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Cold Hands (College Fun and Gays #6) - Erica PikeTitle: Cold Hands (College Fun & Gays #6)
Author: Erica Pike
Publisher: Self Published (Ice Cave)
Length: 13,900 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Sequel, Series, Short Story, Enemies to Lovers, Ex-Bullies/Bullying, College, Past Abuse, Hurt/Comfort, Second Chances, Grovel you Bastard!, Public Sex, Carnivals
Rating: Really Liked It

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“Hot-Hands” and Casper have been dating for a month, but their relationship is about as smooth as shattered glass. It doesn’t help that Hot-Hands is racked with guilt over his high school bullying of Casper, or that Casper darts away whenever his boyfriend gets a little too frisky.

Desperate to hang onto Casper, Hot-Hands tries to earn back the trust he destroyed years ago, so they can face their disastrous past and have a chance at a happy future.

Note: Cold Hands focuses on high school bullying for being gay. This is the sequel to Hot Hands and contains big spoilers if read first. Hot Hands is free of charge here.

REVIEW

Hot Hands was by far my favorite story in Erica Pike’s College Fun and Gay series, so you can imagine my excitement when she said that she was writing a sequel. Cold Hands is almost as much of an antithesis to that first story as it’s title. Hot Hands introduces us to Casper — a college student who was brutally bullied, more like abused, in high school for being gay — and his ex-bully and middle school crush Jaime. Casper shows up to college and is surprised and devastated to learn that one of the ring leaders of the guys who tormented him is not only there but also in some of his classes. He does everything he can to avoid Jaime, but doesn’t know that a lot of Jaime’s bullying stemmed from his own awakening homosexual feelings towards Cass. His physical and emotional abuse for most of his teen years have really impacted him. He’s shy and doesn’t understand why he’s still attracted to one of the men who abused him, which also messes with his head. His attachments soon turn to another man, however, a man he starts to call “Hot-Hands” because of the way the man’s hands draw him out and make him feel sexy and interesting whenever he’s accosted by this same hard-breathing man in the dark. It’s a serious case of having a secret admirer, but Casper has his suspicions and soon finds them proven wrong. All that time, Casper had inadvertently been giving himself up to the man who caused him so much pain and now he’s more confused than ever.

Cold Hands resumes this story from Jaime’s point of view, which is a serious change in how we understand the story. Cass is a thinker who constantly analyzes his feelings and thoughts, but because of their unique relationship he knows very little about what Jaime really thinks and Jaime’s motives. The change in point of view starts this sequel off on a different foot. We immediately see that Jaime has real regret about the way he treated Cass in the past and that his feelings now are genuine, and also that he’s a different man now. He understands himself and has grow up in the two years they spend apart. Now, he’s out of the closet and over the shame that he grew up with from a conservative family and town. Still, Cass doesn’t know that. He’s still confused about Jaime’s motives and his own. How can he trust himself and his feelings if he’s seriously considering having a relationship with his abuser?

The real difference between the first story and the second isn’t the point of view, but in the focus of their relationship. If you look at these stories together as one, then this story is the payoff. The first was the setup, the background and the premise — the meetings in the dark with Casper’s “secret admirer” and the subsequent reveal of his real identity — but, Cold Hands is the meat and bones of their relationship. This story carries on to peel back the layers and find out if these guys have a solid base to build any relationship upon and how they go about doing that. The change in point of view facilitates that because by nature of their relationship as abuser/victim, Jaime automatically sees the bigger picture than Cass. Casper is still mired in confusion about his feelings and dealing with understanding Jaime and his actions and in evidence of how that abuse affected him, he’s battling his own self-esteem.

I’m so glad that Erica decided to continue their story because I think that it is only in retrospect that this story feels as if it completed the first. Cold Hands makes the whole story better by giving us a chance to see them work through the consequences of their actions in the first story, and that in turn gives them the HEA they deserve. This also shows in the sex in both stories. So much of the first story takes place while Casper thinks “Hot-Hands” is someone else entirely that a lot of those scenes were exploratory, sexy and hot in a situational way, playing on the mysterious suitor with a dirty and exhibitionist twist. I read that story as a really good piece of erotica with an engaging plot. This story moves their physical relationship into a place of intimacy, so much so that it’s often too difficult for Casper to really handle.

I definitely recommend these stories to all of you, though you absolutely have to read Hot Hands first. Well done Erica and thank you for writing this story so I could spend more time with Cass and Jaime!


