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

Tag Archives: Angst-alicious

RunningAwayFromSunshineLGTitle: Running Away From Sunshine
Author: Gwynn Marssen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 14k words, 55 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: 2013 Daily Dose – Make a Play, (A Bit) Angsty, Closeted, Doctors, Friends to Lovers, Grieving, Healing, HFN, Light & Sweet, Short Story, Sports (Hockey Players), Yearning
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Nikyta

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Nobody knows why ER resident Jake Nichols left California to move to cold and dark Calgary, Canada. Nobody knows Jake hasn’t always been a silent loner. Nobody in his new home knows he is gay, and nobody needs to know, since he doesn’t plan to let anyone in… until he meets Gabriel Montgomery, the carefree hockey player with the big blue eyes who just won’t take no for an answer when it comes to opening up and accepting the possibility of love.

REVIEW

This is a quick story about Jake and Gabriel and the friendship they develop. Jake is an ER doctor who seems to constantly have to treat Gabriel, an injury prone college hockey player. The crush Jake has for Gabriel is something he can live with until Gabriel learns Jake isn’t a hockey fan and brings it upon himself to show Jake just what he’s missing. As friends, they have a lot in common but Jake soon realizes that his feelings for Gabriel keep growing and it isn’t until his brother gets into a car accident that Gabriel becomes aware of Jake’s crush and things start to stir up between them.

This is one of those books that had a lot of potential but is hindered by the length of the story. I was really enjoying the beginning of it. I adored the friendship that Jake and Gabriel developed and the fun they had together. They are completely different people. Gabriel is a young college student and Jake is the older (although I’m not sure by how much) man who has a handle on life. Or so he thinks. While they’re different people they’re both adrenaline junkies and their bond becomes stronger because of that. I loved that Gabriel was so carefree because he didn’t let many things get to him, which meant he was always ready with a broad smile and a funny joke. Jake is a loner but needs the motivation to heal his broken heart and Gabriel can give him that.

I believe the moral of the story is about healing. Coming to terms with things that have happened, accepting them and moving on; stop running away and start living again. It’s a sweet, inspiring message that comes across greatly in Jake. If the story had been based solely on that, I would have enjoyed this a lot more. Unfortunately, other conflicts that were put into the story were out of place and weren’t given the proper due they deserved. For example, Gabriel being a college hockey player is in the closet. However, we don’t know this until almost the end of the story because he doesn’t act like it. Unfortunately, that kind of conflict needs to be fleshed out and I felt like this was something that was mentioned and then accepted after a brief fight. In the end, it’s still not address with much substance leaving the issue in the same position it was before the argument, which made the story feel incomplete and gave it the HFN ending. As I said, I was liking the story in the beginning but as it progressed, the author tried to push in multiple conflicts that just couldn’t fit into such a short story without being properly fleshed out.

Overall, this was a nice read. The characters are adorable and I loved how casual they were with each other but as a couple, I felt like they fell short on what they could have been. Their conflicts were just too big for the length of the read. I sincerely hope the author is thinking of making this into a series because their relationship feels incomplete to me. However, for those readers looking for something short and sweet with a tiny bit of angst, you’ll enjoy this one I bet!


ChaseTheStorm1LGTitle: 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*****

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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.

REVIEW

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 😉


The Druid StoneTitle: The Druid Stone (Layers of the Otherworld #1)
Author: Heidi Belleau & Violetta Vane
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 117,000 words
Genre: m/m Alternate World Fantasy Paranormal
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Action/Adventure, Angst-alicious, Bisexual, Emotionally/Physically Damaded, Ex-lovers, Fae, Gfy/Ofy, Injured Character, Kidnapping/Abduction, Magic, Pets, Physical Abuse, Secrets & Lies, Series, Suspense, Time Travel
Rating: Not Feelin’ It

Reviewed by Nikyta

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Sean never asked to be an O’Hara, and he didn’t ask to be cursed by one either.

After inheriting a hexed druid stone from his great-grandfather, Sean starts reliving another man’s torture and death…every single night. And only one person can help.

Cormac Kelly runs a paranormal investigation business and doesn’t have time to deal with misinformed tourists like Sean. But Sean has real magic in his pocket, and even though Cormac is a descendant of legendary druids, he soon finds himself out of his depth…and not because Sean’s the first man he’s felt anything for in a long time.

The pair develop an unexpected and intensely sexual bond, but are threatened at every turn when Sean’s case attracts the unwelcome attention of the mad sidhe lords of ancient Ireland. When Sean and Cormac are thrust backward in time to Ireland’s violent history–and their own dark pasts–they must work together to escape the curse and save their fragile relationship.

REVIEW

This story was… hard for me to get into. The world is extremely interesting. If I could rate on just that, I’d give this book five stars but I can’t because I struggled with other factors within the book.

