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WhenLoveTakesOverLGTitle: When Love Takes Over
Author: Jacob Z Flores
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 88,936 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often (including sexual situations)
Keywords/Tags: P-Town, Porn Star, Sex Industry, Nerds/Geeks, Nasty Ex, Clubbing, Public Sex, Exhibitionism, Multiple/Other Partners, Writers, Cheating Ex, Bad Breakup, Dirty Talk, Pitt Munching, at the Beach, On Vacation, Gingers!, Colorful Cast of Characters, Funny Guys, Camp it Up!, Famous
Rating: Really Liked It

**Some (small) spoilers

BLURB

Zach Kelly’s life is a shambles. His boyfriend of three years dumped him, and his writing career is going nowhere. On a whim, he heads to Provincetown, Massachusetts, to nurse his broken heart and figure out his next step. He’s expecting to find rest and relaxation on the sandy beaches of Cape Cod. Instead, Zach meets a hunky porn star during a chance encounter at a leather shop he mistakes as a place to buy a belt that is definitely not for whipping.

Van Pierce is smitten when shy and inexperienced Zach crashes through a shelf of fetish gear. Though Van’s got an insatiable appetite for men on and off the set, his porn persona, Hart Throb, hides a broken heart. He’s struggling to find the reality the porno set doesn’t offer, and Zach is fighting to find the fantasy that will set his writing on fire. The odd goofball and the suave beefcake may either find love amid Provincetown’s colorful pageantry where summer never seems to end—or more heartbreak than either can imagine.

REVIEW

No matter how much I’ve wanted to read Jacob Flores’ prior books, this is the first one that I really had the time to read. And I’m so glad that I did. More than anything, more than the fact that I found some parts of this book less to my liking than others and I didn’t think it was perfect, it intrigued me. I immediately put back all of the books I have of Jacob’s back onto my Kindle and I only hope that I have the time to read them soon.

Prepare for a LONG summary. Sorry about that, but I think it’s worth reading 😉

Zach has always done what everyone told him too. Submissive to almost an extreme in his life (though not in the bedroom), he first allowed his father to dictate his life and self-understanding and later his partner of three years, Ben. The start of When Love Takes Over sees Ben unceremoniously dumped by Ben — with no reason or explanation — simply a get out. Zach is tired of being shuffled around and taking it, doing everything he can to change himself into the man that Ben wants. So he does the most impulsive thing he’s done in his life. He takes the small bag he left with from Houston and jumps a plane to P-Town.

Zach has never been to Provincetown and the place dazzles him. There are men everywhere, half naked in the streets, holding hands and kissing. The place seems like freedom personified and there’s no better introduction to the wonders of P-Town than the owner of the condo he’s renting for the week, Gary. Gary and his partner Quinn convince Zach to take advantage of all P-Town has to offer, not to stay in his room and try to work on his novel. Zach still doesn’t understand how his life took such a strange turn, but his writing seems to have suffered in relative fashion. Perhaps a change will be good for him.

Van is also at a crossroads. He’s had a bad time in relationships and it seems like every time he gives away his heart, which always seems to easy for him to do, it gets pummeled and thrown back at him, damaged more and more every time. After his last relationship with a man named Jason who drove him into a terrible dehumanizing spiral of sex and pain, Van took it upon himself to never face that kind of damage again. That is how Hart Throb was born. Being Hart Throb on screen for thousands of horny gay men gives Van a rush and a self-esteem boost that he needs. He can do porn and still enjoy sex, even being pounded by multiple men, without the emotions that ended up crushing him before. As a power bottom that has quickly amassed a huge fan following, he has the power to call more shots and he’s the one in control, not the men on top of him.

It’s almost enough to convince him that he doesn’t need an emotional connection at all. The pain of the past and his creation of his more powerful alter-ego have slowly started to shift his two identities and Hart Throb looks to be taking over. When Van runs into a geeky, shy and pale ginger beauty named Zach in a leather store, his previous conviction falls to pieces. Something about Zach — perhaps his bumbling and sweet nature with mismatched clothes and messed up hair, or his personality which seems to be completely free of artifice in a town where looks and sex are all that matters — appeals to Van. Even though their meeting is short, he can’t get Zach out of his head and his feelings about someone that he doesn’t even know only highlight that Hart Throb can’t fully sustain him.

