Title: His Roommate’s Pleasure
Author: Lana McGregor
Length: 30k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary BDSM Erotic Romance
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: College, Jocks/Nerds, Nerds/Geeks, Roommates, Opposites Attract, Closeted, Coming Out, First Times
Rating: Pretty Good
It started with an accidental click…but where will it end?
Desperate to turn in a paper, Adam borrows his roommate’s computer and mistakenly opens a folder that contains Josh’s collection of porn. Adam had no idea that his jock roommate was gay–and into leashes, paddles and domination. And Adam, an inexperienced virgin who’s only ever kissed one guy, is surprised to find himself curious about submitting…
Josh can’t believe that his roommate discovered his spank bank–and he can’t believe that Adam is so turned on by the thought of giving up control to someone. Taking a chance, he offers to look through the photos with Adam…and maybe try acting some of them out.
Night after night, the boys delve into their darkest fantasies of domination and submission. And as lust and experimentation grow into the promise of something deeper, Adam must decide if he’s brave enough to tell Josh how he feels.
I’ve been looking forward to reading and reviewing this book for months now, and I hate that I had to keep pushing back my review, especially after hearing so many of you talk about it in such a tantalizing way. And even though I think I may not have loved it in the way that some of you did, I can’t deny that it was a seriously sexy piece of story that I had to put down a few times just to take a breather.
It’s a pretty simple and embarrassing premise that leads to oh so much of something more. Adam’s computer is pretty crappy and he only has twenty minutes to log onto the university’s server online and turn in his paper. But his computer is once again crapping out on him. So, in order not to be marked down for his tardiness, he sneaks onto his roommate’s computer to send it in. But when he starts to shut down and erase all his work with a series of quick closing clicks before his roommate is due back to their room he stumbles upon something he never would have expected from his supposedly straight jock roommate — a gay porn folder full of guys in leather and an array of erotica BDSM regalia.
Then the worst comes. Adam’s roommate Josh opens the door before Adam can get his hand out of his pants — because he was obviously turned on and out of his mind — leading to a rather embarrassing situation for Adam. But Josh surprises him. They don’t know each other very well, even though they’ve shared the same room for six months of their freshman year. Adam took one look at all of Josh’s sports gear and assumed he was the same kind of jock who used to shove him in lockers in high school. College is supposed to be a chance to get away from all of that, to start over. He never knew that not only was Josh gay and apparently in the closet, but that they do have some things in common after all, because Adam is seriously turned on by the pictures of submissive men, skinny like him, tied up and dominated.
What might tear their relationship apart forever very soon crosses a line to bring them together. Instead of accusing Adam of violating his privacy, Josh starts to open up and ask Adam all sorts of naughty questions about what he likes in the pictures.
This story is rather short and had a different sort of dynamic than what we usually read, especially with characters this young. This could easy be in the New Adult set, but with so much sexual debauchery between the two, for pretty much the whole book, it really is very firmly an erotic novel, but also a romance. The dynamic is at once explicitly sexual, frank almost and at times for me riding the edge of uncomfortable. Told from Adam’s point of view, he quickly learns that what he wants is not just to be dominated by Josh, but also to be debased. And it isn’t the actions themselves that provide the intensity between them but their discussions. They talk out almost every scene before and during and they’re both very open to the other about what they like and want, but at the same time the newness of it all is uncomfortable. For most of the story they’re working around each other, feeling out their limits and their feelings about one another, and the frank openness with which they go about doing that was at times, almost a little embarrassing for me to read, lol.
On the other hand, I really liked the smooth transition between their frank business of sex setup and the intimacy that grows between them to a real relationship. In many ways, this is a very sweet story, because both of them are so refreshingly new to not only BDSM but also to sex that their scenes ride a line between extremely explicit and endearing. I admit that it did take me about half the story to really understand and get in the groove, but after that the story was cute.
