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Tag Archives: Grieving Partner

deadinla1Title: Dead in L.A. (L.A. Paranormal #1-2)
Author: Lou Harper
Publisher: Self Published (Harper Books)
Length: 28k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Psychics, Past Trauma, Roommates, Friends with Benefits, College, Art, Grieving Character, LA, Secrets and Lies, Guilt, Opposites Attract
Rating: Really Liked It

BLURB

Trouble comes in deceptive packages

Still recovering from an accident that left him emotionally and physically battered, Jon’s goal is to lead a simple life, free of complications and attachments. His new roommate—a happy-go-lucky bookworm—seems to fit into his plans fine at first. He doesn’t find out till later that Leander’s also a psychic, specializing in finding lost pets. Jon’s a skeptic when it comes to the supernatural, so he’s convinced Leander’s a nut job.

Jon’s beliefs are challenged when Leander has to track down a missing teenager and he ropes Jon into assisting him. Soon the two of them are knee-deep in a decades-old murder case. The hills and valleys of the City of Angels hold many buried secrets, and Leander has a knack for finding them.

Jon’s hopes for a trouble-free life go out the window as he’s drawn deeper into Leander’s psychic sleuthing. Digging into the past poses many dangers, but the biggest risk Jon faces is putting his bruised heart on the line.

Warning: Men loving men, skeletons, and an unlucky Chihuahua.

REVIEW

Dead in LA is the book that shows just how economical Lou Harper’s writing is. It surprises me even now to write that this book of two stories is only 28k words simply because my memory from reading it is how full of plot and detail it was. Of course it depends on your style and preferences, but I always admire an author who can get their word across without a whole lot of words — I’m the exact opposite! As you might have noticed and indeed bemoaned from my incredibly wordy reviews 🙂

Both of these stories, “Dead in the Hills” and “Dead in the Valley” focus on a separate mystery while the overall arc of the story that connects them is the building relationship between Jon and Leander, two completely fascinating characters! I say that because at this point (after reading the first two stories and waiting for the rest to come) I still feel them on incredibly shaky ground, no matter how far they’ve come from their beginnings as roommates in “Dead in the Hills”. And they, in so many ways, are an opposites attract story, not in a sortof comically stereotypical way (like… the twink and the cop or something) but simply because when I first started reading this book I thought… wait, is Leander really going to become Jon’s romantic interest? I just couldn’t see it. It wasn’t until after they were firmly established as friends with benefits (or roommates with benefits) that they both really started to open up for me as characters and I could see past their superficialities. Jon is an art student, but of course in a completely responsible way (art advertising) that he might not have ever really gone in to anyway, and Leander is a psychic who finds things that people have lost. Now, sometimes those are puppies (like the “unlucky Chihuahua” LOL) and sometimes those are missing people. Jon has a hard time at first believing in what Leander does until he offers his roommate a ride to a job and sees it for himself, not only the accuracy of Leander’s visions but what it also does to him. His ultimate understanding of Leander’s job is what slowly softens him to Leander’s charms, even through all of the trauma and guilt that Jon still has after his wife’s death.

Dead in LA was probably one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year, and in some ways that’s because of the mysteries and in others the relationship. The relationship is also what makes this book like a really early part of a series. Of course, these are the first two stories in this series, but what I mean is that by the end of both there’s still a great deal of uncertainty about their relationship and a lot they’ll need to work through. Both of these stories, for me, were really about getting to know the characters individually and that makes me even more excited for the coming ones, because I get to see more about where their relationship will progress.

This book also shows how well the episodic mystery format is working for Lou. Making the mysteries somewhat shorter allows for more possible directions for the story to go because we, as readers, aren’t completely committed to a long mystery plot while the characters are growing with their relationship. That is what makes the next stories in this series exciting to me.

Also, a note about the cover, which I really love. Lou mentioned that it doesn’t really scream romance (which is true) but that it does really highlight that these are mysteries. That works well for me with these two stories — the cover seems aligned with how I feel about them in any way — but also, I think that the lack of a naked torso makes your book stand out in new ways these days, when I feel like most others I’ve heard from… we’re just tired of those covers.


TatsofHonorLGTitle: Tats of Honor
Author: Vona Logan
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 26,966 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Grieving Partner, Grief, Best Friends, Suicide, On Vacation, GFY/OFY, Bisexual, New Zealand, Tattoos, Insta-Love
Rating: Not Feelin’ It

*Some Spoilers!*

BLURB

Kegan Andrews wears his heart on his sleeve, or rather his skin—his tattoo is a testimony to those he’s loved and lost. The losses are piling up—like his young cousin’s suicide and his fiancée’s betrayal. He needs perspective, and the New Zealand trip he planned months ago seems to promise him that. Then Kegan meets Dominic, a man wrapped in so much grief and guilt it’s as if his own heart died two years ago with his long-time partner.

Dominic can’t move on—can’t even imagine it until Kegan jumpstarts his frozen heart. Dominic knows Kegan isn’t gay, so he fights his growing feelings, but Kegan embraces his new self-knowledge about whom he might love. Will Dominic stay mired in the safety of past heartbreak and become a distant memory etched into Kegan’s skin, or will he risk himself for the promise of a new beginning?

