Unicorn Favorites: Love's Landscapes Stories : Week Eight

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 as mentioned in earlier posts about this event, the interwebz couldn't handle it if mysterious and magically rare unicorns showed up in our reviews, so we'll just say this week we LOVED Geeking Out on 11C by L.L. Bucknor, before moving on to some of our other  favorites from the eighth week of the event, Jul 20-26:

Breann: Under Pretenses by Jessa Ryan

Whaaaa? That's it? That's THE END? Yer killin' me.

I know it's a goodie when I'm dying for more and yet, I feel completely satisfied with this adorable story.

I loved the slow build and the tension between Mark and Landon before they really even got to know each other. Their attraction from afar was just so cute and apparent through their awkward interactions. They were awesomely awkward.

The dialogue was funny and engaging between all the characters, not just the MC. I especially loved Sam. Which, I think, is a theme amongst reviews for Under Pretenses.

Please, pleasepleaseplease, tell me there's more.


Lori: Five Dates by Amy Jo Cousins 

Five Dates is the kind of gooey, yummy short little romance that I adore. Devin just can't stop betting with his little sis - even though he always loses and the forfeits are always embarrassing. This time is no exception, when the team he backed loses he has to agree to five dates, of his sister's choice. Oops.

The first hottie she sets him up with is Jay, and Jay is amazing, but about ten years younger. He's also pissed off because the picture Devin's sister had used of Devin was a decade old.

Fun, sweetness, sexy times and friendship ensue as Devin works his way through his dates and his new friend Jay is never far from the scene.

I would tell anyone who loves a little bit of sweet and fun in their romance to read this. Five stars from me.

Optimist ♰King's Wench♰: Stranded by Lies by Finn Marlowe  

"Are you lonely, Aiden?"
…"Not anymore," he answered.

Did this thing ever start off with a BANG!

"Don't say anything," he ordered. "it's true and we both know it. I don't give a fuck how young you are, and I'm not going to fight it anymore. You're mine now, and I'm going to own you. I'm going to fuck you until you can't walk, until you're so sore you'll be begging to suck my cock so I'll leave you alone for five 
Faptastic Angry Sex! I tell ya that Aiden has a dirty, filthy mouth.

For those not as keen on the smexy times as I there was an actual story with a plot and everything. Aiden and Jase have known each other all of Jase's life. Aiden is half Vish/half human. The Vish's lifespan is quite a bit longer than that of a human. Jase has crushed on Aiden for years and has given up hope of him reciprocating his feelings. The events that transpired which lead up to Jase going on the run also propel the story forward once Aiden tracks him down.

You see, they have to go on a mission which involves a road trip on Route 66. This was like a trip down memory lane for me. I love road trips. The trip to Santa Fe has become somewhat of a Christmas tradition, so when I read Tucumcari, I squeaked. I've been to the Cadillac cemetery and stopped to see the petroglyphs. The music was an excellent accompaniment for any decent road trip, so Stranded by Lies made me a bit nostalgic.

The glimpse we get into the Vish as a society is imaginative and one I wouldn't mind exploring further. I'm always amazed by those creative types who can envision these things. Finn did an excellent job of translating her ideas to the page. The action/adventure aspects were entertaining with all the cryptic clues and whatnot.

Jase is hilarious! Aiden aka ginger bossy dude is bossy. He's also patient, so not an alpha hole.

Jesus. What the hell was wrong with me? No way did I have an inner submissive dying to get out- and if I did, I was going to kill him. With fire.
Aiden and Jase's relationship is complex and beautiful. Not a drop of instalove. They're both gaga about each other and that oozes off the page.

The dialogue is fresh and funny. The story captivated me. The ending is… sort of cliffy. Well, maybe open-ended is more accurate. All of it was great, great, great, but the sex…

My secret desire was no longer secret. I was his. Tied, dominated, and used. My body wasn't mine anymore, it was Aiden's.
Scoot! Get to reading it already. ;)

SheReadsALot: My African Prince by Vona Logan

Zithembe Kekana, also known as Zee, is an African prince and black lion shifter. He's the future ruler of his pride. He's protected by his best friend and second in command, Ben, and has a lot of his shoulders trying to play the future leader role. He puts the pride first above all things, runs a wildlife park with little complaint. But there's just one thing. Zee is gay. He know his lion shifter pride would never accept a gay king. So other than his best friend knowing, he hides who he is.

The new groundskeeper, Luka Petrov, is 6'5", blonde and super hot. And a shifter in his own right (it's kinda of a mystery that gets solved within the story- his animal is pretty hot). Luka is taller than Zee, different than Zee...and Zee's mate.

The story delves into a tried and true plot theme - you're my mate, I need to deny it, but damn do I need to jump your bones, no matter our differences or that I'm in the closet. This story delivered enough of the main characters feelings that I could ignore the short time frame that passed. I usually do when mates/bonded pairs are involved.

This prompt was excellent. And it was given to the right author to breathe life into it. I am so excited from the moment I read the legend/fairy tale prologue.

It was a joy reading this story. What I also found refreshing was that this was not cliche IR that played into stereotypes. And the hot alpha sex? *nods head slowly and licks lips* Smutty goodness...biting, mating, hot smexing...oh yes. Hint: (view spoiler)

There's some minor angst that was expected. Does love prevail or that yucky closet and its unfair strictures? Guess you'll just have to read to find out.

