Author: Eden Winters
Publisher: Amber Allure
Length: 70,000 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Series, Sequel, Pharmacy, Hospitals, Kids with Cancer, Partners, Drug shortages, Grey Markets, Profiteering, PTSD, ex-Military, Drugs, Addiction, Undercover, Cops/Crime, Mystery
Rating: Really Like It!
Reviewed by Sadonna
Note: This is the second in a series. As such, there are spoilers for the first story in this book. It is not recommended that these books be read out of sequence.
Dead men can’t love.
Former drug trafficker Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter “died” in the line of duty while working off a ten-year sentence in service to the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau, only to be reborn as Simon “Lucky” Harrison. The newbie he trained, former Marine Bo Schollenberger, is now his partner on (and maybe off) the job. It’s hard to tell when Lucky doesn’t understand relationships or have a clue what any sane human is doing in his bed. Bo’s nice to have around, sure, but there’s none of that picking-out-china-together crap for Lucky.
While fighting PTSD, memories of a horrid childhood, and a prescription drug addiction, Bo is paying for his mistakes. Using his pharmacy license for the good guys provides the sort of education he never got in school. Undercover with his hard-headed partner, Bo learns that not everything is as it seems in the world of pharmaceuticals.
When a prescription drug shortage jeopardizes the patients at Rosario Children’s Cancer Center, it not only pits Bo and Lucky against predatory opportunists, but also each other. How can they tell who the villains are? The bad guys don’t wear black hats, but they might wear white coats.
This is definitely a sequel that lives up to the first book. If you haven’t read Diversion yet, go and get it right away. These are really good books!
Lucky is “reincarnated” in this story after his untimely demise in the first story. He and Bo, his partner, have both been on assignment separately and are finally back in town together. Lucky is trying to figure out what the deal is between the two of them – he’s never been in a “relationship” before and he has no idea what he’s doing but he does know that his thoughts are scaring him a little bit. Their time together at home is short-lived however and they are once again partnered on a new assignment at a children’s cancer hospital. Lucky is assigned to shipping and receiving and Bo is assigned to Procurement as an assistant buyer. They are trying to find out what is happening with the drug shortages and where the drugs are coming from and how they are being funneled to the hospital in the “grey market” – not quite illegal but pretty unethical with gouging of prices. Critical drugs are in short supply and so hospitals and doctors are having to decide on less effective courses of treatment or rationing of the available drugs.
As soon as they get to the hospital, Bo is involved in some heart-wrenching meetings. Kids are not getting the treatment they need because of the drug shortages. Bo is killing himself trying to help and trying to locate drugs. He’s even working to try to make the drugs since he still has his pharmacist license. It’s a bloody mess and things are only getting worse. Lucky tries to keep him from getting too emotionally involved which makes Bo very angry with him. Little does he know just how emotionally involved Lucky has gotten as well.
When the head buyer is fired, Bo becomes the target of disgruntled parents and the press. Lucky calls in the cavalry and it turns out that Lucky’s distrust and his instincts are right on again. The drug shortage has led to all sorts of characters acting in unforeseen ways that leads to catastrophic results. As they get closer and closer to finding out who is responsible for tainted drugs being administered, Lucky once again finds himself in danger and in only true Lucky fashion.
After sources are uncovered and a number of the culprits escape the long arm of the law, Lucky can’t live with waiting around to see if they will surface. Acting on his own he’s willing to take risks to finish his job. I don’t want to be too spoilery but there is a lot of action in this story and a lot of different twists and turns. Lucky does a lot of soul searching in this one and he also realizes something about his feeling and Bo 🙂
I really really liked this story! Once again, I learned a lot reading from Eden about the grey markets and what happens when drugs are in short supply. Fascinating and scary details are woven into this narrative that should give patients and health care professionals pause. I had no idea this was going on! Besides learning a lot about something I was surprised was happening, I really loved spending time with Bo and Lucky again. I find Lucky to be a lovable curmudgeonly character and I always look forward to seeing what he’ll do next. Predictable is NOT in his vocabulary. I really liked seeing him crack open the clam shell of his heart in this one. He and Bo have both been through a lot and while Bo doesn’t necessarily always agree with Lucky he does try to understand him. Even when he’s mad at Lucky, he know that when the chips are down Lucky will be there for him. They make a great couple and I cannot wait for the next book to see where their new adventures will take us.
