Unicorn Favorites: Love's Landscapes Stories : Week Seven

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 seventh week of the event, Jul 13-July 19, are below:

Breann: Spring, Bax & Butterflies by Riina Y.T.

Oh. My. Fucking. Geesecake.


I'm such a sucker for a cutesy YA romance and these two cutie-pa-tooties were no exception. Jacob and Baxter were so sweet and the way their relationship progressed from friends to more felt real and genuine for who they were at the time. They had angst when there didn't need to be any and there was tension with just a touch.

There was a lot of telling. Sometimes a whole chapter it seemed without any dialogue, which made the story feel longer than it should have.

But way cute and definitely worth the read for a YA fan.

Lorix: Scent of Hope by Summer Devon

Thank you for this enjoyable and different short story. I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this going in, I soon changed my mind. It is short, and yes greedy little me would have loved this to be a full length novel with all the aspects of it made longer, but it really did still work as a short story.

Both Carl and Dez were great characters and I think they would have worked well in a longer version..sorry, I'll stop harking on about this being longer (and I'll ignore the juvenile length joke trying to get into this review) because it honestly does work well as a short story.

I loved the setting, the writing style, the set up and execution. It was all good. I'll definitely be checking out more work by Summer Devon.

SRAL: Sugar& Sawdust by Debbie McGowan
The Big D.

Leaves a lasting impression, hmmm?

*whispers* One of the MC's has got a foot long between their legs.

Let's have a few seconds of silence together, shall we?

Okay, I seriously dug this story. A pretty twink model who is not the sharpest tool in the shed (don't worry he has someone looking out for him) meets a possible love match in an older one night stand who has a past and a few surprises up his sleeve.

Alec is older, sweet and different. And a great match for Jorje because I can see Jorje flitting about in the future and he needs a partner to help keep him grounded.

There's a porn star MC, a big D and some family drama. I'd watch this story if it was a show. I liken this story as a not-so-good-for-you-but-fucking- delicious snack.

I actually liked Jorje's sister. I saw it as her caring for her brother, who is not so good with money. Some may say she's invasive or hovering but I see it as love. (Can you tell I'm the eldest sister? Don't worry I'm not as bad Taylor...but I might have my moments.)

Adorable, smexy story with an age gap lovers that I think will actually last for the long haul. They get each other. Loved the title. :D

Thanks to the author and the team for the story.

Sunny: The Court of Lightning by Amy Rae Durreson

Another amazing, I can't believe it's free, story!

Fantastic world building...incredibly imaginative, and clearly described. I loved the details...of the wings, the toys, the land and the people.

Likeable characters with distinct personalities. I could easily picture them, and wondered if they were based on real people.

Intense, gripping storyline, although I didn't like parts of it because I was too nervous/scared for the characters. In general, I don't like stories set during wartime. Too many good people die and the survivors live in fear and misery. So, this was uncomfortable for me to read at times, but those characters! I couldn't get enough. And, luckily, there were moments of humor to ease my stress :)

The ending, though...please, please, please...tell me there will be more stories. Tell me we'll see what happens to the Seven Courts!

Review: Changeling (Middlehill, #1) by Barbara Geiger

Matt sells sex because he has to take care of his little brother, Sam, and, while it sucks, it’s not that much different from the abuse he'd endured that he was a teenager. He’s exhausting himself trying to keep them together and out of the greedy jaws of the foster care system. When he ‘meets’ Kevin, things start looking up. Kevin’s not the first john to give Matt the maybe this could work outside of work vibe, but Matt is surprisingly hopeful, for once.

On the other hand, it’s really not a good time to be meeting someone. He has a new "job" exchanging his services for Sam's tuition at a fancy boarding school. People who treat him badly either end up murdered or disappear. And Kevin’s just a little too perfect. He's rich, generous, and an all-round-blowjob-genie-in-a-bottle. Something’s got to be wrong with the guy.

Nothing much, really. Kevin’s only a prince of the fae. And, hey, Matt just might be Kevin's king. Uh, king? And the questions keep piling up. Why is a rich man taking a bus on a snowy December night? Why does Kevin disappear at the same bus stop where a man who had been bothering Matt is found murdered? And most importantly, why does Kevin keep acting like it’s Matt who will leave, when it’s Matt who’s the broken one?

