Review: Chasing My Dream by Jeff Erno

Sixteen year old Nash Adams feels like the token gay guy in his small, northern Michigan high school. When his boyfriend dumps him on the very night they're supposed to go to the carnival together, Nash wonders if he'll ever find the guy of his dreams. Later that night, beneath a full moon, Nash gazes into the midnight sky and sees a shooting star. At the urging of his best friend Cala, he halfheartedly makes a wish. A few miles away, Caleb Cummings lies on the beach staring up at the sky when he notices a star that seems to be moving. He makes a wish of his own. When Nash and Caleb fall asleep that night, they wake up together. Though at first confused, it doesn't take long to figure out what has happened. They've entered each other's dreams. Initially they're each convinced the other is a figment of their imagination, but when the phenomena continues to occur, night after night, Nash wonders if there might be a way to find Caleb in real life. It shouldn't be difficult to find someone in this modern, technological age. But as he begins his search, he faces numerous frustrating obstacles. Eventually he has to decide if it is even worth the effort to keep searching for an imaginary friend. Maybe he should give up on his dream guy and look for someone in the real world.

Low ansgt and highly adorable.

Both Nash and Caleb want a boyfriend so badly that they wish on a shooting star to find someone. They wish for each other and on the same shooting star. D'aaawww! 

Everything was very serendipitous and you really need to suspend your disbelief in order to enjoy this sweet tale. Once I got to the point where I realized, 'Yes, they wished for each other and yes, they meet in each others dreams and that's OK,' I was able to completely devour and really like Nash and Caleb.

They tried to go through the trouble of finding each other outside of their dreams, but it couldn't be forced. Nash would try FB and then Caleb wouldn't have access to a computer. Or they would go to the same restaurant and just miss each other. Etc. Serendipity. Tis a bitch.

Both had some serious struggles to deal with in their real lives, Caleb more than Nash, but I liked that, even though they didn't really know each other, they were fully supportive. They had this whole 'we were meant to be together' vibe right from the start and they just went with it. They did have their suspicions and doubts, but I think that they really knew that they met for a reason, no matter how crazy it all sounded. They believed in each other and it showed.

Caleb. Poor, Caleb. He had to deal with a lot of crap from his parents. His mom did (mostly) win me over, but it really wasn't enough. She's still on my list. I can't believe that a mother would let someone talk to her kid like that. No matter who they were! Ugh. She didn't deserve her ending.

Speaking of endings, it was completely predictable, but by this point I was already used to all the coincidental happenings, so it fit.

All in all, super cute and I'll be looking forward to reading more from Jeff Erno.

A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find more info on Goodreads!

Unicorn Favorites: Love's Landscapes Stories : Week Eleven

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 Game On by Olley White, before moving on to some of our other  favorites from the eleventh week of the event, August 10-15:

Lorix: Bird Meets Cage by Anyta Sunday 

This is possibly my favourite prompt of the event, so when it was chosen by one of my favourite authors I began an agonising wait....until, finally, today, I got to read, Bird Meets Cage. I was not disappointed.

While reading it I was transported back in time, my study disappeared and I was in the hot and humid circus field. The descriptions...oh, wow, the descriptions. Each sentence is beautifully crafted, almost lyrical in it's execution, creating the most wonderfully real atmosphere. Stardust & Floss...both as magical as their names. Anyta achieves in 15,000 words what some fail to do in 50...she made me believe in magic, she made me fall in love.

Thank you a million times for this story.

(And the cover...oh, my, god, the cover. Stunning.)

Natasha: Bird Meets Cage by Anyta Sunday  

This story is the single most beautiful, flawlessly romantic story I've read (at least) all year.

Do you like romance? No, not the power-hungry, needy kind I so often find associated with the m/m genre. I'm talking romance. Romance so thick and surreal, it's practically tangible. Romance that starts as a hum, and then, within a moment, there's a full orchestra blaring in your ears. Romance that keeps you up at night thinking about the effect of a few simple word choices.

(This review is spoiler free, except for a few characters real names)

I've loved my share of men. I've loved my Adrien English and his Riordan drama. I've loved Gordon Frost and Adam Blake. I’ve loved my poor Sebastian Swift and Max Prescott. I’ve loved Ty and Zane, and who hasn’t, at some point?
But now it’s time for Stardust and Floss.

Trying to describe Bird meets Cage is like trying to describe what your childhood wants were. Everything. Possibly the whole sky, but probably the earth and the sea, too.

I asked for a cookie, and Anyta Sunday gave me a wedding cake. This story is the child of my prompt from this year’s MMRG event, Love’s Landscapes. I’m not prone to sugar-coating much, and if I thought this story deserved fewer stars, I wouldn’t be afraid to mark it so. But since Goodreads only allows 5 stars, those will have to do. I’ve also added this book to my 100-stars shelf, and Anyta Sunday earned herself every damn one of those.

I’m struggling to say everything I need to, to find some way to thank Anyta for giving me such a beautiful story, but like all great love, my heart can barely comprehend the things my mind wants to say.

Floss, Nathan was such a beautifully real character. His stardust-struck looks had me in an instant, and his sweet, down-to-earth charm made me love him even more. His attitude toward Stardust at both ages was… real.

Stardust, Blue, Jean was everything I wanted him to be, and more. He was quirky and kind and felt just like one of his sparkling cigars—all boom, and pop, and luster, until he finally wore down at the end. He was flawed, and perfect, and one of the only men who was magical enough for Nathan's love.

