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Tag Archives: Sea/Sail/Rivers

Stealing the Wind (Mermen of Ea #1) - Shira AnthonyTitle: Stealing the Wind (Mermen of Ea #1)
Author: Shira Anthony
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 69,784 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty**
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between**
Keywords/Tags: Series, Shifters (Merfolk), Sea/Rivers/Sail, Under the Sea, Slaves/Prisoner, Indentured (Sexual) Slavery, m/m/m scenes, Multiple/Other Partners, Spies, Civil War, Resistance, Dreams, Superpowers, Reincarnation, Sex in Shifted Form (underwater mermen sex, which is much more interesting than underwater basket weaving)
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Taren Laxley has never known anything but life as a slave. When a lusty pirate kidnaps him and holds him prisoner on his ship, Taren embraces the chance to realize his dream of a seagoing life. Not only does the pirate captain offer him freedom in exchange for three years of labor and sexual servitude, but the pleasures Taren finds when he joins the captain and first mate in bed far surpass his greatest fantasies.

Then, during a storm, Taren dives overboard to save another sailor and is lost at sea. He’s rescued by Ian Dunaidh, the enigmatic and seemingly ageless captain of a rival ship, the Phantom, and Taren feels an overwhelming attraction to Ian that Ian appears to share. Soon Taren learns a secret that will change his life forever: Ian and his people are Ea, shape-shifting merfolk… and Taren is one of them too. Bound to each other by a fierce passion neither can explain or deny, Taren and Ian are soon embroiled in a war and forced to fight for a future—not only for themselves but for all their kind.

REVIEW

Believe it or not (and I can’t), this is the first book I’ve read by Shira Anthony. I have several and there are many of her books that I’ve really wanted to read, but somehow never found the time to. So when I saw this on the Dreamspinner Coming Soon page I made sure that I made room for it in my schedule. It wouldn’t only be a chance to try out this author, but also a book about mermen! Just like unicorns, I’m really an 8 year old little girl who loves the cute and cuddly fantastical creatures. Except, you know, when they have gay sex and aren’t as cuddly anymore, except maybe in a post-coital fashion.

I’m glad that I made room for this book, it was quite fun to read. The whole book takes place over a somewhat short amount of time — about 8 weeks — but the book starts with Taren at a young age and the first few chapters traverse his teenaged years as he’s sold and stolen as a slave and passed through several masters’ hands. The journey that Taren takes in this first book of the series is pretty big. He learns quite a bit about his life and goes through many transitions of change before the end.

Taren doesn’t know anything about his parents, save that his master told him they gave him away. He longs for the open sea and though he’s just a rigger for his master’s shipyard, he hopes that one day he’ll be able to travel the seas and be a proper sailor. When he’s sold to pay off his master’s debts, Taren becomes a slave to a man who runs an inn. He’s not sure how old he is, though he thinks around 18 or 19. He’s been mostly sheltered in his life, so when a handsome captain introduces him to his sexuality in a room full of watching sailors at the inn, he finds himself excited rather than scared and violated. He’s submissive and clings to the safety he feels in a man like the captain, whom he later knows as Rider, because of the man’s kind, yet firm dominance.

Stolen by the sailors of the ship that night, he wakes to find himself the captain’s prisoner and introduced to indentured slavery of the sexual kind. But, for a young man like Taren who has always been a slave, sexual slavery aboard a ship on the open ocean is a kind of freedom that he’s never known. Taren revels in it, especially when he comes to be a loving presence in Rider and his lover’s bed and allowed to put his knowledge of sailing to use aboard the ship.

