Image

Books 3 & 4 of The Men of Riverside series by Serena Yates

Men of Riverside explores the lives of a group of men who all share a high school in the fictional town of Riverside, Texas. Not all of them know they are destined to be couples. Some of them believe they are only friends.

Circumstances and life separate them, sometimes for several years. But luck, determination and love will help them get the reunions they deserve.

Reading Order:

  • Finding Elliot (book #1) 
  • Rediscovering Adrian (book #2) 
  • Understanding Mark (book #3) – in this review
  • Saving Zeke (book #4) – in this review
  • Forgiving Jason (book #5)
  • Loving Vincent (book #6)
  • Convincing Landon (book #7)
  • Helping Harry (book #8)

Understanding Mark (Men of Riverside, #3)Understanding Mark by Serena Yates

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Rick Dealy and Mark Shrader have the perfect, loving relationship, until a seeming act of betrayal threatens to destroy both their love and their lives…As a newly appointed lawyer in his uncle’s firm, Rick Dealy doesn’t have much time to get involved in a new relationship. But when he runs into Mark Shrader, his friend Adrian’s younger brother, he realises some pursuits are worth the time. He and Mark fall in love and share their lives, until Mark’s new job threatens to destroy everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve.Mark Shrader has had a crush on Rick for what feels like forever. And now that Mark s not so little, he’s determined to make Rick his lover. After orchestrating a chance meeting, things finally seem to be going his way. But when one of the men he performs live music for, Tony Mondello, decides he wants to be Mark’s lover, Mark must choose between his own safety and the life of his lover.Will Rick be able to understand what happened, find Mark and bring him back? Reader Advisory: This book is part of a series and while it can be read on its own, they are best read in sequence.

So what did I think?

First let me start by saying that I enjoyed this book. I liked both the characters of Mark and Rick and was therefore engaged in the story. The plot was interesting with some love, some sex and some drama all set at a good pace.

From the previous book Rediscovering Adrian, we knew that Mark was in trouble. He had gone to see his brother Adrian and was obviously in a bad position, under the control of suspected criminal Tony Mondello. In the previous book, Adrian was focused on his own problems and his boyfriend Peter’s shooting and didn’t let anyone know of Mark’s situation.

This book takes us back in time to see how Mark and Rick fell in love. It is sweet how Mark arranges their ‘accidental’ meeting after crushing on his brother’s friend for many years (“It made him feel like a stalker, but how else was he going to get Rick’s attention?”) Rick was friends with Adrian so knew Mark but it wasn’t until he saw this grown up version of Mark that his interest was definitely sparked. They make a really cute couple.

The drama begins when Mark starts working for Tony Mondello. Due to Tony’s threats, Mark is forced away from Rick. The story line was interesting as Mark sacrifices everything to protect the man he loves. What I struggled to understand was why Rick let him go – he took what he saw at face value and in typical romance fashion didn’t bother to get an explanation. It was strange that he didn’t think it weird that Mark didn’t return to get his stuff from the apartment, after the one time he knocked on the door. Surely any normal person would make contact?

Anyway, my real issue was the blurb. I felt it gave away too much of the plot. It tells of the ‘seeming act of betrayal’, ‘Tony Mondello, decides he wants to be Mark’s lover’, ‘Mark must choose between his own safety and the life of his lover’. I would have preferred these things to have evolved through reading the story.

The resolution between the men was also a bit too easy for my liking “We’ve agreed that it was all a misunderstanding, so I see no reason why we shouldn’t go back to normal.” but I loved Rick’s grand gesture  and the HEA with totally sweet proclamations of love.

3.5 stars

4 Stars

Saving Zeke (Men of Riverside, #4)Saving Zeke by Serena Yates

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Ben and Zeke have been best friends forever but can they become lovers without losing each other along the way?Ben Dealy longs for a loving relationship like the one his parents have, but he can t seem to connect to any of the women he dates like he does to his childhood friend, Zeke. As a police detective, admitting he’s gay could ruin his career. But when he discovers Zeke is in trouble, not admitting he’s gay may cost him much more than his job.Zeke has been fighting his attraction to Ben since college, but was determined to uphold the ‘expected’ lifestyle. When he discovers his fiancee, Claudia, is only after him for his money, he decides it’s time to stop running from the truth, and start fighting for the man he’s still crazy about.But will Ben and Zeke admit their feelings for each other or will Ben’s need for a career drive them further apart?Reader Advisory: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series

So what did I think?

Saving Zeke continues the tradition of this series providing a nice, heartwarming story of two men who start as friends but become lovers.

I enjoyed that the men loved each other on an emotional level, it wasn’t just about the physical for Ben and Zeke. Yes, they did find each other an incredible turn on but it was very much a gay-for-you scenario.

The story is a little predictable in some ways, with the men having known at some level for quite some time that they meant more to each other but running from these feelings.
[They believe it is all one-sided with Zeke going so far as to get engaged and leaving town so as not to ruin Ben’s career.

Ben does a bit of investigation (surely it was an invasion of privacy checking into Zeke’s finances but Zeke didn’t seem to mind!) and realises he needs to help Zeke. Luckily Zeke had just found out the same information that Ben had and was already looking to end things with Claudia.

Moving back to Riverside and sharing a house with Ben presents a few challenges as the men continue to fight their feelings. Ben has worries about a promotion at work and Zeke needs to face his family. Plus there is drama caused by Zeke’s fiance Claudia (who was in the relationship for what she could get from Zeke and not love) which threatens their families and careers.

It was really sweet watching Ben and Zeke change from friends to lovers and the sexual aspects were handled really well. The scenes were romantic and sexy but acknowledged the men’s newness to gay sex. Trying new things was a beautiful experience that they shared together, each mindful of the other so taking things slowly and gently.

3.5 stars

4 Stars

To find out more about Serena Yates and her books, visit her website.

