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Tag Archives: SL Armstrong

ghostintheclosetAuthor: SL Armstrong & K Piet
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 15,100 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Fantasy/Paranormal Erotica/Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Serial, Short Story, Magic, Ghosts/Spirits, Flashbacks, Secrets & Lies
Rating: Pretty Good

**This review contains spoilers for those who haven’t read the first two stories in the serial, “A Meeting of Fate” and “Life of the Party”.**

BLURB

You think you know the story of Dorian Gray, but you’re wrong. The real story didn’t end the way Oscar Wilde penned; in fact, it hasn’t ended at all. The ageless beauty of Dorian Gray walks now in our world of cellphones and lattes and internet porn. His latest conquest is Gabriel Lawrence, a paranormal investigator with a secret or two of his own. But the trouble with a life as long as Dorian’s is that the skeletons are threatening to overrun the closet… and not all of them want to stay dead.

Season 1: Overture introduces Gabriel to the truth of a world he had only suspected, where ghost hunting is the least of his worries. And at the heart of it all is the mysterious and fascinating Dorian Gray, as though he’d stepped out of the pages of the book bearing his name. But if he has, he hasn’t come through alone. And this figure from a past Dorian had though long behind him bears a grudge nurtured for a hundred years and intends to tear down everything Dorian has built, a piece at a time.

Episode 3: Ghost in the Closet
The aftermath of Dorian’s party leaves Gabriel and Michael reeling, and both become more determined than ever to wring some answers from this so-called ‘Dorian Gray’. Dorian’s continued hedging, though, pushes Michael beyond his limits, forcing him to reveal his presence. But what he could never have predicted is that Dorian isn’t at all surprised…

REVIEW

This third part of the Immortal Symphony serial is definitely the part of the story that I was waiting for. The dynamic between Gabriel, Michael and Dorian changes quite drastically after the second story, where Gabriel partook in the casual drug use and orgiastic (very public) pleasures in celebration of Dorian’s birthday. But what is a common evening of debauchery for Dorian is quite honestly uncomfortably hedonistic to Gabriel. Always the good boy in comparison to his twin brother Michael’s more outlandish actions, this story shows more than ever before how the addition of Dorian to the brothers’ lives has had an affect on them. Gabriel, who has always had trouble letting loose and giving up control to participate in the kinds of things like Dorian’s sex party, finds that he quite likes forcing himself to explore new opportunities and experience life in a more hedonistic way. Michael’s whole existence, however, is a testament to the partying lifestyle of excess drugs and sex, one which ultimately cost him his life. Seeing his brothers actions hits Michael the hardest. This drives a firm wedge between Michael and Dorian, and when Gabriel doesn’t seem as upset at Dorian and Michael feels he should, Michael decides to take over his brothers body and show Dorian his displeasure. The resulting confrontation between the two pushes open the door to Dorian’s secrets, until they start spilling out into the light.

While I liked this story even more than the first two — specifically because we’re starting to get some real answers — I’m still very of two minds about this series and the characters. First, I really adore the writing of Dorian’s character, but I don’t actually like Dorian at all. I say that I really adore the writing of him because I’ve suspected all along that my emotions are purposefully being manipulated as far as how I feel about him. He’s really not likable at all except in that pre-karma way, the “he’s going to get what’s coming to him” way, whether that be literal or the satisfaction of watching him start to have real feelings for someone. That’s why I can’t say I categorically hate Dorian, though he does make me uncomfortable. He’s a much more complicated character than that. In fact, he’s the character that really parallels the overall unfolding plot, because the reveal of his secrets drives the plot forward (which we see in this story as flashbacks). These two authors are really using this unusual medium to explore non-traditional romance characters. Dorian is such a big character that his presence often takes over parts of the story, and ultimately, I feel like he’ll be the deciding factor as to where the story will go as it navigates the boundary between erotica and romance.

The second part of how I feel about this serial is that as far as the overall plot and the emotional growth of the characters, this serial is still in it’s infancy, so those things like how I don’t’ like Dorian very much have very little impact about how I feel about the story overall. I suppose, I should just say that while I’m reviewing and having to give each little story in this serial a rating, I’m really reserving judgement for myself.

