Unicorn Favorites: Love's Landscapes Stories : Week Two

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.

We've already shared some of our favorite stories from the first week of the event, and mentioned something about mysterious and magically rare unicorns, about how we can't expect their presence to show up in our reviews because the interwebz couldn't handle it.  That said, this week we LOVED Punch-Drunk Love by Nico Jaye. That is all.

Other than Punch-Drunk Love, here are some of our favorites from the second week of the event, June 8-14:

Ann: Man of the Match by Lane Swift

This one hit all the buttons I love for sporty, friends to lovers and coming of age stories. I love reading how Aaron and Laurie's relationship evolved and the pacing was so well done. It read realistically for their ages which I really appreciated. Their relationship grew with their maturity and grew apart with the natural changes in their lives. I think they had to have the "growing apart" period to make their HEA believable for me. Any earlier declarations would have felt to "YA unrealistic" to me and the distance and time gave their relationship credibility. The ending conversation between Aaron and Laurie absolutely broke my heart in the best possible way.

Also, big credit to the author for the well written rugby details and references. I'm still newish to following the sport but as a novice fan it was easy to follow and I understood what was going on the whole time. I could also follow the importance of Aaron and Laurie's respective positions on the field in comparison to their personalities and their relationship off the field.

Breann: Bound by Amelia Bishop

Why is Bound my favorite of the week? A few reasons...

1. Nate. Nate didn't let Adrian get away with moping and feeling sorry for himself. He pushed Adrian, maybe a little too hard sometimes, but I liked that he wouldn't let Adrian keep wallowing. And he said just the sweetest things. Dude made me swoon.

2. Adrian. He was grumpy and pissy most of the time. But he recognized it and he really tried to change and make things right for Nate because he knew Nate deserved better. I really liked this about him.

3. Frot. Really, really hot frottage.

4. Edging. Lots and lots of edging.

5. Light BDSM play. That's all it was - play. And it was FUN!

6. This quote: "'No, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I pushed you so hard. Sorry I moved too fast. And I'm sorry you're not ready for a boyfriend, Adrian, because I'd love to be yours.'"

7. The long time span. Their relationship really felt like a journey, even though Bound was short, I felt like I got to know the characters since we got a lot of mini glimpses into their life as a couple.

Lorix: 500 Kisses to Steal a Heart by Anyta Sunday

Nico Jaye and Anyta Sunday freebies released in the same week. It's kinda like winning the lottery IMO. I am the first to hold my hands up and admit I am a huge Anyta Sunday fangirl. A look at my goodreads page and you will see that I've recently been on a real AS spree - so when I saw her LL story come up I ignored everything that needed doing and sat down to read. I was not at all disappointed.

This book is billed as enemies to lovers, but really it's friends to enemies to lovers. And it is as hot as all hell. In just 68 pages this author made me fall in love with both Chris and Dylan and want them to have an HEA. The UST - as ever with Anyta Sunday - is through the roof. The story-line is cute and not over done. The characters are fun. Even grumpy Chris.

Though this in no way lacks for being a short story, it could equally have been a full length novel, following the two men from school with their friendship and 'break-up' to the events contained here. It certainly doesn't need to do that, I would have liked it, only because I'm a greedy AS fan who cannot read enough of her words! This story is guaranteed to leave you happy and feeling warm and fuzzy inside, though it manages to avoid being sickly sweet. And now I've written this review, I really want to go back to read it again. *Wanders off to locate kindle*

Jenni Lea: 500 Kisses to Steal a Heart by Anyta Sunday

What Lorix said.

SheReadsALot: Cruel to be Kind by Kim Dare

Delicious from the first lick.


Then it hooked me with:

“You’re not just playing with fire, Xander. You’re playing with a vampire. And you’re risking far more than a few burns. Whatever you think it will be like to submit to me, you’re wrong.”

*laser focus eyes* Game the hell on.

Human Xander has been aching to submit to his vampire friend and business partner, Malone, for years. In a last attempt to finally get Malone to admit he wants to own Xander in every way possible, Xander offers himself to be a pet to a club of vampires.

Of course, dominant Malone is not going to stand for that shit.

Loved every minute of it.

There's a lot of hot quotes that made me wiggle in pleasure. In fact, if I put all of my quotes...you'd have practically the entire story.

There were faint red marks around his wrists where the cuffs had cut in. He stared at them, wondering if those kinds of marks were going to become a regular feature in his life. He could only pray that they would.


