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

Tag Archives: Amber Allure

Collusion - Eden WintersTitle: Collusion
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.

BLURB

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.

REVIEW

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.


SonataFreeman_cvrkingmai

Congrats to these winners!

Sonata by AF Henley: Karl
Freeman by Clare London: Andrea M
King Mai by Edmond Manning: parisfanca

I’ve written both Andrea M and parisfanca, but if you didn’t get my email, please email me at armchairreader[dot]coleriann[at]gmail[dot]com to get a copy of your book. I’ll have to draw another name if I don’t hear from you in 48 hours.

Thank you to everyone who commented and read all three of these really wonderful posts! AF Henley’s guest post (“Kids in Fics”), Clare’s guest post (“The Unreliable Narrator”) and Edmond’s guest post (“Opening a Man’s Heart”).

Buy Links:

Sonatahttp://www.lessthanthreepress.com/books/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=90&products_id=487
Freemanhttp://coleriann.com/2013/07/19/opening-a-mans-heart-a-guest-post-by-edmond-manning-giveaway/
King Maihttp://www.amazon.com/King-Mai-Lost-Founds-ebook/dp/B00DXMVCO0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374860796&sr=8-1&keywords=king+mai+manning


cover3_frontCH_BeginningOfKnowledge_cvrpaintingintherainblindedbyoureyessympathy03 SurfeitCH_TruckerFucker_100dpi_cvr

Click the links to enter these still open giveaways!

Taboo For You by Anyta Sunday – Ends Tonight!
The Beginning of Knowledge by Anne Brooke – Ends Tomorrow (7/27)
The Art Appreciation Blog Tour – Ends Tomorrow (7/27)

  • Painting in the Rain by Dev Bentham
  • Blinded by Our Eyes by Clare London
  • Sympathy by Jordan Castillo Price

Surfeit for the Senses (Appetite #3) by Talya Andor – Ends 7/28
Trucker Fucker by Barry Lowe – Ends 7/28


AcademicPursuitsTitle: Academic Pursuits
Author: Lou Harper
Publisher: Amber Allure
Length: 29k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Lou Harper Week!, Hot College Daze collection, College, Playboy/Manslut, Straight Men, Multiple Partners, Awesome Female Characters, Art, Artists, Self-Discovery Focus
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Jamie Brennan is putting “cad” back into academia!

The son of a well-to-do family and blessed with both dark good looks and buckets of confidence, Jamie lives for the chase. He has a well-deserved reputation around college as a seducer of straight frat boys. No man is off-limits to Jamie—he’s happy to help fellow gay students out of the closet, too. He even has lustful designs on his oblivious English professor, so it’s no surprise that his amorous pursuits often land him in sticky situations.

There’s just one flaw in Jamie’s perfect world—Roger Hunt. The hunky grad student, who dresses more like a lumberjack than the talented artist he is, gives Jamie hostile looks every time their paths cross. Jamie tries to ignore Roger, but they can’t seem to stop running into each other, and Jamie’s beginning to wonder if it’s more than chance that continues to steer them down the same halls…

REVIEW

The reviews are coming… slowly! But I’m getting there, slowly but surely 😉 I have to admit that this was one of the books that I read back in May when I decided to review Lou Harper’s backlist that I read immediately because I already had it and then promptly forgot to review it. I had an oopsie moment this week when I started to write the review because I’ve read so many college themed stories in the past few months that I wanted to be sure I completely remembered everything. And that’s kindof a big deal when you think back to how well you remember books that you’ve read because how much you remember the book and how you felt about it says what impact it makes on you. So when I opened the book again for a little refresher read, it immediately came storming back to me.

I wrote a review yesterday for Hanging Loose where I talked quite a bit about my happiness that that book took the plot completely through the romance, instead of stopping early on in their relationship. Of course, there is an exception to every rule — no author or book is the same. But, I’ve read quite a few books that just take the story up to the honeymoon phase and then leave things at that, and my disappointment when at that point the book often feels unfinished. Academic Pursuits is the one major exception to that, in that this book is really about self-discovery over the romance and your feelings about this book will most likely depend entirely on how you like Jamie. We first meet him while he’s initiating Hollins, another straight frat boy, into the joys of gay sex, something he’s grown quite the reputation for. But Jamie isn’t really that great at reading situations or people, which shows in his ignorance of how some people at his college view his promiscuity. And the promiscuity really suits Jamie just fine. He loves sex and he’s rather charming and good looking, and he certainly makes no mistake about what sex with him entails. In fact, he often makes sure that he’s not leading a guy along. He makes no excuses because he’s rather happy with his life and the way he lives it. It isn’t really until he meets Roger that those perceptions start to change. At first, all he knows about Roger is that the man seems to hate him, which is a shame because the artist is really pretty sexy. It isn’t until the two run into each other enough to finally really start getting to know the other, when they can break down the facade they both see in the other.