I hope the author does consider carrying on with sequel with Ben as the lead, the other gay lion deserves to have a HEA just as happy as Zee and Luka. That little teaser at the end has got me anxious. ;)

Major thanks to the author (I'll be checking out other works from her), the prompter and the team behind this story! This is definitely one of my favorites from this event.

Sunny: Stranded by Lies by Finn Marlowe 

A bossy alpha with a serious talent for dirty talk and a boy who protests too much, but secretly (not at all secretly) loves it all.
“Are you hard? Again?”
“No,” I muttered.
And man, did they argue. Aiden knew exactly how to handle Jason, though, and all those hot emotions often led to some fiery sex. The bickering, the bantering, it was all so well done. I was impressed with all the dialogue, actually, especially Jason's. He cracked me up with some of his comments and thoughts.

The world Finn created was fascinating, with aliens living on Earth, hidden from most humans. It took me awhile to understand the timeline because information came slowly, in bits and pieces, but as I learned more of the back story, things became more clear.

The story itself was intriguing and kept my interest. I can't wait to read more, and based on the ending of this story, we'll be getting more. OMG, tell me we are getting more!!!

Favorite quote:
"Are you lonely, Aiden?"
..."Not anymore," he answered.
Side notes:

I liked getting Aiden's POV, but after being in Jason's head for so long, it took awhile to get used to a new voice, especially because Aiden's thoughts were milder than I expected, not quite as bossy. Which makes sense because he wouldn't think he was bossy, but Jason totally would :)

The Rainbow Connection, Vol. 1 by BJ Sheppard Blog Tour & Giveaway!!!!

Living a care-free party life-style, junior journalist and gay lifestyle reporter, Liam Adams thought he had it all; the money, the job, the endless supply of men in his bed. But when his work causes him to question the very foundation of the life he has built for himself, Liam finds certain areas are glaringly lacking. All it takes is one assignment to unravel the very fabric of his promiscuous antics, compounded by the arrival of a long-forgotten tryst. With the rusty screech of the mailroom guy’s trolley wheels, Liam lands head-first in the arms of something bigger; something more.

  As the romance burgeons between Liam and the Mail-Manny of his dreams, each article he writes proves to uncover something new and never realized about himself, namely that all the one-night-stands in the world could never give him what he truly wants; love. In a slapstick commentary through the eyes of the world’s most hypersensitive journalist, watch as Liam’s story unfolds in the most ridiculous of fashions, leading him straight into the arms of love, via The Rainbow Connection.

SO many good things happening here today. Did you read the blurb? Sound like fun so far?? Well, it is! We've got a blurb, an excerpt, questions answered, a little BJ bio and a GIVEAWAY!

Just leave us an awesome comment and we'll put your name in to win a copy of BJ Sheppard's The Rainbow Connection Vol. 1.

*flailing Kermit arms*

Enjoy the following excerpt from The Rainbow Connection . . .

If I were to take a meat cleaver to the brain and infuse my cerebrospinal fluid with strychnine, then attach my eyes to car batteries and gargle with gravel, still it would not be enough to emulate how bad I was feeling that morning. Turns out a gallon of ice cream and the trifecta of mismatched wines in the three for $10 bargain at 7-11 was not the greatest of ideas. In fact, I would claim it to be somewhere near the bottom of the list, as every jerky movement of the elevator threatened to set me to vomiting again, after only having stopped briefly an hour before. With my work shirt fastened like a noose and my Bono-esque indoor shade wearing antics, I zombie walked from the sliding doors and down the corridor, passing Lourdes’s office for fear the pitch of her voice would have my head explode like a rotten grape.

Safely tucked inside my office, I bolted the door (by lying down in front of it) and groaned loudly, like by groaning I could exorcise the demon of my classily acquired wine hangover and liberate myself from the tyranny of my own sorry state of being.

In amidst the multitude of phallus related e-mails from Marie, I clicked on one from Lourdes, bile rising in my throat at the thought of having to expend a single second more writing about the topic that had essentially ended my social life. As the window blared to life, all the tension left my body, sinking from every nerve, tendon and extraneous piece of sinew as I read the in depth analysis of my previous days effort.

Not what we discussed. But it does read better than a who’s-who of dick dives.
Good job.

P.S Don’t fuck around with the brief again or I’ll castrate you. You might be my favorite employee and wine companion, but if I have to read another of your therapy sessions in this magazine, I’m likely to take us both down in a murder-suicide that will rock the ages.

Even through my impending aneurism, I still managed to laugh.

In the twilight of my most painful working day ever, with little to do but swallow ineffective painkillers and gradually rehydrate to the point of drowning, I began to look back over what had happened with Manny. If I ignored the fumble with that muscle bound shower rapist, then everything was fixable. Surely he would understand if he just heard me out, right? Or not, I guess. At that point I was singing in the clowns, knowing that boys like me don’t get our happy ever afters’, when Lourdes sauntered into my office, for some unbeknownst reason wearing a kimono, and dragging behind her the man of my dreams/the biggest fuck up of my adult life. Manny seemed to be struggling in the tiny woman’s grasp, something that made me reassess the sheer terror that resided in the booze-addled editor (*note to self: tread carefully with that one). When she had dumped the much larger man down in front of me, she smiled as if she were Santa Claus, and she was bringing the best present ever in the form of a pissed of mailman.

