Unicorn Favorites: Love's Landscapes Stories : Week Fourteen

The M/M Romance Group on Goodreads hosts a Don't Read in the Closet event each year where they invite members to submit a photo with a story prompt.  Interested authors then volunteer to write the requested stories, which are published for free for everyone to read.  It's a fun/exciting/stressful process, and a great opportunity to read stories from favorite authors.  And chances are, you'll also discover some new authors, who hopefully have a backlist of goodies to check out :)

This year's event was named Love's Landscapes and they started releasing the completed stories on June first. Here at BMBR, we've been following along on comment threads, anticipating the stories from our favorite prompts, and now greedily reading the stories as they become available.

You can read about some of our favorite stories from earlier weeks of the event here.  And some of our favorites from the fourteenth week of the event, August 31- September 6, are below.

Ann: Billie Jean by Al Stewart and Claire Davis

Sometimes you read a story and you feel that two characters absolutely have to be together. Anything else just isn't an option, this is one of those stories. Niall and Dan couldn't be more different, except the fact that neither of them are so good with the words. BUT, half the time they really didn't even need them because they really got each other. Dan especially. It didn't read as contrived though, I totally bought that Dan could read Niall when it mattered most.

Niall is so charming and sweet in his wanna be diva ways. He really isn't a diva, but he plays it up mildly for Dan's amusement and to cover up past hurts. The fact that he's a shoe whore much like myself I could completely get behind Niall. The story had me at "he fucked me into heaven and saved my shoes". Dan's basically my dream man, so I really feel I only need to say, "Yeah, he's Dan" and be done there. He's protective and growly and shy and sweet and perpetually horny for Niall and I loved him.

The lingerie worked SO well for these two and it's obvious their adventures are just starting out which makes me happy.

A really fun and charming read with really memorable characters. Thanks to Al and Claire for the story!

Lorix: Bromance to Romance by Elizabeth Daniels
4.5 hearts. Actually, d'ya know what..Drew & Dan are in my head again & I keep thinking about little bits of the conversations and story. So I'm putting that extra half a heart back. 

I loved this. Yep - once again I was lucky enough to beta read and I'm trying to be as objective as I can in this review.

This is Elizabeth's second prompt - and she is the third one to claim this particular one. Third time lucky IMO!!

Elizabeth Daniels has a way of putting words together that I just adore. It's like she gets inside the characters, she isn't just writing them, she really, really understands them. From what they're wearing to how they think and feel, everything is the character's choice, not the writer's.

Dan and Drew - oh these two. You ever want to slap someone and say, look at what is right in front of you...yep. *nods head* THESE two!! I have to say, Ms Daniels makes the wait worth it. And we get a tease... He gave Dan their usual kiss goodnight: one kiss on the forehead and one kiss on each cheek, but Drew didn't stop there. He kissed his way from Dan’s cheek and along his jaw until he came to a pair of slightly parted lips that he had to taste. I mean UNGH, right?

I love her secondary characters. In fact good secondary characters are a weakness of mine, and even in their brief appearances I feel each person we meet has their own story to tell. Noah from The Backdoor for example. He's there for a few paragraphs and I already want to know his story!

This story isn't in your face sexy, but it is sexy. The kind of sexy that comes with good friends and longing and love. I'm getting shivers just thinking about it! As much as I like a good shag in my reading (I feel I've said this before recently, sorry) sometimes I really love NOT having it in a story. Sometimes the story doesn't need it. Sometimes it is much sexier without. IMO!!

I'm rambling, I know I am. I don't want to spoil this story. I really hope you all enjoy it as much as I have. I know I'll be re-reading it when I want a friends-to-more book (it is my favourite trope!).

Thank you for not one, but two (amazing) stories Elizabeth!!

 ETA -the phone sex. How could I have forgotten to mention his. Hot phone call is HOT. Way, way hot. Squirm in your seat hot. Me likey!

SheReadsALot: Assassin's Love by Sammy Goode

This story is a gem in the rough.

