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His Undoing by Aria Grace

His UndoingHis Undoing by Aria Grace

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb…

When Mike found out he would be sharing a dorm with a former football star, he was terrified. He’d been bullied by jocks all his life for being scrawny and weak and didn’t have high expectations of how it would go. To his surprise, Brett was a great guy that was easy to get along with and seemed to enjoy his company. When Mike learned that Brett was gay, it was a shock but it also explained the threatening letters that Mike had been receiving. Was Mike really at risk because of a jealous ex? Was there even anything to be jealous of?

So what did I think?

This was a great gay-for-you story. Told from the point of view of Mike, “The kids I grew up with called me a fag. I’m not gay but I guess small features and a lack of arm and chest definition were enough to consider me effeminate by most standards.”, the story starts when Mike arrives at his dorm and meets his room-mate Brett.

Brett is the typical tall and muscled jock. However, as Mike gets to know Brett, he realises that Mike isn’t all what he expected and he certainly didn’t expect him to be gay. The men develop a close friendship which, to the reader is obviously more, but Mike is yet to acknowledge it.

The story involves a traumatic assault on Mike which provides a further push for the relationship development as Brett’s protectiveness and nurturing side really kicks in. Although I did think the resolution of the attack on Mike seemed a little strange.  I didn’t understand the approach Brett wanted to take and thought it a bit abrupt.
[ Why was Brett protecting his lunatic ex-boyfriend? (hide spoiler)]

It was great that Brett was not the stereotypical jock (so often these stories are about the jock realising he is attracted to the geek). Rather the story focuses on the ‘non-gay’ Mike gradually realising that he is more attracted to Brett than his newly-found girlfriend. I wasn’t overly happy with Mike’s treatment of the girlfriend but the way the story was written, Maggie was alright with the outcome and happy to transition to good friend so I guess all was okay.

This story is a nice blend of good characters and interesting plot with some drama thrown in. The sex was also good (it was nice to see Brett not taking the stereotypical role – or at least the role I would have expected – in their first encounter, particularly as Mike was very new to sex).

A nice happy ending although it did seem a bit abrupt – a short last chapter that basically summarised that all was right in the world or at least HFN. “Everything was still new and confusing at times, but I was happier than I’d ever been.”

A copy of this book was provided by the author in return for an honest review.

4 Stars

For more information on Aria Grace and her books, visit her website.

More than Friends by Aria Grace is also available, currently for free, on Amazon. Click here to see the book.

Buy His Undoing at Amazon.

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Short stories from the DSP 2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play (PART 2)

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:

  • The King’s Mate by Ashavan Doyon
  • Flexibility by Maja Rose
  • Darian’s Angel by Sabine Cross
  • Diving In by Bru Baker
  • Mulligan by Nora Roth
  • Thunderballs by Andrea Speed

The King's Mate (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)The King’s Mate by Ashavan Doyon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Russell Pine goes to the café every morning to enjoy his time chatting with Sam Tesh, the café owner, a friend made over the past twenty years. So when Sam asks a favor, Russ reluctantly agrees to play in a chess tournament. But the contest isn’t the real challenge: Russ finds himself the focus of a secret courtship in words and pictures left for him to discover each morning, leading him to the question: In a café full of young and beautiful minds, who is looking at the graying chessmaster?

So what did I think?

This was a 3.5 star read for me. I liked the story and was moving to really like it but my full enjoyment was prevented due some of the writing style. The use of half-finished sentences was totally overdone and frustrating to read. I just wanted the characters (primarily Justin) to spit it out and finish what they were saying!

My thoughts concerning Justin were also mixed. He was a wonderful character – a lovely, thoughtful and romantic young man who has the courage to go after what he wants (when he can actually get the words out!). However the age difference between him and Russ gave me mixed feelings, particularly as Russ had been around to watch Justin grow up.