Readers who buy the Season Pass (all six Overture season episodes in one) will get an overall discount but also some freebies. The first of those freebies came out with this story in the form of a short story. “The Melody” goes far back in time to an innocent and young Dorian. We get to meet Basil, an artist that young Dorian loves with all the infatuation of a boy and who is also a character importantly referenced to in the first story. While the scene between the two isn’t completely instrumental to the main story (you don’t have to read it), I did really enjoy being able to get to see him and see who he really was to Dorian at that age. Plus, seeing Dorian as positive, hopeful and undamaged gives me a lot of hope that we’ll soon get to see a real change in Dorian in the main story as well.

The fourth story in the Immortal Symphony serial is out now!


lifeoftheparty immortalsymphonyovertureTitle: Life of the Party (Immortal Symphony: Overture #2)
Author: SL Armstrong & K Piet
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 15,300 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal Erotica
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Serial, Short Story, Ghosts/Spirits, Public Sex, Drug Use, Multiple Partners, m/m/f scenes, girly parts!
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

You think you know the story of Dorian Gray, but you’re wrong. The real story didn’t end the way Oscar Wilde penned; in fact, it hasn’t ended at all. The ageless beauty of Dorian Gray walks now in our world of cellphones and lattes and internet porn. His latest conquest is Gabriel Lawrence, a paranormal investigator with a secret or two of his own. But the trouble with a life as long as Dorian’s is that the skeletons are threatening to overrun the closet… and not all of them want to stay dead.

Season 1: Overture introduces Gabriel to the truth of a world he had only suspected, where ghost hunting is the least of his worries. And at the heart of it all is the mysterious and fascinating Dorian Gray, as though he’d stepped out of the pages of the book bearing his name. But if he has, he hasn’t come through alone. And this figure from a past Dorian had though long behind him bears a grudge nurtured for a hundred years and intends to tear down everything Dorian has built, a piece at a time.

Episode 2: Life of the Party
Gabriel’s first glimpse into Dorian’s lifestyle was only the beginning, and now he finds himself tumbling further down the rabbit hole. Dorian’s birthday party introduces Gabriel to some of Dorian’s friends, all as free-spirited and debauched as Dorian himself. Through them, he learns that he isn’t the first that Dorian has drawn into his web this way, not even the hundred-and-first. And yet somehow, all of Gabriel’s concerns instantly seem strangely inconsequential at Dorian’s slightest touch, fueling Michael’s fears that there is so much more to Dorian than they could guess.

REVIEW

I was both excited and a little wary of reading “Life of the Party.” This is the second “episode” in the serialized story — about a modern day Dorian Gray. He’s a man whose mysterious powers and long life have given him an extreme confidence and at this point in the story, I might say arrogance. He’s a sexual creature to the point of extreme debauchery, which Gabriel soon finds out when he attends Dorian’s birthday party, which is pretty much a thinly veiled excuse for an orgy. Every gathering is an excuse for an orgy when Dorian is around! 🙂

This second story does a pretty good job of extending and strengthening those things which stood out in the first story. Gabriel is suspicious of Dorian and who he really is, but as his proximity to Dorian fluctuations so does his reaction to him, like a drug. When Dorian is near Gabriel forgets himself and is overcome with lust enough to distract from his conscience, or better named, his brother and ghost Michael. The two brothers have an interesting dynamic when we first meet them in the first story. Michael does indeed act as Gabriel’s conscience for the most part, but with his own personality and also wary attentiveness that Gabriel not succumb to the same pitfalls in life that he did before his untimely death. While Gabriel loves his brother, you can see that he often resents him as well. Or, he is at least uncomfortable with his presence. This complicated dynamic becomes even further strained in this story. Michael is already naturally suspicious of Dorian, who he can’t figure out on a spiritual level. But seeing Dorian’s effect on Gabriel alarms Michael further in Life of the Party. Dorian’s gift of spreading lust affects Gabriel so strongly in this story that he becomes a libidinous creature that shocks him afterward. It’s a kind of dubious violation that worries Gabriel.

That realization and ultimate agreement with his brother about his suspicions causes a bit of a change in Gabriel that sets a new tone and a new direction going into the third story. I have a feeling that in the next story Gabriel is going to be a bit more cautious and a bit more insistent that he find out Dorian’s secrets.

