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

Tag Archives: Dub/Non-Con

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.


lyricsoflove400Title: Lyrics of Love
Author: Angelina Aniyha
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 50k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Musicians/Rockers, Love Triangle, Famous, GFY/OFY, Bisexual, Bicurious, First Times, Dub Con
Rating: Not Feelin’ It

BLURB

Performing in a club one night, the last thing Steve expects is for the effort to actually pay off. But a popular band has just lost its lead vocals and their manager, after hearing Steve, thinks he might just be the perfect replacement. The only problem is Nero, the band’s rhythm guitarist, who seems to want absolutely nothing to do with Steve for reasons he won’t explain.

REVIEW

I’m always up for a good rocker book, and I’ve noticed that, for some reason, the rocker theme is common among new authors. Maybe because so many people love it? And, maybe it’s just that it’s the common theme I’ve noticed most, among several others. But, whether Angelina Aniyha has written before, this is definitely the first time I’ve come across her work. But hey, it’s a rocker book! So, I dove in. And, for the most part, I was disappointed. I’ll explain why after I introduce the story.

Steve has been the frontman and lead singer for his band for a long time now. They’re not really going anywhere, but that’s okay with Steve. His passion is music and singing, not fame, and he’s the glue holding the band together, the others all have similar feelings. So he’s surprised when a manager of popular band Fate calls him up and convinces him to fly out to LA and audition for their band. Fate has lost it’s previous lead singer to alcohol, drugs and a bad attitude. But going into an already established group brings it’s own difficulties — mostly fitting into an already cohesive family.

Nero doesn’t make that any better. The surly guitarist of the group, he’s the head of the group, or he at least thinks of himself that way. And his decision goes. Being trumped by their manager to have Steve join pisses Nero off, and what Nero is best at is holding a grudge. He does pretty much everything he can think of to not welcome Steve to the group, no matter how much he grows to like him over weeks and months of rehearsal and recording.

But Nero is surprised with the turn in his thoughts when everyone starts remarking about how “pretty” Steve is. Bassist and bicurious Jon can’t stop talking about wanting to make out with him, and worst of all, signs point to Steve having a secret boyfriend (when no one even knows which way he swings). The worst part is that the man in question is both Nero’s enemy and idol, incredibly famous guitarist from another band, Bruce. But nothing will happen, including a cohesive band family, unless Nero can get over his problems and welcome Steve to their group. It just sucks that now he can’t keep his mind off of welcoming Steve to his bed as well.

I think that the real problem with this story is the writing. I don’t want to discourage the author either. And that’s why I mentioned that I don’t know anything about this author other than my presumption that they’re new to writing. I think the author should practice more (which means to keep writing!) because I really think that there were kernels of good pieces in this story, but the writing itself was awkward, as if the story was approached from a “telling the story” view rather than by constructing scenes and stringing them together. There was way more telling, rather than showing and the voice of the characters (in narration and dialogue) was often awkward. The point of view is third person but incredibly close to the characters, so some of their voices bleed into the narration and there are different point of view “sections” for different characters.

There are quite a few other things that bothered me actually, but I don’t want to get nitpicky. The other real problem I found with the story was the love triangle. Having a love triangle isn’t bad in and of itself, though I know some of you readers avoid those books at all cost. I don’t mind so much, but I think in general there must be a real balance between the two suitors (in this case Bruce and Nero, with Steve as the fulcrum). There needs to be a building relationship of some kind between Steve-Bruce and Steve-Nero, and in this case it seemed pretty off balance. Most of the romantic bits are spend between Steve and Bruce and Nero only really starts opening up to Steve in the last third to fourth of the book. Going further, we’re presented with an outline of Nero and we certainly get to spend a lot of time with him, but I never felt like we got to dig deep and really understand his particular neuroses, though we see quite a bit of them. There’s some mention of past trauma in his family, but it’s never approached again. And Bruce. Bruce, Bruce, Bruce. *sigh* Honestly, he made me want to barf. I’m not sure if the author was trying to present Steve with Nero, in all his surliness and with major problems, as an even better catch than the other guy so they made Bruce that skeezy, but that’s the way it seemed to me. He’s full of himself, totally predatory and I felt like he took advantage of Steve. He preyed on his emotional vulnerability in his isolation from his band. There’s even a scene (the first sex scene, and first time for Steve) that I felt was firmly straddling the dub-con line. Steve keeps thinking that he wants Bruce to stop. We know he isn’t comfortable with going forward, but… it continues.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I had some pretty big problems myself with Steve, and I’ve seen a couple other people say the same. He’s a major pushover. I got it at first. He’s totally nervous to open up to this band that doesn’t want to accept him. But after months and months in LA and he hasn’t even tried to acclimate to his new home or make friends or anything? He’s completely passive in life and in the story, waiting on all the other characters to make his decisions for him. And by the end of the book, I just didn’t like him much.