“Liam, you smell like the floor of a college bar,” she hissed, as I sniffed at my underarm, the hints of au de sauvignon tickling my nose hair and threatening to recommence the onslaught of my vomitty ways. Though he wasn’t looking at me, it was impossible to miss the slight smile as it escaped his mouth, try as he might to contain it. “If you’re going to become a lush, well you know I’ll be there every step of the way, but try to salvage some kind of dignity before you drag us all down.” I frowned at the woman; wishing looks could kill as she turned her attention to Manny. “And as for you Mr. Collins,” she chided, completely oblivious of the fact that his surname was Jacobs; “if you want to stay in my impeccable graces, then you will sit down and listen to what the boy has to say.”

Both of us feeling like we had just been put on probation seemed to satisfy the old dragon, as she nodded her head once, closing the door behind her as she swept away in a storm of well-meaning arrogance and Channel No.5. Manny sat down in the seat across from my own as I shyly sunk down into the leather of the chair, hoping upon hope that now would be the moment the earth would open up and swallow me whole. I gave it a second, then two, and when it seemed like the earth’s appetite was not for skinny white boys, Manny opened his mouth.

BJ answers some questions . . .

Hi, BJ, thanks so much for being here with us today. Why don’t we start out with you telling us a little bit about yourself?
Well, in all honesty, there is not much to say. I discovered post-its. Also, I am a Disney character. I was cursed by a gypsy in my younger years to never find love as penance for my dead, black heart. Luckily that ugly old crone didn’t bank on me becoming a writer. I make love in different ways.

Do you listen to music when you write and if so, what?
No. No music. One of my WIP’s contains an entire verse from ‘Bitch’ by Meredith Brooks and I can’t find where it is. I need silence. Total, total silence. And horrendous, GI-tract-destroying levels of caffeine.

Was there someone who inspired and encouraged you to begin writing creatively?
Well my folks have always been very creative. Dad is a musician and Ma can make anything she wants with a yard of fabric and some thread, so I had a good start. When I decided to start writing properly, then John Goode, author of the Tales of Foster High series basically gave me all the tools I’d need to believe in myself and get going. He’s like Obi-Wan, Gandalf and Dumbledore, all rolled into one.

How much of Liam is you?
Only the bitchy stuff. The rest of him is just the kind of person I would want as a best friend. I sat down one day and dreamed him up, and all of a sudden he was this complete person, and he hasn’t shut the hell up since.

Do you know a Lourdes?
Ha. Yes. Lourdes is actually me. People always assume I based Liam on myself, but I am the Lourdes. It’s gotten so bad that when I write her into the stories, I usually try and match her, drink for drink. My editor has her work cut out for her when Lourdes appears on the page.

Why did you start writing M/M romance?
I think this genre is really important in the fight for equality. These stories are just that; stories. They are normal people, with normal problems, living normal lives. They aren’t any different from het fiction stories and so I believe it’s a really great thing they exist. Secondly, particularly with YA books, I think they can help people come to terms with their sexuality; to ease them into it one gentle step at a time. I know that if I had had these books growing up, I might not have had such a rough time of coming out.

The Rainbow Connection is basically about an office romance. Have you ever had a relationship with a co-worker?
Now, that would be telling…but no, I haven’t. But I’m still young. There’s still time to play desk buffer with a hot office temp.

How much input do you have in the design of your book covers?
I do it all myself. I’m poor, so it helps. I’m getting better though. I’ve stopped trying to do it on MS Paint at least.

Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have a favorite? If so, who and why?
My favorite character that I have written is from one of my WIPs. He’s a shy author with a heart of gold, and life doesn’t treat him fairly. He has a lot of problems and he makes bad choices, but I really admire his heart. Plus, I wrote him librarian-chic sexy. Which is hot.

If you could sit down to dinner with one person, past or present, who would it be and what’s the one question you’d love to ask?
Joe Manganiello. I would ask him if it’s as big as I think it is.

If life really were like "The Breakfast Club" (and let's face it, we all know that it is), which character would you be?
I always had a weird affinity with Allison. I just didn’t have the hair to make it a perfect match.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I have a career? This is pretty much the pinnacle so far. That, and signing a contract with Wilde City Press for a novella that they are releasing later this year.

Last movie you watched?
X-Men: Days of Future Past. They really need to stop making those movies now. Enough is enough. There is only so much milk you can drain from that cash cow before it keels over and dies.

Favorite band or musician?
Too many to mention. I’m very much into middle of the road American Pop-Rock circa ’96.

Your top five recommendations of gay films please.
Okay, everyone always goes with ‘Shelter’ but that’s not even in my top ten.
Here we go:
1) ‘I Do’ (2012)
2) ‘Strapped’ (2010)
3) ‘Weekend’ (2011)
4) ‘Monster Pies’ (2013)
5) ‘Breakfast With Scot’ (2007)
If you haven’t seen any of those films, then you must watch them all, right now.