One word for this story: confusing. Confusing sentences and dialogue, continuity issues, abrupt introductions of new plot points, and unusual things happening without explanation or reaction from the characters. Inconsistencies, contradictions, illogical conclusions...things that didn't make any sense...it was all so confusing. I was lost, wondering if I missed a few pages of world building. Because there wasn't any, and I was missing way too much information.

My interest was caught, though, so I struggled on.

We start to get bits of world building, but Matt's stubborn refusal to find out more, always avoiding the truth, and not being very forthcoming with what he did know, kept me in the dark too much. Add in some melodramatic instalove moments and I seriously considered DNF'ing the story, but I needed to know what happened!

Things got better, or I just got used to the confusion. The story still felt disjointed, with too much missing information, too many hidden motivations, but I was able to piece enough of it together to sort of figure things out. It got even better during the second half of the story, with more world building and information being shared. At 70%, Matt even started sharing more of what he knew! Still, it seemed like every other page, I was asking, "Wait, what? Why?", but I was the only one. The characters rarely asked those questions when something odd happened or was mentioned.

The last 5-10% was really good, though; things came together, and some questions were answered. I just don't know if it was worth all that confusion in the rest of the book.

So, I didn't know how to rate this.
-Fascinating characters who I didn't connect with until the last half of the story,and even then it was more of an empathetic reaction than anything else. I also needed more chemistry showing between the characters.

-Creative, but convoluted, storyline that kept me reading, but without enough information to help me understand what was going on. Too many unanswered questions.

-I don't really consider this a romance, and the mystery of Matt was irritating with all the deliberately vague hints and oblique references, and, again, Matt avoiding the truth as much as possible. It made me crazy!

-Sweet, tender, and humorous moments that made things clear for a short while, until I got lost again. 

-And last, but not least? The one scene near the end...
five I loved that so hard stars.

Yeah, I can't decide if this story was brilliant or overly ambitious and messed up. So, why 4 stars? With all my issues, this story dug it's claws into me and didn't let go. I can't explain it, but there it is.

If this review is confusing, I blame it on the story.

Side note:
I liked Kevin's thing for Matt's stomach.  Really like it.  Not sure why, but it worked for me :)

Favorite quote:
"You make me forget who I am."
"I make you remember who you are," Kevin corrected.
*previously posted on Goodreads

 Find more info on BookLikes and Goodreads

Review: 500 Kisses to Steal a Heart by Anyta Sunday

“… Five hundred kisses are all it takes to steal a heart.” Chris Montgomery doesn’t believe it, and he’d know. He’s met— and had— many a man. None of whom he’d want to share five hundred kisses with. If you don’t like someone, you just don’t like them. End of story. No amount of kissing will change that. Dylan Halsworth doesn’t believe it either. But Chris and his arrogant, “always right, dare I be wrong” attitude has Dylan challenging him to try it. And who knows, maybe watching his most-loathed neighbor suffer through five hundred kisses with the same man is worth it? He’d sit back, crack open a Mountain Dew, and have a good laugh… But… shit… there is one slight snag in his plan. Chris has chosen Dylan with whom to prove his point…

This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group's "Love’s Landscapes" event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.

Photo Description: Two men are sitting close, a whisper apart, and their gazes are locked onto each other’s lips. The light glows behind them, bright, like the chemistry between them. They are about to kiss…

This story may contain sexually explicit content and is intended for adult readers. It may contain content that is disagreeable or distressing to some readers. The M/M Romance Group strongly recommends that each reader review the General Information section before each story for story tags as well as for content warnings.

Have I ever told you I’m a recovering Mountain Dew addict? I’ve fallen off the wagon 4 times. FOUR! It’s like I can go so long and then one day I’ll find myself standing in line and I see those temptingly, fresh, eerily neon green yellow nectar of the Gods bottles looking at me with such longing in their cooler case and I can’t stop myself. Weak willed, I am. Seriously. Quitting smoking was easier than quitting The Dew. Thus, whenever I see commercials or someone mentions The Dew like in 500 Kisses to Steal a Heart it simultaneously makes me cringe and salivate. Like a Pavlovian dog. God, I wish I had one RIGHT NOW.
Look at that! It's just mocking me. 
*starts to get a little shaky*

Damn you, Anyta Sunday!!! Why does it have to be the ONLY thing they drink?!?!?!
I felt my resolve beginning to crack from the “crisp and delicious” description alone.