Posted by Sadonna in 41-75k, 5 Really Like It, Authors V-Z, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Addictions, Amber Allure, Cancer, Cops/Crime, Drugs, Eden Winters, Ex-Military, Kids, Mystery, Partners, Pharmacy, PTSD, Sequel, Series, Undercover
Hey, and thanks for having me here! I’m Jaidon Wells, and I wrote Dandy, which, among many other things, is a story about two men, Andrew and Cassidy, who don’t like to make it easy to fall in love. Their first, unexpected—and seemingly impossible given that Andrew had been led to believe Cassidy was dead—meeting in an occult store (which you can read in its entirety on LT3’s website) sets the tone for their entire following romance. And that tone is one of deliberate and (from Cassidy’s side, at least) cheerful antagonism.
I’ve always had a weakness for love stories that start out as rivalries, so it comes as no surprise to me (or likely anyone who really knows me) that my first published novel would be composed of exactly that: two boys who love to be difficult with one another. I couldn’t tell you exactly where my personal love for that particular trope came from, but, bottom line, it has a lot to do with the kind of interaction rivalries produce (or can, anyways). And one such symptom happens to be my favorite thing to write: banter. Nothing’s quite as enjoyable for me as snappy back-and-forth conversation between romantic leads, and, with Dandy, I got to write it in near every scene between Andrew and Cassidy.
That was one of the biggest appeals of writing this book for me and, I think, a large part of its charm. The relationship starts out as pretty much pure antagonism, with (at least from Cassidy’s perspective) all the enjoyment of it coming from needling the other person into extreme irritation, without any deeper feelings behind it. The story is a fairly slow build and that antagonism remains threaded through the whole novel, but the tone and the meaning behind it changes. The constant back and forth goes from simply something to gain irritating enjoyment out of, to flirtation, and, eventually, a way to express some deeper feelings that have developed without appearing to express them. Although, I’ll admit, Cassidy never actually stops enjoying needling Andrew. It simply becomes another way in which they communicate, and one that I hope is enjoyable for the audience.
Relationships can be portrayed in a near endless number of ways, and character interactions can be played out in just about as many. My favorite path for romance, though, remains the one that isn’t smooth, that maybe takes a few sharp twists and turns, but remains fun the whole way through.
Andrew is a little overwhelmed, between grad school, his bookstore job, crazy friends, and a roommate slowly turning criminal. The very last thing he needs is more stress, but it’s what he gets anyway, in the form of Cassidy, the frustrating, intriguing, and supposed-to-be-dead brother of his law-breaking roommate.
Throw in a flamboyant campus hero, a series of kitchen fires, a slanderous romance manuscript, stoner music shops, an arguably-mad scientist, a terrible indie band, and a blue period, and Andrew realizes that being overwhelmed is easy. It’s the rapidly spinning out of control that’s a bit difficult to handle.
You can buy it here.
If you’d like a chance to win an ebook copy of Dandy, just comment below. One commenter will be chosen using random.org to receive a copy in the format of their choice. The give-away will close at 11:59 pm on Sunday, August 11th.
About the Author
Jaidon was born in South Bend, Indiana, and spent some time in Michigan, before settling down in Dalls, Texas. He sometimes regrets this because of the god-awful summers and the fact that he’s picked up a bit of a southern accent. Y’all, it’s unfortunate. In Spring of 2013, he received a degree in Psychology from the University of North Texas, which is problematic only because now everyone he knows seems to have developed a psychiatric disorder. Weird.
Jaidon has been an avid reader since childhood and wrote his first short story at 7 (which has, fortunately, been lost to the ages) and attempted his first novel at 13 (which, unfortunately, has not been lost to the ages; he still has a copy on his computer). He started out writing stories with the full intent of breaking the reader’s heart, and, now, has somehow ended up writing all comedy and romance with happy endings. Go figure.
