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His Heart’s Desire by Penny Brandon

pb_lg3_hisheartsdesireMagic is not dead, it’s just hiding in a mirror

A magic mirror, a resentful keeper, and a punk-assed kid with ripped jeans and rainbow colored hair.

His Heart’s Desire is Simon and Alex’s story, and the third instalment of the Looking Glass series. It’s a stand-alone story, but Simon was first introduced to us as the mirror’s keeper in Choices. It’s Simon’s job to tell those who look into the mirror that they’re seeing their one true love.

In Choices we met Marc and Liam, but Marc wasn’t gay.

In First Kiss, Brenn saw Joey in the mirror, but Joey was dying.

Not everything runs smoothly for those who look into the mirror and see their one true love, but surely as the mirror’s keeper Simon won’t have that problem, right?

To celebrate the release of His Heart’s Desire, I’m giving away an e-book copy.

Just follow the following blog to get e-mail notifications of new posts, and leave a comment.

www.pennybrandon.blogspot.com.au

BLURB:

As the keeper of a magic mirror that shows those lucky few their one true love, Simon dreams of the day it will show him his, but he never dreamt of a punk-assed kid with ripped jeans and rainbow colored hair. Devastated, Simon tries to push Alex away, refusing to tell him they were fated, but Alex keeps coming back, showing all the signs of a man drawn to his soulmate. Realizing he’s made a terrible mistake, Simon figures the only way to ever have a future is to be the man Alex wants because Alex is the man Simon needs.

Never before has Alex fallen so hard for a man who obviously doesn’t like him, but Alex is sure there’s a passionate man beneath Simon’s prickly exterior. Peeling away Simon’s layers is like ripping off a bandaid, but it’s worth it when Alex finally has Simon in his arms. The problem is, though he may have Simon’s body, he doesn’t have his heart, and that’s the part Alex wants most. Until he finds out Simon has lied to him.

EXCERPT:

“That’s a neat trick. How does it work?”

At the sound of the unexpected voice behind him, Simon whirled, hand at his throat, eyes wide, pulse racing.

A man leaned casually on the corner of the antique desk that Simon used as his service counter. That in itself ruffled Simon’s feathers because the man obviously didn’t seem to appreciate the age and beauty of the piece, and he also didn’t seem the least bit contrite at nearly giving Simon a heart attack. In fact the man was smiling. A bold, bright smile that was so inappropriate right then Simon felt indignation bite deep.

“How does what work?” Simon asked, striving for politeness even as he felt like ordering the man out.

The man’s smile widened, showing complete nonchalance as if he didn’t have a care in the world, which ruffled Simon’s feathers even further.

“The mirror. I looked into it and—”

“The mirror?”

“Yeah. It’s quite fascinating. I couldn’t see any wires, and though I assume the image is on a loop of some sort, there’s no obvious—”

“You looked into the mirror?” Simon glanced toward the rear of the shop where the mirror was housed, and he scowled. He used to love enlightening those drawn to the mirror. He used to love telling them the image they saw was of their one true love. But now… Shaking his head, Simon turned back to the young man still leaning on the desk and scowled even more.

No matter how much Simon knew it was wrong, he couldn’t help wondering what it was about this man that made him better than Simon. Why was he special? Why was he getting a chance to find that happily ever after? Studying him, Simon cynically observed the well-worn jeans, the scruffy black T-shirt, the scuffed shoes, the statement colored hair, and couldn’t find a damn thing.

As if sensing Simon’s resentment, the man eased off the edge of the desk. “Um, so how does it work?” he asked.

As the mirror’s keeper, that was a question Simon had asked himself over and over. “I don’t have any answers,” he said. “I’m just here to show you.”

“I don’t understand.”

Simon gritted his teeth. Neither did he, but it was his duty to try to explain, so he grudgingly headed toward the back of the shop, assuming the man would follow.

“I’m Alex, by the way, and you’re Simon, right?”

Turning to see Alex holding a small white business card he’d obviously picked up from the desk, Simon merely nodded, not wishing to engage in polite conversation. As soon as he told Alex what the image in the mirror meant to him, that would be the end of their association. Simon would never have to see Alex again, never have to look into those vivid blue eyes and feel a bitterness he could no longer repress.

Sighing, Simon continued to the back of the shop, maneuvering through a labyrinth of furniture before finally coming to stand in front of the mirror.

