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

Tag Archives: Drug Use

hangingloosenewcoverTitle: Hanging Loose
Author: Lou Harper
Publisher: Self Published (Harper Books)
Length: 37,026 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: GFY/OFY, Drug Use, California, Old Hollywood, Surfer Dudes, Secrets & Lies, LA, Roommates
Rating: LOVED It!

BLURB

When you fall in love, it can’t all just be hanging loose…

After graduating from art school Nate left the Midwest for sunny Southern California, not quite sure what he hoped to find. It was almost certainly not falling in love with another man. His whole world and assumptions about himself begin to slowly turn upside down on one hot summer day. Seeking respite from the heat and his loneliness at Venice Beach he has a chance encounter with a handsome blond surfer.

Jez is friendly, easygoing, and just a little bit mysterious. Openly gay, Jez offers Nate a place to stay, and the two men become fast friends. Nate makes new friends, adjusts to his new life, but his unbidden attraction to Jez keeps growing. In their moments of closeness Nate realizes that he wants Jez more than just a friend, but it might be too late. To make Jez his, Nate has to face not only his own fears and insecurities, but his mysterious mate has secrets of his own.

Warning: Al fresco man-love, a scene-stealing old coot, and a relentless California sun.

REVIEW

Though this was Lou Harper’s first published book and the first one I ever bought of hers, it lingered in my vast online library for just under two years before I decided to start reading her backlist. You could say I caught the bug to read all of her books after reading and falling in love with Harvey and Gabe (and Denton too) in Spirit Sanguine, and that unexpected review of such a wonderful book is what made me decide to go back and read this one. It didn’t hurt, of course, that I’d only heard good things about it.

What I found when I read it (and this was the first one I went back and read), was not only that Lou had started out with some pretty good characterization under her belt but that I really liked her style. I get really upset when I so often read books that end preemptively, just when things are getting good. The best ones are where the couple plods along and you don’t just get to see the honeymoon phase but what their lives are like as an actual couple and how they deal with that. That’s what makes a real romance in my opinion, and I’ve found that the more romance I read over the years that I really need that in a contemporary romance where the central plot is the romance. That’s what I really liked about this book — it didn’t seem to follow a typical romance plot structure, which meant that it kept me on my toes.

Hanging Loose starts with Nate, a new transplant to LA. He’s unfamiliar with the way the city runs, the weather, navigating public transit, which leaves him on Venice Beach and night without a jacket and miserable. He’s approached by Jez, and while initially wary, agrees to his invitation to stay at his home. The two get to know each other and eventually come to a roommate agreement. What follows is is a pretty standard GFY, or maybe more accurately OFY story (more on that in a bit). Nate is straight and Jez is openly gay. They become pretty good friends as Nate settles in and they come up with a routine. Nate starts to make friends, one of which is the old man Jez bakes for and spends time watching over. But Jez is mysterious in a few ways. One is the attraction between the two, which Nate takes a while to understand and Jez is of course, wary of, being that Nate has until now apparently not been attracted to men. The rest is Jez’s romantic history and his family history and the tales of Old Hollywood passed down from his grandmother Adelle.

Lou mentioned in her interview with me earlier this week about the reason she first wanted to write and publish this story:

I started writing Hanging Loose after reading a GFY story I didn’t find convincing. To me, the core of the story is that sexuality is complex and there are many shades between straight and gay. Following the character’s journey coming to terms with his own nature and desires was what I wanted to explore.

That’s always been a problem for me as well, that a GFY story done right needs a depth of character study to keep the realism instead of knocking me out of the story. But I didn’t know her feelings yet when I started reading Hanging Loose, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I found was a really interesting dynamic between Jez and Nate as they first get to know one another. Right away, just in the first few pages when Nate meets Jez, he feels a little tingle of connection between them:

“I’m straight,” I blurted out at last. There was a tiny voice deep down telling me I was full of shit. I gagged it. I felt myself blushing in embarrassment as soon as the words left my lips. I didn’t even know why I just assumed he was gay…

“I won’t hold it against you,” he said, smiling…

That dynamic made it more plausible later for Nate’s sexuality to be more fluid than originally expected and I liked how Lou made that issue ultimately intersect with Jez and his history and his own secrets that he’s keeping from Nate, who in a way becomes the aggressor the future into the book you read.