Buy the Men of Riverside Series from Amazon.

At under 100 pages you will need to make a assessment about the value for money for this book (currently at $6.13 on US Amazon)

View all my reviews

Image

A Betting Man by Sandrine Gasq-Dion

A Betting ManA Betting Man by Sandrine Gasq-Dion

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

How bad could one harmless bet be? Kent Samson is about to find out. Raised in Alabama, Kent has hidden his past and now loves his life as a big time ad exec for a prestigious advertising company in New York. But when he makes a bet with his best friend, Blaine, Kent is thrown for a loop—for Kent has to make the next person to walk through the door fall in love with him.

Terry Barron is hiding out in New York. Raised in England in a wealthy family, Terry escapes to New York to avoid arranged marriages and the lifestyle he’s grown to hate. When he delivers a package to an advertising firm, he meets the unbelievably sexy Kent Samson. Suddenly, secrets and lies complicate everything and both men find themselves in uncharted waters. How will Terry feel when Kent is revealed as a betting man?

So what did I think?

I read this story for beginning to end in one go. Sure, its not really that long but it definitely had me hooked right from the beginning. It’s written in first person alternating between the two main characters.

The story revolves around Kent making a bet with his buddy Blaine. The bet states that Kent has to make the next person to walk through the office door fall in love with him within six months. That person is Terry the bike courier.

Kent is hiding from his past (to be honest I am not 100% sure why) and hides his southern upbringing. He is a very successful executive, with all the trappings of success, although it is clear that he is not truly happy. Terry sees through to the real man within Kent. “He’s a good man. You just have to look beneath that layer of bullshit.”

I loved the dates that Kent and Terry went on and the gradual evolution of their relationship. They seem to balance each other so perfectly. They work well together sexually and I loved the way Kent, perhaps a little subconsciously, referred to their first encounter as ‘making love’. “I had lost my straight man virginity last night. I’d made love to Terry.”.It becomes clear to everyone around them, just how much they have come to love each other. But of course, the bet gets exposed and Kent needs to win back his man.

The families play a role in this story and it is great to see that both men are accepted by their parents and both turn to their parents for support. “We haven’t stopped loving you yet, and you’ve been an asshole for five years,” my father drawled.

The story is written with heaps of humour with some of my favourite parts coming from Kent’s parents.
“We’re not naked!” I shouted. “Well hell,” my mom poked her head around the wail. “Your father and I will leave so you can be!”

The only part of the story I didn’t like were the early references to Kent’s sexual experiences with women. There are no actual sex scenes, just a couple of comments but I found the references to ‘tits’ and ‘pubes’ a bit crass but perhaps the language/tone was used to show Kent wasn’t getting much out of the experience. Or maybe I just didn’t like it because I didn’t really want any m/f component in the story? Anyway, it wasn’t enough to really detract from the overall enjoyment of the book.

Fabulous happy ending!

This book was provided by the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.

4 Stars

To find out more about Sandrine Gasq-Dion and her books, visit her Facebook page.

Buy A Betting Man from Amazon.

View all my reviews

Image

★★★★ In Search Of A Story by Andrew Grey ★★★★

In Search of a StoryIn Search of a Story by Andrew Grey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

He’s searching for a story but finds so much more.

Brad Torrence is next on the chopping block at the newspaper where he works. Hungry for any source he can find, he runs across an ad in the classifieds: For Sale: Nursery Items, Never Used. It’s the lead he’s been looking for. Thinking a piece about the loss of a child will give him the edge he needs to keep his job, Brad follows up. He doesn’t expect a single man to answer.

Rather than being offended, Cory Wolfe finds sharing the story of his grief and pain liberating. He’s even surprised by the spark that strikes, and one story leads to another.

Brad digs into his stories and Cory’s life, eager to know everything about the man who’s caught his attention. But when a lead points him to the hospital where Cory works, he unearths a mystery that might have been safer left buried. Brad’s search for a story could prove deadly…

So what did I think?

I think this is one of my favourite Andrew Grey stories so far! This was a sensitive subject handled very well and it was nice to see a romance novel bringing light to the emotional issue of loss of a child, no matter who is losing or when the child is lost.

Brad meets Cory when he interviews him in relation to a classified ad he has placed, selling a pile of unused baby goods. Brad is expecting a story based on a grieving mother and father but finds something completely different, although no less painful and sorrowful.

As Cory shares his story, he finds that he is able to start moving forward with his life and Brad becomes part of the future he sees for himself.

Cory is a hardworking, family oriented man although grieving so his life is on hold. His large and caring family are trying to get him to move on. Brad is so understanding and supportive, offering the right amount of comfort and sympathy. It is wonderful to see Brad helping Cory but just as equally, Cory brings the joy of family to Brad who is an only child. The mother’s of both men were a lovely addition to the story, reinforcing the strong family theme.

There is some drama thrown in as one of Brad’s stories results in him placing himself in danger as he reveals the illegal activity involved in the building of the hospital.

I really enjoyed the story in terms of the sweetness level but also found the dialogue particularly realistic. There was a perfect blend of sharing of emotions, romance and sex, without being to saccharine (ok, so maybe the epilogue was totally sweet and gave the perfect ending but I wanted it that way!)

“So you’re saying things happen for a reason,” Cory whispered, and Brad heard the sadness in it.
“No. Because I believe things happen, period. There isn’t a reason behind everything that happens, no matter how much we might wish there was. Good things happen, sad things happen, and we make the most of all of them. All I’m saying is that we have the change to bring things full circle…..”

4 Stars

For more information on Andrew Grey and his book visit his website.

Buy In Search Of A Story at Amazon.