“From this moment on, you can forget whatever you think you know about yourself,” Malone said. “Everything you think you are is irrelevant. You’re mine. For the next twenty-four hours, the only thing that matters is what you can do to please me. You’re not a person. You’re a toy. A snack.”

Quelted! I quelted hard.

Will this story work for everyone? Probably not. If you don't like the D/s aspect of BDSM or BDSM, I wouldn't suggest. It's not heavy in the kink. The toy play is minimal. (cuffs and a paddle put to very good use) But the Total Power Exchange - believable among the two men and just yummilicious to read.


Plus, vampires definitely are in my 'favorites' column. Loved the paranormal twist. I think it added a heightened aspect to the TPE.

“You need to realise that this isn’t what you want, and you need to tell me that, because once I’ve got you, Xan, I won’t be able to let you go.”

The fuck you say?!

Baby's there.

Muscles and tattoos. *drips*
The total domination *drops*

The only thing that made me pout, is one teeny, tiny, itsy, bitsy thing which made me take off .05 (that's right, I'm rating this bad boy 4.95 stars) was that this story was not longer.

I could have read this story all day. Malone and Xander definitely pushed all of my fuckhot buttons.


This author owned this prompt and showed me who's master.

Sunny: Guarded by Kim Fielding

I don't even know where to start.  Probably with the complex characters and fantastic world building. Everything felt so real.  Consistent characterization, natural sounding dialogue, information being shared organically and not in an info dump...it all contributed to a compelling and intense story.

With themes of honor and loyalty, the author did a great job showing the effects of war and the intrigue surrounding all the politics.  And amidst all the drama, tender emotions caught my heart.  Parts of the story were brutal, though, and I was at turns angry, upset, and confused.  Luckily, the darker parts didn't drag on, and I was delighted by the rest of the story.

*** All stories are available for download at 

Author of the Month Review: Corruption (Diversion #3) by Eden Winters

Sequel to bestselling novels Diversion and Collusion.

Renegade biker. Drug runner. Recovering addict. Wanted by the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau. But he isn’t a crook, he’s the law.

SNB Agent Bo Schollenberger’s solved his cases using his brains and not a gun, and with his partner, not alone. Now he’s handed a tough new case involving designer drugs that turn users violent. One false move could end his life as he immerses himself into a motorcycle gang to locate the source. His fate depends on how well he can impersonate someone else. Someone named Cyrus Cooper.

Cyrus is everything Bo Schollenberger isn’t, including the badass enforcer for a smuggling ring. He establishes pecking order with his fists and doesn’t take shit from anybody, not even the undercover agent who comes to help his case.

Simon “Lucky” Harrison’s always been the best, whichever side of the law he was on. Former trafficker turned SNB agent, he damned well ought to be undercover in this motorcycle gang, instead of hanging around the office going crazy with new policies, new people, and “inter-departmental cooperation” that sticks him in a classroom. Yet he’s passed over for the SNB’s biggest case in decades in favor of the rookie who shares his bed. A man Lucky thought he knew.

When survival depends on a web of tangled lies, lines blur, worlds collide, and a high stakes game turns friend to foe. Lucky knows the difference between Bo the agent and Cyrus the outlaw, but does Bo?

***Mild Spoilers!***

Finally! FINALLY! Not the big finally I was hoping for but still...

*happy, dreamy sigh of relief*


Alright, Bo and Lucky are back for another fast moving and suspenseful case. Not only are they sexy as hell, (cause, oh, they so are), but I also get really into the suspense part of this series and Corruption had my favorite suspense plot so far.

Let me start with this: Bo is just effing hot. He's undercover and he's here to prove that he's just as badass as the rest of 'em. And it was. Way. Hot.

What happens when Bo goes undercover? That's right, he has to go bye-bye for a while. Lucky isn't too keen on this, and he doesn't like that it bothers him so much. It might mean that he has *gasp* serious feelings for Bo. But, gah, who the hell wouldn't? He's damn sexy and puts up with Lucky and his crap. Lucky had better wake the heck up! (this is where all my 'finallys' are coming in) And he (mostly) does wake up. Finally!

Lucky and Bo make a lot of progress in their relationship, and I for one could not have been happier with where they are now and where they're headed. It took three books, but it feels real and genuine to their characters. They're so great together and Lucky is finally realizing it!

Not only are they great together relationship-wise (getting there at least), but these boys know how to have some serious sex. Here's a taste of how they play... So, the boys are doing some undercover training classes and they're practicing how to pick up a prostitute. Well, Bo and Lucky decide to do some of their own, ahem, practice outside of the class... which may have involved some role playing... *grunts* damn... Bo is just effing hot.