A makeover on the outside from an excited Gary and female friend Tara prove to Zach that he does have worth. He believe that it just might be possible to break out of his shell, leave the old, boring doormat he was behind and embrace P-Town. That’s what everyone keeps telling him to do, after all. Embrace P-Town, because it will change you. And now that he’s seeing other men, hot men checking him out and finding him very worthy of their attention, the sexually adventurous nature he always repressed starts to peek out. But no matter how much he embraces the sex in the air (with some very public and exciting naughtiness!) what he really wants is to find Van again. But will Van even recognize him? Or did P-Town get to Zach before Van could, changing him in ways that ultimately aren’t good for him?

Whew! First of all, if you made it through that — thank you! You deserve a chocolate or something 🙂 Second, you saw just how long that summary was. I’d say that even though I did a bit of a character introduction to you as well, that summary probably only covers the first 1/4 of the book. The pace in this story moves rather quickly. I like that this author makes decisive choices for his characters. They don’t dawdle, but the story moves along without pause. I appreciate that because no matter how you feel about those decisions, there’s nothing worse than an author refusing to make them and then the characters stall. Van and Zach go through quite a lot to get their HEA, and it’s hard-won, that’s for damn sure! You can see just from the summary I wrote that the angst is already building. Wherever both Van and Zach go in this story they always seem to be looking for one another but at the same time moving in opposite directions, like passing ships in the night 😉 When Van looks for the geeky guy he had a moment with in the leather store he finds just another shallow guy tricking. When Zach continues to look for Van, he finds what he thinks is a guy with a boyfriend. And no matter how annoying that was at the time, because I wanted to smack them both and tell them to actually communicate with each other, this author ultimately brings the story around so that their actions and thoughts make sense to the character.

I really liked both Van and Zach. Zach is someone who I felt like I could understand on a personal level:

He found it almost impossible to simply be who he was. He always felt the need to apologize for himself and change whatever people didn’t like about him until he’d become whatever they might need.

The thought that he devoted three years of his life trying to conform to an impossible ideal for Ben haunts him, especially considering that Ben seems to have no appreciation of that fact. P-Town is important to him. His outside makeover soon starts to make him over inside and having men look at him as if they’d be lucky to have him is something that he’s never really felt. This is why this book worked for me on this level. We have a tendency in the romance genre to equate the characters and their choices with the quality of the book. But, it’s important for a character to grow and Zach needs to embrace his slutty and hedonistic side, no matter how shallow it makes him or that he becomes a bit of an asshole for a while, and he needs to fuck things up so that he can learn to be an active participant in a relationship. By definition, the end goal in romance is the HEA. The direction is important, but honestly, the journey there is the real point. This book is a good example for characters that you might not like at certain points in the book, but which (to me, at least) should have no bearing on the rating of it.

I think the real reason that I was intrigued about this author’s writing from reading this book is the tone and mood of the story. The mood is festive and reflective of the setting, but the tone of the writing often seemed just a little bit campy. The tone seemed campy, mind you, not the plot or characters (except for Gary! and Penny :D). This gives the story a lift. Right away it draws you in. No matter the subject matter there’s always a glass half-full feeling that carries through the story. It’s a hopeful tone. I felt like that little bit of campiness was so right on to how I’ve felt before in settings with lots of gay men and a party atmosphere. Sadly, I’ve yet to visit P-Town, but the setting and tone gave off a sense of inclusion and freedom and that thread ran throughout the story, the tone affecting all of the book in subtle ways.

Originally, I gave this book a Pretty Good rating. I had some trouble with the ending, specifically the part from the ending of Zach’s novel to the upstairs of the porn set setting. That conversation between the two was the culmination of the previous chapter or two where Zach starts to think in a kind of writer affectation. Everything became a bit melodramatic and I wasn’t quite sure how to take it. Seriously? Or, as a subtle importation of his writer’s mind? With an added day or two of reflection, I found those parts less important in my memory than the whole. I don’t think this book is perfect by any means, but I cared less about those trouble spots for me and more about the overall story. And that is of two characters that I felt were explored rather well and of writing by this author that I grew increasingly fond of while reading. I can’t wait until he writes something new. Or until I can get off my ass and read something off of his backlist. Recommended.


DirtyLaundry_600x900Title: Dirty Laundry (Tucker Springs #3)
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Riptide
Length: 71,400 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary BDSM Romance
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Series, Nerds/Geeks, Mental Health Issues (OCD/Crippling Anxiety), Super Muscles!, Past Abuse, Nasty Exes, Sexy to the 999s, Public Sex, Exhibitionism
Rating: Really Like It!

**Note: When the title of the book is framed in quotations, it denotes the short story that was the genesis of this book.

BLURB

The course of true love doesn’t always run clean. But sometimes getting dirty is half the fun.

