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DSP Daily Dose MENDED Anthology – Part 1

These books are part of the DSP Daily Dose Mended Anthology which is a themed story released every day in June.

Mended

This year it is all about…..”Each story Life comes with a bit of hurt, but luckily for these men, it also comes with the right amount of comfort to mend their breaks, both of the body and the heart. From facing deranged exes to economic trials, the men in these tales have faced trial by fire–or in some cases water–for the right to love and live. Step into their shoes as they rebuild their family after a gutting betrayal or traverse the stars with an unexpected partner. The Mended Daily Dose package delivers stories about all kinds of second chances built on love.”

❤❤❤❤❤

Cleary Palit

Cleary Palit

by Zahra Owens

The blurb…

Edward “Ted” Cleary and Cazimir Palit have shared everything for eight years. Well, almost everything. They own a successful business together, share a house in West Hollywood, and never travel anywhere without each other, but they’ve never slept in the same bed.

There’s one more thing Ted hasn’t shared with Caz. Ted has a mother, sister, and brother in Atlanta Caz has never met. With good reason. They threw Ted out when he wouldn’t “change his ways,” and he’s never looked back. When Ted is rejected all over again, Caz steps up and proves he isn’t the superficial man Ted always took him for, and Ted’s long-hidden feelings might finally be returned.

So what did I think?

Cleary Palit is the first story of the package and made a nice start to the collection. I enjoyed the story of long-time business partners Ted and Caz. The men have worked and lived together for years and Ted has pinned for the unattainable Caz. He doesn’t think he’s in Caz’s league or Caz’s type. It takes a family situation where Ted needs support for both men to finally start facing their feelings.

This story provided a bitch of a sister (award winning on the bitch-stakes really), lots of family confrontation and an all-the-way happy ending. It was an interesting romance– not hugely hearts-and-flowers– it’s more about showing feeling with actions. Our hero Ted isn’t totally gorgeous, his body isn’t fabulous, he’s a nerd and can’t see a thing without his glasses. I wanted to shake him to stand up for himself at the beginning of the story but he’d endeared himself by the end.

3.5 stars

The Way Things Turn Out

The Way Things Turn Out

by MA Ford

The blurb…

After a serious crash during testing, sports car driver Alan accompanies his injured teammate, Nathan, to the hospital, promising his boss he’ll stay until Nathan’s next of kin can be reached.

Former F1 test driver Nathan was a recent addition to the team, and he and Alan were not on the best of terms. Waiting for Nathan to regain consciousness gives Alan time to think back over the recent races and the ups and downs of their relationship.

Even when Nathan wakes up, Alan remains by his side at the hospital. Nathan is still keeping secrets and needs help more than he’s willing to admit. If they can trust each other, it might open the door to an attraction both assumed was one-sided.

So what did I think?

I’ve got a real soft spot for the books by this author. I think I must be a closet motor sports fan!

It took a little while to settle into reading this comfortably– getting into the flow of the first person present narration, the flashbacks and Alan providing his back story– but once things got going, I really liked it.

It is not surprising that the author has a background in the racing scene due to the level of detail provided. She provides a sense of the lifestyle and does provide information on how the sport works, mentions various tracks and famous drivers but this serves to give the book a realistic setting.

This is a coming-out combined with sort-to-enemies-to-lovers theme – there’s nothing like an accident to bring true feelings to the surface.

3.5 stars

Branded

Branded

by Bru Baker

The Blurb…

When a would-be assassin sneaks into the citadel disguised as a servant, the king requires that all servants who work in the castle be branded with the royal crest for easy identification. Prince Coren is powerless to fight the edict, but he refuses to allow his personal advisor and secret lover Brannir to suffer alone. Coren shows his devotion by wielding the brand to mark Brannir himself, even though he fears it will change their relationship. He’s prepared for resentment, hurt, and anger–every outcome but the one he receives: unconditional love.

So what did I think?

This is the third story in the DSP Daily Dose Mended anthology. It was short but surprisingly enjoyable. I say ‘surprisingly’ because I’m not usually a big fan of fantasy/historical worlds but this one really worked for me.

The story takes place over one night as Corin needs to brand his servant/lover. I could feel Corin’s pain at having to perform the task and admired Bran’s courage due to his love for the other man. I also liked Finnick, the guard, who was so understanding of their situation and amusing.