This is definitely something that BDSM readers will like, but it makes it difficult for me to recommend in a way. It’s such a cute romance on the one hand, but the BDSM in other parts is intense. It isn’t intense in a play sort of way. There aren’t a lot of strange toys or play that crosses boundaries, but Adam finds that he very much likes the debasement aspect of submitting, to be embarrassed and made to feel dirty, and that might be a line for some readers. Honestly, with so many people liking this one already (and it’s a pretty cheap price), I’d say go for it and try it if you haven’t yet and at least see what you think of it 😉
Posted by Cole in 16-40k, 4 Pretty Good, Authors M-O, BDSM / Kink, Contemporary, Erotica, Heat 5 - Off the Charts!, Romance, Sex Freq 4 - Very Often Tags: Carina, Closeted, College, Coming Out, First Times, Jocks/Nerds, Lana McGregor, Nerds/Geeks, Opposites Attract, Roommates
Title: 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
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.
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.
Posted by Cole in 16-40k, 5 Really Like It, Authors G-I, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Mystery, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Artists, California, College, Episodic, Friends with Benefits, Grieving Partner, Guilt, LA, LA Paranormal, Lou Harper, Lou Harper Week!, Opposites Attract, Past Trauma, Psychic, Roommates, Secrets & Lies, Self Published, Series
Title: Bully for You
Author: Catt Ford
Length: 22,732 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Western Rom Com Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: 2013 Daily Dose – Make a Play, Bullriding, Femme Men, Twinks, Opposites Attract, Washington DC, Funny Guys, Best Friends
Rating: Really Liked It
What could be hunkier than a cowboy? Not much, according to Martin Du Bois. He convinces two friends that a visit to the rodeo is every gay man’s wet dream, and so the three of them gaily (and I do mean gaily) set off to watch cowboy asses in action.
A visit to a bar after the event gets Martin closer to the action than he ever thought possible, and he meets Jesse Cumberland, the man who caught his eye in the ring and made his rhinestones sparkle. Instant attraction leads to a one-night stand that gets under Martin’s insouciant skin and causes him to rethink his determination not to get involved emotionally. When Jesse invites Martin to his ranch, the visit is almost derailed by Martin’s realization that they lead very different lives. As a flaming city queer, he sees no way to fit with the solid, athletic Jesse. It’s up to Jesse to see if he can change Martin’s mind.
You know… I’ve read probably 1/3 of the Dreamspinner 2013 Daily Dose stories so far and this is by far my favorite of them. It’s the longest story of the bunch, but that really doesn’t have much to do with it, other than the fact that it followed the story to it’s natural end, which was satisfying. No, the characters and their dialogue are what makes this story so great. It’s not perfect, but this story has a lot of personality and charm, and that carries it a long way!
“Marti” (Martin Du Bois, LOL, I love that pun — sounds like a gay stripper name), is the the ringleader of an incredibly fabulous trio of guys. He’s getting close to the BIG 3-0, which is devastating, of course, to his twinkdom. Who is he really? What will happen to him as he makes the transition to a real grown up, now wanting more than the dick hunting that he and his two best friends are famous for.
Marti is thinking on those issues as he carries on with his friends. Marti finally convinces his friends that the tight asses in the rodeo are worth it to come with him to a bull riding event in their city of D.C. He’s never seen anything like it in his life, but the men down there riding those bulls are swoon-worthy. It doesn’t matter to him and Curt and Dale that they don’t understand the sport at all, they’re making a scene just like they always do, loudly arguing the assets of the riders.
Marti is the only one brave enough to enter the cowboy bar after the event where all the riders congregated to drink and celebrate their wins. Refusing Curt and Dale’s emphatic statements that he was an idiot going in there with all those straight guys, Martin wants to take his chances that at least one of those guys have to be gay. And he’s looking for that diamond in the rough. And he finds him — a star of the rodeo circuit named Jesse — when the man comes to his defense (though he can mostly take care of himself) from a really drunk rider making derogatory comments and lewd suggestions.
Their meeting leads to a fabulous whirlwind affair, but when real feelings start to evolve, can Marti reconcile his city life with a man who lives on a Virginia ranch? Even if he has to ride a horse?!?!
