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

Tag Archives: Samhain Publishing

From the Ashes (Fire and Rain #1) - Daisy HarrisTitle: From the Ashes (Fire and Rain #1)
Author: Daisy Harris
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Length: ≈67k words, 216 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Closeted, Family Issues, Firefighters, First Times, OFY, Homeless, Pets, Series
Rating: Pretty Good

Reviewed by Nikyta

BLURB

He wanted a boyfriend. What he got was a hero.

When an accident burns down Jesse’s apartment, he’s left broke and homeless, with a giant dog and a college schedule he can’t afford to maintain. And no family who’s willing to take him in.

Lucky for him, a sexy fireman offers him a place to stay. The drawback? The fireman’s big Latino family lives next door, and they don’t know their son is gay.

Tomas’s parents made their way in America with hard work and by accepting help when it was offered, so he won’t let Jesse drop out of school just so he can afford a place to live. Besides, Jesse’s the perfect roommate—funny, sweet and breathtakingly cute. He climbs into Tomas’s bed and tugs at his heart. Until Jesse starts pushing for more.

Their passion enflames their bodies but threatens to crush Tomas’s family. Tomas is willing to fight for Jesse, but after losing everything, Jesse isn’t sure he can bear to risk his one remaining possession—his heart.

REVIEW

I really liked this story. It’s a bit predictable but the characters and the overall writing make up for that.

This is about Jesse who has his apartment burned down, leaving him homeless and with his ex-landlords’ dog. Tomas was one of the responding firefighters and helped Jesse through his shock. Unable to leave Jesse homeless, he takes him home and cares for him and his big dog, Chardonnay. What starts there is a sweet but awkward relationship where Tomas is still in the closet, living next door to his family and Jesse is trying to get his life back together while they both fight the feelings they’re starting to develop.

The highlight of this book is probably the characters. Tomas is this big, strong guy with the sweetest heart that can’t seem to let Jesse go even if it means making his life somewhat difficult. I adored the way he tried to help Jesse and his struggle to keep things as friends between them. Jesse, at first, seems like a weak character but he’s actually strong, willing to stand up for himself and put an end to things that make things worse, even if it kills him to do it. Thankfully, while he attempts to do this, Tomas is not willing to let Jesse go and, even if he does say differently, he’s going to fight for what he has with Jesse, which I also loved!

The novel, in my eyes, was about coming out and being true to yourself and your family; to find that home that is yours and no one can take away. It’s not very angsty, even with all the situations Jesse and Tomas go through. Mostly, it is about Jesse and Tomas trying to make things work. Tomas wants a partner but doesn’t want to tell his family he’s gay. Jesse no longer has a family but just wants a partner that isn’t afraid to be with him. They’re completely different but together they’re hot and sweet. They have to go through issues such as Tomas coming out but more importantly dealing with Tomas’ older brother, Diego, who is very vocal of his opinion when it comes to Jesse and being gay.

While I enjoyed the story, I had a few issues with it. Mainly, how much sex there was. I felt like whenever Jesse and Tomas needed to talk, they’d have sex instead and put off talking for later. Also, Tomas’ reasoning for why he won’t have anal or why he won’t let Jesse go down on him were completely baffling, IMO, and didn’t make much sense to me considering what else he would do. Beyond that, I felt like Tomas’ family was a big problem between Tomas and Jesse but we don’t actually get to see them or get a resolution on ALL of their opinions of Tomas being gay and in a relationship. It was such a huge issue but that segment felt unresolved and left me slightly disappointed.

In the end, I really enjoyed the story. While it might have conflicts that felt clichéd, the characters were still likeable and made me want to keep reading. I liked that this story didn’t have much angst but still dealt with both Tomas and Jesse’s problems. I won’t lie that Jesse and Tomas together were very hot and had a good connection so readers will definitely enjoy that part of the story!


Provoked (Enlightenment #1) - Joanna ChambersTitle: Provoked (Enlightenment #1)
Author: Joanna Chambers
Publisher: Samhain
Length: 54,571 words
Genre: m/m Historical Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Scotland, 1820s, Closeted, Homophobia, Rich/Poor, Lawyers, Secrets & Lies, Mystery, Aristocracy, HFN (this was just the first part of a longer romance arc)
Rating: Really Like It

BLURB

When a man loses his heart, he has no choice but to follow…

Enlightenment, Book 1

Lowborn David Lauriston lacks the family connections needed to rise in Edinburgh’s privileged legal world. Worse, his latest case—defending weavers accused of treason—has brought him under suspicion of harbouring radical sympathies.

Troubled by his sexuality, tormented by memories of a man he once platonically loved, David lives a largely celibate life—until a rare sexual encounter with a compelling stranger turns his world on its head.

