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

Tag Archives: Hurt/Comfort

The Ranch ForemanTitle: The Ranch Foreman
Author: Rob Colton
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 28k words, 120 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary Erotica
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Closeted, Cowboys, OFY, Grief, Grovel you Bastard!, Healing, Hostile Work Environment, Hurt/Comfort, May/December, Sexual Abuse/Assault
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Nikyta

BLURB

When Madison “Matty” Ward finds himself out of work and without a place to live, his cousin comes through with a job on the Gates cattle ranch. Despite not knowing anything about herding cattle or taking care of horses, Matty does his best to impress the older hunky foreman, Baxter Hollingsworth. Baxter is drawn to the new young hand, but he’s deeply closeted, and after an openly gay veterinarian shows he’s interested in Matty, Baxter’s repressed feelings lead to an explosive encounter. Baxter then withdraws—leaving Matty feeling angry and used—until an accident forces him to confront his fears.

REVIEW

This is a difficult review to write. I won’t deny that the writing drew me in even though this is essentially just an erotica novella, I still had that desire to continue reading even when I was being overwhelmed by sex.

When Matty puts his aunt in a nursing home, it leaves him homeless until his cousin gets him a job at a ranch. Once there, he’s immediately attracted to Baxter, the older ranch foreman who’s very deep in the closet. Everyone on the ranch pretty much knows that Matty is gay but over the course of the book, Matty and Baxter strike up a purely sexual relationship that has a tinge of bitterness and resentment to it. Matty wants a relationship but Baxter is stuck in his old ways. Now Matty has to decide whether he wants to keep his self-respect or take what little scraps Baxter is willing to give him.

Matty, at first, comes off as a slightly battered character. He’s feeling guilty about his aunt but grateful he’s no longer homeless and without a job. He’s a sweet guy that has a thing for older gentleman like Baxter. Baxter, in my opinion, was a complete douche bag. I sincerely disliked him for most of the book because he would either snap or growl at Matty, completely ignore Matty or push Matty to his knees for some head. He didn’t have a personality beyond that of a bastard and even with all these people saying he’s a good man, I never saw any of that. All I ever saw was Baxter silently demanding Matty to suck him when he was drunk, getting mad at Matty for no reason, ignoring Matty for days after they get together and then getting jealous when Matty decides he wants to move on to other guys. By the end of the book, however, he does lighten up a bit and I did like the way he helped Matty and Brian when things take a turn for the aunt but it was in no way enough to redeem himself for how he acted the whole time.

Aside from my hatred of Baxter, this was a promising read and definitely had a lot of potential but I found I had a lot of issues with the story. Mainly, I severely disliked the way the author handled not only Baxter but his encounters with Matty. I didn’t feel any connection between Matty and Baxter because all their time together consisted mainly of Matty giving Baxter blowjobs and then Baxter ignoring Matty until the next blowjob. I could have gotten past that but then it seemed the only way Baxter would do anything with Matty was when he was drunk. It was frustrating and disappointing to say the least because Baxter had no problems molesting Matty when he was wasted but wouldn’t even LOOK at Matty when he was sober let alone have a friendly conversation. Beyond that, this story had a lot of sex to it and what parts didn’t have sex had Matty pining over Baxter. It was hard for me to understand Matty’s obsession when we never saw any of the qualities in Baxter that Matty was pining over. Then again, he was very obsessed with Baxter’s package so granted that was shown quite often. To be honest, I don’t think Matty and Baxter had a meaningful conversation until the last few pages of the book and even then it wasn’t more than a few paragraphs, if that. One last issue I had was Clyde. I felt like the whole issue with him was pointless and the resolution to it didn’t bring Baxter or Matty closer, if anything it pushed them farther apart. I will say one thing, I’m very grateful that what Clyde does was not shown.

In the end, while this book had a lot of potential, it was overcrowded by sex and Baxter’s bad personality mixed with Matty’s willingness to be walked over by him. If this story had more dialogue between Matty and Baxter that didn’t occur while they were having sex, it would have been better. If the sex had been cut down, that would have been even better, IMO, but as it is, this felt more like an erotica story than a romance considering that there was no lead up to the love these boys apparently have together.