Entomology grad student Adam Ellery meets Denver Rogers, a muscle-bound hunk of sexy, when Denver effortlessly dispatches the drunken frat boys harassing Adam at the Tucker Springs laundromat. Thanking him turns into flirting, and then, much to Adam’s delight, hot sex over the laundry table.

Though Denver’s job as a bouncer at a gay bar means he gets his pick of geek-sexy college twinks, he can’t get Adam out of his head. Adam seems to need the same rough play Denver does, and it’s damn hard to say no to such a perfect fit.

Trouble is, Adam isn’t just shy: he has obsessive compulsive disorder and clinical anxiety, conditions which have ruined past relationships. And while Denver might be able to bench-press a pile of grad students, he comes from a history of abuse and is terrified of getting his GED. Neither Denver nor Adam want to face their dirty laundry, but to stay together, they’re going to have to come clean.

REVIEW

Take a cue authors! I have been super excited about this book for months now. Why? All because of that teaser story a year ago. The originally titled story “Dirty Laundry” was a free story about a rather nerdy and frightened young man who is rescued by a giant musclebound cowboy of a man when he’s being bullied by a group of frat guys in a laundromat. The kid’s gratefulness and awe of the cowboy drive him to thank the man, and that encounter leads to a very steamy public sex scene over the table and pile of unfolded laundry right in the middle of the laundromat. That’s all the story was about. It was free and posted on the author’s co-blog, Cup of Porn, for their first birthday bash.

I didn’t know at that point, that this was part of the Tucker Springs universe. Actually, at that point I think that the first book, Where Nerves End was just being promoted by LA Witt. I’d really like the know the timeline and how that cowboy, Denver, came to be included in the story. That’s why I’ll be eagerly reading all the tour stops for Heidi Cullinan this week, to see if she details how that came to fruition. A bit of the story is on my blog today, so be sure to check out Heidi’s guest post “For the Love of Series”.

It must be because of those readers like me, who raved about the short “Dirty Laundry” that this became an expanded novel, and I can’t tell you how excited I was when I first learned what the author was doing to this story. I so wanted to know what happened after that laundromat rendezvous. What I can tell you is this: The novel starts with the short story and carries forward with what happens afterward. Denver, who we got to know in the first two novels as a secondary character, is a bouncer at the local gay club run by Jase, from the first book. Adam is an entomology graduate student at the local college and currently getting over a breakup from his one and only boyfriend Brad. The scene at the laundromat affects both men and how they view their own lives and their own neuroses, and while it seems like Adam takes the award for the one with the most problems, Denver carries a secret weight filled with his own shortcomings, and it takes both of them working together to forge a better version of themselves.

I consider this to be the best book in the series so far. In her guest post today, Heidi Cullinan describes the Tucker Springs series as “a set of stories between several authors where each “episode” is unique, but the setting is familiar.” That rather simple theme connecting the stories is really reflective of the books individually and as a series. It’s true that each subsequent book, so far, seems to get a little better in my opinion, but they are all quite relaxed in theme. What I mean to say is that I found this book like the prior ones, focused solely on the relationship and less on outside connections. All that connects them is geography and limited personal connections. That means, however, that the relationship much carry each novel on it’s own, and while I wasn’t quite sure the first two books accomplished that, Dirty Laundry definitely did.

What really makes this story work is the consideration given to mental illness. I know very little about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or severe anxiety issues, so I can’t weigh in on the accuracy of the details. But what I did love is how the issues that Adam has (and to a small extent Denver’s issues as well) are firmly entrenched in the relationship. Adam tries to hide them at first, but they’re so much a part of who he is, it is almost impossible to keep the information from Denver. And I really felt for Adam. It’s a tribute to the author’s skill that his self-doubt didn’t come across to me as annoying, but instead I felt like I had a good grasp on just how difficult his life is on a day to day basis. He has trouble with many things, but most of all is one of his major tics — that people have their own space. He can’t allow anyone inside his house without severe anxiety and he has a really hard time visiting other people’s houses, or spaces of any kind. And besides the fact that this allowed Denver and Adam to show their creativity in getting to know one another in public places, I can’t deny that the fact that most of the extremely hot sex in this book is in public places completely ramps up the heat factor. That laundromat scene was just the tip of the iceberg.

The BDSM element is more present here that I was expecting. It slowly becomes more central to the story and the relationship as the book moves forward, but it has little to do with sex and everything to do with creating a power structure helpful to Adam’s OCD. Denver’s commanding will was what drew the two together in that first encounter and is ultimately what Adam needs to cling to to categorize and then compartmentalize his brain to function at it’s highest levels.