View all my reviews

Image

The Unforgiving Minute by Sarah Granger

The Unforgiving MinuteThe Unforgiving Minute by Sarah Granger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Ryan Betancourt has got it made: he’s reached the top tier of the tennis world thanks to a wild-card entry to the US Open. Ryan is meeting players he has idolized for years, including his teenage crush, Josh Andrews. But he isn’t ready for the politics and manipulation that come with life at the top.

Josh Andrews is closeted, private, and difficult to get to know. He’s been playing tennis since he could walk, won his first tournament at five, and was sent to Spain at thirteen to attend a tennis academy. Before a knee injury forced him into a year off, he was ranked the number one player in the world. Now he’s back—and intent on winning.

Josh and Ryan first meet at a tournament in Brisbane. Ryan excitedly greets Josh only to be ignored. Crushed, he realizes the golden boy of tennis isn’t all he seems. Only in the team-building environment of training for the Davis Cup does Josh open up enough for them to grow closer. Their developing relationship is everything Ryan ever wanted, and he is blissfully happy. But inevitably they have to play against each other, and everything changes.

So what did I think?

The Unforgiving Minute is a wonderful romance set in the world of professional tennis. What makes it so enjoyable is the blend of sport and romance, perfectly balanced to make a really absorbing story.

The characters were great including gorgeous leading men Josh and Ryan, fabulous friend Elena, Ryan’s mother and the various tennis support crew. It even had cute puppies! The bad guy was suitably bad (even though it was quite obviously who he was) and got his comeuppance.

Tennis provides the back drop for this book and we are taken all around the world as both Ryan and Josh compete in various tournaments. There are sections of the game play described and done so in such a way that you can actually visualise the play. I enjoyed the on-court time and also the behind the scenes view of the tennis circuit. It all felt very realistic.

Ryan and Josh’s relationship was wonderful to watch evolve and they balance each other perfectly. Josh has grown up with a domineering father pushing his tennis career and has played tennis since he was young. He is a guarded and private person. As we gradually come to learn more about Josh and some of his experience, particularly at the hands of the bad guy, it is easy to understand why he is closed off. Ryan’s upbringing has been very different to Josh’s. Ryan’s parents don’t really even follow tennis and are very accepting and loving of him. This contributes to his outlook on life. Ryan is so easy to love and so enthusiastic.

The romance between these men is special. Both, at one time or another, make a sacrifice for the other. They understand the competitive world they both live in and are able to offer support. It is nice that the story balances the emotional elements of the relationship with the very hot sex scenes.

The ending was slightly predictable but totally the type of ending that I love – grand gestures and big happy endings!

4.5 stars

5 Stars

To find out more about Sarah Granger and her books, visit her website.

Buy The Unforgiving Minute from Amazon.

View all my reviews

Image

Making it Personal by K.C. Wells

Making it PersonalMaking it Personal by K.C. Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Blake Davis is in the closet. And he’s going to stay that way. Because if his father finds out he’s gay, Blake could lose everything he’s worked so hard to achieve during the last six years as CEO of Trinity Publishing, the fastest rising star in the publishing firmament. Not that coming out wouldn’t solve a couple of problems. Maybe then his father would stop trying to set him up with yet another empty-headed, social-climbing girlfriend. And better still, Blake could stop using that escort agency when he wants a night of hot sex with a cute guy…

Will Parkinson has had a tough life so far, but he’s back on his feet. Okay, so he’s working as an escort – with ‘benefits’– to pay off his student loans, but that does have its advantages, such as the really hot guy who hired him. Yeah, Blake rocked his world last night – several times. So imagine how Will feels when he arrives to be interviewed for his dream job as PA in a publishing company, and the guy who’s hiring is….. Blake.

And then things get really complicated…

So what did I think?

A thoroughly enjoyable romance in a corporate setting!

The blurb gives quite an outline of the story. Blake is successfully running a publishing company but has not come out. His father still owns the company and is trying to find him a wife. Blake doesn’t want to jeapardise his future ownership of the company so goes along with his father’s plans. He uses an escort service for sex and has one hot night of sex with a gorgeous guy he feels a real connection with. That guy turns out to be Will, the guy interviewing for a role as his PA. He is most qualified for the position so Blake gives him the job.

It sounds like the story is pretty much covered off by this blurb but there are many more elements to this book. Yes, there is a huge amount of sexual tension. Yes, Blake and Will can’t resist each other. Yes, there are some interesting office characters. Yes, Blake’s current girlfriend becomes an issue. Yes, things go terribly wrong. But there are also some surprises. Blake’s father doesn’t turn out to be as expected. Will has a history that introduces some heartbreak but also hope.

I particularly liked the character of Will and the way he fell in love with Blake. “The physical attraction which had been so obvious since the night they met hadn’t gone away. Instead, Will felt an emotional connection to the man.” With his past and his willingness to acknowledge his feelings for Blake, he showed great courage and I really wanted him to get his happy ending.

Throw in some drama with a sex party, a confrontation with the girlfriend (who was luckily a total conniving bitch so easy to dislike), allegations of assault, unexpected forced coming out and ultimate grand gestures and you have a really interesting story.

I also liked the cute little references to the growing popularity of m/m romance books as Blake justifies to his father why he is taking the publishing company in that direction!

4 Stars

For more information about K.C. Wells and her books visit her website.

Buy Making It Personal from Amazon.

View all my reviews

Image

Short stories from the DSP 2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play (PART 5)

The Daily Dose from Dreamspinner Press is a collection of themed short stories  released every day in June. The 2013 theme is sport.

Nothing fires the blood like a little friendly competition. Anything from a meeting of the minds to full-body contact, these men are making a play. There are no losers in the game of love.