Danny, my fantastic clown. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. He actually had me laughing with his antics. Anyta Sunday’s writing is so strong, I easily visualized this silly clown doing these devilishly hilarious things, almost like a black and white film playing behind my eyes. And god, did he make me laugh. At a moment when my heart was breaking for Floss, Danny showed up and smoothed everything over. He was dangerously funny, and I felt all his goofiness felt so real for the time this story took place.

My favorite trope in my romance is long-lost lovers, and when I asked for there to possibly be a clown in this story, I was given one of the best clowns that’s ever been written. I was given so much more than I asked for, and I feel so greedy, because I’m taking it all.

Oh, and a moment for the dialogue. God, the dialogue was amazing. Not a single word was uttered that was not needed, and the flow of it was completely seamless. It’s so rare and magical when characters don’t say overly much, but what they do say, is so powerful, that you’re glad you weren’t given filler words.

Thank you, Anyta, for this. I’m afraid I couldn’t possibly rip my heart out of my chest and give it to you, so we’ll never be quite equal in gifts.

Optimist ♰King's Wench♰: Blood in the Water by Tami Veldura

High seas high jinks, battles, some freakiness, some sexy times… I mean…how's a girl to keep up?

Every time I turned around something else was happening! Action packed fails somehow. I tell you what though, I want more. More. MORE! When's part two coming out? Ms. Veldura put me through the wringer and left me dangling on a cliff by my fingernails and yet… I'd do it all over again.

It was awesome. If I smoked, I'd be doing so now.

Eric and Kyros are both pirates with their own ships. Pirate ships. ARRR! There is some sort of history between them which we're not privy to and I'm hopeful at some point will be addressed. Kyros seemingly has been carrying a torch for Eric for some time. What better way to demonstrate ones affection than by shooting at him and putting a huge hole in his sail? Nothing says 'I've missed you' like a hole in the sail and a middle finger.

*smh* Pirates.

Everything that happens from about 13% to 99% I can say nothing about. You should experience it for yourself. I will say most of that time I gaped like a wide mouth bass.

UNLESS it was the sexy times. Then it was more of an 'awww yeah' look.

They didn't make another step toward the bed. Eric pushed him to the wood floor, slicked himself, and staked his claim. Kyros clawed and scratched him closer, faster, harder. He bit what he could reach and cursed what he couldn't. He didn't know how to express the blinding relief flooding his veins with adrenaline.
It is violent, folks. They're pirates. Hello. I think I'm ready to take my pirate training wheels off now and brandish my own pirate sword. I do like the democratic nature of pirate society. I'm not as badass as Araceli, but a few months as a pirate and who knows?
It could happen. >___>

Sunny: Bird Meets Cage by Anyta Sunday 

Yes, I'm throwing my vote to Bird Meets Cage, too.  It was so good!

A bit melancholy, but not depressing.

Such vivid imagery...the sights, the smells, the atmosphere.

Wonderful characterization...distinct personalities, consistently shown thru actions and dialogue. Special nod to Danny, here. What an awesome character :)

So many feels...all those emotions Anyta yanked out of me, so effortlessly, it seemed, and with an economy of words.

So very romantic.

I had quotes all picked out for this review, but they are too special not to be read in the story first.

Because I also loved two other stories, I have to mention them, as well:

I chose Bird Meets Cage because of the incredible writing, but a close second for me was Into the Wastelands by Gywnn Marssen.

My review on Goodreads was overlong, so I won't post it here, but this was a fantastic story with incredible world building and wonderful characters, including a pony :)

And I'm going to add just one more favorite, because I still can't think of it without smiling...

Fleece, Fleas, and Flirtation by Ava Penn

An adorable story about Jace, a human, and Dios, a satyr. 
Caution: tail kink is present :D

Review: Born under a Blue Moon by Laura S. Fox

Ay’len and Ma’ki have been in love since they were children, but, as they grow up, they realize that their love can never be. Ay’len, although a boy, was raised together with his sisters, to learn women’s ways, far away from all the dangers boys to become men had to face. Destined to become the tribe’s next healer, his gentle soul is also destined to protect the village. Being born under a blue moon, he is considered lucky, but his luck and happiness are not his, as he must belong to the entire tribe. He needs to remain pure, away from temptations of the flesh, so he must quash the love he feels for Ma’ki and dedicate himself to a selfless existence. 

Ma’ki is a hunter and the tribe chieftain’s first born. His purpose is to carry his bloodline, by marrying and fathering children. Yet, as years go by, his love for Ay’len grows stronger. To his family’s distress, he refuses to take a wife, despite knowing that Ay’len could never be his. 

But not all tribesmen see Ay’len with good eyes and danger has a way of finding him. His androgynous appearance provokes confusion and lust, and a moment arrives when a man decides to challenge the tribe’s rules and make Ay’len his wife. Without protection, the healer is left to be devoured by a beast of a man and his lewd desires. When Ma’ki discovers that his one true love is bound to another, he realizes his entire life has been a lie. 

When rules are broken, and gods are scorned, will true love survive?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's got a mystical Native American vibe that I've not experienced since Mustang Hill by Rolf. I know quite a few people will be put off by the warning tags. I wasn't. Actually, I was anticipating something harsher than what I got. It does happen on the page, but is wasn't Bloodraven level and it's short-lived.

