Trustworthy by Astrid Amara

This is the second book in the sci-fi  Policy of Lies series and is a solid follow up. Ivo and Mack were involved when they were younger, but they’re separated after a battle with rebel forces. Years later Ivo, with no memory of his past, ends up taking Mack prisoner and the reunion begins.

It is definitely not all hearts and flowers and our heroes are certainly made to work for their happily ever. They’re on opposing sides of a corporation war and this becomes more apparent with a few surprising admissions from Mack. I enjoyed the world building, which was pretty dark and oppressive. There was plenty of snarky tension between the leads and it was super hot. Ivo has a unique and refreshing voice, despite his memory loss and I just adored Mack.

This was definitely enjoyable, but it felt a little short. If anything,  I wanted a little more from the novel, longer maybe and more depth. Good read and I recommend you check out A Policy of Lies. 

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.
4 Stars
Goodreads
Amazon
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Out of the blue.

It has been so long since I’ve blogged I wasn’t sure I’d remember how. I used to enjoy it so much, but stuff happened and it seemed to suck anything remotely like creativeness and a willingness to share right out of me. Nothing to do with the reading community, more life is a bit sucky stuff.

I also think I stopped blogging so much because writing reviews was too much like hard work and it felt like a lot of pressure for little gain. I think I may be coming out the other end of my creative slump and meh moment. (It’s only taken 2 years!) I’ve been reading Kassa’s blog too and enjoying her return to regular reviewing and blogging. I think too, that perhaps time away is not such a bad thing.

I’ve been reading loads, as always, but more of a balance between urban fantasy  contemporary and m/m. I’m finding I have less patience for rubbish writing. It frustrates me no end when characters are not fully fleshed out, the world building is cursory at best and the author just doesn’t do the job of making me believe in their world. I think maybe I am becoming a little cranky and if it doesn’t grab me in the first chapter I’ll put it down. I also yell at small children to get off my lawn. heh.

So, here’s my first rec for the year… and it’s going to be brief.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. Solid world building and good pacing. I did have a few issues about half way through but not bad enough to spoil my enjoyment. Definitely one to check out if you’re into sic fi.

Buy it here from Loose Id.

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Truthful Change by Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow

A rose by any other name… But when you don’t know someone’s real name, can you really fall in love with them? Karl’s an ex-mercenary with more secrets than scars, but his shy oddly sexy gardener, Adam, has even more than he does.
Synopsis via Loose Id.

Truthful Change was a marvy read with a gardening boy, ex military hard bodies and some rough, dirty, garden shed sex. I liked it a great deal, as one can imagine!

I think what these two authors do well is the power dynamic between their characters. How they portray their more submissive boys, like Aiden really resonates. He’s ballsy, clever and incredibly in control of himself, but you get the feeling that despite being in a relationship that there’s a missing something in his life. I also like that submissive doesn’t somehow mean less. This pisses me off in books that have a BDSM flavor, and while this novel was not hard core, there is a definite whiff of D/s. Karl was such a great character, pretty blokey, stoic and knows what he wants. He also has a predilection for leaving bite marks that I appreciated hugely. Nom.

Often we talk about world building in relation to a fantasy or sci fi novel, but I think this is equally important in a contemporary novel. I liked how most of the scenes are set either within Karl’s house, the garden or Aiden/Adams apartments and their stake out. They all felt very contained and caused the tension to ratchet up a few levels due to their close confines. It meant that most of the interactions were also based around the two characters and their developing intimacy, rather than extraneous events and people. One element of the book that did surprise me was the issue of fidelity between Aiden and his lover Scott. Normally this can be a deal breaker for me, but the authors made it work.

Truthful Change is a seriously sexy and rather marvelous read. Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow do not disappoint and I highly recommend this fab book. If you enjoy it, then do check out Bound and Determined. If you have a fetish for gardening boys (did I read something someone said about owning your fetish???) then do read In and Out but L.B. Gregg. nom.

Two Man Team by Jet Mykles

Others might be fooled into thinking Davey is just a computer nerd, but Jason knows better. He knows his geeky best friend is wicked to the core. Threesomes with girls lead them to try sex alone. Now Jason wants to make them a two-man team.
Synopsis via Loose Id.

It’s true, Davey has possibly got the most readable ass I’ve read this month. If you buy this gem for any reason, buy it for his ass alone. His behind was so well described and so well loved that even I was contemplating giving it a gold star. heh.