This is really a “Loved It” book for me — I was with it and totally engaged through the whole read — so I don’t have any criticism at all. For a novice writer this book was simply wonderful. There’s a lot more that I really loved about this book, but in effort not to spoiler you about some pretty significant pieces of the book, I’ll mostly leave those alone to say that I thought the last 35% or so of the book was where the characters really shined… when everything is finally out in the open. One of the relationships I love the most in the book is Nate’s friendship with Arthur, which was ultimately what tipped this book up in the 5 star rating for me. I thought it was portrayed beautifully and aligned well with Nate’s development.

So, by all means do I recommend this one. Going back and reading this book wasn’t just something that I had always wanted to do but really it cemented Lou’s talent in my mind and made her forever an author that I’ll cheer on and get excited about.


lifeoftheparty immortalsymphonyovertureTitle: Life of the Party (Immortal Symphony: Overture #2)
Author: SL Armstrong & K Piet
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 15,300 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal Erotica
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Serial, Short Story, Ghosts/Spirits, Public Sex, Drug Use, Multiple Partners, m/m/f scenes, girly parts!
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

You think you know the story of Dorian Gray, but you’re wrong. The real story didn’t end the way Oscar Wilde penned; in fact, it hasn’t ended at all. The ageless beauty of Dorian Gray walks now in our world of cellphones and lattes and internet porn. His latest conquest is Gabriel Lawrence, a paranormal investigator with a secret or two of his own. But the trouble with a life as long as Dorian’s is that the skeletons are threatening to overrun the closet… and not all of them want to stay dead.

Season 1: Overture introduces Gabriel to the truth of a world he had only suspected, where ghost hunting is the least of his worries. And at the heart of it all is the mysterious and fascinating Dorian Gray, as though he’d stepped out of the pages of the book bearing his name. But if he has, he hasn’t come through alone. And this figure from a past Dorian had though long behind him bears a grudge nurtured for a hundred years and intends to tear down everything Dorian has built, a piece at a time.

Episode 2: Life of the Party
Gabriel’s first glimpse into Dorian’s lifestyle was only the beginning, and now he finds himself tumbling further down the rabbit hole. Dorian’s birthday party introduces Gabriel to some of Dorian’s friends, all as free-spirited and debauched as Dorian himself. Through them, he learns that he isn’t the first that Dorian has drawn into his web this way, not even the hundred-and-first. And yet somehow, all of Gabriel’s concerns instantly seem strangely inconsequential at Dorian’s slightest touch, fueling Michael’s fears that there is so much more to Dorian than they could guess.

REVIEW

I was both excited and a little wary of reading “Life of the Party.” This is the second “episode” in the serialized story — about a modern day Dorian Gray. He’s a man whose mysterious powers and long life have given him an extreme confidence and at this point in the story, I might say arrogance. He’s a sexual creature to the point of extreme debauchery, which Gabriel soon finds out when he attends Dorian’s birthday party, which is pretty much a thinly veiled excuse for an orgy. Every gathering is an excuse for an orgy when Dorian is around! 🙂

This second story does a pretty good job of extending and strengthening those things which stood out in the first story. Gabriel is suspicious of Dorian and who he really is, but as his proximity to Dorian fluctuations so does his reaction to him, like a drug. When Dorian is near Gabriel forgets himself and is overcome with lust enough to distract from his conscience, or better named, his brother and ghost Michael. The two brothers have an interesting dynamic when we first meet them in the first story. Michael does indeed act as Gabriel’s conscience for the most part, but with his own personality and also wary attentiveness that Gabriel not succumb to the same pitfalls in life that he did before his untimely death. While Gabriel loves his brother, you can see that he often resents him as well. Or, he is at least uncomfortable with his presence. This complicated dynamic becomes even further strained in this story. Michael is already naturally suspicious of Dorian, who he can’t figure out on a spiritual level. But seeing Dorian’s effect on Gabriel alarms Michael further in Life of the Party. Dorian’s gift of spreading lust affects Gabriel so strongly in this story that he becomes a libidinous creature that shocks him afterward. It’s a kind of dubious violation that worries Gabriel.

That realization and ultimate agreement with his brother about his suspicions causes a bit of a change in Gabriel that sets a new tone and a new direction going into the third story. I have a feeling that in the next story Gabriel is going to be a bit more cautious and a bit more insistent that he find out Dorian’s secrets.