I don't want to go off on a huge tangent here and, in all honesty, while I was reading it didn't detract from my overall enjoyment, but since I've finished it I can't stop thinking about how the tribe made the decision to raise Ay'len female. I find this very interesting. Ay'len even asks his mother at one point as a child if he was male or female and her response was that he was "lucky". He dresses as a woman and feels more comfortable being with the women rather than hunting and gathering with the men. All of which I'm fine with, but I sure would like to know how or why the tribe decided this was the course of action to take. Perhaps it's a foregone conclusion in their culture for someone born under a blue moon.

Ay'len was born under the blue moon and chosen early on to become the next healer. His androgyny makes many distrustful and others downright ugly to him, yet somehow he maintains his benevolence. His mother says he was "made for love". Apropos. He's gentle, kind, unselfish and altruistic and he's always been in love with Ma'ki.

Ma'ki is set to be the next chieftain. His duty is to ensure his bloodline continues yet he refuses to marry and becomes increasingly bitter from denying himself his heart's desire. Ma'ki is kind of a neanderthal but I liked him. He's gruff and plain spoken and once he decides he's had enough of hiding his feelings for Ay'len, nobody is stopping him from taking Ay'len as his wife. NOBODY! YA HEAR?

The love these two have for each other is palpable and it is repeatedly tested. More than one sociopath tries to destroy Ay'len and Ma'ki. It's a beautiful love story of devotion through adversity, but it's also hopeful.

What this book does desperately need is an edit. The prose is… odd. Verb tenses are used incorrectly, words are left out, and sometimes it seems like perspectives change randomly. At times I wasn't sure if it was purposeful maybe to make the characters seem more authentic? I'm not sure, but it was jarring and jerked me out of the story more than once. 

I'm intrigued by this author and her ability to weave a tale. It's more romance than overtly explicit non-con, but enjoyable.

I'd like to thank the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Find more info on Goodreads and BookLikes.

Author of the Month Interview - K.A. Merikan

August's Author(s) of the month come to us in the lovely form of K.A. Merikan! A lot of us unicorns (Natasha, especially) are huge Merikan fans, and we couldn't be more excited to have them over at our little blog to share a bit with us, and answer some of our questions.

BMBR: If I didn't know, I would never have guessed that your books were written by a duo working together, they are seamlessly written. How does it actually work in practice?

Kat: I think the fact that we’re extremely compatible is important, but it’s also the years of experience writing together that makes it so easy for us. When you write erotica with a co-writer, you really have to be ready to bare it all and have open discussions about sex. And then another part is sense of humor. We don’t have discuss the scenes down to the little details because we find the same things funny. I don’t have to explain why ‘my’ character said this or that. We get asked if we’re sisters all the time, even though physically, we don’t look very much alike.

Agnes: Each of us is ‘responsible’ for one of the main characters, and we take turns writing other characters as needed. We always work together, in real time, and usually alternate writing a paragraph or two each. By the time we finish a first draft and both re-read it to make necessary changes, we frequently don’t even remember which one of us wrote what. This way, the whole manuscript becomes smooth.

BMBR: Who is your favourite character from your books and why?

Agnes: A character from our upcoming series, Guns n’ Boys, which premieres on 09/11/2014 with the first part of book 1. I created him years ago, and he never lost any of his appeal. Domenico is a bit like my evil alter ego as he does things I wish I could do, but restrain myself, because I am a socially competent adult. Ever wanted to do something radical when a spoiled brat kicks you on the bus while his parents pretend nothing’s going on? Well, Domenico would. God, I love him. And while he’s far from perfect as a person, he is also a total badass. He’s one of those characters with who I tune in so perfectly, I don’t have to consciously think about their responses at all. Writing him is pure pleasure.
My other favorites include Ryan and Liam from “Special Needs”, who are completely crazy, chaotic, and lovely at the same time. We keep roleplaying their conversations in everyday situations because it’s just so much fun.

Kat: This just goes to show how compatible we are ;) Domenico happens to be my favorite character as well. He’s my dream sociopathic assassin lover. I can never exactly predict what he’ll do, which makes writing his story a constant adventure. He has an extremely hot, tumultuous, and violent relationship with his partner, Seth, and on paper, that presses all my buttons.
He also taps into the part of me that enjoys dark and non-PC humor. He is unapologetically misogynistic, homophobic, rude, nationalistic, and happy to criticize the world around him. He is so outrageous in his views that I can’t help but laugh at all the awful things he says. I know not everyone will get that type of humor, but I can’t help it. I’m Polish and laughing at horrible things is my inherent nature ;). And then it gets even funnier when Domenico’s attitudes get challenged, taken down, or he gets called out on his hypocrisy. Like when he has to admit he actually likes American sweets, or has his life saved by a flamboyant gay character.
I have no problem with making fun of my own characters in their POVs, as unreliable narrators are often supposed to be funny through the dichotomy of what the readers know is true and what the character tells them. I trust my readers will understanding that my character isn’t me, and that the character’s views don’t represent mine.
Oh, and did I mention he fucks like a demon? Yeah, there’s that.

BMBR: Very important question, we need to know how you achieved the did you ever come up with the idea of making clowns HOT? Most of us (Natasha the freak excluded, mwah, love you Natasha) are scared boneless of them...yet *cough* enjoyed *cough* them in this book.