Conflict__ContactTitle: Conflict: Contact (Conflict #1)
Author: Jack Greene
Publisher: Phaze
Length: 13,650 words
Genre: m/m Sci Fi Erotica Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Series, Space Travel/Opera, Military, May/December, Cheating (it’s no biggie, more info in review), Married, Affair with the Boss, Genetic Modification, Other Worlds, Artificial Worlds, Battle/War, Alliances, Stranded
Rating: So So

**Some Spoilers! Sorry 😦

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Conflict is a serial in three parts: In the not-so-distant future, the people of the Earth are repressed by the iron rule of the Emperor. The Space Colonies have resisted, and as a result are at war with the Emperor.

In Conflict: Contact, Lieutenant Colton Santarelli and the Colony Special Forces undertake a desperate mission to keep the Emperor from building the ultimate weapon, an army of supersoldiers. But amidst the terror of war, Colton is secretly in love with his dashing–and married–commanding officer Colonel Vance Hohler.

REVIEW

The first of a three part serialized novella called Conflict, Contact sets up this science fiction and space exploration erotic story about a colony Lieutenant named Colton who is in lust and moving toward love with his Colonel. Before setting out on a dangerous mission to overpower the Earth Emperor’s forces, Colton shares a mind-blowing moment with Vance, his Colonel, on the balcony during the party to celebrate their new venture. The problem is that no matter how much Vance shows interest in him as well, the fact remains that Vance is married.

Colton leaves with mixed feelings of lust, guilt and a little bit of love only to find that the Colonist’s offensive is in serious trouble. Before long, Colton finds himself all alone in a battle where most of his men have died and his ship is alone fighting the Emperor’s forces. In a bid to recover possible success in their mission, Colton heads to land and infiltrate the enemy base. What he finds there both horrifies him and confirms that the Emperor has been up to what they expected.

Shizu is a genetically modified human that was abducted as a child and has been through a horrible hell of testing and modification along with several others. Now, he thinks he’s the only one left, at least in this base and the sight of a man who takes him out of the base and tries to get him to freedom bonds them together. But Shizu still harbors feelings for the man who was with him, who tried to escape with him before they were caught and separated forever. Hiding in a cave with Colton while they await rescue with a downed ship, the two get to know one another and forge a friendship of mutual respect and goals that might just be a bridge between the Colony forces and Earth’s grassroots rebellion that could help them overthrow the planet’s tyrannical rule.

I’m always excited to get a new Jack Greene story for review, but lately his work has been turning from more erotica to romance. He still writes highly erotic stories, such as this, but there’s definitely more plot to work with and to keep me interested and I like the fusion of styles and his growth as an author. It certainly makes me look forward to the next two stories in this “serialized” story. As the first of such a series, a large part of this story serves to set up the world. We’re presented with a world split into three factions: Earth, where a tyrant has united the world under one rule; the colonies, artificial worlds in space that use artificial gravity and other futuristic technological advances to create a sort of mirror earth in a controlled atmosphere; and lastly, the grassroots resistance on Earth, living hardscrabble lives with little food or supplies and actively defying the Empire while remaining under the radar. Conflict gives us the initial outlook in this conflict while paving the way for the next couple of stories through the connection made between Colton, Shizu and Shizu’s lover.

The relationship between Colton and his Colonel, Vance, is a different matter. Vance appears quickly in the beginning and then later in the story, but is largely removed (so far) from the actual conflict. His motivations seemed hazy to me for much of the story before he seemed to do an about face and admit deep feelings of love for Colton, despite his marriage, which he claims is unhappy and more of convenience. There’s one brief bout of cheating in the beginning of the novel, but it seems that there won’t be anymore, going by what we learn later in the story. So if you find cheating a huge turnoff, you might be initially disappointed in the story. Otherwise, I found their interactions together to be really steamy and satisfying on an erotic level, but at the end of the story I remained unconvinced in any true feelings between them. Perhaps, hopefully, that will change in the next two stories. I’d rather have an all or nothing approach, all romance and development of those feelings, or pure erotica. But a mishmash of the two where I’m not shown any of that progression cheapens the story a bit for me.

I’m definitely excited to see what’s in store for these characters. Of course, even though I had problems with some of the story, for the most part I’m pretty forgiving (always, of course, lol), but especially because this is the first story in a three part arc and there’s room for the characters to grow into the feelings presented here.

Be sure to comment below to win a copy of the story!