But there is so much that Taren doesn’t know or understand — why he has such vivid dreams and the extra-sensory feelings that he has in reading the water and weather at sea. When he’s knocked unconscious and lost at sea, he washes up to their rival vessel, captained by Ian Dunaidh. Ian is enamored of Taren immediately and their connection, once he wakes, pushes and pulls between them as they sail to Ian’s home island where a shadowy presence called The Council awaits to judge Taren as a spy in their war against a resistance group of their own people who live on the mainland. Living through the hell of their torture, the betrayal between Taren and Ian and the possibility that he might never be free takes everything in him. All he knows to get him through is that he is destined for a higher purpose than this, if it is true that any higher power is guiding them.

I went pretty far in summarizing the story for you, but that is because there is such a long and twisting plot in this story. Taren goes through so many changes, homes, and relationships with other people for only 70k words. It makes me curious how many books this author has planned for this series because I didn’t feel as if I started to understand the larger picture until the very end of the book. I have no doubt that that was intended for the reader, that we should pull the pieces together at the very end, but it also meant that I had to wait through the whole book to really understand what was happening. Which, ultimately, meant that I really had to enjoy the story for the present, for what was happening to Taren in the moment without understanding where the story was headed to really enjoy the book. Sometimes I felt as if I was right there with him and Ian and I was really sucked into the present of the story. But, sometimes I wasn’t and I felt as if the story lulled, perhaps because the relationship between Taren and Ian is so freaking complicated. For much of the book they’re separated, though not for any very long pieces of time. It takes the whole book for them to really reach the same page, relationship-wise, because they each needed this book to progress themselves. Taren is searching for his destiny, a shadowy purpose that we and he knows is there, somewhere, for him to understand one day, and for him to understand his race and his history. Ian is battling his own demons — regret and guilt — that stand in the way of his happiness.

So once again I say that while I really enjoyed this book, it’s as a first book of a series. I still feel as if I don’t know much about where this series is headed. In a way, I like that because it means that this author is doing a fine job of withholding information until the correct (and perhaps most artful) time to release it. On the other hand, I fear not knowing enough to keep me interested in the big picture, and that it makes my reading experience different. So, I’m excited to read the next book and hoping that the ending of this one — seeing the formation of a more solid relationship between Taren and Ian — will carry forward through the rest of the series.

**There is a pretty big imbalance in the heat level and sex frequency in this book, as far as trying to rate it goes. The first several chapters are hot and heavy, with m/m/m scenes (spitroasting, exhibitionism) that really raise the heat, and frequent sex in those chapters. The rest of the novel has little to almost no sex at all and what intimacy there is is very romantic and tame (the underwater mermen sex).


GayAsMardiGrasLGTitle: Gay as Mardi Gras
Author: Lily Velden
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 19,069 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Light and Sweet, GFY/OFY, On Vacation, on Seas/Lakes/Rivers, Present Tense
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

After the demise of his relationship with his childhood sweetheart, Janey, Jesse needs to get away. His nan has just the thing: a month-long cruise around Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. It seems perfect—until Jesse realizes what kind of cruise it is.

A gay cruise.

Since Jesse’s roommate, Daniel, is recovering from a broken heart, the two decide to buddy up. They hit it off, and with Daniel now Jesse’s partner in crime, they explore the boat and participate in all the fun activities on offer—with some, ah, interesting results for straight boy Jesse.

REVIEW

After taking a little over a week away from reading m/m romance (and reading Harry Potter again instead), I decided to read this as my first book back. I wanted something to ease back onto reading romance, and this worked rather well. It’s light and sweet, contemporary with familiar tropes that are well-used and loved. It depends on how you look at those familiar tropes and themes as to whether you might find the same story I read and enjoyed as tired and unoriginal, but then, that’s the subjectivity of reading. What I liked most about this story was that it was simple and sweet and didn’t try to do anything new or outrageous.

Jesse is 22 and his six year relationship with his high school sweetheart, Janey, is finished. Back living with his Nan, his feisty and progressive grandmother, Jesse is facing the daunting thought of dating for the first time, something he doesn’t really know how to do. His nan, on the other hand, has a different view. For some reason that she’s reluctant to divulge, she believes him to be gay. They laugh about what seems to be her obsession with having a gay grandson, but it becomes more than a laughing matter when Jesse finds out that the month long cruise she booked him on as a surprise is actually a gay cruise.

