Review: Dominant Tendencies: A BDSM Anthology

What Master wants, Master gets.

And in these five stories, his man delights in giving it to him.

Daelyn’s online gambling lands him in a debtor’s collar, an unpleasant place for the free-spirited techno-elf. And nothing about his new owner is easy or predictable.

Combat mage Cody is a little hyped up after his first real battle and it’s up to Vice-President Antoine to ground out the newest brother, before he sets the whole town afire.

Kanovan crosses the galaxy playing music, but he always brings home something nice to his husband, Mirin. In their exploration of each other, they come to some uncomfortable truths.

Andre follows his mother’s orders and buys the pretty slave boy from the training school. The question is whether he will use the boy for the intended political purposes or his own ends.

Matteius saves the life of captive Ta’kari in the arena, and claims the outlander for his own. Meanwhile, Ta’kari has other ideas about his future.


3.8 Hearts to be exact rounded up! Anthologies like this one don't come around very often, all fantasy based, D/s, MM. I was in heaven. I am seeing the light of a subby, slave boy. (*coughs*Breann*coughs*) What's anthology without hits and misses, luckily I found only one dud within the bunch. From cyberpunk to paranormal to sci-fi or high fantasy, this anthology offered a little bit of everything under the fantasy spectrum. I enjoyed the stories for different qualities and surprisingly it wasn't for the sex. There is sex in the stories but it's the fantasy worlds created that really got me hooked. And nothing ultra kinky, so if you're hesitating because you expect extreme BDSM, it isn't that.

Debts and Credits by Sian Hart - 4 Hearts
It's Cyberpunk, baby! This story features an elf and djinn MC...let's say I was VERY happy happy. I love both of those supernaturals and don't see enough djinn in MM. Daelyn, is a cyber hacker/thief/criminal extraordinaire elf. Daelyn is in debt and gets sold to a new Master. A Djinn Master who loves his pleasure in the real world. Daelyn is testy because he can't return the the nets and hack to his cyber delight. Master Djinn straightens his testy butt out with cyber bondage! This was not super kinky. So if extreme BDSM squicks you out, have no fear. Daelyn is taken as an exotic, pampered fucktoy in the beginning but he's anything but. Some cyber hacking and fighting happens but overall an enjoyable story and strong start to the anthology.

Riding the Edge by Angelia Sparrow and Naomi Brooks - 4 Hearts
Well, well, well. I think I need to add more works from this writing duo very soon. This is a spin off short story from "Spellbound Desire" from Ms. Sparrow but I didn't need to read it to understand the basics of the world created. Kinky, little IR HFN that doesn't waste much time getting to the point. What I liked was not only the kink (CBT, sounding, gags, bondage...needy, subby bottom who likes pain) but that the Dom knew how to work his sub over and take care of him. The little nuances went a big way in my book. He could tell when his boy had too much or needed more. It is set in paranormal Memphis, where two mage co-workers need a way to expend their adrenaline rush from taking down the baddies. Why not do this through a handjob on a motorcycle and rocking sex at home? Really loved the dirty talk and the different magic sex toys.  Approves!

What He Brought Home by T.C. Mill - 2 Hearts
Sadly, this did not work for me. Established couples kind of bore me because there is usually nothing to grasp my attention or to carry the story with enough oomph. It is not a bad sci-fi, IR (?) story but it was dull. This was light kink and barely D/s. Yes, one of the characters likes to hurt badly, enough to cut and scar. But I missed the part as to why he craved this behavior. Maybe it was mentioned? I'm not reading again to figure it out. The one thing I liked was that the MC had an open, committed relationship. That was my favorite part. Nothing really happened, the story is just a number of scenes - bondage, SM, scarification (?), it could have been the same day or a number of weeks. Meh. It might work better for other readers, didn't work for me.

The Errant Son by G.C. Mika - 4 Hearts
I really loved the fantasy world created in Denver. In a Master/slave society, the Masters are nobles...but the slaves can be nobles too. Slaves are trained and given a different color skirt based on their talents. 22-year-old gay noble slave, Brendan, has been disowned from his family for being gay. He was branded as mauloku, or gay and didn't have much hope for being chosen from slave school since slaves were preferred to be attracted to both sexes. *whispers* virgin alert. Brendan gets chosen by Andre, a noble with an agenda. Together they train to take down a  political family. This story should have been longer to let the political intrigues and backstabbing fully run it course and the ending? Is there more for this story? It ends more with a question mark rather than a period. I loved the set up and the world created which is mainly pushing my rating. The main characters were good but I think if the story was longer and more character development was given, they could have been better.