For the most part this story carried on the same as the story before it. Though we get to see a bit of a different setting and the characters are fleshed out a bit more, there’s not a huge change yet in the character dynamics, though as I said, this story seems to be setting the stage for some kind of upcoming change. Of course, there are still orgies aplenty 🙂

I’m still really enjoying this serial and looking forward to the coming stories. I have to admit that this story started to edge closer to the line in my comfort zone, but that made this story all the more exciting for me. I never quite felt that it was in danger of going too far for me (it would have to be very, very far!), but there was a bit of a discordant mood in this story that felt as if it was perfectly set to make the reader feel Gabriel’s warring excitement and unease with the sex party and his part in it.

Part 3 of Immortal Symphony: Overture, “Ghost in the Closet”, is out now. Part 4, “Shadow from the Past”, is to be released on May 10.


VestigeLGTitle: Vestige
Author: KJ Pedersen
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 56,489 words
Genre: M/M Contemporary Paranormal Horror Romance
Heat: 3 – Mild & Sexy
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Young Adult Characters, Bisexual, Homophobia, Religious Mythology, Drinking/Drug Use (weed), High School, Hawaii, Closeted/Coming Out
Rating: Not Feelin’ It

Reviewed by Sadonna

BLURB

Josiah Halden’s life is coming apart. He’s an athletic, handsome high school senior bound for college. He should be on top of the world. Instead, he’s struggling with his sexuality and nursing a crush on John from his gym class, and he’s plagued by nightmares and impossible visions of the night his parents died—visions he fears are an early indicator of the mental illness that runs in his family.



But the nightmares are part of something more sinister than madness, something linked to the strange black iron idol of a Caananite warrior-god Josiah inherited from his father, which keeps showing up in his dreams. Josiah’s friend Makani insists the statue is “wrong”—but that’s ridiculous, isn’t it? After all, it’s only a statue….

REVIEW

When it took me several days to read this book, I knew that something definitely was not working for me. The opening prologue was quite unsettling. It read like something from a horror novel, which is a genre that I avoid like the plague. This did not bode well. What follows is a book that seemed to me to be very confused as to what it wants to be when it grows up. Horror? Coming of age/coming out? Paranormal? Religious/alien mythology? There were so many elements and so many things going on that I found myself trying to keep up with the various threads of the book and ultimately not really caring about any of them.

The main story is about a boy, Josiah Halden, whose British parents were brutally murdered and the culprit was never caught. He has been raised by his aunt and uncle on the Big Island of Hawaii (a really lovely place that you should try to visit), which is the setting of this story. He is a senior in high school and he’s in the “popular” jock crowd but he’s got a secret that is causing him a lot of angst. He is definitely not straight and he’s getting some grief from his friends. On top of that, he is on his own while his aunt and uncle are away and he’s having horrible nightmares that seem to be linked to a mysterious statue that he inherited from his parents. He is also attracted to a boy in his class, John, who is new from mainland. His friends are giving John a really hard time and he also has an awful home life that includes a lazy homophobic father. John is attracted to Josiah as well, but he is terrified of anyone knowing that he might be gay.

Josiah also has a good friend Makani who he had grown distant from over the years, but they seem to be rekindling their friendship – which has had a sexual component. Makani is also good friends with John and especially John’s younger brother. There is quite a bit of conflict with these different groups of friends for Josiah and he tries to walk the line and keep friendly with all of them. The stress of this social pressure and the nightmares are making Josiah think he is going crazy and since there is a family history, he is really concerned. He confides his concerns to Makani who tries to calm him.

Interspersed in this narrative of Josiah’s life is this ongoing “history” of the origin of the statue in question. This statue seems to be the source of the bad things that happen. I have to say that part of the story held zero interest for me. I just wanted to get through it and get on with the story. Ultimately there is a tragedy that devastates all of the boys and there is a confrontation that was pretty unbelievable to me and finally it was over.

While the population of this novel is mainly young adults (high school age boys 18 and under), I was a little surprised by the amount of underage drinking, drug use and casual sex that takes place. I know it has not been marketed as Young Adult, nor should it be for these reasons. In the end, this story just didn’t work for me on any level.


MetalHeartLGTitle: Metal Heart
Author: Meredith Shayne
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 89,044 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary, Recent Historical Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Rockers, Second Chances, 1990s, Drug Abuse, Famous, Australia, Flashbacks (one long one, first half of the book), Tattoos, The Big Mis
Rating: So So

BLURB

Scott King swore off rock stardom after his band, King Phoenix, crashed and burned. Now in his forties, Scott lives a quiet life as a music producer and session guitarist. But in a box hidden in his wardrobe lie the relics of the past he left behind—a past filled with drugs, booze, and broken hearts. For sixteen years, Scott has had no contact with his former bandmates, so when he’s asked to play at a benefit gig for King Phoenix’s old sound man, his world turns upside down. A King Phoenix reunion means a run-in with Scott’s ex, Ash Walker—and sixteen years ago, believing Ash wanted to leave the band, Scott OD’d and almost died.