The suspense/case plot was so awesome. Both guys are undercover and both totally kick ass. They played their characters so well. So well that they kind of melded into one with their undercover identity. I think being in this together brought them closer and helped them reach this point in their relationship. It kind of helped them open up more, especially for Lucky. And undercover Bo mixed with real life Bo? Unf. Bo is just effing hot.

Corruption is by far my favorite in the series. It had it all for me... the perfect romance, fantastic plot, witty dialogue and Bo.

And the moral of this review is... Bo is just effing hot.

More! Gimme MORE! *grabby hands*

Review: Beckoning Blood by Daniel de Lorne

A gripping, blood‐drenched saga about twin brothers, the men they love, and the enduring truth that true love never dies — no matter how many times you kill it.

Thierry d’Arjou has but one escape from the daily misery of his work at a medieval abattoir — Etienne de Balthas. But keeping their love a secret triggers a bloody chain of events that condemns Thierry to a monstrous immortality. Thierry quickly learns that to survive his timeless exile, he must hide his sensitive heart from the man who both eases and ensures his loneliness...his twin brother.

Shaped by the fists of a brutal father, Olivier d’Arjou cares for only two things: his own pleasure and his twin. But their sadistic path through centuries is littered with old rivals and new foes, and Olivier must fight for what is rightfully his – Thierry, made immortal just for him.

The d'Arjou twins...vampire twins, gruesome, twisted and quite a tale they weave.

Any True Blood or Vampire Diaries fans out there? I'm a fan of both. And surprise, surprise, I gravitate to the twisted ones. The anti-hero/villains are way better the good guys. There's just something about the depraved ones, the less morals, the better!

Think of having Damon Salvatore times two and one is without a conscience! :D

Warning for the easily squicked: There is rape, brief mention of sexual abuse, incest overtones -no actual incest happens on page and blood play. Oh and the bloody warning in the blurb isn't an exaggeration. This book has tons of blood and gore.

Twins Thierry and Olivier were human identical twins in Carcassonne, France in 1390. Sons of a mean butcher with a secretive little sister, the brothers were used to a harsh and abusive live. But Thierry had a secret lover named Etienne that he hid from his twin...even though the twins have a psychic bond. Thierry hid his lover well...or so he thought. Olivier is changed into a vampire by accident by an obsessed vampire, mistaken for Theirry. But once Olivier learns of his brother's lover and that Olivier is not number one in Thierry's life, let's just say it gets bloody.

The story spans from 1390 France to 1792 Saxony until present day Australia. during this time the twins cause mayhem and havoc. But Thierry was always the softer of the two, looking for a love to claim for his own. He's charged to keep an eye on his brother but not a leash.The trouble they cause. Whew boy! That incest line is never crossed between the brothers so if twincest isn't your thing, have no fear. (I'm still pouting about it)

Thierry is the damaged protagonist who misses his dead love Etienne so much. And he gets to meets his reincarnated love more than once in his very long undead vampire life...but Olivier. Oh Olivier is the debauched vampire hostess with the most-est.

Dayum...depraved, vile, revolting, murderer, wicked...delicious.

Olivier is a sociopath with a sick obsession for his twin. He lets nothing come in the way of having his brother in his life. And we're talking some sick shit, to be honest. Two thumbs for Olivier. I'm sure Thierry will garner sympathy but Olivier is alright with me. Finally, vampires that enjoy being a vampire. No whiny 'I want to be a human' or 'I'm drinking animal's blood to prove I'm tame and lame'.

There are issues such as the parts where it didn't fully drag but had a lull of sorts. It was not a lot of times but I felt some filler could have been dropped. Another issue is not enough description into what happened with the brothers when their relationship strained during the years. There was a period briefly mentioned where they were separated. Why? What happened? Olivier is the sick, obsessive type to not be separated from his brother without good reason for so long. also for all the centuries between them and the annoyance Thierry felt for his brother...why was he so unmotivated to pull away? He might have been the timid brother, the lover, the dreamer and romantic but he came off so resigned. And then Olivier lacks morals and is psychotic...why didn't he take what he really wanted from Thierry? And what is the purpose of the magic and the twin bond?

You see the plot lines are laced into the appropriate holes (it's why it's getting 4 Hearts from me) but it's not fully tightened. This author has room to grow. This book I enjoyed with the love of a good story. I'll ignore technical things if the story is good.

And it's good.