Focus, Cupcake!

Aside from the gratuitous, and in my opinion torturous, Mountain Dew references I enjoyed this story. It's my first experience with Ms. Sunday. I believe she usually writes YA which, let's call a spade a spade, ain't my usual cuppa. She probably does it quite well. Chris and Dylan's complicated relationship began when they were teens and they're working with teens at a summer camp now. She seems to have a good grasp of teen angst. The flashbacks of Chris and Dylan's early relationship helped the storyline and made the conflict credible.

My first thought when they made this bet was 'oh, that's silly' followed shortly thereafter by 'ohhhhhhh, they are boys, though, so yeah…'. They compete over everything! Boys. *smh* I did fine it amusing. Can't lie. Especially the diving for cellophane,Twister and the pull up contest.

I liked that they their road wasn't smooth, that one or both didn't capitulate after 5 minutes and that they, well, Dylan put his big girl panties on (<---see what I did there?) and faced their past head on even if he had to resort to some unorthodox methods. I particularly liked Chris's characterization. AND I really liked the somewhat surprising sexy times that were quite unexpected from a YA author.
I can't say that I'd definitely read something else by this author since YA really isn't my thing, but I did enjoy this story. She did a fantastic job with the prompt and I thank her for participating.

ADDENDUM:  It was brought to my attention subsequent to writing this review that Ms. Sunday is NOT in fact a YA author. Mea culpa.

Review previously posted on GoodReads.

Review: Complementary Colors by Adrienne Wilder

My sister Julia manipulated my life into a prison to keep me silent about our dirty family secret. Her greed made me a slave and circumstance left me with no way to escape.

Trapped, the only way I could silence the nightmares driving me to insanity was to wrap them in color, hold them with shadow, and stitch them to negative space with line.

But no matter how bright the pigments, no one could see my confession.

Except for Roy Callahan.

I thought he was just another nameless one-night stand in a long line of many.
But I was wrong. Roy could see past the fa├žade of my life and through the veil color over the canvas. He could see what the world couldn’t.

And with him I’d find the courage to tell the truth about the boy.

The boy who kissed me.
The boy who loved me.
The boy whose name I couldn’t remember.

"What would life be like filled with simple moments like this? For time to be measured in heartbeats and exhales rather than seconds and minutes?"
This book. Oh my god, this book. I loved it. Hurt and angst and pain are books I read sparingly. Sometimes I can find books featuring disabilities or PTSD or mental health or abuse issues very manipulative. Manipulative in that parts of the story seem to there just for the sake of being there, to add trauma and not a natural part of the story - formulaic maybe. This book though was not at all like that, not one little bit. It was written with beauty, a beauty that shone through even the ugliest parts of the tale.

Paris is the MC and it is through his eyes that we see this story unfold. It's his emotions, actions and broken memories that we are witness to and I have to say I was so drawn into his story that when I fell asleep reading it at stupid o'clock, I found myself waking up an hour later and carrying on into the middle of the night. I felt every single bit of Paris - the parts he exposed and those he tried to hide.

Paris is an artist and I ADORED the way Adrienne Wilder used colours to explain his feelings, his emotions...or I should say, how Paris used the colours. His brain was so full of his half remembered childhood that there weren't always sufficient words to say how he felt...oft times he didn't know how he felt, it was all colour to him. The good times and the bad. Adrienne has a beautiful, descriptive way of writing - poetic really.

"Morning turned the kitchen into gold, and dust motes dance and twirled in the sunbeams. A door slammed somewhere, and a woman yelled. An infant cried for his mother. Then someone turned up their radio drowning out the sounds of urban poverty under a steady bass thump."

Along with the wonderfully broken MC, the author managed to create some vivid characters. Part of me felt almost shocked at how nasty and manipulative Julia was, not I think because she was female, but because she was his sister. Malignant from the inside out, she terrified me and I truly did not know how this story would end. Roy. The saviour really, I will always have a soft spot for Roy from now on. I Love characters that protect, characters whose love means more than their own life.