Two Man Team carries on from Jet’s previous book One For The Team, set within a couple of months of a wedding and of Davey, Jason et al. getting it on. Davey makes a few gentle suggestions to Jason that maybe he’d like to get the band back together, with some chicks, and so they do. There is much surreptitious watching of each other and almost touching during their sexorin fest, and until finally they end up in the sack, just the two of them. Nice.

Normally the whole chick as an add on can kinda squick me, as it often feels like she’s just the tag along. Unless the book is a purpose written menage. The way the author handled this was nicely done and even though they’re not a huge focus, how they’re dealt with was nicely written. I guess this was kinda important to me, that it fed and drove the plot rather than adding a random sex scene.

The chemistry between Davey and Jason was unspeakably hot and there are a couple of scenes that need some kind of achievement certificate or well done! Seriously, they were so filled with tension, angst and raw sexual appeal I am quite sure my wee iphone won’t ever be the same.

Jason’s voice was easy to read and at times provided surprising and unexpected turns in character. I liked that I was not really sure what was going to happen next. Sometimes I feel so jaded, I can tell you where a story is going. I think I read too much! But this was just a little different. And, was it just me or was Davey’s ass really that hypnotic? 😀

A wickedly hot read and I liked it lots. Get it from Loose Id.

Shorts.

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.

Shorts.

Despite the busy time of year I’ve found a few moments of reading time. I’ve had a few surprisingly good novels and some rather angsty, which I’ve liked! Normally if there is whining or sobbing the book finds its way into my did not finish pile. I might be getting a bit soft!

Change of Heart by Mary Calmes was a great shifter romance. There was a bit of the old “gay for you* trope going on, but it was well done and nicely wrapped up with the *we’re soul mates* kinda thing. I liked that it was angsty and that there were a few misunderstandings and heart to hearts that made for a nice, sexy wee read. I have a thing for cat shifter romances too, so a bit of were pussy romance was all good! Check it out via ARe.

The Strongest Shape by Tessa Cárdenas is one of the best ménage books I’ve read in ages. No one felt like that odd one out and the boys truly worked together to make their relationship work – with much angst of course!! The secondary characters were well written and while the world building was reasonably strong, it was the interactions between the 3 that held my attention. Honesty, there is nothing better than well written ménage, where all characters feel like they’ve a part to play, as opposed to one being the odd cock out. It was plenty hot too! Wicked, cool read and the cover is gorgeous. Best viewed in a large format. Merow. Pick it up here at ARe.

Cutting Cords by Mickie B. Ashling was an ok read, in the authors last book I found the overwhelming emotional moments a little too heavy. While this was in a similar vein, it felt more balanced. Sloan and Cole are certainly characters you have to grow to like and at times I did find them hard work. But, there is something about the author’s style that keeps me coming back for another go. Check it out here at ARe.

Dark Heart by Thom Lane was an absolutely magic fantasy read. Excellent world building with a sexy, servile slave boy and hot, badass mage. I loved this book and cannot believe I’ve not picked it up before now. The cover alone is enough to send me back for a second look. hehe. I loved the world the author created, even though I periodically wanted the slaves to rise up, the whole in service thing did rather appeal to my kink. I thought the ending was well done too and not wrapped up in a bow. Has me with fingers crossed that there might be more! A very good read that is well worth picking up. You can purchase here at ARe or Fictionwise is particularly cheap at the moment.

An Improper Holiday by K.A. Mitchell was a charming historical romance read. I do think an accurate historical depicting a gay relationship is a particularly difficult thing to do and there is only a certain amount of scope. But, I think the book was well executed and a very sweet read. This author consistently delivers the goods and this gem is no exception. Totally sexy reading and the story has one particularly intriguing secondary character that totally deserves a HEA too. Get the book here from ARe.

If you’re new to ebooks, check this post out for instructions and apps 🙂 Basically, if you’ve got an ipod touch or an iphone I suggest you go large and have a go. It is totally addictive!

Bound and Determined by Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow

When Sterling Baker discovers the wonderful world of BDSM, he’s ready to literally throw himself at the feet of the spectacular Owen Sawyer, but Owen is unwilling to take on someone so new to the scene—or so he says. Determined to get what he wants, Sterling sets out to convince the doubting Owen that he can be the best sub in the world, the fastest learning, the most obedient…
Synopsis from Loose Id.

