Author of the Month Interview - Eli Easton

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Today the UM has Eli Easton visiting the clubhouse. Eli's Superhero was the subject of our Happy Hour Chat, learn more about Superhero, her love of good sexual tension and more!

BMBR: Hi Eli, s'cuse me while I have a fangirl meltdown. I LOVE your books, all of them, but Superhero (and Blame it on the Mistletoe) are two of my absolute favourites. What I particularly love about your writing is the sexual tension, build up and the first kiss. It is always, without fail, super hot. How easy is it writing good sexual tension, what bar do you measure it by? (Thank you for your super awesome, sweet and hot characters.)

EE: Thank you so much! I'm really a slut for sexual tension. As a reader, I often enjoy the sexual tension leading up to that first kiss more than numerous sex scenes afterwards (depending on the book/author). There's just something about wanting-and-not-having (yet) that really gets to me. So I tend to postpone sex in my books and try to have a number of those USTy moments before two people finally get together. I guess I just write what works for me and hopefully there are people who like what I like out there!

BMBR: So we see Jordy and Owen's story from when they were quite young, how difficult or easy was it to chart the changes from children to teenagers?

EE: The story really begins in high school, but I wanted to *show* how they first met rather than just tell it as back story. That first scene was pretty simplistic and it was told in an older-Jordan-as-narrator voice, so it wasn't too difficult.

BMBR: The Jordy gets a little hot under the collar watching Owen wrestle, how much research did you have to do to get the wrestling scenes accurate? *gazes into space imagining hot men slamming each other to the floor.*

EE: My brothers were high school wrestlers when I was growing up. Not that they ever were that good at it. lol. But I remember some of the moves and holds. And I did research watching high school tournaments on YouTube, looked up stats, etc.

BMBR: One of the things I loved about Superhero was the anti-bullying campaign. I liked how Owen's conscience was pricked by the fact that he didn't do anything to stop the bullying even though he was in no way part of the actual bullying. Was this a conscious message you wanted to send, that apathy can be as bad as being an instigator?

EE: It was really in the plot as a lead-up to Jordan coming out and how scary that was at their high school. And to show Owen's intrinsic code of honor while not having him be perfect. I couldn't see him as someone who would bully but I could as someone who could let others be bullied and not step in -- which I think is a situation a lot of us find ourselves in. Making a conscious choice not to be that around the death of another student helped put Owen in a mental place to defend Jordan when he came out.

BMBR: Do you have a favourite moment in Superhero?

EE: I really do like the first sexual encounter. I know some people have commented that it's too much for a YA but honestly, when I wrote Superhero I wrote it for myself not necessarily aimed at young teens. I was sort of ignorant of the fact that, just because they were in high school, it was YA! Duh. Anyhow, I enjoy coming of age books about first sexual experiences, and I thought it was very realistic how that happened between Jordan and Owen. A lot of teen boys, even straight ones, end up experimenting with other boys at that age. And I myself was sexually active quite young, so to me it's false to pretend teens aren't sexually active. That scene is the most honest and wide-eyed-wonder sex scene I've ever written. I've had comments like that from male readers who found it very sexy because it was a lot like their own early encounters.

BMBR: Any chance we'll see Owen and Jordan again....even if only in a holiday short? hint, hint! :)

EE: Yes, I think so. Not sure how or when. ;-)

BMBR: You've written YA, Contemporary, Fantasy, etc., what is your favorite genre to read? To write?

EE: Contemporary with humor. I want to do another YA at some point, and I guess Mistletoe is NA (college). Those have been my most popular stories so I should do more like that, but I like writing more mature roamnces too.

BMBR: Do you have any new projects we can look forward to?

EE: I recently turned in my first full length novel "The Mating of Michael" which I really like. One MC is a sex therapist and the other is in a wheelchair. That will be out in Jun/July. I'm also working on a series of gothic m/m romances called gothika. The first is due out in April and there will be another in October. And I'm starting a new story now--probably cowboy themed.

We thank Eli for stopping by to hangout with the Unicorn Mafia. We have even inducted her to the herd. Check out Eli *coughs* excuse us, Daffodil Dapple Mane in all her glory!

Review: I Was an Alien Cat Toy by Ann Somerville

Temin crash lands on an unexplored planet and gets up front and personal with the natives – who are giant felines. Survival will mean making some unlikely alliances - and some most unusual friendships.

Well, that... I was not expecting. You know what I wanted. That's right, some kin-kaaaay furry sex. There was furry sex, just not kin-kaaaay. Or even kinky for that matter. But instead I got some feels, so alls good.