GIVEAWAY RULES

Please leave a comment below to win an ebook copy of Conflict: Contact. The giveaway will last until Midnight CDT on Friday, August 2. 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


WhatThereIsLGTitle: What There Is
Author: Kate McMurray
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 15,318 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Sports, Athletes, Baseball, Brooklyn, NYC, Roommates, Jock/Nerd, Food, Coach, Past Injury
Rating: Pretty Good

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Former professional baseball player Justin Piersol needs a new life after a career-ending injury, and his job as a high school baseball coach isn’t exactly fulfilling. Still, things are looking up: he finds the perfect room in an apartment in Brooklyn with Mark, who writes a popular column on sports statistics.

Mark is nerdy and socially awkward and intensely shy, and he immediately develops a terrible crush on Justin, who barely seems to notice him. As they get to know each other, Justin admits he misses playing baseball, that coaching doesn’t scratch the itch. Mark confesses he thought he’d be married by now, that he wants a serious relationship. So they make a pact: Justin will help Mark find a man, and Mark will help Justin find something he loves more than baseball.

They put their plan into action… and then life gets complicated. Mark meets a nice guy named Dave, and Justin is suddenly crazy with jealousy. Justin realizes he wants to let go of the past and focus on the present, but as Mark and Dave become an item, Justin fears he’s too late.

REVIEW

I’ve been excited about this new story from Kate McMurray ever since she visited the blog in June for Kate McMurray Week. It’s another baseball story and though I first thought that it might be a spinoff/sequel, or in some way related to Out in the Field because the main character Mark works at Sports Net, it seems to have no connection.

The premise is a roommates-to-lovers story, when Justin visits Mark about a listing looking for a roommate to share his Brooklyn apartment. They find that though they’re different in a lot of ways — Mark is painfully shy in front of an outgoing and hunky Justin — they also have some things in common. Justin was once a baseball player, a pitcher for the Brooklyn Cyclones, before an injury forced him off of the field and into a coaching job. Mark works for Sports Net, writing about baseball statistics, but he’s never been an athlete himself no matter how much he enjoys the game. But most of all, Mark is just glad that a normal and sane person came in reply to his listing and actually wants to rent the room, no matter the fact that Justin is so hot it might be impossible for Mark to actually have a conversation with him.

After a little while, when the awkwardness of sharing a home with a stranger starts to abate and the two start to get to know one another, they both start to see that they’re unhappy in their lives. Justin is having a hard time coaching those who he knows will go on to have the career that he always wanted and coaching isn’t giving him the same thrill that playing did. Mark really wants to have a relationship and he confesses to Justin that he doesn’t know if he could ever meet someone because he’s so shy. So, the two decide to help the other out — Justin tells Mark that he’ll help him find a guy and Mark tells Justin that he’ll help him find something he’s passionate about, just as he was playing baseball.

Even though this had less baseball in it than I expected, I really quite enjoyed this story. It probably isn’t going to get rave reviews because it’s a short story and I have a feeling that a lot of readers are going to want more from this couple and feel like this story is too short. I don’t really think that’s true. We aren’t presented with a couple here that has issues they have to work through, together and individually, that will take them a long time to process in order to get their HEA. They’re more of a simple couple that takes a small amount of time and a little nudge to see that they could be good together. And that was fine with me, I finished the story enjoying it for what it was and feeling satisfied.

Fans of Kate McMurray will definitely want to read this story. All of the things that I like about her writing were presented here, like her love of Brooklyn and baseball, and I really liked how the food and cooking classes brought them together (food can definitely do that!). It was a nice story, sweet and light, and enough to tide me over for more of her work to come.


Brennessel_Running_Up_That_HillTitle: Running up that Hill
Author: Barry Brennessel
Publisher: MLR
Length: 13,000 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, MLR Mixtapes, Recent Historical, Coming of Age, Kate Bush, Closeted, NYC, Fear, Best Friends, Technology, 1980s, 80s Music, AIDS, HFN
Rating: LOVED it!

Reviewed by Sadonna

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For Jeremy Saura, a song by Kate Bush holds all the answers. Pushes him onward. Sends him running up that road. Up that hill. Up that building.



Jeremy gets chills as he listens to the lyrics. The song, a beautiful powerhouse of determination over despair, only gains in impact as he replays it. Seven times.



”I adore you Kate Bush,” he whispers to her photograph. For Jeremy, “Running Up That Hill” gives him the momentum he needs to navigate the trials and tribulations of a new job, a complex friendship, and a budding workplace romance.

REVIEW

I’ve been waiting for this story to come out with the summer Mix Tapes series from MLR.  When I first read Tinseltown, I knew this was a writer to watch and I’ve never been disappointed.

It’s 1986 and Jeremy is a young man just starting out in NYC with his first real job after college.  He works at a law book publishing company.  They are just adopting Wang word processors and his coworkers are freaking out about the change.  Jeremy is thankful to have the job, especially after he meets Adam, the editor on the project he’s working on J  Adam is very cute and as Jeremy leaves his office after their first meeting, he catches Adam watching him.