There is so much to recommend about this book and I could go on and on with more things that I loved — both characters, the dichotomy between the two that makes them perfect for one another (their looks, their issues, their education, but not intelligence). Heidi Cullinan is a popular and well known author because of her talent and Dirty Laundry is just another example of her success.


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.


Title: Down Memory Lane
Author: Heidi Champa
Publisher: Amber Allure
Length: 5K words
Genre: MM Contemporary
Heat: 3 – Mild and Sexy
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Exhibitionism, Public Places, Cheating, Bittersweet
Rating: Pretty Good

Reviewed by Sadonna

BLURB

Kyle knows he shouldn’t, but once again he finds himself waiting for Quinn, the sexy man who drove out of his life years ago, but keeps turning up when Kyle least expects it. Every time Quinn’s car would come rumbling down his street and stop before his house, Kyle would eagerly jump inside the passenger seat and go anywhere Quinn wanted to go.

Yet this time, Quinn is back for good. Or so he says. Will this be the start of something special for Kyle and Quinn, or just one more passionate drive down memory lane?

REVIEW

I have had a very hard time reviewing and rating this story. This is only the second story by this author that I’ve read and I really like the writing. I’m not sure how I feel about the definitely bittersweet content.

This story is told from the Kyle’s point of view and as such, we really see his side of this unconventional relationship. Essentially this story revolves around the occasional visits of Quinn who sweeps into town and whisks Kyle away in his classic restored car to visit the park they frequented as kids and now periodically as adults.

As the story opens Kyle is waiting for Quinn to arrive while his boyfriend has gone out with friends. This time, Quinn has told Kyle that he is going to stay. When Quinn finally arrives, he and Kyle kiss and Kyle gets in the car for their sojourn to the park. It’s like Kyle has no control when it comes to Quinn and he will do whatever Quinn wants.

As they talk and make love at the park, it is evident that Kyle is in love with Quinn and wants a permanent relationship. Where I had some difficulty with the story is the discussion about Kyle’s boyfriend and the status of that relationship. While we never see this boyfriend, he does text Kyle to say that he’ll be home soon which cuts short Kyle and Quinn’s tryst in the park.

In the end, I’m torn about this story. I really liked the writing a lot – very moving. I definitely felt the pain of Kyle in this “limbo” with Quinn. I would really like to read more about these two someday. If you don’t mind a bittersweet ending, this is a well-written short story that you might want to spend some time with.


Title: Angels on the Outfield
Author: Pepper Espinoza
Publisher: Amber Allure
Length: 5,000 words
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average story to sex ratio (pretty much all at the end)
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Athletes, Second chances, Exhibitionism, Public Places
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Sadonna

BLURB

Nathan Applebe is long past his glory days playing high school baseball, yet he still enjoys a friendly softball game on a quiet summer night. But his peaceful pastime is blown apart when an old opponent returns to town after a decade absence.

Brent Baliss used to be the best, but his pitching days are long behind him. He doesn’t much care for the game anymore, yet signing up for the softball league gives him a chance to live a fantasy he’s had since the night he kissed a shy boy under the bleachers.

Now that Nathan and Brent are both adults, can they make it past that first awkward kiss to find something more?

REVIEW

Nathan and Brent are 10 years out of high school when the meet up again by chance in a local softball league game on opposite teams. Nathan has been with his team for 5 years as the catcher, but he doesn’t think he really fits in or is anything special. Then he sees Brent’s name as the pitcher on the opposing team roster and he remembers that 18-year-old Brent gave him his first and also best kiss. But nothing followed that kiss and he has no idea where Brent has been or what he’s been doing for the last decade.

Nathan drinks more than usual during the game, but somehow he manages to get a hit each time and is the hero of the game. Brent joins the teams at the local bar next to the ball field after the game and buys Nathan a congratulatory beer. As they renew their acquaintance after 10 years, they allude to that long ago kiss which they both recall tenderly. Then Brent invites Nathan to go outside with him and they take a walk back over the field where they finally get to follow up on that first kiss after all these years.

This is a quite short story that would make an interesting opening chapter to a longer book. Unfortunately the way it ends makes it feels a little bit incomplete to me. It is basically a setup for Brent and Nathan to get together, but we have no sense of either of them in the 10 years between their first kiss and this interlude. I would have liked to know more about them as people to get a feel for where they’ve been and where they’re going. But if you’ve got a few minutes and want a sexy short read with some nice guys who get a second chance, then this story is a good choice.