When Temin crash lands on an unknown planet he's found by these cat-like people. And the cats have no idea what Temin is, so they take him in as a pet. Literally. Here's some dialogue about Temin so you get an idea of just how pet-ish they treated him:
"'It was such a nuisance in the beginning. Karwa caught it on a hunting trip. He was going to butcher it but then he thought I might find it [beautiful]. Which I did, but it's been no end of trouble. It has a dreadfully finicky stomach, can't eat meat unless it's cooked, and you daren't let it off the chain or it tries to run off. It gets into everything if it's left alone in the kitchen or my workroom. I suspect it's former owner wasn't sorry to lose it.' [...] 'Karwa's sure it's an escaped pet. It was wearing some odd ornaments, and it's hair was braided. But no one's trained it, that's for sure.'"
So yeah, they had no idea what a human was or that Temin was one, with thoughts and feelings and ideas of his own. Temin had no way of communicating this to the aliens, instead he learned how to behave in order to get by. Eventually his first owner didn't know what to do with him any longer, so Gredar decided he was intrigued and wanted to own the mysterious pet.

Gredar and Temin start to become closer when Gredar finally realizes that Gredar can speak. And think! And get a hard-on! Ahem, sorry, getting ahead of myself. But once this realization occurs they try their hardest at understanding each other and this only strengthens their bond even further.

I love how their relationship progressed from pet and owner to friends. They really cared for each other and it showed. It showed in how hard they worked to learn the other's language, in how they learned to understand each other and how they defended their relationship.
"Best friend and lover of an enormous cat.

He said it in his head three times - nope, didn't get any less weird. Nothing about this situation was normal. The best thing he could say about it was that was occasionally a lot of fun."
They grew to genuinely love each other and Temin really felt comfortable and a part of their tribe. But he still misses home and the man he left behind, Jeng. There were many conflicting feelings in both characters. Not to mention, me! I so wanted Temin to stay with Gredar. I could feel their love and connection, but I could also feel how much Temin loved and missed Jeng. So, no matter how this ended, I was to be heartbroken right along with Temin and Gredar.

It sounds as if I loved this, and I mostly did. I loved the beginning when Temin was found and treated as a pet. It was fascinating. In the middle, I loved how Temin and Gredar's relationship grew and came about. But then the middle kept going and going and going. And the broken dialogue was very hard to follow, since they were learning a new language. I skimmed though some dialogue because I was a little lost at times. But then I loved the end, with the conflicted feelings, the tears and all the 'I love you's' flying around.

This was some great sci-fi, with a little bit of furry love thrown in. Even with the middle dragging on, this is definitely recommended.

Review: The Lion and the Crow by Eli Easton

This is a tale about two medieval English knights—Sir William Corbet, aka the Lion, and Sir Christian Brandon, aka The Crow. In a time when duty was everything, personal honor was more valued than life itself, and homosexuality was not tolerated by the church or society, how can these two men reconcile their deepest, most secret yearnings to love another man?

Sir Christian was raised in a household where he was hated for his unusual beauty and for the sake of his parentage. Being smaller than his six brutish half-brothers, he learned to survive by using his wits and developing a gift for strategy. He feels little loyalty to the system that’s abused him since birth.

Sir William, a large and fierce warrior, has pushed his unnatural desires down all his life. He’s determined to live up to his own ideal of a gallant knight. But when he takes up a quest to rescue his sister from her abusive lord of a husband, he’s forced to undertake a journey with Christian. It’s a partnership that will test every strand of his moral fiber, and, eventually, even his understanding of the meaning of duty, honor, and love.

 This story is offered for free as part of Love Has No Boundaries Event. This event is sponsored by the m/m romance group on goodreads.

What's better than a knight in shining armor?

 Two knights in shining armor. Together. Kissing.

Sir William and Sir Christian have both noticed each other in the past. But, of course, are not able to outwardly express their 'unnatural' attraction. But they find themselves on a quest to rescue William's sister from her abusive husband. Just the two of them.

I loved their hesitant, slow burn romance. Neither one knew if the other was interested, all they had to go by were the sneaking glances and tentative touches.  They were probably killing each other with suspense and lust because it was killing ME with suspense! And maybe some lust. Let's be real, by 'some lust' I mean 'a lot of lust'. So then it happened and all that crazy tension was released and...


There was nothing tentative about their touches any longer.
'Linseed oil.'
'For cooking?'

Christian corked the jar and wrapped his arms around William's neck, standing on his toes to murmur in William's ear. "For easing your way into my passage."
Oh Christian, you saucy little wanton. I knew I liked you. 

