Becoming Us by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox was a wonderful post Christmas read. A college coming out/coming of age story about finding that sometimes someone to love can be right under your nose. Awwwww! While the angst level had the potential to be rather overwhelming, it was nicely balanced with much smex and the pacing was quick, clever and provided me with much entertainment. A great read with memorable characters. Get it from Torquere.

Goldilocks and His Three Bears by A. M. Riley was a ripping good yarn that did not really pretend to take itself too seriously. Brian is such a skank, but a likeable one and his penchant for the hairy and beary strongly influences his choices in partners. Luckily (could my tounge be any further in my cheek) there are 3 hirsute boys who live under the same roof – so there is not too far for Brian to go to try out the next bed. Daddy bear, momma bear and baby bear all provided Brian and me with much entertainment and just a few giggles! Get it via Reader Store.

Carol of the Bellskis by Astrid Amara had the authors trademark sense of humor and well executed plot. I really like her writing style and Seth and Lars angst and snow affected romance was a delightful read. I think she nailed the pacing of the story as it comes in at a pretty pivotal time in the boys relationship. The story flows over the ensuing angst beautifully. I think Lars did seriously need a kick in the pants, but his coming to terms with his sexuality and what was important to him made this a sweet read. I am beginning to look forward to this time of year and these holiday reads! Check it out here at Loose Id.

Wanting by ML Rhodes had a great premise. College boys discovering their love for one another, working through family issues and coming clean about their feelings after an illicit night of sex. It should have rocked my wee socks off, but the execution failed to fire with me and I was left feeling a little disappointed. While all the elements were there, at times the characters level of angst overtook the story and their development seemed stilted. Still, a quick read if you’re up for some college boy smooching. Check out the book here.

I read Amor En Retrogrado by A. M. Riley because Treva Harte said it was cool beans. Reading the synopsis, after I bought it, I was initially not that keen as the book focuses on an established couple and the break down of their relationship. I am rather guilty of preferring that first flush of romance between a couple and all that lovely anticipation. I was happily proved wrong and could not have enjoyed this book more. It was romantic, heart breaking and beautifully written. I think I almost got what I wanted really, but don’t want to spoil it! I loved it. Check it out at ARe.

Hell Cop 2 by Astrid Amara, Nicole Kimberling and Ginn Hale.

The Hell Cops of Parmas City serve and protect humans, sorcerers, and demons alike. But when corpses start turning up in their wake, they have to do more than fight for their lives. They have to fight for their loves.

hellcop 2The first Hell Cop was incredibly enjoyable and something just that little bit different. In this 2nd book they’re building on already established relationships and reading it was like visiting with old friends. God. I am such a sap. But it was just so good!

Trust Me, by Astrid Amara, has Jay and Brian a year down the track. Jay still delights in being able to touch someone and Brian is growing into his own skin after the revelations’ in the previous book. The growth of the characters relationship was beautifully done and the hook of Brian’s lack of control was an engaging one. He begins to realize that his ability to touch Jay does not exclude him from being left and his need to learn to control his power, or risk loosing his lover, becomes paramount. A sexy, perceptively written story that does not just look at the surface of a relationship, but delves deeply into its workings.

In Dark Waters, by Nicole Kimberling, the world building is tight and I like her attention to little things that make for vivid reading. The balance of power in a relationship, knowing when to listen and when to argue, brought a warmness to the story. Michael is such a professor and I like how out of his comfort zone he is with Argent at times, when he cannot use his mind reading powers. Parts were also surprisingly funny and had me laughing out loud. I think Bert’s – a bunch of drunken goat-legged midgets and that poor, maligned turtle were rather amusing. hehe. 🙂

Hell CopFinally, in Such Heights by Ginn Hale, dark and broody Moran returns on another case with his blond and gorgeous journalist lover  James. Moran is still determined to resist till the last and I think there is nothing more satisfying than reading about this cop being brought to his knees. So to speak. O-o The floating palace was a very cool world with tentacle like spells and enslaved demons, which made for a cool backdrop for the characters.