Kat: He, he, happy to hear that. I think at the core, the thing with clowns is that you can’t see their faces, so it taps into the ‘gangbanged by strangers in masks’ kink. And then there’s the freak factor of using technically innocent things like balloons or face paint in a dirty way. The aspect that Kyle gets fucked by *clowns* is an element of the humiliation kink. He’s not only getting degraded by a bunch of guys, but they’re making fun of him as well, which makes the sex all the more humiliating, something Kyle gets off on.

Agnes: I agree with Kat. Clown’d is focused on the “gangbanged by anonymous brutes” fetish. I think what makes the story sexy for the reader is Kyle’s perception of what is happening. Since it’s his POV, the reader is inclined to look at the sex scenes from his perspective and be aroused by things that arouse him. Other than that, the ‘clowns’ in this story are actually hunky guys, with good looking bodies ;D

BMBR: Who are your favourite authors? Do they influence your writing at all?

Agnes: I don’t have a favorite author, but every good book I read, whether within the genre or not, can be a source of inspiration. At the same time, some books I love are nothing like the things I want to write. My recent discovery was a het romance by Shay Savage, Transcendence. It’s a long novel written entirely from the perspective of a caveman, so the POV character’s understanding of the world is very limited, his perception on human relationships is different from what we’re used to, he can’t verbally communicate so there is virtually no dialogue, and yet the book works the way it is. It was astonishing, and made me rethink some ideas that I had previously dismissed as impossible to pull off.
The other book I found inspiring in the past year was Soulless by T. Baggins, a historical M/M novel with vampires and a touch of SF. This might sound like a recipe for disaster, but the author pulls it off. The story behind the plot is very outside the box, but as it is slowly revealed, both in the present and through flashbacks that actually make sense, everything falls into place.
Other than that, I read many factual books, both for research and for fun. Currently, it’s a monograph about Bedlam and the history of mental health care in London.

Kat: I have to admit I don’t have a favorite author either. I really like some books, and there’s always something you can learn from them, be it a way of describing something, a style of narrative, or a concept that starts spinning the cogs in my head. Lately I’ve read It Ain’t Me, Babe by Tillie Cole and absolutely loved it. It has a badass biker protagonist, who actually does bad things, and his POV is so different from the heroine’s.
I like reading other writer’s voices, but to be honest, it never makes me go ‘oh, I want to write a story like this person now!’. More often, I’m inspired with visuals, TV shows, or movies. Like I watched Sons of Anarchy and thought ‘oh, wow, I want to write a book in this style but with lots of gay sex’ (it’s always ‘lots of gay sex’ I feel the TV shows lack ;)). The way it inspires me is often about giving the book a particular theme. There’s always romance at the core of it, but I think about the genre being for example ‘a biker book’ + romance, not the other way round. It doesn’t mean the romance is just a side plot, but it means the content of the book will be anything that would fly in SoA, for example. So the love story is soaked with dubious morality, murder, internal and external conflict, and crime. I don’t feel I should pull any of that back because the book is a romance. Many readers who read biker romance love SoA, so I don’t see why they should have a problem with violence and murder in a book. *I* as a reader, don’t want a wishy-washy version of an outlaw biker book.
But why I’m talking about TV shows is also because, as a writer, you can learn some amazing storytelling from TV. Most of the time you don’t get an internal monologue from characters, so they really have to speak through their actions. That helps you learn a lot about how not to info-dump, but instead, show the characters through what they do and their dialogue. I often think to myself when I write: “Who would the camera follow?”, “What would be the focus of this scene?”

Agnes: I think Kat’s right that television and visual arts influence our style a lot. We generally dislike being too blunt in the character’s internal monologue. Most people don’t over analyze everything they do, and we believe it’s best to focus on their actions and leave them up for the reader's interpretation instead of adding thoughts that the real-life person wouldn’t consciously acknowledge.

BMBR: The XXX'd series is great fun, usually nothing too serious, and (we think, at least) meant for a rather particular niche in the m/m genre. Do the fun, easy nature of these books reflect your own personalities?

Kat: It definitely reflects my belief that kinky sex should be fun, intense, and unapologetically dirty. We want the stories to be spankalicious and not pretentiously ‘deep’. I hope they are arousing for the right audience and humorous at times. They also represent that we are very set on providing readers with entertainment. Sure, I write the stories I want to, the stories that come to me, the stories I’d like to read myself, but I consider myself an entertainer. Be it the violence in Road of No Return, the comedy in Special Needs, or the porn in XXX’d, they all hope to entertain, pull at the heartstrings and let readers relax, immersed in another reality. Just like sometimes I watch Sons of Anarchy, sometimes I feel like 2 Broke Girls, and sometimes I just feel like watching some Cockyboys ;). It’s all about what I as a viewer get from them, not about the creator’s ego, and that’s how I approach writing: I think about what I can give the reader so that it’s worth their time.

Agnes: Definitely. We don’t take ourselves too seriously so the light tone of this series is very much in tune with the overall atmosphere in our apartment. Minus the frequency of fucking ;D Those books certainly reflect our sense of humor and attitude toward sex. Just as Kat said, our priority is to entertain the reader. That doesn’t mean we don’t write about important or difficult issues, but I’d rather do it in a subtle way. The XXX’d series might not be the best example of this, but  I believe that there is much more depth in something the readers have to interpret on their own that serious prose where the important issues are handed on a silver platter with a side of angst. But to each their own, of course.