4 stars

Deep Water

Deep Water

by Coral Moore

The blurb…

Mario Guzman is trying out for the swim team, his ticket to paying his way through college. When he meets Jordan Lewis, an outspoken writer for the school’s paper, he considers coming out even though he’s been very private about his sexuality all his life.

Violence intended for Jordan takes Mario out of consideration for the team and threatens his best hope for an education. He lashes out when Jordan tries to help him in his time of need. Eventually Mario regrets driving Jordan away, and his need to apologize takes him to the scene of the attack, where he confronts his pain and terror. This time Jordan is there to help him face the biggest obstacle in his path.

So what did I think?

I liked this story despite not being entirely sold on the attraction between Mario and Jordan which result pretty much in insta-love. But it was still a nice short and sweet story.

3 stars

Total Immersion

Total Immersion

by Ellis Carrington

The blurb…

Evan Stanton is in over his head. Injured from a fall on campus, he’s let his boyfriend talk him into a senior year total immersion trip—two weeks abroad—only his boyfriend ends up dumping him shortly before takeoff. Evan gets on the plane anyway, but he’s lost his hope and added to his pain.

Chris Bale decided to spend his senior year of college clearing his head after breaking up with the girl he’s dated since high school. He finds himself on a flight to Istanbul next to a surly kid with piercings and guyliner who couldn’t be more his opposite. They strike up a friendship anyway, and as they make their way across a foreign land, Bale realizes he’s too immersed in Evan to let go.

So what did I think?

This short story was lots of fun. I think it might be the first romance I’ve read set in Istanbul so a plus there for originality!

This is the story of poor Evan who starts a tour to Turkey feeling pretty down. He’s just been dumped by his boyfriend plus he has chronic pain from an injury months before. Enter, Bale, the perfect guy to befriend him and become is room-mate. Bale has broken up with is girlfriend and takes Evan under his wing.

It was a sweet story with moments of humour and some little surprises from straight-boy Bale who’s not afraid to jump into a sexual relationship with Evan.

3.5 stars

❤❤❤❤❤

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Anthology: Dr. Feelgood

Dr. FeelgoodDr. Feelgood

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The blurb…

Whether they’re paramedics, nurses, therapists, doctors, or even actors who play them on TV, the men in the medical profession must contend with job stress and long hours that can make finding love a challenge. These dedicated professionals aid patients from the severely injured to those just needing some help with a bath, and along the way find creative ways to release some tension, reconnect with past partners, and even forge something that might last a lifetime.

Injuries, huge workloads, dedication to duty, self-doubt, and fear of coming out of the closet are only some of the obstacles standing in the way of the men committed to easing pain and those in need of treatment. But with hard work, some humor, some steamy on- and off-the-job trysts, plenty of patience, and open hearts, doctors and patients alike can find the healing they need, whether it comes from a lifelong commitment or a quickie in the staff room.

The men in this anthology are looking for relief, and they’re in luck—the doctor is in.

So what did I think?

Overall I enjoyed this anthology. I rated all stories 3 and above which was great. It took me a while to get through because my approach with anthologies is to read a story on those nights when I want a quick read before bed but don’t want to get sucked into a long novel. This was perfect and I ended many a night with a little bit of Dr. Feelgood. Overall rating 3.5.

Right-hand Man by Rob Rosen
Basically this is one quick – albeit very hot and sexy – scene as Alan gets a bath from his friendly and helpful neighbour Brad (we all need good neighbours like Brad!) Alan has a broken arm and luckily Brad is a medical professional who likes to do good deeds. There are witty lines and amusing banter with lots of sex. These guys are not shy, basically going at it from the moment they meet. 3 stars.

Mend What Is Broken by Fils Preis
I liked the realism of the traumatic experience. The descriptions took me right into the scene – the slipping in and out of conciousness, the confusion etc. I would have liked the story to continue for one or two more chapters to give more of a taste of the characters together but I guess you can’t have it all in a short story! 3 stars.