Those looking for something smutty and easy to read will like this story IF you like May/December, as well.


Cold Hands (College Fun and Gays #6) - Erica PikeTitle: Cold Hands (College Fun & Gays #6)
Author: Erica Pike
Publisher: Self Published (Ice Cave)
Length: 13,900 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Sequel, Series, Short Story, Enemies to Lovers, Ex-Bullies/Bullying, College, Past Abuse, Hurt/Comfort, Second Chances, Grovel you Bastard!, Public Sex, Carnivals
Rating: Really Liked It

BLURB

“Hot-Hands” and Casper have been dating for a month, but their relationship is about as smooth as shattered glass. It doesn’t help that Hot-Hands is racked with guilt over his high school bullying of Casper, or that Casper darts away whenever his boyfriend gets a little too frisky.

Desperate to hang onto Casper, Hot-Hands tries to earn back the trust he destroyed years ago, so they can face their disastrous past and have a chance at a happy future.

Note: Cold Hands focuses on high school bullying for being gay. This is the sequel to Hot Hands and contains big spoilers if read first. Hot Hands is free of charge here.

REVIEW

Hot Hands was by far my favorite story in Erica Pike’s College Fun and Gay series, so you can imagine my excitement when she said that she was writing a sequel. Cold Hands is almost as much of an antithesis to that first story as it’s title. Hot Hands introduces us to Casper — a college student who was brutally bullied, more like abused, in high school for being gay — and his ex-bully and middle school crush Jaime. Casper shows up to college and is surprised and devastated to learn that one of the ring leaders of the guys who tormented him is not only there but also in some of his classes. He does everything he can to avoid Jaime, but doesn’t know that a lot of Jaime’s bullying stemmed from his own awakening homosexual feelings towards Cass. His physical and emotional abuse for most of his teen years have really impacted him. He’s shy and doesn’t understand why he’s still attracted to one of the men who abused him, which also messes with his head. His attachments soon turn to another man, however, a man he starts to call “Hot-Hands” because of the way the man’s hands draw him out and make him feel sexy and interesting whenever he’s accosted by this same hard-breathing man in the dark. It’s a serious case of having a secret admirer, but Casper has his suspicions and soon finds them proven wrong. All that time, Casper had inadvertently been giving himself up to the man who caused him so much pain and now he’s more confused than ever.

Cold Hands resumes this story from Jaime’s point of view, which is a serious change in how we understand the story. Cass is a thinker who constantly analyzes his feelings and thoughts, but because of their unique relationship he knows very little about what Jaime really thinks and Jaime’s motives. The change in point of view starts this sequel off on a different foot. We immediately see that Jaime has real regret about the way he treated Cass in the past and that his feelings now are genuine, and also that he’s a different man now. He understands himself and has grow up in the two years they spend apart. Now, he’s out of the closet and over the shame that he grew up with from a conservative family and town. Still, Cass doesn’t know that. He’s still confused about Jaime’s motives and his own. How can he trust himself and his feelings if he’s seriously considering having a relationship with his abuser?

The real difference between the first story and the second isn’t the point of view, but in the focus of their relationship. If you look at these stories together as one, then this story is the payoff. The first was the setup, the background and the premise — the meetings in the dark with Casper’s “secret admirer” and the subsequent reveal of his real identity — but, Cold Hands is the meat and bones of their relationship. This story carries on to peel back the layers and find out if these guys have a solid base to build any relationship upon and how they go about doing that. The change in point of view facilitates that because by nature of their relationship as abuser/victim, Jaime automatically sees the bigger picture than Cass. Casper is still mired in confusion about his feelings and dealing with understanding Jaime and his actions and in evidence of how that abuse affected him, he’s battling his own self-esteem.

I’m so glad that Erica decided to continue their story because I think that it is only in retrospect that this story feels as if it completed the first. Cold Hands makes the whole story better by giving us a chance to see them work through the consequences of their actions in the first story, and that in turn gives them the HEA they deserve. This also shows in the sex in both stories. So much of the first story takes place while Casper thinks “Hot-Hands” is someone else entirely that a lot of those scenes were exploratory, sexy and hot in a situational way, playing on the mysterious suitor with a dirty and exhibitionist twist. I read that story as a really good piece of erotica with an engaging plot. This story moves their physical relationship into a place of intimacy, so much so that it’s often too difficult for Casper to really handle.