Sacrifice by Gabriel Belthir - 5 Hearts (Okay it's really 4.75 but I'll round for math purposes)
To me this was the anthology's crown jewel. High fantasy world created featuring goddesses, elves, warriors and sword fighting. Do I enjoy sword fighting! Reminiscent of ancient Rome, with gladiator-style fighting, Sacrifice starts off like an action movie. In fact, if this ended up being a series on on of those cable networks, I'd be that loud fan telling everyone and their mother to watch this. This shit is good! Ta'kari, is a elven holy warrior, captured by not defeated i his heart. He fights for his people with everything that he is. He knows nothing but fighting. To read his capitulation was quite a thing. He goes from battling for his people. becoming a slave, learning that his life is forever changed and accepting his fate. His Master Matteius, the other evenly matched warrior, treats him well. Ta'kari fights him and his destiny. That struggle is aces. This is the longest story of the anthology. I think it should have been its own novella to be honest, I didn't think it fit the rest of the stories until I got into the halfway mark. Then the last 10%? *growls* It was rushed toward the end, I'd have loved to read how they two exactly got their revenge instead of a brief mention of it. But, dude, this story? It rocked, man. Everything I love about fantasy was put into place. I recommend this story.

Great anthology!

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Blog Tour: Evenfall Volume 1 & 2: Director's Cut By Ais and Santino Hassell


IT'S FINALLY HERE!!!  THE MOMENT YOU'VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR!!!  
Hsin and Boyd are back and they've taken Mexico by storm.  Or infiltrated it, whatever.  

To those of you new to the In the Company of Shadows world, take a look at the blurb and excerpts below.  If you're not instantly hooked, I'll eat my horn.

Stick around for the giveaway 'cause there's all kinds of cool stuff you can win.

PREPARE TO BE AMAZED! 


Volume 1
In a post-apocalyptic future, the Agency works behind the scenes to take down opposition groups that threaten the current government. Their goals justify all means, even when it comes to their own agents.

Sin is the Agency's most efficient killer. His fighting skills and talent at assassination have led to him being described as a living weapon. However, he is also known to go off on unauthorized killing sprees, and his assigned partners have all wound up dead.

Boyd is not afraid to die. When his mother, a high-ranking Agency official, volunteers him to be Sin's newest partner, he does not refuse. In fact, his life has been such an endless cycle of apathy and despair that he'd welcome death.

In the newly revised Director's Cut of Evenfall, the first volume follows these two cast-offs as they go from strangers to partners who can only rely on each other while avoiding death, imprisonment, and dehumanization by the Agency that employs them.

Excerpt:
Boyd sprinted back the way he'd come, knowing there was little time before the hostiles pursued. The Agency car was where he had left it, and so was Sin. The senior agent was casually leaning against the side of the car. The sight of him lounging around made Boyd's aggravation swell. He skidded to a stop and grabbed Sin's shoulder.

"What the hell were—" Before he could finish the sentence, Boyd found himself pinned against the car. For a breath, he and Sin were nearly nose to nose.

"Don't touch me," Sin growled.

Boyd caught himself when Sin released his coat. He could hear the sounds of pursuit closing in on them, echoing in the alley and growing louder. With a tightened jaw, Boyd stalked around the car and jerked open the driver's side door. He hardly waited for Sin to get in before speeding down the street, the tires squealing in protest. The high-pitched whip of bullets ricocheted off the pavement around them, and he heard the dull thud of one of the shots catching the back of the car. They turned the corner and Boyd twisted the steering wheel to catch the next turn. In the rear view mirror, he saw the hostiles swarming around the corner.

Frustration continued to stain Boyd's thoughts even after they had made it another two blocks and all signs of the hostiles faded.

"Do not put your hands on me, either," Boyd said in a hard tone.

Sin once again appeared completely disinterested in his existence.

"What the hell were you doing back there? Didn't you have your comm unit on?"

"What do you think?"

"Why didn't you even try? The mission failed, and we'll both be held accountable. Doesn't that bother you?"

"The mission didn't need two people. Maybe you should have brought a gun."

Boyd didn't acknowledge that Sin was right and instead said, "What difference would that have made against so many armed hostiles? It may have helped but it wouldn't have fixed everything."

Sin half-turned in the passenger's seat. "Who exactly was it that trained you, out of curiosity? They should put termination down on their day calendar if you are their final rank 9 product."

"Not all of us were born superhuman," Boyd said coldly. "It's my first mission and I expected my partner to be where he said he would be. Apparently that was a mistake."

"Relying on anyone is a mistake. If you weren't taught that, you are more misinformed and ridiculous than I thought. This mission was a joke. If you aren't even capable of performing adequately on it, you won't last much longer whether it's me who snaps your neck or not."

"Is that what you want? Another failed attempt at a partner on your record?"

Sin released a short laugh. "Don't speak as though you know anything about me. And this partnership will fail regardless, judging from what I've seen today. You have the amazing ability to be both arrogant and completely stupid simultaneously."

"How am I stupid?" Boyd demanded. "My plan would have worked."

"Maybe but then again, maybe not. You didn't ask my opinion on the matter. Like I said, if I was anyone else, they would have aborted this mission at the first sign of you not listening to reason. Not to mention your weird-ass panic attack. They would also write up a detailed report of your ineptitude."

