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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Shorts.

I have written a whole 3 short book reviews. Success!

Infected: Prey by Andrea Speed has been a great book, so far. I’ve actually just finished the 1st book, there are two that make up the novel. I liked it so much that I’ll give it a gold star just on part one alone. The story telling was excellent with a nice scooby mystery, and the romance between Roan and Paris very much underpinning it rather than being sole focus. What surprised me I guess is the lack of sex in the book. Sex is usually pretty high on my list of must haves and yet the story itself was so compelling that the lack of sexfest became less important than the characters development and the mystery. This is not to say that there is no tension between them, just that the bedroom door is firmly closed to pervs like me. Great paranormal, urban fantasy werecat story . Well worth purchasing. Check it out here.

Stray by Ash Penn was a bit of a hesitant purchase for me. I was not sure I would like it going on the blurb (guy is slutty, likes his roommate and ends up screwing his loves lover) But I brought it anyway, because I liked the cover. God, I am truly hopeless. The book is set in England and I think this is what I found the most charming about the story. It has a certain Bristishness about it. The characters, the way they interact and their speech just totally appealed. The sex was pretty grubby and the characters were just so damn likeable. I think I’ve been watching too many episodes of Skins and have certainly read waaaay to many Jilly Cooper novels over the years to not find this novel utterly charming in a kind of over the top way. There were a few bits that felt less than well paced and maybe the characters did stuff that was a little wanky but over all it was a totally cool read. More please authors from Britain!!!!! Buy here.

I Fell In Love With A Zombie by Sean Kennedy was cool. I think I brought this mainly to see how in gods name he’d make a Zombie into a sexorin fest… without appendages falling off during important, intimate moments. This was a totally cool read and I cannot believe he made a zombie seem sexy. I mean, ewww! The story was nicely paced with loads of great world building and plenty of scope to maybe write more. Zombies, true love and an apocalyptic world. Get it here from DSP.

She’s Got Balls by Mia Watts

When the FBI and local law enforcement team up for a mutually beneficial crime-stopping partnership, Rookie Agent Chris Tarpington and Detective Vin Pilk team up to prototype the new alliance. How better to bust a ring of drug dealing suburban house wives than to go undercover-way undercover, as a married couple?
Though Chris reluctantly gets in touch with his feminine side, he quickly finds ways of making his sexy partner squirm. And Vin is definitely squirming, but will he run away from his faux wife, or right into ‘her’ arms?
One thing is for sure: as the investigation heats up, ‘inter-agency cooperation’ will take on a whole new meaning…
From Resplendence Publishing.

Mia Watts has a hard case turn of phrase and cracked me up. An entertaining and quick read, this was certainly just a little different.

The dialog was probably the most appealing part of the story. It was quick, mouthy and Chris was such a smarty. The characterization was clever and I enjoyed the boys immensely. Her descriptions of men and what men do lacked some of the prudishness that can populate some m/m romance novels. Morning wood much?

I liked some of the physical descriptions, Vin seemed to embody all my nasty Samuel Colt fantasies of rounded porn star ass and bulky calves. Chris drooling over him was so funny, he was a total clown.

It did have a couple of issues, I thought some of the smex prose was a little jarring to read as it did become a little flowery at times and did not seem to fit in with the grubby boys book I was loving. The ending was also pretty abrupt and there was too much true lurve for a book this short. I think I could have been persuaded into a happy for now ending as opposed to the big bow this one was tied up in.

However, I liked this book. It was quick, smart and funny and despite my issues I’d be really keen to see what this author can do with a longer format and tighter editing. Cool beans.

Check t out here at ARe and Fictonwise.

Shades of Grey by Brooke McKinley

Miller Sutton, a by-the-book FBI agent, is starting to see some troubling shades of gray in his black-and-white world. He comes face-to-face with his doubts in the person of Danny Butler, a mid-level drug runner Miller hopes to use to catch a much larger fish: Roberto Hinestroza, a drug lord Miller has pursued for years.

Danny has no interest in being a witness against his boss, both out of a sense of twisted loyalty and because he knows double-crossing Hinestroza is a sure death sentence. But he reluctantly agrees to cooperate, and as he suspects, it doesn’t take long for Hinestroza to figure out the betrayal…. read more via Goodreads.