Cynical and worldly, Lord Murdo Balfour is more at home in hedonistic London than dingy, repressed Edinburgh. Unlike David, he intends to eventually marry while continuing to enjoy the company of men whenever he pleases. Yet sex with David is different. It’s personal, intimate, and instead of extinguishing his desire, it only leaves him hungry for more.

As David’s search for the man who betrayed the weavers deepens, he begins to suspect that his mysterious lover has more sinister reasons for his presence in Edinburgh. The truth could leave his heart broken…and more necks stretching on the gallows.

Product Warnings
Contains mystery and danger set in 1822 Scotland, and a forbidden love between two men that will leave you on the edge of your seat—until the next book.

REVIEW

I don’t know why exactly, but I was really, really excited to read this book. It makes no sense really, because I rarely read historical novels and Joanna Chambers is a new author to me. Perhaps it was a latent psychic power because once I started this book I never wanted to stop. I was forced to stop to get some other reviews done, but if I hadn’t been forced to I don’t think I would have. I was immediately drawn into the lush prose and the strange love/hate dynamic between David and Balfour.

David’s actions in the first chapter of Provoked introduce him to us so perfectly. Jostled in an excited crowd to see the death of two men charged with treason for their part in an uprising against the government, David watches on helplessly. He worked on their case as part of their legal defense, but he’s still a junior in his field and there wasn’t much he could do. But, what he could do was work tirelessly, and in the end it didn’t make a lot of difference. David throws himself into everything and this was no different. To put the families of the condemned at ease he shares with them his own childhood. He was raised by a farmer in a country village in Scotland but worked and did everything he could to further his education. Now, he’s gone up in the world and is working among the higher classes in Edinburgh. Still, he isn’t far from his roots. Being a witness to the deaths of these two men is something that he owes them.

Over a thoughtful and depressing meal later that evening another man sits to dine with him. He’s handsome and confident with an interesting face. He introduces himself as Mr. Balfour and after a considerable amount of shared whisky, David finds himself on his knees in a wet alley. He can’t stand that he always falls prey to his demons and tells himself that this time will be the last time. Or at least, that’s what he always says. Balfour seems surprised by his behavior after their tryst and has a rather more hedonistic outlook on life. Where David is bound tightly to his morality and refuses to move into a life of dishonesty by marrying a woman and starting a family, Balfour seems to have no problem with that. He’s looking for happiness, he says, and the only version for him is the one of his own making. Ideals have no place over them.

It is a surprise to David some months later when he again runs into Balfour while dining at the home of his boss. In the meantime, the case that brought about their first meeting, that of the weavers, barges back into David’s life. Euan, the younger brother of one of the men brought down in the case needs his help. His brother Peter wasn’t hanged but is en route on a ship in chains for his part in the conspiracy. Euan needs David’s help to find Lees, the government man who infiltrated their group, incited them from a small idealistic group into an active anti-government rebellion and then turned them in. David wants to help Euan but is afraid for him. He’s just a kid who, like him, has also worked himself up to a higher education and David doesn’t want him to throw all of that away by searching for vengeance, and he knows that his brother wouldn’t want him to either. But Euan won’t be swayed, so David agrees to help him find Lees, knowing that it will most likely be a lost cause.

When Balfour comes up as a possible identity for Lees, David doesn’t want to believe it. He also doesn’t want to continue forming an attachment to the man. It’s gone past the physical with them and David can’t allow himself to sin in such a way, nor allow his heart to be handled by a man often so callous, and so fundamentally different from him.

I want to have the sequel now! I say that, not just as someone who really liked this first book and wants more, but also as a reader who wants more of the story. There are two arcs — the romance and the quasi-mystery plot — the first of which definitely spans the series. I’m not sure about the second, though. Was the external plot just a part of this book and the next one will see these two guys in a different situation dealing with different issues? I don’t know. But, as far as the romance arc, this story was really just the setup for what is to come, which leaves me really wanting to see where their relationship will go. That, after all, is what really brought this story forward for me and what drew me in. David and Balfour are two such interesting characters and together they have such interesting conversations. The writing of these two guys and their evolving dynamic hit a sweet spot. The language is beautiful and I really felt like I was getting to know both of them well. David, of course, isn’t difficult to read. Balfour offers a delicious treat because what he says and obviously thinks/believes are often different and puzzling those things out (along with David) filled their interactions with meaning.

I definitely recommend this one to all readers of m/m romance, not just those that like historicals. And I’m definitely going to be looking out for more books by Joanna Chambers 🙂


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.


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.