So, I really can’t recommend this one. I will definitely look forward to what this author might write in the future, however. I hope she continues to write and gets better at her craft. I will probably even read something else she’s written in the future. But, I will definitely be more circumspect before picking up the book.


subject19Title: Subject 19
Author: Todd Young
Publisher: Self Published
Length: 119,112 words
Genre: m/m & m/m/m (and more) Contemporary Erotica
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often (actual sex), Over and Over (or sexual situations)
Keywords/Tags: First Times, Twinks, Slave/Captive, Kink, Medical Kink, Dub-Con (may be considered Non-Con*), Machiavellian Madmen, an Inappropriate Use of Billiard Balls, this book is like being stuck inside of an Escher painting.
Rating: Um… Pretty Good, I think…
buttonsmashwords

**Beware — there are a few small spoilers in this review**

BLURB

Joel is young and lonely and a little oversexed. When a thief leaves him naked at the beach, he turns to Sean, a striking, dark-haired stranger for help.

Sean offers Joel a towel, and once they get talking, he tells him all about the Umberto Institute, a medical facility where they’re testing a new aphrodisiac. Sean is signed up for a three week, live-in trial.

A new aphrodisiac? It’s not something Joel really needs. But when Sean tells him they’re paying $4,500, he starts to think.

$4,500 and three weeks with Sean? That’s not an offer he can refuse. But once Joel is in the institute, will he ever get out?

REVIEW

I have read one book by this author before, Corrupted, and to be honest it wasn’t my favorite. It’s erotica, as is this, but it was pretty messed up. I mean, I like to read some messed up, but that one I just couldn’t get into. I didn’t even realize it was the same author until after I bought this, but the intriguing blurb and reviews that I read on Goodreads made this seem like a book that just could not be described or categorized. Well, I’m going to try. It was….. *5 minutes later* oh yeah, sorry, can’t do it.

I’ll just tell you what I think, why don’t I? I loved it! I can’t give this that highest rating, because it isn’t perfect and I didn’t love it, love it. But my reading experience was so unexpected and interesting that I can’t help but recommend this to readers interested in something different and not afraid to take the plunge into one acid trip of a book.

The story starts with our narrator Joel at the beach. He’s 19 and finishing up his first year at college. He’s from a small hometown, raised by his aunt after his parents died in a very religious household. Though she’s very loving (almost too loving), Joel is still having a difficult time separating himself from that ultra-religious upbringing and settling into his new life in a city and at college. But, Joel is pretty strange. Though he’s nice and frankly beautiful, he’s oddly inept at making friends. One year of college down, Joel doesn’t really have any friends at all. They all seem to be attracted to him, like bees to honey for his soft beauty, but none of them stick and Joel wonders if he has nothing inside of him, no reason for anyone to stay. His solitude has fed some of his odd idiosyncrasies. Combined with his abnormally large sexual appetite (he’s even hornier than a typical 19 year old man), these have become secret games that Joel plays — jerking off in public places and casually revealing borderline nudity in public — all of them sexual.

