Tag Archives: published: 2015-06

Playing for Keeps by Avery Cockburn

Playing for Keeps

Playing for Keeps by Avery Cockburn

Series: Glasgow Lads, Book 1
Published by: Avery Cockburn on June 17, 2015
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Fergus has been burned by love, and now he knows better than to mix it with his soccer team, which he is bound and determined to lead to a winning season. And when a determined–and quite attractive–lad shows up with an offer for the team to participate in a charity match, Fergus sees it as a perfect opportunity to rally the team and get them some exposure at the same time. It’s just that, well, having this guy around makes it very hard to stick to his new rules.

John has always kept guys at an arm’s length. It hasn’t stopped him from taking a guy home, but he knows it can never be more than that. No one can know the truth about John’s family, and he is determined to keep it that way. Until he sets his sights on Fergus, and he knows he needs to leave his family’s secret behind. But will Fergus be able to accept him if he knows the truth?

Honesty. Is it really always the best policy? And if it is, when is the best time to enact it? Do people have the right to reveal themselves in their own time? Or when entering a relationship, is there an obligation to put it all out there, even if it seems likely the other person will not be able to accept it? For John and Fergus, every one of these questions is put to the test. And when you’re dealing with people who have been burned by secrets and dishonesty in the past, it just adds fuel to the fire in trying to create, maintain, and grow a relationship. And in this case, it leads to some unintended and unexpected explosions.

Bound to Fall by Jaime Samms

Bound to Fall

Bound to Fall by Jaime Samms

Published by: Dreamspinner Press on June 26, 2015
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Actor Eddie Crane has been plagued with guilt and in mourning for almost a decade. Ever since the love of his life died in a car accident, while Eddie was driving, he’s felt responsible for the death and exhibits a recklessness that could only be described as dangerous. But his manager and best friend always does the best she can to keep him on track. And she’s hoping that some time out of the spotlight learning to ride horses for an upcoming role can help–at least for a little while.

Arthur Pike has mixed feelings about having to teach Eddie to ride. Eddie doesn’t make a good first impression. But Pike can’t deny that the actor has played a role in more than one of his fantasies over the years. And even though it might be easy just to dismiss Eddie as a piece of work, Pike can’t deny that he comes with enough of his own baggage to fill a storage locker.

When it becomes clear the spark of attraction is mutual, they both need to make some decisions. Can Eddie find a way to open up to someone else, knowing that it could all be over in a flash? Can Pike put his own bruised heart aside and trust that love is possible? And can the two of them stay out of trouble long enough to not find themselves on the cover of every tabloid magazine?

These two guys… They’ve both been through so much, and I just had to feel for them. Now that’s not to say there weren’t moments when I wanted to reach through the pages and shake them. But the author approaches their hesitations, their reservations, and their choices in what I feel is a very organic, respectful, and realistic way. And despite some of the heavy baggage they both bring to the story, there are moments of humor to get you through. This isn’t a tear-jerker, but it’s a good reflection on love, loss, and trust–not only for another person but also for yourself.

Astounding! by Kim Fielding

Astounding

Astounding! by Kim Fielding

Published by: Dreamspinner Press on June 26, 2015
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Carter Evans founded the speculative fiction magazine Astounding! because he wanted to have an impact on the genre. And while he did help launch several authors–including his ex-boyfriend–the magazine is on its last leg. He expects he may only be able to publish one more issue. Which is why the stories from J. Harper are a distraction he doesn’t need. They’re among some of the worst writing he’s ever read, they follow the same general format, and they just keep coming. So Carter writes a brutally honest rejection letter on a lark while he’s drinking one evening with no intention of ever sending it. But when he wakes up the next morning, he realizes he’s done just that. Feeling awful about being so rude, Carter drives from Seattle to Portland to apologize in person. And when he meets John Harper, he discovers that he is a sweet and charming (and attractive!) man, who is a fan of the magazine and graciously invites Carter into his home. There’s something else: John also claims to be from another planet. It’s a lot for Carter to take in, but as a fan of science fiction, shouldn’t it follow that some aspect of those stores might somehow come true? Despite his uncertainties, Carter decides he wants to get to know John better. What could it hurt?

This is a fun and entertaining read. It’s not necessarily a comedy, but there’s a lightness to it that I really appreciated. Carter’s in a rut, but he doesn’t wallow. And John is just so incredibly endearing that I think it would be impossible for a reader to not be drawn to him. Another great romantic journey from Kim Fielding that I highly recommend!

