on m/m romance, baking, knitting, and occasional smut

Category Archives: Authors D-F

Venetian Masks by Kim Fielding eBookTitle: Venetian Masks
Author: Kim Fielding
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 216 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Betrayal, HEA, Italy, Mobsters, Vacation
Rating: Really Liked It

Guest Review by Heather C

BLURB

Jeff Dawkins’s last partner left him with a mortgage he can’t afford and nonrefundable tickets for a month’s vacation in Europe. Despite a reluctance to travel, Jeff decides to go on the trip anyway. After all, he’s already paid for it. He packs a Kindle loaded with gay romance novels and arrives in Venice full of trepidation. There he meets the handsome and charming expat Cleve Prieto, who offers to serve as his tour guide. Jeff has serious misgivings—he wasn’t born yesterday, and something about Cleve doesn’t sit right—but anything is better than wandering the canals alone. With Cleve’s help, Jeff falls in love with Venice and begins to reconcile with his past. For the first time, Jeff finds himself developing strong feelings for someone else. But he can’t be sure who that person is because Cleve’s background remains a mystery embroidered with lies.

Then a dark figure from Cleve’s past appears, and Jeff must choose whether to let Cleve flee alone or to join him on a desperate run through central Europe. Maybe Jeff will finally be able to see behind Cleve’s masks—if he survives the journey.

REVIEW

Nikyta totally tricked me into reading this!

I went into this book completely blind and had no idea what it was about, although I did gather from the title that it might be set in Venice…

Poor plain ol’, boring Jeff. He’s been cheated on and dumped by his boyfriend, forced to sell his house, and now he’s on a plane traveling to Venice to begin his 4 week European vacation…alone. Shortly after arriving in Venice, he catches the eye of “Cleve”, a gorgeous, tattooed, American drifter who offers to play Jeff’s tour guide…for payment. Hmm, that doesn’t sound like a trusty, safe plan to me!

I immediately connected with Jeff. He is pretty much me (if I were a gay man), as we share many of the same neuroses. Plus, we both:
Work in IT
Live an unexciting existence
Have to plan for everything
Have never traveled anywhere alone
Carry our Kindles everywhere we go, although I haven’t maimed anyone with mine…yet

Then Jeff throws his brain out the window and agrees to give Cleve’s offer a try, while I’m screaming “NOOOOOOOOO, he can’t be trusted!!!!!” But Jeff sees Cleve’s sad eyes and decides to overlook all of his lies and half-truths, and squeezes Cleve into his travel budget…there’s just something about the gorgeous man… It truly was about the companionship, although it wasn’t long before it led to some sexy time…Cleve was never paid for sex!

Cleve…no way did I trust him in the beginning! And I don’t think I even liked him at first because of how much I didn’t trust him. Ooooh, but it wasn’t long before he stole my heart…I think I loved him before Jeff even loved him. And even though it was a bit insta-love-ish, I still loved Jeff and Cleve together and was cheering for them the entire time.

Sooooooo, I’m not going to tell anymore about Cleve or give away any spoilers about what happens next, but the lazy vacation romance suddenly turns into a twisted thriller. Huh? Didn’t see that coming. It did get a little outrageous…but who cares? It was fun and sweet and I couldn’t put it down…and that’s all that matters.


Whiskey & Wry (Sinners #2) - Rhys FordThe lovely and talented Rhys Ford is offering up a ebook copy of Whiskey and Wry, the second book in the Sinners series and sequel to Sinner’s Gin!

The giveaway starts now and will last until Midnight CDT on Sunday, August 18th. I will choose the winner using Random.org and email the winner who will then have 48 hours from the time of the drawing to reply to my email. I will then forward the winner’s information to Rhys so the winner can receive their book.

Please enter the email you’d wish me to contact you at in the comment form, or if you prefer, leave it in the message.

Whiskey and Wry releases on Monday, August 19th, so if you win and reply early you can get a copy on release day 🙂 Or, if you just can’t wait and don’t want to take your chances, you can always preorder at DSP here.

Also, be sure to stay tuned for my review of Whiskey and Wry on Monday!

Thanks and good luck.