I definitely recommend these stories to all of you, though you absolutely have to read Hot Hands first. Well done Erica and thank you for writing this story so I could spend more time with Cass and Jaime!


BlessedCursesLGTitle: Blessed Curses
Author: Madeleine Ribbon
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 42,533 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Magic, Weddings, First Times, HEA, Hurt/Comfort, Nerds/Geeks, Light and Sweet
Rating: So So

BLURB

Though he’s a sorcerer with a talent for creating blessings, David can do very little with any other magic. He works the night shift for his cousin’s magical supply shop because he’s cursed—his brother did it when they were kids—and now people can’t stand to be near David since he inspires irrational fear. Many experts have tried to remove it, but the curse has proven completely binding. Then David meets Vaughn at his brother’s wedding.

Vaughn works for the magical enforcers, picking apart complex curses and making sure sorcerers stay within the law. He has the ability to dampen magical effects around him and loves solving supposedly irreversible curses like David’s. He quickly develops a more personal interest in David. Despite the distance David attempts to keep between them, he finally realizes when Vaughn is injured on the job that he doesn’t want to stay away anymore. But what about the curse?

REVIEW

I believe this is the first book by Madeleine Ribbon that I’ve read. I was excited about this book because it has a great premise — a man cursed by his brother at a young age who repulses everyone and everything around him until a man who excels at breaking curses and has his own natural resistance to others’ magic is the first man who can get close enough to him to try to remove it. And indeed, that is what immediately drew me into the story when I picked it up. We first see David as a young boy. He’s completely jealous of his older brother Todd (by one year). Todd has more magic than David; David can only do Blessings, not Curses and Charms like Todd and just about everyone else in the magical world. And Todd has friends. When Todd goes away to a magical camp one summer where David cannot follow, David finds that despite what his brother told him, Todd’s friends are happy to play with him. But when Todd comes home to see David with his friends he get’s jealous, and in a typical move towards his younger brother, he curses him. Only this time David tries to protect himself with a blessing and the combination of the magic creates what will become known among the magical world as the impossible curse, and David as The Impossible Kid.

David feels the curse himself. He’s uncomfortable, full of fear and feels the creepy crawly feeling across his whole body. But that doesn’t compare to how other people feel in his proximity. The closer they get the more they want to run away, the more they’re afraid of him. And because of that impossibility of touch and interaction with all except for his brother Todd who is immune (as the curse caster, and subsequently has devote his life to his care because of his guilt), David has lived a life devoid of physical affection, even from his own parents. Those who take the time to brave their discomfort and get to know David fall in love with him. He’s shy and awkward around people because of his curse and his lack of experience relating to others.

David still has his magic and though he feels it’s rather lackluster in relation to so many other people’s gifts, he admits that he has a real talent for Blessings. It is when he’s fulfilling his promise to be in attendance of his brother Todd’s wedding (and to bless the cake for the couple) that he meets Vaughn. He’s confident, sexy, intelligent and talented and David has no idea what Vaughn sees in him — other than the challenge of breaking his curse. Nevertheless, Vaughn can’t seem to stay away from David. While it started out as a professional interest, Vaughn finds that the man himself is more intriguing than the horrible curse he bears. Getting David, a man who has never received any kind of positive attention from another handsome gay man, to realize that David is worth more than his curse looks to be almost as challenging as finding a counter to the curse itself. But the more time that Vaughn spends getting to know David — wooing him in baby steps the whole way — the more important it is to him to find a way to keep David for good.