2254Hello again everyone and I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend! I finally finished Lost! And OMGOMGOMG I loved it!!! I know that some of you are Lost fans as well, so I will tell you that I was worried about how the series would end. I ended up making it 5 years?? now (something like that) since it ended and still not learning much about it, which is good. I hate getting spoilered, especially about something that I spent years really caring about. But I was worried because the middle seasons lost the thread of the story a bit and even I could see that when it was happening, not just in retrospect. But from the middle of Season 5 to the end of Season 6 it was go.go.go.go and right on target. That’s why I spent several days this week finishing it instead of reviewing 😉 But, I will say that I LOVED it to pieces and I cried like a baby. It would be worth watching again, that’s for sure!

I have a lot to update you about, so let’s get going 🙂

Announcements

take_a_breakFirst off, this week is going to be a slow week for us. We’re taking a week off — sort of. We still have a few guest posts this week and a few reviews and giveaways that were intended to go up, so those will still be on. But it’s a naturally slow week and since we have a large group of reviews we’re working on for the next few weeks, we’re going to use this slow week to try to get a bit ahead.

samhainbannerNow, this is exciting 🙂 We’re now going to be posting reviews from Samhain Publishing! While we often review books that we’ve bought or acquired from authors, we get the bulk of our books from the publisher for review. And until now that included just about all of them except Samhain. The good news about this is that because our books acquired for review take precedence over books that we buy and might decide to review, that means that we’ll be posting a lot more reviews of those Samhain books. First review up this week is Burden by Annmarie McKenna, reviewed by Sadonna.

This Week’s Wrapup

cover3_frontAnyta Sunday stopped by this week with a really great post called “On (Not) Coming Out as a Gay Romance Writer” that generated a lot of really interesting comments. Her book, Taboo for You is available here from Amazon!


03 SurfeitTalya Andor visited for a third time to talk about her third book in the Appetite series from Less Than Three Press, Surfeit For the Senses (all 3 are now on sale!). Every time she visits to talk about these books I have a day or two of severe cravings! But this was a really interesting post talking about the evolution of a multi-course meal in relation to writing a series. Read her post, “Themes of Progression”, here.


CH_BeginningOfKnowledge_cvrThe lovely and talented (and my friend) Anne Brooke visited this week for the first time here at The Armchair Reader! Her post, “Erotica or How to be Fully Human” generated a lot of interest and I love the insight that she has into writing about sex! Check it out and get her book The Beginning of Knowledge from Wilde City Press here. Or, read my review here.


CH_TruckerFucker_100dpi_cvrBarry Lowe was here to talk about why he writes the erotica he does and I really liked seeing his views on his own work (that I’m addicted to, which I said in my review). This is Barry’s first time at The Armchair Reader and you still have a chance to win Trucker Fucker by commenting in the post! Ends tonight at Midnight! Buy Trucker Fucker here at Wilde City Press.




paintingintherainblindedbyoureyessympathy

Dev Bentham, Clare London and Jordan Castillo Price (three of my favorite authors!) stopped here on Thursday for the last stop in their 3-part Art Appreciation Blog Tour! The other two stops were at Joyfully Jay and Book Reviews and More by Kathy. At TAR, they answered a whole group of random art questions and talked about their characters and their feelings about art. It’s a great tour, so check our their post here and make sure to check out the others as well!


dance only for meAnd last this week in a full week of guest posts and visits from authors, Megan Derr stopped by to talk about her new release in the Dance with the Devil series (one of my all time favorites!), Dance Only for Me,talking about the origins of the series in her post, “How Did We Get Here”. I loved this book like I loved the others so make sure to look out for my review, coming soon! Buy the book here at Less Than Three Press.




Here’s what we reviewed this week:

Find a Way (Prince and Trader #2) by RG Green – Pretty Good
Sky Hunter (Skybound #3) by Fae Sutherland – Pretty Good
Audible by Dawn Kimberly Johnson – So So (Sadonna)
The Buyout by Bru Baker – Really Liked It (Nikyta)
Running Up That Hill by Barry Brennessel – LOVED it!! (Sadonna)

Coming Up This Week – 7/28 – 8/3

On Tuesday, Carole Cummings and J Tullos Hennig will be here for the first post in their new series about Spec Fic: “Two old Speculative Fiction Nerds walk into a bar…”. It’s going to be wonderful so make sure you look for it!

rulesforsuccess400On Wednesday, Mina MacLeod is visiting to talk about her new release (on that very day) from Less Than Three Press, Some Rules for Success in the Music Business (available now for Preorder!). I’m excited to read and review this one!






thornlessrose_tcmillAnd lastly, Friday brings us a post from TC Mill, who has a new release from Storm Moon Press, Thornless Rose available now! Look forward to my review of that one as well!