As usual, to him the mirror reflected nothing. Its impenetrable black surface seemed to mock him, as if it knew there was nothing in his future, nothing to look forward to, nothing to live for. A large part of him was beginning to hate the mirror, and he no longer truly believed the promise and potential it supposedly offered. He went through the motions of course, but during the last few months, each time he’d told others they were seeing their heart’s desire, he’d felt a little part of his own heart die.

“It doesn’t look like it belongs here, does it?”

“Pardon?” Simon turned to face Alex who was gazing at the dusty, plain-looking mirror. Its oval shape could have given it a timeless elegance, but it appeared shabby rather than refined and neglected instead of cherished.

“Well, I mean everything else here is beautiful and obviously of high quality. That looks like it came from a bric-a-brac store. No offense.”

“None taken. I didn’t pick it. It was already here, but regardless of its appearance, it’s actually priceless.”

“Really?”

The look of astonishment on Alex’s face made Simon smile despite the pain he knew was going to come. He took a sustaining breath, his gaze fixed on Alex’s smiling mouth. Alex might be unkempt, young, and a tad idealistic, but he must be worthy, and it wasn’t Simon’s right to judge. “Yes, really. It’s what it does that makes its worth immeasurable.”

“You mean showing me an image of you?”

****

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Author Bio

Penny is a complete romantic who believes everyone can fall in love if only they’ll open their heart to the possibility, which is why she writes those hot, erotic stories that will always have a happily ever after. However, it doesn’t mean she’ll necessarily make it easy for her men to get there. A lover of things that go bump in the night, Penny’s imagination can sometimes run riot, so magic mirrors and evil dolls is only the beginning.

 

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EXCERPT: Save Me by Penny Brandon

Our lovely friend Penny Brandon has a new book out. From the blurb and the excerpt, the story sounds really interesting and something just a little bit different. Voodoo dolls!

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Blurb

From the first moment Steve sees Nathan, he knows he’s in trouble. First, Nathan looked just like the doll he’d found on his bed, and second, Steve couldn’t stop thinking how it would feel having Nathan in his arms and under his body. He’s never desired anyone so strongly before, and he’s reluctant to show it, but then Nathan gives him something he hadn’t been conscious of wanting. Stunned, he craves more, but starts to worry what he feels might not be real.

Alone and vulnerable after being dumped by his ex, Nathan longs for the security of being in a relationship. With no money, no job, and now a Voodoo Doll out to kill him, Nathan doesn’t think things could get any worse, but then he starts falling for Steve. Problem is, it doesn’t look like Steve feels the same way. Even after Steve finally lets Nathan in, Steve unexpectedly withdraws, refusing to explain why.

Unable to cope with another rejection, Nathan succumbs to the evil of the doll. Steve realizes he needs to own up to his feelings, but are they enough to save Nathan?

Excerpt

Nathan wondered if he’d made a mistake coming around. The guy who’d opened the door looked like some lunatic. His eyes were wide and feverish, his hands were covered in blood, and the way he stared at Nathan like he was some vision of the dead was not really how Nathan had expected to be greeted when he’d rushed over to help.

As soon as he heard the banging and screaming, Nathan thought the guy was being murdered or something. Nathan had been about to call the cops when the banging and screaming had stopped. Not sure if he should still call them, Nathan had decided to find out what was going on first. He wasn’t really fond of the cops, not since they’d failed to help him when he’d been robbed a few weeks ago. Granted, this was different, but calling triple zero when it wasn’t an emergency could get him fined, and Nathan couldn’t afford a fine. He also couldn’t ignore the fact his neighbor was in some sort of trouble. Mercifully, being murdered wasn’t it, but the man was definitely injured.

“Are you all right?” Nathan asked again, eyeing the blood covering both the guy’s hands and face, and trying to figure out where it originated.

“Something’s wrong.” The slightly wild look in his next-door neighbor’s dark brown eyes told Nathan as much, but he still wasn’t sure what.

“Are you hurt?” He took another step over the threshold. This time the guy didn’t try to stop him. From where Nathan now stood, he could see the blood was coming from cuts in the guy’s hands, and the blood on his face was from secondary contact. “How did you cut yourself?”

“I didn’t. I mean… Did you put the doll on my bed?”

Confused and a little wary, Nathan shook his head. He had no idea what the crazy man was going on about, but it was obvious he needed some help.

“It looked just like you.”

“Pardon?” Totally confused now, Nathan thought about scarpering back to his own place. Maybe trying to be the Good Samaritan hadn’t been the right move.