This story was really a delight to read. It’s funny from page one, where we get to know Martin, Curt and Dale so well just by their dialogue. They’re super flamboyant and their energy builds and builds between the three of them until they’re almost trying to out-camp the others. They’re like so many friends that I know and the dialogue is dirty and soo real life. It’s also pretty brave of Catt Ford to write such a trio of so obviously femme characters because it’s a touchy subject with some readers, who want to see more flamboyant, feminine characters… but not too feminine. Of course, that would be politically incorrect… But honestly, I like when fictional characters seem so real and lets face it, it may be perfectly stereotypical to have such a campy gay male character, but that doesn’t mean that Martin and his friends aren’t genuine and totally life-like. The story, in no way, suggests that all gay men are camping it up around the world, LOL. And really, this is one of the main parts of this story — the dichotomy between the über-flaming gay guy and the horribly termed “straight acting” dudes, who are super macho because they ride bulls for a living 🙂 We’re presented with two gay archetypes that over the course of the story shed their skins to show that who they are is different from the image they might present to the world. In Jesse’s case, this is natural because of his job. In reality, he’s quite forward about his gay sexuality and doesn’t have any hangups about his sexuality. Martin, on the other hand, very purposefully wears that skin. He hides behind it because it’s much easier to not be taken seriously when he’s not sure he can live up to having a real life. Part of that is his mid-life transition. He may only be turning thirty, but to him that’s old age. For so long Martin has identified as a twink, which made it easier to find men. Not being taken seriously means that he doesn’t have to commit. Seeing the mask come off of Martin behind closed doors made him so real. Watching Jesse slowly obliterate his distorted self-image and help him build it back up through a solid relationship was touching. They shown to us as opposites, which make their initial interactions interesting and funny. But really, their opposing qualities go much deeper. Seeing them work around those issues made my interest in the characters change to a love for them as a couple.
My only complaint was the ending. It is a satisfying ending in the sense that I felt as if the story needed to end where it did. Still, that didn’t completely change my wish that I knew more about the direction these two were heading, especially with Marti. They’re on shaky HEA ground and a little past a solid HFN.
Honestly, I wasn’t really that interested in this story. I didn’t request it for review until a few days after I’d gotten all the other stories from the Daily Doses that TAR had requested. But I’m so glad that I finally did. It’s turned out to be my favorite and once again shown me what a great author Catt Ford is.
Posted by Cole in 16-40k, 5 Really Like It, Authors D-F, Contemporary, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Rom Com, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex, Western Tags: 2013 Daily Dose - Make a Play, Best Friends, Bullriding, Catt Ford, Dreamspinner Press, Feminine MC, Funny Guys, Opposites Attract, Twinks, Washington DC
Title: The Gravemen
Author: Melissa North
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 48k words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Historical Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Enemies to Lovers, Warriors, Kidnapping, Opposites Attract
Rating: Really Liked It
THE BANAM-HIN: An elite guard of the royal palace and city, they are seldom seen beyond them. Asdelar is a Blade of marked skill, but also a man who lives loud—flirtatious, teasing, open and free with affection. Life is not meant to be dull, even for a Blade.
THE IMALT-WOR: The notorious strong arms of the king, they maintain his law across the land. They are highly disciplined, respected and feared. Hinego is as strict in his personal life as he is maintaining the king’s law. He has no time or patience for careless wastrels.
Forced to work together to locate the king’s missing niece, neither man sees the journey ending in anything but disaster.
I was already somewhat interested in this story from the blurb, but I was really excited to read it after I read Melissa’s guest post here on the blog yesterday. So, when I had time last night, I decided to read it. And I’m glad I did! It was the perfect length for starting a book at night (I just can’t seem to make myself start a long[ish] novel anytime after 5pm) and I was drawn right into the story, literally from the first few sentences. Instead of a lead-in to the first real scene, maybe some narration to ease us into the story like I usually find in romance, The Gravemen starts in the middle of a conversation and immediately shows how the two main characters are set against one another. The tension is there from the beginning. And oh, how exciting! I love enemies-to-lovers stories 🙂
Asdelar and Hinego are thrown together to carry out a mission in the name of the King: search out his great-niece and bring her home. The only thing they have in common is that they’re both Gravemen — members of one of the two warrior sects that serve under the King — in all the rest they’re firmly opposites. Asdelar is a Banam-Hin, one of the warriors known as Blades for their skills with the sword who stay in the capital city as a guard. He’s also incredibly handsome and free-spirited, easy with charm and sexual innuendo and quick to laugh. Leaving the city is an adventure for him, he’s rarely seen anything but the capital and the palace, but he’s always wanted to travel and see the country. Hinego is one of the Imalt-Wor, warriors called Reds because of the color of the sash they wear to assert their authority. The Imalt-Wor travel the country and assert the King’s law among the many towns and villages. They’re most known, though, for their fighting style that eschews weapons in any form. While Asdelar is a young prodigy with the sword, Hinego can take down a group of mercenaries with just his hands, using precisely placed blows to cause the most harm, even death.