GIVEAWAY CLOSED


dance only for meTitle: Dance Only for Me (Dance with the Devil #6)
Author: Megan Derr
Publisher: Less than Three Press
Length: 70k words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Magic, Demons, Angels, Vampires, Djinn, Cowboys, Dragons, Secrets & Lies, Past Trauma/Abuse, Mystery
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Jackie Black is a cowboy and sorcerer and proud of both. He spends his days breaking curses and locating items of interest for other abnormals. His pride and joy are the alchemy-enhanced pistols at his hips. The love of his life is Roman, a businessman and witch. Tired of living several states apart, Jackie decides to surprise Roman by moving closer.

But instead of being a happy surprise, Jackie finds himself the victim of an unpleasant one. Alone in a strange city, with nowhere to go and his world in pieces, Jackie is taken in by an old man who says he is a paranormal detective and could use someone of Jackie’s power and abilities to catch a killer.

REVIEW

I started reading this when it came up earlier this year as a sequel, and around the 40% mark I stopped reading, so I could wait until it was finished. Honestly, I think that I’m just not that good at reading serials unless they’re the never-ending kind, because I’m not that good at waiting, and no matter how good the book is I eventually lose interest having to wait. Still, I’m glad that I got to read the beginning of this when I did back in January, because it made me instantly fall in love with Jackie Black, gunslinger and man of charming words 😉 And that meant that I was really excited to see how his story ended.

Jackie Black, youngest in the long line of gun-slinging cowboy sorcerers is in love. He’s had a rough ride of it in the past, but he thinks that Roman is the one — enough to move from his long-time home in the country and live in the city. When he surprises Roman after Roman canceled their date to tell him the happy news, that he’s househunting closer, he finds a complete surprise that ruins their relationship irreparably. Now, Jackie is alone in a strange city he doesn’t know well with nowhere to stay.

But the cowboy Blacks have a way of stumbling across trouble, and they’re duty bound as honest men to help in any way they can. So when Jackie meets a old man who is on the hunt after a ruthless woman stealing power he does everything he can to help. What he doesn’t know is that by getting to know the old man, he stumbled into an even larger and longer unsolved mystery involving the old man himself, a scarred vampire, and his father, the Black before him (currently off who knows where and not returning his calls). Backing down would be better — it seems that everyone who has gotten involved over the years has been killed off — but Jackie’s honor won’t let him. And maybe a touch of stubbornness that says that whatever impossible creature is picking off the people around him, he hasn’t met a sorcerer like Jackie Black yet.

Really, the best thing about this book is Jackie. He’s such a great character that you can’t help fall in love with him. He’s straight out of the old west, honor and stubbornness and all, trying to fit into a modern magical world. He’s almost comical at first until you really see his human side, and after that it’s so easy to get swept up in his adventure. I must admit that because I read the first bit of this as serial and then stopped I was under the misimpression of who Jackie’s love interest in this was. At first, I was a little miffed, but it’s only because it had been around 7 months that I’d been thinking he ended up with someone else, and I just hadn’t read that part of the story yet. But it didn’t take long for me to see that his real love interest here fit him so much better. I only hope that the really interesting character that latches onto him earlier in the book (and isn’t, of course, his love interest) will get his book, because I was a little sad that he seemed to disappear a bit after the halfway mark. We didn’t get to see him as much, even though I found him really endearing and one of the most interesting characters so far in this series. It makes me wonder if Megan Derr does have plans for him later in the series because he’s such a puzzle that never get’s solved in this book.

Fans of the series will want to continue and read this book. Honestly, it wasn’t my favorite, no matter how much I loved Jackie. I’m finding that even though I’ve enjoyed the last couple of books in this series I don’t have the same feelings as I had about the first three, which I just really loved and have read over and over. I’ll always continue to read, because even if Megan Derr’s books don’t turn out to be ones that I want to buy in paperback and keep as a comfort read, they’re still enjoyable, fun and a great escape. They’re some of the easiest and most comforting reading for me, and that only makes me even more excited for the next books to come.


Lovers Entwined - Lillian Francis

Congrats to

arella3173

for winning the copy of the Lovers Entwined by Lillian Francis. I’ve already emailed the winner, so they should already have heard from me, but if not, please email me at armchairreader[dot]coleriann[at]gmail[dot]com so you can get your book. Thanks for playing everyone and thank you all for stopping by and commenting on Sadonna’s review.