“The doll. It…”

Nathan worried his neighbor was going to have a breakdown. The man looked really scared, terrified actually, but then he frowned.

“Who are you?” he asked.

For a few moments, Nathan didn’t know if he should answer—if it was actually safe to do so—but then decided he couldn’t be rude. “Nathan Davis. I live next door.”

“Of course you do. My day just couldn’t get any better, could it?” Though the words sounded sarcastic, the tone his neighbor used wasn’t. He sounded tired, resigned, beaten. He stared at Nathan, his face showing all the signs of fatigue. “You honestly don’t know anything about the doll?”

“No, I don’t. I heard you pounding on the wall, and I thought you might be calling for help or something.”

“I didn’t imagine it. There was a doll.” Every word the guy muttered sounded like he was talking to himself. He stopped staring at Nathan and started glancing around his apartment as if he was searching for something.

Nathan surreptitiously took a look around the apartment as well. It was nicely furnished, which had Nathan quirking up his lips a little. Then again, any furniture would have seemed nice to him, considering he didn’t have any. The large couch was a sectional, which looked comfortable. There was a low timber coffee table, a couple of lamp tables, but what impressed Nathan the most was the entertainment center that fully covered one wall. It held books and DVDs, CDs, and a few pictures, but best of all was the large flat-screen television. Eyeing it with more than a little envy, Nathan sighed. The sound brought a dark brown gaze arrowing back on him again.

Nathan hadn’t really taken a proper look at his neighbor when he’d opened the door, but he did so now. He’d never spotted the guy around the building but knew he’d moved in about six months ago. He was around the same height as Nathan, maybe an inch taller, but he was a lot heavier. Nathan wouldn’t have called his neighbor fat or even overweight because his broad shoulders did taper to narrow hips, but there was just a little extra meat around his middle. His hair was a dark chestnut-brown, cut short, and not really all that stylish, but it looked soft, and his face was, well…pleasant. His best feature though was his mouth, luscious and full and perfectly kissable. Nathan also would have said his neighbor had nice eyes, except for the way he was looking at him.

“Do you need any help? Because if you’re okay…?” Nathan took a step back toward the door, finally deciding it might be prudent to not get involved.

“Why did it look like you?”

Definitely time to go. Nathan smiled, though it was all for show. “If you’re okay then,” he said, taking another step backward.

“No. Don’t go. I should say sorry. My name’s Steve. Steve Forbes. I live here.”

Nathan knew he’d never had such a stilted or baffling conversation before. He’d never felt so uncomfortable before either. He generally got on well with people, even strangers. Everyone said he made them feel at ease. This guy, however, looked anything but. He was still strung-out tighter than—well, every cliché Nathan could think of—and it actually made him start to worry about his own safety.

“Well, nice to meet you, Steve, but you don’t have to say sorry. I was just being neighborly. So…” Nathan pointed over his shoulder, indicating the open door, basically telling the guy he was leaving.

“The banging. It was wrong of me. I promise I won’t do it again. It was the music. It was driving me nuts, but it wasn’t just that. When I heard the voice I just snapped.” Steve’s eyes suddenly narrowed. “It said, ‘stop him.’”

“Stop who?”

“I assume you.”

Okay, this was getting more than weird. Ignoring the part where Steve had said he’d heard a voice because, well, how did you react to that? Nathan tipped his head to the side. “Stop me from doing what?”

“Playing the music.”

Music? “You mean the tape?”

“It blares through the walls, and you play it over and over again. Every night.” Steve didn’t sound like he was complaining, more like he was justifying his actions.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you’d be able to hear it.” Nathan frowned, really surprised the song he’d been playing could be heard by Steve in his apartment. It wasn’t like he played it loud or anything, and he thought the walls had good insulation. “I won’t play it anymore if it annoyed you that much. But why didn’t you say anything? You could have asked me to turn it down or turn it off.”

Steve suddenly looked abashed as if it never occurred for him to do so, or maybe he’d been afraid to confront Nathan about it.

“I really wish you’d said something. I feel pretty bad about disturbing you.” Nathan felt a need to apologize again, just in case Steve decided banging on the wall hadn’t been enough.

Steve nodded. “I shouldn’t have lost my temper like that. I honestly don’t know what came over me. It just seemed like I…” He ran his fingers through his hair, grimacing as he noticed the blood still covering his hand.