Beautifully written, Bound and Determined is a book that does not disappoint. I’ve got books by both authors and their styles compliment each other hugely and make for very cool reading.

Sterling is such a brat and I loved his spark and innate cheekiness. It is such a perfect foil for Owen’s more reserved nature and theirs is a relationship that doesn’t always go smoothly as a result. The conflict was well written with the focus centered on the characters internal struggles. It was easy to read and didn’t devolve into any silly BDSM tropes and Nancy Drew and the gang did not make an appearance I was pleased to note. heh.

The relationship between Sterling and Owen is what carries this book. The slow development of trust between both men and the exploration of their boundaries, desires, and the chemistry that has drawn them together, was what made this a cut above other BDSM novels I’ve read recently. Nothing was rushed and the authors seemed to allow Sterling and Owen to stick to their own timetable. The slow building of sexual tension as a result was off the charts and appealed to me immensely. The sex is incredibly good and they nailed that sense of trust implicit within a D/s relationship. Rawr. It was totally hot and made for magic reading.

A lush, intense and engaging read I got totally wrapped up in. If you’ve not read, then I highly recommend you get your backside over to Loose Id and buy it. One of my favourite reads this year. 🙂

Interview – Rowan McBride

os_frontpage2After reading several books by this very cool author and following Rowan’s blog and twitter rather slavishly, I thought it would be interesting to ask a few questions about writing, reading and Pocky!

Would you care to share a few things about yourself? Favorite place, shoes, music, t-shirt..?

Favorite place: Any room with good friends, good drinks, and good anime.

fave shirtFavorite music: It varies according to mood. When I lived in Hawaii, I really liked the Ka’au Crater Boys, but someone recently told me they broke up. Also liked Bright Red Boots (sadly, no longer together), ClosetHuman (on hiatus). For a while I was thinking my tastes were cursed. Nowadays I listen to Death Cab For Cutie, Vince Gill, Ludo, Ella Fitzgerald, Seether, artists like that. But my favorite band is probably still the Electric Mayhem. 🙂

fave shoesI’ve attached pictures of my favorite shoes and shirt. The shoes *used* to be blue suede, but I’ve had them so long and they’ve seen so much of the Texas sun that they’ve faded into a color I can’t even name at this point. I’m not actually sure where I picked up the aloha shirt (the safe bet’s Hawaii, but you never know with me), but I wear it all the time. I’m surprised it hasn’t fallen apart yet.

When did you start writing?

Second grade, I think. In third I had to read a story I wrote (about an elf who grew to be eight feet tall, heh) to the entire grade, and the experience scarred me so badly that afterward I kept everything I wrote (except for an independent study I didn’t know anyone had paid attention to until the year after) secret until well into high school.

lone_coverWhat types of characters and situations are you drawn to write about?

I like to write about characters who find themselves, who discover their own worth. I’m also a big fan of MGS (Muscle Growth Stories), because I like to play with ideas of strength and power. That, and the shallow side of me just adores a muscular form. 😀

I really liked one of your blog posts back in May about writing as therapy. How much of yourself do you see in your books?

Wow, yeah. Writing that post was a good day for me. I’d just learned my mother was cancer-free after five years, and it was quite a milestone. That sense of relief led to some introspection on my part.

While I’m writing, I don’t see myself in my stories at all. The characters always seem like shiny new strangers, the situations entirely unique. It’s often months, or even years, later when I look at those books and go “Ohhh. That was *my* trust issue.” or “That was *me* trying to patch himself together after being broken.” I suppose that’s a good thing– putting yourself into your stories. Even when you don’t realize you’re doing it, if you’re willing to put yourself out there from the beginning it adds an element of honesty.

oghsmallWhat’s your writing process like? Outline or seat of your pants?

I start with a spark of an idea. It could be one line of dialogue that makes me curious about why it was said, or a character whose story I want to know more about, or a bizarre event that I can’t resist dropping unsuspecting characters into. From there it’s usually seat of my pants until I discover I have too many scenes jumbled together in my head. Then I crack open a pack of index cards and storyboard the rest to make sure it makes sense.

How important are your beta readers and what part do they play in your writing process?