Boyd clenched his teeth. He wanted to argue the point that he didn't ask for Sin's opinion because clearly Sin was uninterested in ever sharing his, and nothing had stopped Sin from chiming in any time he'd wanted. But he couldn't discount Sin's other points and that annoyed him even more, along with the reminder of what had happened on Dauphin Street.

"And you plan not to?" Boyd challenged. "So far you've spent your time mocking me, ignoring me, or threatening to kill me. If you have such a problem with me I'd think you'd love the chance to tell your superiors."

"You'll die regardless. What's the point?"

At least they were in agreement on that point.


Volume 2
In the newly revised Director's Cut of Evenfall, the second volume follows Sin and Boyd through a long-term undercover mission in Mexico. They think the hardest part will be maintaining their covers and handling their attraction while living in close quarters, but that's only the beginning of their newest trials.

When hard and fast decisions lead to catastrophic consequences, the two agents realize getting out of Mexico alive may be their biggest challenge yet.

Excerpt:
Sin didn't say anything, but his hand rose to cover Boyd's, and squeezed. Eventually, his hand fell away but it was with a lingering slide of fingertips against Boyd's skin.

In the stillness of the room with Sin's breath on his neck and nothing to focus on but the specks of dust floating in the deep, golden rays of the late evening sun, Boyd was lulled into lethargy. Behind him, Sin's breathing evened and he shifted closer. The combination of warmth, silence, and the drone of the air conditioner drew Boyd into a doze before he realized it was happening. When his eyes opened again, the sun had set, and the room was swathed in darkness and moonlight.

Sluggishness prevented Boyd from identifying what had awoken him, but the feel of a body pressed against his own provided a clue. Blinking slowly, the haze of sleep parted, and Boyd realized something else—Sin's body was not only crushed against him, but his dick was hard and snugged against Boyd's ass. A low sound tumbled from Sin's mouth, low and husky in Boyd's ear, and he rocked against Boyd.

He was yanked out of the last vestiges of sleep by the feel of Sin hard and ready behind him, but before he could respond, Sin inched away. Without thinking, Boyd wound his arm back to press against Sin's ass; he guided Sin toward him again. Their bodies aligned so perfectly that it left Boyd breathless, and he ground back against Sin's dick in a near daze.

There was no resistance, and Sin melted against him. He slid his fingers up the thigh of Boyd's boxers and swore in a voice still thick with sleep. Breath hitching, Boyd gripped Sin's ass harder. He rocked back, pulling Sin against him in tandem to build the pressure. His back ached because of the angle, but Boyd ignored it. It didn't matter for now.

One of Sin's knees slid between Boyd's thighs, his fingers digging in harder, as they moved together in earnest. In the humid darkness of the studio, the only sounds were hitched breaths and the rustle of fabric as Boyd lost himself in the fevered delirium encompassing him. The luxury of Sin wanting him, and the sensation of sweat-damp limbs sliding together while Sin humped his ass was almost too much to comprehend.

Read both volumes to learn how Sin and Boyd go from hostile and untrusting to struggling with UST that doesn't let them ignore their growing, mutual attraction. 

Book Links:
Download Now: http://www.inthecompanyofshadows.com 
Read (the old version) in Browser: http://www.aisylum.com/sonnyais/ 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ICoSBook
Merch: http://www.zazzle.com/agencygiftshop

We have an "Evenfall" giveaway for an item from the ICoS Zazzle shop (up to $30 value) with the option of the winner supplying a customized quote or phrase from the ICoS novels!

Winners will be entered upon commenting on the post, and will be randomly selected via RaffleCopter. 



Examples of ICoS merch:


 Good Luck and thank you for stopping by!

About the authors:
Ais and Santino met fourteen years ago, and have been writing together in some capacity for at least a decade. They met in anime yaoi fandom, and eventually branched off into developing original characters for RPGs before entering the realm of original fiction. They have been writing and planning In the Company of Shadows since 2005, and are dedicated to improving their largest-scale writing project to date.

Ais has future plans to return to writing fantasy and has been developing ideas for an LGBT police procedural at some point in the near future. Santino's future projects are in the contemporary romance and paranormal genres.

Author Links:
Ais 
Email: mikaaislin@gmail.com 
Blog: https://aisness.wordpress.com/ 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ais.icos
Tumblr: ais-n.tumblr.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/aisness

Santino 
Email: santino.hassell@gmail.com
Website: www.santinohassell.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/santinohassellbooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SantinoHassell
Tumblr: thatdudesonny.tumblr.com


Review: Just Playing (Pax Cymrica: The True History #1) by Ingela Bohm

Michael and Jamie seem fated to make music together. But the thrill of playing soon turns into something more, something neither of the young men can handle. Unable to just stay friends, their only option may be to avoid each other completely. But when things start moving for Jamie's band, a decision has to be made: either this is goodbye, or they risk everything and let Michael join.