You can find Jaidon online at:
Title: Wouldn’t It Be Good
Author: Logan Zachary
Publisher: MLR Press
Length: 6,000 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: MLR Mixtapes, Short Story, Bullies, Closeted, College, Coming Out (ish), Emotionally Damaged, HEA, Jocks/Nerds, Physical Injury/Trauma, Sports, Yearning
Rating: So So
Reviewed by Nikyta
Wouldn’t it be good to have music bridge the gap between two men?
Jason is the football god on campus, and Jeff is not. After an incident in gym class, Jeff leaves school embarrassed and bruised. Jason tries to help, but all he can do is leave a tape of mixed songs for Jeff hoping to help him feel better. Music can calm the savage beast, but can it bridge the gap between Mr. Perfect and Mr. Wrong? One song speaks volumes to Jeff, and his defenses begin to crumble as the men become closer and closer. Wouldn’t it be good to have a friend?
The first thing I need to say is that the blurb needs major editing. For those reading this book, please be aware that the main character’s name is Scott and not Jeff. In fact, Jeff is the bully who causes the ‘incident’ while Scott leaves school embarrassed and bruised. Between the time of writing this review and now, MLR has since updated their site to include the correct main character, Scott, in the blurb.
With that said, I don’t think I need to reiterate the blurb because it does a good enough job of describing the story. It’s a cute, easy read that goes by far too quickly. Scott is just about done with being bullied. He’s had a rough life and things are just getting worse for him. He’s a loner, though, and doesn’t fit in with others. Jason is the complete opposite: popular, well liked and good at sports. Jason’s sweet and charming and concerned about Scott when he gets hurt by Jeff. I felt really bad for Scott and I just wanted to give him a hug. I loved that these two connected over a mixed tape that Jason leaves for Scott. These two were adorable and I loved that Jason was so nice while Scott was so charmed by him.
This story started off really good. I was enjoying it and really liking the direction it was going in because it was heartbreaking but sweet. Unfortunately, pretty soon it started to focus on the purely physical part of their relationship and my enjoyment dimmed. I just couldn’t connect with them from there because I didn’t feel like they knew each other at all, even with going to the same school together for years. Then there’s the conflict, which felt incomplete and very rushed. It had me questioning why someone like Jeff would just walk away from tormenting Scott just because Jason claimed him as his boyfriend when Jeff never backed off from Jason’s protests in the past. It felt inconsistent with the rest of the story. More than that, their dialogue felt stunted and awkward.
Overall, it’s not a bad story. It could have been fleshed out further, characters could have been better developed and the conflict could have been tied up better but I still enjoyed the story. I would have liked to see Jason and Scott get to know each other deeper but as it is, this was a cute, quick story with a lot of potential.
Posted by Nikyta in 3 So So, Authors V-Z, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex, up to 15k Tags: Bullies/Bullying, Closeted, College, Coming Out, Emotionally/Physically Damaged, HEA, Jocks/Nerds, Logan Zachary, MLR Mixtapes, MLR Press, Physical Injury/Trauma, Short Story, Sports, Yearning
Title: Crocodile Kev’s Merry-Go-Round
Author: G.S. Wiley
Publisher: MLR Press
Length: 7,000 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Australia, Co-Workers, Famous(ish), HFN(ish), May/Dec, Musicians, Short Story, Sports
Rating: So So
Reviewed by Nikyta
Kevin Ballantyne is a hugely successful children’s entertainer, but his personal life is no laughing matter. Will an encounter with a grown-up fan give him an Australia Day to remember?
“Crocodile” Kevin Ballantyne has been entertaining kids in Australia and all over the world for more than twenty years, fan-favorite Kazza the Kangaroo always by his side. When the dancer playing Kazza backs out of an Australia Day gig at Sydney’s Hyde Park, Kevin is left scrambling. High dive artist and longtime Crocodile Kev fan Lachlan Clayfield steps into the breach and the kangaroo costume. As they get to know one another over the course of the day, Kevin finds himself wondering whether Lachlan might be able to lend a hand in other, more personal, areas of his life.