Since then, Scott has ruthlessly suppressed his feelings. As a result, he’s completely unprepared for the impact of seeing Ash again, or for dealing with his emotions about the band’s demise. He definitely didn’t expect Ash to want to start up where they left off. Now Scott has to decide between his safe existence and the twenty-year-old love song that could cost him his sobriety—and his heart.

REVIEW

I had to request this for review as soon as I could because, hello.. rocker book! I, like many of you, just can’t get enough of them and it seems like there’s one every month or so that comes out (sometimes fewer, actually) and it just enough to curb my appetite until another is released. So, I started reading this as soon as I got it and it did it’s job in getting me to next month’s (hopeful) fix. I didn’t, however, love it — and the reasons are purely subjective. I’ll outline those, because in this instance I’m sure that what I don’t like about the book is something that some others will.

This story is split into two major parts. The first half of the book takes place in the 90s and covers the genesis of the band King Phoenix and the relationship between Scott and Ash. The second half of the book details their rise from ashes, not necessarily professionally, but personally. I was worried at first, because the book starts with a prologue in the present day and then jumps back to the beginning of their story (the 90s) in the first chapter, and I’m really not a fan of flashbacks. I always get nervous when I feel one coming because it takes a very talented author to juggle the art of jumping back and forth in time and lose the momentum of the story. Thankfully, this dodged that by cleanly breaking the book into two halves, which mostly worked for me, but wasn’t without adding to another difficulty I had with the story.

I felt at odds much of reading the first half. The story covers several years in the rise of the band, from their initial formation, through their bar playing days and then into superstardom and world tours. That is a large chunk of time and much of it was glossed over. I felt a bit like I was stuck between a rock and a hard place, unable to decide if I wanted more or not. Because so much time as glossed over, much of this was exposition — the author detailing what has happened since the last shift forward a few months or a year ago and then a swift narration of where things stand. More often than not there was a summary of events rather than a scene in present time. That frustrated me, because I never felt like I really got to know Scott and Ash as a couple. However, I was also thankful in a way, because they were both so.messed.up that I was reluctant for the story to completely drop into their lives. By the time of their real success their relationship has become a casualty of the rock and roll lifestyle and fears of band breakup, and I just couldn’t decide whether I could have dealt with the real angst of that situation. As it is, we see it, but because we’re somewhat removed from the situation — only getting pieces of them here and there over months and years — it isn’t nearly as intense as it could have been.

So I was happy, in a sense, when time jumped forward to the present around the halfway mark in the book. The situation the band was in, like a pressure cooker growing more dense and dangerous, was ready to explode. And I was happy I didn’t have to read the direct fallout of that. That meant, however, that the characters went their separate ways, which saved all that hurt that was never dealt with for another time. And those feelings just fester over the years. I think that this was what I had a hard time reading the most. While the author doesn’t create a classic Big Mis situation, it does have many of those hallmarks, which was frustrating for me. The Big Mis(understanding) is, of course, where characters have a falling out for lack of a better term over a miscommunication, or misunderstanding and only deal with it later, realizing how stupid they were (along with us realizing how stupid they were). And I felt like though this were a real situation, not something stupid which is where the term The Big Mis is usually awarded, it hinges on a technicality, a decision made by a few very secondary characters. I don’t think this will actually bother many readers as much as it did me, and many might not consider it a Big Mis situation at all. But the effect of those decisions by the characters and the author in how the book is paced and structured directly correlated to the amount of angst, which is my hot button.

So, that’s why this was a difficult read for me. There are parts that I certainly liked. The last bit of the book was a nice read for me, one a lot of the issues between Scott and Ash were worked out, but I never quite settled into the book and I never really warmed up to the characters. So, if you like your rocker books with a bit of angst, and maybe a tale of second chances and characters making up for past mistakes, then I’d say give this a try. And try not to gauge my feelings about the amount of angst in a book against yours, I’m probably way more sensitive than you 😉


ameetingoffateovertureTitle: A Meeting of Fate (Immortal Symphony: Overture #1)
Author: SL Armstrong & K Piet
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 16,660 words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Erotica
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 5 – Over and Over
Keywords/Tags: Serial, m/m/f scenes, England, Scotland, Drug Use, Sexy to the 999s, Ghosts/Spirits, Rich/Poor, Secrets & Lies
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

You think you know the story of Dorian Gray, but you’re wrong. The real story didn’t end the way Oscar Wilde penned; in fact, it hasn’t ended at all. The ageless beauty of Dorian Gray walks now in our world of cellphones and lattes and internet porn. His latest conquest is Gabriel Lawrence, a paranormal investigator with a secret or two of his own. But the trouble with a life as long as Dorian’s is that the skeletons are threatening to overrun the closet… and not all of them want to stay dead.