I liked this novella but I think that it mostly only kept my interest because of it’s length. It’s short enough that when my initial interest, which covered the first few chapters and maybe the first 25% of the book, started to wane there wasn’t a whole lot left to read. I won’t say that it turned me off in any way, but I did feel like the book stalled a bit and it never really regained the magic even until the end. The premise of the book is really interesting, but once the initial meeting between David and Vaughn at the wedding finished they went into a long and slow courtship, because of David’s fear of forging a connection with someone who he believed would ultimately be turned away by the curse. It made sense for the characters, but it slowed down the pace somewhat. That bulk of the story was really only driven by the internal conflict. And I hate to say it, but for me that really slow courtship which was much more like friendship killed the passion. I’m not sure why I reacted this way because I usually am a big fan of the slow burn. I think that’s why I slowly lost some interest in their relationship — I didn’t feel the “burn” in the slow burn.

There is a side plot throughout the story. Over the months of their courtship is a small mystery keeping the two on their toes. Someone, what seems to be a scrawny kid, is trying to break in and steal a blessed plant from magical shops around town and is quite good at escaping capture. The plant in question is only used for suppressing magic, which leads David to believe that someone might be cursed similarly to him and hoping to stop it’s effects. Vaughn, who works for the Magical Enforcement department of Arcana, the magical government, is involved with the case. This side plot could have remedied the problems that I had, diverting the focus to something else to drive the plot forward. But, ultimately while the conclusion was interesting in it’s own way I didn’t feel like it carried the story through those parts.

On the whole I just didn’t find many surprises with this story. It is good for what it is despite the few problems that I had with it — the premise is wonderful and I liked the characters quite a lot. David is cute in his geeky, online gaming and need-to-be-rescued kind of way, while Vaughn is charming and dashing, popular and sexy and loyal and caring. But after the initial introduction to the story and between the characters, I pretty much had the story already figured out.

This would be a good book for those of you looking for something not too involved, that won’t take up a whole lot of your day and is a relaxing and light book to read. It’s heartwarming in a knight-in-shining-armor kind of way. But if you’re looking for something more intense or more exploration of the magical world and a deeper study of the characters, this might not be for you. Though I enjoyed the experience, I fell into the latter camp.


Weight of Silence (Cost of Repairs #3) - AM ArthurTitle: Weight of Silence (Cost of Repairs #3)
Author: AM Arthur
Publisher: Samhain
Length: 51k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Mild & Sexy
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Series, Coming Out, YA Characters, Hurt/Comfort, Sisters, Family Drama, Abuse, Deadbeat Dad, College, HFN, Past Couples’ Cameos, Thanksgiving, Christmas
Rating: Pretty Good

Reviewed by Sadonna

BLURB

The wrong secret can poison everything–even if it’s kept with the best of intentions.

Gavin Perez knows he’s a living cliché. He works a dead-end job, shares a trailer with his waitress mom, has an abusive, absentee sperm donor, and he’s poor. So color him shocked when middle-class, white-bread Jace Ramsey agrees to hang out with him.

Granted, Gavin is trying to make up for dumping a bowl of cranberry sauce on Jace at Thanksgiving. And boy, is Gavin forgiven, over and over again…until Jace goes back to college for finals and stops returning Gavin’s calls.

Back home from the semester from hell, Jace doesn’t want to do anything but sleep through the holidays. It’s easier than coming out to his family—or facing Gavin’s hurt. But Gavin’s ready forgiveness draws them back together, and Jace won’t be able to stay in the closet much longer.

Nor will he be able to keep hiding his pain. He trusts Gavin with his body, maybe even with his heart. But can he trust that a devastating secret that’s eating him up inside won’t destroy everything—and everyone—he loves?

Product Warnings
This book contains one slightly hyperactive hero from the wrong side of town, a frustrated college student looking for a little life experience, and an unexpected romance amid dark secrets that just won’t stay buried. Also contains references to physical abuse some readers may find disturbing.

REVIEW

This is the third book in the Cost of Repairs series. While this story takes place in the same town as the first two novels, there isn’t a lot of crossover and it can be read as a standalone story. The couples from the previous two stories briefly appear in this book, but it’s not really necessary to have read them before this one.

