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

Tag Archives: Emotionally/Physically Damaged

LZ_Wouldnt_It_Be_GoodTitle: Wouldn’t It Be Good
Author: Logan Zachary
Publisher: MLR Press
Length: 6,000 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: MLR Mixtapes, Short Story, Bullies, Closeted, College, Coming Out (ish), Emotionally Damaged, HEA, Jocks/Nerds, Physical Injury/Trauma, Sports, Yearning
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Nikyta

BLURB

Wouldn’t it be good to have music bridge the gap between two men?

Jason is the football god on campus, and Jeff is not. After an incident in gym class, Jeff leaves school embarrassed and bruised. Jason tries to help, but all he can do is leave a tape of mixed songs for Jeff hoping to help him feel better. Music can calm the savage beast, but can it bridge the gap between Mr. Perfect and Mr. Wrong? One song speaks volumes to Jeff, and his defenses begin to crumble as the men become closer and closer. Wouldn’t it be good to have a friend?

REVIEW

The first thing I need to say is that the blurb needs major editing. For those reading this book, please be aware that the main character’s name is Scott and not Jeff. In fact, Jeff is the bully who causes the ‘incident’ while Scott leaves school embarrassed and bruised. Between the time of writing this review and now, MLR has since updated their site to include the correct main character, Scott, in the blurb.

With that said, I don’t think I need to reiterate the blurb because it does a good enough job of describing the story. It’s a cute, easy read that goes by far too quickly. Scott is just about done with being bullied. He’s had a rough life and things are just getting worse for him. He’s a loner, though, and doesn’t fit in with others. Jason is the complete opposite: popular, well liked and good at sports. Jason’s sweet and charming and concerned about Scott when he gets hurt by Jeff. I felt really bad for Scott and I just wanted to give him a hug. I loved that these two connected over a mixed tape that Jason leaves for Scott. These two were adorable and I loved that Jason was so nice while Scott was so charmed by him.

This story started off really good. I was enjoying it and really liking the direction it was going in because it was heartbreaking but sweet. Unfortunately, pretty soon it started to focus on the purely physical part of their relationship and my enjoyment dimmed. I just couldn’t connect with them from there because I didn’t feel like they knew each other at all, even with going to the same school together for years. Then there’s the conflict, which felt incomplete and very rushed. It had me questioning why someone like Jeff would just walk away from tormenting Scott just because Jason claimed him as his boyfriend when Jeff never backed off from Jason’s protests in the past. It felt inconsistent with the rest of the story. More than that, their dialogue felt stunted and awkward.

Overall, it’s not a bad story. It could have been fleshed out further, characters could have been better developed and the conflict could have been tied up better but I still enjoyed the story. I would have liked to see Jason and Scott get to know each other deeper but as it is, this was a cute, quick story with a lot of potential.


OutlasttheNightLGTitle: Outlast the Night (Lang Downs #3)
Author: Ariel Tachna
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 61k+ words, 210 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary Western Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Series, Australia, Closeted, Cowboys, Emotionally Damaged, Friends to Lovers, Light & Sweet, Pets, Yearning
Rating: Really Liked It

Reviewed by Nikyta

BLURB

Office manager Sam Emery is unemployed and out of luck. When his emotionally abusive wife demands a divorce, he contacts the one person he has left, his brother, Neil. He doesn’t expect Neil to reject him, but he also doesn’t expect the news of his divorce—and of his sexuality—to be met with such acceptance.

Neil takes Sam to Lang Downs, the sheep station Neil calls home. There, Sam learns that life as a gay man isn’t impossible. Caine and Macklin, the station owners, certainly seem to be making it work. When Caine offers Sam a job, it’s a dream come true.

Jeremy Taylor leaves the only home he’s ever known when his brother’s homophobia becomes more than he can bear. He goes to the one place he knows he will be accepted: Lang Downs. He clicks with Sam instantly—but the animosity between Lang Downs and Jeremy’s home station runs deep, and the jackaroos won’t accept Jeremy without a fight. Between Sam’s insecurity and Jeremy’s precarious position, their road will be a hard one—and that’s without having to wait for Sam’s divorce to be final before starting a new life together.

REVIEW

I’ll freely admit that the Lang Downs series is one of my favorite cowboy series. There’s just something about it that I absolutely adore. With this one, it’s no different. I loved both Sam and Jeremy, especially Jeremy since he has to overcome the hatred attached to being a Taylor. There was such animosity between Neil, Sam’s brother, and Jeremy, which made for some interesting conflict! Sam was someone I just wanted to give a hug. He’s so innocent even though he’s not young but I felt really bad for him and what he’s had to go through by playing straight.

