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From the Ashes by Daisy Harris

Fire and Rain

  • From the Ashes (book #1) – in this review
  • After the Rain (book #2) – expected release February 2014

From the AshesFrom the Ashes by Daisy Harris

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

He wanted a boyfriend. What he got was a hero.

When an accident burns down Jesse’s apartment, he’s left broke and homeless, with a giant dog and a college schedule he can’t afford to maintain. And no family who’s willing to take him in.

Lucky for him, a sexy fireman offers him a place to stay. The drawback? The fireman’s big Latino family lives next door, and they don’t know their son is gay.

Tomas’s parents made their way in America with hard work and by accepting help when it was offered, so he won’t let Jesse drop out of school just so he can afford a place to live. Besides, Jesse’s the perfect roommate—funny, sweet and breathtakingly cute. He climbs into Tomas’s bed and tugs at his heart. Until Jesse starts pushing for more.

Their passion enflames their bodies but threatens to crush Tomas’s family. Tomas is willing to fight for Jesse, but after losing everything, Jesse isn’t sure he can bear to risk his one remaining possession—his heart.

Warning: Contains an angry older brother, judgmental best friends, a slobbering bull mastiff, and enough red-hot gay loving to make a porn star blush.

So what did I think?

This wasn’t the book I was expecting – I was hoping for more action and more heroics of the physical kind – instead it was a journey with heroics of a more emotional kind.

I quite liked the combination of Jesse and Tomas – in the beginning it wasn’t all fireworks but there was something special about each of them and they somehow worked together. I didn’t quite understand their immediate attraction and why Tomas would put himself out there to bring Jesse into his home, so near his family, particularly his brother with his homophobic attitude.

Tomas was a puzzle. I struggled to understand the way he thought about sex and what he deemed was acceptable behaviour. I loved that he was respectful of Jesse and didn’t want his actions to demean him, but his ideas seemed a bit odd. Plus he seemed to resolve, what were seemingly deep rooted ideas, pretty quickly. Once they started having sex it was pretty passionate!

Other than those minor points, it was an enjoyable story and provided an interesting take on how one man accepts his sexuality with the love of another. I also loved seeing Jesse blossom under Tomas care, become part of the family and bond with his dog. After rejection by his family and losing his home and all his possessions, he definitely deserved his happy ending!

3.5 stars

To find out more about Daisy Harris and her books visit her website.

Buy From the Ashes from Amazon.

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The Men of Holsum College: Bossy and the Brat (book #5) by Daisy Harris

From the author: Holsum College is your average liberal arts school nestled in the scenic hills of Vermont. Well—except that it has more than it’s fair share of gay and gay-curious students. Handsome and horny, Holsum College boys get into all kinds of hijinks as they text, party, make out, pretend to study, and basically act like your average university students.If you remember the days when every conversation eventually turned to sex, the walls were thin enough to hear your neighbor breath, “massage” was code for “hook-up” and every Friday night meant a new party, then Holsum College is the series for you!

Check out the Book Trailer for the series!

Bossy and the Brat (Men of Holsum College #5)Bossy and the Brat by Daisy Harris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Calvin Beaumont is supposed to marry Nicole. He’s a biology major, lab tech, and resident advisor—everything everyone expects him to be. There’s only one problem. He likes boys. In particular, a flirty dance major who was a freshman on his hall.

It’s sizzling summer at Holsum College, and Tyler Burk isn’t a freshman anymore. When he notices his hardworking resident advisor has same-sex feelings, he goads, teases, and tempts Mr. Bossy into dating on the sly. Cal may not be out, but he’s domineeringly hot, and Tyler doesn’t mind keeping things quiet…for a while.

But Calvin has wanted Tyler all year, and their sexting and secret rendezvous soon blossom into something neither one of them can control. Can Cal control his secret, as well as his sexy little brat? Or will he be man enough to admit he’s not the man everyone thought he was?

So what did I think?

This is the fifth book in the series and follows the Player and the Prude  which was the darkest book in the series yet. With this story, the series reverts back to the somewhat lighter side of romance as Tyler and Cal start to connect.

At the start of the book, Cal has a girlfriend who moved to college with him from their small town. They haven’t had sex, and Cal has used the small-town-values-sex-before-marriage thing as a excuse. But he really knows that he is not really attracted to her. She knows it too and they part ways but this all seemed a bit too easy and I would have expected more tension in the situation.