It is during one of these games that Joel meets Sean. Wearing nothing but a skimpy white pair of shorts, Joel decides to take a swim in the ocean at a crowded beach. After beating off in the water, he’s a bit embarrassed that his horniness got him into a situation where he now has to walk in front of all the other beach-goers with a hard on in a see through pair or short shorts. The only thing worse than trying to ignore the stares is finding all of his belongings gone — his money, his phone and his extra clothes. Fleeing to the showers, he meets and has an encounter with a beautiful, curly haired guy named Sean, who then offers him the use of his home, phone and shower. While there, Sean tells Joel about a medical study he’s going to participate in. It is only three weeks long, pays $4,500 and is for young men who are abnormally horny. Even better, Joel is excited at the chance to maybe get to know Sean better, and a three week period stuck in the same situation sounds wonderful to him. The other alternative is his return to live with his aunt for the summer.

Joel quickly makes the decision to participate in the study and goes for the requisite tests. A lot happens during this time. He has his first sexual experience with a strange man down the hall from his dorm, he gets blown off by Sean when he wants to see him again, and he finds that though the tests were a little strange, the contact for the study seems on the up and up. Still, he has a strange feeling about it. But getting another chance to see Sean easily sways his decision, and Joel finds himself showing up for the first day of the study to find Sean and the strange man who he was intimate with in his dorm just a few days earlier.

The subjects in the study soon find that what they expected is nothing like reality in the institute. They’re being given medicine that is supposed to increase their sex drives, but it has a stronger effect than expected, and a laundry list of side effects. Really, really severe side effects. Are all of them even being given the drug? While they get to know one another and the conditions of their drug trial seem to affect their behavior, among other things, they soon become like pawns in a game, for a mysterious man’s amusement. Or is that the case at all? And whom is really on whose side? Does Sean return Joel’s feelings?

First of all, though this is erotica and at times I was worried because it started to get kinda dark, it does have a happy ending. It’s really hard to review this book, because it’s so strangely weird I just want to tell you all what happens. I can’t do that (unless you want me to and in that case email me, I’ll spill!), but I can tell you that this went to places I never expected. And there is a relationship here, several of them in fact with all of the different characters who are subjects in the study, they just aren’t the main focus of the story. So while there are parts that are…. somewhat romantic, it isn’t really a romance. In the same vein, though, it isn’t the typical erotica that you’d expect. For most of the book, there isn’t really penetrative sex, and most of the times that it does happen on screen, it isn’t with Joel, our narrator. Most of all it’s just highly sexual and with a lot of sexual tension.

In the end I was really glad that I read this. It was a trip, for sure, and it was a nice change from the status quo of reading romance books. It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure, but if you are at all interested then I say go for it. I couldn’t put it down, mostly just because I couldn’t wait to find out how more outrageous it could get!

*Note: I added the dub-con/non-con/rape tag because there are instances in the book where people have sex with drugged up people, and some people who are out of it. Usually they’re under some kind of influence themselves, if not mind-altering then behavioral. It didn’t really bother me and I found the situation (one specific one I’m thinking of for this tag) to be more in line with dub-con. But that’s semantics, really.


heaven400Title: Something Happened on the Way to Heaven
Editors: Samantha Derr
Authors: Isabella Carter, Sylvia Winters, Elizah J Davis, Kayla Bain-Vrba, Evie Kiels, Megan Derr, Debora Day, May Ridge & Sasha L Miller
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 208k words
Genre: m/m & f/f Contemporary Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Keywords/Tags: Anthology, Short Stories, Angels, Demons
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Archangels. Guardians Angels. Cherubim. Angels of death, wrath, vengeance, love, peace, and hope. Fallen Angels. Nephilim. The lore of angels is wide and varied, from battles lost and won, to duties fulfilled and failed, from men raised up to their ranks, and angels banished forever from the heavens. They can be fierce warriors and gentle guides, heralds of joy and tragedy. They are beings of fearsome power, and the highest of servants.

But what else can angels be? What happens when they soar too high or dive too low? Are they flawless in their servitude, or cursed and blessed with free will? Come read these tales of angels in some of their many incarnations…

REVIEW

I meant to post this review this morning, but I forgot. Sorry about that! So, here it is now. I usually have a very specific format for reviewing an anthology, and it can be very taxing to review. Essentially, I review each story separately, and it’s like doing however many reviews all in one, which takes a lot of time. Since I’m not actually contracted for a review for this one, I just wanted to share my thoughts with you, I’ve cut them a lot shorter, but I still put all the details down for each story so that you get that individual information and ratings for each one. With 10 stories, that was just too much to write as much as I normally do!