I'd empty my bank account and take out a loan to have sex with____. Why?
Well my bank account is perpetually empty anyway, but if I had to donate that 17c to having sex with someone, it would probably be Kyle Chandler. I’ve had this weird obsession with him ever since I watched ‘Early Edition’ as a child. Man of my dreams.

What song do you have to hear only once to get stuck in your head for an entire day?
Katy Fucking Perry – Rawr. That song has been driving me insane for months now. She has a lot to answer for, I tell you.

Where can our readers find you on the web?
X-tube mostly. Or follow the links below.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/bjsheppardauthor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/insightoutblog
Email: insightoutblog@gmail.com
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/BJSheppard
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7388660.B_J_Sheppard

X-tube huh? Yeah, us too.

About BJ . . . .

It’s always difficult to write about yourself, especially when, like me, you have no idea what you’re doing most of the time. I have always loved to write, from a very early age with some rather extravagant dinosaur fairytales to more recently when I found my writers voice and finally put it to good use. It has been a dream of mine for a long time to write a book, and since finding a genre I am comfortable in, the ideas have been pouring out of me. I hope it never stops.

In my spare time I like to hang out with my friends, write and record music and read all the books I can lay my hands on. I currently live in the south of England, but from here on out, who knows what will happen. Each day is its own.

These books are hopefully the first of many, and while there are readers enjoying my work, then there will always be new things for me to say. If you want to know any more, please feel free to contact me at any of the links above.

My name is BJ Sheppard and all at once I found myself an author. Such a strange sensation to actually feel you deserve the thing you had aspired to for many years. After all, all it took was computer access and an inner world that reads like a Sheryl Crow song to pound the keys and translate my crazy ideas onto the page. I feel like I could have business cards printed. Maybe wear a black roll neck and perch my glasses on the tip of my nose. I could drink whisky and smoke a cigar and do all those really stereotypical things I imagine all writers do. Perhaps I could get laid a little more? This is not the end. Nor the beginning. Hell, it isn’t even about me. My boys write themselves; I really don’t have that much say in the matter. As long as my characters need a voice, I have two chubby typing fingers and a need to please— watch this space: there is more to come.

Don't forget to leave the awesome comment for a chance win your very own copy of The Rainbow Connection, Vol. 1. You can also get a copy from any of the links below:
Barnes & Noble
It will be available on Apple iBooks and Amazon on release day.

Fangirl review: Taboo for You by Anyta Sunday

Sam’s freaking out. He’s 30 in three weeks. And what has he done in his twenties? It’s pretty simple math: nothing exciting at all. But hey, he has three weeks right? Maybe that’s just enough time to tick his way through a 20s Must Do List . . . 

Luke’s freaking screwed. He’s come out to his family, and his friends. Except there’s a certain someone who doesn’t know yet: his neighbor of 7 years. Who also happens to be his best friend. Who Luke needs to tell the truth, but he just . . . can’t . . . seem to . . .

Jeremy’s freaking over-the-moon. It’s the countdown to his 15th birthday, and his goal is simple. No matter what, he’s going to spend heaps of time with saucy Suzy. But first he needs to get his over-protective, no-girlfriend-'cause-you’ll-get-her-pregnant parents off his back. And what better way than pretending he’s gay? 

Sam, Luke, and Jeremy. Three guys who have a lot of history together, and a lot of future too—

—well, if they can sort out their issues, that is.

This is a fangirl review that has previously been posted on the blog and on goodreads - however as Anyta Sunday is our Author of the Month and this is a fabulous story I thought I'd reshare. :)

Firstly a huge thank you to Heather K whose review convinced me to try this book. I did not regret one minute of it. I absolutely LOVED this book. My all time favourite trope in any book, ever, since I was old enough to read lurve stories has been best friends falling in love. I just love it. Heather said in her GR review that she loves GFY (gay for you) stories and quite often in M/M friends to lovers also translates as GFY, this is one of those books.

Okay, so where do I start with this love fest of a review - because quite honestly I adored it all. The characters - Sam, about to turn 30 and forced to grow up too fast. Having a child at the age of 15 is not ideal by anyone's standards, I loved how Anyta Sunday portrayed Sam's relationship with Jeremy though. He was a great father, he had an amazing relationship with his ex-partner even though they were ex's and had had a baby at such a young age. He needed to relive the 'lost' years of his youth and twenties - but he did it so responsibly. It was so damn cute and adorable. Also his growing attraction to Luke. Ungh. Eli Easton is in danger of losing the UST (unresolved sexual tension)crown to Anyta Sunday....

I love reading UST. *fans self*

Luke. Wow - I love Luke. UST. UST. UST.


So he came out....just not to the person he's in love with. His best friend. Uh oh.


Yep - I loved Luke.

And Luke and Sam.

And Sam and Luke. Get the idea?

And as a bonus we had some of Jeremy's storyline too. He pretends to be gay so his mum doesn't worry about him getting some girl pregnant (she knows allllll about that) that way he figures he can have all the alone time with his girl he needs - after all they're just friends, right?? Wiley lad. The thing is his best friend is gay....I so want his story next!!