Here are our reviews for this week:

Conflict__ContactBurden72lgWhatThereIsLGloversentwined_9781419941658_msr

Giveaways

Look forward to these giveaways this week!

Conflict__Contactloversentwined_9781419941658_msr

These giveaways both end tonight at Midnight. Click on the covers to enter!

03 SurfeitCH_TruckerFucker_100dpi_cvr

Reminders/News

  • For updates on all the posts, click on the button at the top right of the page (first in the right column) to get email updates so you don’t miss anything!
  • Be sure to look out for a new update soon. I’m going to be putting the covers of our best reviewed books (monthly) in the right column so you don’t forget the wonderful books that are newly released!
  • And lastly, our Author List is newly updated

Thanks everyone! Have a wonderful week and we’ll see you around 🙂


Here’s a Repost of my review of Spirit Sanguine
Orignally posted on May 6, 2013

All New Review for Late Night Snack below!

SpiritSanguine72lgTitle: Spirit Sanguine
Author: Lou Harper
Publisher: Samhain
Length: 74,562 words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Vampires, Vampire Hunters, Veg/Vegan Vamps, Mystery, Action/Adventure, X-Dressing!, Chicago, Diverse Couple, Funny Guys, Las Vegas, Private Investigators, Roleplay
Rating: LOVED It!

BLURB

Is that a wooden stake in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

After five years in eastern Europe using his unique, inborn skills to slay bloodsuckers, Gabe is back in his hometown Chicago and feeling adrift. Until he’s kidnapped by a young, sexy vampire who seems more interested in getting into his pants than biting into his neck.

Harvey Feng is one-half Chinese, one-hundred-percent vampire. He warns Gabe to stay out of the Windy City, but somehow he isn’t surprised when the young slayer winds up on his doorstep. And why shouldn’t Gabe be curious? A vegetarian vampire isn’t something one sees every day.

Against their better judgment, slayer and vampire succumb to temptation. But their affair attracts unexpected attention.

When Chicago’s Vampire Boss makes Gabe an offer he can’t refuse, the unlikely lovers are thrust into peril and mystery in the dark heart of the Windy City. Together they hunt for kidnappers, a killer preying on young humans, and vicious vampire junkies.

However, dealing with murderous humans and vampires alike is easy compared to figuring out if there’s more to their relationship than hot, kinky sex.

Product Warnings
Fangalicious man-on-man action, a troublesome twink, cross-dressing vampiress, and role-playing involving a fedora.

REVIEW

I hadn’t planned on giving this book a proper review, but when Sunday rolled around and I was still thinking about this book, so I decided that it really needed one. For some reason, and I sincerely hope that this is just my 2D, rather limited view of the m/m romance reading community, this book hasn’t seemed to have had a real splash yet. And that’s a damn shame. Here’s what I said on Goodreads immediately after I finished the book Satuday:

This has the most eclectic mix of tags I’ve ever given a book. Surprisingly, they all went together! And even more, it kinda represents this book, which is a bit of a hodge-podge of different quirks and ideas, even plotting and pacing which I found rather refreshing. Definitely not typical vampire fare!

Now, the tags here are pretty much similar to the ones on Goodreads, but since I can more easily edit and add tags here at the blog, they of course have a bit more flair 😉 I have to admit that I’ve fallen into a bit of a pattern in my mismanagement of my m/m reading, where many of the most exciting releases seem to slip through the net (there are many factors, though it still makes me a dolt) mostly because of reviewing duties, but Lou Harper is perhaps one on the top of the list of those stellar authors that I haven’t given their due. Perhaps I should do a backlist read. Anyway, this book wasn’t just well written, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable read, for many reasons I’ll talk about later. But that brings me to another point. Another byproduct of my reviewing duties is that I tend to analyze first rather than enjoy the book first, and having not originally slated Spirit Sanguine as a review book and (imagine this!) actually making myself sit down and read a book for pleasure instead of work on reviews I should be getting up to date, meant that this one just slipped right through and knocked me flat. I didn’t really have to think about an analysis of the book, of styles and pacing and plot and characterizations, but… I just enjoyed it. It was a refreshing read, and not something I was expecting from the vampire angle.

Lou has an interesting take on her book up on her review on Goodreads, which you can read here. In it, she says:

Bloodsuckers are everywhere; you can’t walk down a dark alley without a couple of them jumping out and accosting you with their dark and broody eyes. They do that a lot–mope and sulk. That’s what got to me, all the melodrama. I mean, they are practically immortal, don’t get sick, grow old, don’t need to watch their weight or work out. What the hell do they have to bellyache about?