BMBR: What's the most difficult book/difficult part of a book you've ever had to write, and why?

Kat: Strangely enough, it’s not the horrible stuff like rape or violence, but when the story is too sweet. I like when sex, passion, and drama are the driving forces in a book, so it’s when the intensity fizzles out that I struggle. And you can’t just fake it and throw in some random crap. It has to be logical, make sense for the way the characters are constructed. When I’m passionate about the characters, I can feel the chemistry sizzling between them, I write like crazy, but when that gets lost, so does my interest, and every hundred words is like pulling teeth. When that happens, we always try to take a step back, identify the problem, and try to think of a way to make things exciting again.
We had a problem like that with a New Adult romance that we started writing quite a few months ago. It was set in London, with one character being an avid collector of Japanese dolls and the other a makeup artist goth who recently lost his arm. A mix of comedy and erotic romance, but the more we wrote, the more the sexual chemistry fizzled. They were really good with each other, and I can imagine these two people working really well together in real life, but that doesn’t make an interesting story for me. The drama was low key, and the sex timid and painfully vanilla. Even though we wrote quite a lot of this story and had the overall plot outlined, we had to stop and ask ourselves why it’s not working. After sleeping on it, talking it through, we decided one of the characters was just too nice. Don’t get me wrong, nice people are perfectly great in real life, but rarely make interesting stories, since they’re so kind, polite and generally understanding. Those are not traits that create conflict. Nor was that character amazingly sexy either, so we’ve reached a wall with this story. It was tough, because we have both invested so much time and energy into it, and even though it didn’t work out, we still really liked the characters.
We rarely completely abandon stories, so we were still thinking about making it work. It took over two months to arrive at the conclusion that we will actually make this premise into a straight story. Gavin, the goth makeup artist without an arm will be an incredibly interesting romance hero within a straight relationship, and his disability will create a whole different dynamic than in the gay version. Not to mention that he’s not a firefighter/cop/vet etc., which also makes him an out of the box romantic hero. And then Anna, the doll collector will be a very independent girl with her own doll painting business and a dash of crazy sauce. Taught by the experience of the first version, we also decided to spice things up on the sexual level. Anna is crazy about all things Japanese, and we gave her an extra edge with her being into all sorts of kinks that appear in hentai, like groping on the bus or schoolgirl outfit sex. Their sexual adventure and how they get to know each other on that level will be a whole extra arc on top of the love story and other elements. The variety of kinks explored will help the sexual tension going throughout the story, and they wouldn’t work the same way in the gay version.
So the tl;dr version of this ramble - I find it difficult to write romance without high sexual tension between characters, and the story I described above was one of the biggest struggles for me.

Agnes: We also struggled with a story that we ended up being very proud of, The Summer When It Snowed, for very different reasons. It was originally meant for an anthology, and we deliberately wrote it in a style different from the one we usually use, in order to comply with the desired word count and overall mood of the compilation. We usually go deep into the character’s head and try to realistically portray human emotions, but this book is written as a fairytale so it follows a different logic and doesn’t have to be psychologically accurate. While we enjoyed this new concept, it was very new, and because of that, more difficult to write. If we were to write it without the prompt of the anthology, we would had probably developed the plot more and made it darker. But since we liked the finished book as it was, there was no reason to change it just because it was different from most K.A. Merikan books :)

BMBR: Have you two always wrote together, or have you had/do you have any side projects that you work on separately?

Kat: We have been writing together for eight years now, and we hardly worked with other people since then. We wrote online serials in Polish, but even though we had to start from scratch to write in English, I’m kind of happy about it in the end because throughout the years we have developed as storytellers. One story that we’re so extremely proud of - Guns n’ Boys got reedited and revamped for the English-language version, and we get to tell it the way we want to without making it a ‘reedition’, ‘director’s cut’ or something of that sort.
I had one project before working with Agnes - with a co-writer, but I could hardly call that a proper story. It was a good experience, but extremely juvenile. What can I say, I was 16 and thought that a Catholic boarding school full of gay boys was a great idea. Rape drugs, spankings, and Milky Way spread as lube. Nuff said.
I’ve been toying with the idea of a cool lesbian romance, because Agnes isn’t interested in writing it, but somehow writing together is always more fun, and I end up putting that project to the side.

Agnes: I had a long-term co-writer before I met Kat, but it was just casual writing that we never published. We developed an extremely ‘deep’ and dramatic story about a future where people who don’t comply with societal rules are condemned to live in a city enclosed by high walls that they could never leave. The premise is something that I could work with today, but the plots were juvenile. I had this incredibly ‘original’ idea that it would be very deep if the characters always wore masks in public and could only show their faces to closest relatives and lovers. What I still like about this story is that the prison-city in many ways reflects my ideal society (minus the prison factor).
I also used to draw gay porn comics in high school. Some people draw hearts on the margins, I had whole notebooks full of dick. So obviously, eventually my Math teacher sneaked up on me and grabbed the notebook, trying to see what I was doing. We had this staring match over the notebook that each of us pulled in her own direction. It would have been a brilliant sitcom scene if she fell down on her ass after I yanked it free from her, but I’ve been scared shitless at the time ;D
At the moment? I only write with Kat and have no plans to stop, though adding one more co-writer is within the realm of possibilities.