All in all this is a book about friendship, family and love. My three favourite components to any story. Plus did I mention the UST?? Not so much a review as a love fest for how much I love this book. Read it y'all.

Great characters, great storyline and HOT lovin'. Anyta Sunday is a genius.

Review: Lenny for Your Thoughts by Anyta Sunday

Lenny's life in the small village of Waldau hasn't changed in years. While friends grew up and moved on, Lenny and his oma remain in the same place. Now Lenny's going to make things different: a new life, in a new city, and a chance to forget his cousin Julien--the boy he loved, and who left him behind. But just as Lenny's future looks like it’s becoming reality, Julien returns, bringing with him all the sweet, wonderful, and painful memories of their past.

What does his cousin want? And is it something Lenny can give him?

This review has previously been posted both on Goodreads and on this blog. It is however one of my favourite books and with Anyta Sunday being author of the month it seemed a shame not to repost it.

Wow, wow, wow. I'll review later...after I've read everything written by this author.

So I've finally come back to post my review! This review was first posted at Boy Meets Boy Reviews in April 2014.

Though I will try and write this without spoilers it may contain some, so just be warned!!

"Anyta Sunday is rapidly moving up my list of favourite authors. It's like when I first read Kaje Harper or Eli Easton or Tj Klune or Eric Arvin or a million other authors I love...I get all excited at the start of the book. The promise of something brilliant to come. I feel so sorry for people who don't read and don't get this feeling."

So I read Taboo for You and decided that I needed to read more Anyta Sunday, I already had Lenny for Your Thoughts on my kindle so this was the one I chose. A decision I did not regret. Firstly I would like to say this is my third Anyta Sunday book and each and every one of them felt like completely different reading experiences. The writing is always easy to read and Anyta is one of my favourite character writers EVER. Each story almost feels as if it is written by a completely different author - kudos for this, so often I read books by authors I love to find the same recycled, rejuvenated storyline lurking in each one. Though each book is different this author has the ability to pull you into her story, that ability to weave a story that makes it compelling reading - you know the ones, just one more page and I'll stop, okay maybe just a bit more.... and then you find you're turning off your kindle as your hubby's alarm is going off. It's a sign of a GREAT book, but plays havoc with your sleep patterns. This book was no different, I could not stop reading once I had started.

(view spoiler)

"You know that gut clenching, stomach turning, this is why I read moment. 54% is where it's at here."

As I may have mentioned in my review of Taboo for You, Anyta Sunday is rivalling Eli Easton as Queen of UST (Unresolved Sexual Tension) and this book was NO exception. It once again had my favourite ingredients, best friends to lovers and UST. Oh my god the UST. I need a shower (cold) just thinking about it. Lenny, Carolyn (his sister), his cousin Julien and other bestie Ben form a formidable foursome. Best friends throughout their childhood in a small village in Eastern Germany, their lives have been changed and marred by the wall that had been gone since they were tiny. Along with the amazing Oma we follow the lives of these four, specifically Lenny, from when they young to present day. It is written in a style that switches between current day and the past - other reviewers have said they have found this annoying, me not so much, actually, it didn't bother me at all.

In fact I think it added to the story because even as we got to the end of the novel, to the current day, it was impossible to tell how things would work out. I had no idea if there would be an HEA or an HFN. I really, really didn't, again no spoilers but I will say Anyta Sunday writes with such grace that I felt the ending fitted the story perfectly. Lenny was such a well written character that I truly felt everything he did, I was desperate for things to turn out the way I wanted them to. I rate books how I felt about them and this one was definitely 5 hearts all the way through for me.

If you've not tried Anyta Sunday I would totally recommend either this or Taboo for You. Yet again I have found another auto-buy author.

Book Blast & Giveaway: Designated Bottoms Anthology

Today it's all about the bottoms! Designated bottoms, that is. Read on for more about this new collection of stories.

From the editor:

So, what happens when you get a bunch of m/m writers together on a panel at a steamy little convention called Authors After Dark in Savannah?

In this case, we all sat around with the readers who came to our panel and chattered and laughed like idiots, and we talked about what we liked to read and write. There was a lot of smutty puns, and it was all fun and games until someone uttered the fateful phrase, “Right, and every story has to have a designated bottom.”

The writer and editor in me both went, “ooooh”. And I said, “Hey, does anyone want in on an anthology for next year with this theme?”

Enough of the writers at that panel, and a few who weren’t, said yes, and Designated Bottoms was born. When I sent out the call, this is what I said.

You’ve heard about Designated Drivers? Well, what about a Designated Bottom? The theme is open to all m/m stories where one man is a designated bottom boy, Whether self-imposed or by the Dom/lover/alpha of the pack or simply (either true or not) by society. Feel free to play with burly bottoms who surprise the deceptively sweet top, or with the too-smart kid who's the pushy bottom to end all bottoms. BDSM is fine, but not mandatory. A bottom may simply like to catch instead of pitch.

The stories I received delighted me. From a first-time cowboy and his new lover to a hardass Sergeant falling for a determined young soldier, from a hot gamer geek who doesn’t date to a sweet young thing on his first visit to a BDSM club, there’s something for everyone. There are princes and paupers, werekitties and strippers, and skinny twink-looking tops and big, gentle bottoms. They all left me fanning my hot cheeks and smiling at how the end result was two men in love, no matter how they got there.