What I liked is how desperate Sean was to stop reliving Cormac’s ex-lovers death. I also liked how shattered Cormac still is about his past. It made for some interesting conflicts between them. I also liked the chemistry they could have had together. Bits and pieces are shown but the full potential there wasn’t achieved, IMO. More than anything, I wished their relationship had been more developed because, while they might have had some attraction, I didn’t feel like there was any connection between them at all. In fact, I felt like there was always Cormac’s ex-lover that Cormac would put before anything else, including Sean, and I didn’t think that was fair to Sean, especially after everything he just did for Cormac.

As I said, the world is very interesting. It’s intriguing and captivating but I didn’t enjoy how it was handled. I was confused most of the time about what was going on. I couldn’t understand how Sean and Cormac would get into these situations, and while they were intense and interesting, it didn’t really make sense. This made reading the story difficult and I think what made the book also drag for me. I just really struggled with it. More than anything, though, the ending is what frustrates me. Sean and Cormac changed the past but nothing in the present changed. That made no sense to me at all. Also, while I found the ending very sweet, it came out of left field for me. Sean and Cormac love each other but I’m wondering how that development happened because I didn’t see it in the writing or the long journey they had together. I also really wished we got to see their time in D.C. because I felt like the ending was very abrupt in not showing that.

All in all, amazing world building but everything else I was just confused on. The events they go through and how they end up where they do, didn’t add up for me. I was confused on so many things that by the end, I was a bit disappointed by not only the journey they go on but the supposed love they’ve seemed to have developed off screen. Some people will really enjoy this one but, unfortunately, it missed its mark with me.


ExileLGTitle: Exile
Author: Lola Lebellier
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 59, 216 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Keywords/Tags: Bittersweet, Magic, Angst, Secrets & Lies, Teacher/Student
Rating: So So

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Once, in the land of Nier, five elemental spirits terrorized the land. To contain them, five humans sacrificed themselves, losing their bodies and minds. It wasn’t until decades later, when a set of restraints was formed, that the vessels could live normal lives and take their rightful places as leaders of their clans.

Now Aless of Serac, Guardian of Water, has returned from exile, a punishment for embarking on a killing frenzy when his restraints broke. He soon discovers all the restraints are breaking, and if he cannot find a solution, chaos will follow. But Aless can’t solve this problem on his own.

Though Corin of Zephyr has large reserves of mana, the trait that signifies proficiency with natural magic, he shows little aptitude for casting spells or using his power. But that doesn’t bother him as much as the threat from the breaking restraints. Together, he and Aless might find a solution—but as the restraints begin to crumble, it becomes clear that their situation is more dangerous than anyone could have foreseen: Aless, Corin, and the other guardians will face abuse, attack, and even death in their quest to save their world.

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

REVIEW

This is a somewhat difficult review for me to write, mostly because this was a difficult book for me to read. It made me a little irritable, honestly, while I was reading and I found myself taking my frustrations out in my real life, which is never good! Nothing bad, I assure you, but it made me a bit short with people. That shows just how good this author is. I promise you, I wasn’t upset because of bad writing — no, I was pretty blown away by the talent from this author I’d never heard of nor read before. My problem was with the angst.

Most of you know I have a problem with angst. And this is mostly why. I’m not sure if it’s just me, or if the same thing happens to you guys when you read a heavy book, or a book with lots of angst, but it ends up bleeding into my life and I tend to get a little depressed. I usually don’t read Bittersweet books for this reason, though I’ve been known to from time to time. Bittersweet doesn’t necessarily equate to angst, and vice versa. I didn’t actually realize this was a Bittersweet book when I picked it up, but I learned it was after I was already committed to a review, so I figured I’d give it a try anyway. And, the blurb is definitely appealing. As a fantasy fan, I was intrigued right away. And I was pretty happy with the fantasy elements as well.

My unhappiness as a reader simply hinged on on element, which was how unfairly one of the characters seemed to be treated. I assure you, part of me keeps telling myself this is ridiculous, but I can’t help it. I hate feeling slighted on a character’s behalf, and sometimes I just can’t let it go, no matter how much I try. This is a purely character driven novel. The characters actions all make sense, total sense. But because I felt like some of the angst was needless, it made me feel a bit as if the plot and some of the past history of the characters was situationally developed to create more angst. And you know, that’s good — some people love that — it’s just really not for me. So, for me, what was bittersweet about this novel wasn’t the ending, but some of the choices the author made.