I really kindof liked Jamie because he’s so at home in his skin. He makes no secret of his sexual liaisons nor his intentions. He isn’t playing anyone. He just likes sex and has no need to settle down. Nor has he met anyone yet that he feels that way about. I totally got that. But that also means that he has sex with multiple partners, even after he’s met Roger. So for those who really like their main characters to stick with each other and to have a pretty pure romance plot, this might not be your book. For most of the book, he and Roger aren’t together. The course of their romance on-page is in the barely getting to know you’s, and then later in the book Jamie’s change in perception about his feelings for Roger, what that means for him, and his understanding about Roger’s perception of him. This really is a book of self-discovery. Jamie is spending his college years having casual sex and it is only with serious feelings for someone that he starts to understand how others might have viewed him, and also how he wants to change. Not really because his behavior was bad, but because it just doesn’t suit him anymore.

I’ll let you discover the details yourself, but there’s a lot else in this book to like, like his cousin/roommate Jo who is totally awesome, and his own matchmaking efforts for her and for some of his conquests. And you know, for a guy in college, his sexual portrayal is pretty spot-on, you know? The whole reputation as a seducer of straight frat boys might put a funny spin on the situation, but I liked that this was a pretty accurate portrayal of college life.

So, don’t miss out on this one folks. It’s pretty short at 29k words and it’s a fun read. And I didn’t even feel like I needed a sequel!


WitnessProtectionTitle: Witness Protection
Author: Derek Adams
Publisher: Amber Allure
Length: 15k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Roamnce
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, GFY/OFY, Mafia, Cops, Crime, WITSEC, Insta-Love, Archetypes, Ex-Cons, In the Woods
Rating: Not Feelin’ It

BLURB

Ex-con Tony Bradshaw drops into a convenience store on his way home after work, looking for a loaf of bread. What he finds instead is trouble. Overnight, he becomes the star witness in the murder trial of a major mob enforcer. Death threats quickly follow, and Tony’s life is completely disrupted.

Tony is hustled off to a secluded cabin in the woods with bodyguard Alec Dubinski, a handsome young detective who at first appears to be a complete homophobe. Relations between them start off poorly and soon hit rock bottom during a drunken stupor. But after Alec apologizes for his unacceptable behavior, the sexual chemistry between the men can no longer be ignored. A night of unbridled passion leads to a declaration of their growing affection for one another.

Their idyll in the woods is brought to a halt, however, when their hideout is brutally attacked by mafia henchmen. What sacrifice is Tony willing to make as he attempts to save the man he has come to love?

REVIEW

It wasn’t until I finished this story that I checked and realized I haven’t actually ever read anything by Derek Adams before. I have plenty of his stories, but I’ve never gotten around to reading one of them. Now, I can’t say that my feelings about this story have any bearing on the quality of writing in those other stories, but I suspect that had I read anything by this author before last week, when I decided to get this from Amber Allure for review, I might have taken a pass. And honestly, I wish I had.

Tony Bradshaw has had a rough life. Problems at home manifested in his juvenile delinquency at an early age. And once he’s in the system, it’s almost impossible for Tony to get out of it. Criminal habits and a harsh reality of his place in society result in a vicious circle, of a world that continually admonishes Tony for his lack of worth while at the same time actively helping him to fail. Bad behavior and stupid choices as a teenager lead to his need to rob, steal and sell his body to survive as an adult. Tony is the first to admit that while he may have had few choices at that time, it doesn’t negate the fact that with the choices he did have he always chose the worst ones. And Tony knows even more how your image can control who you are and the choices you have.