To be honest, going into Shades of Gray I was not sure how one could make a criminal a sympathetic character and I wasn’t convinced I’d enjoy reading it. But I kept seeing it on ARe and I obviously have no will power when it comes to purchasing books! Twist my arm much?

Danny is the type of flawed character I could really get into. He is ballsy, strong and just deals with what life dishes out. He’s not whiney and does not lay about on his fainting couch doing the whole oh, woe thing. Yay you, Danny! He was cool. Miller however was paddling his canoe up de-nial and had that whole stoic, buttoned up thing going on. Kinda like that type of character too, as he was so in need of someone to ruffle his feathers a little.

The world building was really tight and seamless, it felt realistic and gritty without being over the top. I do have a bit of a penchant for cop and crime drama and I think the author really nailed the scene. The sex was tasteful, but not overly grubby. It fit the tone of the story though and the tension was totally hot.

Without giving too much away, the end did get a little emotional, but not nauseatingly so. I liked how it was wrapped up too and this has to be one of the better HEA I’ve read in a while. Nicely done.

Shades of Grey is definitely deserving of all those stars I keep seeing on goodreads. It was an entertaining, angst filled read with distinctive characters. Please write faster Brooke McKinley.

Check it out at ARe and Fictionwise.

Promises by Marie Sexton.

Jared Thomas has lived his whole life in the small mountain town of Coda, Colorado. He can’t imagine living anywhere else. Unfortunately, the only other gay man in town is twice his age and used to be his teacher, so Jared is resigned to spending his life alone.

Until Matt Richards walks into his life, that is. Matt has just been hired by the Coda Police Department, and he and Jared immediately become friends. Matt claims he is straight, but for Jared, having a sexy friend like Matt is way too tempting. Facing Matt’s affair with a local woman, his disapproving family, and harassment from Matt’s co-workers, Jared fears they’ll never find a way to be together—if he can even convince Matt to try.

Promises is a charming story about coming out, taking risks and falling in love. Loaded with much angst and bike riding, it was a very cool read.

Jared is out in his small town, but aware well aware that he is not always accepted as a part of his community. Initially it does not color his actions, but in the latter parts of the book it does provide a bone of contention between Matt and Jared as they try and make what they have together work. Matt has never been with another man in a long term sexual relationship, so a lot of the story is about him coming to terms with himself and his feelings for Jared. (I do have a penchant for this trope I think. I liked. A lot!!) I thought the authors treatment of the growing attraction between the two men was beautifully done and the slow building of smexual tension just made me sigh.

The rest of the book was reasonably well put together. At times the world building was a little light and a couple of the plot devices felt a little jarring, but I’m not sure how else you’d tie it all together to be honest. I also enjoyed it so much I kinda ignored that stuff.

Promises was a total winner and I can’t wait to see what this author does next. Check it out at Dreamspinner Press.

Personal Demoms by James Buchanan

Hunting a notorious hit man, FBI Agent Chase Nozick and LAPD Det. Enrique Rios Ocha delve into the inner worlds of Santeria, Voodoo and Palo Mayumbe. A missing informant, her murdered brother and a ghost from Chase’s past send them on a hunt through mystics and psychic surgeons to find their witness before it’s too late. Can he rely on leads from a child possessed by Orishas? Do cards hold stronger clues than blood? Chase must conquer his own personal demons to bring the killer of his partner to justice and find the strength to take a chance on Enrique.
From MLR Press

James Buchanan’s vivid picture of LA has heat and dust seeping through the pages. The knowledge of police procedure and law is incredibly apparent and gives Personal Demons a rich and complex setting. Paranormal elements and voodoo, Santeria and Palo Mayumbe provided an added hook and made for kinda spooky reading.

Aside from solid world building what made this such a great read were the characters. Enrique was just so beautiful, inside and out. Charming, clever and his core of strength became more apparent the more I read. But, I was totally wrapped up in Chase’s journey and growth as he navigated his way through the thorny issues of being out as a gay man in his workplace and falling in love with his partner. His struggle with alcohol and maintaining an intimate relationship made for gripping reading.