(That’s the truth.)

And that’s the point. In a sub-genre where melodrama rules and/or kinky vampire sex clubs are the forte, humor takes precedent here, brought forth by the vivacious and quirky Harvey (I love the name, and not just the Feng/Fang part, the fact that her vampire is named Harvey), who isn’t really like any other of his kind. In actuality, I’d rather not go into characterization here, because I’d rather not cut him into pieces to analyze him. He’s best enjoyed as it’s written… plus, you’ll find plenty in other reviews, I’m sure. The same goes for Gabe, who is perhaps the undervalued of the pair, though it’s important that he’s the lens we see the world through, and even more in which we see Harvey through. His understanding of and feelings for Harvey are how we understand him best, in reflection.

What was really refreshing about this book for me was also in a second part — the style, which is reflected in pacing but also the plot. Both were atypical in that they don’t follow the usual structure. Broken into three parts, each concentrates on a different aspect of the story while they, in succession, follow a continual arc. Some readers might find this off-putting. I’m not really sure. I quite enjoyed it. Because while the first is a typical setup to the story and introduces the relationship between Gabe and Harvey, the second and third both have a somewhat separate plot, though they’re tied together. But you do get the feeling, between the transition between Parts 2 and 3, that there’s a bit of a jog. And consequently, you’ll find two climaxes (one at the end of each part) around the 55% mark and the end of the book.

Nikyta noticed this as well and made a remark to me about it (in our many back and forth book gabbing emails) and probably described it better than I did, asking if I had noticed authors using this style more lately, the (in her words) “multiple mini stories in one book of the same couple” style. We both automatically thought of Megan Derr, who sometimes writes in a similar though pretty different style from what I’m describing in Spirit Sanguine. Perhaps it’s that Gabe and Harvey really only have two distinct adventures and Megan Derr often writes books that are split between the many adventures one couple has, a sort of extended vignette style. Nik thought that maybe it was a style that was becoming more popular. I’m not sure, but suffice to say that it is something that we’ve both enjoyed. And definitely something that I found made Lou Harper’s book infinitely more original — though, of course, anything with a vampire named Harvey Feng could hardly be called conventional.

Read the book. And please enjoy it!

latenightsnackcoverTitle: Late Night Snack (Sanguine #1.5)
Author: Lou Harper
Publisher: Self Published (Harper Books)
Length: 5k words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Lou Harper Week!, Sequel, Short Story, Free Reads, Vampires, Vampire Hunters, Vegan/Vegetarian Vamps, Chicago, Mystery, X-Dressing, Roleplay, Playful Sex, Funny Men, Established Couple, Private Detective
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Sometimes life takes strange turns. Gabe is a slayer but his lover is a vampire. And so is his boss. When Gabe is tasked with capturing a delinquent blood sucker, he’s determined to succeed, even if it means posing as bait. There is only one problem: Harvey, his possessive boyfriend, might ruin everything.

Warning: hot fang-on-man action, role-playing, and one pissed off vampire.

REVIEW

This is really a good story to read either before or after reading Spirit Sanguine. For the most part things are explained about their relationship and the story stands alone enough for this to be a good intro for those interested in reading that book and about Gabe and Harvey. Of course, I think it’s great to read after reading Spirit Sanguine, especially as I have — a few months later. It’s a really nice reminder of the couple and the fun I had reading that book and getting to know Harvey and Gabe. There is a short little mystery case that Gabe takes on from his boss, but mostly this works well as a reunion-type story, where you just want to spend a little more time with the main couple. Nothing really progresses in their story, but you get to re-familiarize yourself with the two.

The story is centered around a rogue vampire and Gabe’s job (down from on high, Augustine the head vampire of Chicago and Gabe’s boss) to find the guy, or girl of course. Two humans have turned up as newly-minted vampires, turned against their will. And conveniently for Gabe, or mostly Augustine, both were vegetarians. As Harvey always says, ‘Vegetarians really do taste better,’ and Gabe, who has recently stopped eating meat because of Harvey’s vegan vampire propensities, is neatly lined up as bait.

Of course, Harvey doesn’t want to go along with this. And no matter what Harvey tells Gabe and how much Gabe tries to pretend that Harvey will actually do what anyone else tells him, Harvey shows up to the club in full regalia to assist as only he can, so the two can take the rogue down together. They do work better as a couple, after all.

As I said before, anyone who really liked Spirit Sanguine will naturally want to read this. It’s free, so why not? But, I think that it would be fine for those who might not be sure if they want to read the novel to read this first and see if they like the couple. I don’t see how you couldn’t, they’re one of my favorites!