Kevin Ballantyne has been entertaining kids for decades as Crocodile Kev with his trusty sidekick Kazza the Kangaroo. When he’s scheduled for a slot at Hyde Park in Sydney for Australia Day, the woman playing Kazza can’t make, putting him in a horrible situation. Lucky for him, he finds a fan in Lachlan Clayfield, another entertainer for Australia Day, who’s willing to put on the kangaroo suit. The two hit it off right from the start not just on the stage but in other ways.
When this story starts, it’s to Kevin not wanting to do the gig in Hyde Park and he wants to do it even less when he realizes his Kazza won’t be there. It was hard for me to connect with Kevin because I felt like he didn’t have much of a personality and didn’t like his life. Lachlan, however, I really enjoyed. I loved his bubbly attitude and the high dive entertainment he was part of. The two together are pretty cute. Kevin is much older than Lachlan which made things a bit awkward when he finds out how much of a fan the much younger Lachlan is.
This is one of those stories, though, that had a lot of potential but fell short of the mark. While I liked the premise of the story, I felt like it was too short to achieve its potential because there wasn’t much depth to the characters or the conflicts. The entire story felt rushed but also lacks a lot of important details, which made the ending feel abrupt and open ended. There’s inconsistencies but I also felt like there was too much pointless emphasis on the way Australians talk. Granted, I’m not Australian but the way Lachlan in particular was talking felt forced and awkward.
In the end, I liked the story but I felt like there could have been much more to it than there was. I loved Lachlan but Kevin came across dull in comparison to him. The age gap between them created some good conflict but there were too many other issues within the story that made this potentially good read only an okay one.
Posted by Nikyta in 3 So So, Authors V-Z, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex, up to 15k Tags: Australia, co-workers, Famous, GS Wiley, HFN, May/December, MLR Press, Musicians, Short Story, Sports
Title: Finding Master Right
Author: LA Witt
Length: 45,700 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary BDSM Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Friends to Lovers, Nasty Exes, On Vacation, Conventions, Leather, Toys, Multiple Partners, Kink, Just Talk to Each Other Already!
Rating: Pretty Good
It’s all fun and games until somebody falls in love.
Chase has just arrived at a much anticipated leather convention, and he’s about to lose his mind. Not only is his ex attending, but Chase is also rooming with Derek, a submissive he’s been dying to top. Although Derek is in search of a Dom, he made it painfully clear when the two of them hooked up for a very hot—but very vanilla—night just before the convention that he wasn’t interested in submitting to Chase.
Derek isn’t stupid. No matter how desperate he is to submit to Chase, he wants no part of a rebound relationship. As long as Chase is still pining after the sub who broke his heart a few months ago, Derek’s keeping him at arm’s length. Besides, there’s another Dom at this convention, the gorgeous Master Raul, who Derek is determined to attract.
But when Chase and Derek are confronted with all their kinks, from ropes to leather, bondage to flogging—not to mention each other—they can only ignore their mutual attraction for so long.
I decided to pick this up to read and review on a whim. It’s actually been quite a while since I’ve read any BDSM, I just haven’t been in the mood a much this year. And it’s been a while since I’ve read a standalone LA Witt book, so I was excited to dig in and see what I thought of it. I really like the BDSM stories that are set at Leather conventions. I think it all comes down to my curiosity as to what going to one would really be like. Plus, now that I’ve been to a convention I sortof get the atmosphere there, and though it fluctuates wildly from one event to another, there is an excitement inherent in coming together with other people who share a common interest. Because of that, it means that a character can be whoever they want to be during their vacation, especially at a place where role-play and scene play offer a possible diversion from one’s typical personality.