The stories in this review include:

  • Prize Package by Kyle Adams
  • Press Start to Play by Brianna Lawrence
  • Protection by John Amory
  • Riding the Board by Cate Ashwood
  • Sage Advice by Susan Laine
  • The Magic Broom by Teegan Loy

Prize Package (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)Prize Package by Kyle Adams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

When Jason Smith wins a contest he doesn’t remember entering, he earns a visit with The MeatGrinder, aka Trent Peterson. Trent expected a rabid fan; instead, he gets Jason, who knows nothing about wrestling, doesn’t care about the prizes, and would prefer to skip the official wrestling demo, please. Trent should be annoyed, but by the end of the day, Trent knows he wants more than one day with Jason. Now he just has to convince Jason that Trent is more than his alter ego.

So what did I think?

Brilliantly witty! Absolutely loved this story! Loved the characters, loved the plot and adored the humour.

Jason, who knows absolutely nothing about wrestling (just like me!), wins a contest consisting of a full day spent with The MeatGrinder, a wrestling star. Turn out Jason knew and crushed on The MeatGrinder back in school, back when The MeatGrinder was plain-old Trent and before he become famous. Jason, is also not the same guy he was in school, with improved looks he has also lost his shyness.

Prize Package had me laughing out loud on nearly every page. The comments made by Jason were brilliantly witty. He was definitely the star of this story!

Favourite line…..Jason in response to The MeatGrinder (Trent) flexing his pecs…“Oh my, you big stud, your dancing boobs have enchanted me with your hypnotic sexual magnitudeness.”…that basically sums it up!

5 Stars

Press Start to Play by Brianna Lawrence

Protection (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)Protection by John Amory

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Jamie is an anomaly in the shooting world: a relative newcomer who became a leading contender overnight. He’s representing the United States at the 2012 Olympics, and people are drawn to him both for his marksmenship and the past he refuses to divulge. During his downtime in London, Jamie visits a gay bar and meets a chipper young man named Ben. Despite Ben’s heartfelt offer of succor, Jamie’s mounting nerves over the Games and his scars from the past threaten the new relationship before the night even begins.

So what did I think?

This was short and sweet. What could have just been a casual hook up has the potential for so much more as Ben sees beneath Jamie’s exterior and recognises the sadness within.

After a night together, Jamie seems to have more hope “Your eyes. There isn’t as much sadness as before.” and he obviously has developed a trust in Ben, able to share the details of ‘The Incident’ which led him to take up shooting as a sport.

There is a cute HFN ending as Ben sends Jamie breakfast and a sweet note.

4 Stars

Riding the Board (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)Riding the Board by Cate Ashwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb…

Blake Emmerich arrives at practice, already apprehensive, to meet his new synchronized diving partner. When he sees Nick Freeman, Blake doesn’t feel confident about their chances. The day begins with Nick pushing Blake off the ten meter and ends with their coach cuffing them together to force them to deal with each other like the adults they’re supposed to be. Synchronized diving is about trust—how can you trust someone you can’t stand, no matter how hot you think they are?

So what did I think?

This was a interesting take on the enemies-to-lovers theme in the world of synchronized diving, not that Nick and Blake were truly enemies, it was more a case of Blake not really knowing or understanding Nick.

Their coach has a very interesting approach to getting them to work together which has some very interesting results for the men! The cuffs force them to spend every minute together and it becomes very difficult for them to deny how they feel about each other.

“He had thought he would barely make it through the week without killing Nick and now he was reluctant for it to end.”

It was a nice short story. 3.5 stars.
4 Stars

Sage Advice (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)Sage Advice by Susan Laine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Piper is a ballet dancer who has lost his footing—literally. Now his dreams are shot and he’s depressed enough that his best friend, Sage, lures him into a night of drinking and games. Except the game is truth or dare, and they end up doing less drinking and more confessing. Hidden secrets spill out and brazen acts draw the two men closer as they discover what really matters: if they’re winners or losers in the game of love.

So what did I think?

Very short and sweet friends-to-lovers story. A game of Truth or Dare provides opportunity for Piper and Sage (interesting names!) to reveal some interesting truths. Of course, they love each other and this is revealed but I also liked the reveal of the issues that Piper was facing. Piper is going through a really emotional period in his life impacting his career as a ballet dancer. The depth of Sage’s feelings are really shown in his ability to see something is wrong with his friend and his understanding.
3 Stars

The Magic Broom (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)The Magic Broom by Teegan Loy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

With the winter Olympics on the horizon, Cody Mikkelson’s editor assigns him several stories about athletes in the area with gold medal aspirations. But there’s a catch: Cody has to try all the sports when he interviews the athletes—and he is so not an athlete.

The day before his torment begins, four new guys move into the apartment down the hall, including the handsome Shane Spicer. Cody is immediately desperate to figure out if Shane is gay, but both men have busy schedules, leaving little time to socialize. So Cody heads back to work and goes to interview the local curling team, where among brooms, laughter, a sore backside, and an unexpected meeting, Cody finds he just might get his chance after all.

So what did I think?

I loved this book purely for the humour element. It was laugh aloud kind of stuff. Following Cody from one winter sporting event to the next was hilarious!

Here are some of my favourite bits – don’t read further if you think it will ruin your enjoyment of the story!

“The amount of work she put into her sport was either amazing or incredibly stupid, considering the only time anyone knew this sport even existed was for the two weeks when the Olympics were on television.”

“The next moment he was down on the ice with his face pressed against the cage of his helmet. That should be an interesting bruise. Someone would probably think he fell asleep with a waffle stuck to his face.”

“Cody knew what he would be thinking about, and it certainly wouldn’t be steering some sled down a giant slide made of ice. He’d crash on the first turn and probably break his dick or shatter his balls.”

I didn’t need the romance to enjoy this book although I enjoyed seeing Cody, even with his broken gaydar, finally get together with Shane.
“In my mind, I’ve already won the gold medal.”
“Me too,” Cody said. “And I suck at sports.”

5 Stars

Buy a book from the series from Amazon. (Select the 2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play link)

View all my reviews

Image

Confessions of a Gay Rugby Player by Patrick Darcy

Please note that my rating for this book is based on assessing it as gay erotica. It is not a gay romance story.

