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

Tag Archives: Insta-Love

angelsredemptionTitle: Angel’s Redemption
Author: Azalea Moone
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 31k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Fantasy Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Fallen Angels, Rockers/Musicians, Metal Music, Roommates, Luck, Insta-Love
Rating: Not Feelin’ It

BLURB

Twenty-four-year-old Blaine Schneider is seasoned to hardship. Since the age of eight, he’s experienced nothing but a swarm of bad luck: from the funny electrical fire in shop class to failing grades and relationships gone sour. He believes he’ll never get past it; only his band, ‘Til Dark, and their dream, keeps him going through it all.

Shortly after he mysteriously inherits a beautifully carved angel statue, Blaine also finds an apartment big enough to display the lifelike sculpture, and he thinks his luck has finally taken a turn for the better. But when he discovers the spell inscribed on the statue’s base, he frees Lynsael from his stone prison, a handsome fallen angel who claims to be Blaine’s former guardian angel, and then his luck really improves.

But while Blaine is falling hard for the angel’s blue eyes and lively personality, in the shadows, dark forces are working to keep Blaine and Lynsael apart. It will take more than luck for the pair to come through unscathed—it’ll take a miracle.

REVIEW

I shouldn’t apologize for my feelings and I try not to usually, but I will, because I tend to do that. Sorry ahead of time to those who put a lot of love and care into the creation of this book, this isn’t really going to be a positive review 😦

I have a love/hate relationship with angel stories. I think that maybe people are turned onto angels for a few different reasons, but a lot of it has to do with the loss of innocence. There are so many directions an author can take an angelic character — an exploration of literary history and popular angelic mythos, playing on the fallen angel theme and the dichotomy of innocence and corruption, angelic and human. Many romance novels place a lot of importance on world building as a backdrop to the reason their angel falls and then some place the romance itself as the focus of their story. Many of those stories are where I find myself not as interested. I like seeing an author’s imagination in world building of angel stories. I think that what I really don’t like is that I sometimes find angels in romance stories to be somewhat… vapid? without personality? They convey all of that innocence but it seems one dimensional. It’s hard to connect with a character like that, and even though it might be a purposeful choice because angels are in fact, not human (who knew?!), that doesn’t necessarily make it a good choice for the story.

That’s where I started to encounter some problems for me with Angel’s Redemption. I like this author’s prose, no doubt about that. And that is probably why I continually come back to read her stories even though, in the past, I’ve not been very kind in my reviews. So for me, taking a gamble on this story for review was… well, a gamble, what with the angel theme and my past history with not liking some of this author’s characters so much. The premise of this story is the freedom of an angel who is bound in a statue. Blaine received the statue, which has always mystified and alternately unnerved him, from his father’s best friend, an artist who worked on the statue for a long time and for some unknown reason left it to Blaine in his will. When Blaine moves to an apartment with enough space to showcase the beautiful rendition of the male form (au naturel), he puts it in a place where he can showcase it, even adding a spotlight to show it off.

In the meantime, Blaine is trying to make his sucky life better. Ever since the age of 8 he’s been terribly unlucky. Prior to that, his life was wonderful. Now that he’s 24 and with a band he’s proud of he thinks he might be able to master his own luck and make his life happier. There’s a chance for his band to play a weekly gig at a popular club, which will give them lots of visibility and even a bit of cash. His life and luck is looking up, if they can actually get the gig. It looks promising, if only his bandmates would get their shit together.

But Blaine is still mystified by the statue of the beautiful angel. Sometimes… he swears that when he walks by the eyes follow him and occasionally he sees a feather ruffle. It can’t be true, but further investigation of the statue reveals a strange phrase in latin marked on the base. Blaine’s curiosity could be the best, or worst thing that has ever happened to him.