The authors in Designated Bottoms have all reminded me why I fell in love with m/m as a genre damned near fifteen years ago, and of why I’m still writing, and publishing those stories today.

We’d like to dedicate this book to all the readers at Authors After Dark who thought this collection was a great idea, and to all the readers who keep us going every day by reading our books and letting us know they like them! I hope y’all love these stories as much as I do!


Some men are bottoms by birth, others by choice. Whatever the reason, a designated bottom is someone who’s happy to surrender, to submit, or just catch instead of pitch!

In Czech Me Out, by BA Tortuga, Korde discovers what it’s like to fall for someone when food truck owner Josh takes on the cowboy virgin. Katey Hawthorne’s gamer grad student Paul doesn’t date. He keeps things strictly physical. So why is Sammy so important to him in The Mistell? Kitty shifter and stripper Aleks doesn’t mix business with pleasure, but he thinks Rafe might just be the master for him in Julia Talbot’s Faster Bobcat.

Sean Michael’s Peter isn’t sure about the club his friend takes him to, especially when Doms start hitting on him. Experienced Dom Rupert is happy to help, explaining about that Little Square of Cloth. In Sgt. Hardass, by Shannon West, recent ex-Army man Jake meets up with a man he has history with, and Chad isn’t sure he can explain himself and defuse Jake’s anger. In the Prince of Paupers by Kiernan Kelly, Prince Liam and longtime friend Deacon have to go back to Deacon’s Appalachian home, much to the prince’s dismay. And in Switching It Up by KC Wells, Jay knows he looks like a twink, but only hunky Dean understands that looks can be seriously deceptive.

Cover Artist: Anne Squires
Publisher: Torquere Press Inc

Excerpt:  From Czech Me Out by BA Tortuga

Josh had texted the fine cowboy as early as he felt comfortable doing it. He’d waited until nine. He figured it was gratifying that he got an immediate response.

“Noon?” he’d sent, and when he got an affirmative, he’d send his address. Then he set about making lunch.

He could tear that sweet body up, turn the Marlboro Man inside out and make Korde like it. He would soften the guy up with a few barbecue-filled potato skins... Barbecue, the redneck aphrodisiac.

Josh grinned. He’d swayed more than one hot little cowboy with his special sauce and some crispy potatoes. Of course, he’d never asked one to come to his house before, and certainly hadn’t gotten so interested so damned fast.

He’d never changed his sheets and made sure he was stocked with lube and rubbers, either. Not on a not-even-a-first-date. Lord. He was hopeful today, for sure.

Hopeful, horny and... oh, man, he needed an ‘h’ word...

The doorbell rang, saving him from having to be too creative. He told his cock to stay down for a bit and went to answer.

Frack and Frick were yapping their damn fool heads off, wagging and bouncing. Silly mutts. “Y’all get down.”

 Josh opened the door a few inches. “You’re not afraid of dogs are you?”

“Not even a bit.” Korde leaned down and gave scritches, easy as pie.

Those two beagle-shepherd monstrosities went nuts, yodeling and wagging and begging.


Don't forget to enter the giveaway below for a $25 Amazon gift card.  Win, and you can get a copy for your library!

About the contributors:
BA Tortuga: Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy's Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds, getting tattooed, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she's not doing that, she's writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing porn sites in the name of research. BA's personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has responded to the call of the high desert mountains. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon- holed by anyone but the voices in her head. Find her at www.batortuga.com 

Katey Hawthorne is an avid reader and writer of superpowered romance, even though the only degree she holds is in the history of art. (Or, possibly, because the only degree she holds is in the history of art.) Originally from the Appalachian foothills of West Virginia, she currently lives in Ohio. In her spare time she enjoys comic books, B-movies, loud music, Epiphones, and Bushmills. Find Katey at http://www.kateyhawthorne.com/ 

Julia Talbot lives in the great Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex.

A full time author, Julia has been published by Torquere Press, Ellora's Cave, and Changeling Press. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at www.juliatalbot.com

Sean Michael: Often referred to as "Space Cowboy" and "Gangsta of Love" while still striving for the moniker of "Maurice," Sean Michael spends his days surfing, smutting, organizing his immense gourd collection and fantasizing about one day retiring on a small secluded island peopled entirely by horseshoe crabs. While collecting vast amounts of vintage gay pulp novels and mood rings, Sean whiles away the hours between dropping the f-bomb and persuing the kama sutra by channeling the long lost spirit of John Wayne and singing along with the soundtrack to "Chicago."