How many times can two people break each other's hearts?

Not to mention... MINE! My poor heart. It was crushed over and over again.

Jamie and Michael become instant friends when Jamie is the new kid in school in their Senior year. Michael is bullied and is kind of lonely, so he latches onto Jamie right away. Happy to have someone to share his time with. They start playing music together and dream of starting a band. Well... they dream of doing other things together, too. Heh. Heh.

Unfortunately, neither boy feels confident enough to really pursue being together or to even admit that what they're doing together actually means something. And what exactly are they doing together, you say? Lemme just ask this... why in the ever-loving-hell is mutual masturbation so effing sexy? Unf. I mean, they're not even touching, FFS! But the tension. Gah.

The tension.

Huge.
Crazy.
Intense.

"'Although I am kind of fed up with my own hand.' [...]
There was a pause.
Then: 'How about mine?'"
*dies*

Michael is far more secure in what is happening between them. He figures out pretty early on that he'd take whatever Jamie was willing to give. But Jamie just wasn't there yet.

And so it goes on. And on and on. They do a little jerking-off together. Jamie freaks out. Michael is heartbroken, but so into Jamie that he goes right back. And the cycle continues.

But throughout their back-and-forth sexual encounters there is a really sweet and endearing friendship that grows. These guys are way cute (and we all know I'm all about the cuteness). They really get each other and you can just feel their connection and how deep it really goes.

"And yet it filled him with the most exquisite feeling: to just stand there and look into those eyes. He was held up with the force of that blue gaze. His knees had already buckled, and yet he was still standing. He didn't care if this man broke his heart, as long as he allowed him to stand here in their silent snowed-over world, the moment before it melted into slush, staring into his eyes, feeling the warmth from skin just out of reach."
Yeah, I definitely got the feels. Especially from Michael. Sweet, scared Michael. He wanted whatever scraps Jamie was going to dish out. He followed him around sickeningly in love. I was so happy to see him grow a set towards the end there, but then he quickly went back to his old patterns. I hope he grows up a bit in the next book. He's so freaking loveable and I'd like to see him stand up to the pushy people in his life who think they know what's best.

The writing is superb. Superb, I tell you! Poetic and full of meaning. It's like the author hand picked each individual word for a specific purpose and it so worked for me. I love the style. I could feel everything. Their anguish over accepting their own sexuality is palpable. And their love for each other is so real that I wanted to smack them for not getting with it sooner!


We were on our way to 5 hearts-ville, but the back and forth went on for far too long. I started to lose hope every time they got together because I knew what would happen. There would be a mini-freakout, which lead to broken hearts. I hate to, but I had to drop off a heart for that reason.

There is a bit of a cliffy. And although they've just about made the big time with their band, I'm pretty sure Jamie and Michael are still in for a world of hurt. *clutches poor shattered heart*


But the good news is that there's more! More tension, more of Jamie and more of sweet Michael. 

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.


Find out more info on Goodreads and BookLikes!

Review: Coyote's Creed (Broken Mirrors #1) by Vaughn R. Demont

Always have an ace up your sleeve.

Broken Mirrors, Book 1


If con games were taught in high school, Spencer Crain would be on the honor roll. As it is, he’ll be riding the edge of failure to graduation next month. Then Spence gets the news that his long-gone father is not only dead, but was a Coyote, one of three clans of tricksters in the City.

With a near-catatonic mother on his hands, Spence couldn’t care less about the Coyotes’ ongoing feud with the Phouka and the Kitsune—until it lands on his doorstep. Suddenly he’s thrown headfirst into a dangerous world he knows next-to-nothing about. His only guide is Rourke, dashing King of the Phouka, plus a growing pack of half-siblings, a god, and Fate herself.

As Spence embarks on a journey to learn the Coyote’s creed, the truth about his heritage, and how to handle his growing attraction to Rourke, he wonders when his life turned from TV sitcom to real-life danger zone. And what price must he pay to survive the next roll of the dice…






FUN! 

And surprisingly super hot. I don't know why it was surprising, I guess I just wasn't expecting a UF to be so sexy. And, damn, it was. BONUS!

OMG. I love being inside of Spencer's head. I could live there for a long, long time.
"I tend to prepare for the unexpected by using television tropes as guidelines"
His inner thoughts were just as funny, witty and refreshing as the dialogue. His trickster smarts and constant TV references as a real-life guide, make for an all time favorite character. Highly likeable and highly entertaining.