I think that really this story is a love story. It is the love between Roy and Paris but it is also Paris learning to love himself. It is not an easy book to read, you will be dragged down and up again and then back down. It will get you in its grasp and you won't be able to stop reading. You'll need to know just s little bit more, just a little bit more. I would totally recommend this book to everyone, though those who find abusive stories a trigger will want to avoid it. A fantastic book written with depth, feeling and understanding.
An arc of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Think of England by KJ Charles

Lie back and think of England . . 

England, 1904. Two years ago, Captain Archie Curtis lost his friends, fingers, and future to a terrible military accident. Alone, purposeless and angry, Curtis is determined to discover if he and his comrades were the victims of fate, or of sabotage.

Curtis’s search takes him to an isolated, ultra-modern country house, where he meets and instantly clashes with fellow guest Daniel da Silva. Effete, decadent, foreign, and all-too-obviously queer, the sophisticated poet is everything the straightforward British officer fears and distrusts.

As events unfold, Curtis realizes that Daniel has his own secret intentions. And there’s something else they share—a mounting sexual tension that leaves Curtis reeling.

As the house party’s elegant facade cracks to reveal treachery, blackmail and murder, Curtis finds himself needing clever, dark-eyed Daniel as he has never needed a man before…

Warning: Contains explicit male/male encounters, ghastly historical attitudes, and some extremely stiff upper lips.


I have a couple of go-to action items in books that make me sit up, take notice and balance that book right on top of the mountain of TBR beauties that are completely out of control. Think of England has those tags in SPADES!

Let’s run down that list shall we?

Historical?. . . a
Snark? . . . a
Wit? . . . a
Mystery? . . . a
Charming Brits? . . . a
Murder & Mayhem? . . . a
Awesome sidekicks? . . . a
Nipple Piercing? . . . wait, what? . . .Awwwww YEAH! . . . a

Yep, historical nipple piercing FTW!

Archie Curtis is a well-bred and well respected war veteran who has come home after an accident where he lost many friends as well as sustained major trauma of his own. He’s feeling a little lost and when he is visited by the gun manufacturer whose weapons caused the tragedy that ended his military career. The man speaks of sabotage and treason and Curtis cannot let that go uninvestigated. Justice must be served if any of what the man says is true. He gets himself invited to Sir Hubert’s country house for a fortnight (I love saying ‘fortnight’), the man in direct competition with the original manufacturer and the alleged perpetrator of said sabotage.

The country house is 30 miles out in the middle of nowhere, but has any and all modern conveniences that must cost the man dearly to keep running, raising suspicion. Enter a cast of characters that, on the surface, seem like typical English gentry, but underneath, all is not what it seems at the country house. There is one character that stands out more than the rest, Daniel da Silva. He stands out because he doesn’t want to fit in and Curtis takes a disliking to him right away. But again, all is not what it seems and da Silva has reasons for being at the country house as well. His affectations, irreverent dress code and rapier like wit make him a target for both bully’s and fans.

I really can’t say too much about the mystery without giving away too much good stuff, so you’ll have to trust me when I say, the tension and stakes are high and the murder and mayhem tag on the blog here is well deserved. Men will face their greatest fears and there are a couple of kick ass female sidekicks. The bad guys are SO bad, the good guys are deliciously good and Daniel da Silva is one of the most memorable characters of all time.

I highlighted so many of Daniel’s snarky comments but by far my favorites were the ones between he and Archie. Once they settle into their uneasy partnership to thwart the evil doings that are going on, they start to open up to one another and we see the connection between the “real” Archie and the “real” Daniel. One of Daniel’s professions is as an editor and he has written and published some of his own poetry. While his work is not understood by many, the very straightforward and very simple Archie, gets it. When I say simple I definitely do not mean stupid. He’s a military man who has never had the luxury of being able to indulge in imagination.

As Daniel says –

Unfortunately, my dear, you are so straightforward I sometimes have trouble understanding a word you say.

Between Daniel's verbosity and Archie's direct simplicity, you can imagine how fun their exchanges are to read. When the barriers start coming down it just gets better. Archie is so charmingly chivalrous and poor Daniel has NO idea what to do with that, but I could tell part of him wants to eat it up like the most delicious dessert imaginable.

Daniel and Archie are going on my list of most memorable couples and so worth reading about. Highly recommended read (and re-read).