As they travel behind the lost girl, searching for clues of her whereabouts, the two seem to grate on each other’s nerves more and more. Because while Asdelar’s natural friendly affinity for meeting new people and making new friends has him talking Hinego’s ear off trying to get to know him and enjoy his first adventure away from the city, Hinego grows more contemptuous about having to work with him, seeing him as weight he has to carry. Hinego is in his element while traveling the countryside, but he’s a natural loner. Often surly and ill-tempered, Hinego holds his duty to his King above all others and see’s Asdelar’s choice to seize opportunities to enjoy the trip (whether an evening at a village tavern or a night in bed with a woman, or man, he’s not picky!) as out of order. And even more than angering Hinego, it makes him undervalue his worth to commit and see their job through to the end. It doesn’t help that Asdelar has little skills to make it on the road.
Clues to the whereabouts of the King’s niece are thin on the ground, and though Hinego is apt to think along the lines of kidnapping, Asdelar is used to the bratty royal and her frequent attempts to run away to get her way because of his familiarity with the palace and is pretty sure that they’ll find the girl in no time at all. Asdelar is trying everything he can think of to try to get to know Hinego, but nothing seems to be working. He’s going to have to do something to prove to the Red that he’s capable and takes his job and their mission seriously. Sooner rather than later, that opportunity comes when fording a river swelled with spring runoff. Being rather shorter than the tall Banam-Hin, Hinego is swept away and is rescued by the impetuous man, whose quick thinking sees them both to safety. Though things between them are never easy after that, they start to get to know one another.
I think what I liked so much about this story was just how easy it was to read. There’s not a whole lot of worldbuilding, so even though this is technically fantasy, the story is character driven and the details (political, cultural, geographical, etc.) are limited only to what it takes to fill out the story satisfactorily. Likewise, while the relationship between the two is never downright chummy, they also aren’t constantly at each other’s throats. There’s quite a bit of gentle banter and a few small arguments, but mostly it’s a subtle dance of attraction and camaraderie and bonding that they play, and it is often humorous to watch Asdelar’s flirting and Hinego’s seemingly prudish embarrassment. Yes, for the most part, this story is really about these two men getting to know one another while traveling through the countryside. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.
While I wasn’t wowed by the ending, I wasn’t entirely disappointed either. There’s a fair bit of action in the last quarter of the story as the two come closer and closer to their quarry and face the inevitable confrontation. I think it depends on whether you wanted more worldbuilding and external story (outside of the relationship, I mean) during the first three-quarters or if you were satisfied, like I was, if you’ll really enjoy the ending. Because while it wasn’t heart-stopping and it was pretty obvious what had happened to the girl, I didn’t really care as much about that part of the story as I did the relationship anyway, so all I really cared about was how they would come to together. On that front, I did wish that it had happened a little bit earlier, so that we could see them together and getting to know each other with all the cards on the table. As for the lack of any sexual scenes, that didn’t bother me at all.
This author is new to me, but I really hope that she continues to write and publish. This story was perfect for Less Than Three press, so if you know that publisher as well as I do and like what they consistently publish then this will be perfect for you. I would encourage you to give it a try, though, especially if you’re in the mood for something that’s light but not without substance or good characters that aren’t of stock romance quality. And if you do read it, I hope you enjoy it as I did.
Posted by Cole in 41-75k, 5 Really Like It, Authors M-O, Fantasy, Heat 1 - Sweet/None, Romance, Sex Freq 1 - None Tags: Enemies to Lovers, Kidnapping/Abduction, Less Than Three Press, Melissa North, Opposites Attract, Warriors
Title: A Boy and His Dragon (Being(s) in Love #2)
Author: R Cooper
Length: 79,598 words
Genre: m/m Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Urban Fantasy, Dragon Shifters, Faeries, History, Opposites Attract
Rating: So So
Arthur MacArthur needs a job, and not just for the money. Before he dropped out of school to support his younger sister, he loved being a research assistant at the university. But working for a dragon, one of the rarest and least understood magical beings, has unforeseen complications. While Arthur may be the only applicant who isn’t afraid of Philbert Jones in his dragon form, the instant attraction he feels for his new employer is beyond disconcerting.