Jesse finds comfort in his roommate, Daniel. He’s gorgeous, which even Jesse admits, and depressed to be going on the vacation he had planned for himself and his boyfriend, who he found cheating on him months prior with more than one other man. Their common discomfort serves to bond them in ties of new friendship and the two spend the weeks sailing around the pacific getting to know one another and also watching out for each other’s backs because of the attention they receive from the legions of young horny gay men on board.

The story is pretty straightforward, I’m sure you can guess much of it. The added Gay For You, or Out For You element means that the tension in the story comes mostly from Jesse’s fear of what his new feelings for Daniel really mean, and the story’s progression is marked by the baby steps he takes to reconcile his feelings. I might have liked this story less if I hadn’t just had a break from reading m/m romance, honestly. There does tend to be an overabundance of stories like this — sweet, short and dealing with one of a few major themes. However, what I feared this story might become (basically, that it would rely on melodrama to convey weight of emotion), especially in the hands of a new author, wasn’t the case at all. I found the story took itself rather lightly and didn’t succumb to the pitfall of major denial (on Jesse’s part) and then quick resolution. In the perspective of the story, it was much more realistic than that typical approach.

I’m looking forward to reading more from this author. If I remember correctly, Lily said that she’ll have a novel coming out from Dreamspinner this summer and I look forward to seeing how her writing will evolve. Recommended for those who want something light and sweet and short.

**Just a Note: the story is written in present tense from Jesse’s point of view, so reader’s who have problems getting into that style of writing beware. It didn’t bother me, however.


caribbeanblues185Title: Caribbean Blues
Author: Ari McKay
Publisher: Torquere
Length: 15,900
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Adorable, HEA, Marine Biologists, On Vacation, Short Story, Sea/Sail/Rivers
Rating: Really Liked It

Reviewed by Nikyta

BLURB

When Jon Lawson’s ex dumps him just before a romantic vacation to the Bahamas, Jon decides to go it alone in order to prove he’s not as boring as his ex claims he is. Once there, he meets marine biologist Derrick Mason, who seduces him into a passionate vacation affair and teaches Jon about more than just the dolphins that brought them together. But when Derrick offers his heart, can Jon put aside safety and security to take a leap of faith that will change his life forever?

REVIEW

The duo writing under the pseudonym Ari McKay are quickly turning into authors I’m starting to love. I look forward to each story I read by them and have enjoyed every one of them so far.

This one was no different. Jon gets dumped right before a romantic vacation to the Bahamas. To prove he’s not stuck in a rut and as boring as everyone claims him to be, he throws all caution to the wind and embraces his freedom by himself. In doing so, he gets to accomplish one of his lifelong dreams – swimming with dolphins. He meets Derrick Mason, the dolphin trainer at the resort, who’s love of dolphins rivals Jon’s. An instant attraction consumes them both and before long, they’re full-fledged into a vacation fling. Unfortunately, their feelings are running deeper than a passing attraction and it’s up to Jon to decide if he should stay his boring self and return home or embrace his new self-confidence and the love that gave him it.

One of the things I adored about this story is how much Jon grew as a character in such a short read. He starts out very self-conscious and self-deprecating but with Derrick’s tender care, he blossoms and develops that confidence he desperately needed to feel good and happy. I loved Derrick because of that and although we don’t know much about him beyond surface details, I enjoyed the way he was portrayed. Another thing I loved were the dolphins. I smiled whenever they were in the scene and how easily Jon bonded with one of the surliest and grumpiest dolphins at the resort – Scrooge. I just loved how much Jon and Derrick connected over them and especially the fact the story held that connection.