Tony is on a first name basis with many of Seattle’s cops, and the older cops that know him by name and reputation seem to delight in reminding him that while he has his life together now they’re just waiting for him to slip up so they can remind him of who they know him to be. Having such a bad reputation with law enforcement makes it even harder for Tony to bear what is happening to him now. What Tony thought was a small altercation on a dark street corner turns out to be the smoking gun that cops need to bring down one of the key components of an organized crime ring. He’s in real danger and an obvious target before he can testify in the trial. Now that Tony is an honest citizen, he does his duty and tells the cops what he saw. The cops, on the other hand, only grudgingly give him protection. They send him and a cop by the name of Alec to a cabin in the woods until the trial can be brought together. Tony’s reward for his candor is a one way ticket into WITSEC.

What was a somewhat unoriginal plot (which is pretty obvious from the blurb) was made even worse by choppy writing, superficial characters and a plot that never really went anywhere. By that, I mean that several factors came together in an unfortunate way. The writing itself relies heavily on summary instead of active scene, which we’re given in several info dumps. There are also large gaps in time that end up being gaps in plot because of the lack of transition between parts of the story and in character growth. Most frustrating for me, aside from the lack of growth in the characters, was the stilted dialogue that seemed like something the characters would never say. Also, without showing any of the internal process, one of the characters makes a drastic 180 that really kind of baffled me. And last, I was curious to see how the author would write the end scene. It’s pretty obvious from the blurb what is going to happen. Ultimately, I found the ending completely anticlimactic and the characters actions so apart from their real person that I just really couldn’t understand them at all.

To be quite honest, I really wouldn’t recommend this story — not even if you’re a fan of Derek Adams. I’m sure some people will like this story, but with so many obvious flaws, I think that’s a small percentage of readers.


ThreadbareGypsySoulsTitle: Threadbare Gypsy Souls
Author: TA Chase
Publisher: Amber Allure
Length: 52k words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Western Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Shifters (Wolves), Lone Wolf, Cowboys, Secrets & Lies, Alpha Men, Bikers, Gangs/Clubs, Drug Use/Addiction, Injured Character, Organized Crime, First Times
Rating: So So





BLURB

Nashville Rocky Rhodes roars into Fallen Creek on his motorcycle one day, and nothing is ever the same again…

Nash is trying to find his path in life, after leaving Nashville and his biker gang in the dust. Fallen Creek, Wyoming, isn’t where he plans on spending the rest of his life, but it’s a nice place to rest for a while, and take stock of his life. Yet Nash has secrets he doesn’t want to share with anyone, especially not a taciturn, scarred cowboy.

Cullen O’Murphy is a lone wolf, and he’s been fighting a losing battle against the local shifter pack. He doesn’t want to become part of their pack, not knowing what they do for a living. Cullen’s not afraid, since he knows he can defeat the Alpha, but he doesn’t want to lead. He simply wishes to be left alone.

One night, Cullen goes for a drink at the Watering Hole, a local bar, and he meets Nash. The lust is combustible, yet both men are leery about trusting the other with all their secrets. Unfortunately, neither man might have a choice as circumstances spiral out of their control…

REVIEW

I picked up this story for a very particular reason — I wanted something rather simple and easy to read. Generally, shifters fulfill that quota. And I know from past reading that I can usually count on TA Chase to provide a satisfactory read that doesn’t push me to pay attention too much. It’s actually been quite a while since I read anything by TA Chase. Probably a year and a half, at least! So, after spending three weeks sick in bed and reading only Harry Potter and watching the whole series of Merlin, I needed something easy to dip my toes back into the m/m pool. I chose Threadbare Gypsy Souls.

Nashville is a tough looking’ dude. He’s immediately confronted by the Fallen Creek sheriff when he rides into town on his bike, covered in leather and looking like he came out of the bad end of a beat-down. And he looks like trouble. The truth is that no matter how gentle his nature seems, Nash has some secrets, some that don’t make him look very good and some that could come back and bite him on the ass. He’s running away from the town he’s named after, where he lived his whole life and was the Sergeant-at-Arms for a Bike Club after spending months in the hospital. He’s not really up to a long ride, but Nash deemed it prudent to get out of town fast and quietly, and started making his way to California to visit his mother. But the road isn’t kind to his still-healing injuries and he stops in Fallen Creek to take a few weeks to rest up before the rest of his journey.