When Spencer learns of his father's death he's thrust into this world of tricksters.  Their family friend, Rourke, a Phouka, is the one to break the news that Spencer is a Coyote and then guides Spencer into this new world he's now become a part of.
"'Is this a big joke, Rourke? 'Cause I'll try not to be mad if it is. I mean, you're the one who convinced me to do this, you drove me here, and all of it was because I was too distracted by your chest hair.'"
Again, Spencer's narrative voice is awesome. So there is an obvious attraction between Spencer and Roarke. There is a huge age gap. Huge! So... why all of a sudden are they ready to get it on? I don't know. Dad died so let's be together, I suppose? I think it may have been the fact that now Spencer knows the truth (mostly) about who he really is. So Roarke goes for it. Holy hotness, does he go for it. Even though Roarke is older and in a very high position among the Phouka, there were some surprises in the bedroom that I was quite pleased about.

Now, I've read my fair share of shifter/furry books and I love the trickster thing going on here. It was different and made for one hell of a good time. Spencer and the secondary characters were engaging, clever and their dialogue was just plain funny. With the constant tricks and scams I couldn't tell which way was up sometimes. I would try and rehash the plot a bit, but really, I would butcher it. I was definitely confused at some points. This is a story that needs your undivided attention to really get the full picture.

Amongst all the fun I never expected to cry at the end. But I dare anyone not to cry! I do love a bittersweet, HFN ending. Especially when everything fits. It may not be tied up in a pretty bow, but nothing else would have felt genuine with who Spencer is.

With that, I'm off to investigate book 2. 

So, I'll leave you with this little insight from the hero himself:

"Fate's on my side, man, I'm the hero. Don't you watch TV?"


Find out more info on Goodreads and BookLikes!


 

Review: The Dating Game by Jay Northcote

Five sex-free dates—how hard can it be?

When they were at uni, Owen always had a bit of a crush on Nathan. But Nathan was apparently straight, and Owen was too busy with other guys to take his crush seriously.

When Nathan moves back to Bristol after a year away, Owen hears that Nathan has come out of the closet, and he propositions him. Nathan doesn’t want to be just another notch on Owen’s bedpost, though, so he challenges Owen to prove he can be serious: five dates before they have sex.

Owen doesn’t think that sounds too difficult. He’s expecting Nathan to find his charms irresistible anyway. But as they grow closer, Owen begins to care more about proving himself to Nathan than he does about getting him into bed.

Owen has a well earned reputation for being a bed-hopper. Wham, bam, thank you Stan is his style - not dating. When Nathan, the 'straight' guy he fancied at university, moves back to Bristol and Owen hears that he's not so straight these days, he tries it on. Nathan is interested in Owen - just not in becoming another notch on Owen's bedpost. Five dates is the challenge he sets Owen, one a week, before they get down and dirty. Owen accepts, certain Nathan will give in to his charms before five weeks is up.

I liked this book, it made me smile. Although Owen has a reputation as a bed-hopper (and yes, it was earned) he really does like Nathan as more than just a potential shag. Owen was actually very endearing. He joked with Nathan but he didn't push him, he accepted the parameters of the bet, even though he longed for more. Nathan was lovely. Shy, slower at recognising/admitting that his feelings tended more to men than women, he was a really nice bloke. Nice can sometimes be a bit of a death-word when describing a character, yet it wasn't. He wasn't bland or boring, he was sweet and considerate.

The dates were fun. From that slightly awkward first date with all it's questions (am I over/under dressed? Am I boring? Where should we go? Do we kiss? etc. etc.) to the well planned, personalised second, third, fourth & fifth dates. I enjoyed them all.

It's quite a skill describing five dates and not have them become repetitive and boring. I loved the hill walking. That Owen had thought about what Nathan would like and taken him 'home' to Wales. I liked the fact that it was reciprocated with the indoor wall climbing. This wasn't just a quick meal and visit to the pictures, these guys thought about each other when planning these dates. Thoughtful dates were thoughtful and I dug that a lot. I very much like Jay Northcote's descriptions in the climbing date...made me think I might need to take it up as a hobby. (Or some kind of climbing pervert observer, you know to check the ropes were all fitted properly and stuff)...but I digress.

The only thing that kind of irked me was the disagreement the MC's had. Although it was sorted quickly and remained relatively angst free, it was the only part that I got a bit annoyed with. I know some conflict was needed, but miscommunication is a trope I generally find irritating. That said, it didn't bother me enough to stop reading or give it a low rating.

I think, when you pick up a Jay Northcote book you know you are in for a world of sweet fun. A couple of hours of wonderful escapism, with characters that are just lovely. If you're looking a for a simple, fun, and happy read, then this is the one for you.
The dating Game is due to be released on September 22, 2014, and you can pre-order here
To find out more, go to Goodreads.

A copy of this book was provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.

Book Reveal & Excerpt: The Dating Game by Jay Northcote

The Dating Game

Genre: contemporary m/m romance
Length: 30,000 words
Release date: Monday 22nd September 2014
Publisher: Jay Northcote

Blurb

Five sex-free dates—how hard can it be?

When they were at uni, Owen always had a bit of a crush on Nathan. But Nathan was apparently straight, and Owen was too busy with other guys to take his crush seriously.