“It’s okay. Really.” Nathan gripped the frame of the door as he backed into the hallway. “Sorry,” he said again but decided that was the last time. If Steve didn’t have the guts to tell him to stop before now… Well, that was Steve’s fault.

Nathan left the door open and headed back to his apartment. As he did, he thought he saw a shadow dart across the wall. He stopped and searched the floor. A few months back, the building had suffered problems with rats, but he’d been told they’d all been eradicated. Wondering if one or two of them had survived or if there was a new infestation, Nathan checked along the baseboard to see if there had been recent signs of activity. Seeing none, he nevertheless decided to notify the building caretaker, just in case. He shivered. He hated rats.

Once safely ensconced within his own place, Nathan thought back to Steve. The man had obviously been very stressed, and Nathan truly regretted causing Steve’s breakdown or whatever it was, but a doll? What was that about?

Nathan wouldn’t have said Steve was a recluse, because he heard his door close occasionally, but Steve never used any of the building’s facilities like the gym or the pool. If he did, Nathan had never seen him, and none of the other tenants had mentioned seeing him either. It could mean Steve was simply antisocial, but what about the doll he claimed looked like Nathan? There was something wrong with that. Seriously wrong.

He checked his door again to make sure it was locked. He never usually bothered because it wasn’t as if there was anything in his apartment to steal. All he had was a mattress, his sleeping bag, a few clothes, and the tape player. Right now the little handheld machine was sitting on the floor in his living room. It was where Rob had left it, and that was where it had stayed.

Ignoring the living room, Nathan continued to his bedroom. That was where he spent most of his time, since that was where all his possessions lay. Rob leaving had been a shock, but on reflection his stripping the apartment down to the bare walls was something Nathan should have expected. He wouldn’t have said Rob was vindictive, but recently there had been times when Rob had shown levels of being overassertive. Even so, Nathan had no idea Rob had been unhappy or that he’d wanted to break up. That loss, however, was tempered by Rob taking everything with him, even the things belonging to Nathan. So instead of Nathan being devastated when he’d come home, he’d been pissed.

The cops had done nothing, and Nathan had suspected it was because he’d told them Rob had been his boyfriend and not just a flatmate, but Nathan had never hidden he was gay, and he certainly wasn’t going to start. So he’d been left with nothing and was forced to buy a mattress, a sleeping bag, and essential clothing, since that was all he could afford. The rest of his money he used for rent and food. He didn’t even have electricity, relying on a battery-powered torch for light.

Throwing himself onto his “bed,” Nathan sighed. The past month his life had been a struggle—still was—but he’d managed to keep himself afloat. Next week he was supposed to start a new job, and he’d have a little more cash. Not enough to go crazy, but he’d be able to get the electricity turned back on and pay the couple of weeks’ back rent he owed. He’d only needed to work part-time when Rob had been there, and he’d found it difficult to find a full-time job after Rob left. The restaurant Nathan had sometimes worked for had offered him a position, but he’d had to wait until one had become available, and no one else had anything, making every effort at finding work frustrating and depressing.

He lay there for a moment, thinking of Rob and the life he thought they were building together, but then decided there was no point dwelling on what wasn’t to be. He’d eventually find someone who would love him for who he was; he just hoped it wouldn’t take too long. Being alone unnerved him. It made him feel edgy and vulnerable, and Nathan hated feeling vulnerable.

* * * *

A sharp, stabbing pain woke Nathan from what had been a restless sleep. He slapped his hand over his neck and almost fell off the mattress in shock. Sweat covered his body, and his sleeping bag lay in a mess at his feet where he must have kicked free of it. His torch sat beside him, and on instinct, Nathan grabbed it and turned it on, illuminating his room. He pushed up into a sitting position and then tentatively checked his neck. His fingers came away smeared with blood.

“What the fuck?” His first thought was he’d been bitten, but when he probed at the site again, he found a long, shallow gash and not something that felt like puncture wounds. Looking around to see what could have caused the damage, Nathan saw spatters of blood making a ragged path across the carpet, but nothing else.

Shaken, he climbed to his feet, and with torch in hand made his way to the bathroom. The mirror showed what he’d felt—a one-inch cut. It looked sliced and was most definitely not a bite, but he had no idea what could have caused it. It wasn’t deep enough to need stitches, though the red drops that still oozed from the cut slithered down Nathan’s neck and soaked into his gray T-shirt.