For the most part this story carried on the same as the story before it. Though we get to see a bit of a different setting and the characters are fleshed out a bit more, there’s not a huge change yet in the character dynamics, though as I said, this story seems to be setting the stage for some kind of upcoming change. Of course, there are still orgies aplenty 🙂

I’m still really enjoying this serial and looking forward to the coming stories. I have to admit that this story started to edge closer to the line in my comfort zone, but that made this story all the more exciting for me. I never quite felt that it was in danger of going too far for me (it would have to be very, very far!), but there was a bit of a discordant mood in this story that felt as if it was perfectly set to make the reader feel Gabriel’s warring excitement and unease with the sex party and his part in it.

Part 3 of Immortal Symphony: Overture, “Ghost in the Closet”, is out now. Part 4, “Shadow from the Past”, is to be released on May 10.


ameetingoffateovertureTitle: A Meeting of Fate (Immortal Symphony: Overture #1)
Author: SL Armstrong & K Piet
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 16,660 words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Erotica
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 5 – Over and Over
Keywords/Tags: Serial, m/m/f scenes, England, Scotland, Drug Use, Sexy to the 999s, Ghosts/Spirits, Rich/Poor, Secrets & Lies
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

You think you know the story of Dorian Gray, but you’re wrong. The real story didn’t end the way Oscar Wilde penned; in fact, it hasn’t ended at all. The ageless beauty of Dorian Gray walks now in our world of cellphones and lattes and internet porn. His latest conquest is Gabriel Lawrence, a paranormal investigator with a secret or two of his own. But the trouble with a life as long as Dorian’s is that the skeletons are threatening to overrun the closet… and not all of them want to stay dead.



Season 1: Overture introduces Gabriel to the truth of a world he had only suspected, where ghost hunting is the least of his worries. And at the heart of it all is the mysterious and fascinating Dorian Gray, as though he’d stepped out of the pages of the book bearing his name. But if he has, he hasn’t come through alone. And this figure from a past Dorian had though long behind him bears a grudge nurtured for a hundred years and intends to tear down everything Dorian has built, a piece at a time.

REVIEW

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this first “episode” in the Dorian Gray serial K Piet and SL Armstrong have written. I’m iffy about serials — sometimes they work for me and sometimes not so much (I’d rather wait and read them all at once — but episodic releases are different than a pure serial in the way that they’re released. They’re less of a chapter release and each one tends to be a little more self-contained. That’s how I felt with this first episode. I’m even more excited to read the second episode, not only because I liked this one a lot and look forward to what happens next, but because the first release of a longer work like this will undoubtedly be a setup to the main story, which is this:

We meet many characters here and I’m not quite sure which ones will be important later, with the exception of three: Dorian, Gabriel and Michael. Dorian is now over two hundred years old and firmly ensconced in the modern age, yet still holding an old-world flair. He’s a captivating sex god, firmly holding the strings of the puppets around him in an elaborate, hedonistic dance. He meets Gabriel when the man walks in front of his limo and interrupts his blow job. Gabriel is an American, new to the UK and on his way to a new job in his paranormal investigation business. And Michael… Michael is Gabriel’s twin, dead and reappeared as a ghost in Gabriel’s mind. They share one body and work together in their paranormal job. Dorian and Gabriel meet once again and share an afternoon of sex that goes beyond what both are accustomed to. Surprising Dorian is almost impossible, but Dorian can’t seem to forget Gabriel, and his insistence that Gabriel come with him to his home in Scotland is an opportunity that will set the stage for a relationship over the series of episodes.

The first scene of this whole serial really sets the stage for is to come and especially this modern Dorian. The first scene is from the POV of a young college woman who is having sex with two men she just met, a man named Oliver and Dorian. The scene shows the level of sex and debauchery that surrounds Dorian, as well as his lack of discrimination in the gender of his partners. While I don’t usually read anything with girly parts, this didn’t bother me so much (even when there’s another scene later in the story with a different woman), because I know that it’s a small part of the real story. Nevertheless, the sex in this story pretty much blew me away. Even with that first scene I wasn’t expecting quite the level of sex in this story, but I was happy with it anyway. I’ll be interested to see in the future stories, once Gabriel and Dorian become more important to one another, how Dorian’s sexual appetites with multiple partners will affect Gabriel. I can honestly say that I have no idea what to expect of the coming stories, and that is exciting.