Nightjar by Gabbo De La Parra

Nightjar

Book Info

Title: Nightjar
Author: Gabbo De La Parra
Published: June 6, 2015
Pages: 108
Publisher: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Bracken, the leader and great warrior of Lakoneh, is in trouble. The war between Lakoneh and Munus has been taxing, but has now come to an abrupt end with Bracken’s defeat and capture. And as custom dictates, Bracken will now become part of the Kept, a male harem belonging to Adder, King of Munus. It’s not something Bracken is very excited about, but the rules of war are rules that any honorable warrior and leader will follow. Despite the circumstances, Bracken and Adder are actually afforded an opportunity to get to know each other that may help them understand the truth of why their peoples went to war in the first place. And they just might discover something else in each other at the same time.

There are definitely some unexpected twists and turns in this story. There are forces outside of these two leaders that have manipulated things to get them into the situation in which they now find themselves. And those forces might not be planning to stop, not quite satisfied with where things are. And the fantasy elements of this story and the history of the world that comes through as the plot goes on certainly add to this well-developed story.

Content warning: dubious consent

Token of Hope by Azalea Moone

Token of Hope

Book Info

Title: Token of Hope
Author: Azalea Moone
Published: June 30, 2015
Pages: 76
Publisher: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Jac and Azai are princes of neighboring countries. They secretly meet throughout their youth for annual “battles” though they daren’t call each other a friend. Jac knows that when he becomes king, he will lead his kingdom to glory. Part of that will mean conquering Azai’s land. When that day comes, Jac takes Azai prisoner and is set to have Azai executed. But something doesn’t seem right, and he doesn’t quite understand what’s stopping him from going through with it. He should be happy about his victory, but there’s something pulling at him in some unexpected ways. But when the two are forced to unite against a common enemy, they both might have to face the feelings they both harbor…

This is short, cute, and entertaining. It doesn’t feel rushed, but there is no sense of wasted time either. If you’re looking for a unique romantic fantasy story, this will likely tickle your fancy.

The East Wind and the Rootless Cypress by Elyse Night

The East Wind and the Rootless Cypress

Book Info

Title: The East Wind and the Rootless Cypress
Author: Elyse Night
Published: June 21, 2015
Pages: 23
Publisher: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Hyacinthe (Cin) is a Sprit Walker, one who communicates with the departed and helps bring them over to the other side. He has escaped the massacre of his people by a group of Necromancers, those who try to control and use the spirits of those who have passed. Still on the run, Cin makes for a safe haven, a place where he won’t be followed. But along the way, he crosses paths with Maelgwyn, the leader of a group of eagle shifters, who is leading his own battle and has no love for Spirit Walkers. But perhaps their meeting wasn’t entirely by chance…

This is on the short side, and there’s quite a bit here, but it’s fun, original, and engaging. The romance isn’t heavily threaded throughout, but I don’t think it necessarily needs to be. Sometimes shared experiences and curiosity are enough to make a spark of attraction build to a light glow. I certainly would love to see more of this world and these characters. And when I can say that–while still feeling like I got a complete story–that’s always a good thing in my book.

Rock, Paper, Scissors by Shannon M. Kirkland

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Book Info

Title: Rock, Paper, Scissors
Author: Shannon M. Kirkland
Published: June 14, 2015
Pages: 54
Publisher: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

How can you not want to pick up a book prompted by the following:

Dear Author,
My mother left when I was a few days old, it was only daddy and me for years. Then he met and fell in love with Jim*. It wasn’t easy; there weren’t many families like ours back then. All of the hardships were worth it though, because today is the day I’m officiating the marriage of the two men I called my dads.

Rock, Paper, Scissors examines the journey of a single father who expects finding love will be  a challenge and the building of a family with someone he falls for and his somewhat precocious but very accepting son. It’s not easy for them, of course. There are external and familial pressures that strain the bonds of their little family. But there’s something about love that finds a way, even when we don’t expect to make it through.

This is a shorter read, but it’s engaging and enjoyable.

 

Throwaway Card by A.J. Marcus

Throwaway Card

Book Info

Title: Throwaway Card
Author: A.J. Marcus
Published: June 12, 2015
Pages: 200
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Hugh Lafoux is a former Civil War solder turned card shark doing very well for himself on the riverboat casinos on the Mississippi. But when the owner of one of those boats suspects Hugh of cheating, he has him roughed up and thrown overboard. To Hugh’s fortune, he is discovered by Cotton Freeman, a former slave turned alligator hunter, who carries him home and plans to help nurse Hugh back to health. It isn’t long before the too begin to feel a mutual attraction and decide to explore what that might mean. It’s not as easy as all of that, though. Hugh is supposed to be dead. And even though Cotton is free, it doesn’t mean everyone in the area feels things should be that way. Will Hugh and Cotton–and their love–be able to survive?