Now that my very subjective part of the review is done with, I really want to give you a taste of what this book is like and about, because if this author writes another novel that isn’t Bittersweet, I’ll be first in line to read it. Many, many years ago, the world was ruled and almost destroyed by the elements — Fire, Air, Water, Earth, and Chaos. To save Nier, five humans scarified themselves, took the elements into their bodies and bound them there. But the process of having the elements inside them drove them crazy and the elements could still wreak havoc through their bodies. So these people were placed under the wells of five temples, one for each element, until some time later a woman who had fallen in love with one of the humans who held an element created a set of restraints. These metal devices were worn by the human and allowed them to function once again as part of society. A monastery was created where humans with a large amount of mana, or magical ability, could go and learn from these humans, called Masters, and over time as the humans that house the elements died, the most talented students would take over their job and house the element.

Ten years before the start of Exile Aless, who houses the water elemental Serac, lost control, broke his restraints and set off a massacre, killing other Masters and students alike. For his loss of control, he was sent into exile for ten years. Now, as he re-enters the monastery he finds things very different. Old friends are now masters, and even worse, some of the new masters are not friendly to him. Something is going on which none of the other masters will share with him. And there’s a star pupil at the school, who funnily enough seems to have no talent whatsoever. Corin can’t seem to cast a single spell but he gets special treatment anyway, and it isn’t until the old water Master returns and he becomes smitten that he finally starts to unravel all the secrets being kept, and finds out that the reason he’s being treated so special is because of the sheer volume of raw mana he possesses.

I think what bothered me most is that I didn’t really like most of the characters. A lot of my dissatisfaction reading the story was made up for from the really good writing and the great fantasy world, but in the end, I couldn’t give this higher than a So So. The problem with the characters, for me, is that no matter how much trauma they’d suffered, how difficult some of their childhoods were, they just seemed really immature to me. And I was just a little baffled that of the most powerful and important people in… the whole world basically, these were the people entrusted to the safety of every one in Neir? It didn’t make much sense to me.

If you’ve made it this far into the review, I urge you to read carefully, because I really don’t want some of what I said earlier to sway readers in any particular direction. Know if what I said would bother you personally, because in many ways I think this novel is really successful, and even more successful as a debut novel. I can’t wait to see what this author will come up with next, and I hope she continues to write fantasy. I’ll be there to try again, and hopefully have a more pleasant experience reading that one 🙂


doginthemist400x600Title: The Dog in the Mist (The Bestiary)
Author: Sylvia A. Winters
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 32,000 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Paranormal
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: The Bestiary collection, Action/Adventure, Angst-alicious, Death, Ex-Lovers, Fae, Grieving, HEA, Second Chances, (Dog) Shifters, Unrequited Love
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Nikyta

**This review may contain spoilers**

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Dorian has been favored by tragedy for what seems like his entire life. He’s lost his parents, his best friend, and now he’s lost his gran as well. As if that’s not enough, he is stalked by a black dog too large to be just an ordinary dog, and which seems to bring death in its wake. To save himself, he will have to return to beliefs that he cast away long ago …

REVIEW

Dorian is leading a very lonely and depressing life. A year ago, his best friend, Evan, disappeared without a trace and now he’s just lost his Gran. He can’t seem to find the motivation to appreciate life anymore. Unfortunately, his life starts to get very weird when he’s stalked by a big black dog that seems to bring death whenever it shows itself. When he dies, he’s given an opportunity to live again, he just has to complete one task. While doing this, he realizes the black dog that’s helping him might not be just a strange dog but someone he actually knows.

This was a hard book to read. I struggled for more than half of it. Dorian is a rather depressing individual since the story starts while he’s grieving over his Gran, in addition to grieving for Evan. His sister, Vicky, forces him to get on with his life and start living again. From the start, though, the author makes it hard to like Dorian and Evan. Dorian comes across as very dark and pines after Evan, while Evan is a complete bastard throughout the story. With that said, the story eventually becomes interesting when the fae get involved and forces Dorian to grow a backbone and save Evan.

We don’t actually meet Evan until almost the end but this story had a lot of flashbacks. Unfortunately, these flashbacks hindered the story instead of helped it move along. They were a struggle to get through because sometimes they didn’t even progress the story at all. What they ended up doing, however, was putting Evan in a bad light, showing how much of a jerk he was to not only Dorian, who was supposed to be his best friend, but to everyone else. A good portion of the book was hard to get through but, thankfully, it picks up towards the end. When I reached the point where Dorian was no longer dwelling on the past, I started to like the story a bit more (although there are still flashbacks, they aren’t as frequent). The added action that Dorian goes through boosted my enjoyment and slightly made up for my dislike of the beginning. Also, I found the ending very sweet.

In the end, this was an okay read. I can’t say that I’d recommend it because most of it was very hard endure. I was never one for flashbacks, especially ones that did not move the story along, so those were my least favorites parts of the book. The story is interesting if you can get passed the first half and finally get into the meat of the plot and I was intrigued by the world that Dorian was thrust into, as well as, what he found out about himself. There are good things and bad things to the story, so I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide if it is something they want to try.