So, getting in on reading this new serial at this point is all up to how you feel about serials or episodic releases. If they’re not for you, then by all means wait a while and I’ll be sure to update you every month how they’re progressing. Otherwise, jump in and join me 🙂

Also, just a note about how I classified the genre in this review. Since the romance hasn’t really started yet, I’m marking this first story as erotica. It sure has enough sex for it! 😉


makingendsmeet

Congrats to

Crissy M

for winning the copy of the Making Ends Meet by SL Armstrong and K Piet. I’ve already written Crissy to let her know and she’s written me back. So, thanks for playing everyone and thank you all for stopping by and commenting!


Title: Making Ends Meet
Author: SL Armstrong & K Piet
Illustrator: Diana Callinger
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 65k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Illustrated, Kids, Single Father, First Times/Loves, Coming Out
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Includes 12 black-and-white illustrations by Diana Callinger!
Zach is just seventeen years old, but despite his youth, he has more than his fair share of responsibility. An experimental fling in high school has led him down the path of single fatherhood. Now, he holds down a job, takes his college classes online, and pays his own bills as best he can—all while juggling daycare and chores and play-dates for his four-month-old, Mae. It’s a rough, 24/7 life, but to Zach, Mae is worth every penny spent and every minute of his day.

With no free time to speak of, it feels like a miracle when Zach meets Wil in the check-out line at his work. Handsome, grounded, from the proverbial “right side of the tracks”, and—even better—good with kids, Wil is everything he could want in a boyfriend. But as interested as Wil is in Zach, he has his own life, his own family, his own job and college career to think about. All the various draws on their time means that it’s hard just to find chances to be together. But Zach’s no stranger to hard tasks, and believes he owes it to himself to try.

REVIEW

It took me a while to read this. Just under a month actually — I kept putting it down and picking it up later. So, I don’t think that it is without faults, but just after the halfway point, I picked it up again and finally started getting into it. And after finishing, well — I respect this book a lot. It is a divergence from most of the writing these two have done in the past, and from typical romance in several ways. First — Zach is seventeen when this story starts, and even though they follow the rules, so to speak, and don’t show any sex until he’s legal, it still pushes the boundaries to think of an underage dad for some people. Second, and SL Armstrong talked about this a couple weeks ago when she stopped by TAR for our spot on the blog tour for this book, the main plot is rather straight forward and simple: two men fall in love, one has a child, and they start a family. There is little other plot besides that, although there are obstacles in their path. That makes this a rather sedate romance and definitely slow to start.

I think that is why I had trouble in the beginning. No matter how much I respected the writing for the purity of plot and the rather realistic look at underage and single parents, I kept thinking… so, this is it? I thought maybe it just wasn’t to my taste, because there’s nothing wrong with that. But after I spent some more time getting to know Zach and Wil, and when their relationship moved from their internal world of three and out into the world, I started to get it. And then I really liked it. I had a difficult time with Zach and points. He’s incredibly insecure about some things, but that is because he’s vulnerable, so objectively I understand it and my response to his need of constant reassurance.

I also appreciated that the socioeconomic disparity between the two was made a subject of tension. It’s something that is incredibly important in many real life relationships. And I think that’s why I respect this story the most, even though it is the very reason it made it difficult for me to get into. This story is much more true to life than most in our genre, most especially in the way it portrays Zach and his need to support his daughter Mae. So I would definitely recommend this story, but I also don’t think that it is for everyone. First, this is definitely for those who like reading stories about kids and gay fathers. Much of this book is taken up by Mae, and the issues Zach has to deal with directly relating to parenting. Also, like I mentioned before the plot is entirely involved with the relationship and the parenting, with little else from the outside world except some in the latter half. And finally, with Zach being underage for the first part of the book and his issues with sex after fathering Mae, the romance gets off to a very slow start.

And on a last note, the relationship, for most of the story, is very sweet. Wil is almost too good to be true, and while it bothered me for a lot of the story, that everything just seemed to fall into place and be super easy and cheesy at times, it did work out to my satisfaction in the end and made sense to me.

Now, on the the giveaway!

GIVEAWAY RULES

Please leave a comment below to win an ebook copy of Making Ends Meet. The giveaway will last until Midnight CST on December 3. I will choose the winner using Random.org and email the winner who will then have 48 hours from the time of the drawing to reply to my email. I will then forward the winner’s information to SL Armstrong and K Piet so you can receive their book.

Please enter the email you’d wish me to contact you at in the comment form, or if you prefer, leave it in the message.

Thank you and good luck!