It’s Cal’s obvious obsession with Tyler, the guy in the room across the hall, that makes his true desires evident. But Cal is reluctant to start anything mainly because he was the RA and Tyler was a freshman. Tyler is a flirt and is looking for love and a boyfriend in all the wrong places. I never totally warmed to Tyler, perhaps because he seemed quite immature. It was also a bit of a struggle to truly believe in the relationship because I never got a real sense that the men knew what was in the heart and soul of the other, the relationship seemed a bit superficial.

There’s lots of teasing between Cal and Tyler and it doesn’t take much to get either of them going. Cal’s virgin status has him focused on sex pretty much all the time! A bit of sexting takes place as Tyler sends some nude photos to Cal and there is scene where they get off while texting back and forth – phone sex seems so much easier than text sex – surely it’s difficult to coordinate the texting with the other activity that’s going on? 🙂 Given Cal’s lack of experience I was also a bit worried for Tyler with the shoelace thing!

So all in all, I enjoyed reading this book, although perhaps not as much as the earlier books in the series.

3 Stars

Find out more about Daisy Harris and her books at her website.

Buy The Men of Holsum College series at Amazon

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The Men of Holsum College: Player and the Prude (book #4) by Daisy Harris

From the author: Holsum College is your average liberal arts school nestled in the scenic hills of Vermont. Well—except that it has more than it’s fair share of gay and gay-curious students. Handsome and horny, Holsum College boys get into all kinds of hijinks as they text, party, make out, pretend to study, and basically act like your average university students.If you remember the days when every conversation eventually turned to sex, the walls were thin enough to hear your neighbor breath, “massage” was code for “hook-up” and every Friday night meant a new party, then Holsum College is the series for you!

Check out the Book Trailer for the series!

  • College Boys (Book #1) – see links at bottom for this review
  • Diva and the Frat Boy (Book #2)  – see links at bottom for this review
  • Townie and the Twink (Book #3)  – see links at bottom for this review
  • Player and the Prude (Book #4) – in this review
  • Bossy and the Brat (Book #5)
  • Pride and Politics (Book #6)
  • Genius and the Jock (Book #7)
  • My Fair Dork (Book #8)

Player and the Prude (Men of Holsum College, #4)Player and the Prude by Daisy Harris

My rating: 3.5  of 5 stars

The blurb…

Brooks Price loves a challenge. So when a frenemy dares him to sleep with a dorky, over-tall film major, Brooks amps up his considerable charm.

Matt Porter can’t guess why Brooks is flirting with him. Raised religious, Matt doesn’t believe in sex before relationships. Unfortunately, Brooks is all about sex, and Matt doubts Brooks is interested in anything else.

Slowly, Brooks chips away at Matt’s armor—taking him on dates, asking for kisses, holding hands—baby steps, none of which Matt can resist or refuse. However, when Brooks pushes too far, Matt freaks out.

Despite his stoic exterior, Matt’s painfully conflicted over his sexuality—scared of his darker desires, worried about hurting Brooks. The pair explores boundaries, but when things turn rough and Matt unleashes his inner wants, he doesn’t know if he can overcome his shame about sex in order to be with the man he’s growing to love.

So what did I think?

This book was really unexpected with it’s darker side. This wasn’t focused on happy-go-lucky college students, it dealt with deeper issues.

As the title suggests, the main characters are opposites to each other in terms of their views towards sex and experiences.

Brooks is very much out for a good time. He has no qualms with the casual hook up. A bet results in him trying his charms on Matt.

Matt has had a religious upbringing and feels tremendous guilt over his sexuality, “He could hear his mother’s voice in his mind, telling him he was sick and perverted, his father’s voice telling him he was disgusting and going to hell.” and compounded by his darker desires “He heard their laughter and happy whispers through the door at night. He knew neither one of them ever harbored the type of dark thoughts he did. Or had been wracked by sick obsessions.” (when overhearing his roommates).

Brooks takes things really slow with Matt in his quest to get him into bed but in doing so, comes to know the man. It is wonderful to watch him change into a man who not only loves Matt, but stands up for him. Matt, with Brooks gentle touch and acceptance, does come out of his shell – it’s almost like they meet in the middle with Brooks curbing his casual hook up and committing to one man and Matt accepting that sex outside of marriage is okay.

However, and it’s a big ‘however’, I don’t think Matt’s sexual desires were fully resolved. Was the sexual aggression and violence as portrayed in the book, as far as Matt would go? Did he really know his own limits?

Of course the big, romantic, happy ending was perfect – I just parked my concerns about the rough play and assumed they would live happily ever after!

3.5 stars (rounded to 4 GR stars)

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Find out more about Daisy Harris and her books at her website.