In all, I really enjoyed this anthology. I wasn’t quite sure I would at first. I read the first story as a serial (this anthology has been being published chapter by chapter for a LONG time now) and sadly, the first story wasn’t my favorite of the lot, though it’s not a bad story. Angel stories tend not to be my favorite, but I was really surprised and delighted by the sheer diversity of stories, themes, plots and uses of angels in this story.

The anthology is $9.99, which is a pretty steep price, but for some readers I think the price is well worth it. For fans of these authors, fans of Less Than Three Press, or fans of angel stories, I think that you’ll like this. It’s over 200,000 words, well over 600 pages in PDF format, and has ten stories, some novellas by some really wonderful authors. Some of these stories were really wonderful, one in particular, “On Wings Not My Own” by Evie Kiels, which I just really loved. I read it twice. A few others were really wonderful. Sasha Miller’s addition, capping off the anthology, is a similar type story we get from her and the type that I love. The angels are very non-traditional in this historical, magical mercenary story. Megan Derr brings us back into the Dance series (which I love and I know many of you do as well). And Kayla Bain-Vrba gives us a very dark tale of fallen angels in a post-apocalyptic, post-Rapture world of broken civilization and the worst of human nature.

Now, here’s the individual information for each story, with just a bit of summary for each.

**Note: The third story in the anthology, “One for Sorrow” by Sylvia A Winters, is f/f, which I didn’t read. So it isn’t included in the review.


Sunburnt Country by LJ LaBarthe (So So)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Demons, Australia, Good vs. Evil

This wasn’t my favorite of the anthology, but it’s a good story to start off with and we get to see a type of angel in this story which is traditional in a way, yet larger than life and really powerful. The setting here, the far west of Australia, was perfect.

James has finally gotten over the death of just about everyone in his life, including his lover, after moving to the far west of Australia. He’s become part of the family of the small town and works various jobs for them all. He’s accustomed to having a life of migraines, but the one that starts at the beginning of this story is the worst he’s ever had, and he doesn’t understand why until a beautiful man with wings shows up and explains to him that he has an ability to hear the speech of demons, several of whom are inhabiting the area after stealing a very dangerous book.


A Better Ending by Isabella Carter (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Fallen Angels, Demons, Nephilim, Good vs. Evil, Mystery

Isabella Carter is an author who I’ve really grown to like. Her serialized novel, A Shadow of a Dream also just finished at Less Than Three Press and was released today, and I really liked it. This story was another in this anthology that stood out, and gives us a very interesting take on the process of angels falling and the sometimes inexplicable unfairness of Heaven.

Ainsley is mortified when he catches a story on the nightly news while cooking himself dinner. An unidentified woman has been found murdered in an alley and police are looking for anyone who can identify her. He can’t believe that the woman could be his friend Eleanor, but it is. Now, he has to explain what he knows about her to the police. One of the detectives assigned to the case is intense, and Ainsley seems to have some sort of connection to him. As they get to know each other, Ainsley starts to learn more about the detective, who is much more than he seems and is harboring a personal history and connection to the killer.


One for Sorrow by Sylvia Winters
Keywords/Tags: f/f


The Lost Angel by Elizah J Davis (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Nasty Exes

Alex has been able to see and talk to angels since he was five years old. But the world has changed and angels aren’t needed as much anymore. Through is life, Alex seemed to reveal a talent for finding people that needed angelic intervention, so he bought a bar, named it The Lost Angel, and every night a whole host of angels show up to make bids for those that walk through the door. The bar seems to have a knack for attracting people who need help, and they’re never seen again — that’s the mark of a job well done. When Finley shows up, newly dumped by an asshole boyfriend who stole all his money, Alex seems someone that he wants to help, despite his angels’ feelings.

This was a very cute story and I really liked these characters. Seeing Alex and Finley get to know each other slowly and fall in love while working at the bar together was really nice and this came out as one of the stories I remembered best.