Every year for Thanksgiving, Dixie, who owns the local diner, Dixie’s Cup, throws a large Thanksgiving potluck dinner that is attended by a lot of folks in town. All of her employees and a number of her friends as well as her nephew and his partner also are invited. This year Gavin and his mom (who works at Dixie’s) are also there along with the Ramseys. Keith Ramsey is one of the local police officers and he keeps an eye on Dixie’s and of course has been friends with her for years. Gavin and Jace have a small accident with some cranberry relish that results in them talking really for the first time. Gavin has been out since he was 14 and he’s pretty sure Jace is gay but he doesn’t seem to be out. Surprisingly though he agrees to go to a party with Gavin over the Thanksgiving weekend.

While Jace has some misgivings about the location of the party, he ends up having a decent time and then he and Gavin go out to the lake to park. He’s never really done anything with a guy before – beyond some awkward groping and kissing – and boy does he want to with Gavin. Gavin recognizes the deer in the headlights look about Jace though and he takes things slow. Jace is in his sophomore year at Temple [University] and Gavin is about 4 years older, so he lets Jace take the lead and set the pace.

Several weeks later Jace is home for Christmas break and he’s not at all acting like himself. He’s not eating, he’s moody, and he’s uncommunicative with his family and just generally stressed out. When his mom forces him to make an appearance at their annual Christmas party, he comes face to face with Gavin. He’s shocked that Gavin even speaks to him since he had ignored all communication from him since Thanksgiving break. Jace feels guilty and explains it away that he had finals and then he had to change his number because of harassing texts and calls. Gavin amazingly accepts these excuses and they start to hang out again. Jace is not happy to be home, he’s not happy at college and he’s pretty much avoiding his family. Regardless, Gavin is happy to be spending so much time with Jace. He and Jace hang out at Gavin’s trailer quite a bit since Gavin’s mom is working and Jace isn’t out to his family. Although Gavin recognizes that Jace is tense, he chalks it up to his worry about grades and his unhappiness and being forced to go to college when he doesn’t really want to be there.

As the break continues, Jace’s family and particularly his twin sister Rachel become more concerned about his behavior. He’s not eating and as a consequence has lost a noticeable amount of weight and seems to be getting weaker. When he does try to eat, he seems to get sick quite a lot. Things come to a head with his family and Gavin really helps out. There are things that no one knows that have happened at school and Jace feels guilty and betrayed and is dealing with an incredible amount of stress and self-loathing. While Jace meant well and made a decision out of the desire to protect someone he loves, he has suffered some pretty awful consequences. Without being spoilery, luckily for Jace, Gavin is a great guy and steps up when he needs to.

I am a fan of this author and really liked the previous two books in this series. For me, this story is not quite as strong as the first two in the series. I think that the ages of the guys and the things they were dealing with were not quite as compelling as the first two. This book is also not as long as the previous two installments. Or maybe it’s just that I’m old 😉 I really, really liked Gavin especially. His personality I thought really was conveyed especially well in this story. Jace grows a lot in this story and learns a great deal about himself, his family and what he wants out of life. I enjoyed seeing Rey and Samuel from the first book in a small supporting role and also Dixie and company from the diner. This is a well-written series and I would happen to revisit Stratton, PA in the future should the opportunity arise.


SecretChemistryLGTitle: Secret Chemistry (Shifters #1)
Author: Chris T. Kat
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 59k+ words, 220 pages
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Adorable, Alpha Men, Cowboys, Forbidden Love, Forced Separation, HEA-ish, Hurt/Comfort, Injured Character, Magic, Mate Bonding, Secret & Lies, Series, Shifter Sex, (Fox/Wolf Hybrid) Shifter, Wolf Shifters, Yearning
Rating: Really Liked It

Reviewed by Nikyta

BLURB

Not all werewolf societies are created equal. The one Tim Evans grew up in detests those not of “pure blood”—so when Tim discovers his mate is Jay, a male fox-wolf hybrid ten years his junior, it shocks him, to say the least. Too young to claim his mate and too weak to protect him from the rest of the pack, Tim fears for Jay’s life. When a human gets hold of Jay, Tim believes he has lost him forever.

The next eighteen years are hell. Tim devotes his life to his family and running their stable, but anger and depression threaten to consume him. Then fate brings Jay back into his life. Tim knows Jay feels the same attraction he does—mates always do. So why won’t Jay act on it?

