Unicorn Favorites: Love's Landscapes Stories : Week Six

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 here. And some of our favorites from the sixth week of the event, Jul 6-July 12, are below:

Jenni Lea: Strange Charm by A. Phallus Si

I had so much fun reading this story. It has just the right amount of adventure, excitement, silliness and fun to make this an entertaining and enjoyable read.

Well done!

Lorix: Watching Elijah Fall by Amy Spector

In amongst the stories written for the LL event you will find fantasy, contemporary, sci-fi, shifter, BDSM, comedy. There are established authers and newbie writers, authors from all corners of the globe, authors of many different races and sexual and gender identities. We have the choice between epic novels, short tales....and just about everything inbetween. The only thing all these stories have in common is the fact the MC's are both male.

I am thrilled to have the choice of so many FREE MM stories and know that whatever mood I'm in I will find something to it. Happy, sad, excited...This week among the books I read was Watching Elijah Fall and the best word I can think of describe the story is calm.

In my opinion it is a beautiful story that uses its simplicity and elegance to tell the tale of love without drama. It is a gem of a story, sweet, sincere and true. I am so thankful I've had the chance to read it. Thank you author for this calmness in my reading week.

SheReadsALot: Making it Work by Cari Z.
This prompt was quite the great one and then it went into supernova by having a ginger MC paired with a silver fox. Like seriously, call it in, genitals will be taking a definite trip to FuckYesVille: population you.

I love a lot of tropes (hate quite a bit too) but I love a good office romance story especially a great boss/secretary romance. And this story delivers the goods. Eric, executive assistant to lawyer silverfox Beau, has lusted for his boss for two years, knows the ins and out of the older man but never thought he'd be good enough because:
a) he's just an executive assistant
b) feels he's way out of Beau's league in all categories.

But life throws a curve ball with an upcoming family dinner which has thrown Eric for a loop. Let the scrambling commence. Great dialogue, realistic character portrayal, delicious slow burn and a satisfying ending without touching diabetic territory. Light, fun with a sense of realness.
“No, you don’t get to touch yourself in my car.”
“Why not?” It wasn’t a whine, it wasn’t. My voice was too deep to whine. It was more of a… whoan. Or something. I couldn’t think.
“Three reasons. One, I don’t want to get into an accident trying to keep my eyes on you. Two, if I got into an accident, or if we were pulled over for indecent exposure, the mood killing would be the least of our problems. Three,” and here it was, the tone I loved, that I could barely wait for even though I knew I wasn’t going to like what he had to say, “for the rest of the night, that’s mine. Don’t touch it.”
Oh and desk sex. Desk sex. I have a feeling I'll be rereading this story soon. Anyone who puts "whoan" in a story is someone I need to read. (My first Cari Z. - what rock have I lived under? Won't be my last).

Sunny: Where Willows Won't Grow by Lia Black

Pleasure and pain, how the two mix. It's a theme in the story, but it also describes my experience reading it. It's beautifully written, but the darker parts were painful to read.

I think Lia must have a very dark imagination. This was not an easy read, but everything that happened fit the story. Nothing felt gratuitous or over the top. For me to tolerate torture in a story is kind of amazing. And then to read about the hate for a tormenter all mixed up with a messed up love for a protector and how that impacts someone...
The psychology of it was perfectly demonstrated in a stunning fashion.  
The young warrior prince howled in triumph, yet the slave pleaded forgiveness. 
Lia's talent for writing shows in the fantastic world building and compelling characters. It was all so well done. I was firmly stuck in the story and it didn't shake off easily.

I was impressed by the variety of aliens and I liked how the author painted such a clear picture of them. I did get freaked out by some of the alien sex, though. Freaked out by what happened, and by my reaction to it; it left me cringing and turned on at the same time. Later, though, I only cringed. Illythe touched my heart, and then put it through a shredder. His despair, desperation, cautious hope...it all just stomped all over my poor little heart.

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