When Nathan moves back to Bristol after a year away, Owen hears that Nathan has come out of the closet, and he propositions him. Nathan doesn’t want to be just another notch on Owen’s bedpost, though, so he challenges Owen to prove he can be serious: five dates before they have sex.

Owen doesn’t think that sounds too difficult. He’s expecting Nathan to find his charms irresistible anyway. But as they grow closer, Owen begins to care more about proving himself to Nathan than he does about getting him into bed.



Excerpt

      “So,” Owen began. “I gather you’re into cock now?”
     Nathan’s eyes widened, and his cheeks flushed pink. “Um…. Yes?”
     “Cool. So, do you wanna get out of here and go someplace to fuck, or suck, or whatever?”
     Nathan raised his eyebrows. “Seriously?”
     “Yeah.” Owen let his gaze slide down over Nathan’s torso to land on his crotch. It looked like Nathan might be getting a little hard. Either that, or he was a shower rather than a grower. “I always thought you were hot. I just never knew you swung my way. So how about it?”
     Nathan cleared his throat and shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He was definitely getting hard. Owen lifted his eyes expecting to see a smile. But Nathan was frowning and biting his lip.
     “That’s flattering, but I’m not interested.”
     Owen raised an eyebrow and glanced briefly at the bulge in Nathan’s jeans again. “You sure about that?”
     Nathan’s face was even pinker now, but he held Owen’s gaze. “I’m not interested in a hookup. I’ve been there, done that, and decided casual sex isn’t for me. I’m looking for something more serious.”
     Owen blinked. This wasn’t how the conversation was supposed to go. He found himself blurting out his next words without thinking. “What, like a relationship? I could have a relationship. With you, I mean.”
     Nathan chuckled then, a snort of laughter that raised Owen’s hackles, because what the fuck? He’d made a move and was being laughed at. That wasn’t cool.
     “What’s so fucking funny?”
     “Sorry.” Nathan pulled himself together and pasted on a more serious expression. “But Owen. You don’t do relationships. Everyone knows that. I know what you were like at uni, and from what I’ve heard on the grapevine, you haven’t changed much. And that’s fine—each to their own. But I don’t want to be another notch on your bedpost. I’d rather be friends with you than one of your conquests.”
     Owen’s irritation rose, and he resisted the urge to pout childishly, but he wasn’t prepared to back down. Nathan’s words had stung, because yes—Owen would be the first to admit he was a bit of a tart on the surface, but at least he was honest about it. He’d never strung anyone along or made promises he couldn’t keep. And he’d never met anyone who made him want more than a one-night stand or a few casual no-strings repeats.
     But that didn’t mean he wasn’t capable of having a relationship, and he found himself wanting to prove to Nathan that he wasn’t as bad as his reputation seemed to imply.
     “Will you go on a date with me instead, then?” he asked.
     “A date?” Nathan narrowed his eyes. “What, so we eat first and then have sex? I’m not sure that would be any better.”
     “We don’t have to have sex!” Owen protested, raising his voice in frustration, then lowering it quickly as he noticed a few people glancing their way. “Jesus. Contrary to popular opinion, that’s not the only thing I’m interested in.”
     “So if we went on a date, you wouldn’t expect me to put out?” Nathan’s lips quirked in amusement. He seemed to be enjoying this conversation a little too much.
     “Not unless you wanted to.”
     “I’d like to get to know you better first. I think we’d need more than one date for that.”
     “Okay, so what’s your magic number? Try me.”
     Nathan’s brow furrowed as he considered the question for a moment.
     “Five,” he finally said. “Five sex-free dates. Then when we’ve had a chance to connect, we can take it from there. Oh… and in case it wasn’t obvious, if this is going to be a relationship, I’d expect you to be exclusive.” Nathan sat back in his seat and folded his arms. “So, what do you say?”
     Owen glared at him. Nathan’s pink lips stretched further as he grinned, and all Owen could think was how he wanted to come all over Nathan’s smug face.
     “I’m in.”
     Nathan’s smile vanished abruptly. “You’re… what, really?”
     “Really.” Owen smirked, finding Nathan’s obvious surprise very satisfying. “Five dates with no sex. So, when are you free this week? I can see you every night apart from Thursday, so if you’re free to meet most nights we can be done with all five dates by next weekend.”
     “Oh no. No way.” Nathan shook his head. “If we’re going to take things slow, the dates need to be spread out. One a week for five weeks.”
     Somehow Owen had thought his loophole was too good to be true.
     “You drive a hard bargain, but okay.” He shrugged, conceding some ground, but not defeated. “Next weekend for our first date then?”
     “Okay.”
     “And while we’re discussing ground rules for this… whatever-the-fuck this is.” Owen waved his hand disparagingly. “What are we counting as sex for the no-sex rule? No fucking obviously, but does that extend to no blowing each other? No handjobs? What about dry humping?”
     “Shh!” Nathan’s face was flaming, and he moved his chair closer, leaning in so he could talk quietly. “Keep it down, for fuck’s sake.”
     To be fair, Owen’s voice had got rather loud, and a group of girls at the next table were looking very interested in their conversation.
     “Well?” Owen asked. “We need to be clear what the boundaries are. Can we even kiss?”
     “Kissing is fine,” Nathan replied promptly, and his gaze dropped to Owen’s mouth. He paused before adding, “No orgasms. That’s the line.”