The book mostly consists of the beginning of Jon’s vacation and the end of it when he goes home. We don’t get much details in between but I strangely didn’t mind that because of how they interacted in the beginning. I will say the story was too short because I really would have enjoyed more details about them, especially in the end to see how they live their lives from then on. That was my main problem, I suppose. Although, I should warn readers that the ending gets a bit too sweet and it is insta-love but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

Overall, a good story with likable characters and sweet dolphins. A bit more development and details would have been ideal but it’s well-written and doesn’t feel rushed. It has sweet moments, playful moments and a tad bit of heartbreak. I definitely recommend it for those looking for a quick, easy read.


LST-Cover-book-3-AReTitle: The Lightning Struck Tower (Precog in Peril #3)
Author: Theo Fenraven
Publisher: Voodoo Lily Press
Length: 35k words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Psychic, Superpowers/Talents, Sea/River/Sail, HEA
Rating: Pretty Good

**This review contains spoilers for those who haven’t read both prior books in the Precog in Peril series, Three of Swords and Knight of Wands**

BLURB

Gray Vecello and Cooper Key are back in the last book in the Precog in Peril series. Snatched by PsiOps, a covert arm of the government, they’re offered training in exchange for their psionic help. Will they take the deal, and if they don’t, what will PsiOps do to them?

Gray and Cooper meet new friends and enemies in this final chapter of the trilogy. The story takes the reader from New York City to Ely, Minnesota, and back to Gray and Cooper’s marina in Red Wing, where they will face the ultimate test of their powers. Someone will live… and someone will die.

REVIEW

Finally reading the end of this story was a treat 🙂 As I mentioned in my other review today of the second book in this series, Knight of Wands, though this is one story in three parts each book is rather different. And while Cooper and Gray leave the houseboat and drifting on the river for most of the book (one of my favorite settings!), I really enjoyed the characters introduced in this story and the circle of friends that Cooper and Evan are able to make.

The Lightning Struck Tower starts where the second book immediately ended, with Cooper and Gray trapped in a warehouse under surveillance by their former friend and foe, whom they now know as the leader of the PsiOps, a secret branch of the government which is charged with finding, training and using those with special powers. Their search has led them here, where they’re really stuck between a rock and hard place. While they think they have a bargaining chip, the fact that they’ll hopefully soon be set for life, agreeing to work for The Man once or twice a year (albeit with some of their own limitations) seems like the lesser of two evils. After all, could they really have lasted trying to work against the government? Especially one with such a powerful reach?

This decisions leads them to Ely, Minnesota, to a remote PsiOps training camp where their powers are put to the test. They’re human guinea pigs, but they soon find a way to make their psychic boot camp worthwhile. They meet the other trainees there, a severely damaged young man and a vivacious woman who become their friends and allies. And they’ll need them — the man who tried to manipulate them into bringing his son back from the dead is still out there, looking for another way to get Gray to do what he wants.

It may be the fact that I’ll forever feel as if I’m in Harry Potter withdrawal (it’s never the same after the first read!!!), but I can’t help but love any book where there is magical training, or a magical school of any kind. Seeing the direction that this story moved in was very pleasing for me. I was really happy that we got to see such a large portion of this book dedicated to the characters exploring their powers (though it would have been nice to be shown more of Gray learning his power). That made most of this book seem as if they’d left their mystery chasing behind and left quite a lot of time for character and relationship growth. Getting to know the secondary characters well, especially Wade’s emotional childhood story of being trans and abuse was, made this a really nice read.

So, I can’t deny that I enjoyed this book probably… more than the first two, though also in a different way. In my review of Knight of Wands, I talked about how the earlier bits of this book explored Cooper and Gray’s relationship in an insular setting, and this book does the opposite, expanding their relationship into the outside world.

For all of that, however, I still had a few problems with the book. I really liked the ending, but it felt rushed and there seemed to be very little transition between the first part of the book and the action at the end. Though the book was coming to a close and I had a natural wariness, waiting for something big to happen, there was very little lead up to the action even, little foreshadowing in this book specifically.