Season 1: Overture introduces Gabriel to the truth of a world he had only suspected, where ghost hunting is the least of his worries. And at the heart of it all is the mysterious and fascinating Dorian Gray, as though he’d stepped out of the pages of the book bearing his name. But if he has, he hasn’t come through alone. And this figure from a past Dorian had though long behind him bears a grudge nurtured for a hundred years and intends to tear down everything Dorian has built, a piece at a time.

REVIEW

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this first “episode” in the Dorian Gray serial K Piet and SL Armstrong have written. I’m iffy about serials — sometimes they work for me and sometimes not so much (I’d rather wait and read them all at once — but episodic releases are different than a pure serial in the way that they’re released. They’re less of a chapter release and each one tends to be a little more self-contained. That’s how I felt with this first episode. I’m even more excited to read the second episode, not only because I liked this one a lot and look forward to what happens next, but because the first release of a longer work like this will undoubtedly be a setup to the main story, which is this:

We meet many characters here and I’m not quite sure which ones will be important later, with the exception of three: Dorian, Gabriel and Michael. Dorian is now over two hundred years old and firmly ensconced in the modern age, yet still holding an old-world flair. He’s a captivating sex god, firmly holding the strings of the puppets around him in an elaborate, hedonistic dance. He meets Gabriel when the man walks in front of his limo and interrupts his blow job. Gabriel is an American, new to the UK and on his way to a new job in his paranormal investigation business. And Michael… Michael is Gabriel’s twin, dead and reappeared as a ghost in Gabriel’s mind. They share one body and work together in their paranormal job. Dorian and Gabriel meet once again and share an afternoon of sex that goes beyond what both are accustomed to. Surprising Dorian is almost impossible, but Dorian can’t seem to forget Gabriel, and his insistence that Gabriel come with him to his home in Scotland is an opportunity that will set the stage for a relationship over the series of episodes.

The first scene of this whole serial really sets the stage for is to come and especially this modern Dorian. The first scene is from the POV of a young college woman who is having sex with two men she just met, a man named Oliver and Dorian. The scene shows the level of sex and debauchery that surrounds Dorian, as well as his lack of discrimination in the gender of his partners. While I don’t usually read anything with girly parts, this didn’t bother me so much (even when there’s another scene later in the story with a different woman), because I know that it’s a small part of the real story. Nevertheless, the sex in this story pretty much blew me away. Even with that first scene I wasn’t expecting quite the level of sex in this story, but I was happy with it anyway. I’ll be interested to see in the future stories, once Gabriel and Dorian become more important to one another, how Dorian’s sexual appetites with multiple partners will affect Gabriel. I can honestly say that I have no idea what to expect of the coming stories, and that is exciting.

So, getting in on reading this new serial at this point is all up to how you feel about serials or episodic releases. If they’re not for you, then by all means wait a while and I’ll be sure to update you every month how they’re progressing. Otherwise, jump in and join me 🙂

Also, just a note about how I classified the genre in this review. Since the romance hasn’t really started yet, I’m marking this first story as erotica. It sure has enough sex for it! 😉


Title: Monkey Wrench (Were Menagerie #2)
Author: Xara X Xanakas
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 48,917 words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Series, Shifters (Monkey!), First Times, Cops/Crime, Drugs, Sexual Abuse/Assault
Rating: So So

**Beware, this review contains a big spoiler (I’ll warn beforehand)**

BLURB

Twenty-year-old virgin Aaron Thorne has a lot of irons in the fire. He’s on a career-making case investigating a new party drug that induces shifts in werecreatures, and his friend is the prime suspect. Outside of work, a literal silver fox has captured his attention. And just when life start going smoothly for Aaron, a tall, dark, scowly bobcat shifter named Iggy appears and sweeps him off his feet.