I hate to sit and list the problems I had with this book. I mean, for the most part I still enjoyed reading it and I definitely didn’t hate it. But, I also found some things here that have bothered me with past Azalea Moone books and stories. One of those things, and the one of the biggest problems that I had here was the world building. It’s almost non-existent. I read through this whole book having no clue what was going on. It wasn’t because the characters were purposefully keeping secrets — they were — but, we’re often given references of things that have happened in the past. This is great because it helps us put the pieces of the story together ourselves, but there has to be a framework in which to fill in those gaps — a world. I read the blurb again when I finished the book and it had more detail than was in the actual book. Also, throughout the book, Lynsael continually asks Blaine to help him find out what happened with the statue. Both of them don’t understand how he broke out, how he was bound, or what the sculptor (Blaine’s father’s friend) really knew about any of this, including Lyn. Blaine offers to help, about a million times but something always seems to come up to distract him. This is just one of my pet peeves. It didn’t seem like a very good reason to stall them, to put off talking about their situation and finding out what is going on. It seemed more like an easy way to stall them until the ending of the story. It was just… frustrating to read, honestly. I would have liked to see them talk, not only to figure out why everything was happening as it was, but also to get to know one another — their history, their lives, their feelings — and by extension for me to get to know the characters.

I ended the book feeling like I didn’t really understand the story, only the few events that happened but no background at all to fill in the details and gaps. I also felt like I didn’t really know the characters well. I understood Blaine a bit better than Lyn, but not well. So I didn’t connect with them and I didn’t really see a connection between them. In another story by this author that I read and reviewed (“On Clouds of Obsession” in the Fraternal Devotion anthology, reviewed here), I felt like I didn’t really like one of of the main characters. And I felt that way about Blaine somewhat too. While he wasn’t the kind of asshole like in “On Clouds of Obsession”, he still pissed me off most of the book with his words toward Lyn and his refusal to help him and his general attitude of pissy and then, suddenly, he loves him. I didn’t get it, really.

I think that pretty much says everything. I didn’t really like the book and I feel like it needed more work to fill out the story. That and I just couldn’t connect with both of the characters. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this one.


Burden72lgTitle: Burden
Author: Annmarie McKenna
Publisher: Samhain
Length: 30,500 words, 113 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance Mystery
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Cops, Injury, Assassination Attempts, Memory Loss, Recovery, Insta-love, Kittens!, HFN
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Sadonna

BLURB

There’s more than one way to guard a body.



In the year since his car flew off a cliff, Detective Brennan McGuire has struggled to relearn the simplest tasks—like speaking without a stutter—and even more with trying to fill the gaping holes in his memory.

But when his daily visit to a local coffee shop turns into a melee of flying bullets, Brennan’s instincts take control.

So much for Keegan Monroe’s first day off after a long undercover assignment. One minute he’s relaxing over coffee, the next his cheek is kissing concrete. Question is, is the gorgeous man on top of him his savior, or the one who took a potshot at his head?

As Keegan shepherds the too-quiet, too-skinny Brennan through the investigation, attraction flares into nights of white-hot passion. But with each scorching encounter, more and more of Brennan’s memories shake loose…and it becomes clear someone doesn’t want him putting those pieces together.

With Keegan’s oath to protect and serve putting him squarely in the crosshairs of a murderer, now the question is, who is protecting whom?

REVIEW

The blurb for this story pretty much tells it all and gives away the twist to the plot.  Brennan has suffered a traumatic brain injury as the result of a car accident that he can’t remember.  He was a police officer before the injury, but now he can barely order a drink and pay for it at the local coffee shop.  While on his daily therapy exercise, he spies a shooter and lunges at the hot guy he thinks is about to get shot and in doing so, becomes a suspect.  Somehow the police take forever to figure out that something is wrong with him (duh).  Once they realize that he was an officer and that he is still recovering from the accident, they STILL think he might be involved.