Watch as My World Ends by Kayla Bain-Vrba (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Post Apocalyptic, Religion, Mythology, Dictators, Rent Boys, Slaves, Dub-Con

I mentioned this story earlier in the main part of my review, and it’s definitely the darkest story of the lot. It also has some of the very best worldbuilding. Growing up in a southern Baptist church, a lot of emphasis was given to the Rapture and the Apocalyptic Literature of the Bible. I always found the thought of the world and people left behind rather interesting, and I was delighted to see a story that really explored that thought, but not from a human perspective (though there is a small part from a human POV), but from two angels. This was another really great story in the collection.

Nathan (“Ephraim”) was created in the third generation of angel creations by God, but fell when he questioned his orders to slaughter and kill humans, including children. As such, they tore out his wings and he was left at the mercy of the civilizations created after the Rapture. Falling up on the mercy of the leader of such a city, while waiting for the seven years of plagues to end before all were sentenced to death, Nathan becomes the town’s whore, not allowed to do any other job and adamant that he pay his own way, even if that way is the most degrading way possible. Another angel is the leader’s assassin, but he has hope for redemption, and as such sets his eyes on helping Nathan. But Nathan won’t accept handouts, and a stalemate is created when the other angel, now called Dakota refuses to sleep with Nathan in order for Nathan to accept his help. But, Dakota won’t give up his mission — but is it because he is falling in love with Nathan, or because he’s obsessed with being redeemed?


On Wings Not My Own by Evie Kiels (Loved It)
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Alternate World, Religion, Second Chances, Amnesia

This story was my favorite in the whole collection. I’m not sure why, honestly, because I normally really don’t like amnesia stories and it had a few problems near the end (I thought). The world, however, really swept me up and I loved the idea that the two men, even though one can’t remember the other, are still completely in love and will do anything to escape the religious madmen who have taken them away from one another.

Aive can’t remember the last year of his life, but has the feeling that he’s missed something big. It drives him crazy that he doesn’t know what me missed but also why he can’t remember. And with the encouragement of his sister, he journeys from his home, walking hundreds and hundreds of miles to the ocean, following the prophetic dreams that come to him every night from the perspective of a beautiful, winged man that Aive feels he must know. When he gets to the city on the ocean, he finds people that seem to know him and wonder where he disappeared to. And when he follows the dreams to their very end, he finds an angel in a cell deep in a cave, left to starve and almost dead.

When he takes the angel to the Angel Embassy, he finds that not only is Sobal the one that sent him the dreams, but that they fell in love, were married, and were soon to travel to Sobal’s home, a city high in the mountains where the angels come from. But they waited, because Aive wanted to see a little more of the world knowing that once they journeyed there they could never leave. And in that time, a zealot devoted to God took his faith too far, possibly separating the two forever. Will his memories of falling in love never return? And will Sobal ever wake from his ordeal?


Made For You by Megan Derr (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Dance With the Devil series, Angels, Magic, Demons, Captive/Kidnapped

It was wonderful to return to this series. I love the Dance with the Devil books, I even re-read Dance with the Devil recently, as well as The Glass Coffin and I’m currently reading the newest book, Dance Only for Me as a serial. I seem to slightly remember this couple that was mentioned in one of the books, I think the first one, so seeing their story was interesting.

Charlie was brought to life and made into form by his master Jed, a descendant of Solomon, holder of the Solomon Ring, and a world-renowned sorcerer. Charlie is an angel, the best of his kind brought to life from the ether with only the power of Jed. He’s in love with his master, and set to protect him. He’s waited for Jed to realize that they belong together in love as well as in life and work, but Jed won’t accept it. They’ve been on the run for months from the men trying to kill of the last remaining descendant of Solomon and to take the ring, and they almost succeeded. Six months prior, they overpowered Charlie and kidnapped Jed. Now Charlie is searching everywhere he can, on the trail of the kidnappers, and he stops into Brennus territory to talk to the demon.


Angel Eyes by Debora Day (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Fallen Angels, Angels, Demons, Warriors/Bodyguards

This wasn’t one of my favorites of the anthology, but it is a well written story. I just, for some reason, couldn’t really feel the romance.

