliness. They want their parents approval but don’t necessarily NEED it. They both love and hate their peer group and want to be their own true selves.

Though there are moments of tension, most of this story is a really slowly blossoming love story and coming of age story in one. Both boys grow and change and seem to fit better in their own skin by having known the other.

I have no idea if there is a part two, but there should be! When we leave both boys are really on the cusp of manhood and though you know their love is deep and abiding, I would love to see what happens to them on their own, with their new lease on life.

Anna Martin writes so smoothly that the story flows without effort and you are sucked into the lives of Caleb and Luc instantly, from page one.

I loved how the back story for each boy was never completely, fully explained, but dribbled out as the other learned it, in a very organic and real way. I really want to know what happened to Caleb to make him stop speaking and why Luc has nightmares, so I hope there is more to come for these boys.

The sexy times were sweet and tender and totally age appropriate, and though the story line is YA I think anyone would appreciate their story. Sex plays a role, but not the central role.

I can’t praise this high enough! 6 of 5 hearts!




PS Isn’t the cover so beautiful?!

Everything Changes by Melanie Hansen

Dreamspinner Presents:

everything changesBlurb

What happens when friendship catches fire?

Former Marine and lower-leg amputee Carey Everett keeps a grueling schedule of counseling fellow war veterans and their families. The injury he received in Afghanistan forces him to rely on a reserve of strength he didn’t even know he had. A much deserved vacation will let him reconnect with his best friend, who saved his life and has been there for him through devastating injury and painful recovery.

Part-time EMT and aspiring singer Jase DeSantis has been in love with Carey for years, but he’s come to accept that his straight friend will never be able to offer more. Jase fills his days with band rehearsals, ambulance shifts, and willing groupies, all while trying to cope with debilitating PTSD.

A week of sun, fun, and music in San Diego changes Jase and Carey’s lives forever when their relationship takes an unexpected turn. Jase has been longing for that change, but it leaves Carey reeling with confusion. As Jase fights to hold things together, Carey deals with doubts, fears, and his own preconceived notions about labels and the true nature of love.


Carey and Jase are friends from the military. Carey is an amputee and dealing with a new body, Jase has PTSD and is dealing with leading a normal life. They lean on each other physically and emotionally until, one day, those emotions begin to change from friend to a more sexual relationship.

Jase has always identified as bi-sexual, so he is not surprised by his attraction to Carey. Carey, is a staunch “straight” guy, who is confused by the change in his feelings and his attraction to his best friend.

In a nutshell, Carey has to come to grips with his possibly being other than “straight” and Jase needs to find room in his busy life for a real relationship.


This is a new author for me, and I think this is her first full length novel in this genre. As such she did an excellent job. Her writing is clear and captivating. I was definitely hooked by the story line and though she did a great job with her character development and realism as regards her subject matter.

I loved the “hurt/abuse” part of this story. I thought the PTSD and the amputation was handled realistically and compassionately. It plucked my heartstrings and felt authentic and seemed well-researched.

I loved the idea of the GFY/friends to lovers part of this story, but it didn’t pan out for me. Their relationship started out with a real sensuous bang and I thought that having them “sort of “ hook up but then go back to being friends was a nice twist on the familiar story-line. I thought, “Yeah, that feels authentic. Carey needs someone, anyone and the low-level-of-commitment- hand-job wouldn’t necessarily make him “gay” but would get him started on that track of thinking.” So when they went back to being friends, though it was frustrating and hard to read (in terms of Jase) it felt – real. But when they do finally embark on a fully physical relationship (which Carey was weirdly eager for and not anxious about) and then Carey suddenly leaves again, both physically and emotionally, I was very put off. If it had been a quick bout of recriminations and worries, that would have been fine, but months?… and a new potential relationship for both MCs? I didn’t like it. I really felt Carey treated Jase poorly and didn’t do much to earn back his trust. The end was just too quick and didn’t feel solid enough for my tastes. I appreciated that no relationship runs smoothly, but after all the build-up, the quick apology and epilogue just felt rushed.

I liked this enough to read another by this author and truly liked, but didn’t love this story.

Writing/Editing 4
Romance 3
Sex/Heat 3
Storyline 3
World Building/Characterizations 4

3.4 of 4 hearts