Grimacing, he pulled his T-shirt off over his head and dumped it onto the floor with the rest of his dirty clothes. He didn’t own a laundry basket, but as he was due to wash his things tomorrow, he wasn’t too worried about leaving it there. What he was worried about was taking care of the cut.

His supplies were limited, but he had antiseptic cream, which he smeared on liberally, wincing as it stung. Then he checked out the rest of his body, but there were no other marks or cuts, no scratches or bruises, nothing to indicate what had happened to him. Though more confused than ever, Nathan decided it had to have been a rat that attacked him, despite it being unlikely, because what was the alternative?

Before heading back to bed, he took a quick look around his apartment, even pulling open the doors of the kitchen cupboards though there was nothing stored in there. There was nowhere else for rats to hide, but to make sure, he inspected the skirting board and architrave. Nothing. No evidence of the little fuckers whatsoever.

Creeping back into his sleeping bag, Nathan decided he couldn’t sleep. His brain was too wired, his body too galvanized, so he picked up the book he’d borrowed from the local library, and tried to read. For some odd reason though, his mind kept wandering back to his next-door neighbor.

Steve had clearly been suffering from anxiety or something. Nathan had never seen anyone act so strangely. Most of what Steve said hadn’t made sense, and the thing he’d spouted about the doll had seemed almost maniacal. Even Steve’s complaint about the music being loud hadn’t really added up. Granted, the tape held the same track—their song, which Nathan played over and over in a masochistic, macabre way—but he barely heard it from his bedroom, and he always left the door open, so how could Steve hear it through an insulated wall? And if itwas that loud, why hadn’t the other neighbors complained?

Giving up on reading, Nathan put the book down beside him. He clicked off the torch, but the idea of rats sneaking up on him in the dark forced him to turn it back on again. Agitated and unable to ignore the uneasy feeling that something wasn’t quite right, Nathan got up and paced his small bedroom. His pile of washing beckoned, and though it wasn’t the ideal time, Nathan decided to do his laundry. Anything to keep from thinking a rodent had tried to make a meal of him.

He pulled on a pair of shorts and the slightly cleaner T-shirt he’d been wearing earlier, gathered up everything he needed, then set off for the basement where the washing and drying machines were situated. Some of the apartments had their own machines in situ, but for the tenants who didn’t, the building’s facilities were perfect. It was usually there that Nathan got to know most of his neighbors.

The building was made up of three sides that formed a U shape. The center held the pool and a courtyard for those who wanted to sit outdoors. The space under the one-bedroom apartments, which was north facing, had the gym and the laundry; and the two and three-bedroom apartments, which were south and east facing, had underground parking. All the apartments had balconies, both on the outside and looking over the inner courtyard and pool, so the tenants had a choice of which to use. It was a great place, and Nathan liked living there. The only problem was the rent, which was pretty high for the neighborhood, but the building was always clean and well maintained. So it was with surprise that Nathan noticed all the lights to the basement stairs were out.

It took him more than a few seconds to decide whether to go down into the depths. Not that he was afraid of the dark, but if there were rats in his apartment, they could be in the basement, and Nathan wasn’t afraid to admit he was scared of them. He fingered his neck, revolted at the idea that some rodent had been gnawing on it.

He could do his washing later; it wasn’t as if he had anything else to do with his day. However, thinking about it, he decided he wasn’t going to let a few rats stop him from doing what he’d set out to do, and anyway, maybe the lights were on in the laundry proper. With that in mind, Nathan grasped the handrail on his right and started down the stairs. He’d barely taken two steps when hot pain pierced his ankle. Shocked, he dropped his washing and let go of the handrail, but before he had a chance to regain his grip, another stabbing pain hit him. His scream echoed off the painted brick walls, becoming louder as he fell.

Trying vainly to stop the plummet to the bottom, Nathan reached out, but that was when he felt his face smash into the edge of a step. Stunned, he could do nothing more until he finally landed on a solid concrete floor in a bruised, bloody, and agonized heap.

Fighting back unwanted tears, Nathan lay where he was, trying to take deep, fortifying breaths. A trickle of blood oozed from his cut lip into his open mouth, the metallic taste against his tongue almost making him gag. He moaned, cautiously shifting to assess the damage, but stopping when that small movement caused his body to convulse as if he was being tortured.