"Assassin's Love" delivers quite the premise, the good bits and the rough bits. My rating is 3.75 due on the author following the prompt quite excellently, staying true in form enough for a history nerd such as myself and giving a great snack.

Sadly, this story is a snack and not the full course meal it should have been.

The first quarter smoothly ensnares with a story about a mute little boy named Miles. I ached for Miles and his horrible life. The author captures his innocence and jadedness from his nine year old eyes very well. (I can't stand adult-like kids) Now if the story held that tone it drop kicked me with into the feelz territory, I would be stealing everyone's stars and ratings to stuff this review.

The story progresses nearly a decade later, Miles was taken at nine by the evil earl of Wessex, trained and beaten into an assassin, newly dubbed "The Shadow". He's a silent killer. This I loved. Gimme a dagger wielding, sword swinging assassin over a gun toting bad boy ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.

The story carries a good story line with Miles/Shadow killing at the evil earl's will. During one of his assignments, he meets eyes with Sir Anthony, a Duke's heir. Cut to a year later, both men still are intrigued with one another. Sadly the earl is evil and wants Sir Anthony out of the picture. Guess who he employs?

The story has romance. Some nice words to convey what the men feel.

"Without uttering a word, your eyes and touch still speak volumes to me. You and I will learn each other’s ways. We will take delight in finding each place that gives pleasure and builds to release. You are mine now, as I am yours."

BUT...there is not enough time given to the men for me to fully believe it. I mean MANTEARS so quickly? You can argue it's because Miles can't express his feelings verbally but I expect a teen who has had a shitty existence- ridiculed, tormented and beaten to be a little harder to crack. Someone fell to their knees too quickly and declared their feelings in haste. Instalove in hosen.

Do the main characters belong together? Yes.

But they needed more story length for me to believe it. It read rushed. I can't ignore it even if the setting gave the tingles or the premise made my heart smile.

I can't rate this 3.5 in good conscience because I can see the author's work and attention to detail in some aspects. It reads good.

I just wish there was enough length of time to make me 100% believe these boys. I'm swimming in the 85-90% mark.

So gem in the rough, you see.

Group Review: A Need for Heroes by James Cox (The Triple Towers #3)

Welcome to the new world.

Lorn is now the president of the Triple Towers. With the help of his lover Kallen, they discovered a traitor and survived an exile in the wastrel camps.

Now, comes the biggest challenge of their lives.

There are dark forces trying to tear the two men apart. Together they must thwart assassination attempts, kidnappings, but still find time to bond sexually in a variety of new positions and places. However, secrets are festering that threaten not only the safety in the triple towers but the lives of two soul mates.

The new world has a need for heroes but will it cost Lorn and Kallen their lives?

Be Warned: m/m sex, menage sex (MMMM), rimming, bondage

As per usual, we have to take a moment to honor the warning.

Go ahead, read it again.

“Warning” = “Welcome” in the clubhouse and we welcome ALL the things in the warning for A Need for Heroes. The only real disappointment that happens when reading a James Cox story is the fact that this stuff isn’t real. Unfortunately the Unicorn Crew will not be crashing a bonding ceremony like Lorn and Kallen’s. We can’t buy the magical blue gel at our local drug store and/or sex shop, and there isn’t a lace cock leash to be found anywhere in the clubhouse. Seriously, if y’all could see the shopping wish list we have hanging on the clubhouse fridge you would be scandalized, titillated and really quite impressed. A LOT of what is on that list comes from James Cox’s books. A Need for Heroes is no exception and please read on to get the BMBR take on Lorn and Kallen, blue gel and lace cock leashes - ENJOY!

I know we did.

Breann  - "Who the hell keeps taking the blue gel?!?!?!"

3.5 Hearts

I'm going to be super predictable right now.

OMG. There were leashes. And not just any leash. No. A leash with lace. With lace that wraps around a penis.


What's up with that blue gel? And where can I acquire some? It seems it would be... ahem... handy.

Of course, there are sexy shenanigans with all sorts of toys/contraptions/what have you. It's what James Cox does and we love him for it.