This was an easy and predictable story, but still sweet and romantic. Their love and devotion for each other was obvious. They're a couple you can't help but root for right from the beginning. Yes, their struggles are exactly what you'd expect from a book set during this time period. Yes, they found a very convenient way to be together, but all that didn't make Christian and William's story any less enjoyable. In fact, I liked that I was able to read about and enjoy their romance without things getting all tied up in the where, what and how for too long.

Another hit from Eli Easton! Two for two makes her an auto buy author for me.

Oh and this one is free on Goodreads. Can you believe it? She just gives away this good stuff.

Review: Tailor Made (2nd Ed.) by Josephine Myles

College tart Felix McAvoy is used to causing a stir with his conceptual art pranks, but for his final show he’s planning something even more outrageous. In a last ditch attempt to seduce his jaded tutor, Felix plans to wear the canvas in a subversive display. However, if he’s going to do this right he’ll need a tailor-made canvas suit. Fortunately, he knows just the tailor to turn to for the favour—and Felix isn’t shy about offering favours of a very different kind in return.

First year fashion student Andrew Wheeler knows Felix by reputation only–and plans to keep things that way. Andrew’s determined to save himself for the man of his dreams, and Felix couldn’t be more different from his ideal Mr Right. There’s only one use Andrew will contemplate for Felix’s body: a model for his end of year project. Trouble is, it’s going to involve a lot of close contact with a nearly naked Felix, and Andrew’s never had temptation quite so close at hand!

I really liked this story the first time I read it in May of 2013 and on the reread I loved it.

How much do I love when a character has to tell his dick “down boy” repeatedly? Felix is quite the party boy and on the surface he is cocky an confident. He wears those descriptors adorably though. Only Felix could flirt to within an inch of his life, swagger out of a room and then trip over his shoelaces. Nothing stops him from what he wants though and what he wants is his tutor Saul. Felix is in his last year of art college and putting together his final presentation. The school’s focus has moved away from the traditional studies of painting and drawing and has really encouraged the students to push the boundaries of conceptual art instead. On the surface Felix seems to be the golden boy of the art department. He’s got no fear and no shame when it comes to his art installments, but they have turned into pranks more than actual art and he is becoming disillusioned with the whole notion of the London art scene he is supposed to move on to. He’s been crushing on Saul, the jaded and condescending tutor for a long time and he needs help to pull off his final project with the hope that Saul will be so impressed he’ll finally fall for Felix’s charms. Or at least fall into his bed.

Felix needs a suit made for him and fashion student Andrew Wheeler is recommended to him. Felix has big plans to seduce Andrew into creating the suit for him and works himself into full flirt mode before approaching Andrew in his studio. Problem is, Andrew is nothing like what he planned on meeting and the big, broad, stoic and very shy Andrew presents a bit of a challenge. He doesn’t seem to be entirely impressed by Felix on the surface but Felix isn’t one to be dissuaded easily and puts his skills and assets to work.

“Felix has been informed by just about every bloke he’d ever been with that he had an amazing arse, and as far as he could tell by craning around to look in mirrors and peering at friends’ video clips on their phones, they weren’t exaggerating.”

Andrew initially turns Felix down flat but when Andrew’s model for his final project has to abandon him he realizes that Felix could do him a quid pro quo favor in return by acting as his model in exchange for the suit. What starts as an uncomfortable arrangement for Andrew and an amusing arrangement for Felix quickly grows into something more. Felix realizes how much fun it is to flirt with and surprise Andrew, not just to get him to put out, but because he loves to see him smile.
Andrew has been saving himself for Mr. Right and while at first, the shameless innuendos presented by Felix threw him off balance, he quickly grew fond and flattered by the flirtation.

“Andrew couldn’t help smiling at Felix’s persistence. It wasn’t like the bloke was being creepy and grabby or anything – it was more like a good natured flirtatious optimism.”

Felix has to go present his portfolio to Saul and has a couple of surprises handed to him. One, he’s informed that the new head of the school wants to see more of an emphasis on drawing and painting, so Felix better get some added to his portfolio stat. Two, he doesn’t feel the anxious excitement he always had prior when he was around Saul. He’s not sure what to chalk that up to just yet but the need to come up with some drawings prompts Felix to spend more time with Andrew. He’s decided to sketch Andrew while he works and the two of them fall into a routine and begin to spend a lot more time together.