If the author plans to continue with more from this world, a little more description into a vampire's full extent of powers, a little more development of the important bonds between characters and (me being greedy) maybe a a little bro-on-bro action? Yes? No? It's alright. Get back to me. ;P

The story ends with a HEA but there are unresolved questions - Aurelia? Oberon? The Duke? This magic cycle?

Recommended for vampire lovers. Not the fans of the glitter-in-the-sun-woe-is-me vampires, I talking about the ones the enjoy a vampire that revels in being a bloodsucker.

I'm a proud fangbanger and I definitely will be reading more from this author.

A copy provided for an honest review. 

Author Interview and Giveaway: Eden Winters.

Our author of the month for June is Eden Winters and we were very pleased to invite her into the clubhouse to answer some questions. Over some Pimms - well what else do you have in this hot summer weather ?- I asked her about her books and her writing.

BMBR: Our book of the month this month was Naked Tails, which was a hugely fun read, and that leads to our first question: Why possums? Of all the creatures out there what drew you to choose possums as the heroes of your story?

EW: At the time that I wrote the story I lived in a very remote home surrounded by woods. Skunks, possums, deer, squirrels, and foxes were all my neighbors. The fall that year was particularly cold, and a four-footed local decided to winter at my place.

The first night I awoke to scratching in the walls I was terrified, thinking whatever it was could get in. I slept with the lights on a few nights, with a weapon always handy. I asked the landlord to come by and together we reached the conclusion that the critter was a possum that liked to get into the walls, crawl into the water heater compartment, and snooze in warmth.

I eyed the panel over the water heater. What if I opened the panel and the possum jumped out and bit me? And what if it was really the weak link in the chain of the local possum shifters? And what if the vet in town was really their leader? Yeah, an author’s mind works like that.

While kicking around these ideas, I attended a conference hosted by Dreamspinner Press, and shared a limo ride with Carole Cummings, P.D. Singer, Andrew Grey, and few others. I tossed out the idea and they had a great time giving me suggestions for my possum shifters: “Oh, and when they get scared, they fall over!”

Ironically, the place where my possum adventure occurred is called “Possum Kingdom” which I used for the name of the town (I just moved it to a different state.)

BMBR: What is your favourite genre to write?

EW: I write strictly m/m at the moment, and thrive on action adventure, like in my Diversion series, but I also enjoy contemporary, paranormal, and sci-fi. Oh, I have tried my hand at comedy too.

BMBR: Any future projects we should look out for?

EW: I’m re-releasing the first book in the Diversion series, to be followed by book four, Manipulation, which should be ready this fall. In September, Dreamspinner will release my rocker/opera star novel, A Matter of When.

BMBR: Any plans for future shifter books? Because the unicorn shifter market is sorely lacking. *hint hint*

EW: Unicorns! Hmm… I’ll have to consider that. I do have notes and hope to soon work on a young adult trilogy featuring a bird shifter.

BMBR: What are your favourites - meerkats or prairie dogs?

EW: Both!

BMBR: What is the best thing about being an author? And the worst?

EW: The best? All the great people I meet. The worst? Having to go to the EDJ when I want to stay home and write!

BMBR: If you could go back and give you 16 year old self some advice, what would it be?

EW: You are all you need, and yours is the only behavior you’re responsible for. Don’t let people change you—be your own work in progress.

BMBR: What is your guilty pleasure?

EW: If you saw how many pairs of shoes I own, you might plan an intervention. So I have to say: acquiring footwear.

Thank you so much for visiting Eden, it has been a real pleasure.

Eden has kindly offered up an e-book copy of each of her Match shorts (The Match Before Christmas, Fanning the Flames, A Lie I Can Live With) as a give-away prize set. If you would like to be in with a chance of winning a copy please comment below with (1) a means of contacting you such as email, Twitter name, etc., and (2) the type of animal you would be if you were a shifter and why. The give-away closes at 12pm pacific time on Friday 27th June and a name will be picked at random then. 

Of course we couldn't let Eden visit without giving her a caricature of her Unicorn alter-ego, so here she is, the beautiful Plum Lovely Lady....

Review: Lily by Xavier Axelson

What does one say when they realize their child is gone? Better yet, what does one say when that child returns, but is different?

This is the question Pryor must ask himself after his daughter, Lily, is dragged into the woods by a wolf and her body is never found. It isn't until he sees a wolf in the woods with eyes that resemble Lily's that he feels hope. And then something is whispered from deep within the woods, a promise for him to see Lily again.

One day...

But which day and for how long?

And then Pryor meets Ned, a silversmith who brings out desires that Pryor hasn't felt in years and helps him hatch a plan to keep Lily with him.