After being attacked in the course of his investigation, Aaron starts to feel like he has something to prove. It’s a good thing he’s got all the energy of his shifter animal, the spider monkey. He’s going to need it to solve the case, sort out his love life, and decide what kind of man he wants to be.

REVIEW

I really liked the first book in this series, Snakeskin Boots. It was typical shifter fare, but with some rather interesting were animals and also an awesome sense of humor (the eggplant references didn’t bother me, lol). It was also incredibly hot. This sequel is a departure from that first book in many ways, which took me by surprise. If that was the only thing about this book that changed, I wouldn’t mind so much and I’d be able to get behind this book in it’s own way. But… I found that this story had a lot of problems. The only thing that saved it from being a Not Feelin’ It rating was the first half which I really enjoyed and the involvement of Jeff and Brad from the first book, who I loved.

Aaron was introduced to us as the sweet, virginal blushing monkey shifter in the first book who had a major crush on Brad. Here, we get to know him not too long after that. He’s now a shifter cop and he and some of the enforcers of the were council are working on an undercover operation to discover the maker of a party drug that is causing shifters to lose control of their animal and shift in front of witnesses, usually at the rave where they’ve been drugged. Though he used to have a major crush on Brad, he’s become quite close to him now through his friendship with Jeff and he’s now an unofficial little brother.

Along the way we’re introduced to his friend Miles, who is a culinary school student and a regular human, a sexy silver fox named Gerry who is an uncle to one of the little boys he coaches in little league, and a scorchingly hot bartender named Iggy. All are likely candidates to his affection, but Aaron is betrayed when one of them horribly assaults him. Aaron has to deal with his embarrassment and his feelings of inadequacy over the attack because of his career as a police officer. As the events related to the undercover case progress, he’s horrified to learn that his assault might have something to do with the case they’ve been working on.

Now, SPOILERS Coming, look away if you need to!

There is one HUGE problem with this story that really affected my enjoyment of the story. I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to blurbs, because honesty, I usually don’t read a book just after reading the blurb, so I forget all but the basic story is about. Looking at the blurb now, I can see which of those “suitors” I mentioned above is mentioned in the blurb and I might have not had to deal with this mess, but I didn’t, so I didn’t know who to expect. And this is where the problem lies. Aaron is dating Gerry for most of the book and it isn’t until the book is almost over, around 70%-75% that we even meet or hear about Iggy, then Aaron feels the pull of the “mating”, or a strong connection across the crowded bar (on a date with Gerry) and he dumps one for the other. It isn’t callous, because Aaron is so sweet and earnest, but it still bothered me. We don’t get to know anything about Iggy or even see them together. And you could say that the story is really about Aaron and his evolution and all that. Sure, it is true — but I do not want to read the story expecting one character of becoming the romantic interest and finding out that another guy is waiting to take over, especially a character that we’ve never even hear of before. That really bothered me, and spoiled my enjoyment of the story.

Okay, SPOILERS Over!

Aside from that one thing (though admittedly big thing) which spoiled my enjoyment of the story in the end (makes you wanna read it now, doesn’t it?), I liked the story. The first half is especially good though there is little romance at all and the story is devoted to Aaron and his assault. I like the brotherly dynamic between Aaron and Brad and Jeff. The first book is devoted to showing the sexy side of the relationship between those two and it was nice to see a difference side of Brad here. The whole usual gang was back along with a few new characters. I think the overall problem just stemmed from a lack of direction in the story. It meandered quite a bit and seemed to decide on one path then change and choose another. I wanted it to do as the first story did quite well and choose a path and commit to it. At the very least, I really liked Aaron and his journey was quite interesting to read. I wanted him to find love and get everything that he deserved. Even though he comes across as helpless, I liked that he has a core strength and even though the assault damages it, he regains it over the length of the story. The saving grace of the story for me was the fact that Aaron changes and grows.

I would recommend this for fans of the series and author, but not on it’s own. Though it probably could be read as a standalone, it is better enjoyed after reading Snakeskin Boots and I’m not sure if I would have liked the story at all if I hadn’t read that book because it doesn’t stand up well on it’s own. And I think that the problems I had with the book are ones that most other readers will also have. So, read if you want but don’t expect perfection. I’m very much looking forward to future installments of this series, but I’m really hoping that the author can turn it around and not make the same mistakes that she made in this one. Also, just a note: there is no sex in this story, which was a HUGE change from the first book, which was packed with sex. That was okay though, even though I was a tad disappointed, because it made sense for sweet, virginal Aaron not to jump into bed and go slutty with wild abandon 😉