Shadowboxing (Arbor Heights #9) By Diana DeRicci

MLR Press Presents


Wayne Hightower has lived with a secret since he was a teenager. Debilitating to relationships, his condition stands in the way of his father’s ultimate expectation: Finding a woman to marry. Of course, if he could do that, he’d have the grandchildren his mother was craving. And everyone would be happy happy happy. Or so he’d been raised to believe. If he could find her. If he could get over his problem.

Ditched by his brother for their planned night of sibling bonding, Erich Villalobos invites Wayne out instead as a simple act of friendship. One night that throws Wayne into an environment he’d never been exposed to and revealing a playfully animated side of Wayne Erich had never imagined. One that he quickly learns he’s actually attracted to.

Secrets. Everyone has them. Wayne. Erich. Even Wayne’s parents. If Wayne’s brother Curtis were still alive, he could tell Wayne the cause of his condition and how to cure it. But dead men don’t talk.


Erich and Wayne are friends and co-workers. On the night Wayne gets dumped (yet again) by his girlfriend, Erich invites him to a night on the town to drown his sorrows. Since Erich is gay, he invites Wayne to a gay bar and tells him, “Just tell any man who might hit on you that you are straight, they’ll leave you alone.” Right.

As the night progresses, Wayne does get drunk, and ends up both telling Erich his big secret (he thinks he’s impotent) and asking Erich to kiss him.

We only see things from Wayne’s POV, so I can only guess at Erich’s motivations, but he then later invites Wayne to go camping, and the two become closer friends. Yes, still friends. But after another night on the town and some definitely more-than-friends groping and kissing, Wayne freaks out and forces Erich to leave. But… after a few minutes, Erich returns and the two have sex.

Erich has some of his own secrets and we learn more about why Wayne never once “considered” he might be gay. (Huge, ugly family drama.)

In the end the couple finds their way, stands up to Wayne’s folks and we get a pretty solid HEA.


So – the first thing you have to do is ignore the elephant in the room. Why in the world didn’t Erich and WAYNE not even consider he might be gay when Wayne can masturbate but fails to get an erection in the presence of women. And really, no doctor suggested this?! Ok. Fiction. Just accept it and move on.

Once we get past that, the rest of the story is sweet and the sex is steamy. I though the drama with the family was a little too… dramatic, but again… fiction… move on.

I liked Erich and Wayne as a couple and enjoyed this book. (I haven’t read anything else in the Arbor Heights series, and I think this stands well on it’s own, but I am interested in looking at the others in the series now that I’ve read this.)

All in all I enjoyed this and give it 3.5 of 5 hearts



Fever Pitch (Love Lessons #2) by Heidi Cullinan

Samhain Publishing Presents


feverpitchBook Two of the Love Lessons Series

Sometimes you have to play love by ear.

Aaron Seavers is a pathetic mess, and he knows it. He lives in terror of incurring his father’s wrath and disappointing his mother, and he can’t stop dithering about where to go to college—with fall term only weeks away. Ditched by a friend at a miserable summer farewell party, all he can do is get drunk in the laundry room and regret he was ever born. Until a geeky-cute classmate lifts his spirits, leaving him confident of two things: his sexual orientation, and where he’s headed to school.
Giles Mulder can’t wait to get the hell out of Oak Grove, Minnesota, and off to college, where he plans to play his violin and figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. But when Aaron appears on campus, memories of hometown hazing threaten what he’d hoped would be his haven. As the semester wears on, their attraction crescendos from double-cautious to a rich, swelling chord. But if more than one set of controlling parents have their way, the music of their love could come to a shattering end.

Warning: Contains showmances, bad parenting, Walter Lucas, and a cappella



That’s what I said when I found out Love Lesson’s was to finally have it’s sequel!

I knew it had been planned for a long time and was super excited to finally read it! Let me tell you that I was NOT disappointed!

This is another long book of the new adult variety, in keeping with the Love Lesson’s theme. Fever Pitch takes place at another university in the mid-west, small and liberal arts oriented – but no gay swans, mores the pity.

Aaron and Giles actually attended high school together their senior year. It is in their last days there that Aaron begins to give in to his cravings for male romance and Giles is happy to help him explore this side of his personality. Unfortunately, both boys are really quite scarred from past experiences and the relationship is over before it really begins, leaving Aaron tentatively in lust/love and Giles really pissed off.

Aaron follow Giles to St Timothy’s University, mostly in stalker fashion, and over the course of many months they eventually forge a friendship through their mutual love for music.

During this bonding process we get to see our friends Walter and Kelly again – woot! Walter ends up helping Aaron deal with his new feelings and helps him to “get his man”.