Bertie is a brilliant historian, but he can’t find his own notes without help—his house is a hoard of books and antiques, hence the need for an assistant. Setting the mess to rights is a dream come true for Arthur, who once aspired to be an archivist. But making sense of Bertie’s interest in him is another matter. After all, dragons collect treasure, and Arthur is anything but extraordinary.
When I decided to review this book, I didn’t realize that it was the sequel to R Cooper’s Some Kind of Magic. I had intended to read that book at some point, but even though I got it when it was released I never read it. This book seemed more interesting to me, however, because of the dragon. I love dragon shifters and I can’t stay away from any book that looks like it might have one. So I decided to read both of these books, and as it turned out, I ended up liking the first book better than this one, despite the yummy dragon man.
A Boy and His Dragon opens as Arthur MacArthur visits the home of Dr. Philbert Jones, a historian to interview for a position as his research assistant. Arthur is working towards a degree in history himself and has a real love of learning and an academic mind, but family problems and lack of money have forced him to take a student sabbatical until he can find a way out of his debts and support himself and his sister with enough money left over to return to his studies. This job, then, is perfect. While he has two other jobs, they’re part-time and don’t challenge him the way he needs to be, and a research job is just what he needs to keep his career on track.
Arthur is also a normal human. Living in a world where the paranormal is normal (at least for the last 70 some-odd years), means that there is familiarity and misinformation alongside one another. Humans mostly still know very little about Beings, at least on a day to day basis. Arthur is a an example of this. Knowing that his potential employer is a dragon, he makes and keeps an ongoing list of things he knows about dragons, which is very small and somewhat misinformed. Despite his personal curiosity, this job means a lot to Arthur because of his need to protect and care for his sister. But when he meets Philbert, “Bertie”, he finds another reason to care about the job — caring about the dragon himself. They’re fairly opposite, obvious signs notwithstanding, but they soon learn to care for one another as Arthur spends his days organizing Bertie’s book collection.
The writing itself in this book is very good. Readers who have read the first book in the series, Some Kind of Magic, will find it similar. The story is firmly set apart from that book, there’s almost no connection whatsoever, besides the world, so there’s really no need to read the books in any certain order. Mostly, however, readers will find this book very different from it’s predecessor, mainly in that this book isn’t a mystery. There is one overarching choice the author makes, however, that is the same in both books, and it is something that bothered me in both of them. The romantic tension is created by severe miscommunication, all bolstered and made more authentic by the fact that the Beings and Humans and the different types of Beings don’t understand one another. Still, I found this to be a rather fragile and thin excuse.
I read quite a few short stories because of my weekly reviews at Brief Encounters and one of the biggest problems I find in short stories is the excess of plot for a short format. This book had the opposite problem — I felt like there wasn’t enough plot for the size of this book, which made the story drag for me, throughout most of the book. The miscommunication and desire of the characters (especially Arthur) to do what they think is best for everyone else without talking it over with anyone else first (I hate that), is used to draw out the story into a longer work. I felt a bit like I was waiting and waiting for something to happen.
Others might like this story more. The writing, like I said before, is good, I just tend not to enjoy stories focused solely on the relationship and the added (very) slow place compounded that problem for me. For some reason, while I liked them, I didn’t find the characters engaging enough to overcome that problem. So it was really only a so so book for me. I’m still looking forward to reading more of this author’s work, however, and hopefully that book will be more to my personal taste in style.
Posted by Cole in 3 So So, 76-100k, Authors A-C, Fantasy, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Paranormal, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Being(s) in Love, Dragon Shifters, Dreamspinner Press, Fae/Elves, History, Opposites Attract, R Cooper, Series, Urban Fantasy
Title: Love in the Spotlight
Author: Zoe Lynne
Publisher: Silver Stream Press (Silver Publishing)
Length: 30,439 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Young Adult Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Musicians/Rockers, Closeted, Coming Out, Opposites Attract, Tattoos, Piercings, Light and Sweet, College
Rating: Pretty Good
A mutual love for pancakes and hot maple syrup–not that flavored crap–opens the door to a relationship Steven never expected to find. But will Thorne stand up to his homophobic bandmates so he can finally have true love?