 

Confessions of a Gay Rugby PlayerConfessions of a Gay Rugby Player by Patrick Darcy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb…

Star Irish rugby player, Conor Murphy, lives and breathes rugby. He spends his weekends playing rugby, drinking beer, and singing songs with his teammates. There is only one thing he loves more than rugby, and that is hot rugby players. But after the final whistle sounds, the real competition begins: the hunt for the hottest men.

Conor’s muscular body and roguish good looks ensure he can have his pick of the sexiest players. But what happens when this alpha male meets his match on and off the field? Who will come out on top when he meets the horniest rugby players from the USA? Can two alpha males have the night of their lives?

So what did I think?

In the author’s profile at the end of the book, Patrick Darcy says “For me, sex should be passionate, intense, sweaty, dirty fun and a no hold barred affair!”. Well that’s exactly what he has delivered in this book!

The book is told in the first person and opens with Conor preparing himself for a night on the town “As I wipe away the stream from the bathroom mirror and take a good look at myself, I can’t help but think, Conor, you are one hell of a ride.“. Conor is in New York for the Gay Rugby World Cup, a tournament which is played every two years.

Conor and his roommate Sean meet the rest of the team in the hotel lobby before they all head out to a large gay club nearby for the tournament closing party. I thought the author captured the antics of the players perfectly as they heckle each other and chug their pints in a ritualistic drinking game. There is a real sense of camaraderie.

When they reach the club Conor spies Tonio, a player from the San Francisco team, across the floor and he starts remembering the game from earlier that day.

Even without understanding rugby, there is a real sense of the game provided in the descriptions and quite cleverly, the on-field manoeuvres are related back to sex. Conor seems to struggle to keep his mind in the game as the pounding of the players translates into what he would like to do off the field.

The story reverts back to the club where Conor is prowling for Tonio with whom he had clashed in the game. He has days worth of pent up testosterone and wants Tonio to provide the relief. From here it basically becomes total erotica with a real porn feel. There is not much plot or story. It is just the no holds barred sex, pretty much as the author described himself liking: sweaty, dirty, intense.

The author delivers a sex scene that definitely takes the reader right into the moment, describing sights, sounds, smells, feelings. The sex scenes are hot and passionate. The sex is intense. The language is graphic and these boys like it dirty. There is no concept of safe sex.

For me, I love a good sex scene, but I just felt the story wasn’t resolved adequately for my tastes. I am not exactly sure what I wanted to happen but something just felt a bit flat. Perhaps this is because my personal tastes lean more towards gay romance rather than pure erotica? But if erotica is what you are after then this should definitely hit the mark.

Oh, and I will never be using the ice from a hotel ice machine ever again!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Wilde City Press, in return for an honest review.

To find out more about Patrick Darcy and his books visit his website.

Buy from Wilde City Press.

Buy from Amazon.

View all my reviews

Image

The Lucky Moon series by M.J. O’Shea and Piper Vaughn

I just finished reading Catch My Breath by M.J. O’Shea which had a reference to the Ventura brothers. Shane and Nick Ventura appear in the Lucky Moon series by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea. So I thought I would share my thoughts on this great series!

  • Moonlight Becomes You (book #1)
  • The Luckiest (book #2)
  • Moonstruck (book #3)

Moonlight Becomes You (Lucky Moon, #1)Moonlight Becomes You

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Eleven years ago Shane Ventura made the biggest mistake of his life when he caved in to pressure from his record label to kick his best friend Jesse Seider out of their band, Luck. Though he had a gorgeous voice, Jesse wasn’t beautiful, and didn’t fit the label’s ideal look. But Shane’s never wanted anyone else more, and all the sex and alcohol in the world can’t fill the void Jesse left behind.

As his thirty-second birthday approaches, Shane feels more miserable than ever. Even the prospect of teaming up with Britain’s hottest band, Moonlight, for an epic world tour can’t get him out of his depressive funk. Until he meets lead singer, Kayden Berlin, and falls into instant lust.

Though Kayden acts like he’s not interested, Shane knows he feels the spark between them. But the harder Shane pushes, the more Kayden pulls away. Then one explosive night things finally come to a head and Shane is left nursing a broken heart. That seems to be Shane’s lot–lucky at everything but love, the one thing that matters most. But there’s a lesson Shane still hasn’t learned: when it comes to love, you can’t always leave things to chance.

So what did I think?

I really liked this book, the story of Shane, part of a hugely successful band but lacking something in his life. Although slightly predictable but with an interesting make-over theme, there is enough tension and a good pace. I also love a nice happy ending!

The story is told in a combination of ‘now’ and ‘then’ with the flashbacks telling the story of Shane’s love for his best friend Jesse, a love based on what’s inside rather than outward appearance. The ‘now’ tells the story of Shane’s current discontent and his growing attraction to Kayden, the hot lead singer of another band.

Interestingly the only character I didn’t warm to was Nick (Shane’s brother) who features in the second book of the series. Reviews of The Luckiest indicate it is better than this first book so I am very eager to read and learn more about Nick.

4 Stars

The Luckiest (Lucky Moon, #2)The Luckiest by Piper Vaughn

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The blurb…

Rock star Nick Ventura has finally hit rock bottom. Jealous of his brother’s new love, he starts overindulging in his usual vices and winds up crashing his car into a department store in a drunken haze. Publicly humiliated and on the verge of jail time, he enters into a court-ordered rehabilitation program.

Nutritionist Luka Novak is flamboyant, effeminate, the type of gay man that bisexual Nick would normally sneer at. His sunny nature hides a deep hurt from a previous relationship. Luka knows he should be wary of Nick’s reputation, but he’s drawn to Nick despite himself. Their tentative friendship turns into romance, but Luka soon comes to realize that Nick’s fear of losing his bad boy reputation means he’ll probably never go public with their relationship.