Freeloading, hippie mermaids, large bovine like creatures, pocket demons and castles that travel about in the air. These 3 authors write books that I want to read. Get it here from Loose Id. Also, check out Hell Cop 1 here.

PS. I would seriously like some fan art. Commissions I wonder??

Tangle – Anthology.

11 stories of magic, mystery and the fantastic future, all featuring gay heroes. Swordsmen, cyborgs, magicians, ghosts, psychic lovers and enchanted lords fill this anthology with adventure, laughter and passion.
From Blind Eye Books.

tangleEdited by Nicole Kimberling this anthology has some fantastic reads in it. While there were one or two that did not strike a chord, the majority were rather enjoyable.

I think the standouts for me are the delightful fairy tale of Lord Ronan’s Shoes and Remember both by Astrid Amara. She always manages to slip in a rather dry, cheeky sense of humor, that I appreciate! Crossing the Distance by Erin MacKay was some seriously angsty stuff, which indulged my inner emo kid. heh. Finally, Feral Machines by Ginn Hale was just magic. I did not want this one to end, it was truly a fab read.

This is certainly an eclectic selection of stories and part of the books charm is this diversity. Most enjoyable and available now from Blind Eye Books.

The Valde: Water by Astrid Amara.

aa_water_coverlg2Ever since his lover drowned, Joel hasn’t found anyone to match the passion he and Charlie once shared – except for the guy who looks like Charlie, sounds like Charlie, and is trying to kill him.

First off, this is not merman pron. You grubs! I have been hanging out for this book. The last behemoth I read by Astrid Amara was The Archers Heart. Water was loads shorter, but definitely no less entertaining.

This novel felt a little different than her others, as there was a bit of scene setting and world building about the Valde throughout the book and I am hoping this indicates more stories to follow. Fingers crossed! In saying that, I think a book that is at the beginning of a series is often written quite differently to one further down the track and Water was certainly in contrast to previous work by the author. 

Joel’s sadness and pain at losing his lover was compelling. He was a sympathetic character and just so miserable at losing Charlie, but not to the point of throwing himself into oncoming traffic. Which might sound a little odd, I know, but I want a bit of backbone in my characters. Not someone who is going to fold at the first sign of trouble and spend most of the book sitting in his room listening to 30 Seconds To Mars. Joel is made of sterner stuff! heh. Our other hero is a little more difficult to describe without giving away spoilers. He has a harder edge than Joel and later in the book seemed a little cold at times, which was at odds with how the book started. He is rather hot, demanding and sexy though and I’m quite shallow, so this more than made up for it. 

The story was a thriller/fantasy/horror and had me on the edge of my seat. It almost had a movie like narrative style and makes for a vivid reading experience. An enjoyable book and I am hoping there will be a more. Check out the links below to get the book. 

Get the goodness here at Loose Id.
Astrid Amara’s website.

The Archer’s Heart by Astrid Amara.

archers1Reading The Archers Heart was truly a pleasure. This beautiful fantasy novel draws on elements from the Mahābhārata and is set in a land, not dissimilar to India, called Marhavad. It is a tale of caste, magic, betrayal, adventure, war and love. I spent a week sloping off to bed early just so I could read more!

I think the first thing that appealed was the setting. The Indian influence that saturated Marhavad was delightful and with most of what I’ve read in fantasy set in more European influenced worlds, an enjoyable change. It made me remember reading The Far Pavilions (incredible, beautiful story) and sneaking out to watch The Jewel in the Crown when I was younger. I cannot express how nice it is to read about somewhere a little different and loose some of the Anglo-European centric feel that many fantasy novels have. No LOTR template here and no singing hobbits either! 

The world building was tight with magical elements blending seamlessly within the historical feel of the novel. It was also well paced with nothing glossed over or rushed despite the book covering a period of several years. There were the odd bits that lagged, but for the most part I was kept well entertained. 