There’s nothing in the world Steven won’t do for his best friend Becca, including ditching his schoolwork just to escort her to some club so she can chase down her dream boy who happens to be the drummer in some kind of band. He didn’t expect to set eyes on the most Godly creation under the stars, and sure didn’t expect that gorgeous hunk of man with the voice of an angel.
A mutual love for pancakes and hot maple syrup–not that flavored crap–opens the door to a relationship Steven never expected to find when he agreed to go out with Becca that night. But will Thorne stand-up to his homophobic bandmates so he can finally find love?
CONTENT ADVISORY: This title contains both M/M and M/F romantic situations.
Just a Note: The content advisory in the blurb says that this book contains m/f romantic situations, they’re not sexual situations. You should take that line literally; I was waiting for an m/f sexual scene, but all it really alludes to is Steven’s best friend Becca and her relationship with the drummer of Thorne’s band, Dillon.
It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by this author, and by that I mean Allison Cassatta. This is the first book I’ve read by her pseudonym Zoe Lynne, but I really enjoyed it. All I really knew going into it (because I’m terrible about actually reading blurbs, and if I do it’s as if I didn’t even pay attention) was that it was an m/m young adult romance about a rocker type character and had to do with coming out. And really, that’s the gist of it. It sounds like any old book you have read before, and in many ways it is — that made it a comfortable read for me. Still, I liked the characters and that made it stand out more to me as I was reading. Comfortable, but not boring.
The gist of it is about two relationships and their intersection: Steven and his bestie for forever Becca, and Steven and his super-crush Thorne. A secondary relationship, between Becca and Dillon is what brings the two guys together. Becca meets Dillon and has a major crush and drags Steven out of his solitude (which Steven thinks of as being a good student) to see his band play. Steven is a bit uncomfortable to be honest. In a very real-life move for a twenty year old, Steven has very firm ideas about who he is and what he likes. He’s a bit of a kid playing adult — he’s studios, relishes being a preppy pretty boy and doesn’t consider taking himself out of the box he’s placed himself in and considering anything slightly dirty or different. But, that has worked for him. That self-imposed solitude has helped him get over and alternately hang onto his last boyfriend, high school sweetheart Jason.
The club the band is playing at, however, is dirty and seedy and definitely not a place that Steven feels like he fits at. When he sees Thorne, however, just before the band goes on, he’s mesmerized by the man’s dark beauty. Steven’s feelings surprise himself. Thorne is covered in tattoos and piercings, and definitely has a bad boy vibe going on. They’re complete opposites, but Steven doesn’t care and the man’s voice and stage presence simply serve to make him even more smitten. When both Steven and Thorne are dragged along by the new pair Becca and Dillon to a diner after the show, they’re forced together so the other two can be by themselves. Steven is nervous and excited, but Thorne just seems awkward and endearingly shy. But common circumstance bring the two together, and Steven hopes that he can help Thorne become more honest and comfortable with himself. And if that happens to bring them together more often, more the better for Steven!
I thought that the length of this story served the plot, character growth and romance rather well. That means that, at 30k words it isn’t an overly involved plot. The story mainly revolves around the direct romance between Steven and Thorne, the friendship between Steven and Becca, and the resolution of Steven’s past relationship with Jason. Out of the more realistic aspects of these relationships, I thought the portrayal of the friendship between Steven and Becca to be really well done. They’re at the age when they’re really exploring having a new relationship at the same time, both with different situations and they find it hard to reconcile bringing new people into the shared relationship they have. Jealousy abounds and feelings are hurt, but more isn’t made of it than should be and the way they resolve their differences showed just how good friends they are and how much they care about each other.
If I had any complaints, I’d say that the style of narration wasn’t my favorite. Steven examines his feelings rather thoroughly, dissecting and analyzing. It suits the story and the character very well, it’s just something that tends to be a little tedious for me personally. I think the best compliment to the author from this story, though, is that I felt the ages of the characters quite keenly. For a young adult story that’s paramount and the first thing I look for. Readers looking for a sweet, no sex story should give this one a try!
Posted by Cole in 16-40k, 4 Pretty Good, Authors J-L, Contemporary, Heat 1 - Sweet/None, Romance, Sex Freq 1 - None, YA Tags: Closeted, College, Coming Out, Light & Sweet, Musicians, Opposites Attract, Piercings, Silver Stream Press, Tattoos, Zoe Lynne