Unicorn Favorites: Love's Landscapes Stories : Week Nine

The M/M Romance Group on Goodreads hosts a Don't Read in the Closet event each year where they invite members to submit a photo with a story prompt.  Interested authors then volunteer to write the requested stories, which are published for free for everyone to read.  It's a fun/exciting/stressful process, and a great opportunity to read stories from favorite authors.  And chances are, you'll also discover some new authors, who hopefully have a backlist of goodies to check out :)

This year's event was named Love's Landscapes and they started releasing the completed stories on June first. Here at BMBR, we've been following along on comment threads, anticipating the stories from our favorite prompts, and now greedily reading the stories as they become available.

You can read about some of our favorite stories from earlier weeks of the event hereAnd some of our favorites from the ninth week of the event, July 28-Aug 2, are below:

Lorix: Count Your Blessings by Amelia Mann

Count Your Blessings, is a wonderful little story. Rather than following a traditional story arc it gives us a slice out of the lives of Isaac & George.

I love how it shows us an established couple who are so obviously in love. A couple who, when tragedy strikes, don't completely fall apart, but are there for each other. It felt so real. George suffers a great loss and Isaac deals with it amazingly well, and he himself reaches out for help when he needs it.

It shows us that even the best laid plans go awry, that life sometimes steers us in a direction we'd not planned on taking. It also shows us this doesn't have to be bad.

I love the characters in this and I can't write a review without mentioning Isaacs family. I'd totally let them adopt me! A wonderful entry in the LL event.


Breann: Count Your Blessings by Amelia Mann

What Lorix said :)








 
Optimist ♰King's Wench♰: Consorting With Dragons by Sera Trevor

Brace yourselves, people. In fact, you might want to sit down for this. There is NO SEX in this book AND I loved it.

I'll give you a minute to catch your breath. Trust me I surprised myself. I'm chalking it up to the dragons.

DRAGONS!!!!!!

I'm stunned again by a novice author's contribution to the LL event. There is a lot of talk about "a warm feeling" that Jasen feels frequently and at some point I started to feel the same. I found myself grinning and when it was over I felt a little sad that we had to part ways.

Ms. Trevor certainly isn't lacking in storytelling skills nor world building. I wish I could live in the Draelands with the Tasenred and Woria (the dragons). She created this AU with a Regency feel complete with corsets. Love Regency AND corsets, but… don't get too esssited. Jasen is not exactly a fan of the corset. It's not as much fun when they don't like it, but maybe if Rilvor got to unwrap him… I digress.

Jasen gets sent to the court in an effort to marry and keep his father in booze. This court feels like the ton complete with a nemesis in the pernicious Princess Polina. She is a BIIIIIIIIIIITCH. I kind of felt sorry for her. A tiny little bit. He also meets his partner in crime, Lady Risyda, who is hilarious! She's incorrigible, goads Polina every chance she gets, smoke kara wood from a hookah, has a wealth of pithy one-liners, relishes being in trouble… she's a great character. Lady Isalei Is tasked with trying to prepare Jasen and the other lords and ladies to become queen or lord consort and is the epitome of a stern but fair headmistress. I couldn't get Professor McGonagall out of my head.

Consorting With Dragons is very much a romance between Jasen and Rilvor. It's told entirely through Jasen who struggles mightily with the possibility of taking on all the responsibilities that would accompany becoming Lord Consort of the Drae. In addition to courtly responsibilities Rilvor has four small children who still need parenting. I appreciated that he (a) wasn't a gold digger, (b) stayed true to himself and (c) carefully contemplated his future. Yes. Yes, I liked all the characters even the bitch, but the world building was exceptional.

The dragons have the ability to bless people which transmutes into some sort of magical ability. I won't spoil all the wonderful dragon stuff, but… THEY GET TO RIDE THE DRAGONS!!!!!!!!!

ERMAGAHD!!!!!!!!!!!!


Great, great story and yet another fantastic addition to the LL event. Many thanks to Ms. Trevor and her team. I do hope she'll continue to write. I'd dearly love to read more about Draeland.