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Lovers-Entwined-ebook/dp/B009D4BVSY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1374971875&sr=1-1&keywords=lovers+entwined+lillian+francis


WhenLoveTakesOverLGTitle: When Love Takes Over
Author: Jacob Z Flores
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 88,936 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often (including sexual situations)
Keywords/Tags: P-Town, Porn Star, Sex Industry, Nerds/Geeks, Nasty Ex, Clubbing, Public Sex, Exhibitionism, Multiple/Other Partners, Writers, Cheating Ex, Bad Breakup, Dirty Talk, Pitt Munching, at the Beach, On Vacation, Gingers!, Colorful Cast of Characters, Funny Guys, Camp it Up!, Famous
Rating: Really Liked It

**Some (small) spoilers

BLURB

Zach Kelly’s life is a shambles. His boyfriend of three years dumped him, and his writing career is going nowhere. On a whim, he heads to Provincetown, Massachusetts, to nurse his broken heart and figure out his next step. He’s expecting to find rest and relaxation on the sandy beaches of Cape Cod. Instead, Zach meets a hunky porn star during a chance encounter at a leather shop he mistakes as a place to buy a belt that is definitely not for whipping.

Van Pierce is smitten when shy and inexperienced Zach crashes through a shelf of fetish gear. Though Van’s got an insatiable appetite for men on and off the set, his porn persona, Hart Throb, hides a broken heart. He’s struggling to find the reality the porno set doesn’t offer, and Zach is fighting to find the fantasy that will set his writing on fire. The odd goofball and the suave beefcake may either find love amid Provincetown’s colorful pageantry where summer never seems to end—or more heartbreak than either can imagine.

REVIEW

No matter how much I’ve wanted to read Jacob Flores’ prior books, this is the first one that I really had the time to read. And I’m so glad that I did. More than anything, more than the fact that I found some parts of this book less to my liking than others and I didn’t think it was perfect, it intrigued me. I immediately put back all of the books I have of Jacob’s back onto my Kindle and I only hope that I have the time to read them soon.

Prepare for a LONG summary. Sorry about that, but I think it’s worth reading 😉

Zach has always done what everyone told him too. Submissive to almost an extreme in his life (though not in the bedroom), he first allowed his father to dictate his life and self-understanding and later his partner of three years, Ben. The start of When Love Takes Over sees Ben unceremoniously dumped by Ben — with no reason or explanation — simply a get out. Zach is tired of being shuffled around and taking it, doing everything he can to change himself into the man that Ben wants. So he does the most impulsive thing he’s done in his life. He takes the small bag he left with from Houston and jumps a plane to P-Town.

Zach has never been to Provincetown and the place dazzles him. There are men everywhere, half naked in the streets, holding hands and kissing. The place seems like freedom personified and there’s no better introduction to the wonders of P-Town than the owner of the condo he’s renting for the week, Gary. Gary and his partner Quinn convince Zach to take advantage of all P-Town has to offer, not to stay in his room and try to work on his novel. Zach still doesn’t understand how his life took such a strange turn, but his writing seems to have suffered in relative fashion. Perhaps a change will be good for him.

Van is also at a crossroads. He’s had a bad time in relationships and it seems like every time he gives away his heart, which always seems to easy for him to do, it gets pummeled and thrown back at him, damaged more and more every time. After his last relationship with a man named Jason who drove him into a terrible dehumanizing spiral of sex and pain, Van took it upon himself to never face that kind of damage again. That is how Hart Throb was born. Being Hart Throb on screen for thousands of horny gay men gives Van a rush and a self-esteem boost that he needs. He can do porn and still enjoy sex, even being pounded by multiple men, without the emotions that ended up crushing him before. As a power bottom that has quickly amassed a huge fan following, he has the power to call more shots and he’s the one in control, not the men on top of him.

It’s almost enough to convince him that he doesn’t need an emotional connection at all. The pain of the past and his creation of his more powerful alter-ego have slowly started to shift his two identities and Hart Throb looks to be taking over. When Van runs into a geeky, shy and pale ginger beauty named Zach in a leather store, his previous conviction falls to pieces. Something about Zach — perhaps his bumbling and sweet nature with mismatched clothes and messed up hair, or his personality which seems to be completely free of artifice in a town where looks and sex are all that matters — appeals to Van. Even though their meeting is short, he can’t get Zach out of his head and his feelings about someone that he doesn’t even know only highlight that Hart Throb can’t fully sustain him.