***

Author Bio

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her husband, two children, and two cats.
She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story–just to see if she could–and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.


Links

Review: You're Always in the Last Place You Look by T.N. Gates

Gabriel is solitary by design, not by choosing. He has a few friends—okay, one real friend and his roping partner. But being the town pastor’s son isn’t easy. Not to mention he’s sure he was born askew, without the ability to experience life the way others seem to. It is the only explanation he has for why he isn’t like everyone else.

However, when he rescues Zane, a misplaced city boy dressed in tattoos and leather, from a killer bumblebee, he experiences more than he expects.

Zane shows Gabriel that sometimes the path you’ve chosen isn’t set in stone, and more times than not, you’ll find yourself in the last place you look.


It's been a while since I've written an actual review so I hope I can do this book justice. T.N. Gates (Tara Spears) is new to me but I'll definitely be looking for more from this author.

First, a disclosure: This book needs another round of editing. If errors are a pet peeve for you, then this book is going to set you off. I was able to skip past the to/too, there/they're, errors very easily and because I loved the story so much I'm not going to lower my rating because of them. I do feel it’s worth mentioning though, if only as a forewarning.

The cover of this book caught my attention and after reading the blurb it was full speed ahead. The story grabbed me page one and kept me glued until the end. I was so excited to finally have found a “WOW” book that I wanted to tell everyone right away. But I didn't for fear of jinxing it. So I kept the gushing to myself and kept devouring this story. By a third of the way through, I wanted to start recommending this book to friends. However, fearing it would head south at any given time, I waited and instead compiled a list in my head. With every chapter I fell more and more in love with this book, the characters and the writing. Needless to say the book never floundered. I think I’ve found a new DIK (Desert Island Keeper) and my friends are about to get a new recommendation from me.

This story is about two young guys who are total opposites. Zane, the city boy, is gay and has known it for years but a tragedy has forced him to retreat into himself. Gabe, the preacher’s son, is a country boy and hasn’t figured anything out yet. Over the years he becomes invisible to all but a few select people. Both MCs are simply, existing. This story is how they meet and teach each other to live again.

I guess I would label this book as YA or NA. Both MCs are over 18 but are still seniors in high school. It’s not without sex but the sex is not explicit. It's written so you know what they're doing but not in graphic detail. It’s well done and what I would call perfect for a romance like this one.

I absolutely love a book that has you laughing out loud one minute and ugly crying the next and boy did this one deliver repeatedly. It also has several fantastic, swoon-worthy lines like this one:
“One kiss, that’s all I will ever take from you. I’ll honor whatever decision you come to after that.” His words floated on the air before finding purchase inside my head. “Gabriel, gift your first kiss to me. I know how precious it is, and I want it as mine.”
And this one:
“A guy who is kind, and gentle, and incredibly sweet, without even trying. One who gives everything without thinking or asking anything in return. A boy who hid who he was, and no one seemed to see, despite those traits. I saw you though...and when I’m around you, all those things that you are soak into me, and I don’t feel so empty or alone.”

Again, this book is not perfect, but damn if I didn’t love EVERY. FREAKING. WORD! If you love a good YA/NA, coming-of-age story, this book is for you. If you love a great romance, this one is phenomenal. I don’t want to spoil this book by saying too much so I’m just going to recommend downloading the sample and giving this one a try.


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Review: Slasherazzi by Daniel A. Kaine


Recently promoted to Detective, Alex is out to prove himself and the Slasherazzi case is the perfect opportunity. Mutilated corpses are showing up across Tampa, and when the team discovers the newest victim was tortured alive, Alex becomes more determined than ever to stop the crazed serial killer before the horrific stabbings escalate further.

With the return of Alex’s ex-boyfriend and journalist, Vince, the investigation takes a dangerous twist: the killer starts showing a personal interest in Alex. Can he stop the murders and salvage his relationship with Vince, or does he risk letting both men get away?