Of course spending time together means spending time together and Felix’s guidance of Andrew into the wonderful world of sexytimes is both hot as all hell and damn sweet at the same time. Andrew had always fantasized that he would be the top and Mr. Right would be someone sweet, virginal and shy.

“He never let himself imagine that Mr. Right could in fact be a foul-mouthed farmboy turned artist. That Mr. Right could have been around the block a few times and wasn’t ashamed to admit it. That Mr. Right could have tousled dark hair, satin smooth skin and a voice that melted against him like syrup, warm and sweet.”

I loved watching these two, with the set plans they have in their minds, be thrown off course by one another. Neither man would have imagined themselves with the other, but the unexpected revelations and tenderness they showed for each other was just perfect. The fact that Felix had quite a bit more experience worked out perfectly for Andrew. Andrew was able to dive into a few kinks that an inexperienced partner may not have been able to pick up on, where Felix figured them out even before Andrew did and the result made for an incredibly steamy encounter.

Of course there was a “misunderstanding” and some communication issues that created some necessary angst, but not so much that it drew out drama for the sake of drama or took away from the sweetness of their new relationship. Instead it cleared up any lingering questions or confusion in a concise and efficient way.

Felix and Andrew fed off each other’s new confidences as real partners should and in the end Felix was able to make a request of Andrew as well. Which leads me to one of my favorite parts of this new version of the story, the Author’s Note at the end; the history of the author’s relationship with art education, Bath, the first incarnation of Tailor Made and the news that a sequel, Custom Fit will be released this summer. I can’t wait to see what Andrew creates for Felix to wear in the next installment.

Review: The Wrong Side of Right by Nya Rawlyns

Tony Mitchell is a loner who spends most of his life staying low, denying who and what he is until Aiden Caldwell walks into the shop and changes everything. Tony thinks his new supervisor hates his guts, but that doesn’t keep Tony from dreaming and yearning. His fantasies drive him to follow the older man, revealing a secret that only confounds Tony’s obsession.

Conflicted and confused, Tony falls under the spell of a man called Tank who leads Tony down a dark path of seduction and dangerous cravings. Under Tank’s guidance, Tony learns to suspend reality, to succumb. The one thing he doesn’t learn is how to say no.

Aiden Caldwell pulls Tony from the precipice but not from the addiction that threatens to consume the young man.

In the matter of love and trust, can two men intent on hiding their most secret selves find common ground as fate and their own tumultuous pasts conspire to tear them apart?

This is my first time reading from Nya Rawlyns. "The Wrong Side of Right" is a story about a twenty seven year old virgin, Tony who is a typical loner. He has no real friends, he despises himself and his sexuality, he works two crappy jobs - a manager at a Quick Lube (no joke) and bartender/waiter/minion. Tony is highly insecure, has a major crush on his older jerk of a cross dressing boss who treats Tony like crap and is so pathetic, he pays a co-worker teen for a weekly blowjob.

Based on the blurb, I thought this story would have been a sort of love triangle filled with kink and forbidden trysts. Warning: If rape is a trigger, do not read this book. You have been warned.

You see that guy on the right hand side of the cover? That's pretty much me after reading this book. I might get a little spoiler-y with my review. Forgive me.

Things I am sure about:

I do not like the writing style of this book. It is muddied, murky, and rough.
I am not a fan of the term "bio-break".
I did not hate this book.
I did not like this book.
I am confused.

Tony is full of despair, his thoughts are distorted and at one point he seems suicidal, sort of. I couldn't get a clear picture on Tony. I don't think Tony had a clear picture of himself. I do not have a problem with reading about depressed characters. I do not have a problem reading non-con. But I do take issue when I can't get a sense of a character. The only person I am sure of is Frank the cop. Everyone else is full of question marks.

Tony goes from a loner virgin to sleeping with six different men within a week (granted three of those men gang raped Tony.) But he seemed to have liked it and kind of brushed it off. How so you may ask? He goes to sleep with his sixth man consensually the day after...with no problems. I mean he was bloodied and bruised but his aches get kind of glossed over. He makes rash, silly decisions like falls in insta-love twice in a week (yes with two different men). I don't know if he's supposed to be naive since he sort of imprints to the men who fuck him and shows him any bit of attention. Hence, his pseudo acceptance of being violated. The rape scene was should have been clearer in my opinion but I know he was raped but I don't know what happened. I felt like this with a lot of the story. There was metaphorical prose where it didn't work for me.