Uriel wakes up naked in the snow with no wings. He’s always been faithful and never failed his Creator’s orders, so why does he find himself fallen and unable to remember how he got there, how he could have made the worst mistake available? He’s rescued by Stephen, a man who lives in a cabin nearby. They get to know one another, Stephen disbelieving of Uriel’s story and thinking he’s just some crazy guy, while Uriel is nursed back to health. For the first time, Uriel feels human emotion, and starts to understand what makes angels fall, or want to fall — the addiction to feeling. But there is actually a reason that Uriel is here, with Stephen, and surprisingly it isn’t because of a mistake he made. He, the protector of the Garden of Eden, is set to protect Stephen against the hosts of hell who would kill him before he can enact a change in someone in the future, which will change the world.


Angel Fever by May Ridge (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Priests, Guardians/Bodyguards, Magic, Healers, Adoption, Family Issues

“Angel Eyes” is another story that I liked because of the world building. That, also, was the reason that it didn’t get even higher marks. I would have liked to have just a bit more information, or maybe history of how the angles and the church came to be working in a leading partnership of sorts. While I liked the story and romance within the world, and I got just enough for it to make sense, I didn’t get a sense of why, or a larger picture of the world, and because I was intrigued by it, I really wanted to know those things and to understand.

Malachi (Mal) grew up in the angel orphanage, like most angels do. He’s just turned 18 and can finally access his records. He found out that his father is a very prominent angel, on the Council, but he still doesn’t know who his mother is. He is a healer, and because he is male and has a different nature of magic, he is one of the best healers in a long, long time. When he returns to the orphanage, he meets with the priest in charge, a new one from when he was there and a very young priest by the name of Tobias. It seems, however, that Tobias cannot access Mal’s records either, which is very curious indeed. They begin to form a relationship out of their partnership to find out the details of why Mal’s files have been hidden away and what secrets they hold, learning about one another and each one’s secrets along the way. Why is Mal’s mother such a secret? And why do the priests regard Tobias with contempt?


The Book of Judgement by Sasha L Miller (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: HFN, Magic, Warriors, Assassins/Mercs

And last, one of the stories I was most eager to get to. I had to make myself not skip again and read out of order. I’m a big fan of Sasha’s work and this story definitely lived up to my expectations. I admit that I was getting a bit tired of angels by this point (I did say that I wasn’t really an angel story fan!), so this story was a nice diversion from the typical angel mythology and a story along a similar vein to the stories that I’ve liked in the past by this author. Unfortunately, the rushed ending and even somewhat shaky HFN, IMO, made it unable for me to give this story top honors.

Reza is one of the most powerful magic users at the university, and also a professor. While clearing out a crate filled with books left to the college from an estate, Reza discovers a very powerful and dangerous book of magic called The Book of Judgement. It is the true book, not a recreation, and the possibility of it getting to the wrong hands is very real and very terrible to imagine. So, at the behest of the Chairman of the college, Reza travels with Edmé on a month long journey to the place where the book can be hidden in a tomb, protected and never to be lost into the hands of the greedy or malevolent. But someone else already knows about the book. Reza is getting death threads and dangerous spells snuck into his mail even before he has left on the journey. And as the two travel, they’ll learn to trust one another even while almost sentient book tries to tear them apart and tempt Reza with the knowledge of what is inside.


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!**

BLURB

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.


Title: The Flesh Cartel #2: Auction
Author: Heidi Belleau & Rachel Haimowitz
Publisher: Riptide
Length: 17,600 words, 63 pages
Genre: m/m, Contemporary, BDSM/Kink, Erotica, Poly, Horror
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Dark, Kidnapping/Abduction, Physical & Sexual Abuse, Family, Captive/Slave, Serial, Short Story, Angst, Non-Romance, Humiliation, (Semi) Incest, Dub/Non-con, Cliffhanger, Double Penetration, Exhibition
Rating: Really Liked It

Reviewed by Nikyta

**Some may consider this a tad spoilerish, so beware!**

BLURB

Sublime service, made to order.

In episode two of The Flesh Cartel, the dark purpose behind Mat and Dougie Carmichael’s abduction is revealed. Though Dougie is protected from the worst of the guards’ brutality, he’s disgusted to find himself halfway to broken—despairing of escape and terrified of pain. Mat holds onto hope despite repeated rapes and beatings, but threats toward his brother teach him well to lay aside his pride and pick his battles carefully.