Nick never thought he needed anyone, until Luka Novak came into his life. Now he has to reconcile his carefree past with the future he suddenly wants more than anything. And the first lesson he has to learn is how to become the man that both he and Luka need him to be, rather than stay the boy he always was. Alone.

So what did I think?

I loved this book and knew I was going to love it after just one chapter!
This is the story of bad-boy rock star Nick who needs to spend months in rehab where he meets Luka, the nutritionist.
The writing style drew me in. I could feel Nick’s pain while at the same time laughing at the humour of his internal dialogue (loved the scene where he is filling out the forms for his doctor!). Nick’s character, is filled with pain and struggling to adjust to changes in his life. He appears selfish and childish but so very vulnerable.
Luka is supportive and protective of Nick but has his own pain from being hurt in the past. He is a gentle character but also a firecracker in bed!
The story follows Nick’s journey as he puts his past behind him to give his heart to another and Luka learning to trust.
“What they had was rare, imperfect and beautiful and scary all at once. It was hard to say those things out loud and know the right words to use. But that was ok. Because when two people found each other, two people who were meant to be, words didn’t even matter anymore. They just knew. And that was the luckiest thing of all.”
4.5 stars because there are gorgeous rockers, cute dogs, misunderstandings, hot sex and HEA

5 Stars

Moonstruck (Lucky Moon, #3)Moonstruck by Piper Vaughn

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Surya Patel is the drummer for the massively popular band, Moonlight. When his label suggests a collaboration with Luck, the band Moonlight toured with the year before, he should be all for it. Except for one thing—he slept with Luck’s manager during the tour, and then bolted in the dead of night. He’s regretted it ever since, but he knows being around Emmanuel will only lead to disaster. Unfortunately for Surya, the person the label sends to sweet talk him into joining the collaboration is none other than Em himself.

Emmanuel Cortez has spent months trying to forget about the hottest night of his life—the night he slept with Surya. It’s been a year, but not even the death of his beloved grandmother and the subsequent drama with his family could keep the memories away. Now it’s time to be professional. His job is to convince Surya to collaborate with Luck, nothing more, but a day spent together leads to yet another passionate night. This time Em is the one to leave.

But unexpectedly Surya has a change of heart. He isn’t satisfied with just one night anymore. He wants forever.

So what did I think?

The excitement level did not match the earlier books, especially #2 The Luckiest which is the highlight of the series. However it is still an enjoyable story.

Surya falls for Em and, although happy for their relationship to be known among friends, struggles to come out to his very traditional family. Em has his own family issues to deal with. There is lots of wasted time and heartbreak caused by lack of communication (if only these guys would speak to each other!)

The story is steadily paced, with lots of soul-searching, but lacks the humour and drama of the earlier books but still a nice read.

4 Stars

For more information on M.J. O’Shea and her books visit her website.

For more information on Piper Vaughn and her books visit her website.

Buy The Lucky Moon series from Amazon.

View all my reviews

Image

5 star series! Little Boy Lost by J.P. Barnaby

This is one of my favourite series. It tells the story of Brian McAllister and Jamie Mayfield. It is emotional and heartbreaking and so worth reading!

I thought it worth sharing my thoughts on the series as it is currently on special. The 2nd edition (different covers but same content to the books I have reviewed below) are currently on sale from Dreamspinner Press at 40% off.

  • Enlightened (book #1)
  • Abandoned (book #2)
  • Vanished (book #3)
  • Discovered (book #4)
  • Escaped (book #5)
  • Sacrificed (book #6)

Be warned that this series review might be slightly spoilerish as the blurbs for each subsequent books give a bit of the story that has already taken place in the series so far.

5 Stars

Enlightened (Little Boy Lost, #1)Enlightened by J.P. Barnaby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Little Boy Lost is the story of Brian McAllister, the boy next door.

Brian goes to school, does his homework, and helps his foster parents around the house. Brian also has a secret. He is in love with his best friend. In Crayford, Alabama being in love with another boy is the worst kind of sin.

In this first book, Enlightened, Brian and Jamie discover just how deep their emotional bond runs, and at what cost. From fumbling through their first sexual experiences to shrouding every aspect of their relationship from everyone in their lives, Brian and Jamie battle for the one thing that is truly theirs — love. What will they do if their secret is discovered?

So what did I think?

From the opening line, “My name is Brian Patrick McAllister, and I am going to hell.” and launch straight into the pastor’s sermon, I knew this wouldn’t be an easy book.

It is the story, told by 16 year old Brian, of his developing sexuality – his realisation that his feelings for his best friend Jamie, extend beyond simple friendship. These feelings aren’t only sexual though, Brian and Jamie share a deep love for one another.

Living in a small town, Jamie’s parents are deeply religious and Brian is a foster child, worried about losing the only home he has felt wanted in since losing his parents as a young boy.

The boys try come to terms with being gay while trying to hide their feelings for each other from other people. They live in fear of repercussions. The story tells of their pain and is really moving.

“My question is, if god hates gay people and God made us, why would He make people He hated? I thought God was supposed to love everybody? Is it a test? Why me? Why you?”………….”I’m scared, Jamie”.

Warning: there is no happy ending in this book.  The ending is certainly motivation to get straight into the next book. Hopefully, with so many books in the series, Brian and Jamie will eventually get their happy ever after.

Abandoned (Little Boy Lost, #2)Abandoned by J.P. Barnaby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Jamie is gone. Brian’s secret has been revealed.

Brian McAllister’s story continues as he tries to cope with the loss of his best friend and soul mate amid the alienation and ridicule of his classmates. When hatred turns to violence, Brian narrows his focus to two goals: surviving and finding Jamie. Along the way he meets Adam, whose life has also been shattered by violence and cruelty. Can Adam fill the hole in Brian’s life left by Jamie’s absence? The answer will change everything.