REVIEW

Kegan lands in New Zealand alone and lost. He’d been looking forward to getting away with his fiancee after his cousin and best friend committed suicide. His grief is wrapped up in his love for his fiancee, especially when she ditches him at the gate for the restroom only to leave the airport, and Kegan to realize that he’s been left while flying over the Pacific. The loss is compounded by the fact that Kegan knows that his fiancee was the main reason he removed himself from his cousin’s life. He doesn’t understand how he could let himself choose a cheating and selfish woman over his best friend, and the thought that his actions might have contributed to his cousin’s loneliness at the time he needed him most… it’s almost more than he can bear. Kegan decides to take his vacation traveling around New Zealand alone and figure out his life and what he really wants.

Dominic is a Kiwi. We meet him first as he moves into a new house, finally leaving the home of he and his late partner. It’s been two years, but Dominic is a shadow of the man he used to be. He has no problem admitting that he wish he’d died as well. Moving on without him is too hard. His best friend Lisa surprises him by coming to stay with him for a week, and it is during that week — while Lisa drags him out of the house day after day — that the two stop at a restaurant and end up sharing a table with a lonely American traveler, named Kegan.

The two guys have an immediate chemistry, but it takes both of them willing to move on and embrace a new time in their lives to have any chance at a relationship.

Of course, my biggest problem here was the insta-love. I mean, I would say that this ends in an HFN, but some might say an HEA. I just had a problem believing that after spending so little time together they could fall in love enough to propagate an around the world move to be together and also in that time have been able to move on with their pasts. I get that Kegan could maybe do it. I liked that the author made his move to New Zealand not only to be with Dominic, but also as a fresh start in his life and career. I could see him making the decision that he needed a fresh injection into his life and he might make that leap because he needed a chance anyway. But I didn’t understand Dominic at the end of the story. There’s a part right at the end, where Dominic… I guess he sees the ghost of his dead partner. It was a strange paranormal twist that I only partly grasped. But, I understood the message which was that he wanted Dominic to move on. It seemed like an easy way to make it okay for Dominic to let go and be okay for him to fall in love, when in reality it just seemed to rushed for me to accept and without a lot of the work he’d need to undertake. He was just so messed up in the beginning.

I’m sorry to say that I can’t really recommend this. I’ve read one other story by this author which I enjoyed — Return to Destiny — but this story felt a bit unfinished to me. I think that I actually would have enjoyed learning more about Dominic’s partner. In books like this that explore a new relationship after one person’s (or two) previous partner died, I usually feel like it’s important for the new love interest to learn about the previous one. And certainly, I think it might have helped this relationship between Dominic and Kegan to develop at a faster pace (since the time line was so short) because Dominic could let go of some fears and memories and share them with Kegan. I don’t know, just a thought. But I definitely would have liked to know more about him. It would have shown us even more about Dominic.


KMcM_InHotPursuit_coverlgTitle: In Hot Pursuit
Author: Kate McMurray
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: 59,095 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Kate McMurray Week!, Cops, Closeted, Action/Adventure, On Vacation, Crime/Mob, Kidnapping, Drugs, Grieving Partner, Florida, NYC, Awesome Female Characters!
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Hard-working NYPD cop Noah Tobin didn’t even want to go on vacation. But it’s been a tough eighteen months since the death of his lover, so he’s determined to make the most of it. On his first night in sunny Florida, a chance encounter with a handsome man in a bar bathroom jumpstarts something in Noah that’s been dormant for all those months. Then the man disappears.

Noah’s vacation is thrown into upheaval because he can’t just let it go when he learns that the mysterious man who turned his life upside down went missing. He volunteers to help with the manhunt for his mystery man, a wealthy restaurateur named Harrison Knowles. But finding Harry is only the beginning of Noah’s hot pursuit.

REVIEW

If I’m correct, this book is Kate McMurray’s first published novel. At least, from her Goodreads info and a quick look. It does list her short “In December My Heart’s Full of Spring” as being released first but, as it is available now for free, I’m not sure if it was ever published or not. Anyway, the whole reason for that is that I always find it rather interesting to go back and read an author’s first published book when they’re more well established. Sometimes you find that you hate it and you don’t really understand how an author ever turned their writing around, and sometimes you find that the quality was always there. I think I found this somewhere in between, which is the best place for it now in retrospect, if you ask me. It means that at least in my opinion, Kate’s writing has gotten better and her stories more interesting and dynamic with practice, showing growth and not a plateau in talent.

So, naturally, that means that while I liked this book and found it an engaging read it didn’t really wow me. But, in knowing that I was going back to read an author’s first book, an author I find myself quite fond of, an interesting thing happened. I biased my own expectations and ended up liking the book more than I thought I would. It’s a bit like when I finally ended up watching the Sixth Sense and thought, huh? I had heard too many praises. Only the opposite was what happened here. And that’s a good thing to happen for me, as the reader 🙂

In part, this is a mystery and a contemporary romance, those two things here being somewhat different. The framework of the story is wrapped up in the mystery, how just after NYPD cop Noah meets a cute guy named Harry in a bar while on vacation in Florida, he sees on the news that Harry has gone missing and is pulled into the investigation as the last man who saw him. But the filling in between that framework is much like a contemporary romance. When Harry comes stumbling out of the forest beat up and running from his captors, the two are reintroduced and Noah is set to bodyguard duty until they can figure out just who was wanting to kill Harry and why. That’s the real meat of the story.