Ladies, thank you so much for joining our little rag-tag team of misfits over at BMBR! We loved having you here and look forward to reading many more of your wonderful stories in the future.

Review: City Knight (City Knight #1) by T.A. Webb

What happens when two broken men collide?

Marcus works the streets of Atlanta, determined to keep it a safe place. An ex-cop, he buried his heart years ago. Ben works the same streets, selling himself to pay for college. The victim of a horrible crime, he decided to Just. Not. Care.

When their chance meeting leads to an unlikely attraction, will the ghosts that haunt them bring them closer, or separate them forever?

Caution: This is the first in a three part series, and you WILL want to come back for part 2. Hot men WILL have sex, and I can guarantee hot angst in my stories.

"Marcus, Marcus, Marcus, you've been holding back on me. Hiding all… that behind those old man clothes. I hope you're a top, because that," he looked down at Marcus's cock, so hard and long and thick, "has to go in me."

Word. I triple dog dare you not to drool. This little jewel that's only fifty pages packs one helluva naughty, sweltering hot and action-packed punch. How Mr. Webb always makes me believe his protags have formed a bond in so few pages continues to amaze me. 

You would think with that quote coupled with a rent boy twink that this would be PWP. Not so. Not so. City Knight is the beginning of the City Knight series which centers on Ben and Marcus *hopefully* helping each other put the pieces of their battered selves back together. They both have baggage and, it seems, that baggage came back to bite Benjamin in the ass. It does end on a cliff. Thankfully, they're all published so I can just press on to part deux of this bear/twink romance..

I've said it before but I'll say it again twinks and bears go together like… peaches and cream, PB&J, duck and fruit… ok, I'm getting weird now. You know what makes that pairing better? When the bear is growly. Marcus is one growly bear.

But, wait! The bestest thing about Marcus happens when he and Ben finally meet. He offers to take Ben to a late night waffle breakfast, Ben tells him his name and Marcus automatically starts calling him Benjamin. *nodding* THEN they get to the restaurant and the twink waiter thinks he can get a little too familiar with Marcus and gets smacked on the ass! IN THE RESTAURANT!!! HOHOHOHOHOHOHO HEHEHEHEHEHEHEHE HAHAHAHAHA!!! I see the raised eyebrows. Don't worry the kid dug it probably as much as I dug this story. T.A. Webb strikes again.

*round of applause*

Great storytelling plus hotness plus action, who can say no to that?

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Guest Review: Forgive Us (Deliver Us, #3) by Lynn Kelling

To everyone else, Trace is an enigmatic and carefully controlled Dominant. He runs Diadem, a private BDSM club and is a Master and mentor to his fellow Doms and their lovers—Gabriel, Darrek, Ben, and Kyle—while trying to be Master and lover for Micah. Trace is the one they all depend on to step in when anything or anyone threatens his closest friends.

But even Trace is in over his head when haunting events of the past endanger all their lives. Trace is forced to call on old connections for help from the world he tried to leave behind—the Master’s Circle in England. Tensions rise to a fever pitch as Trace’s hidden truths shake up the lives of everyone in his tangled, tight-knit family. (M/M+)

Reviewed by Vivian

Crazy train tries to become a daisy chain.

The runaway train is brought back under control as the insanity prevalent in the first two books in the series is dialed back. That doesn't mean there isn't the wild carousel of acts and surprise appearances; it just means the main characters aren't wielding deadly weapons against each others' mental well-being.

Enter Gray, the calm in the storm and meet Trace as you’ve never known him.

There is a series' crossover occurring with this book from Lynn Kelling's Deliver Us and Jack Pyke's Masters' Circle. Gray, Jack and Jan are the stabilizing force in chaos of Diadem. The synergy turns out well.

Gabriel and Darrek are still a mess. Events, paranoia and their own issues are driving that train.

And Micah…yeah, no big surprise that this is the implosion of the book. The total disregard for mental health counseling is upsetting beyond belief. I HATE the use of BDSM in lieu of appropriate healthcare. The situation in this book is something that required counseling and not talking about it is the problem and perpetuating the myth that the magic penis will save you is gross negligence in this instance. Honestly, the weakest point in this series for me has been that every character has been completely mental and in need of assistance and while it is addressed there is the implication that only persons suffering psychologically would be BDSM participants. If this was levied against other groups it would be chastised and as entertaining as the series maybe I'm going to call it on the mat.

What fun is in store? Wax play, sounding, electric play, medical play, whipping, strapping, and the list goes on. As usual, the raw grittiness and sensuality of the sex scenes are the highlight of the book. So plan some "Me" time when starting.

Love the scenes and their creativity and sadism, but the story itself due to the sheer wtfuckery makes me disengage at times. Before it was bed and fuck with your head roulette. Now, Gray is reaming Trace over his handling of Diadem and the boys. Gray’s running roughshot over everyone and everything. That said, there are some fun scenes as each person is run through and set straight. Lives are torn apart and pieced back together again slightly differently.

And the suspense aspect of the story is ratcheted up big time including the psychological and physical torture. Gray’s on top of everything—Everything. Let’s just say some of the three letter agencies mentioned in this seem to be a bit mixed up in regards to jurisdiction.