I am not sure of Justin’s exact age and have nothing against a relationship with an older man, particularly a man like Russ. I think what raised a few flags for me was the concern Sam’s father kept expressing about the relationship. He was concerned about his son who had been hurt in the past (not sure of the details of what happened but it must have been pretty intense). However it wasn’t this concern that was the problem, it was the way he spoke to Justin and interfered in the relationship, treating him like a child, which made him seem one in my eyes.

4 Stars

Flexibility (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)Flexibility by Maja Rose

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Jared Glass thinks he’s got a pretty sweet deal. Andrew Blackwell is his best friend and roommate, they both live for gymnastics, and Jared’s on his way to the 2016 Olympics. Then Jared’s teammate breaks his leg, and Andy is named his replacement … except no one tells Jared, and isn’t that something you’d tell your best friend? Then again, they’re good at bending around the obvious: Andy’s been in love with Jared for years but stays silent; Jared denies it could even be possible. Surely two friends this close can be more?

So what did I think?

Really enjoyable story set against the backdrop of the men’s gymnastics team who are preparing for the London Olympics. It takes the threat of losing Andy to make Jared acknowledge his true feelings for his best friend.

Great short friends-to-lovers story (not that it moves past kissing) and I loved the way it was told. Present tense from Jared’s POV, it’s full of humour as Jared struggles with his internal thoughts and justifications for his feelings.

A nice happy ending. “He thinks if he moves too much he might burst, so he just opens his mouth to his best friend – who is something else to him now, something indefinable and huge – and kisses back slow and gentle.”

4 Stars

Darian's Angel (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)Darian’s Angel by Sabine Cross

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Darian Levesque is finally ready to move on after heartbreak when he reluctantly attends an equestrian event and glimpses an angel on horseback. Believing the striking young man has a girlfriend and is beyond his reach, Darian leaves without a word. Three months later, Darian sees his angel again, this time at the hospital, where Liam Grayson is recovering from a tragic riding accident… only to walk away from his attraction to Liam once more. It’s frustrating enough to make Liam’s sister, Paulette, confront Darian and lead him through the obstacles, but will he make the final jump and make Liam his?

So what did I think?

This story had so much potential but just didn’t get there. I didn’t learn much about the characters, which is probably ok given it is a short story, but their one interaction just seemed to cheapen what had the potential to be a fabulous relationship.

Obviously Darian and Liam were going to progress their relationship beyond this one encounter but it just wasn’t the start I wanted to see. It was clear they had a strong physical reaction to one another but I wanted to see an attraction to the actual man within.

That being said, I think there is the making of a follow up book here and I would read it if it was available because I love to read about the Mounties and would love to know where Liam’s future lies.
2 Stars

Diving In  (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)Diving In by Bru Baker

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Being the pool boy makes it easy for Max Jansen to ogle his long-time crush, water polo player Everett Caldwell. Never mind the fact that Max owns the company and is overqualified for the task of monitoring chlorine and cleaning skimmers. He’s just happy to watch his unattainable dream play—until one day Everett invites him over and suddenly Max is his platonic plus-one for everything from movie nights to racy industry parties. Then Max learns the one-time Olympian isn’t as straight as everyone assumes, and he isn’t sure how long he can hold out before his crush grows much deeper.

So what did I think?

This is a fun short story with a very interesting play on the hetero porno scene and pool boys!

The pool boy is Max, who actually owns the pool servicing company. As the boss he is entitled to the perks and his perk is to watch the water polo team, one player in particular, practising.

Everett is the son of the man who owns the pool. His father runs a company producing porn so the pool is always surrounded by half-naked women. Everett is on the water polo team which use his dad’s pool for practice.

Max is eyeing Everett and of course, Everett has been secretly crushing back. Cute story! It was quite funny to see the boys trying to avoid the girls at a pool party “Maybe if we stand by a wall? It’s a more defensible position. That way they can’t keep sneaking up behind us.”

4 Stars

Mulligan (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)Mulligan by Nora Roth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

The only thing between Jesse Yates and the top of the air hockey leaderboard is Cameron Greene. When Cameron returns home from college unannounced and knocks the win out of Jesse’s reach, the last thing Jesse plans to do is strike up a friendship with the guy he dislikes on principle. But Cameron charms Jesse without even seeming to try, and the attraction and friendly rivalry between them soon leads to something more.