I liked the character of Keshan Adaru, who is a man with change at the forefront of everything he does. He is determined to see a society where all men and women are treated equally and the caste system removed. He is charismatic and beautiful. The romance that blossoms between him and Prince Jandu Paran kept me up way past my bedtime. I think, of the two characters, the depth and growth of Jandu was what really captured my interest. He begins the story a brash young boy and grows into a man worthy of his title. And yeah, all serious waffle aside it was kinda hot. heh.

The inclusion of Tarek Amia, whose story runs along side that of Keshan and Jandu, was very poignant at times. I enjoyed his stoic, soldier like nature and unrequited love for his Prince. Such an honorable man, I wanted someone to ruffle his hair occasionally. 

If I have any whinges it’s that I did find Jandu’s curse a little odd in the scheme of things. While it did move the story along it was a little different and unexpected. I also felt a bit uncomfortable at the unsympathetic portrayal of Keshan’s wife and wondered if this could have been handled a little differently.

I think the most charming thing about this book is its uniqueness. I don’t think I’ve really read anything quite like it before and this was probably its most appealing quality. Beautifully presented and a distinctively different read that is well worth reading. Liked it lots!

Paperback from Blind Eye Books and from Amazon.

Holiday Outing by Astrid Amara.

aa_holidayoutingJonah hasn’t seen his family in twelve years. They don’t know he’s gay. Now he’s trapped with them in the storm of a century. A family heirloom has been stolen. And now, his childhood rival, Ethan, has arrived to steal his heart. From Loose Id.

This is my first contemporary read from Astrid Amara and it was wonderful. The premise was engaging, going home for the holidays and having that moment of truth with your family, which I imagine is on a lot of peoples minds at this time of year. Hanukkah and Christmas can be such interesting occasions to say the least! The feeling of being closed in and forced into each others company due to the storm was also clever and handled well. 

The book was sweet, sexy and funny. I think Astrid Amara’s style and pacing just gets better with every book she writes. She has a very original and romantic feel to her writing and her characters were a delight. I just loved the moment when Jonah opens his mothers beside drawer, total awww. Ethan was by turns hot and totally epitomized that cute boy you always had a crush on in school, but he’s also very human and has to make amends with Jonah for being such a shit when they were teenagers.

I nearly read it in one sitting and it made me feel like I was reading a romance novel, which sounds bizarre I know, (maybe it was the vodka in my trifle?) but it hit all the right notes for a romantic holiday read and then some. There were no awkward moments or lag, it was tight and an enjoyable read. There was also bathroom smex, snow and sleeping bags. Hawt!

Get the goodness at Loose Id.
Astrid Amara’s Blog with excellent description of the new book, laughed my ass off. She is teh funny.
Astrid Amara’s Website.

Hell Cop by Astrid Amara, Nicole Kimberling and Ginn Hale.

Welcome to Parmas City, where demons and sorcerers live among ordinary people and a few tough Hell Cops protect them all. Jay, Argent, and Ben are three of them, and they’ve just met the men of their hottest dreams.
From Loose Id.

You have got to appreciate a book that has all the elements of a great urban fantasy, such as drunken centaurs, cops who burn, half demon anthropologists, dragons, magic, mages, cabal families and a life saving bunny costume. And, look at that cover! A sure fire way to my heart, although I am sure the authors would have rather I picked it up for less prurient reasons, hehe. Nicely done Miss Martinez

Urban fantasy is a genre I throughly enjoy and I am a huge fan of authors like Laurell K. Hamilton, Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris and the gorgeous Dante Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow. I think it is kinda cool that I am starting to see different kinds of settings for my m/m reading and big ups for UF. 

Next of Kin by Astrid Amara – was well written and I thought the premise was cool. Jay is a Hell Cop who can never touch another living person due to his skin being consumed by magical fire. Brian has moved to the city to find his father after living a rather sheltered life in the countryside. Someone is out to hurt Brian and Jay finds himself helping the younger man and I liked how they seem to fit despite their differences. 