I’m always appreciative of historical fiction that makes it easy to feel immersed in another place and time. In Throwaway Card, A.J. Marcus has definitely created a story that does just that. Things are very different for Hugh and Cotton than they are today. But in this novel, not only do readers get a story of the time that reads and feels authentic, but they also get one that shows the parallels that make their story almost timeless. The things we want, the obstacles we face, and the power of love might manifest in different ways throughout time. But they’re still there. They’re always there.

Blue Paramour by Louise Ligon & Hunter Maine

Blue ParamourTitle: Blue Paramour (The Blue Ridge Saga, Book 1)
Author: Louise Ligon & Hunter Maine
Published: June 10, 2015
Pages: 344
Publisher: Voir Media Group
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

Brayden Steed is the heir to Blue Ridge, a highly successful Southern plantation. That is until he is caught in the throes of passion with his neighbor, Jackson, on the night of the party to celebrate the engagement of Jackson to Brayden’s sister, Annabelle. Angered and shamed, Brayden’s father sends him to Boston to spend some time with a family member and to learn hard work and responsibility. Along the way, Brayden meets Vincent Gallaud, who unintentionally lures Brayden to New York City instead. And Brayden quickly finds himself in a word that is well beyond everything he expected–and one that just might help him find the courage to live his life being true to himself. But Jackson’s been left behind to marry Annabelle–by all rights a cruel fate–and Annabelle is more than happy to see her brother gone, hoping he will never return. But things must come full circle eventually, and the choices we make have consequences that we may not have even imagined.

It took me a bit to get into this one. I can’t really pinpoint what it was, but it was a couple of chapters before it really hooked me–and I’m glad I stuck with it. So if you find yourself starting to wander in the beginning, stick it out. Things really pick up and the number of twists and turns that are in store are really unexpected (in a good way!).

There is a very rich world that’s been created here, and the multiple character perspectives allow for a more complete story than one might get if it was all written from the viewpoints of just one or two people. The transitions are clear, and the scenes all add to each other and build into the climactic cliffhanger of an ending. I found it easy to connect and empathize with Brayden and Jackson. I found it easy to despise Annabelle and her grandfather (I’m sure you will, too!). And I found myself at times wanting to reach through the pages and shake some sense into people–any book that can do that is a good one to me!

A definite choice for readers of m/m who are interested in historical fiction.

Content warnings: imprisonment, dubious consent

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the authors in exchange for an honest review.]

Letters from a Cowboy by Sue Brown

Letters from a Cowboy by Sue BrownTitle: Letters from a Cowboy (Morning Report, Book 4)
Author: Sue Brown
Published: June 10, 2015
Pages: 154
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Luke and Simon found a box of letters that appear to have been exchanged between a couple from the past–Chip and Simon–and know nothing more of them than what is in those letters. As Luke and Simon are getting married, they end up reflecting on these letters as the story of Chip and Simon unfolds.

The story flashes back to 1954. Simon has just left his last job when he had to brake things off with the ranch owner’s son. He could fly under the radar on his own, but a relationship like that would be difficult to hide. Not long after arriving at the Tamar Ranch, sparks start to fly between Simon and one of the other ranch hands, Chip. They know it’s dangerous to even steal private moments when they can, and they soon learn that their secret is not nearly as secret as they believed it to be. They’re faced with two options: continue their relationship in secret and simply hope they don’t get caught or break it off and try to work alongside each other without being intimate despite their feelings. But Simon knows there’s a third option, and it’s one he considers without realizing the full extent of possible consequences.

Talk about a real, gritty, well-written historical romance. This isn’t all sunshine and rainbows–being gay in 1954 alone should tell you that–but it’s not a total downer, either. Simon and Chip are great characters, and I found myself really enjoying the dynamics of several of the secondary characters as well. It was very easy to get lost in their world.

Although this is the fourth book in a series, it definitely stands on its own as it tells the story of a couple from the past. I’ve not read any of the other books (though I’m thinking now I will), and I had no trouble following the plot or understanding what was happening. Definitely recommended for anyone who enjoys historical m/m–especially those cowboys and ranch hands. This won’t disappoint, for sure!