So what did I think?

This is the sequel to Enlightened and continues the story of Brian, who has lost Jamie and now facing his small town knowing he is gay.

Unfortunately there are those who decide to ‘punish’ Brian with tragic consequences. The story follows Brian as he deals with physical recovery, fights to keep his foster parents and continues to deal with his sorrow at not knowing what has happened to Jamie.

There are some small bright lights in Brian’s otherwise bleak life, such as his loving foster parents.
[ his loving foster parents adopting him, the love of his new friend Adam and the support he gets from Kyle, the art teacher and from his karate coach. (hide spoiler)]

Once again, lots of heartbreak and there is no happy ending but the series continues…….

Vanished (Little Boy Lost, #3)Vanished by J.P. Barnaby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Brian McAllister’s story continues in San Diego, where he finds so much more than he ever expected: acceptance, friends, encouragement, and an entire world of sexual adventure he’d never dared to imagine back in his small Alabama town. He continues to search for one lost boy in a sea of humanity but slowly begins to realize that maybe dreams really don’t come true.

Encouraged by new friends Mike and Emilio, Brian struggles to find work and keep his spirits up while his hope of finding Jamie starts to falter. But when life comes crashing down, he’s desperate to keep his new life. Can Brian do the unthinkable to remain in California when his money runs out? When Brian meets a beaten and bruised boy no one seems willing to help, he knows that walking away is no longer an option.

So what did I think?

The third book in the series sees Brian leave home and cross the country on his search for Jamie. The depth of his love is obviously as he sacrifices a college scholarship and secure future to find Jamie. For Brian, Jamie is his future.

Brian struggles to find work and enough money to fund his search but finds a new home and new friends who broaden his outlook. This book has a different feel to the earlier books as Brian is growing up and starts to further explore his sexuality. However it still filled with sorrow and heartache.

The direction Brian’s life starts to move in definitely was a surprise to me.

Warning: cliffhanger ending and the epilogue indicates that Brian faces many tough times and more heartbreak ahead

Discovered (Little Boy Lost, #4)Discovered by J.P. Barnaby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Little Boy Lost is the story of Jamie Mayfield, a golden-haired fallen angel. Dumped into a gay rehab center and shunned by his parents, the once-adored son of small-minded, small town people has had to find his own way in life.

Jamie is astonished and dismayed when Brian McAllister, the boy he knows is the other half of his soul, explodes back into his precarious life. In the nearly two years they’ve been apart, not a day has gone by that Jamie hasn’t thought of Brian, no matter how hard surviving has been. How can Jamie protect Brian from the pain and brutalization in his life when he can’t even protect himself? Brian and Jamie will put every bit of themselves into saving each other, but Steven O’Dell isn’t the only obstacle keeping the boys apart. Jamie’s own self-hatred may prove to be their undoing.

So what did I think?

This 4th book in the series is told from Jamie’s point of view. We learn more about the pain he has been in since being wrenched from Brian 2 years ago.

“That night, that last beautiful night I held him in my arms, was the last time I had been happy. Even nearly two years later, I could still remember every touch, every whisper in the dark, every promise. That night, that experience changed my life. It made me want to be a better man, to take care of Brian the way that he should have been cared for his whole life. I wanted to go to college and get a great job so that I could be everything he needed. I never knew that I had that kind of capacity to love anyone else.”

Jamie is living in a world of hurt and fear. Jamie and Brian may have found each other again but they are not together. Jamie tries to distance himself from Brian to protect him from harm.

It is difficult to read of the heartbreak both these men are going through and I keep wanting them to have their happy ever after. Maybe in the next book? The whole series is difficult to put down due to the endings and epilogues which drag you straight into the next book.

EscapedEscaped by J.P. Barnaby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Finally together, Brian McAllister and Jamie Mayfield have risked everything in a desperate escape. Jamie is now free of his tormentor, Steven O’Dell… for the moment. But Brian and Jamie know that one wrong choice could lead Steven to their door.

With the strength of Brian and his friends to protect him, Jamie hides and finds the one person he is truly afraid of—himself. The long, lonely hours in the place Leo found for them to stay leave Jamie with nothing to do but think. He thinks about Brian, about the direction their lives should take. He thinks about his parents, about the industry he left behind. Mostly, though, he thinks about drugs. Jamie wants to feel good again, forget about his self-hatred, and stop the gnawing cravings that prey upon his mind and body even as he tries to start a new life with Brian.

One moment of weakness may prove to be fatal for them both.

So what did I think?

The fifth book in the series, finally brings Brian and Jamie together. However they have a lot to overcome if they are to be happy. Jamie may be away from Steven and his influence but a lot of damage has already been done.

This continues to be a dark journey for Jamie as he fights to get well and struggles with his internal demons.

“I pushed away the thought that he would be better off finding someone whole, because he didn’t want someone whole – he wanted me.”

Once again, lots of emotional moments. Thank goodness I don’t have to wait for the final book to be released but can dive right in.

Sacrificed (Little Boy Lost, #6)Sacrificed by J.P. Barnaby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Reunited with his father but missing the one man he loves more than any other, Jamie Mayfield attempts to put his life back together amid rehab, seizures, and the gutting loneliness of Brian’s rejection. As he tries to cope, Jamie finds that relying on his friends isn’t nearly as difficult as he’d imagined, and soon he can once again stand on his own two feet.

While recovering from his addiction, Jamie starts a new phase of his life at college, working to become the man Brian needs him to be. Only one question remains: Can Jamie earn Brian’s forgiveness and win back his trust, or will their love be sacrificed at the altar of Jamie’s demons?

Brian and Jamie’s epic journey comes to a close in this thrilling conclusion to the Little Boy Lost series.