A long-time writer of complicated haiku, currently Sean is attempting to learn the advanced arts of plate spinning and soap carving sex toys. Barring any of that? He'll stick with writing his stories, thanks, and rubbing pretty bodies together to see if they spark. Sean's available for interviews, by the way. He can always be talked into, well talking about himself. Find Sean at www.seanmichaelwrites.com 

Shannon West currently lives in the South with her husband and family. A lover and avid reader of M/M romances, she began writing them a few years ago and now has over forty short stories, novellas,and novels to her credit. Her series about wolf shifters, the Dark Hollows Series and the sci fi series, Love Slaves of the Alphas, produced sixteen bestsellers with four of them going to number one on the third party sites. She was a finalist in the Rainbow awards for 2013, a nominee for best sci fi series in the Love Romances Café and very honored to be named an All Romance ebooks top ten author for 2013. She writes BDSM and some ménage as well. She loves men and everything about them, and believes that love is love, no matter the gender. She mostly spends her days at the keyboard, trying to elude housework, which stalks her relentlessly.
Links: www.shannonwestbooks.com,
 Twitter: @shannonwest8,
 Amazon Page, and Facebook

Kiernan Kelly lives in the wilds of the alligator-infested U.S. Southeast, slathered in SPF 45, drinking colorful tropical, hi-octane concoctions served by thong-clad cabana boys.

All right, the truth is that she spends her time locked in the dark recesses of her office, writing gay erotic romance while chained to a temperamental laptop, drinking coffee, and dreaming of thong-clad cabana boys.


To date, Kiernan has over a dozen novels in print and ebook, and a plethora of short stories in both formats.
Links: www.KiernanKelly.com, KiernanKelly@KiernanKelly.com or Facebook

KC Wells: Born and raised in the north-west of England, K.C.Wells always loved writing. Words were important. Full stop. However, when childhood gave way to adulthood, the writing ceased, as life got in the way.

K.C. discovered erotic fiction in 2009, where the purchase of a ménage storyline led to the startling discovery that reading about men in love was damn hot. In 2012, arriving at a really low point in life led to the desperate need to do something creative. An even bigger discovery waited in the wings – writing about men in love was even hotter...

K.C. now writes full-time and is loving every minute of her new career.

The laptop still has no idea of what hit it... it only knows that it wants a rest, please. And it now has to get used to the idea that where K.C goes, it goes.

K.C. loves to hear from readers and can be reached via email (k.c.wells@btinternet.com), on Facebook  or through comments at the K.C. Wells website.

There is a giveaway for that will be available throughout all blog tour stops.  The prize is a $25 Amazon gift card.  Enter with the Rafflecopter here:
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Good Luck and thank you for stopping by!

A special thanks to Will at Pride Promotions for his assistance.

Review: (Un)masked by Anyta Sunday

Jay Walker has two wishes: to perform the play of his dreams alongside his best friend at Wellington’s Tory Street Theatre, and to meet that special someone. Someone he’d go to the ends of the earth for. Someone who might only exist in fairy tales.

When Jay meets accordion busker Lethe Cross, it’s like living a dream come true. Lethe’s music captivates Jay, and he resolves to meet the man who plays so beautifully. But then he discovers Lethe’s life is more like a nightmare. The phrase “down on his luck” can’t begin to cover it. Determined to help, Jay does some snooping for answers—and winds up on the wrong end of a centuries-old curse. The good news is there’s a way to break it. The bad news is it might cost Jay his life.

This is one of the most romantic and heartbreaking stories I've read. I'm going to try very hard to review this without spoilers though because I really don't want to ruin this story.

The characters: Jay, Lethe and, my favourite, Gristle. Jay is the MC and Gristle is his best friend. I've never seen two characters who love each other more (maybe Jean & Locke from The Lies of Locke Lamora), and yet aren't in a romantic relationship. While Jay is gay, Gristle is straight, but he still truly, deeply, madly loves his best friend. This friendship, relationship, was so achingly beautiful. Gristle wanted nothing more than to protect his best friend, to keep him safe. Jay just had endless love for Gristle. Honestly, this friendship it grabbed my heart and didn't let go.

Lethe is the busker Jay sees, the one who catches his eye and make him think about wanting more than what he already has. Lethe is evasive and enigmatic and all is not as it seems. For Lethe's part, Jay is the end to years of people not seeing him as he really is. Jay is the one person who knows him properly and, for a boy then man who has kept himself away from society unless his face was hidden, being with Jay is like being able to breathe again.

The story: This is a contemporary story with a magical twist. A curse passed down through the centuries blights Lethe's life. I loved this element of the story, it was so well written - and the sub-story of it, of being hidden in plain sight; of people seeing what they want to see. It's both terrifying and real and I couldn't get enough. Although Jay loves both Gristle and Lethe, this isn't a love triangle, at least not in the traditional way. Lethe is his boyfriend, Gristle his best friend - but they can't meet, not properly and at times Jay is torn between the two.

Anyta's way of addressing the issues at hand is so natural, nothing feels forced or convenient in her stories and the same is very much true of this one. The New Zealand setting is beautiful, beyond beautiful really. The lives of these characters so real, even with the magic mixed in. I want to tell everyone to go and read this...but a word of caution, your heart will not be intact by the end of it. I'm not sure mine is yet but it is so worth reading. If for no other reason than to meet Jay, Lethe and of course my wonderful, beautiful, Gristle.

Review: The F Words (Enemies to Lovers, #4) by Anyta Sunday

Rory A. Phillips is sick of being haunted. Sick of hurting. Sick of being so fucking lost. Whenever he ‘sees’ his best friend William, he’s packing up his motorbike and on the move. But is there a place he can run to that will ever be free of William? A place where he could ever learn to love? A place he can call home? 