*a copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Author of the Month Interview - Anyta Sunday

Our author of the month for July is the FANTABULOUS Anyta Sunday. I am a huge fan of her work (as are some of the other Unicorns *cough Jenni Lea *cough*) and so it has been an honour and pleasure to have her visit the clubhouse and answer some questions for us. So without further ado...

BMBR: Hi Anyta, thank you so much for visiting the clubhouse and being our AOTM. To get to know you better we put together a few questions....
AS: Thank you Boy Meets Boy for inviting me to come chat about bits and books. ;)

BMBR: My (Lorix) favourite book of yours is Lenny for your Thoughts. To me, though it carries the trademark Anyta Sunday slow burn and fabulous characters, it has a different feel to it to most of your contemporary novels. Was this intentional or did it just evolve this way?
AS: (Whispers) It’s my favorite too. ;)

I feel very close to this book; it was one I just had to write, I couldn’t sleep properly thinking about Lenny and Julien and their story, and each scene snuck up on me, grabbed hold and wouldn’t let go. I felt Lenny, felt Julien, felt their story so badly I couldn’t rest until I’d written it. I guess you could say the story stemmed from an emotion, that yearning and knowing you shouldn’t, that maybe this love was even wrong, and yet . . . and yet it just felt so right. And so I explored it the best I could.

It was the first book I wrote where I played with the time-line having chapters alternate between “then” and “now” and how their history shapes the insecurities/and deep need of their present.

I originally wrote this book in chronological order, even though right from the beginning, I knew I would chop it up and mess with the timeline. I did this so that I could understand each motivation and mental/emotional head space of the character at that point in their lives and how it then went on to affect the next stages of their lives. It was through writing their childhood/teenage years together that I discovered with Lenny and Julien where and how they very slowly move from a family/cousin-based love to something more intimate.

When I cut the story up, I added clues in the present and or past that would then have some emotion significance at another point of time. For example, there is a moment about a quarter way through the book where Lenny locks up his best friend Ben and sister Caro in the attic after they’ve fought. Only later the significance of that action comes out and why Julien remarks that he took delight in doing it; and that is when we get to the flashback with Lenny and Julien after their fight as teens, when they made up in the attic.

BMBR: I know you have a whole series for enemies to lovers - but I still have to ask.... Friends to lovers or enemies to lovers?
AS: LOL. Funny you ask . . . I am a big enemies-to-lovers and friends-to-lovers fiend, but the first series I wrote (Shane & Trey, St-st-stuffed, William, The F Words) got pegged early on by a reader as enemies-to-lovers and it stuck. I was kind of at a loss that anyone was reading my books at all, so when they put it up on GR as enemies-to-lovers, I was so speechless (and stoked) that I smiled and nodded, and the subsequent books I tagged as that as well.

BMBR: Do you have a favourite character (or couple) from your books - and why do they earn the title?
AS: I love all the boys I write about. As a couple, Lenny and Julien have claimed the most emotion, but as a single character . . . I think I feel for Rory from The F Words the most, because he’s gone through a lot with losing his best-friend, and he redeems himself for being an asshole to Eric. (I like redemption stories and anti-heroes . . . )

BMBR: Liam, from Liam Davis and the Raven, is a fantastic character. In general you avoid the typical alpha male stereotypes, is this by design or accident?
AS: Liam! :D He’s a special guy with a mild case of Asperger’s, rendering him a little socially awkward, he has a big heart—just shows his love differently.
It’s true, I don’t often write about the alpha male, but . . . well . . . I have written an urban fantasy novel that is centered on an anti-hero (This is an m-f novel with an m-m subplot). So there will be a dose of alpha in future books.

BMBR: Where do you find inspiration for characters such as Liam?
AS: Liam was loosely inspired by someone I knew growing up. A man who was/is socially a wee bit challenged, but you know that he means well, even if he doesn’t express it as others might. Of course, that is as far as the resemblance goes. Liam also reflects the time I was in Pittsburgh and the atmosphere/feelings I felt living there for a couple of years.

BMBR: Part of our book discussion covered the fact that Shane and Trey was set in a nameless/ stateless generic country, what inspired you to make this decision?
AS: The book discussion! LMAO. Okay, so I stumbled across it when Jenni Lea friended me over FB, and I couldn’t help myself. I was nervous, because Shane & Trey was the first gay romance book I wrote and, well, it’s one of those “jeez, I’ve learned so much since writing this 'cringe' book". Lol. So I went in with a wince and came out at the other end in tears—of laughter!