Everything is perfect until the world as Jesse knows it comes crashing down when Cameron’s secrets are revealed. Before Jesse can find his balance, Cameron is gone without a word, leaving Jesse alone with anger and grief—hoping against hope for a second chance.

So what did I think?

This seemed a little longer than some of the other stories in the Make a Play collection which meant there was time to develop the characters.

The story is about younger man, Jesse, and Cameron who is an older college student. Both young men are mad keen players of the games at the local alley (mainly air hockey), both high on the leader boards. It is this shared passion that first connects them.

It could have been a very light-hearted story but this actually has some depth as we see Jesse coming to terms with the feelings he has for Cameron who is his first crush, his first everything. However Cameron is dealing with personal tragedy and leaves Jesse behind as he tries to heal. This sends Jesse into a downward spiral.

Luckily there is a happy ending!

4 Stars

 

Thunderballs (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)Thunderballs by Andrea Speed

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Luke Diaz signs up for an adult dodgeball league out of morbid curiosity and a love for a crazy movie. After all, sports aren’t his thing. Then attraction to the team captain, Shane Kinrade, keeps him from ducking out of tryouts, and Luke discovers he’s actually rather good at hitting where he aims. Along with his newfound ability, Luke considers the charming team captain to be right up his alley and luckily, Shane shares his interest.

So what did I think?

Is it ok to admit that I don’t really know what Dodgeball is? Maybe I need to Google it to find out more however the book didn’t make it sound like that great a sport so I don’t think I’ll bother……

Anyway, this was a nice short story, nothing overly special but a good quick read. The main character, Luke, was fun and the team captain, Shane, seemed like a good guy.

This was one of those stories that also introduced a supporting cast of characters (brother-in-law Marc and the other new members of the dodgeball team) that sounded quite interesting but wasn’t long enough to really bring life to any of them.

A nice HFN as Liam and Shane go on a first date.

3 Stars

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

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Full Disclosure by Tibby Armstrong

The Hollywood Series

  • No Apologies (book #1)
  • Acting Out (book #2)
  • Full Disclosure (book #3)

Full Disclosure (Hollywood #3)Full Disclosure by Tibby Armstrong

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb...

Weddings are stressful under the best of circumstances, which this certainly isn’t. Following the release of his debut movie, No Apologies, Greg Falkner is working hard to be a better man to fiancé, Aaron Blake. When their alma mater contacts Greg and asks him to serve as their celebrity auctioneer for an upcoming charity gala, he grudgingly accepts at Aaron’s urging.

Aaron admires the new man Greg has become yet craves the old independence of his lover. He’d love to strike a compromise in the relationship and hopes that returning to their beginning will help Greg lay some of his personal demons to rest.

Neither man anticipates the violence that will befall one of them, potentially changing both lives in unimaginable ways. What emerges from the darkness, through frustrations and determination, is a remarkable story of true love with Full Disclosure.

So what did I think?

I continue to love this series!

This is the third book and focuses once again on Greg and Aaron. They are planning their wedding but most of the story focuses on a visit back to their school where Greg has been invited as a celebrity auctioneer.

It is really interesting to learn more about their past and their school days. The story is also about violence and provides a look at how Greg and Aaron both react to the situation that has befallen them. The road to their wedding is a long and traumatic one for both of them.

Of course, there is a great happy ending “With Aaron by his side he could conquer anything. Be anything. Together they were invincible, forever young and whole, always complete.”

I am also very excited to learn their is a fourth book in the series Out Takes which continues the story of Jeremy and Kit. No release date as yet but hopefully not long!

4 Stars

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See my review of No Apologies, book 1 in the series.

See my review of Acting Out, book 2 in the series.

To find out more about Tibby Armstrong and her books visit her website.

Buy the Hollywood series on Amazon.

View all my reviews