Ms. Trevor has in fact written a follow up called Bound and Determined. One word: Meow.
Bound and Determined

SheReadsALot: The Raven's Luck by Laylah Hunter

Urban fantasy? Assassins? 2 Alphas? RIVALS TO LOVERS?!ELVES?!!

Oh yes! Yes! Yes! I hit the jackpot right ch'ere!
“Here I thought you’d have liked the view out there. No romance in your blood, Saramathlar?”
Sam rolls his eyes. “Sounds like you have more than enough for both of us. I could cut you open to get it out, if you’d like.”

The noise Rio makes into the headset sounds like a gargoyle purring. “Save it for after the job.”
Fuck. “I’m not going to pretend I’ve never done a job with a hard-on, but it’s not how I prefer to work. So save that for after the job, too.”
I got to read all about that and knives. I love when assassins use knives and swords. *growls* Way hotter than bulky guns. *nods* And this pair of rival assassins hits all of my buttons. Sam and Rio are paranormal assassins set in a cyberpunk/fantasy work. They vie for the same kills. They snark and compete each other into some great lines and action. Oh, snark was grand:
“I’m sure you’ll be relieved to know my virtue is intact.”
“Sorry, your what?”
“Asshole.”
The nipple piercing...The tattoos (and its placement)...the sex...yes! Rough pounding fit for two warrior assassins! I like it when they do it the way they did. *preens*

Why this book isn't as popular is anyone's guess. Maybe it's because you really don't get a description of the main characters (a pet peeve of mine). Or maybe because we only get just enough to keep the story interesting when the characters definitely are novel worthy. This story has legs for more. A helluva lot more.

But what you get, it's pretty hot and tempting.

Here's the thing. I want more from this world. I want to read about the intricacies and the different paranormal races. I want it all, greedy reader I am.

Sunny: Dreaming of Fire by J.J. Cassidy

THAT WAS AWESOME!

Wow. Just...wow. I started reading the story before I even got out of bed to see if I wanted to add it to my to-be-read pile, and I didn't stop reading until the end. I'm still in my pajamas!

I'm just going to ramble, because I didn't take notes as I read. The story is intense, fast paced, with fascinating characters, and incredible world building. It is AMAZING!

There is magic, and adventure, and...and...and I loved it all.

*twirls around*
I CAN'T WAIT TO READ MORE!!!

*clears throat, calms down*
Uh, yeah, I kind of liked it :D

Review: Turning 17 by Perie Wolford (Turning 16 #2)

Sam is turning 17 this year and he is being pushed towards adulthood too fast. He has a whole bunch of grown-up problems on his hands now. Like how to make a distant relationship with your boyfriend work? Or how to stop yourself from cheating on your boyfriend with a hot friend who wants to be more than friends? Or how to disattach yourself from your parents and follow your dreams independently? But all that is just too much for a seventeen-year-old to handle. So Sam finds himself gravitating towards Eric, a little daredevil who introduces him to fun things, like stealing, lying, drinking, smoking, and having sex. But we know that things like that can lead you into trouble.

Sam doesn't know about that though, and he is headed towards a disaster. Somebody is just gonna have to show him the right way.
Dammit Perie.

So, did I like the first book better? Well, yes and no. I loved it because it told me what I wanted to hear, but does that necessarily make it better? No. Sam has matured, and the style of writing reflects that. It’s tighter and represents the growth in the characters well. It doesn’t completely let go of young Sam, but I can see adult Sam clearly in his reflections.

When I finished Turning 17, my first reaction was the overwhelming urge to breakup with Perie Wolford. Seriously, how could he let this happen?!?!?! Upon reflection though, it’s not Perie’s fault that 17 happened. Becuase, ahhhhh, 17. That awkward no man’s land between the novelty of 16 and the adult reality of 18. So, while the specifics here weren’t (selfishly) what I wanted, the journey was told perfectly.

Sam is escaping for the weekend of his birthday to the mountain resort where he has his part time job with his besties Melissa and Kenan. Picture Dirty Dancing and you’ve got the 80’s movie theme right for this installment. Mitch is away at art school, so a long distance romance is all they have going right now. Sam is saving for film school and work will get him one step closer to his dream profession and to his boyfriend.

Sam figures since he is “away” for his birthday weekend, he may be able to escape his birthday curse, but, so such luck. Not by a long shot. He may not have had the disastrous slapstick issues of birthday’s past, his problems are growing up, just like he is.