Sex between the two protagonists was incredibly hot and luscious. James Buchanan writes sex that is realistic, erotic and definitely not cookie cutter romance novel fare.  It is something I particularly like about James’ style of writing and keeps me coming back for more.

This was such a beautiful read, definitely harder on the emotions than perhaps Inland Empire or Cheating Chance, but a great book to get totally wrapped up in and enjoy. Check it out here at ARe and Fictionwise.

Bitter Creek’s Redemption by by T.A. Chase.

Bitter Creek is a town on the brink of war.

Lines are being drawn and sides taken as two powerful men gather armies of gunfighters. The townspeople are helpless and the law worthless. One man has already died in the opening salvo of this land war and an air of fearful anticipation hangs over the town.

Eagle, the half-breed who works at the livery stable, manages to survive by not taking sides, until one day a stranger rides into town. Eagle’s life changes, and he realizes that he can no longer hide with his horses if he wishes to be the man he claims to be…
Synopsis from Amber Allure.

bitter creekCowboys, guns and bad guys made this a thoroughly entertaining read. I do like a good western romance (preferably with a happy ending) and while this did have a few rather traditional romance tropes, the book still delivered a great story with characters I found myself totally wrapped up in.

Eagle, the local half breed, who lives and works in the small town was interesting. He’s very much aware of his own sexual preferences, but  keeps them well under wraps unless the guy is a sure thing. The instant chemistry between Eagle and Travis is pretty hot, with much stable boy and bad gun fighter smex. Travis is more conflicted than Eagle and does spend a lot of time wringing his hands – in a very manly, ice cold kind of way! This made for lots of angst and surreptitious sex. Merow.

In some ways the book reminded me of classic Johanna Lindsey and to be honest I am not sure why (or if someone will throw something at me for that comment!) I wondered if it was the narrative structure and pacing. You know what’s going to happen, but it feels fresh and enjoyable despite this. The writing felt clean and without to much stuffing around and the action felt that way too. I think this was why, despite some of the old hat character types that it was so enjoyable.

Well worth a read and have fingers crossed for more cowboys. AND I really like the cover, all cowboys need eyeliner!

Available here through Amber Allure and Are.

The Price of Temptation by MJ Pearson.

Stephen Clair, the notorious Earl of St. Joseph, has a lover he can’t afford, a social calendar that’s out of control and a libido that rules his life. If he can’t gain control of his finances, his social calendar and rid himself of his lover, he will fall into financial ruin. Could the youthful, handsome and dependable Jamie Riley be the solution to his problems?
Synopsis from Seventh Window Publications.

price.inddAn incredibly charming, funny and irreverent read, The Price of Temptation is one ebook I’d love in print. Following reasonably traditional historical romance lines, minus a heroine, this was very entertaining and I cannot wait to read Discreet Young Gentleman.

Stephen is such a likable rogue, one cannot help but want someone to take him in hand. He’s rather flighty and not remotely interested in anyone other than himself. Or so he’d like you to think. Underneath this raffish exterior he has odd moments where his generosity of spirit shines through. Apart from these isolated instances, he seems to spend the rest of his time looking at his new secretaries arse or swanning off with his paramour. He’s a bit of a shit. Poor Jamie doesn’t really know what’s hit him! I’ll give Stephen credit, he does try to stay away from his delicious new secretary, but the lure of what is beneath Jamie’s gentle, sweet breeches and frock coat is just too much. heh.

Despite being a historical novel, it did not fall into the trap of making it all about how their love has to be hidden away and kept on the down low. It’s there, but not in your face and making one feel maudlin. The characters were believable and engaging and I found myself, with fingers crossed, hoping the bad guys would get their comeuppance. The tension builds beautifully and the ensuing smex is glasses fogging good. There is something inately grubby about sex written in this era, or maybe it’s just me. O-o I really enjoyed the secondary characters too, they were well fleshed out and I liked the cook and Charles the valet a great deal. They provide lovely depth to the story.

priceoftemptationOn an aside, the original cover by Sean Platter rocks! LOTS!! The new ebook cover is very nice, classy even, but for me the original is super cool and rather naughty. 🙂

A gorgeous historical read and an author I cannot wait to read more of.
Get the ebook book here via Seventh Window Publications or Amazon.

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