Frozen in place, in time, his pulse thundering in his ears, Nathan barely registered the scamper of little feet approaching until they were so close they sounded right next to his head. He flinched, fearing a rat, but quickly realized it wasn’t the scrape of claws on concrete he heard, but the shuffle of soft cloth. For some reason, the sound was distinctive, as if it had been magnified by the cramped space between the bottom of the steps and the wall behind him.

Terror, irrational but unmistakable, swept through Nathan. He blinked in an attempt to clear his eyes of the white spots dancing before them. Something was ready to pounce on him; he could feel its presence, watching, waiting. As his limbs tightened in panicked trepidation, he tried to tell himself there was nothing there, that it was all in his imagination, but the minute puffs of air he could feel on the back of his neck told him otherwise.

“Get away from me. Get the fuck away from me!”

Unmindful of his injuries, Nathan lashed out, but it made no difference. Little hands tugged at his hair, and just before he blacked out—the crack to his head finally taking its toll—a tiny, manic laugh cackled in his ear.

Copyright © Penny Brandon

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About Penny

Penny has been a lover of books since before she could read and a maker of stories before she knew how to talk properly, so it was only natural that she started writing when she could hold a pen. From fairytales to teenage romances to the hot, erotic stories she writes now, she’s always held the same belief; to love what she puts down on paper. Which means she doesn’t love cooking, cleaning or weeding the garden. She does, however, love to travel and has lived in England and Ireland and now resides in Australia, where she intends to stay and discover all that she can of this beautiful country.
Save Me
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Bringing Him Home by Penny Brandon

Bringing Him HomeBringing Him Home by Penny Brandon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Jared knew that looking for a man to love was pointless because he’d never be able to bring him home. But one chance meeting and one hot night with Kyle had Jared seriously trying to figure out if he really had to live by the rules of someone else’s intolerance.

Torn between wanting Kyle and facing the narrow-mindedness of a small country town, Jared didn’t know what to do. Could Kyle really want Jared enough to deal with the town’s hostility together? By the time Jared got himself ready to talk to Kyle, to ask him, Kyle had left.

Kyle had been looking to find someone to love, looking for a place to call home, and one blazing night spent in Jared’s arms and Kyle knew Jared was just the man he was looking for. But Kyle had a feeling Jared didn’t want to bring Kyle home with him and when he found out why he had no choice but to leave.

It didn’t matter that he wanted Jared, or even that Jared wanted him. The town where Jared lived was the one town Kyle swore he would never set foot in again.

So what did I think?

Jared, a trucker returning home, meets the man of his dreams at a road side service station. A coincidental meeting (yes, it was highly unlikely) that forces Kyle to address his past and Jared to make some decisions about his own future.

This is a story of small town bigotry that had caused both Kyle and Jared to hide their sexuality. For Jared, although accepted by his family, he fears for the impact on his fledgling business. For Kyle, his own parents couldn’t accept who he was.

There were a couple of things that stood out as a little strange (view spoiler) but if you parked the slight sense of disbelief it was a quick, easy and enjoyable story.

My main issue was the amount of sex in the story. The sex scenes were well written but there just seemed too many of them, to the point where I was doing a bit of skimming. The story starts with the two men encountering each other in the showers and starts with Jared’s fantasy about Kyle. The first 20% of the book is largely focused on this attraction then some quick sex before both men are thinking about long term relationships. Their feelings were just too quickly engaged without really knowing each other. Plus there seemed way too much trust (in the use of condoms) for two men just meeting. They then have lots of sex very regularly through the rest of the book.

One a very minor point, I also was a little confused as to the setting of this story when I first started reading. The reference to Jared’s “Ranch” had me assuming the US but it terms out it’s country NSW where the term ‘ranch’ would not be used. In this case it would most likely be called a property or a station if it was a huge spread. But it was good to see other Australian terms used correctly such as BBQ.

I am now off to read Blind Passion by the same author – I’ve read lots of good things about it!

❅❅❅❅❅❅❅

To find out more about Penny Brandon and her books visit her website.

Buy Bringing Him Home from Amazon.

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Love Has No Boundaries – Fabulous and FREE stories – Part III

LHNB

What Is Love Has No Boundaries?

The Goodreads M/M Romance group have run a number of events where we are lucky enough to get to read a collection of free m/m short stories, novellas and novels written by the group’s authors. Previous collections include Don’t Read In The Closet, Hot Summer Days (2011) and Love is Always Write (2012). This year’s collection is Love Has No Boundaries.

Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.