I can’t go into too many details without giving so much of it away and you really have to read it to ride the roller coaster. Let’s just say, characters were redeemed, mistakes were made, hearts were broken and hearts were mended. While I finished Turning 16 with a happy sigh, I finished Turning 17 with a confuzzled heart. Just like 17 is meant to be. I think that’s why I respected this installment so much and I appreciate the previous one even more now.

Sam’s voice is the same, but maturing. Not mature enough to not do stupid teenage crap, but his brain is on its way. Mostly this story captured that break from routine and that first taste of freedom handed to a teenager during the summer. And, let’s face it, with hindsight being 20/20, no dumbass teenager knows what to do with that time and they are going to make mistakes. It’s what they do with those mistakes that matter and that’s where Sam is right now.

I just love his voice and while I wanted to smack him upside the head (lovingly of course) I totally got where he was coming from and how he could be so focused and easily distracted at the same time. In the end, he’s got a good heart with the best of intentions and he is learning his way, just as we all did at 17.

I’m anxiously awaiting the next chapter of Sam’s growth because there is no way Perie would leave me hanging like this *glares at Perie*. And I do have to thank Perie for the bittersweet journey that is Turning 17.

He looks at me slyly, “Where did Adventurous Sam go?”

I’ve been asking myself the same question a lot here lately.

“He grew up, I guess.”

He nods to that.

It’s an undeniable fact that you grow up; you get wiser and obtain responsibilities. The problem is, I’m not 41, not even 31. I’m turning 17.


***a copy of this story was provided by the author for an honest review***
***which is why I reserve the right to give him crap for breaking my heart a little***

Happy Hour Chat: An Onanist's Journey to Reclaiming His Seed by K.A. Merikan

Top o' the morning, ladies and guvs, and welcome to the August Happy Hour Chat! Today we gather around to raise our pinkies and enjoy a spot of tea while we discuss a little historical novella from the writing duo K.A. Merikan. So pull up a tufted velveteen chair and recline on a chaise lounge to join us for the Happy Hour Chat about An Onanist's Journey to Reclaiming His Seed by K.A. Merikan.

K.A. Merikan will be August's Author of the Month, so keep an eye out for more reviews of their work and an interview with them later this month!

Editor's Note: Things got a little...wacky with the use of some creative screennames. >__> Comments from the name in the beige color using "Ann" are actually made by Natasha. Comments from the name in the red color using "Natasha" are actually made by Ann. Let's just say Ann actually HATES clowns and LOVES the LA Kings, and Natasha HATES butterflies. Sometimes unis can get a little feisty.




Warning: This chat contains spoilers.


ANN! changed name to Natasha LOVES butterflies
Natasha LOVES butterflies: DONE!
Audrey: hahahahhahahahahahahaha
Breann: LOLOL
Ann Loves Clowns: .............
Cupcake: nice!
Audrey: I'm laughing so hard right now.
Sunny: lmao!!!
Ann Loves Clowns: You know what? My name is Ann and I have a sour attitude toward Natasha, who is a perfect angel
Natasha LOVES butterflies: Your halo is crooked there Natasha
Justin: Can we talk about masturbating now?
Breann: yes, please
Breann: go ahead, J
SRAL: onanists!
Lorix: Lol - the book was funny! And SHORT
Jenni Lea: So, um... I have a confession to make.
Natasha LOVES butterflies: Go JL
SRAL: You didn't read it?
Lorix: JL!!
Justin: You didn't read the book?
Jenni Lea: I didn't read the book. I was too busy watching Sons Of Anarchy
Jenni Lea: :(
Justin: You are punished
SRAL: These name changes are messing with me.
Sunny: but...but...you missed lines like "Benjamin was on a road to hell, paved with wasted semen."
Audrey
Okay, quick copy/paste of the blurb for "An Onanist's Journey to Reclaiming His Seed" so we know what's going on: Benjamin Snowley is trapped in a most distressing predicament. He’d been feeling poorly and after having recently recovered from influenza, with his eyesight worsening, he knows that the fault for his declining health lays in a vice he wouldn’t dare mention in polite conversation.
Onanism, self-pollution, masturbation. All names for the same sinful affliction.
Benjamin refuses to be dragged down into an early grave by unnatural urges. When he finds out about a doctor who came up with a new, experimental method of treating his illness, he jumps at the opportunity.
Benjamin Snowley is determined to get better even if the treatment is highly unorthodox and involves an inappropriate proposition for a young stableman.
Natasha LOVES butterflies: Oh JL, you would like this one too. You could probably finish it before we're done chatting


Want to read more about this crazy little Regency story? Find out what we had to say about it after the jump!