Overall, more of a suspense than melodramatic ending to the series, which I appreciated. Gray’s appearance in the story toned down a lot of the absolutely mental behavior and substituted it with iron-fisted Dom-ination.

And manages to end with a pretty bow on it.

Wag of the finger to Ben's endeavor at the end of the story. Something I really despise, but thankfully it was reserved for the end and was minimally distracting, but still annoying. Author commentary about writing should be saved for another venue and not within the book one is writing. I know it may not bug everyone, but it is a major pet peeve of mine.

My rating was affected by my need and hopes after reading the series that the characters would find a good place in the end and I have to admit I was satisfied. I strongly advise these books not be read individually.

Favorite quote because it shows reinsertion of sanity--Hallelujah:
“He doesn’t need your apologies. He needs you to make him feel safe.”

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Review: The Before Now and After Then by Peter Monn.

Danny Goldstein has always lived in the shadow of his identical, twin brother Sam. But when a hurricane of events forces him into the spotlight, he starts to realize that the only thing he’s truly afraid of is himself. With the help of his costume changing friend Cher, a famous gay uncle with a mysterious past of his own, two aging punk rocker parents and Rusty, the boy who will become his something to live for, Danny begins to realize that the music of the heart is truly the soundtrack for living.

A free copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review

Throughout the time I was reading this book I found it difficult to judge how I was going to rate it. I'm a very instinctive rater, I go with my heart. For me reading is about the passion it inspires, the love I feel for the story and characters, so I often know quite early on if I'm going to rate a book highly. Equally, some stories aren't for me, and these (if I'm reading for the blog) I read with an analytical eye - I try and decide why it isn't working for me, what I would have liked different, I try to be constructive, but honest. A few though leave me scratching my head. Leave me puzzling how I'm going to rate them - and this book definitely falls into that category. I'll try and explain.

As I mentioned before, I rate many books with passion - if I'm in love with a book many flaws will pass me by, I'll be completely oblivious. If I'm not in love with it I'm actively looking for the reasons why. This book though fell into neither camp. I didn't love or hate places I loved it and in places I found it annoying. The premise of Danny finding his whole self after living in the shadow of his twin for the first seventeen years of his life, whilst also dealing with the loss of his twin, his other half was promising. Mostly. I was worried about the angst level right at the start of the book, knowing the story would be shadowed by loss. I think it worked fact, if anything, I think the grief was perhaps a bit lite. I know - how can an author please me when I'm not exactly sure what I want myself.

Actually, you know what, I think that is probably a good summing up of the whole book for me...what I thought I wanted, I actually didn't. Go figure. I did love the diversity of the characters - even though I found many of them annoying. Cher particularly got right on my nerves. Didn't mean she wasn't a good character though, I just found her incredibly irritating. The super cool and understanding parents, I liked them as characters but I didn't get them as parents. I can't imagine anything worse than the death of one of my children. Maybe they are just better people than me, but my grief ...well to be honest I can't even think about it. I feel I would be more devastated than they appeared. At times we were told they were upset, but I didn't really feel it. That aside though, they were great characters - not perfect or imperfect. They just were. Alex too, the family friend, the famous, cool, gay 'Uncle'. I did like him...he actually felt more like a parent at times than the actual parents. I liked his role in Danny's life.

So, onto Danny himself and the other MC, Rusty. I suppose my biggest problem with this whole story was the insta-love. (I hate that phrase, just for the record, but it's the only one that will work here). Seventeen and within a week they'd fallen in love and had their hearts broken. At times they felt so much younger than seventeen. So. Much. Younger. To be fair, I really have to dreg my memories of being seventeen to relate...and you know what, I'm pretty sure I'd told myself I was in love several times by then, a look in ancient diaries would probably be more embarrassing than I care to admit. I wasn't stupid enough to tell the person I was dating at the time though. I think, even then, I knew the difference between love and lust. I like my characters to fall in love slowly - I don't care if insta-lust is present. Again though - is this my own prejudice, my own expectations that I'm bringing to the story? Maybe, looking at it as an adult I'm viewing it through age-tinted glasses.

I liked Rusty and Danny though. I really did - even if everything was full on and dramatic. My favourite line in the book:
""God Danny, for lots of reasons." He looked at me intently, searching for something in my eyes. "Tell me one," I whispered, feeling the tears well up in my eyes. He touched my cheek lightly. "You're kind, you're honest. You don't try to be something you're not. You're afraid but aren't afraid of letting people see it, which allows me to protect you. You smell good, like Christmas and the ocean. You're an incredible kisser. I like how awkwardly cute you look when you don't know what to say or how to act. I like how much you use the word seriously. I like how your body fits perfectly next to mine. I could fall asleep in your smile and tread water for weeks in your eyes. You have the coolest, curliest hair I've ever seen," he paused. "And you bring out something in me, something vulnerable and raw, that no one else has ever brought out in me before. I always feel like I have to be the man and take care of everything, but with you, I just get to be the boy in love...with another boy.""

I adore Rusty's honesty, his perception of Danny - and of himself - how he has observed all these small things. That he knows why he feels the way he does about this confused boyfriend of his....maybe I should change my mind about the inst-love, Rusty certainly seems to know the way he feels. The end of this phrase, "I just get to be the boy in love...with another boy." I think it gets half a star for that line alone.

The line I liked least? This one:
""Not everyone has parents who have gay best friends Danny. Parent's have to come out too.""