Chase and Derek have been friends for a long time. They’re traveling to the convention together and sharing a room, and their unspoken attraction to one another has gone… well, unspoken up to this point. That is, until they sleep together their first night. But right when the clothes start flying and Chase is gearing up to put on his Dom voice, Derek asks if they just play vanilla. It’s a good idea (most likely) and a slap in the face at the same time to Chase, who has always admired Derek and his mind-blowing ability to sub so beautifully for different Doms. Why won’t he sub for Chase? And does it have anything to do with the fact that Derek is set to meet his longtime crush and internet friend, the popular Master Raul?
Meanwhile, Chase is going through his own problems. His three year relationship with Ian recently bit the dust. And even though their last year together was terrible, complete with Ian cheating and lying and finally walking out on him, facing the end of what was originally a perfect relationship and Dom/sub connection and trying to move on are much harder in practice. The problem is compounded by the fact that Ian is at the convention and seems to be eager to speak to Chase and sort things through.
Neither of them expected how difficult it would be to deal with their crush and admiration of the other while having to spend so much time together in close quarters. And it isn’t just their room situation. Watching the other participate in scenes with other Doms and subs leads them both to the conclusion that the one they really want is right next to them, and that they’ve already decided to put their valued friendship above all else.
One thing that I know about LA Witt is that as far as the Spectrum of Angst goes, any one of her books could be anywhere. She’s good at writing really angsty books and sometimes she writes books where the level of angst could be through the roof but because of the characters, who don’t wallow or have a lot of internal dialogue, there isn’t anyway. This fell somewhere in the middle for me, and it was a bit frustrating. No matter how much I liked the setup and most of the characters, a lot of that internal waffling back and forth was just a little much for me. It’s one of those books where you just want to lock the characters in a room together, slowly filling with… water, or a biological agent, or something to get them to freaking talk to each other! It isn’t as if I misunderstood or judged the characters. It’s hard to think about having feelings for a friend, I’ve been there. But, I also have a hard time dealing with that in the fiction I read. It’s personal taste. And that is my main disclaimer about this book. I think LA Witt is a good enough writer to draw the connections needed to help the reader understand why the characters make the decisions they make. That doesn’t mean, however, that readers will be all that pleased with it. It is just my opinion and my own understanding of fellow readers, but I think that there will be some readers who find the back and forth annoying. And they’ll probably be a lot less nice about it than me, lol. At least, that’s how it usual goes.
On the other hand, I enjoyed reading the story. Including my feelings about the characters’ lack of communication, I still liked this book even though I had one other problem with it. I liked both Chase and Derek for the most part through the whole books, but I did find Derek to be somewhat hypocritical at times, which bothered me. Plusses to the author for including scenes with other men. Even though it causes a fair amount of angst and Derek and Chase aren’t technically together (like how you usually get in those situations, with an open and healthy relationship), I still enjoyed those parts of the book. I would have looked forward to them anyway, because it’s something that I like in my m/m romance (where it fits), but I actually enjoyed those scenes for themselves as well. They all included secondary characters I really liked, especially the two bears and even Master Raul, who I was unsure of at first and firmly expecting to hate purely for Chase’s sake 😉
This is a solid offering from LA Witt, but still has many elements that I think will turn off some readers. Perhaps, though, we’ll see that the parameters for m/m BDSM readers are a little more open…
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors V-Z, BDSM / Kink, Contemporary, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Conventions, Friends to Lovers, Just Talk to Each Other Already!, Kink, LA Witt, Leather, Multiple/Other Partners, Nasty Exes, Netgalley, On Vacation, Riptide Publishing, Toys
Title: Chase the Storm
Author: V. M Waitt
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 71,080 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Western Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Angst-alicious, Coming of Age, Cowboys, Emotionally Damaged, Grieving Partner, Horses, Hostile Work Environment, Hot & Cold, May/Dec, Secrets & Lies, Yearning
Rating: Really Liked It!!
Reviewed by Nikyta
*****This review contains minor spoilers*****
Up until he buys an old truck, Elijah Morgan lives life according to his family’s plan, never feeling like he belongs. Desperate to find his own path, he heads out on the open road, only to end up stranded in Nebraska. Not wanting to ask for his parents’ help, he takes a job with tough, independent farmer Chase McKenzie.