Review: Finn by Angel Martinez

Lost and starving, Finn wakes to a poisoned world, but a man comes to him, a white light in the darkness---can a centuries old pooka find what he needs with a heartbroken, modern man?

When Diego rescues a naked man from the rail of the Brooklyn Bridge, he just wants to get the poor man out of traffic and to social services. He gets more than he bargained for when he discovers Finn is an ailing pooka, poisoned by the city's pollution. To help him recover, Diego takes him to New Brunswick where Finn inadvertently wakes an ancient, evil spirit: the wendigo.

While they struggle to find a way to destroy the wendigo before it can possess Diego or kill nearby innocents, Diego wrestles with his growing feelings for Finn. Kill the monster and navigate a relationship between a modern man and a centuries old pooka. Piece of cake.


I'm hovering in the 3.5 to 4 Hearts range, so I'm just going to round up to 4.
A pooka!
poo·ka
ˈpo͞okə/
noun
noun: pooka; plural noun: pookas
  1. (in Irish mythology) a hobgoblin.

I’d never heard of such a thing. Fairies, yes. Pookas, no. Can’t say that anymore. Finn set the bar high as far as pookas go. He’s a delight. He’s also a shapeshifting pooka who can shift into a DRAGON!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*squeals with delight*

Finn and Diego first meet on the Brooklyn Bridge. Diego believes Finn’s about to jump and Diego has a penchant for saving lost souls of all varieties. As a matter of fact, his relationship with Mitch has recently bit the dust because of Diego’s kindheartedness. Good riddance, I say. Mitch is a douche canoe. At any rate, Diego talks Finn into coming back to his apartment and begins trying to breach the defenses. Finn is wary, has a deep seeded mistrust of humans, but is growing weaker by the day and therefore desperate.  As an aside, I appreciate very much the environmental message that pervades this story.

A series of events happen and Diego takes Miriam, his publisher, up on her offer to take up residence at her home near Fundy National Park in Canada. Let me tell you, some freaky shit happens in Canada. Some good, some bad, all freaky. Ok, maybe not all but a lot.

I enjoyed Finn quite a bit. It’s the opening of a series and the follow up is a must read as this one has an open ending. Both Diego and Finn have distinct voices, even if I was reading along and noticed there was no “Finn said” I knew it was him and vice versa. All the descriptions of all the animals’ thoughts were great fun. Finn kind of steals the show here, in my opinion, with his shenanigans and bluntness, though I do like both characters. They have sort of a star-crossed feel to them that I always a win for me, though I’m having trouble feeling there heat and intensity. Perhaps in Diego the intensity will get ratcheted up. Hopefully.

The characters of Tia Carmen and Miriam also put on quite a show in Finn. Let’s just say Miriam is a riot. I’d so have cocktails with her. I wish Tia Carmen would come over with enchiladas and stuffed poblanos. I’m willing to send my address. I make a mean margarita. I can even rustle up some prickly pears and send this thing to the next level. Just sayin’. The three of us could wreak some serious havoc.

It was the supernatural high jinks that kept me turning the pages and what will propel me to read Diego.

To all the pooka lovers out there, this series is for you!



I'd like to thank the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review: Cross Purposes (Chronicles of Ylandre #5) by Eressë

With love, the line between happiness and heartache is all too easy to cross.

One of Ylandre’s most prominent nobles, Keosqe Deilen may have had it all in terms of wealth, power and social rank. But in matters of the heart, he was impoverished. Such was the consequence of falling in unrequited love. Though he hides that love and his sorrow well, a few inevitably see through his masquerade.