Once the boys get together the drama doesn’t stop. There are other crazy parents involved and other sad gay boys to be saved. We see parents who can help save lives and those who set out to ruin them. There is lots and lots of music being played, composed and sung. And finally there is a wedding. Sigh. Walter and Kelly get married in what has to be my all time favorite gay wedding to date.

I just loved these two books so much! This second book is even stronger than the first. The side issues are more serious and the tragedies more tragic. If I’m being honest… the sex is hotter too, but don’t tell that to Walter or Kelly.

I loved how the book furthers the lives of people we met in book one, but if you didn’t read the first book, no worries, this stands on its own quite nicely.

Again Heidi has given us a love story interwoven with some serious, coming of age issues and the result is a rich tale, full of well developed characters and satisfying story lines.

I highly recommend this book and give it a 5 out of 5 hearts.



The Sensualist & The Untouched by Susan Laine

Dreamspinner presents


Being over thirty is not an issue for Corey Paige. Being frigid and a virgin, however, is a huge problem for the only son of a newspaper magnate. No matter the risk, Corey’s intent on resolving both problems in one go.
Enter Lucian Allard, a wealthy hedonist with a notorious reputation at club Boudoir—and an unconventional sexual mentoring program for those who suffer from dysfunctions. As the two men begin a sensual journey to awaken Corey’s libido, Corey’s frigid body isn’t all that begins to melt. His untouched feelings also spark to life.

Though a family emergency puts a halt to awakening Corey’s senses and desires, Corey and Lucian grow closer as friends. Then an unexpected kiss from Lucian in Corey’s most desperate hour changes everything. Now Corey must decide if the program is still an aid or an obstacle to two lonely men trying to maintain a professional detachment but falling hopelessly in love.



This is my first Susan Laine book and it won’t be my last. She is an excellent writer who spends pages developing her characters so that we really know each of them intimately.

She has a writer’s eye for detail and a nice touch with phrasing.

The story moved a bit more slowly than I would have liked and is a bit longer than the usual m/m novel, but it was all for a purpose.

Sometimes the dialog felt a bit contrived but overall I thought it matched the MCs.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and look forward to more from this author.

4 of 5 hearts




A Scout is Brave Tour with Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

ScoutIsBraveIn the months following the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, fourteen-year-old Joshua, a half Native American boy, is new to a Boy Scout troop and spending a week camping in northern Wisconsin. The weaker kids in the troop soon realize Joshua is not afraid to stand up to the troop’s ruthless bullies. Joshua’s bravery and kindness is infectious, and the bullied Scouts quickly find their own inner strength.
Joshua, however, is plagued by self-doubt as he realizes he has feelings for Cody, the son of the troop’s harsh and puritanical Scoutmaster. The two discover they have more in common than Scouting as they share their deepest secrets and develop a close friendship. That friendship faces its greatest challenge as the homophobic bullies claim a “faggot” has “infected” their troop. As if struggling to come to terms with his sexuality while dealing with hatred and bigotry isn’t enough, Joshua discovers the camp holds another dark mystery, one that will make him summon all his courage and learn for the first time what it truly means to be brave.


Joshua didn’t know how far or for how long he had run. He desperately gasped for air but didn’t stop running. It didn’t matter to him where he was going. As he ran, he pushed his body to its limits.

When he felt tired, he increased his speed. When cramps gripped his chest, he ignored them. The harder he pushed his body, the more he had to concentrate on moving it and the more willpower it took to compensate for the overwhelming instinct to stop. The harder Joshua pushed, the less room there was in his head to contemplate what had just happened. Total concentration went into continuing his physical exertion.

All the willpower in the world, however, would not allow Joshua to continue to exceed his body’s natural limits. Eventually, it began to weaken. His rapid speed finally slowed to a crawl, and his steady course was replaced by recurrent stumbles. Joshua tried to correct his performance, but ultimately his body gave in, and he tripped on his own feet, tumbling to the ground. A moment of elation overcame his body as it enjoyed the sudden relaxation in tension. Then everything rushed back to him, and Joshua felt the full force of reality drag him desperately back down into an inescapable dark void of despair.

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Author Bio:
Jay Jordan Hawke holds a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in history, as well as a second master’s in Outdoor Education. He loves everything sci-fi, especially Star Trek, and hopes to be on the first starship out of here. In the meantime, he teaches at a college prep school and anxiously awaits the day when he can write full time. In addition to all things sci-fi, his hobbies include camping, reading, running, and writing. He has lived in several Midwestern states and currently resides in Indiana. Ugh – get me out of here!
Author Contact:

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain

There Is No Fear (The Knight Cycle #3) by Michael J. Bowler



The most famous boy in the world is a prisoner. He’s been charged with a crime he didn’t commit, a crime that could send him to prison for the rest of his life. Languishing within The Compound, the most secure juvenile facility in California, while the district attorney vows to make an example of him because of his celebrity status, Lance must endure the daily indignities of the incarcerated.