And honestly, I found myself wishing that there were a bit more synergy between those two elements. The story easily moves between action, with the two dodging a hail of bullets to quiet downtime in their safe room at a resort getting to know each other and Noah slowly opening up about his past traumas. The problem for me was that at times these two things seemed to get a bit out of proportion, with those moments together taking precedent and leaving the mystery behind to pick up later. And the problem there is that the story, at times, seemed to lose momentum.

In all, this was a really fun book to read. It’s mostly light and easy to read, but the action kicks it up a notch to make it more exciting. And it’s easily satisfying, ending in a solid, feel-good HEA. It’s not a bad book to take with you on vacation, which I suppose is apropos 😉 And at the very least, if you find yourself a fan of Kate McMurray and having not yet read this book, then it’s always interesting to go back and see where an author started.

Kate’s new book, Save the Date, is out tomorrow along with my review!


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 😉


columnacolumnb400Title: One from Column A, One form Column B
Author: Diana Sheridan
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 5,200 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Mild & Sexy
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few & Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Kiss Me at Midnight collection, New Years, Grieving Partner
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Sadonna

BLURB

When his New Year’s jinx holds true, leaving Trent dateless yet again, he decides to treat it like a normal evening. Going out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant, he runs into another man alone on New Year’s, and decides that his jinx might keep him from a date, but it doesn’t mean he has to spend it alone.

REVIEW

Two men alone on New Year’s Eve both end up at the same Chinese restaurant for dinner. They decide to share a table and their tales of woe as to why they are alone. Trent who is a puppeteer seems to always have bad luck on New Year’s. Taylor’s partner has passed away seven months earlier in a tragic accident and he decided he needed to get away from all the memories so he has just recently moved to town. They enjoy each other’s company for dinner and decide to spend the evening together at Taylor’s house. They kiss and then decide they will play some games – ping pong and hockey and generally have a fun time together. At midnight they share their leftovers and some champagne and kisses.

This was a really short and somewhat predictable story. The problem to me was that it just felt a bit forced. I guess I just didn’t feel like the characters were that genuine. I would have thought that Taylor would have had a more difficult time I guess – those firsts that you go through without a loved one tend to be a bit different in my experience.


darkzone400x600Title: Love in the Dark Zone
Author: Diana Sheridan
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 7,300 words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Halloween Rentboys collection, Hallowen, Ghosts/Spirits, Grieving Partner, Magic, Second Chances, Rent Boy, Spanking, HEA
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Sadonna

BLURB

Trent has given up on life since losing his lover, Luke. He sells his body for cash, goes through one failed relationship after another, and clings helplessly to the memory of a man he’ll never see again. Bailing on Trick or Treat plans with his friends to take care of a last minute client, Trent expects nothing but a normal night of fulfilling someone else’s desires. He certainly doesn’t expect payment to come in the form of one more chance to see his dead lover.

REVIEW

This is the first story I’ve read by this author. It’s a short story about a young man, Trent, who has lost the love of his life and cannot recover or move on. He’s lost his job and has had to resort to selling himself for a living. He feels like he will never ever love anyone again and so he just goes through the motions of living, including the sex he has with his clients. It’s just a means to an end and doesn’t affect the numbness that he has felt since Luke died.

On Halloween, he gets a call from a new client and so he bails on some plans with his friends and goes to meet this john. The john has a somewhat strange request but Trent is there to do a job so he does. He john is grateful to him and pays him, but asks him if he’d rather have something else than money. When Trent asks him what he’s getting at the guy becomes a bit mysterious, but asks Trent if there is something else he would like. Trent blurts out that he’d like his lover returned from the dead. The john thinks for a moment and while he admits he can’t actually do that, he does have a way for Trent to be with Luke once more. He offers him a magic potion that will allow him to meet with Luke in The Dark Zone. It will only be for one night but he’ll get a chance to see his lover again.

Trent is amazed that this potion works and he spend a wonderful night with Luke and they talk and make love and then he is back at his place alone. Well you can imagine that one night will not be enough for Trent and he’s not even sure what has happened. Trent talks to the john and asks for more of the potion because he wants to see Luke again and the john agrees to pay Trent with the potion for his services. As you can imagine, these short meetings with Luke are still not enough and Trent asks if there is a way for him to be with Luke permanently without dying. His john has an answer, but Trent and Luke might not exactly like it.

I thought this story had potential but somewhere it missed the mark a bit. I’m not sure if it was the length that didn’t allow enough story or just what. I wanted to know more about the mysterious john and also more about The Dark Zone and what it really meant for Luke to give up his earthly life. I guess in the end there were too many unanswered questions to make this story feel complete to me.