Unicorn Favorites: Love's Landscapes Stories : Week Fourteen

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 fourteenth week of the event, August 31- September 6, are below.

Ann: Billie Jean by Al Stewart and Claire Davis

Sometimes you read a story and you feel that two characters absolutely have to be together. Anything else just isn't an option, this is one of those stories. Niall and Dan couldn't be more different, except the fact that neither of them are so good with the words. BUT, half the time they really didn't even need them because they really got each other. Dan especially. It didn't read as contrived though, I totally bought that Dan could read Niall when it mattered most.

Niall is so charming and sweet in his wanna be diva ways. He really isn't a diva, but he plays it up mildly for Dan's amusement and to cover up past hurts. The fact that he's a shoe whore much like myself I could completely get behind Niall. The story had me at "he fucked me into heaven and saved my shoes". Dan's basically my dream man, so I really feel I only need to say, "Yeah, he's Dan" and be done there. He's protective and growly and shy and sweet and perpetually horny for Niall and I loved him.

The lingerie worked SO well for these two and it's obvious their adventures are just starting out which makes me happy.

A really fun and charming read with really memorable characters. Thanks to Al and Claire for the story!

Lorix: Bromance to Romance by Elizabeth Daniels
4.5 hearts. Actually, d'ya know what..Drew & Dan are in my head again & I keep thinking about little bits of the conversations and story. So I'm putting that extra half a heart back. 

I loved this. Yep - once again I was lucky enough to beta read and I'm trying to be as objective as I can in this review.

This is Elizabeth's second prompt - and she is the third one to claim this particular one. Third time lucky IMO!!

Elizabeth Daniels has a way of putting words together that I just adore. It's like she gets inside the characters, she isn't just writing them, she really, really understands them. From what they're wearing to how they think and feel, everything is the character's choice, not the writer's.

Dan and Drew - oh these two. You ever want to slap someone and say, look at what is right in front of you...yep. *nods head* THESE two!! I have to say, Ms Daniels makes the wait worth it. And we get a tease... He gave Dan their usual kiss goodnight: one kiss on the forehead and one kiss on each cheek, but Drew didn't stop there. He kissed his way from Dan’s cheek and along his jaw until he came to a pair of slightly parted lips that he had to taste. I mean UNGH, right?

I love her secondary characters. In fact good secondary characters are a weakness of mine, and even in their brief appearances I feel each person we meet has their own story to tell. Noah from The Backdoor for example. He's there for a few paragraphs and I already want to know his story!

This story isn't in your face sexy, but it is sexy. The kind of sexy that comes with good friends and longing and love. I'm getting shivers just thinking about it! As much as I like a good shag in my reading (I feel I've said this before recently, sorry) sometimes I really love NOT having it in a story. Sometimes the story doesn't need it. Sometimes it is much sexier without. IMO!!

I'm rambling, I know I am. I don't want to spoil this story. I really hope you all enjoy it as much as I have. I know I'll be re-reading it when I want a friends-to-more book (it is my favourite trope!).

Thank you for not one, but two (amazing) stories Elizabeth!!

 ETA -the phone sex. How could I have forgotten to mention his. Hot phone call is HOT. Way, way hot. Squirm in your seat hot. Me likey!

SheReadsALot: Assassin's Love by Sammy Goode

This story is a gem in the rough.

"Assassin's Love" delivers quite the premise, the good bits and the rough bits. My rating is 3.75 due on the author following the prompt quite excellently, staying true in form enough for a history nerd such as myself and giving a great snack.

Sadly, this story is a snack and not the full course meal it should have been.

The first quarter smoothly ensnares with a story about a mute little boy named Miles. I ached for Miles and his horrible life. The author captures his innocence and jadedness from his nine year old eyes very well. (I can't stand adult-like kids) Now if the story held that tone it drop kicked me with into the feelz territory, I would be stealing everyone's stars and ratings to stuff this review.

The story progresses nearly a decade later, Miles was taken at nine by the evil earl of Wessex, trained and beaten into an assassin, newly dubbed "The Shadow". He's a silent killer. This I loved. Gimme a dagger wielding, sword swinging assassin over a gun toting bad boy ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.

The story carries a good story line with Miles/Shadow killing at the evil earl's will. During one of his assignments, he meets eyes with Sir Anthony, a Duke's heir. Cut to a year later, both men still are intrigued with one another. Sadly the earl is evil and wants Sir Anthony out of the picture. Guess who he employs?

The story has romance. Some nice words to convey what the men feel.

"Without uttering a word, your eyes and touch still speak volumes to me. You and I will learn each other’s ways. We will take delight in finding each place that gives pleasure and builds to release. You are mine now, as I am yours."

BUT...there is not enough time given to the men for me to fully believe it. I mean MANTEARS so quickly? You can argue it's because Miles can't express his feelings verbally but I expect a teen who has had a shitty existence- ridiculed, tormented and beaten to be a little harder to crack. Someone fell to their knees too quickly and declared their feelings in haste. Instalove in hosen.

Do the main characters belong together? Yes.

But they needed more story length for me to believe it. It read rushed. I can't ignore it even if the setting gave the tingles or the premise made my heart smile.

I can't rate this 3.5 in good conscience because I can see the author's work and attention to detail in some aspects. It reads good.

I just wish there was enough length of time to make me 100% believe these boys. I'm swimming in the 85-90% mark.

So gem in the rough, you see.

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