FCS2_Episode3_500x750Title: The Flesh Cartel #3: Choices
Author: Heidi Belleau & Rachel Haimowitz
Publisher: Riptide
Length: 18,800 words
Genre: m/m, Contemporary, BDSM/Kink, Erotica, Poly, Horror
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Angst, Captive/Slave, Cliffhanger, Dark, Dub/Non-Con, Emotionally/Physically Damaged, Family, Humiliation, Non-Romance, Physical Abuse, Serial, Sexual Abuse/Assault, Short Story, Watersports
Rating: Pretty Good

Reviewed by Nikyta

**This review contains possibly major spoilers so read at your own risk!**

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The Flesh Cartel returns for a compelling second season with “Choices.” Brothers Mat and Dougie Carmichael thought nothing could be worse than being snatched from their home and brutally dehumanized in preparation for sale as sex slaves. But they learn their suffering has only just begun when they’re shipped to their new master’s home.

Professional trainer Nikolai Petrovic is a master of his trade. His ultra-rich clientele pay him to create perfectly tailored playthings, and Mat and Dougie are the latest in a long line of men who have walked into his remote mountain home as terrified victims and left it permanently altered: subdued and obedient, ready and even eager for a life of service.

To achieve this, Nikolai must take a drastically different tack with each brother. Dougie, manipulated with affection and denial. Mat, controlled by pain and fear. The one thread in common for both men is choice. Nikolai prides himself on never forcing, but will Mat and Dougie submit willingly to his vision, or will they first need to learn the price of disobedience?

REVIEW

Choices, the start of season two of The Flesh Cartel, starts off right where Auction left off. Mat and Dougie have been bought and are being moved to their new master. First, Dougie is stripped of almost all his senses, forced into sensory deprivation, he slowly starts to go mad, fearing he’ll lose his mind and they’ll break him. Mat is now the only one subjected to constant torture, abuse and rape while Mat and Dougie wait days before they can finally leave the Madame’s facility. Unfortunately for Mat, their new master, Nikolai, is almost as bad when he forces Mat to endure endless pain throughout his body brought on by drugs. Dougie is given a reprieve when Nikolai treats him like a precious toy. Treating each brother differently – Mat with pain and Dougie with care – he’s training them by giving them choices. But they must remember, choices come with consequences and it’s up to the brothers to decide what type of consequence they’ll receive.

One thing can be said about these authors, they sure know how to weave a captivating tale! Whereas the previous two stories were gruesome and intense, this story was not as bad. It still provided some moments of cruelty and abuse but most of the damage is told rather than shown and all of it through Mat’s perspective and only briefly. It seemed like most of the story is told from Nikolai’s POV and his reactions to the brothers. Whereas he must train Mat for his client, he wants Dougie, covets him it seems like. He’s under the impression when he’s done training the brothers, he’ll sell them and give them a life of contentment, something that they’ll be eager to embrace and take great pleasure in. The brothers obviously disagree but Nikolai is firm in his opinion.

Nikolai is actually a creepy person. He’s adamant he’s not a sadist or even enjoys the work he does, yet he does take great pleasure in seeing the brothers submit, especially Dougie. I find him worse than the Madame, which I didn’t realize was possible until Dougie and Mat arrived at Nikolai’s home, where Nikolai’s true colors are shown and the brothers must make their choices on how they’ll proceed. Mat fights as much as he can, as is his nature, but he’s not very successful. Dougie grows a bit of a spine but then realizes he’s in for pain and quickly reevaluates his situation.

One thing that sucks about this serial is that they literally pick up right where the last one left off. Unfortunately, because of the weeks/months in between each reading and the lack of a recap before the story starts, I was pretty much confused on what was happening in the beginning and why because I couldn’t really remember how it ended. There’s a brief mention of the auction but that didn’t help in reminding me or what exactly Dougie had done to Mat. It took a bit before I was able to recall at least the major pieces (I do have a horrible memory though lol). I won’t deny it’s still a captivating story. I was drawn into it and no matter how much I wanted to stop, I had this compulsion to keep reading. Unfortunately, that compulsion was quickly followed by disappointed when the story actually ended leaving me extremely dissatisfied. I didn’t feel like there was much progress with this segment as there possibly should have been. Considering how much weight episode one and two held, I was expecting something a bit more.

Overall, I liked the story. It’s an alluring read, well-written to the point I didn’t want to stop reading. However, with the way each story is ending, and with this one not feeling like it progressed much, I feel like I’m left with more questions and a slow sense of frustration. With that said, for those who are brave enough and have liked the first season, they’ll enjoy this one as well.