Good, honest beta readers are worth their weight in gold. I’m the writer, so naturally I think each of my stories is a jewel. Sometimes I don’t see plot holes, continuity issues, characters taking leaps they really shouldn’t take. Some beta readers are great at telling me whether the overall concept works, and whether the characters resonate with them. Others will tear apart my grammar until I dream about misused semicolons. Having different perspectives is important because if a story is fresh in my mind, I tend to fill in blanks without realizing it.

Is there a piece of work you feel especially proud of?

“Want Me.” I got to go crazy with several themes I enjoy. Love it when my stories come full circle, and in that one each turn of the spiral allowed me to explore that concept again and again. I also like playing with the idea of true power– where it really comes from, what a person does when they believe their strength has been stripped from them, etc. And Joel, starting in a life he was content with and painfully moving to one that holds more depth… that was my favorite part.

And the muscle growth. Always love that.

paulsdreamthumbYou not only write, but draw, what is your favorite piece?

I have a long way to go, but it’s been hella fun learning how to draw in a manga/anime style. Eventually I’d like to get to a place where I don’t always need a reference picture, and I’ve been starting to inch toward that direction lately.

The only picture of mine I ever framed and hung on my wall is “Lelouch 1“. He’s one of my favorite characters of all time, and this was the first image that came out exactly the way I wanted– from hair to eyes to the little smirk on his mouth. It must have taken me over a week to draw.

Another favorite of mine is “Colors“. I think I’d colored it at three in the morning, and I was impressed he came out looking how I felt at the time.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read? Any particular reads you’d recommend?

Reading for fun? What is this concept? 😉

I enjoy quirky science fiction like “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” I also like to read books about writing, and Stephen King’s “On Writing” is a favorite of mine. Jennifer Crusie’s “Bet Me” is excellent– It was recommended to me by someone via twitter, and I don’t remember the last time I laughed out loud with a book. I enjoy poetry, especially anything by Langston Hughes. I’ve learned it’s hard to go wrong with anything by Jet Mykles or Katrina Strauss.

I’m getting ready to dive into a lot of new books, so hoping to find more autobuy authors.

pocky 1Please explain Pocky? O-o

lol! Pocky is this glorious cracker cookie stick thing usually dipped in chocolate (but also comes in strawberry and a variety of other flavors). It’s imported from Japan and is the food of the gods. 🙂

My favorite flavor actually comes from its Korean counterpart– Pepero. It’s called Nude because (I think) the cookie is on the outside and the chocolate is on the inside.

So, now that I have drooled all over your shelves of books, what are your favourite manga?

One of my favorites out of the mainstream manga pool would be “Saiyuki,” by Kazuya Minekura. It’s loosely based on the Chinese novel “Journey to the West” and features a half-demon, a demon who used to be human, an amnesiac monkey king, and a monk who drinks and smokes and carries a Smith and Wesson revolver. The dynamic between the four men is funny and intense, and the art contains some of the most gorgeous fight scenes I’ve ever seen.

pocky 2

With yaoi, my favorite to date is “Totally Captivated,” by Yoo Ha-jin. It’s actually a manhwa (the Korean counterpart to manga), but I don’t know what the Korean word for yaoi would be. I tried to ask my mother, but that entailed explaining exactly what yaoi was and, well, she’s still processing that information. “Totally Captivated” features violence, angst, some pretty intense sex. It also has an unexpected humor to it, as well as moments of tenderness. I don’t know how the creator managed to balance all that, but they did, and it was fab.

Oh! And “Tokyo Babylon” by CLAMP. One of the best of ALL TIME.

{ahem} Pardon my fanboi moment there…

wmsmallFinally (I promise there are no more questions!) what have you got coming out soon?

At the moment I don’t have anything planned. Been writing almost non-stop for three years, and it’s time to take a break. Once I’ve recharged I think I’d like to complete “Broken Thread,” this bizarre royal alien rock star yaoi thing I’ve been working on for a while now. I’d also like to get a few sequels finished and maybe complete a serial or two.

Should be a lot of fun once my muse starts talking to me again.

This has been such a cool interview to do and I’ve really enjoyed the emailing back and forth and having a chance to yak. Thanks Rowan!
I had a lot of fun too! It was great chatting with you, and I’m glad that the time difference + my insomnia worked out so well. 😉

Rowan has kindly consented to put up an ebook to be won. Just leave a comment below and go into the draw for one ebook of your choice from Rowan’s back catalog. 🙂

Check out Rowan’s website, twitter, art and most important  – books!

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