Now the question isn't about how much time Pryor will have with Lily, it's about how far will he'll go to keep her with him.

I love this flavor of horror story, for me the subtle kind are the scariest. The kind that takes something that is good and perfect and makes it wrong. Wrong and completely out of a characters control. How does a man reconcile what he still wants to believe with all his heart to the horror of the reality he is now faced with? If you’re looking at the wolf on the cover and skimming the blurb you may think this is some sort of shifter story and you couldn’t be further from the truth. Those can be fun and sexy, but this? This is a story that will put you on the edge of your seat and tease you with hope that just isn’t coming.

Lily is a story of one night. In this one night Pryor waits for Lily to come home and waits to see what Lily has become. It also tells the story of the past year in a perfect “showing” not “telling” way. The moments are told so well and are crafted with such simple and subtle sentences that say so much. So much more than a multitude of mediocre paragraphs could have. Pryor is living a tragedy in a small town and as he says,

“Small towns are like quaint traps, everyone knows everyone’s business and my business was epic. I forgot how long memories are in a town like this.”

 If you have ever lived in a small town you know how very, very true that is. Pryor’s daughter, Lily has gone missing, dragged into the woods behind their home by a wolf. She was his life and he is both devastated by the loss and convinced she is still out there. She just isn’t Lily anymore and that’s the real heartbreaker when reading Pryor's thoughts.

Lily is there, she just isn’t Lily anymore. Pryor is in a committed relationship with Ned when the book begins and how they meet and come together is told through Pryor’s memories of the last year, the year since Lily was taken. Pryor is grieving heavily and Ned is everything Pryor didn’t even know he needed. The author captured all the thoughts going through Pryor’s mind so well. His thought processes are completely skewed as everything he thinks and feels now is in relation to Lily’s disappearance.

“My first memory of Ned is not a fair one. I wasn’t in my right mind. I wasn’t looking to see anything except my daughter, so when I first saw him, his back was to me and he was hunched over a long metal table. The only thing I remember thinking was how big he seemed to be. Size had become very important to me. I measured everything by how much room it took up in my life, how much stood between my lost kid and me.”

Pryor is overwhelmed by Ned when he first lays eyes on him. Ned is a silversmith in the small town jewelry store. He’s a big man with a gruff exterior and a kind heart. Being in a relationship with another man is pretty new to both of them, but I liked how the author didn’t make that an angst point in the story. The relationship was actually pretty simple and cleanly defined, much like Ned himself. Given ALL that Pryor had going on, Ned was a perfect match. I had to wonder if the two of them would have gotten together without the drama of Lily’s disappearance. Who knows, but I would sure hope so. The chemistry between them was off-the-charts hot and when an author can use the term “cock crazed” in a story and I’m all, “yeah, he damn well was, bless him and thank you”, you know there is some hot and sexy connecting going on. It did more than make for a tantalizing read though, Ned was what grounded Pryor and made him feel safe and centered amid all the turmoil. Ned’s kisses “had come to be a weapon against the unknown and no warrior takes to the field weaponless.”

As Father’s Day approaches, which is, not so ironically, the day that Lily is to return, the tension in the book is palpable. Both Pryor and Ned are on edge and throughout the story I could see Ned’s strength through Pryor’s eyes. Just by being his quiet and subtle self in Ned’s life. He never tells Pryor that he’s crazy or that Lily is never coming back, he just supports and loves unconditionally. But, as Father’s Day comes near even Ned is feeling it.

“The tension of the past few days strained Ned’s place in the house and confused him. He wasn’t a man used to living in the abstract, he preferred concrete and metal, not moonlight and shadows.”

This is the part of the story I loved the most and what made it a five heart rating for me. See, I LOVE being creeped out and stressed out by a book. I love when the story could go any direction and give me a happily ever after or horrify the hell out of me, I just don’t know. When Lily came home I really did not have a clue what was going to happen and it was great! Poor Pryor wanted his daughter back so badly and he had such hopelessly high hopes, he had “Belief in a lie as seductive as the lie itself”. Underneath it all was the dark atmospheric feel of what Lily had become and the whole time she was at home I was on the edge of my seat. The descriptions weren’t over the top and kept the whole meeting from being campy and kept it right in the creepy edgy place it needed to be.

There is no traditional HEA here. There is a solid relationship between two perfectly matched men, so you will definitely get that feel and it’s a good one. It’s the rest of the story that takes it to a whole new place and will make me remember the book and its characters for a long time to come.

*a copy of this story was provided by the author for an honest review*