REVIEW

At a gathering, thirteen year old Tim notices a strangely enticing smell but before he can figure out what it is, chaos starts to rein within his pack. Some of the pack want to hunt a den of hybrids, which causes hostility among the wolves. Forced to go home when the wolves turn violent, Tim can’t resist the smell for long and follows it to a mother and a young fox/wolf hybrid named Jay. Noticing the hybrid is his mate, protective instincts compel Tim to do everything in his power to get them to safety. Unfortunately, while trying to save Jay, he ends up getting injured and forced to leave Jay’s side. Now, eighteen years later, Tim’s life hasn’t exactly been alluring but he’s finally put into a situation to reconnect with Jay when Jay and his father want to buy a horse from Tim’s family’s ranch. Jay, though, doesn’t understand the instant connection between the two, which causes Tim to explain to Jay his own existence. Not only that but now Tim has to break it to his family that the mate he’s been yearning for is not only male but the very shifter that caused so much unintentional chaos and hatred almost two decades earlier.

This story starts off a bit odd in that the Jay and Tim meet when they are very young. In fact, the first third of the book revolves around their first encounter at such an early age. Some readers might have an issue with this because, while they don’t mate, the connection is there and very real even though Jay is only three and Tim is thirteen. In my opinion, it worked with this story because the separation they are forced to endure for eighteen years has molded them into the individuals they are in present day. More than that, it allows the reader to get a sense of how their connection formed and grew without there being flashbacks throughout the story, which is part of why I adored this book so much because I’m not that fond of sporadic flashbacks.

Another reason I loved this book is because of the characters. When you first see Jay, he’s a toddler and probably one of the cutest things I’ve ever read. He’s so innocent and trusting of Tim right away because of their mate bond so there are a few sweet moments between the two when they’re young, which I found completely adorable. Jay, at twenty-one, is much more bolder and feisty. He won’t put up with Tim’s irrational or possessive behavior (at least not often) so it made for an entertaining read watching Jay put Tim in his place. Tim, on the other hand, is fiercely protective of Jay from the start and those feelings didn’t diminish in their eighteen-year absence. Actually, I really loved how alpha male he was. I found his jealousy and possessiveness extremely amusing but he was also very gentle with Jay. Their chemistry is really hot and the sexual tension between them is even better.

The plot deals with a few things. First is the fact that Jay is a hybrid and, therefore, wanted dead. Tim’s father has a hatred for hybrids because of what happened to Tim’s mom for trying to protect them. So, one of the conflicts is getting Tim’s family to understand their mating and accepting it. The other major conflict is the fact that Tim has made some rash decisions in the past eighteen years that has made him unfit for being an alpha. This means not only is their relationship forbidden but there can only be one alpha pair and that is not supposed to be Tim and Jay but Tim’s brother, Robin, who is more submissive than anything else, and Robin’s eventual mate. It’s interesting how it all plays out and the emotions that run rampant through every character in this book but there’s also a whole host of interesting shifter capabilities (like sensers and their healing ability) that I loved reading about because it made this shifter story unique in its own way, which made this read stand out from ordinary shifter stories. One of the highlights of this book is definitely Tim’s little brother Robin. He’s such a delight to read about because of his mischievous behavior and his very naughty comments. I loved reading every scene he was in.

I really adored this story but it’s not without its problems. First off, the story ends with the assumption that trouble will strike again. I don’t want to go into too much more detail because that will ruin the enjoyment, I think, but I’m just going to say that while it’s an HEA, it’s left open-ended because there’s the realization that more conflict is bound to happen because of their mating. My only other problem was the sister, Debra. She was a real piece of work and I would have happily strangled her if I could have. I’m curious, though, with all her animosity if she’ll be the cause of the problems sure to come. More than that, I’m still left wondering, what does Tim look like? Being from Tim’s POV, we never really know (and if it’s told, I unfortunately missed that). I feel like I should also warn readers that this book has shifter sex in it. While this didn’t bother me, I know that is not some readers’ cup of tea.