Despite their age gap, the attraction between Chase and Elijah soon becomes undeniable. They give in to their desire, but that night changes everything and threatens the secret Chase guards so carefully.
As the summer heats up, so does their relationship. When autumn arrives, Elijah is due back at college, and he’ll have to choose whether to continue his education and follow in his family’s footsteps… or to stay in Nebraska with the man he loves.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced those books that have pulled so much emotion from us that we really don’t know how to even grasp how we feel about the story. Hate it or love it, it is a very fine line and you just don’t know exactly how you feel. In this case, I didn’t hate the book, in fact, I loved it but I must admit that I sort of hated Chase but, oh man, this book pulled so many emotions from me it had me crying like a baby a few times and I can’t dismiss that even if the book does have its faults.
This story features Elijah and his journey to finding himself and his own path in life. As his school semester ends, he impulsively buys an old truck and drives to places unknown only to end up in a small town with a broken down truck. Forced to find a place to stay while his ride gets fixed, he takes a job working for Chase on his farm and learning what hard work really means. As their time together becomes longer, the chemistry they have becomes harder to fight. Elijah’s finally finding the one place he feels like is home and losing his heart in the process but Chase is still healing and doesn’t want to feel what he does for Elijah because if he gives in, he doesn’t know if he’ll survive it if Elijah eventually goes back to college.
I loved Elijah. He’s like a new baby colt… innocent and lost. He doesn’t fit in anywhere so he’s trying to find himself. He’s sweet and hard working even though he’s never worked on a farm before. Elijah broke my heart but I loved that I was able to connect with him. So well, in fact, that when he was angry I was getting angry and when he cried, I was crying. It was a great feeling to have. Chase, on the other hand, is harder and more gruff. He’s put a wall up around himself because he doesn’t want to let anyone else in but Elijah threatens that wall. I loved but hated Chase. He’s so mean and harsh to Elijah to the point of being cruel and he has no problems with shattering Elijah’s hopes over certain things. I hated how he treated Elijah sometimes for no reason on Elijah’s part but then, I can understand why he’s the way he is. With what he’s gone through and experienced, it’s just so sad. When he finally caves and embraces his feelings for Elijah fully… it’s the sweetest moment of the book, IMO.
I loved this book so much but as the story progressed, more and more of it was focused on the sex between Elijah and Chase to the point that it was too much for me. With everything going on, I was hoping that we’d see more of them talking and working things out but it seemed like whenever they tried to talk things through, they’d end up in bed and never actually talk. It grew slightly annoying towards the end because of the tension of knowing that Elijah was potentially leaving, these boys needed to talk more than ever. When they do talk, I felt like most of it was told instead of shown. My only other issue is that Elijah never really stood up for himself. He took Chase’s anger and sometimes he felt like it was his fault when it wasn’t and he had no reason to apologize to Chase. Beyond that, I still have one question. Just how old is Chase? It’s never said! There were a few inconsistencies and I’m sure there were other problems with this story but to be honest, I was so caught up in everything that I didn’t much notice or even care about them.
In the end, this was a great book. It’s a coming of age story of the journey Elijah takes to finally find his place in the world but also about healing. Elijah heals Chase but Chase also saves Elijah. It’s a beautiful story and I could probably read these boys over and over again. I loved that it brought out so many emotions in me. It’s not a perfect book but it is one that grabbed hold of my heart and didn’t want to let go. This was my first book by this author and I’m looking forward to reading more from her. So, to all you cowboy lovers out there, give this one a try because you might like it 😉
Posted by Nikyta in 41-75k, 5 Really Like It, Authors V-Z, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 4 - Very Often, Western Tags: Angst-alicious, Coming of Age, Cowboys, Dreamspinner Press, Emotionally/Physically Damaged, Grieving Partner, Horses, Hostile Work Environment, Hot & Cold, May/December, Secrets & Lies, V M Waitt, Yearning