Buy The Men of Holsum College series at Amazon

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Sophomore: Undeclared (Ivory Towers #2) by Daisy Harris

The Ivory Towers Series

Sometimes a college fling is just a fling, but sometimes that spark burns forever.
Angel Cruz arrives at Pacific Rim University hard and cold, cut off from his feelings. Meeting Shane Roberts his freshman year changes all that. Free to explore his passions, Angel revels in his relationship with the older and wiser graduate student. But fear, family, and the call of adult life outside Pacific Rim’s walls threaten to destroy the fragile world Angel and Shane are building together.
Shane was raised to believe career should come first, and Angel was taught gay men couldn’t forge families. But in Pacific Rim’s IVORY TOWERS, they’ll build a love strong enough to survive growing up.

  • Freshman: Uncut (book #1)
  • Sophomore: Undeclared (book #2)  – in this review
  • Junior: Unscripted (book #3) – release due 30th August 2013

Sophomore: UndeclaredSophomore: Undeclared by Daisy Harris

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The blurb:

Graduation looms for Angel’s lover Shane. Neither guy wants to break up, but in a world of temptation, Shane will have to fight to make first love last.

Shane is graduating soon, and when he leaves, he’s going to tear out Angel’s heart. It’s been more than a year since Shane laid Angel over a desk and changed his life, but with the end of the school year approaching, Angel sweats over what will happen when Shane leaves. Shane says he loves Angel…but only when they’re naked and panting…

Preoccupied with finding a job, Shane doesn’t know what’s got Angel so stressed, but when he gets an opportunity to go to New York to make one of his movies, Shane realises just how badly his leaving will hurt his boyfriend. He wants to stay together—Angel is the best damn thing in his life. Shane knows all about temptation, though, and about how even the best relationships fall apart.

Time and distance, temptations and fears…Love may not be enough to keep Angel and Shane together. But first love is stronger than either of them realises. Will it be strong enough to turn the jaded Shane into a believer, and to keep them together despite the odds?

So what did I think?

The action takes place one year after the first book Freshman: Uncut and continues the story of Angel and Shane. The focus of this installment (it definitely doesn’t feel like a book on it’s own) is the unease setting in as the time nears for Shane to graduate.

Angel is still terribly insecure in their relationship, to the point of not even wanting to talk about what the following year will bring. Angel is worried about their relationship but Shane is only focused on getting a job, wherever that may be. But things come to a head when Shane has an opportunity to make a film in New York.

Shane travels to New York for a long weekend and they both get a taste of what separation may potentially mean. Obviously Angel was going to be heartbroken but it was wonderful to see Shane actually realising what the separation would mean to him personally.“The only time things made sense was when he was with Angel. Kissing, f**king, hell, even cutting Angel’s hair. He was struggling every second they weren’t together.”

This is short (~64 pages) and ends abruptly. Strangely the last 9% of the book is a excerpt of Freshmen: Uncut which I would have assumed most people would have already read given this was book two in a continuing story of the one couple. Anyway, it’s not a cliffhanger as such, the story just ends but so many questions are left unanswered. I will definitely be pouncing on the third book Junior: Unscripted as soon as it is released in August.

3.5 stars

4 Stars

To find out more about Daisy Harris and her books, visit her website.

Buy Freshman: Uncut at Amazon. At the time of writing this review it is only $0.99 on Amazon so really good value.

Sophomore: Undeclared will be available 19th July 2013 or is available now direct from the publisher.

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Freshman: Uncut (Ivory Towers #1) by Daisy Harris

The Ivory Towers Series

  • Freshman: Uncut (book #1) – in this review
  • Sophomore: Undeclared (book #2)
  • Junior: Unscripted (book #3) – release due 30th August 2013

 

Freshman: Uncut (Ivory Towers, #1)Freshman: Uncut by Daisy Harris

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Sparks fly between jaded film TA, Shane, and tough-acting freshman, Angel. Shane gives Angel the sex he craves, but struggles to be the man he needs.

Shane’s too old for Angel. Even if Angel weren’t a freshman in Shane’s Intro to Film class, the kid would be too closeted, too confused, too darn changeable and needy. But when Shane sees the pain lurking behind Angel’s tough exterior, he can’t help but reach out to him and give in to the desire in those scared, brown eyes.

Pacific Rim University may as well be another planet from the Oakland neighborhood where Angel grew up. Angel’s fought all his life to get respect, and to stay hard in the eyes of his friends back home. Always the weird kid, Angel was the guy who never hooked up with girls. Meeting his very sexy, very male Film TA, Angel starts to understand why. He refuses to admit he’s gay, but he lives for every one of Shane’s smiles.