Now, taking all three books as one, I really enjoyed the series and would recommend it to readers. It’s light in most ways. Though dealing with some heavy issues, especially related to abuse, gay teen throwaways and trans issues, the tone isn’t heavy and these issues are passing.


KoW-Cover-300x4501-200x300Title: Knight of Wands (Precog in Peril #2)
Author: Theo Fenraven
Publisher: Voodoo Lily Press
Length: 38k words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Series, Supernatural Powers/Talents, Psychic, Sea/River/Sail, Cliff
Rating: Pretty Good

**This review contains spoilers for those who haven’t read the first book in the Precog in Peril series**

BLURB

Gray Vecello and Cooper Key are back in the exciting sequel to Three of Swords.  Graham’s treasure is only the tip of the iceberg as a thief helps himself to a hidden stash of cash, Jolly Roger makes another appearance, and the guys finally meet others with special abilities when an emergency meeting of the group is called.

Accompanying them on this new adventure is Gray’s cousin, Harper, who’s having problems of her own. Peace and quiet will have to wait as they take another trip downriver on their houseboat, The Constant Companion, before flying to New York City to beard a lion in his den and unexpectedly meet the SOS.

REVIEW

In the first book, Three of Swords (my review), we meet Gray, a hair stylist from St. Paul, Minnesota who has a major gift — he’s psychic, and a very strong one. He’s similar to his grandfather in this way, but hasn’t shared anything with the man who he knew so little about in a long time. Word that his grandfather has died and left him his houseboat comes as a major surprise. It seems like kismet in a way, with his own life, job and relationship seeming so much like failure, so he quits and moves to the boat before even seeing it. He’s surprised to find once he gets there that he inherited more than a boat, but a resident that lived with his grandfather, a boy named Cooper.

Gray and Cooper learn to live together and get to know each other, gradually finding that they like one another all while trying to solve the mystery of Gray’s grandfather’s death and the mysterious clues he left behind about Gray’s powers and the community of people who have similar talents. Their travels down the river to get information lead them to meet many mysterious characters, and show them that Gray’s grandfather had more secrets than they could have expected — dangerous ones. Soon, they’re on a race between their lives and for information.

Knight of Wands starts immediately where Three of Swords left off, with Cooper and Gray about to reveal a what they’re clues led them to, something secret hidden on the boat. What they find there completely blows them away and gives them further clues as to what they need to do to find out who is really after them, as well as giving them a way to do it, a unique way that provides a link to Gray’s heritage.

I’m happy that it ended up so that I could finish this series in one sitting. I really enjoyed Three of Swords, but mostly what I wanted was to know more about what was to come in the next two books, and getting that story in one piece was very nice. Especially since this second book ends on a cliffhanger that had me squirming more than the first book’s! In many ways this novella is a typical middle book in a trilogy. It furthers the plot, characterizations, and romance, but is still holding back. The middle book can be difficult, and is usually no one’s favorite out of the bunch, because it’s all the work without the payoff. I actually appreciated that Fen played with that structure a bit in this series. While it is somewhat true for this book, it is interjected with a heavy dose of information, which brings some of the payoff into this book and leaves most of the action the characters take based on that information until the next and last book.

We’re also introduced to new characters in this book, as well as reintroduced to some from the first. Gray’s cousin, Harper is along for most of the ride in Knight of Wands. And besides the fact that I really liked her as well as appreciated a strong, funny, great female role, one of the most important roles she plays in this book is to bring the relationship that was so insular in the first book into the real world, in preparation for the third. Gray and Cooper have spent so much time by themselves, drifting on the river. They’re not totally insular, but those they interact with are all part of the somewhat transient life of river-dwellers, all people who live on boats in the marina and people they meet as they travel the river. The fact that she has little to do with the problems they’re dealing with, as well as the powers they have was quite nice. She gives perspective and a dose of real-life into the relationship that solidified it in a different way in my mind. Part of that is shadowed by the fact that her relationship with her partner is, at the moment, fallen apart. The dichotomy between the two relationships serves to give reflection and perspective with Cooper and Gray’s relationship.