Really, it’s a magical book. Everyone got a different version. Jenni Lea had Shane & Troy, Lori had the no camping or dorm party scene, Natasha had clown orgies, and there were various unicorns making guest appearances, as well as some toe licking going on just for Breann . . .

Ah, crap, I’m giggling just remembering! First of all, thank you for that fun and for all of you taking your time to read it.

Secondly, to address the different version thing . . . I mentioned cringing above, well, a few months ago I went over the story again and I just went through shaking my head. I couldn’t re-write the entire thing, but boy something needed to be done. So I got my red pen (delete button) and slashed the thing apart. I took out about 20K of story and tightened it up a bit, got rid of the misunderstanding that even drove me crazy re-reading it (although, can I admit here, that I don’t mind a wee bit of this in other stories I read), and I added in a second sex scene (where Shane bottoms) because I felt like I had left something out in their coming-of-age-and-sexual-experience. I also wanted to have the ending more hopeful with the father, so I tweaked a few lines with him as well. Oh, and a couple of other bits and pieces to make it seem less “cheaty” which was never my intention in this book. It was more meant to be an exploration of teenage angst and figuring out oneself and what one likes/needs etc. Yeah, the guys make mistakes and screw up a bit, but hell, didn’t we all at that age?

Now to the actual question, because it’s a really interesting one: the setting.

I think the setting-less state of the story really came from a feeling of homelessness. When I wrote this book, I didn’t feel at home anywhere. I mean, I love New Zealand and I was happily brought up there, but it didn’t feel like the place where I was going to settle, and then I began travelling and ended up in Berlin, and back then, while I loved Germany, I still felt like it wasn’t “my place” either. It was like I had no “me” in association with a place. I was just me regardless of place. And I still felt real and alive and I still had emotion and relationships that worked. So when I wrote Shane & Trey and St-st-stuffed the characters and the story, and their emotions and journey was important, but it didn’t matter where they were. I wanted it to be a story that could exist anywhere, and tried to be vague with details of place.

However, linguistics failed me in this aim. Because I grew up a Kiwi, there are words, and syntax and grammar etc. that I use without even thinking—like the beloved fish-slice ;)—that mark the story and force it to have a setting.
Because of that, I realized it was a mistake not to have set it somewhere concrete, and which was why in the third book, I moved the series to New Zealand, where I could ground readers more in a sense of time and place.

(Oh, and just to clarify, Emma was not a beta reader for Shane & Trey. Have no idea where and how that came about???) :P

BMBR: What inspired you to have siblings (twins, even!) as the "rivals" for the MC's affections in Shane and Trey?
AS: I can’t remember! I think I just wanted to create some immediate tension right from the start, and figured . . . yeah, twins who like the same guy, that’s a nice pickle!

BMBR: Did it feel controversial using cousins as the MC's in Lenny for Your Thoughts?
AS: I know two cousins falling in love is controversial to people, but it made me need to write the book more, because I understood it . . . love has no boundaries. Lenny and Julien fell in love with each other, and that’s beautiful.
 (It so was, their relationship was...ungh!)

BMBR: What is your favourite thing about writing? And the worst?
AS: Favorite thing . . . I love it when a story comes crashing into your heart and you just need to get it written, and I also love the feeling that comes when it’s done, it’s written, and that little bit of love that was only in your head is now alive and real.

BMBR: and lastly, but very, very important...starters, mains or pudding?

Thank you so much Anyta for stopping by. Of course we couldn't invite an Author of the Month into the stable without immortalising them forever as a unicorn. So, from the 'pen' of the talented Natasha Snow, I'd like to introduce....

Now ain't that just the most adorable unicorn ever?

Review: William (Enemies to Lovers 3) by Anyta Sunday.

William needs to learn to think before he speaks. He accidentally outed his last boyfriend to his bigoted family. Looking to make a new start, he escapes to the most distant place he can think of: New Zealand. There he boards with a substitute mom and her too-hot-to-be-real son, Heath, but Heath and his homophobic friend Rory want William to leave before things “crash and burn,” whatever that means. 
Unfortunately, traveling to the end of the world isn’t far enough for William to lose his runaway mouth.
But is it far enough to lose his loneliness?