But almost as soon as he comes into the town, running from trouble, he gets mixed up in Fallen Creek’s resident trouble. Stopping for a drink at the Watering Hole, he meets Jeanette, the owner and sticks up for her when her bartender stops in drunk and moves to attack her. The problem is that drunken Clay gets away with just about whatever he wants, simply because of his brother, Robinson, who pretty much rules the town. But, Nash has never backed down from a bully before, so no matter how many dire warnings he gets about getting on the bad side of Robinson, the local drug-dealer who has an inordinate amount of influence on the town, he refuses to back down. This earns him the respect of another powerful man in town, Cullen O’Murphy. But where Robinson is influential because of the power he holds over the town, Cullen is simply powerful. A natural Alpha wolf, Cullen could challenge Robinson at any point and take over the pack, the town’s big secret, but as a natural and life-long lone wolf, he doesn’t want to be in that leadership position. He’d rather have his small ranch and his comfortable life to look forward to the next day.

But Cullen will have to step in sometime soon. Robinson is even further out of control. Finding themselves on the same side of the line in the sand, they’re natural allies and even more, can’t stay away from one another. But keeping secrets from each other doesn’t make for a happy relationship, no matter how much they’re trying to avoid one.

For the most part, I got what I wanted from reading this novella. It was certainly a relatively easy read — no angst, some fun action/fight scenes, two beefy alpha types and some super hot sex. But while it was nice for the kind of read I wanted at that point in time, in the great span of m/m romance, it was only really so so. The book felt rather lopsided, in the sense that the pace, plot and style changes somewhat in the last 30-40%, leaving me feeling like I ended the book just at the point where everything came out in the open but that the relationship hadn’t settled quite yet. The biggest problem I had, however, was in the characters of Nash and Cullen. I really liked them for the first half to 60% of the book. They have pretty firmly outlined personalities, both rather dominant (though in bed Nash turns slightly submissive, so there’s no real head-butting in the sex). And I felt like I knew them rather well. Then, there’s a point (no spoilers) where one of them reveals a rather big secret that really surprised me (I felt like it hadn’t really been foreshadowed, though of course others might not be as surprised as me) and it made me feel uncertain about who that character really was, and their dynamic together that had already been worked out. Furthermore, I felt like the reveal of that secret could have been worked in better. I would have liked to be able to look back and see concrete evidence about the way the wind was blowing. So that, the timing felt off. I would have really liked to have hit that point in the story and gotten the feeling that everything came together for me. Instead, it felt off beat. More than that, I never really felt like they dealt with those secrets, instead they just seemed to… get over it.

Still, most of the story was fairly enjoyable. TA Chase is a solid author who has plenty of work already out there and a sufficient enough reputation that most of you will have probably read at least something written by her. So you’ll probably know what to expect when you pick up one of her books. If you’re a TA Chase fan, then by all means, pick this one up to read. Otherwise, I’d only really recommend it to those who fluff or sweet and easy reads, combined with shifters and cowboys. Both are in plenty of abundance!


AdmiringJesseTitle: Admiring Jesse
Author: Shawn Lane
Publisher: Amber Allure
Length: 6,000 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Valentine’s Day, Secret Admirer, Friends to Lovers, HEA, College
Rating: Pretty Good

Reviewed by Sadonna

BLURB

Jesse is used to Valentine’s Day passing without finding his own sweetheart. But suddenly he starts receiving gifts from a secret admirer.

With encouragement from his too-sexy roommate, Gilbert, Jesse opens himself to the idea that someone is actually interested in him. Though he has doubts, Jesse can’t help but wonder if his admirer could finally be the man of his dreams.

REVIEW

This is a very cute short story about a young college guy, Jesse. He lives with his cousin’s best friend, Gilbert, after his cousin has moved out. He also works and attends the local community college. Gilbert is a gorgeous swimmer and Jesse has had a crush on him forever, but thinks he’s way out of his league. He’s never had a real Valentine before and since he’s on the smaller side, he doesn’t think anyone will be interested in him. But three days before Valentine’s Day, he starts getting little presents – a box of expensive truffles, a carnation in his favorite color, a lava cake at his local coffee spot. Then he receives a gift with an invitation to dinner on Valentine’s Day at a nice restaurant. As he’s getting ready, the doorbell rings and there is a surprise waiting for him that he can’t believe. It turns out he’s known his secret admirer all along, but he still doesn’t think it’s real. I won’t spoil the rest of the story, but let’s just say it’s a memorable Valentine’s Day for Jesse and the start of something good.

We definitely get a sense of Jesse’s self-esteem issues in this story since it’s told from his point of view. We don’t have quite as clear a picture of Gilbert, but what we do know is good. I would have liked to know more about him, but it really doesn’t detract from the story. It’s a really cute and romantic story that will leave you with a smile.