Doctor in the Desert by S.C. Wynne
This had some cute moments and the characters were really likable. I loved their date where they were feeling each other out – gay? not gay? just good at acting straight? The emotional connection between them was super-fast and the characters even acknowledge this so I wasn’t the only one thinking it! 🙂 My only puzzlement was how a doctor could have had such a bad time bottoming in the past as surely he would understand the need for prep so why not ask for it? Luckily he doesn’t have to ask his gorgeous policeman! 3.5 stars

Iron Man by Meg O’Brien
I loved Aiden and Bryan and I appreciated the author’s descriptions of the blind experience but I adored mom – she was wonderful and kind and funny. 4 stars

First and Last by Sara York
Love a story with a reunited men and I loved tat Jeffery didn’t hold a grudge about the past. I adored the father and son relationship between Trevin and Burt. 4 stars

Differential Diagnosis by Anna Martin
This was a cute story of life imitating art when lead characters on a soap opera play the part of lovers. I was really getting into it when it ended – unfortunately! The ending just seemed too abrupt. 3 stars

In My Own Skin by Thea Nishimori
This story was definitely different, given its focus on an illness that impacts Chris’ ability to meet men and engage in physical activity. His everyday living is obviously impacted as well as his chances at romance. It is nice that the author is providing a sense of realism and information on a condition that no doubt affects many, including herself but at times I thought it maybe a bit too descriptive – maybe I just think this because I’m thinking it doesn’t fit with ‘romance’. Anyway, it has nice potential for Chris to get his happy ending. 3 stars

Rx for Sex by Bru Baker
4 stars for a hot little sex scene in the on-call room! I loved the dirty talk, I loved Charlie’s cute prescription for Barr. I’d really like to hear more about these two.

Kind by Samuel Scott Preston
3 stars. Unlikely (I’m not sure that Derek would have really spent his recuperation with this team physical therapist) but it was sweet.

Hero Worship by Kris T. Bethke
I loved this story as it was but it would have made a great longer story. I loved all the characters including the sister/best friend. A bit of humour, nice sex, emotional soul searching and a happy ending. 5 stars

Tourniquet by Kaye P. Hallows
4.5 stars. I loved this story – heroes, the Dr House references, Kane’s personality and his persistence going after Weston and taking chances. “I want you to saw off that damn tourniquet around your heart and let me bring you back to life. I want your devotion, your respect, and your trust. I want you, all of you, not this watered-down version that makes you feel safe. I wany you to love the shit out of me without fear or reservation.”

Pain Management by Brigham Vaughn
A little niggle of inappropriateness but really who cares in a sweet short story involving a massage therapist and a patient with a chronic migraine. It’s amazing what a good massage (one very hot one, in particular) can do! 3.5 stars

Night Shift by Casey O’Neill
4 stars because I like drama and happy endings – plus there were cops! There’s no sex but that impact my enjoyment of the story which focused on a long term couple who are married but separated, struggling with accepting the risks that come with the job of a detective.

To The Next Level by Laura Mathews
A nice story with a military touch as Cameron goes through rehabilitation while falling for his therapist. A little flirtation but no boundaries crossed. It was sweet. 3.5 stars

❅❅❅❅❅❅❅

Buy Dr Feelgood from Amazon

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The Buyout by Bru Baker

Looking for a romance in a corporate setting? Like a bit of power play and strategic maneuvering? Like a man in a suit? Appreciate witty instant messaging and shameless flirting?………

The BuyoutThe Buyout by Bru Baker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The blurb…

All Parker Anderson has ever wanted is to take over as CEO of Anderson Industries when his father retires. But when his father is ready to leave the company, he doesn’t plan to pass the reins to Parker. Instead, he plans to sell the company, jeopardizing not only Parker’s job but hundreds of others.

Parker finds an unlikely ally in Mason Pike, the company’s resident IT guru. What starts as a flirtation takes them from coworkers to coconspirators in a plan to forcibly buy Anderson Industries out from under Parker’s father. While they focus on the buyout, their budding romance has to be put on hold, but that doesn’t stop them from flirting and teasing each other to distraction—and once their master plan comes to fruition, nothing and no one can keep them apart.

So what did I think?

I’m partial to a romance set in a corporate setting. I particularly like power plays and seeing the underdog win and of course, men in suits! In The Buyout, Parker is up against his father. Parker’s father is planning on selling the company but Parker has a strategy of his own.

On the romance side, Parker starts a flirtatious relationship with the guy sent to fix his laptop. Parker and Mason work beautifully together and their messages to each other are cute and clever.

However, I found the story wound up with slightly too much business maneuvering and not enough romance. The relationship seemed to lose some of it’s lustre once Parker and Mason stopped the witty IM banter and geeky, cheesy pick up lines.

Nevertheless it was still an enjoyable story, particularly for fans of office romance with a bit of humour.

3 Stars

For more information on Bru Baker and her books visit her website.

Buy The Buyout from Bru Baker.

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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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