The jerk of a boss, Aiden is possessive and acted like a five year old with his first crush by treating Tony like crap. He's too damaged to control his emotions. Don't think Tony was a full formed door mat. He took Aiden's treatment after making some noise or having an argument. At one point, it seemed Aiden was going to deck Tony and I wanted him to...that's where I knew there was a problem. Just when I thought I got a handle of the main characters - both men came out of the closet later in life and are trying to come to grips with it, something is dumped in to murk the storyline.

What is that pray tell? Mostly it is the biker bear named Tank. Tank is a behemoth is well over six feet and damaged. He's been through past rape and now has a 'don't mess with me' attitude.

Tank sees Tony in a bar, bruises his arm, Tony is scared and then a spot of dub con is added because Tony has a frottage scene with the bear right after. He's addicted to the dark. And the next day Tony who is need of his both jobs and never takes a day off, runs away with Tank. Say what? And then sounding and breath play is added in. But just when I though I got a handle, Tank's buddies comes in and gang rapes Tony.

What did Tank do you wonder? (I mean you don't get nicknamed Tank for nothing.)

Tank leaves Tony. I kid you not. The big bear leaves! To get help...uh huh.

I could have glossed over the rough patches and stuck to the main items that worked like the initial sounding and breath play scene. The act was hot. However, the build up to these acts was closer to nonexistent. But Tony thin Tank is great because he saved him. There's a deeper story with Tony learning his limits in edge play with tank. I found that under the murk but I can't feel for characters I have no feelings for.

The didn't seem to bother Tony as much. He didn't even worry about getting tested for diseases until months after being with Aiden. I had an issue with that. also with Tony's silly reasoning for trying to leave Aiden the last time. If he already explained he was going to do what he did (the scheme was an idiotic one from the start) why would he leave? It made no sense.

Tank was a coward.
Tony was confused and everything he foolishly struggled against...he still did.
Aiden was mean but him I get. Mostly.

And "bio break", why couldn't Tony just say he was going to use the restroom or urinate or defecate? It was odd to me. The kink was the best part of the book. But kink can not stand alone on a convoluted plot.

This story wasn't a steaming pile of "bio break", I can give it that. I'm down the middle with this story. *shrugs*

Sunday Funday: A Little Cray-Cray Never Hurts...

Actually... don't I love reading about it.
The other day I read a romance that touched upon a level of craziness (cray-cray) that I liked. Then I reflected back on some of my hands down favorite reads (it is less than 30) and noticed a good chunk of those books had a common theme that I secretly reveled in reading.

I don't condone violence nor like being involved in a cray cray relationship in real life. But it doesn't hurt to read about it, does it? All in the name of fiction and that jazz. There's a time and place for everything, the cerebral reads and the cat fight, high octane drama reads when it comes to romance. That's why I love this genre so much.  So I inadvertently came up with a rating system. I defined seven levels of cray in a relationship to easily apply to books I've read and conquered. Now I have a easy way for my private notes to rate a book, see if I want to go back and read again in the future.

What she ordered...Fish Fillet? Heh. Love that song.

SheReadsALot's Seven Levels of Cray in a Relationship:

7: One or both of you needs to be committed.
6: One or both of you needs to start anti-psychotics.
5: Only you two motherfuckers can be together.
4: We get it. You really love them, as their tattooed name on your body proves. (stupid)
3: I know you know you won't kill 'em no matter what you say. Quit playing around. You wanna hug?
2: We get it you're in each others pocket 24/7. Good for you.
1: They argue. They also make up just as passionately. Loud and lusty. Arguments might give you pause, but they're not going to do a thing.

No more song references...I swear. You must admit it's pretty funny.
Books can rate more than one level. I mean it'd be hard to find a book that is is fully a level seven the entire read. (If you know of such a book, PM me on Goodreads) Usually, I find books to have multiple levels. You say psychotic, I see spice. Possessive and really obsessive heroes? I'm not going to turn you away. Bring it on!

A favorite  book that has touched Level 7 a lot was "Mine" by Mary Calmes. Landry was a bipolar, co-dependent mess. He and Trevan hit all of the levels. Mmm...thinking on the watching while he sleeps scene. Love it.

Or "Beyond Complicated" by Mercy Celeste. Menage and Cray...what a union. Another Level Seven.

"My Rugby Playing Twink" by Jamie Samms was a level 5 at best. Those two and their stubborn shenanigans. They fight, have tantrums, make up, fight again. Add in some MANTEARS and you get the majority of the relationship.

These are just a few examples.

So if you are a reader like me who enjoy books that feature cray-cray heroes willing to do anything for their man (or close to it), let me know. Maybe you might have a favorite book that I should keep an eye out for or would like to recommend for fellow readers.