 
This is some gory shit, right here. I think I want to rate it, like, 3.75, but I don't know if we have a heart thingy for that (despite me myself making the heart thingys), so I'll stick with this. Oh, and spoiler-free.
This was actually so sick. I loved it. I love horror/thriller, and this definitely delivered that. The mystery was good--really good--and I felt like the writing was extremely engaging. Needless to say, I don't exactly consider this a romance, which is great, because I'm totally into the M/M genre with very little actual romancing
Have you guys watched Dexter? This is like a gay Dexter book. Did you see the season where the cop dude, Quinn (maybe one 'n') dates that reporter and tells her shit he isn't supposed to, or she snoops around his apartment? That's like this for me. So, uh, near the beginning of the book, as we were learning all about Alex and Vince, I liked Alex, even though I think he's kind of a moron, and I wanted to punch Vince straight in the dick. I can't handle reporters. I feel like every show I watch *cough* House of Cards *cough* or book I read with reports, I just want them to nose-dive off a bridge. I can't help it. It's just my initial reaction. 
The scenes from the killer's POV were great, AND needed. Except I'm a total wuss and some parts literally made me want to hurl.

Did I know who the killer was? In one word: yes. The entire time? Pretty much. "But Natasha, don't be so self-involved. It's a very unique plot!" The reason I knew who the killer was was because this book was written for someone exactly like me, and this is exactly how I'd like for the book to go. It's rich and devious and great.

So why am I rating it 3.5 stars? Well, I wanted to rate it higher, but hear me out. The characters were so muddled, for me. I didn't love them. I disliked Vince, and I didn't much care for Alex. I think if they'd have been stronger characters, this book might've worked a tad better for me.

Needless to say, though, I'll definitely be reading more fucked up stories from Kaine in the future. I think, deep deep down, we might be soul mates.

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Review: Diego (Endangered Fae, #2) by Angel Martinez

Diego and Finn's peaceful life in Montana shatters when Diego unwittingly rips a hole in the Veil to the Otherworld - mysterious prophecies, dying fae, hostile government agents, and there's so much more that could still go wrong.

After defeating an evil wendigo, a man and his pooka lover deserve a little quiet. Unfortunately, Diego and Finn's hard-won peace is disturbed when Diego, in a jealous rage, unwittingly rips a hole in the impenetrable Veil to the Otherworld.

Separated, stuck on the other side of the Veil where Finn has to face old conflicts and Diego is the only human in a land of fae, the two of them navigate rocky waters between huge egos and ancient feuds. Worse still, some of the fae are dying of a mysterious illness and everyone believes Diego is the key to a cure. Things can't possibly get any worse, can they? Oh, yes - they can when the US government gets involved.


When I started reading this I was excited to see where Finn and Diego's relationship was going to go. I guess you could say I had some preconceived notions. Those notions, for the most part, were not realized.

If you recall, I thought Finn and Diego's relationship relied heavily upon telling rather than showing in Finn, so seeing them together and growing as a couple was primarily what I was after in Diego. Two things:  (1) I would hazard a guess that 10-15% of this book is endearments spoken between them which was both dull and excessive particularly when couple with… (2) they spend more time apart than together! Apparently, telling someone every five seconds how much you love them doesn't equate to trust and stability or reliability, for that matter. 

Finn leaves. He comes back. They have make-up sex. They're in love again for always. Until a leaf falls in the forest and he must go. He must leave his "hero" because he's not worthy!!!

It wore me out. Clean out.



In all honesty, I probably could've overlook all the back and forth antics because the Otherworld is fantasy catnip. Fae queens, water spirits, a battle between the fae factions… I mean, I was chomping at the bit. There's even a mysterious sickness that seems to be targeting the males, plus we find out there is more to Diego than meets the eye. All of which I was sinking my teeth into. N
aturally, many eyes are on Diego in the Otherworld which was the source of several conflicts between our protagonists. 

Fine. Fine. I'm still moseying along thinking, 'There's still 40%?'. Yeah, in my opinion, the last 30-35% should've never happened. What was a good fantasy novel got turned into a Michael Bay flick complete with a covert government agency who's headquarters are in a mountain, throw in some nauseating experiments and a gun fight and…  



In addition to the BAYHEM, shoehorned in are some sociopolitical musings on how the ole U.S. of A. has screwed the pooch repeatedly. Lookit, I'm not wholly opposed to references to current or political events, but this stuck out like a sore thumb, struck me as indulgent and completely derailed the story for me. Again, I probably could've overlooked it had it not gone on for a third of the book! THEN the BAYHEM got an injection of True Blood which took me from stunned to talking to my kindle as though it were to blame for this mess.

One word: 



Exactly.

The story bogged down in the mundane when they weren't involved in some sort of battle and I still don't feel as though I really know either one of these characters. I can't fathom how either of these two could feel insecure enough in their relationship given the density of the love fog they shroud themselves in when they are together, which begs the question, why keep separating? Then the BAYHEM… *sniffles* and the True Blood… I don't even want to go there again. The Otherworld was the crowning achievement of Diego. I liked several of the secondary characters introduced and I am somewhat tempted by the ending to continue with the series. Dragons were introduced. Sucker-punched me right in the Achilles' heel.

DAMMIT!
*torn*
*shakes fist*

I'd recommend the first 70% to those who enjoy fantasy and the last 30% to those who enjoy action flicks.




A review copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest opinion.

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