Young Tristen Marante is quick to discern Keosqe’s pain. His blunt sympathy is a balm to Keosqe’s wounded heart as much as his beauty is an effective distraction from the noble’s hopeless yearning. But Tristen is a skittish would-be lover, whose reluctance to express his affection is as much an impediment as the lack of reciprocation from Keosqe’s first love had been. Whereas Keosqe seeks intimacy, Tristen shies from it, suspicious of the motives behind his pursuit and unwilling to yield his heart so easily or soon.

With such different perspectives toward lust and love, is it any wonder their path to a common goal is strewn with stumbling blocks and paved with false impressions?


 



Why aren't more people reading this series? Well? Get to it!

Chronicles of Ylandre is my favorite fantasy series and Cross Purposes is probably my favorite in the whole series (save for the first, Sacred Fate).

There is a lot of fantasy to love. A lot. But, no worries, there's a handy dandy glossary of terms that I sometimes still have to reference, even after five books.  Regardless of the super high fantasy and the politics, at it's heart this is a romance. And a great one, at that.

Keosqe and Tristen have known each other for years. Keosqe is best friends with Tristen's brother and has always held a torch for him, even if it wasn't reciprocated. While Tristen is going to the University his brother asks Keosqe to care for him, so he takes Tristen into his home. Heh. Let the fun times begin!

Keosqe's sudden realization that he loved Tristen was priceless. Priceless, I tell you! It's like one minute he's laughing merrily and then 'BAM! holy shimoly, I fell in love with this boy that lives in my house!' And he didn't even try to hide it. Oh no, he came right out with it and it was glorious. Tristen was adorable. Innocent and adorable about the whole thing. He wasn't of age yet, so he had to wait. He had to endure the innuendos and tension until his begetting day. The waiting was excruciating.

But theirs was not a simple romance. Once Tristen was of age, it wasn't as easy as you love me and I love you so... let's get together. They had their troubles and their heartbreak. Right along with my heartbreak! I'm pretty sure they were trying to kill me. The entire series is pretty angsty and Cross Purposes definitely pulled a few tears from me.

There wasn't what I would call a 'big misunderstanding' but a lot of their pain could have been avoided if they were just a bit more honest and talked though a couple things. Ah well. What happened was true to their character even if they could have taken an easier road. Tristen was very young and his age was apparent through his actions. Keosqe had his heart broken one too many times, so his possessiveness was understandable. Even if I didn't like what they did, it made their characters real.

There is a whole fantasy plot I could go through but, for me, it's all about the romance. And, let's be honest, there's so much world building you've really got to get into it to understand everything. There's no way I could do it justice.

Chronicles of Ylandre just does it for me. It has fantastic fantasy without it being the focus, without it bogging down what I really want to read, which is a great love story.







Book Blast and Giveaway: Smoke and Mirrors by Lillian T. MacGowan


Today we are shining the spotlight on a new release, Smoke and Mirrors, by Lillian T. MacGowan!


Firefighter Frank “Deck” Dekker was just doing his job when he saved Dr. Naim Moreau’s life, the last thing he expected was to lose his heart! But he can’t resist his quiet, mysterious doctor, nor does he want to. He wants to make a life with Naim—preferably locked away in his apartment worshipping each other like they were meant to be. Because they are.

Things aren’t as clear for Naim. His past haunts him to his soul, and he would rather die than let Deck seem him the way he sees himself. Being honest with Deck and showing his true face could cause him to lose Deck forever. But is it possible that just maybe Deck will see another man? A beautiful man? And what price is Naim willing to pay to take that chance?

Cover Artist: Kalen O’Donnell
Publisher: Loose-Id

Excerpt:
     Naim’s cheeks flushed, and his eyes darted away from Deck’s as he turned toward the wall for gloves, only to find an empty box. He turned back to Deck and frowned.

     “Right. We uh…” Naim looked at Deck, one eyebrow up, while Deck cringed. “We kinda used them all up making glove balloons,” he muttered. The corners of the doctor’s mo uth quivered and it seemed like he was struggling to look severe. “The nurse brought more. They’re”—Deck scanned the room—“they’re over there.” He pointed to the counter next to the sink. See? He was helping.

     Sighing, Naim walked over to grab the box of gloves.