Overall, this was a delightful read that was both adorable and hot. It’s intense at times but the characters are definitely loveable and entertaining with a plot that is very intriguing. The world is different but easy to follow and even though it has a sort of open ending, I’m curious where the story will head from here. I’m also wondering if the sequel will be about Jay and Tim or about Robin and his eventual mate. Really looking forward to finding out!


sinnersginTitle: Sinner’s Gin (Sinner’s Gin #1)
Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 85,843 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Rockers, Cops, Diverse Pairing, Irish, Past Sexual Abuse, Hurt/Comfort, Injuries, Man’s Best Friend (Dogs!), Big Families, Secrets & Lies
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

There’s a dead man in Miki St. John’s vintage Pontiac GTO, and he has no idea how it got there.

After Miki survives the tragic accident that killed his best friend and the other members of their band, Sinner’s Gin, all he wants is to hide from the world in the refurbished warehouse he bought before their last tour. But when the man who sexually abused him as a boy is killed and his remains are dumped in Miki’s car, Miki fears Death isn’t done with him yet.

Kane Morgan, the SFPD inspector renting space in the art co-op next door, initially suspects Miki had a hand in the man’s murder, but Kane soon realizes Miki is as much a victim as the man splattered inside the GTO. As the murderer’s body count rises, the attraction between Miki and Kane heats up. Neither man knows if they can make a relationship work, but despite Miki’s emotional damage, Kane is determined to teach him how to love and be loved — provided, of course, Kane can catch the killer before Miki becomes the murderer’s final victim.

REVIEW

I read this with a friend over Christmas, and while I enjoyed this book, I think that other readers seem to be liking it more than me. I’ve been thinking about it since, and while I’ve avoided looking at how it’s been received since those early few days and from reader and reviewer reviews, at that time it seemed like this was coming off really well. And it deserves it. I’m not really sure what it was about the story that I didn’t quite connect with, but I’ll try to flesh it out in a minute.

The story starts with a stunner of a prologue (which I’ll leave alone, but btw, RF, you are really packing the punches with the prologues and epilogues lately!). As the main story starts, we get to know Miki mostly from Kane’s POV as the man who owns the dog that keeps stealing his art supplies. Soon after he gets to know Miki from terse front door words about the exact ownership of the dog, they become embroiled in a murder mystery. Kane finds a dead body in Miki’s classic restored GTO, and not just any dead body, but the body of the man who used to torture Miki as a street kid, opening up a past of abuse and cruelty that Miki doesn’t want to face.

I suppose it is just personal that parts of this story didn’t connect with me. I loved Kane, and I loved Miki to an extent. I had a difficult time going through all of his horrible upturned life with him. He suffer(s/ed) quite a lot at the hands of various people, as well as fate, and as one thing packed onto a another and the dynamic between the two became, at times, very hurt/comfort. The problem for me was in the structure of the story and the pacing, which seemed to relegate most of the action to the first and last 25% and the bulk of the middle to character growth and relationship growth. But that middle part got bogged down for me because the emotions were pretty heavy. And not exactly the emotions but the type of abuse that Miki suffered and his bleak day to day existence was difficult for me to read in one stretch. I kept braking and wishing for some of the investigation to come back and break up some of the tension.

That said, the rest of the story was a treat. Where the white cop/lithe korean man dynamic might seem familiar, the characters are quite different from Cole and Jae, especially in the differences between Kane and Cole (I found Kane much more immediately accessible but not lacking in depth). This book deals with what might seem to be heavier issues (child sexual abuse), I didn’t find it any darker in tone than her previous books. I compare the start of this new series to that one because I know that almost every reader who reads this, or plans to buy it, will. And while there are surface similarities, I found them satisfyingly different.

What I can’t really figure out from my own feelings is how much my liking of this book is wrapped up in how much I look forward to the next coming book in the series. Because while this book has a lot to recommend it, I didn’t ever get excited about it while reading until the surprise epilogue, which immediately made me upset I couldn’t read further 😉 And while it did feel good to leave on a note that excited me about reading more, I’m not sure I’d be happy if RF ended up relying on this device (not saying she will, just my feelings). Still, I have a feeling that this book is worth reading to get to that second book, and I hope the exploration of that secret will inject some more forward momentum into the story that I wanted here.

So, I’m very much looking forward to the rest of this series, and as always remain an avid fan of this author’s work.