I always look out for stories about gay families. Though I’ve found more that I didn’t like than the ones I did, since I started reading m/m romance, those few gems that I have found are some of my very favorite romances. It seems to be a less popular relationship configuration found in our genre, man + man + child(ren), or any other variations. I want to welcome SL Armstrong to TAR today to talk about heteronormativity and her latest novel written with K Piet.

I offer the floor to Saundra, and after I’ll give you a little more of my thoughts 🙂


Here’s a story synopsis for you: a pair of young lovers strive to make a life together while raising a young daughter. Now, what can you tell me about the genders of the lovers? If you said a boy and a girl… well, you’re wrong for one thing, but for another, you’ve demonstrated heteronormativity.

Heteronormativity is the term erroneously given to those things which are assumed to be desired only (and universally) by heterosexuals. These include things like marriage, family, and the ubiquitous “white picket fence”. There are only two problems with that assignment: not all heterosexuals want those things, and many homosexuals do.

In our new book, Making Ends Meet, K. Piet and I explore the life of 17-year-old Zach, a gay single father who starts dating Wil, a pharmacy student from an affluent family. All that Zach wants is a stable relationship with someone he loves and a home of his own where he can give his little girl the life he thinks she deserves. But our dev editor worried about the portrayal of Zach and his desires. One of her biggest notes on the story was that the entire thing seemed too heteronormative, as though being gay automatically means that Zach couldn’t possibly desire these things.

But here’s the thing. Not every gay man wants to be Brian Kinney, going out to a club every night and banging the first guy who catches his eye with no strings and no commitments. For plenty of gay people, that isn’t the life they want. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I can immediately come up with a dozen gay couples who married―or want to be married―and who have children. That doesn’t make them less gay. It doesn’t make them posers, falling into the heterosexual patterns foisted upon them by the world, and thus, bad gay people. It makes them a couple who wants to be together, a couple who wants to raise children together, nothing more or less.

But, that’s what I mean when I say heteronormativity isn’t bad. Not that the assumptions that gay and straight people are inherently different in their desires aren’t ill-founded, because they are. But when you define heteronormativity as a set of desires to have what is traditionally considered to be sought by heterosexual persons, it is not wrong or bad for non-heterosexual persons to seek those same things. People are people, and each person’s desire is valid and individual. No one should judge anyone else’s happiness or how they gained that happiness based on sexual orientation or societal labels. Why should it matter that it makes Zach happy to raise his daughter with his boyfriend? Does it make their lives less? Does it make their identification as gay men suspect? No. It makes them a two income household with a precocious daughter to raise, just like so many other households in America. 🙂

Writing characters with those desires is not an erasure of the ‘homosexual experience’ (what is that, anyway? A ride at Gay EPCOT or something?), because there is no such thing as a singular experience. People are diverse, and regardless of their sexuality or gender expression, some people will always want that long-term relationship with partner and family. Telling their stories is not being heteronormative; it’s showing the diversity of human desire.

S.L. Armstrong is the co-author of Making Ends Meet and Other Side of Night: Bastian & Riley. She can be found at SLArmstrong.net or on Twitter @_slarmstrong.


The beautiful thing about the m/m romance community is the diversity and acceptance of a plethora of ideals. Of course, the indie e-publishing market is the real superstar here, because I’m specifically talking about the diversity in publishing. As I said above, I love books about gay families, and it has only been recently, in the past couple of years that I really understand why. While I’ve not really thought seriously about kids (nor would I at this point in my life), it’s something that I don’t think I’ve ever specifically decided against. I never had the feeling that since I was gay I couldn’t have them, maybe because I’m fairly young and at the time I came out, gay adoption had been seen mostly as a positive move in American culture (I’m being optimistic here, lol).

The truth is, it took me a long time, as a gay man, to realize that the way I wanted to live my life was just fine. I was pretty self-consious about this issue in college. Almost all of my gay friends were having casual sex and loving it and.. it really just wasn’t for me (after a few failed attempts). I thought I was screwed up, honestly. I thought, growing up in the bible belt had made me feel that something was wrong with having a healthy gay sex life, or feeling guilty about my sexuality period. I never really felt that way, but what if I wasn’t really sure?

Saundra makes a really great point with this post. I like reading about gay families because it grounds the relationship into reality for me, when reading about so many gay men falling in love tends to roll together into a mish-mash of romance-land happiness.

Thanks, Saundra, for stopping by today and giving us some insight into her new book!