Keegan begins to doubt that Brennan is involved and has him review mugshots in an attempt to identify the shooter.  Keegan is convinced that this somehow has to do with the case he has just completed.  As the investigation continues and he witnesses Brennan’s flashes of memory, he begins to suspect that something else is going on.  During the second day of the investigation we meet Brennan’s aunt – who is a hoot – maybe my second favorite character in this story 🙂

Brennan and Keegan are definitely attracted and even though he kind of feels like maybe he’s taking advantage, Keegan just can’t seem to keep his hands off.  Amazingly during sex, Brennan doesn’t even stutter and seems sure of himself and what he wants.  Brennan’s old instincts seem to be surfacing more and more as the case continues which is a good thing for both of them.  Keegan liked the Brennan he sees and wants to help him remember what happened and not just because he’s trying to figure out what’s going on with the assassination attempts.

I really wanted to like this book so much more!  The blurb was intriguing and I liked both MCs – especially Brennan.  The problem for me was the rushed, compressed time frame of this story – it’s literally two and a half days and the MCs are saying “I love you.”  Also, I knew from the blurb and the story pretty much what was going to be the outcome and who the bad guy was.  I hate when that happens!  This would have been a much better story if it had been about three times the word count and we got a fully fleshed out relationship built between the MCs.  Instead they spend one day together and they are “in love.”  Not saying it can’t happen, but it’s just not that satisfying.  I’ve read other books by this author and really liked them and there is nothing inherently wrong with this one.  I just needed more relationship development to feel like I got the whole story.


DR_Its_Raining_MenTitle: It’s Raining Men
Author: Diana DeRicci
Publisher: MLR
Length: 32,000 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: MLR Mix Tapes, X-Dress, Personal Trainer, Drag Queen, Good Friends, HEA, Insta-Love
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Sadonna

**Review contains some spoilers**

BLURB

Dallas, along with a few friends, is attending a singing contest to cheer on a friend who is a drag performer. Except he falls in utter lust with the hostess of the club, Peter, AKA Pepper Prince. Finagling a date, they spend hours talking into the night and Dallas gets a second date. Even though they’re hitting it off, Peter is skeptical of Dallas’ honesty and acceptance of Pepper’s inclusion in his private and professional life. Can romance win the heart of a man who’s been hurt in the past for simply being the person he is? History says no, but Dallas isn’t like anyone Peter knows, and is determined to prove it.

REVIEW

This story in the Mix Tape series begins with a competition in a drag club. A bunch of guys are out for an evening of fun at Paper Dolls to support the boyfriend of one of their group. Chance, aka Chantilly is one of the drag show contestants vying for the crown and a trip to Las Vegas for a big national competition. There are 5 of them in the group – a couple, Javy and Carson, two single guys, Dallas, a personal trainer, and Brady, a cop, and Liam, Chance’s boyfriend. As the competition opens, we are introduced to Pepper Prince, the MC of the club and Dallas is mesmerized. He hopes that Pepper really is a man, but he’s not sure because he appears as a beautiful woman. We also meet Miguel, their very cute waiter that seems to draw Brady’s attention.

At the end of the competition, Dallas and Liam go backstage to get Chance and of course Dallas wants to meet Pepper. The other contestants tell him that it’s a lost cause – he’ll never get Pepper to go out with him. But Dallas keeps trying. There is a twist with Miguel and Brady back in the front of the club that ends with Pepper (who by now we know is Peter) giving them all a ride since he’s the only one sober enough to drive. Brady is very protective of Miguel and Dallas welcomes the chance to get to talk to Peter. He amazingly convinces Peter to give him a chance for one more date.

We get a little bit of background on Peter and why he’s not interesting in dating but Dallas is persistent and they have a really good time together. Just as Peter and Dallas are growing closer though, a job offer comes along that takes Peter away to what could be his dream job. Dallas cares too much about Peter’s happiness to be selfish and tells Peter he needs to see where this takes him. Of course he’s miserable and it takes one of his training clients to get him to see what he really needs to do about this situation.