When Shane takes Angel to task for his insolent attitude, Angel can’t resist pushing his TA further. He wants Shane to show him, force him, make him accept all the feelings battling around in his mind and his body. But Angel doesn’t just need sex. He needs a man who can help him navigate the new and very raw landscape of his feelings.

So what did I think?

This is the first installment of the story of Shane and Angel. Shane is pretty much a good guy who is TA for an Into to Film class. Angel is a freshman in the class and although he has a very tough exterior, Shane sees something more in him.

Angel’s desire for another man does not sit easy with him. He battles his own feelings. He is frustrated, he is angry, he is confused. “Hell, he wanted Shane to force him. Angel was too hot. Too hard. Too scared, and angry. He didn’t know what to so with any of it. He wanted to punch Shane, but he wanted Shane to punch him worse.” It is really interesting to watch Angel’s internal battle – he wants Shane’s attention, he wants Shane to look at him, to touch him but at the same time he wants to run away.

I loved the dream sequence where Angel dreams of having sex with Shane – a bed appearing in Shane’s office, suddenly being naked, unexpectedly changing locations. It was quite a unique sex scene and really illustrated all Angel’s desires, his desire for hot and passionate sex but being not having to make the decision to do it.

Shane is older than Angel but is afraid of how needy Angel is. They have explosive sex but the emotional toll is high. But as afraid as he is, Shane wants Angel badly enough to keep trying.

HFN with the the story to be continued in Sophomore: Undeclared

3.5 stars

4 Stars

To find out more about Daisy Harris and her books, visit her website.

Buy Freshman: Uncut at Amazon. At the time of writing this review it is only $0.99 on Amazon so really good value.

View all my reviews

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The Men of Holsum College: Books 2 & 3 by Daisy Harris

From the author: Holsum College is your average liberal arts school nestled in the scenic hills of Vermont. Well—except that it has more than it’s fair share of gay and gay-curious students. Handsome and horny, Holsum College boys get into all kinds of hijinks as they text, party, make out, pretend to study, and basically act like your average university students.If you remember the days when every conversation eventually turned to sex, the walls were thin enough to hear your neighbor breath, “massage” was code for “hook-up” and every Friday night meant a new party, then Holsum College is the series for you!

This review is for books 2 and 3 in the  The Men of Holsum College series. Book 1, College Boys, was reviewed previously.

  • College Boys (Book #1)
  • Diva and the Frat Boy (Book #2)
  • Townie and the Twink (Book #3)
  • Player and the Prude (Book #4)
  • Bossy and the Brat (Book #5)
  • Pride and Politics (Book #6)
  • Genius and the Jock (Book #7)
  • My Fair Dork (Book #8)

Diva and the Frat Boy (Men of Holsum College, #2)Diva and the Frat Boy by Daisy Harris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Nathaniel Reece is savvy and fierce and wouldn’t give boring-ass Greg Sanders the time of day, except Greg is the president of a fraternity Nathaniel wants to join. But once Nathaniel gets a taste of the ferocity under Greg’s cool exterior, he can’t stop himself from trying to lure the uptight frat brother out of his shell.

The face of gay life on campus and a crusader heading off to law school, Greg doesn’t see any problem with seducing the flamboyant and exciting Nathaniel. But that’s before he finds out his fraternity brothers are refusing Nathaniel’s pledge bid. Greg’s athletic and masculine and has never had to deal with the censure of his friends or the odd looks of strangers, but if he’s going to be what Nathaniel needs, he’ll have to be comfortable not just being out, but also standing out.

So what did I think?

“Nathaniel wasn’t just gay, he was a raging, bright pride parade with a rainbow-colored cherry on top.”

This is the story of the very flamboyant Nathaniel. Usually I am not so much into the flaming characters “Oh come on, Nathaniel would be the first to admit he’s flaming!” but there was something really endearing about Nathaniel.

Nathaniel and Greg made a nice couple, and although I didn’t really like their first get together, I did want them to end up together. This doesn’t happen easily though as Greg needs to battle his worry that Nathaniel is too ‘obvious’ (his frat mates judge him poorly) plus is worried about starting a relationship as he is president of the fraternity that Nathaniel wants to join. And Nathaniel tries to keep a distance from Greg, fearful that “Any time they spent together might give Greg a chance to get uncomfortable and act like an asshole. Nathaniel liked to think that Greg was too nice for that, but he knew all too well how even nice guys could be dicks.”

A nice continuation of the series.