Red Sands by Nicole Kimberling – was an enjoyable read but it took me a little longer to warm up to Michael. I think it was just the kind of character he was. He was not in your face but quiet somehow. Mind you the poor guy is under investigation for a murder he did not commit! Don’t think I’d be feeling my usual snippy self if it were me either! He sets out to prove his innocence, and find out what really happened with the assistance of cop Argent. 

Touching Sparks by Ginn Hale – was cool. I have been wanting to read something by her for ages after hearing so much about Wicked Gentlemen. I liked James, he was sweet and gutsy and the whole carrying a torch story line is a bit of a winner with me. Ben has dark and broody going on and both men are trying to deny their attraction to avoid hurt. Ben with his somewhat murky past, relationship wise, and James because he wants Ben but does not know if he is desired in return. 

The world building in all three books was tight and I could happily read more set in gritty Parmas city. It was also a good chance to read 3 authors who I’ve only seen in paperback until recently. I love books and I love them even more when they’re on my shelves but the dollar is at about half of the US at the moment, so I am pretty selective about what I get in. Ebooks are a much cheaper and immediate way of finding out if I like a writer, and with such a saturation of books in the urban fantasy genre I have bought more than one lemon. I think a lot of publishers cash in this particular fan base and you can end up buying well packaged drivel that is a pale imitation of something that’s already been done.

My one negative about Hell Cop was the sex. While there were the odd well written moments in all three stories, I would not classify it as incendiary. Maybe you need to take that one with a grain of salt though as I am pretty pervy! I am a sucker for well written sexual tension, power dynamic and can I hear a woot for variety! I like my men to be men when they’re engaging in the smex and for it to be kinda sweaty, hot and real. This is what will make me re read a book more often than not or try more of an authors work. On the whole I did not feel the book always hit the mark in this respect and it often felt incidental rather than a natural progression of the story. 

Apart from this one aspect it was an enjoyable read and I look forward to seeing more work from these talented authors. You can purchase the book here at Loose Id.

Astrid Amaras’s website.
Nicole Kimberling’s website.
Ginn Hale’s website.

Intimate Traitors by Astrid Amara.

When Ravi’s arrested, Armen wants to help him. But he can’t risk compromising his position. Yet his power over Ravi proves too much temptation. Armen can’t resist the lure of Ravi’s body, shackled and at his mercy. From Loose Id.

This is the 2nd book by Astrid I have read and what a sweet little read. The book is set sometime in the future where the previous corrupt government has been overtaken by an even bigger group of tyrants. Armen does the best he can to fight for the rebels from his position as one of the top interrogators at a prison. Ravi, his former lover, is captured during a government raid and taken into custody. Armen is in the difficult position of having to either try and save Ravi or keep working for the resitistance. 

The world building was tight and believable and made me think of all those wicked sci fi movies I love like Equilibrium (I think it was the uniform, less the plot of the movie!). I kept having visions of Christian Bale striding about in his black frock coat as I was reading this. I admit to being somewhat of a geek! The tech was good, not too over the top, so I really had a good mental picture. Definitely believable and did not suffer from the dreadful, *I must think of another word for everyday device* syndrome. Yay for you, Astrid! 

Armen was sexy, dispassionate and cool. At least until Ravi arrives. As for Ravi, merow. The chemistry between the two was delightfully hot. Some of the smex took place in the prison itself so there was a very smokin power dynamic going on and an element of submission. Armen certainly takes charge, boy howdy does he! This was a great afternoon read and am looking forward to more ebook goodness by this author.

So, a sexy 99 pages of sci fi reading, you can get it here at Loose Id.

Check out Astrid’s website.
Astrid’s Live Journal. Her porn for ponies cracks me up. 🙂
If you want to check out my questionable taste in movies, go here, I love wire work and BIG GUNS!

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