The third in the Enemies to Lovers series William is lovely little story. Moving away from the generic setting used in the first two novels, William is firmly based in New Zealand, the author's place of birth. It is a rich setting but, as ever, it is the characters that shine through in the book.

This is not my favourite of Anyta's books, but it was still a fabulous read. William, uprooted from America, struggles to fit into his new life across the ocean. His landlady is overly loving, her son overly distant. Whilst he enjoys his work and his colleagues his home environment is not very easy to fathom. There is a mystery that he feels the need to solve, though god knows sometimes it's best not to poke the fire.

His growing attraction to Heath is hampered by many factors, not the least being his homophobic friend, Rory.William is fighting against the odds to find a chance of happiness. He'd already had his heart broken once (by Karl from St-St-Stuffed) is he about to get it broken again? 

All the trademark Anyta Sunday traits are in this novel - fab characters, great story line and UST to blow the roof off. I literally cannot wait every time I start a new novel of hers because I know I'm going to love it and that, for the time it takes me to read, I'll be in a world that I love, with people I love, hoping for an HEA, safe in the knowledge I'm very likely to get one.

Review: Hideous by Devon McCormack

Eight years ago, Luke Retter witnessed the brutal murder of his mother and sister at the hands of his demon-possessed father. He survived but lost a hand and an eye. The demon also burned its emblem into his skin, marking him as a cursed. Those who bear this mark are at risk of becoming possessed themselves, so they are monitored and enslaved by the state-run UCIS. Working as a slave is hard, but Luke prefers it to the possibility of being controlled by a demon.

One night, Luke wakes to find his worst nightmare coming true. His father's demon has returned. In a panic, he runs to the only person who might be able to help: Zack, a cursed who ran away from the state and created an underground community to protect other fugitive curseds. Zack helps him suppress the demon. But the city's become a time bomb, and Luke's demon itches to escape.

With the UCIS closing in on Zack's underground operation and Luke's demon crafting its own, nefarious plot, Luke realizes that he must take a stand.

“Being a laborer with one hand is about as useful as being a sperm donor with one nut.”
Ain't it the truth?

This is my second time reading this author. This is also the second time I am left full of questions, hopes and awe. My mind has been screwed, my face is full of snark/wonder/horror/happy. Basically, me after reading Devon McCormack.

Hideous is a gay YA story with a graphic novel feel about a sixteen year old cursed boy named Luke Retter. In this world, demons are possessing people at random, their victims (if they survive) become cursed bearing a mark. And those who are demon possessed are called infected. Demons are like parasites looking for human hosts to cause mayhem. Luke is a survivor from a brutal and horrific attack committed by his demon possessed father when he was only eight years old. He was left with physical scars (he is missing a hand and eye) and the psychological scars (he watched his family be butchered).  Luke is a cursed, wearing a demonic mark that acts like a conduit for demons.

Guillermo del Toro is one of my fave directors, he makes dark and creepy beautiful. And I am finding myself falling for this author's creepy and dark words.

Luke is one very lonely boy. Not only is he ostracized by humans (or regulars), he is shamed and brutalized by them too. Think extreme bullying where physically harming someone is okay because they are considered different. What people do out of fear is hurtful and scary. Factor in Luke's disability and it makes it worse for him. He has no friends, no family, a crappy job which is basically demeaning and slave-like and no hope. Once you're cursed, you're considered lower than scum. He works as a janitor/laborer in a exclusive rich boarding school. Luke's pain is visceral.

One day he tries to save a cursed child and his act of bravery changes his life. Don't think a golden platter is handed to Luke and a magical knight comes to save him. Sadly, no. Luke is saved by a hooded, deviant (a cursed that refuses to register with the cursed corralling government agency.) by the name of Zack meets him. And the two sort of save each other. But Zack is a teen running from the law with a good heart that Luke can't help crushing on. As well as a regular teen named Tom to make a faint crush triangle (I don't want to say love triangle) for Luke. Who does he choose? What happens? Not telling, read to find out. ;P

The other book I have read from this author, Clipped, continues to linger on my brain as will Hideous. The world building is great. At first, you're thrust into a world that takes some time to understand. It is like the author grips you by the shirt collar and pulls you to view a world from his twisted mind. And I enjoyed the ride. And the depraved, devious mind, of course. As the story progresses, the thrilling suspense kicks in. You don't know who to trust, save Luke, or what is going on with these demons.