Jeremy’s best friend Scott is his confidant and Jeremy tells him all about meeting Adam. While they have a lot in common, their taste in men is quite different.  Jeremy also has a passion for music.  He buys 45s at the Vinyl Attic, the local record store and in fact the store owner has nicknamed him Mr. 45.  I loved the description of the store, the owner and the transition of the media of music. Jeremy’s conversation with Scott after his record purchases is like a comfortable walk down memory lane with references to the only 80s nighttime soap I ever watched and even a mention of my favorite grocery store chain – even though I didn’t know about it until 1999 – and I like Jeremy’s record choices.

Friday night comes and even though Scott is still a bit banged up from a fall while jogging, he and Jeremy decide to go out to the Liberty – a local gay bar.  As he’s getting ready, he listens to Kate Bush’s single Running up that Hill.  He loves the song and plays it again – 6 more times.  Amazingly, Jeremy runs into Adam at Liberty.  Their night continues after the club however 😉

Monday at work they see each other again when Jeremy completes his project, but things get weird when a female coworker interrupts their conversation and Adam clams up.  t lunch with Scott, Jeremy tell him about his time with Jeremy. Things get back on track and Jeremy decides to celebrate by getting more new music.  He is now obsessing on Kate Bush.

Things seems to be going well with work and with Adam, but then a scare with Scott and a nasty prank and the damn Wang word processors all try to get in the way of Jeremy’s happiness. But our Jeremy, inspired by the words and music of the lovely Kate Bush perseveres.

Where do I start about all the things I loved about this story?  A little context – 1986 was without a doubt one of the worst years of my life.  I was Jeremy’s age in 1986.  My dad died in 1986 a couple weeks after his 46th birthday after a long illness. I had to have my mother committed in 1986.  I was putting myself through college working as a secretary commuting 120 miles round trip every day, going to school at night and on Saturdays.  I got hired for my job because I had worked with one of the other big word processing systems just coming on in the mid-80s, the late lamented NBI, and I was really good at it.  I spent long hours on the train listening to my Walkman and in the car listening to my cassettes.  Music has always been a big part of my life and I think particularly at that shit storm stage of my life it was a huge comfort to me.  I heard Kate Bush for the first time in 1979 when I was an exchange student in Europe.  I thought she was amazing – particularly Wuthering Heights (for you Anglophiles, search YouTube for Kate Bush and Noel Fielding – Wuthering Heights – it’s amazing).

For me, reading this story was like punch in the gut, followed by a comforting hug.  Barry so eloquently captured the rhythms of the mid-80s – the big changes that were beginning in the role of technology and media in our lives in new ways, the tentative steps being taken by many towards living an authentic life and the horror and fear surrounding the AIDS epidemic.  Listening to Jeremy’s inner dialogue and slightly sarcastic nature literally felt like I was stepping back in time.  I loved his voice in this story.  Once again, I am in awe of Barry’s talent in bringing to life characters in what I can only describe as movie-like story.  Read this story. You won’t be disappointed.


CH_BeginningOfKnowledge_cvrTitle: The Beginning of Knowledge
Author: Anne Brooke
Publisher: Wilde City
Length: 12k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Erotica
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Charlie Harding Presents, Wilde City Press Erotica Week, Dark, Kink (Pain, Humiliation), Public Sex, Self Discovery
Rating: Really Liked It

BLURB

When University administrator Alan Castleton meets temporary worker and talented pianist Luke Milton, he doesn’t expect to become obsessed with the handsome young blond. But soon he is heavily involved in a passionate and angry affair, and exploring the dark shadows of his own personality in a way he’s never encountered before.

The more Alan tries to break free from his obsession, the deeper it entangles him. The dangerous split between his reason and his sexual desires threatens his peace of mind and, when the crisis point comes, he must decide once and for all the kind of life he should lead.

REVIEW

Now this is the type of erotica that I like to read! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a romp or what have you but Anne has written a darkly erotic story that is much more a story about self-discovery than a rough frame for porn without any reason. And Anne is so good at writing these types of stories. Here we have a man (Alan) who is at a point in his life of stagnancy. His relationships always fail and he’s grown to believe it’s solely because of him and his reaction is to abstain from any kind of relationship for a while and go about his life concentrating on his job. What he doesn’t expect is Luke, the new temp in his office that pushes all his buttons — the ones he learns that he’s not sure he ever wanted pushed. Luke makes him feel powerful, but only at the end of his degradation and abuse against him, and that feeling of power over Luke is at the same time addictive and dangerous.