     Fuck. Those scrubs were clingy. And thin. And clingy. And fuck, he was beautiful.  Deck stared as Naim walked back to him and silently removed the empty box from the dispenser, replacing it with the new one. What were scrubs made of anyway? Fucking butterfly wings? Spider webs? God he looked so good in them. Argh. Brain then mouth, dude, brain then mouth…

     “I like your scrubs.” FUUUUCK.

Sales Link: Smoke and Mirrors can be purchased at Loose Id

Author Bio: You can usually find Lily MacGowan reading, knitting herself into the sofa, or writing. Lily has been a carpenter, a circus aerialist, a Sunset Strip club kid and a corporate mogul, but she gave all that up to teach middle school on the east coast and is happier than ever. Lily’s hobbies include food, household renovations and avoiding laundry. She’s a huge fan of comfy jammies and happily ever after.



Oh, and there is a giveaway that will be available throughout all blog tour stops for a free e-copy of the book! Enter through the Rafflecopter here:

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Good luck, and thank you for stopping by!




  A special thanks to Will at Pride Promotions for his assistance.

Book Tour & Giveaway: Blue Collar by Sean Michael


Awww yeah, baby! The new Sean Michael about Kendall, a closeted mechanic on the brink of discovering his repressed sexuality with the Mustang driving and evocative Barton is releasing August 4th! We unicorns are tickled pink to help blast this book into next week! Plus, enter to win a $20 Amber Quill Certificate!



Kendall Webber is deep in the closet. Between working in a garage, having been in the army and a fundamentalist preacher step-father who sent him to summer camps to make him straight, he’s learned to hide his sexuality from absolutely everyone.
Still, when Barton Willis the Third roars into the garage with his Mustang, Kendall can’t help but look, just a little. When Barton not only looks back but invites him in, Kendall’s whole world is turned upside down. 


Can Barton help Kendall let go of the past and the attitudes he’s had, literally, beaten into him?

Cover artist:  Trace Edward Zaber
Publisher:   Amber Quill Press

Excerpt: 
“Are you wanting factory original or an upgrade to a catback?”

One dark eyebrow rose. “Which’ll make it run better?”

“Well, it depends. The cats give a great sound, but the Borlas? They’re loud and I love the look from the rear. It’s a matter of money and taste and sound.” Kendall headed to the office, rambling on about all the different types and prices and options.

“I like a good-looking rear,” the guy told him when he’d done talking.

“Then you might consider the Borlas. It’s a little pricey, but fine. This is my boss, Pete. He’ll hook you up.”

“Oh, I’d rather you hook me up.”

Was that as suggestive as it sounded?

“I… Okay. Okay, I can help.” He’d done a few custom orders, but Pete would have to approve everything.

The man held out his hand. “Barton Willis, the Third.”

“Kendall. Pleased.” He held out his hand, then pulled it back. He was a grease monkey after all. “I’ve been working, man.”

“I imagine I can wash my hands.”

“Yeah, I tell myself that a lot, but the grime’s pretty deep.” He was not flirting. Not.

“Nothing wrong with a dirty boy.”


Great lube job indeed. No one does lube jobs quite like Sean Michael. Ready for more? Blue Collar is available at Amber Quill Press.

About the Author:
Often referred to as "Space Cowboy" and "Gangsta of Love" while still striving for the moniker of "Maurice," Sean Michael spends his days surfing, smutting, organizing his immense gourd collection and fantasizing about one day retiring on a small secluded island peopled entirely by horseshoe crabs. While collecting vast amounts of vintage gay pulp novels and mood rings, Sean whiles away the hours between dropping the f-bomb and pursuing the kama sutra by channeling the long lost spirit of John Wayne and singing along with the soundtrack to "Chicago".
A long-time writer of complicated haiku, currently Sean is attempting to learn the advanced arts of plate spinning and soap carving sex toys.
Barring any of that? He'll stick with writing his stories, thanks, and rubbing pretty bodies together to see if they spark.

Author links:
Facebook
Facebook
Twitter




There will be a giveaway of a $20 Amber Quill Certificate which you can enter below:
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Good luck from all the unicorns! Thanks for stopping by.


Tour stops: 



A special thanks to Will at Pride Promotions for his assistance.