New Camelot is fractured without him. Ricky and Chris are bereft, living for the weekly phone call that becomes their only lifeline to the brother they so desperately love, while Arthur and Jenny feel the loss of their son with a sadness that can’t be quelled. And what about Michael, the highly volatile teen who helped write the proposition that will change California forever? Could he really be the monster he says he is? His hatred of Ricky is palpable, and his instability may well threaten the lives of everyone at New Camelot.

As the election looms closer, Proposition 51 takes on an even greater significance in light of the pending trial of the century. The more harshly fifteen-year-old Lance is treated within the broken justice system, the more he contemplates the wisdom of his idea that children need more adult rights. If The Child Voter Act becomes law, won’t it simply allow adults to throw more kids into prison with impunity?

Whichever way the voters decide, his greatest fear remains the same: will he ever again be with the people he loves?

The Knight Cycle Continues…

Kimi’s thoughts:

While working hard to secure children’s rights, with the choice before state voters to either always treat kids 14 and up as adults or always as children, Lance finds himself becoming an unwitting poster child for the criminal justice system. Once again Bowler casts a frank eye at the unpleasant side of what reality is like for too many of today’s youth and makes us look it square in the face. Lance’s experience shows the good with the bad, making for a balanced look that challenges the reader to consider how things can be improved, benefitting society at large as well as the individual.

Lance continues with his struggle for identity and the situation he finds himself in doesn’t help matters. It does however give him a lot of time to think. What makes a person a monster? Does a person doing something horrible make them irredeemable? And what about doing one thing to redress one wrong, while unintentionally opening the door for more possible abuse? Lance’s very incarceration is thanks to such an occurrence, from laws designed to keep dangerously violent offenders off the streets trickling down to children who only MAY have committed a violent crime. It’s a study in the very nature of checks and balances and the need to look at the individual and the facts before to rushing to judgements, whether personal or legal. It’s also a good hard look at the nature of love and of self acceptance. Kimi deems it another must read for both youths and adults.

Rating: 4.5


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Running Through a Dark Place (The Knight Cycle #2) by Michael Bowler

21873271King Arthur and his extraordinary young Knights used ‘might’ for ‘right’ to create a new Camelot in the City of Angels. They rallied the populace around their cause, while simultaneously putting the detached politicians in check. But now they must move forward to even greater heights, despite what appears to be an insurmountable tragedy.

Their new goal is lofty: give equality to kids fourteen and older who are presently considered adults only when they break the law. Arthur’s crusade seeks to give them real rights such as voting, driving, trading high school for work, and sitting as jurors for their peers charged with criminal behavior.

Understanding that the adults of California will likely be against them, Arthur and his Knights must determine how best to win them over.

However, before the king can even contemplate these matters, he finds himself face to face with an ally from the past, one who proves that everything isn’t always what it seems – even life and death.

The Knight Cycle Continues…

Kimi’s thoughts:

It’s not an Arthurian tale without Merlin, and here he makes his first appearance and it’s with a trick that makes the whole world sit up and watch intently. Unsure if it’s the hand of God at work, Satan playing games, an elaborate hoax, or something else all together, everyone has an opinion and wants to do nothing but talk about it. This puts the Arthur and his Knights square in the spotlight san Facebook, Twitter, TV, radio, and the rest of the electronically connected world go absolutely crazy.

It’s a double edged sword. they can use their visibility to rally more to their cause but it comes with great cost. From paparazzi to protestors, to fanatical fans, everyone wants a piece of Camelot and for their own agendas. Learning to handle the spotlight even in the midst of tragedy is a hard lesson. So is learning to accept one’s self worth and coming to grips with one’s burgeoning sexuality. The characters are as beautifully flawed as ever, but always striving to improve themselves and the world around them.

The current crusade of fixing up the crumbling neighbourhoods is well under way, and the new one of drafting a ballot measure regarding children’s rights is one that understandably has many adults balking. It’s sensitively handled though, and it is very hard indeed to argue with the notion that children are either always children or are deserving of being treated as adults in many more legal matters than merely those within the criminal justice system.

This is a darker read than the first in the series, with more details of abuse being revealed. Younger teens may finds several of the scenes distressing, but I still highly recommend this for mature readers aged 11 and up. I urge adults tor read it as well, and to talk about the issues within with their children.  I will warn you that it ends on a cliffhanger, so be ready to have to hit the buy button for volume three. I just hope it picks up right where it left off, as this volume did from book one.

Rating: 4


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