What we have with this story is almost a character study of a man who feels powerless finding power over someone else. He learns throughout the story just how dangerous he is, but that is both because he is in denial of who he really is and that he hasn’t really dealt with his feelings and his past. I think that more than anything this is a smart story, because Anne forces you to confront your own feelings about Alan and Luke. Many will finish this story seeing the sex and pain as the focus, of one man being dragged into a world of Dominance that he doesn’t understand and finding that he revels in it. That it, and the story, is dark and sinfully sexy. I came away with something different from this story, and perhaps that’s what defines this story more than anything, your own perception of it. I found it as a story of a man, Alan, who doesn’t understand himself. He ends up in a darkly addictive spiral out of control because he never faced his issues head on. He always tries to run from them, and so they hold on to him all the stronger.

But it is worth finding out on your own. The writing here is superb. I felt as if I knew Alan intimately only a few pages into his first person narrative because for all that he’s blind to what is going on he’s starkly transparent. So I commend Anne for writing a story that is indeed knowledgable, that is informative but at the same time seductively sexy. I think you should read this one just to see what you take from it.


ConfessionsGayRugbyPlayer_cvrTitle: Confessions of a Gay Rugby Player – Part One
Author: Patrick Darcy
Publisher: Wilde City
Length: 12k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Erotica
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 5 – Over and Over
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Series, Charlie Harding Presents, Wilde City Press Erotica Week, Sports, Rugby, Athletes, Irish, Multiple Partners, Clubbing, (Semi) Public Sex, Diverse Partners, Dirty/Raunch Sex, Kink (Felching, Facials, Cumeating, Snowballing, Fighting/Wrestling), NYC
Rating: So So

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Star Irish rugby player, Conor Murphy, lives and breathes rugby. He spends his weekends playing rugby, drinking beer, and singing songs with his teammates. There is only one thing he loves more than rugby, and that is hot rugby players. But after the final whistle sounds, the real competition begins: the hunt for the hottest men.

Conor’s muscular body and roguish good looks ensure he can have his pick of the sexiest players. But what happens when this alpha male meets his match on and off the field?  Who will come out on top when he meets the horniest rugby players from the USA? Can two alpha males have the night of their lives?

REVIEW

I was a bit unsure about this erotica story as I started reading. I just needed to get in the right mindset. I wasn’t sure about how I felt about Conor, he’s a bit of an asshole. But after reading further into the story it started to not make much difference to me because I could see that the story was playing on the hot/asshole/macho/badboy type, the two alpha men going at each other. Once I figured that out and that it wasn’t about just one asshole guy out looking to screw over whoever, then it was fine with me 🙂

Conor is a Blind Side Flanker (I have no idea what the hell that is, but…) who is on a tour with his rugby team from Ireland at an international gay rugby championship in New York City. Much of the beginning of the story sets out to explain a bit of the game, in particular their semi-final match with the San Francisco team. The SF team are one of the best in the world, but they underestimate what a bunch of crazy fuckers the Irish guys are (which is a story-long sentiment, lol) and the game gets rough and stays that way until the very end. In the game, Conor makes an enemy and they continually one-up the other throughout the game. Tonio is on the SF team and is a kickass player. He’s latino, built and bronze-skinned and he gives it back to Conor as good as Conor gives it to him. So when the tournament is finalized and the teams are all headed to a night of sponsored clubbing (and fucking) by the tournament, Conor knows that he’s going to do whatever he can to find Tonio and see if he can make him his tournament-end conquest. And… it seems that Tonio has been looking for Conor as well.

This was a pretty solid erotica story, or what Patrick Darcy calls “full strength gay erotica” in the author bio. It’s definitely full strength. Take a quick look, if you haven’t yet, at the tags up above and that will give you some insight into the kind of stuff they get into in this story. It’s less about specific kinks and more about the dirty raunch, in both action and dialogue that they get up to. Even more, their sex is just like their competition on the field and they go quite a while trying to best one another in bed, which leads to some pretty hot naked wrestling. But, neither seems to be upset by what happened on the field. What happens during the game seems to be left in the game and the importance of the night is all about fun.

So, assuming that you understand by now that this isn’t romance at all, and you like to read some pretty heavy erotica that’s just a touch raunchy but doesn’t go too far really, then I’d recommend this one to you. It’s rather short, but definitely hot. And if you’re interested and like the first one, you can always continue on with Confessions of a Gay Rugby Player 2, Conor’s exploits in Copenhagen.