After losing his last living relative, Eric Graham moves to Wellington to start a new job and a new life. Alone—save for his grandpa’s ashes he can’t bring himself to scatter in the sea. The only guy in the city he knows is a homophobic prick that he’d rather have nothing to do with—but he just can’t stop running into him. 

Rory and Eric, both grieving and alone, are searching for a way to move on. 
And maybe the best way to do that is together. 

I'm still fangirling away in my little corner of the stable. This review has previously been seen on Goodreads.

I've loved all the 'Enemies to Lovers' books by Anyta Sunday, but this one is my favourite. Why?? I hear you ask. Well one word really, Rory. Rory, Rory, Rory. He's hurting so much and needs someone to love him and he just took hold of my heart from the start. 

The pain of the character is so real and the healing very gentle and believable. Eric is also a wonderful character - not without his own demons - and together the two complement each other perfectly. Though billed as Enemies-to-Lovers, for me I see much more of a friends-to-lovers theme. Whilst they may not start off best buddies the friendship develops before the relationship. 

I like these books because we catch glimpses of the characters from the other EtL stories, but they don't take over the story. We see the connection, but they are fresh stories that could absolutely be read as stand alone novels.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, along with Eli Easton, Anyta Sunday is the queen of UST - and there's nothing I like more than a bit of unresolved sexual tension. *fans self* If you're a fan, then this book is for you...a slow burn that's SO worth it.

If you love a good old love story then this is totally for you. Go on, give it a go!!

Review: Dangerously Happy by Varian Krylov

Aidan has always played it safe. Instead of pursuing his dream of creating innovative music that makes his soul sing, he settled for a degree in software, a job in a cubicle, and a spot in a generic band with his buddies.

And he's always been straight. But when he's seduced by magnetic local literary luminary Dario, Aidan must decide whether to keep playing it safe, or succumb to a ravenous passion and a nourishing love unlike anything he's experienced before. Will he find the courage to go after real happiness if it means admitting he's in love with a man?

Their journey together isn't easy. Sometimes it isn't safe. Even if Aidan has the courage to admit he's in love with Dario, can he endure the repercussions of the traumatic event in Dario's past?

This novel has mature content and is intended for readers over the age of eighteen. Although this is a story about two men falling in love, there are extended, explicit sex scenes, including some BDSM, m/m/m and m/m/f scenes. There are references to sexual violence which may be a trigger for some readers, although there is no graphic depiction of rape in the book.

A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review - however I already owned a copy of it....the review will still be honest though!

Every now and then I come across a book that I find really difficult to rate and this is one of them. It took me a lot of pondering to decide on a 4 heart review, and I will explain my reasoning for it.

You may, or may not know, that very often I don't look at a book's blurb - while I can stay away from handbags and shoes, and happily live in supermarket clothes, I am a compulsive book buyer (notices the nods, you too huh!), well, this was one of those books. The cover is PRETTY, the hype on FB etc good, I had no idea what it was about and purchased it. Then a request came in to the blog and, as I already had it, I thought why not, I'll review it - but I still hadn't a clue what the book was about. In fact I only discovered what the book was about as I was reading it.

This book is a mish-mash of romance and erotica and I'm not sure which bit dominates. I'm not against a bit of BDSM in my novels but it certainly isn't the staple of my literary diet. This has BDSM, menage (M/M/F & M/M/M). Now, I'm a romance girl through and through. For some reason I found the M/M/F scene harder to read...maybe I'm just to used to reading about the men at the moment, maybe I have deep-set psychological issues. Who knows. That isn't to say though, that the scene wasn't well written, it was, as were the M/M/M scenes. I think perhaps I have to be in a certain mood for the more erotic end of the romance scale and trying to read it in the holidays with the children asking questions every couple of minutes isn't really the way to set that mood. So I guess that's a convoluted way of saying it wasn't really what I was looking for to read at this moment in time. However it was very well written so I shan't knock of any marks for my own personal hormonal response.

The romance though, well that was something that I could get on board with. That first moment between Aiden and Dario, hells bells, now to me, that right there is SUPER hot. I adored the way we saw them fall in love through the obstacles and difficulties. And they really did fall in love. Krylov's writing style is very unique to her, it took me a few pages to get into it but once I did I thoroughly enjoyed the first person narrative, the long poetic sentences and I felt as though I understood Aiden completely. We saw Dario through Aiden's eyes, with Aiden's insecurities, but it was still very easy to understand him as a person, I very much liked both MC's.

I found the traumatic event in Dario's past hard, I also found the way he dealt with it hard. That is not just an issue with this book, it's something I've found in other stories of the same nature. Just because I have difficulty understanding the way he deals with his trauma doesn't mean that I think it was written badly or dealt with wrongly. I think when we empathise with characters in books it's often because we recognise our own traits/thoughts in them. In this case Dario is very opposite to me but I could empathise with him because the character was so clear - I just couldn't understand it on a personal level.

I think my thoughts on this really are, Varian Krylov is a wonderful writer and I love her writing style - her content though is not my preferred read. It's definitely a case of it's not you, it's me. I will say, if you have any potential triggers, please read the warnings before you choose this book. If BDSM, menage & romance are your things, then this book really could be for you.