A makeover on the outside from an excited Gary and female friend Tara prove to Zach that he does have worth. He believe that it just might be possible to break out of his shell, leave the old, boring doormat he was behind and embrace P-Town. That’s what everyone keeps telling him to do, after all. Embrace P-Town, because it will change you. And now that he’s seeing other men, hot men checking him out and finding him very worthy of their attention, the sexually adventurous nature he always repressed starts to peek out. But no matter how much he embraces the sex in the air (with some very public and exciting naughtiness!) what he really wants is to find Van again. But will Van even recognize him? Or did P-Town get to Zach before Van could, changing him in ways that ultimately aren’t good for him?

Whew! First of all, if you made it through that — thank you! You deserve a chocolate or something 🙂 Second, you saw just how long that summary was. I’d say that even though I did a bit of a character introduction to you as well, that summary probably only covers the first 1/4 of the book. The pace in this story moves rather quickly. I like that this author makes decisive choices for his characters. They don’t dawdle, but the story moves along without pause. I appreciate that because no matter how you feel about those decisions, there’s nothing worse than an author refusing to make them and then the characters stall. Van and Zach go through quite a lot to get their HEA, and it’s hard-won, that’s for damn sure! You can see just from the summary I wrote that the angst is already building. Wherever both Van and Zach go in this story they always seem to be looking for one another but at the same time moving in opposite directions, like passing ships in the night 😉 When Van looks for the geeky guy he had a moment with in the leather store he finds just another shallow guy tricking. When Zach continues to look for Van, he finds what he thinks is a guy with a boyfriend. And no matter how annoying that was at the time, because I wanted to smack them both and tell them to actually communicate with each other, this author ultimately brings the story around so that their actions and thoughts make sense to the character.

I really liked both Van and Zach. Zach is someone who I felt like I could understand on a personal level:

He found it almost impossible to simply be who he was. He always felt the need to apologize for himself and change whatever people didn’t like about him until he’d become whatever they might need.

The thought that he devoted three years of his life trying to conform to an impossible ideal for Ben haunts him, especially considering that Ben seems to have no appreciation of that fact. P-Town is important to him. His outside makeover soon starts to make him over inside and having men look at him as if they’d be lucky to have him is something that he’s never really felt. This is why this book worked for me on this level. We have a tendency in the romance genre to equate the characters and their choices with the quality of the book. But, it’s important for a character to grow and Zach needs to embrace his slutty and hedonistic side, no matter how shallow it makes him or that he becomes a bit of an asshole for a while, and he needs to fuck things up so that he can learn to be an active participant in a relationship. By definition, the end goal in romance is the HEA. The direction is important, but honestly, the journey there is the real point. This book is a good example for characters that you might not like at certain points in the book, but which (to me, at least) should have no bearing on the rating of it.

I think the real reason that I was intrigued about this author’s writing from reading this book is the tone and mood of the story. The mood is festive and reflective of the setting, but the tone of the writing often seemed just a little bit campy. The tone seemed campy, mind you, not the plot or characters (except for Gary! and Penny :D). This gives the story a lift. Right away it draws you in. No matter the subject matter there’s always a glass half-full feeling that carries through the story. It’s a hopeful tone. I felt like that little bit of campiness was so right on to how I’ve felt before in settings with lots of gay men and a party atmosphere. Sadly, I’ve yet to visit P-Town, but the setting and tone gave off a sense of inclusion and freedom and that thread ran throughout the story, the tone affecting all of the book in subtle ways.

Originally, I gave this book a Pretty Good rating. I had some trouble with the ending, specifically the part from the ending of Zach’s novel to the upstairs of the porn set setting. That conversation between the two was the culmination of the previous chapter or two where Zach starts to think in a kind of writer affectation. Everything became a bit melodramatic and I wasn’t quite sure how to take it. Seriously? Or, as a subtle importation of his writer’s mind? With an added day or two of reflection, I found those parts less important in my memory than the whole. I don’t think this book is perfect by any means, but I cared less about those trouble spots for me and more about the overall story. And that is of two characters that I felt were explored rather well and of writing by this author that I grew increasingly fond of while reading. I can’t wait until he writes something new. Or until I can get off my ass and read something off of his backlist. Recommended.


loversentwined_9781419941658_msrTitle: Lovers Entwined
Author: Lillian Francis
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Length: 98,968 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal Historical Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between (2 scenes between the MCs)
Keywords/Tags: WWI, Pirates, Revolutionary War, British, Paranormal Dreams, Genealogy, Bisexual, Tragedy, Separated Lovers, HEA
Rating: Pretty Good

Reviewed by Sadonna

BLURB

Ewan is one of Boston’s leading genealogy experts. When a would-be bridegroom comes looking for confirmation that there are no skeletons in his ancestral closet, Ewan considers turning the job down. Trey is a jerk of the highest order and yet Ewan experiences an infuriating attraction that’s easy to justify. Trey’s exactly his type—a carbon copy of the man Ewan’s been looking for his entire life.