Stories covered in this review are:

  1. That Good Earth by S.A. Meade
  2. Playing the Field by Penny Brandon
  3. The Song by Eric Alan Westfall
  4. A Fragile Love by Les Joseph

That Good EarthThat Good Earth by S.A. Meade

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The story prompt…

I would love to read a sweet, kisses-only story about two British young men serving together during WW1. Surviving in the trenches, sitting out a long night under fire, etc. I also have a weakness for WW1 pilots, if you decide to go that route. 🙂

So what did I think?

This was a truly lovely story. I was totally transported to the trenches as Arthur and William meet during the heat of battle. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like to be in such a situation but the author did a wonderful job of bringing these two men together in such circumstances.

Theirs is a gentle love, starting from a brief meeting and continuing via letter and postcard until after the war. They both experience tragedy so it is wonderful so see the happy ending.

Playing The FieldPlaying The Field by Penny Brandon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The photo prompt…

He was the one that finally broke through the walls of one of the most successful young soccer coaches, who was secretive with his personal life. The coach was seen a few times with women in public, but no one really knew about the coach’s secret true desires… until he came along and there was no denying the sexual tension between them.

So what did I think?

Absolutely perfect sports themed contemporary romance – loved it! Just what I was in the mood for so 5 stars!

For me the elements in this story were perfect – the characters, the setting, the plot. It’s only a short story but it packed in quite a bit – the sexual tension, the final giving in to temptation and the perfect happy ending.

Rick is the coach. He is closeted and doesn’t do casual. Danny is out and proud, with a reputation as a bit of player. I am sure you can guess the rest….:)

There is heaps of sexual tension but the relationship between these two men is more emotional and I loved their coming together.

Only a quick story but I was invested in the characters and I ended with a smile on my face (I’m always a sucker for public declarations!).

I will definitely be checking out more books from this author and have bought one already!

The SongThe Song by Eric Alan Westfall

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The photo prompt…

Here I was: thirty-six, closeted, virgin, in Berlin for a conference. In what moment of craziness I had booked into the hippest hetero-friendly hotel (as opposed to gay-friendly) I don’t know… but here I was, surrounded by hot men, from the concierge to the hotel guests. But none tempted me as much as this couple: From Paris, they were on a week’s vacation as well, and I would run into them almost every night, at the hotel’s health club. One was shy and spoke little English. The other was a hunky doctor with a deliciously hairy chest and piercing eyes that wouldn’t let you go. Watching them cuddle, nuzzle, exchange loving glances all the time drove me to voyeuristic distraction. His husky voice and flirtatious banter would make me harder than I would have thought possible. And he knew it! His young lover seemed bemused by it all. And then on my last-but-one night, after a frustratingly erotic display of foreplay at the rooftop jacuzzi (all apparently for my benefit) the Hunk beckoned me over and invited me up to their room…

So what did I think?

I think I liked this book. I say ‘think’ because at times I wasn’t really too sure. I spent most of it thinking things like ‘what’s going on?’, ‘what does that mean?’, ‘how does that fit in?’. I kept trying to work out what was going on and pre-empt the paranormal twists, instead of just relaxing into the story. That being said, sometimes it’s good to read something that keeps you on your toes!

The story jumps between POVs, sometimes for only a very short period of time and sometimes longer. There are little hints and clues of the bigger picture but never enough for me to fully understand how everything fit together. And the ending – what just happened?

It’s an interesting story with hints and glimpses of strange things without fully providing the back ground. It is quite unique in what is shown but perhaps not the book for someone who likes a full world building with a clear cut happy ending.

A Fragile LoveA Fragile Love by Les Joseph

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The photo prompt…

I’m so glad we’re finally at this point in our relationship where we are comfortable with each other like this in public; I was an idiot for so long, trying to hide what we had. But after what happened, I’ll never take him for granted again. I’m through hiding. I’m going to make sure that he knows every day just how much I love him.

So what did I think?

This story had an interesting approach. The story started by letting us know there was a big, in the public eye, coming out. However it is not until the end that the details are revealed.

This is a story about a relationship that had the potential to end but tragic circumstances act as the wake up call, making Peter and Adam realise how much they mean to each other and cementing the relationship.

I loved the emotional side to the story slightly more than the sex side as I found the sex talk between the two men felt slightly unnatural – not 100% sure why but this stood out for me. However it is still a 4 star read!

You can check out the full list of stories and download from the M/M Romance Group website.