I have burned myself out on reading YA but it is a genre that I do enjoy from time to time. While this story does a great job of portraying a teenage boy's life in a dystopian-like world, this story is not like any YA story I ever read. The filthy mouth on Luke, the gore and pain described, the brutality of the attacks, the author does not hold back. Well maybe in one area...smutsters there is no sex in this one. But this story kicks so much ass, it does not need it. This is YA any adult or teen can enjoy. I would not classify this as a romance, it is there but that is secondary to Luke's tale. The ending is HFN. (As usual I want more!)

The author's info at the end states: "The inadequate representation of gay heroes led him to creating his own." Hmm... this author has written a gay hero who is realistic. Hideous does not soften the blow, it packs a wallop of a punch. Piss, blood...no sugarcoating here. The author gives a positive gay hero in Luke. Is Luke perfect? No. But he's a great faceted main character to read about.

If this author plans to continue with this world he created, I will be there with bells on.

Highly recommended especially fans of creeptastic-fantastic such as this.

Review: Sharp Love by Ava March

London, 1822

William Drake has lived among thieves, bastards and beggars all his life, doing what's necessary to survive. As a young orphan, that included looking after his best friend, Jack Morgan. But as they grew older, Jack took the honest path, leaving Will behind to fend for himself the only ways he knows how.

When an unsavory errand for his employer brings Jack back to London's underbelly, he needs Will's help. It's there, among the alleys they ran through as children, that the love he's always felt for Will returns. As their nights together grow hotter, Will discovers something new about his old friend—Jack's need to serve extends into the bedchamber.

Will has never fully abandoned his dream of escaping London with Jack. But what could the Duke's driver want with a dishonest cheat like him, beyond a bit of rough sex? It takes the gamble of Will's life to find out if he can win Jack's heart…

Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: D/s theme and elements, and male/male sexual practices.

I'm so happy I was introduced to this author. I feel like I found a kindred spirit. If she would put some kilts, panties and maybe a corset on one of these cats, I'd be over the moon. No? Too much? *shrugs* The cheese stands alone.

Sharp Love overlaps All in with the Duke with the focus on Jack Morgan and his childhood friend, Will Drake. Both were orphaned as children and came to rely upon one another. Will's always been quite clever and Jack was the braun of the operation with his 6'5" burly frame. Neither of them care much for London and Jack made his way out of the stews by finding work with Max leaving Will behind to scrimp, save and engage in some unsavory deeds to accomplish his dreams of a farm in the country.

"Anything for you, Jack."

Jack comes to Will whenever he needs assistance but doesn't believe people like him are destined for everlasting love; never dares to hope that Will may reciprocate his feelings. Jack has been ridiculed and shamed for his desires leaving him defensive, vulnerable and abstinent for the past 6 years. Jack is one of the incantations of submissive that triggers all sorts of gooey feels for me, the servant. He needs to serve and protect. He feels out of sorts otherwise. He needs someone to give the orders which he will follow to the letter. Being 6'5" and massive has been counterproductive thus far, sexually.

Will recognizes "his bashful giant" needs a strong hand quickly, yet still manages to make a few missteps which is precisely what I like about these characters. They struggle, falter, miscommunicate and have both endured hardships. Ms. March has excelled at making all of the characters in this series unique. They are adults, take responsibility for their actions and have honest conversations. There was quite a bit more angst in Sharp Love which bogged down the story for me. Nevertheless, I'm a smitten kitten with this series and this author and cannot wait until the next book!

The kink is of the sugar variety with their burgeoning relationship. There also seemed to be less sexy times, but perhaps that's just my perversity being a glutton. I do love when the big guy is the little guy. A lot.

Yet Jack wanted more. Wanted to drop to his knees. To suck will's cock. To suck Will's cock until his seed was coating Jack's tongue. Wanted to give himself over to Will. Wanted Will to push him up against the door, push Jack's trousers down around his knees, and use him in that dark, dirty alley until he was sobbing with pleasure.

Damn, Ms. March fire off a warning shot before you throw the smack down next time, please.

Recommend to those who love Regency, believable characters who act like adults, angst lovers and great writing.

I would like to thank Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.