I’ll leave the mystery up to you, as a reader to enjoy. Now that all three books are out, I really encourage you to read them all in one sitting, like one book. They’re more enjoyable that way, but they’re all also very different, so keep that in mind.


captive400x600Title: Captive
Author: Remy Jensen
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 18k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Action/Adventure, Rockers, Dreadlocks!, Stockholm Syndrome, On the Sea, Pirates
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

All Nico wants is to leave his fame behind for a bit and enjoy a relaxing vacation. His trip to Belize starts off promisingly, but it all goes wrong quickly when he accidentally ruins the plans of Patrick, an ex-pat in the middle of an illegal deal. Patrick takes Nico hostage, hoping to recover his loss, and if Nico wants to regain his freedom he’ll have to do exactly what Patrick says—including, apparently, a bit of cross-dressing.

REVIEW

Captive is the first book I’ve read by Remy Jensen and despite my forced reservations about reading capture books (because I never seem to learn my lesson and I always do and they usually bother me), I couldn’t deny this one. I mean, it’s got a pretty boy rocker! I couldn’t say no. And I’m glad I didn’t, because I found this story to be a fun romp across the Caribbean seas with action, and more action (if you know what I mean) with a dashing, well… contemporary pirate.

It took Nico time to wear down his manager and get him to agree to Nico taking a solo vacation without his bodyguard. He needs some time away and after all, he’s just going to be sipping mai tai’s on the beach in Belize. There’s no danger. But when he finds himself tied to the masthead when the water taxi turned out to be a trap, full of pirates bent on revenge, he knows he made a mistake. What can he do? The men are lecherous and he looks very much like a pretty woman to a bunch of roughneck sailors. His savior (and jailor) comes in the form of the captain of the boat and leader of their plot to smuggle illegal jade, a man who seems to be American (with yummy dreads) and no older than him. Patrick is an enigma, and Nico can’t decide whether to hate him or lust after him. Sure, maybe he didn’t want to be ravaged at first, but when Patrick firmly enforces his chastity, well… things have changed.

As you can see from my summary of the story, the best part of this story is that it doesn’t take itself seriously, however it isn’t over the top. It isn’t really making fun of itself, but Nico is such a subtly flamboyant man that “stockholm syndrome” suddenly sounds like an adventure. Of course, subtly flamboyant is difficult to describe, but what I mean is that Nico has a natural vivacity that draws people to him, probably part of the reason he’s so engaging on the stage. But it shows itself more naturally on the boat, because no matter what Nico is doing, snarling at the men around him or dressed in drag, he’s engaging and likable without even trying.

So that made this story quite a bit of fun to read. They have adventures, of course, which I won’t really get into, but the real story is in the growing romance between Nico and Patrick. I would have liked a little more detail about Patrick’s past and the reason he’s a “pirate” as Nico calls him but which he adamantly denies. He is, however, on the run and unable to return to America, and I would have liked more detail about what exactly he was running from. While we get a little bit of the picture, we don’t get much more than that. I do appreciate, however, that the ending takes a somewhat more realistic turn than I expected. It ends with a firm HFN and maybe an HEA, depending on your opinion, but not without time and difficulty. There isn’t a quick and easy ride off into the sunset (or, I should say sail), but rather at least an attempt to not demand the reader suspend too much disbelief.

Really, though, this was just a fun read. I enjoyed Nico the most of course, but Patrick as well and liked that their relationship takes central stage but with a backdrop of their adventures, instead of more emphasis in other directions. The sex is incredibly steamy. So I’d recommend this story for a light hearted tale when you get the winter blues. The sunshine and azure seas of Belize will entice you to take a 30 minute vacation with sexy men with dreads and small, lithe rockers with too much attitude.