The story revolves around both Sam and Jeremy finding a home where they’re accepted. After years of putting up with his brother, Jeremy’s finally had enough and leaves, heading towards Lang Downs in hopes of finding another job. Sam shows up around the same time after being belittled constantly by his soon-to-be ex-wife. Both guys are healing in their own way. Sam finally has the freedom to spread his wings while Jeremy finds in Sam what he thought he’d never get a chance to have. It’s a sweet, slow romance where Jeremy and Sam start a friendship before moving into anything deeper and many will be shocked to realized there is no sex in this novel. Something I was extremely glad for but even without the sex, I still loved it because even though it’s obvious there’s no love between Sam and his ex-wife, he and Jeremy still wait until the divorce is finalized before making their relationship into something more. I also loved that we get pieces of the station but also a little more of Caine and Macklin.

While I adored the story, I still felt like the relationship between Jeremy and Sam wasn’t quite complete. I feel like the situation with Sam and his ex-wife took too long to resolve and when it is finally over it was rushed through, making the ending feel rushed as well. I would have liked to see more of Jeremy and Sam as a couple, after Sam’s divorce, because I didn’t feel that concrete bond between them like I’ve had with the other couples within this series, which I was sad we missed.

Overall, I enjoyed the story very much. I love that Lang Downs is a place for those who are lost or rejected. It’s a great concept and I loved that we got Jeremy’s story and what he and Sam go through. It’s slightly sad but I loved the journey Jeremy and Sam go through. I can’t wait to read the next in the series and to find out who’s story is next!!


outcast185Title: Outcast
Author: Alex Douglas
Publisher: Torquere Press
Length: 63k words
Genre: m/m Scifi Romance (sorta)
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Alcoholics, Aliens, Bisexual, Co-Workers, Emotionally Damaged, Interspecies, Mate Bonding, Mercs, Otherworld, Past Abuse, Physical Injury/Trauma, Psychic/Empaths, Secrets & Lies, Space Travel, Tentacle Sex, Yearning
Rating: Pretty Good

Reviewed by Nikyta

BLURB

Prez has been in the arms – or tentacles – of one too many brothel workers in his time. The memory of long-lost love is all he has, and it’s not enough. But no one in the Belaar-Andra system wants an alien half-breed for a partner, so life is as good as it can be. He’s making money, he’s going places, he’s got friends and a spaceship he loves – a decrepit cargo ship named Outcast. And now he’s got a new co-pilot, from the remote world of Aldor. Lan’s mysterious and doesn’t say a lot, but as they get to know each other, Prez starts to feel something he hasn’t felt in a long time – hope.

But the past hasn’t quite released him, and the Outcast isn’t done yet. On its final mission to deliver a mysterious cargo for the Belaari government, long-buried secrets start to stir. When his old co-pilot – and best friend – is finally himself again, Prez has a difficult decision to make, but Lan has other ideas about his own destiny. A rich man at last, can Prez finally get the things he really wants?

REVIEW

Prez is the captain of the cargo ship Outcast and in desperate need of a new co-pilot since his old one becomes temporarily unavailable. Lan from Aldor answers his prayers but while Prez is considered a freak even among all the aliens, Lan is the one with the mysterious heritage. When Prez gets a contract to deliver some secret cargo, Prez thinks he’s finally made it big. What none of them expected was for the cargo to cause a lot of problems for not just Prez but for Lan, as well.

The world this author painted was a fascinating thing. I loved the variety species, planets and how they were all different and unique. I gobbled that up because it was such an integral part to the story in relation to who and what Prez was but also because it was interesting to see how Prez was treated just because of what he was. I loved Prez most of the time because of his quirky sense of humor but Lan was probably my favorite. He’s like a robot almost that doesn’t understand Prez and the others but eventually finds not only friends in them but a home with them. I loved how different Lan was but I really wished there had been more focus on him and his world! More than that, Lan’s situation broke my heart. He was so confused at times and had to handle things on his own but the eventual outcome of his situation had me so sad, I almost cried! And, no, I won’t spoiler you on that!

While I loved the story and the world, I can’t deny that I got annoyed over the sex with other characters outside the MCs. Generally, I don’t like this but sometimes I can see the merit of it. In this case, there were more sex scenes between Prez and others from brothels than there was between Prez and Lan. Not only that but I didn’t feel the connection between Prez and Lan. There weren’t many feelings of love, admiration or even lust between them until the very, very end. Granted, Lan is asexual BUT I took offense to the fact that Prez was his mate yet some unknown princess took Lan’s virginity after Lan realizes his connection to Prez. It annoyed me more than anything else in the book did. With that said, there still wasn’t any middle ground between their friendship during the whole book to all of a sudden this love they have for each other by the end. It was confusing and didn’t feel like it fit with the story. Beyond that, some aspects of the world were confusing because the words were either not explained or some scenes that I felt like were vital were glossed over.

All in all, I felt like there was too much focus on others and their sex together but not enough on the actual couple, which really hindered the story. However, the journey Prez, Lan and their friends go on was a great adventure. I loved the universe and the unique species the author created because it made for not only a fun and enjoyable ride but for some funny moments as well. For those sci-fi fans out there, give this one a try because it does have a great setting.


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*****

BLURB

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

BLURB

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.


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.