Worn down by days of unrelenting fear and abuse, Mat and Dougie are packaged and marketed with the same ruthless efficiency as any consumer product: Dougie the prettyboy twink, Mat the rabid pit bull. They are led to the auction block as the showpiece of the house’s collection.

Mat would rather be beaten to death than play the role of obedient slave for sale, but Dougie, desperate not to be separated from his brother, strikes a deal with the pitiless Madame who runs the auction house and controls both their fates. It might just be enough to keep them together—slaves, but together—assuming Mat even wants to be after Dougie fulfills his end of his deal with the devil.

REVIEW

Auction, episode two of The Flesh Cartel and the end of season one, picks up right where episode one, Capture, leaves off. Where Mat and Dougie just finished being processed into the slave facility, they are now being held there. Beaten, raped and tortured, both Mat and Dougie are struggling with their new lives with nothing to wear and nothing to sleep on and the constant threat of more abuse. While Mat is still a fighter, he’s losing the strength and energy to fight but every time something happens to Dougie, he gains back that heated anguish and rage he possesses at what’s happening to them. In turn, Dougie is complacent and obedient being a “hole” because he knows it’s less painful to accept things. While Dougie is ashamed of not being brave enough to stick up for his brother, Mat is ashamed and humiliated into giving in to his abusers. After undergoing days of beatings and rapes, things change when they are outfitted for the Auction. With the threat of being separated, the Madame gives Dougie the option of being sold together or losing his brother forever. Dougie knows this is his time to save Mat, in the only way he can, even if it means torturing Mat himself to keep them together.

As with the first one, this book is intense, powerful and well-written. Where there were left over questions before, we get some answers this time. We know why the brothers are there and we get a hint into how they were selected to become prime stock for the Madame’s collection. We also get a more inside look into Nikolai, the mysterious man from the first story. This time, we know he’s looking into the brothers and why he wants them, and ultimately buys them. It’s interesting to see the dynamics of the process, how the brothers were brought in, how they’re treated and how they’re eventually manipulated into what the Madame wants them to do so their price becomes higher. Dougie is the pretty twink while Mat is the dangerous thug. They are polar opposites but together they are beautiful and the Madame realizes that and utilizes that to her satisfaction.

I was once again sucked into this world. While in Capture the violence was often experienced second-hand by Mat, this one we get the full details of a lot of what happens first-hand. We experience, in those moments, what the brothers are thinking and how they’re coping and when they break. Granted, there are some scenes that are experienced second-hand still but it’s no less powerful because, while one brother is being tortured or raped, the other brother has to physically see it so it’s just as intense. The first half of the book takes place over a few days and focuses being held in their cells. The second half went by very quickly because there’s anticipation and anxiety of what will come next. I knew something far beyond just the cruelty would occur and I was right but waiting for that to happen was torture in itself. It left me hanging on the edge of my seat, wondering if there would be a little happiness at some point and for one sweet moment there is… and then it becomes extreme and brutal and almost made me want to cry because of who does it and how it’s played out.

It’s a gripping tale that doesn’t let up, you’re thrust right back in to the cruel and harsh world Mat and Dougie were forced into. They’re still treated like dogs, humiliated and inserted with different types of objects but now they’re also treated like real slaves, at the mercy of anyone that wants them. Mat gets more abuse than Dougie but only because Dougie has been granted some protection to keep his price up. Everything these boys go through is heartbreaking but my sympathy will always go to Mat first because he’s so strong but reduced to such a lowly thing whereas Dougie can easily adapt to being a slave, it’s harder for Mat because of who is.

This was a captivating and fascinating story, one I couldn’t put down once I started. It leaves off right after Dougie had to make his sacrifice, so to speak, but that’s to be expected. Everything felt charged and heated. My heart clenched all over again for these boys but as with the first episode, I’m still left with a lot of questions about why they were selected and what will happen next. I’ll be eagerly looking forward to the next one but the wait might possibly kill me! For those that liked episode one, you’ll definitely like episode two. It’s just as dark, gritty and harsh as the first.