I wanted to like this story so much more. The premise was really great and I liked Dallas and Peter. But things started to go a little wrong for me in the story after their first real date and it got a little insta-lovey. My main issues with the story had to do with Peter seeming to rush into a relationship with Dallas after we see him saying no to getting involved with someone he’s met at the club and hear from others as well that Peter doesn’t date. I would really have liked to see more interaction between Dallas and Peter before they seemed to be so attached. There were also a couple of continuity problems that threw me off a little.

I think that this story would have benefitted from having another 30,000 words so that the relationship could have developed a bit more naturally. There were so many secondary characters that I really would have liked to know more about as well. This would really be a good starting point for a series about some of these characters and maybe that’s what Diana will do. I’d love to see what happens between Miguel and Brady and I also liked Dallas’s client Mikala.


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.


WitnessProtectionTitle: Witness Protection
Author: Derek Adams
Publisher: Amber Allure
Length: 15k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Roamnce
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, GFY/OFY, Mafia, Cops, Crime, WITSEC, Insta-Love, Archetypes, Ex-Cons, In the Woods
Rating: Not Feelin’ It

BLURB

Ex-con Tony Bradshaw drops into a convenience store on his way home after work, looking for a loaf of bread. What he finds instead is trouble. Overnight, he becomes the star witness in the murder trial of a major mob enforcer. Death threats quickly follow, and Tony’s life is completely disrupted.

Tony is hustled off to a secluded cabin in the woods with bodyguard Alec Dubinski, a handsome young detective who at first appears to be a complete homophobe. Relations between them start off poorly and soon hit rock bottom during a drunken stupor. But after Alec apologizes for his unacceptable behavior, the sexual chemistry between the men can no longer be ignored. A night of unbridled passion leads to a declaration of their growing affection for one another.

Their idyll in the woods is brought to a halt, however, when their hideout is brutally attacked by mafia henchmen. What sacrifice is Tony willing to make as he attempts to save the man he has come to love?

REVIEW

It wasn’t until I finished this story that I checked and realized I haven’t actually ever read anything by Derek Adams before. I have plenty of his stories, but I’ve never gotten around to reading one of them. Now, I can’t say that my feelings about this story have any bearing on the quality of writing in those other stories, but I suspect that had I read anything by this author before last week, when I decided to get this from Amber Allure for review, I might have taken a pass. And honestly, I wish I had.

Tony Bradshaw has had a rough life. Problems at home manifested in his juvenile delinquency at an early age. And once he’s in the system, it’s almost impossible for Tony to get out of it. Criminal habits and a harsh reality of his place in society result in a vicious circle, of a world that continually admonishes Tony for his lack of worth while at the same time actively helping him to fail. Bad behavior and stupid choices as a teenager lead to his need to rob, steal and sell his body to survive as an adult. Tony is the first to admit that while he may have had few choices at that time, it doesn’t negate the fact that with the choices he did have he always chose the worst ones. And Tony knows even more how your image can control who you are and the choices you have.

Tony is on a first name basis with many of Seattle’s cops, and the older cops that know him by name and reputation seem to delight in reminding him that while he has his life together now they’re just waiting for him to slip up so they can remind him of who they know him to be. Having such a bad reputation with law enforcement makes it even harder for Tony to bear what is happening to him now. What Tony thought was a small altercation on a dark street corner turns out to be the smoking gun that cops need to bring down one of the key components of an organized crime ring. He’s in real danger and an obvious target before he can testify in the trial. Now that Tony is an honest citizen, he does his duty and tells the cops what he saw. The cops, on the other hand, only grudgingly give him protection. They send him and a cop by the name of Alec to a cabin in the woods until the trial can be brought together. Tony’s reward for his candor is a one way ticket into WITSEC.