I detested this....this excusing of homophobic behaviour. No, no they don't have to come out. They have to love their children above and beyond anything and EVERYTHING else. They accept those children for who they are - not some mold that they feel their children should fit into. I know this is just Rusty's perception, but I hated it. It made my blood boil. I don't for one second think the author believes this...and if he does that makes me very, very sad.

So overall this book left me confused and questioning but I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. I've rated it 3.75 hearts - but I'm still not sure, maybe it is a 4.

One last word...I'm very much the odd one out here, but I love the cover. I really, really do. Though tapes are a thing of the past (I'm not quite sure where Rusty got his tape recorder from, not to mention buying actual tapes, I'm assuming they're easier to get hold of in the USA, and to be fair I've not looked for them for about a decade now) it really fits the book well and I like how different it is. I know many feel the opposite way to me though - but it definitely caught my eye.

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Review: Clown'd (XXX'd #1) by KA Merikan

--- It's clowns. It's a gangbang. It's helium balloons. ---

Some nights just don’t go as planned. It’s Halloween and Kyle’s rushing home to see his boyfriend after a late evening shift at work. As usual, he takes a shortcut through the local park, but a poster informing about a killer clown in the area makes him apprehensive about being alone in the dark. It’s only when he discovers there is a man in a clown costume following him that he panics. Soon, it turns out his cackling shadow isn’t the only circus freak hiding in the dark, but what does a bunch of crazy clowns do when they catch you?

Some nights don't go as planned?  

If the plan was, 'Let's Make Halloween Hot as Fuck', then I think the night went exactly as planned.  

Maybe just not according to what Kyle had in mind. Once he was keen to the goings on, then hell yeeeeeaaaaah, he liked the plan. 

Plans are good.

Especially plans involving gangbanging clowns with balloons. 

Kyle was being followed and captured by a coupla creepy clowns. Pretty quickly he realized that his boyfriend, Dan, was in on this and was making his fantasies come true. Even knowing that this was fantasy and that Kyle knew everything was fantasy, it was sooooooo hot. Like, I can't even express the magnitude of all the hotness. 

I think the fact that they were clowns is what made the fantasy so damn sexy. Kyle had no idea who these dudes were. He made up nicknames for them to keep 'em all straight in his head. He liked that he was being gangbanged by strangers in front of his boyfriend. I think I liked it, too.

Dan is basically awesome and a badass boyfriend to put the whole scene together for Kyle. Almost makes my heart a little mushy inside. 

Moral of this review: Clowns are, in fact, fucking sexy.

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Review: Dangerous Wish (Uniform Encounters #6) by Morticia Knight

Love is a dangerous emotion that EMT Jared won’t risk. But it looks as though a sweet and sexy National Guardsman is about to make him wish for that and much more.

EMT Jared Li loves his job, his friends and clubbing. There’s nothing like a night of fun getting glammed up, throwing on some heels and shaking his ass to the latest Britney tune. Life is all about having a good time with as many hot guys as possible.

Dan Harrison has been in the National Guard for about six months and out for not much longer than that. At twenty-two, he’s somewhat innocent, a little shy and not interested in meaningless hook-ups. One night at a Karaoke bar changes everything for him when his fellow Guardsman, Joseph, introduces him to his friend Jared. Dan’s never met anyone like the luscious twink who’s filled with so much life and laughter.

A night of passion shakes them to their very core. Jared really likes Dan, but doesn’t want to get caught up in any type of exclusive thing. Dan wishes there could be more between them, but is willing to just be friends in order to remain near the androgynous stunner.

Hanging out strictly as friends proves to be almost impossible for them both. Not only does Jared continuously lust after the muscular soldier, but he’s also falling for the caring and compassionate man. Dan’s every sex fantasy stars Jared in one of his daring club outfits, but his heart is what really matters and it’s already been lost to Jared.

A traumatic event breaks down the barriers between them and gives them the chance to be together the way they both want. But after Dan is called up by the Guard to assist at a natural disaster, the same bravery that Jared admires in Dan may be the final thing that separates them forever. 

I inhaled this book. Devoured this like a smutty little midnight snack in one sitting. NomNomNom. It was De-lish.  

We've got Dan, who just came out and doesn't have much experience in the gay dating scene. His friend Joseph, sets him up with Jared to hang out. Not to date, but to just hang out and to help Dan feel more comfortable in his skin. 

Why Joseph thought that Dan could resist a tasty morsel like Jared... I've not a clue. I don't think anybody could resist Jared. 'Cause, damn

I'm already lovin' Jared with his sassyness, confidence and general awesomeness. 

Then this:
"He wanted to get glammed out-do up his face, pour himself into a pair of tight pants to shake his ass in, and maybe rock some heels."

He's basically sex on legs. In heels. Guy's hot.

Besides all that, I just adored his relationship with Dan. They had their one-night together, but then developed the most amazing friendship. They fit together perfectly and I loved how they took care of each other. 

Yeah, they were morons for a good part of the book. They could have been together much sooner if they'd have just talked. But, I think I liked it this way because their friendship was so amazing. I don't think it would have been the same if they turned into something more sooner than they did.

I'm not much of a suspense lover, so the end wasn't my thing. I could have done without it, I think they would have been in the same place in their relationship even if the disaster hadn't occurred.

Definitely hot, also sweet, a little bit fluffy and just a great, easy read.

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