3 Stars

Townie and the Twink (Men of Holsum College, #3)Townie and the Twink by Daisy Harris

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Insightful to a fault, Gabe Ashton knows Nick Flynn’s gay even if Nick doesn’t. And after seeing how the townie looks at his “buddy,” Gabe knows Nick is in love with a guy who’ll never love him back. So Gabe invites Nick to campus parties and to hang out with new people. But soon their friendship turns physical, and Gabe wonders if he’s in just as much denial as Nick is.

Nick’s straight—or so he’s always assumed. But he can’t deny that the things he’s doing with Gabe are hot. More than that, he likes Gabe in a way he’s never liked anyone else. Well, anyone else except his high school friend, John.

The hardest thing to give up is a fantasy, and the hardest thing to face is the truth. But if Nick wants the man standing in front of him, he’ll have to give up the one he never had.

So what did I think?

I like this one just for the title – cute and fun, just like the story!

This series is pretty easy reading including this book which has a gay-for-you theme. Gabe befriends Nick. Gabe supposedly has a finely turned gaydar and recognises that Nick is gay although Nick doesn’t think so himself.

Nick has always been a bit obsessed with his best friend John, something even his mother picks up on, but he denies his feelings are actually attraction. He continues to deny he can be attracted to men and may be gay, even when he and Gabe start a sexual relationship – it’s just guys mucking around together, isn’t it?

I liked the way Gabe was careful with Nick, letting him lead the way but I also like the way Nick was so into everything and accepting. He didn’t have doubts that being physical with Gabe was something that he wanted. It was very cute the way they are relaxed and joking during sex, making it a fun experience. “Yeah, it’s different for me, too.”..(..)..”Y’know, with you having a dick and all.” Although these are new experiences for Nick, it is also very new for Gabe as his experience of sex with Nick is like nothing he has experienced before.

A bit frustrating as Nick continues to deny his feelings but they get their in the end.

4 Stars

View all my reviews

Find out more about Daisy Harris and her books at her website.

Buy The Men of Holsum College series at Amazon

View all my reviews

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College Boys by Daisy Harris

College Boys is the first book in The Men of Holsum College series.

  • College Boys (Book #1)
  • Diva and the Frat Boy (Book #2)
  • Townie and the Twink (Book #3)
  • Player and the Prude (Book #4)
  • Bossy and the Brat (Book #5)
  • Pride and Politics (Book #6)
  • Genius and the Jock (Book #7)
  • My Fair Dork (Book #8)

College Boys (Men of Holsum College, #1)College Boys by Daisy Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

When soccer star Chris Fischer moves next door to an openly gay classmate, he doesn’t realize the wall between their rooms will be so thin he’ll hear his neighbor’s every move. But soon he and Peter become friends, and Chris is intrigued—imagining what happens on the other side of the wall.

Active on the Queer Student Council, Peter Cohen wishes he wasn’t so damn hot for his straight neighbor. He can’t tell if Chris is flirting or in denial or what, but Chris’s innocent overtures lure Peter into flirtation that throws his world into chaos. Peter doesn’t want to date a closet case, but he desperately, passionately wants Chris.

Soon Chris must choose whether to run away from his new feelings or embrace a relationship with the guy he loves. And Peter must decide if he can give his heart to a guy who hasn’t yet figured it all out.

So what did I think?

This is the story of Chris, the sporty soccer player and Peter, his gay neighbour who lives in the dorm room next door. Chris has not acknowledged his true sexuality but has all the signs of not being straight. Peter has a huge crush on Chris but doesn’t want to push him if he is not ready and also has no desire to date anyone still in the closet.

From the blurb, I was expecting a pretty straight forward plot, following a fairly standard formula for college gay-for-you/coming out. However, the author actually provided a story with a strong emotional element and definite level of realism.

Chris is a soccer player so I expected trouble from his friends. Yes, there is some heckling but the reaction from the team is not sensationalised.

Peter is active on the Queer Student Council so I expected a strong political message. Yes, there is a message about diversity and tolerance but it is subtle.

Chris is listening to Peter through the thin walls of their room and imagining ‘gay sex’ (“Chris wasn’t even sure what “all the way” meant between two guys, and the thought made him feel uncomfortable, nervous, and intrigued all at once.”) but the sex in the book, hot as it is, is really about the emotional not just the physical.

I think it was the gentle pace of the romance and the lack of over-the-top big drama that actually lead me to enjoy this book, the realism enhancing the story. It also helped that both Chris and Peter were really likable characters.

Interesting secondary characters, such as Peter’s best friend Nathaniel, have definitely piqued my interest in reading the next book in the series.

Thank you to the author and the publisher for providing a copy for review through NetGalley

4 Stars

Find out more about Daisy Harris and her books at her website.

Buy College Boys at Amazon

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