So what did I think?

“I’m fighting for us. You are everything to me, Brian, and I am not going to give up on us – ever.”

This is the last book in the series and concludes the story of Brian and Jamie. In the tradition of the other books, the boys are not finding it easy to move forward, to get beyond the tragic situation that has been forced on them. Once again they are apart.

Although along with the heartache, here is healing. Jamie is getting his life together and finally has support and friends. Thank goodness he doesn’t give up on Brian and allow him to push him away. “I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think – nothing mattered except Brian and how devastated I would be if he pushed me away. But I needed to try, one more time, just to know that I’d done everything I could. I had to feel his lips against mine even if it destroyed me.

This book is filled with such wonderful expressions of love and the happy ending was worth waiting for!

5 Stars

To find out more about J.P. Barnaby and her books visit her website.

Note: You might be interested to read a slightly different take on this series. J.P. Barnaby, writing as fictional character Jamie Mayfield,  is in the process of releasing the series aimed at a YA audience. The series is called Waiting for Forever. Check out Choices (book #1) which is currently available. Destiny (book 2) is due for release next month (July 2013).

Buy the Little Boy Lost series from Amazon (Click on my Favourites category).

View all my reviews

Image

Books 1 & 2 of The Men of Riverside series by Serena Yates

Men of Riverside explores the lives of a group of men who all share a high school in the fictional town of Riverside, Texas. Not all of them know they are destined to be couples. Some of them believe they are only friends.

Circumstances and life separate them, sometimes for several years. But luck, determination and love will help them get the reunions they deserve.

Reading Order:

  • Finding Elliot (book #1) – in this review
  • Rediscovering Adrian (book #2) – in this review
  • Understanding Mark (book #3)
  • Saving Zeke (book #4)
  • Forgiving Jason (book #5)
  • Loving Vincent (book #6)
  • Convincing Landon (book #7)
  • Helping Harry (book #8)

Finding Elliot (Men of Riverside, #1)Finding Elliot by Serena Yates

My rating: 3.5  of 5 stars

The Blurb…

After five years of forced separation David was determined to find Elliot again but what he gets isn t the closure he was hoping for…After yet another unsatisfying one-night stand David Lear decides it’s finally time to find his former lover Elliot Watkins. He needs closure before he can move on. He is still angry at the man for never getting in touch after his parents moved away when David and Elliot were caught kissing at age seventeen.Elliot Watkins has never forgotten his first and only lover David but lives under his father’s scrutiny, too afraid to come out before he gets access to his trust fund when he turns twenty-five. His fiancee Patricia Hobart constantly nags him and he wants nothing more than to live his own life and to become an architect.Falling back into each other’s arms is relatively easy. But will Elliot be able to free himself from his father’s influence? Will David be able to forgive his lover and have the patience to wait until Elliot is ready?Reader Advisory: This book is the first in a series linked by theme and characters appearing in more than one book. The stories, while they can be read on their own, are best read in sequence.

So what did I think?

I enjoyed this story which tells the tale of David finding Elliot. David and Elliot were in love as teenagers but separated when Elliot’s father catches them kissing and moves Elliot away. Years later, David decides to find the man that he has never stopped loving. He is looking for answers and closure.

I found Elliot a little hard to warm to. I thought him cowardly and his explanations for the separation didn’t seem to justify his actions. It is only further into the story that his behaviour becomes better understood and more acceptable.

The only element of the the book that I didn’t really like was the level of power wielded by Elliot’s father. (view spoiler)[The break and enter with the team of security guards while Elliot and David were in bed (hide spoiler)] seemed a bit overdone and had a lack of realism.

On a side note, usually you get a bit into a book before encountering the first sex scene. Not in this book! This one launches straight in and the first line is David coming! No build up here!

3.5 stars

4 Stars

Rediscovering Adrian (Men of Riverside, #2)Rediscovering Adrian by Serena Yates

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

What happens when the past you’ve been running from finally catches up with you?For the past five years, Peter Adams has convinced himself that his one and only true love, Adrian Shrader, never really cared. Peter has dedicated his life to becoming a private investigator, more determined than ever to keep his memories, and his feelings, locked away. But when a near fatal shooting causes a brain injury, he’s about to discover that his past is anything but behind him.Adrian Shrader disappeared in the hopes that his best friend and lover wouldn’t lose the only family he’d ever known. Aware that Peter’s mother threatened to remove Peter from his sibling’s lives, Adrian’s spent the past few years wishing there was a way to right this wrong. When he hears that Peter is seriously injured and in the hospital, Adrian rushes to his side. Will they be able to rediscover love? Or will history repeat itself?Reader Advisory: This book is the second in a series and the stories, while they can be read on their own, are best read in sequence.

So what did I think?

This was a relatively short story that tells the tale of Peter and Adrian being reunited many years after Adrian had left Peter.

In some ways it is very similar to the first book, teenage boys separated but never forgetting their first love, but in others it is different. The first book had David seeking Elliot who had been taken away by his father. In this book, Peter is not searching for Adrian but finds himself reunited after an accident. The first book focused on the current day and told a little about the David and Elliot’s history. However it is nice that in this book, there are many flashbacks providing a view of Peter and Adrian’s teenage relationship.

This book contains the usual lack of communication and incorrect assumptions being made by the men which caused their separation in the first place and gets in the way of them making immediate amends.

It’s a quick story that cover quite a bit. My main issue with it was the lack of reality in a couple of aspects. Adrian leaves his job to be with Peter and they seem to take but up again with relatively little discussion. Also Adrian clearly forgets all about his brother for weeks even though the last time he saw him he was clearly in trouble. Adrian is regretful but it seems too little too late. I assume the next book is Mark’s story.

3 Stars

To find out more about Serena Yates and her books, visit her website.

Buy the Men of Riverside Series from Amazon.

View all my reviews