What was a somewhat unoriginal plot (which is pretty obvious from the blurb) was made even worse by choppy writing, superficial characters and a plot that never really went anywhere. By that, I mean that several factors came together in an unfortunate way. The writing itself relies heavily on summary instead of active scene, which we’re given in several info dumps. There are also large gaps in time that end up being gaps in plot because of the lack of transition between parts of the story and in character growth. Most frustrating for me, aside from the lack of growth in the characters, was the stilted dialogue that seemed like something the characters would never say. Also, without showing any of the internal process, one of the characters makes a drastic 180 that really kind of baffled me. And last, I was curious to see how the author would write the end scene. It’s pretty obvious from the blurb what is going to happen. Ultimately, I found the ending completely anticlimactic and the characters actions so apart from their real person that I just really couldn’t understand them at all.

To be quite honest, I really wouldn’t recommend this story — not even if you’re a fan of Derek Adams. I’m sure some people will like this story, but with so many obvious flaws, I think that’s a small percentage of readers.


TAC_Angels_EvolutionTitle: Angel’s Evolution
Author: TA Chase
Publisher: MLR
Length: 54,000 words
Genre: M/M Historical Romance
Heat: 3 – Mild & Sexy
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Abuse, Aristocracy, Regency, Insta-love, HEA
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Sadonna

BLURB

I’m a monster, but with one kiss, he changes everything I believe.

I’m a monster and I’m imprisoned in a world I hate and fear. As heir to my father’s title, I’m expected to marry, but my secret desires may keep me from fulfilling those expectations. One night, a stranger kisses me. In his touch, I see the possibility of a life beyond my prison. My name? Just call me Angel and this is my evolution.

REVIEW

First I really am a fan of this author and this is the eighteenth book of hers that I’ve read. Kissed by God is one of my all time favorites. That said, I think I am one of the few people who are not very enamored of the Regency period. This is a historical set in that period.

Angel, our MC, is of the aristocracy, but he has been kept away from society and we learn repeatedly and horribly abused by his father for over a decade. However apparently at 23, he needs to find a wife and has been forced into the social season. He of course has no interest in women and has no idea how he is going to be able to do this. Then he sees a man he is immediately and passionately attracted to at these balls, but he hides as much as he can since he has never developed any social skills due to the isolation and abuse. His father has told him he is a monster and he has believed it until this point. But then the man seeks him out and kisses him. He begins to think maybe he isn’t so crazy and monstrous. The man, Lord Greyson, turns out to be one of the most powerful members of the ruling class. Greyson feels he has found his soul mate and rescues Angel from his father with the help of Angel’s uncle who has his own demons he is wrestling with. Apparently it’s love at first sight for Greyson because they have no contact before these society balls. Angel is really just so much chattel to his father and his only purpose is to find a wife and marry well, but of course he is not going to let go of his “heir” so easily.

The rest of the story deals with Greyson doing his best to care for and heal Angel. He is appalled by the abuse and he only wants Angel to feel safe and loved. He also aids in repairing the relationship between Angel and his uncle. The uncle is also horrified by his brother’s behavior and the harsh treatment that Angel has been subjected too. There are a few subplots to the story as well including the circumstances surrounding the death of Angel’s cousin and Greyson’s role as advisor to the crown. I’m not sure how much the intrigue part of the story added to the plot although I guess it did provide a tie to the cousin’s story. One of Angel’s brothers also makes a late appearance and decides to finally do the right thing after Angel is once again the subject of more abuse.

I’m really torn about how to rate this story. There is not a thing wrong with the writing – there are many beautiful passages. I can certainly understand Angel’s need for and willingness to go with Greyson – the boy has been abused horribly and this is really the first kindness shown to him. Greyson for his part seems to truly care about Angel and wants to help him heal from the awful abuse he has been subjected too. There is also good balance of sex in the story that builds given the fragile state Angel is in at the beginning of their relationship. My issue with the story is twofold really – the whole insta-love “locking eyes across a crowded room” and then the lack of repercussions to Greyson for having a male lover while it’s obviously been an issue for others. I know he’s fabulously wealthy and powerful and certainly that gives him some leeway, but it seemed unrealistic to me. Many people really love this story, but unfortunately, it was just not for me.