Harder to explain is the sense of recognition that leaves Ewan speechless the moment Trey steps into his office. Or the stomach-churning sensation at the thought of casting the job aside.

Trey gets more appealing by the day, leaving Ewan struggling with forbidden desire for his client. Desire not helped by strange voyeuristic dreams that have started to haunt his sleep. Dreams that appear to be an echo of the past…

REVIEW

Ewan Matthews and Trey Capell are thrown together when Ewan proposes to his girlfriend of 4 years and his prospective father-in-law, a rich political candidate running for Mayor in Boston, decides that he needs to “vet” his daughter’s boyfriend’s family before they can announce the engagement.  Ewan is the genealogist that Trey is sent to and together then uncover some very interesting coincidences that turn out to be a lot more than coincidences.

In looking into Trey’s family history, it seems his great-great uncle fought in WWI in the British forces.  Great-great Uncle Tristan Capell fought in Mesopotamia and his batman was none other than one Owen Matthews.  Coincidence?  It seems that Trey is a doppelganger for Tristan with the exception of his broken nose courtesy of a wipeout from his surfing days.  While we don’t immediately know what Owen looked like, eventually of course it turns out that he is a dead ringer for Ewan.

Trey is chafing under the control of Paige, his fiancé, and also her father and so he escapes their watchful eye by going to “help” Ewan with the research under the pretext of speeding up the process so that they can announce their engagement.  While doing this research we learn quite a bit about both men and their family histories.  Ewan has grown up without a father and has only recently connected with the grandfather than he has never met.  Trey’s father died when he was young and he spent a decade having fun – surfing and hooking up with whoever struck his fancy regardless of gender.  Ewan is not impressed at all with Trey upon first meeting him even though he is physically attracted as Trey is exactly the type of man he’s been looking for all his life.

While researching Trey’s local family history, they stumble upon another coincidence in the form of a business partnership between Christian Capell and one Matthew Eugent.  Ongoing during this research, Ewan has extremely vivid dreams of these two couple – Tristan and Owen both during and after WWI and Christian and Matthew when they meet as children up through the Revolutionary War.

Trey and Ewan continue to spend time together doing the research and also outside of that excuse when Trey tires of Paige’s family control.  Ewan meets Trey’s grandfather on such an occasion and they hit it off right away.  While Trey is attracted to Ewan he doesn’t feel like he will be doing the right thing if he doesn’t marry Paige and have a family.  He is definitely conflicted about his future for a number of reasons.

As they come closer to discovering the truth about their shared ancestors and their tragic stories, Ewan is desperate to finish the job because his emotionally draining dreams and his continued close proximity to Trey – the man he can never have – are killing him.  He can’t sleep, he’s miserable and he can’t seem to focus on anything else either.  Things come to a head between Trey and Ewan and much is revealed about the past that influences the future of all of the characters in this story.  Cryptic, eh?  There are some things the reader should uncover for themselves 🙂

Hmmmmm.  Where to start on this review without being totally spoilery?  This is an unconventional romance in that until the last three of chapters, most of the romantic action on the page does not actually involve the two main characters.  Instead, we see glimpses of the lives of the ancestors of these two men as they have intertwined across the last several centuries.  While these couples were really interesting and greatly influence the arc of the story, the pacing of the book was a problem for me.  I felt like it took a really long time to get into the core of the relationship of Trey and Ewan and I was about to give up at 30%.  I just really wanted more time with those characters rather than all of the time spent in dreams witnessing the stories of the previous Capell/Matthews couples.  That being said, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it with the caveat to be prepared for a slower start.  I would give the first half of the book a Pretty Good and the second half a Really Liked It rating.

GIVEAWAY RULES

Please leave a comment below to win an ebook copy of Lovers Entwined. The giveaway will last until Midnight CDT on Tuesday, August 6. I will choose the winner using Random.org and email the winner who will then have 48 hours from the time of the drawing to reply to my email. I will then forward the winner’s information to the author so the winner can receive their book.

Please enter the email you’d wish me to contact you at in the comment form, or if you prefer, leave it in the message.

Thank you and good luck!

GIVEAWAY CLOSED