More development with Lorn's presidency would have really helped this feel like the end of a trilogy with definite closure. Everything was rushed and very easily solved. Some more conflict would have been fantastic. I get that that is erotic, but I really love the dystopian/sci-fi part of this series. I think this world could be turned into a long series with full length novels. The Triple Towers are just that intriguing.

Also, what about Rohan?! I'd love to know more about him...

Ann - "Shall we go with the white lace or black lace today? Hmmmmm"

4.5 Hearts

Firstly, I’m going to take all the stars in the cosmos and throw them at the bonding ceremony, the required dress and the scene right after. I could probably stop there but then I wouldn’t be able to talk about the patented “Cox Sentence Magic” and two of my favorite all time characters, Lorn and Kallen.

Lorn and Kallen are back with all the sexy snark and adventure we’ve come to expect. They are well on their way to their HEA, but there are the bothersome interruptions of assassination attempts and trying to bring a nation back together that get in the way of their sexy times. Just minor things on the new president’s to-do list. But, Lorn has Kallen at his side and is feeling pretty invincible because of it. I thought all those moments were just too sweet. Lorn was attempting to change a nation, and Kallen gave him such confidence. At the same time Kallen was just so proud of Lorn and everything he was trying to do.

Review Intermission for aforementioned Sentence Magic:

“Love had taken hold of his cock, with both hands apparently.”

“Lorn would die before he let anyone touch this funny, sweet, caring wastrel that had a filthy mouth and a beautiful dick.”

Lorn and Kallen are taking the next step in their relationship with the bonding ceremony. Kallen is both excited and horrified. He’s not worried about bonding himself to Lorn forever, but he’s not so sure about the ceremony itself. Thankfully Lorn is and so was I! They each have to wear the “circle of honesty” around their dicks which basically equates to a lace cock ring with a leash. Who doesn’t want to see that? I dare say no one I associate with. I’m also left a little peeved this isn’t a real thing. The scene that follows is dirty and sweet, just as expected from these two.

The only thing I wouldn’t mind more of is the story of how the Triple Towers and Wastrels come together and more of the secondary characters. James is very creative with his world building and offers up a great story to go along with the main characters and the epic sexy times. I would love to read more of it, more of Rohan, more of Donton and more of Miles (that guy deserves a party in his pants with all the pressure I’m sure he’s been under).

I think Kallen speaks for quite a few men when he says:

“His cock was the essence of his soul, the pathway to his heart and happiness.”

Sing it my friend, sing it loud and sing it proud.

Lori - "I really do prefer chocolate cum with my biscuits."

3.5 Porny, Porny Hearts

Hey, the more cum the better. That was Kallen's motto, well, if he had a motto, that's what it would be. Probably.

Yeah, so this quote plus the fact the bonding ceremony requires the participants to be naked with a lace lead around their cocks kinda sums up this story.

It was porny, it was fun and it was pure JC. That's James Cox to you guys, as he's virtually a unicorn, we take liberties. It was just sixty pages of hotness wrapped up in the guise of a sci-fi/futuristic story. I liked the three towers series, for all the reasons. My only quibble with this story...Kallen prefers normal flavoured cum, to chocolate flavoured cum. That's just not right. ;)

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

Review: (Watch Me) Break You (Run This Town, #1) by Avril Ashton

They’re in a war for control of the streets, but love will be the ultimate prize.

Here comes trouble…

Men. Women. Drugs. Dima Zhirkov’s favorite things. Add in the element of danger and he should be right as rain. But not today. It’s not working, hasn’t for a long time. He’s grasping at the flimsiest of straws to prove he’s indeed strong enough to run his streets. Until he sets eyes on him. In the midst of a room full of strangers, Dima is drawn to a man as cold and dangerous as he’s beautiful. Captivated, Dima embarks on a ruthless campaign to get his new toy into bed.

Here comes the danger…

Xavier “X” Storm is content to pull the strings while someone else handles the day to day dealings of his gang, The Rude Boys. He’s after what Dima holds closest—the Coney Island streets. He contracts out the job of killing the Russian, except Dima isn’t that easy to kill. When he suddenly shows up in X’s path, tempting him to indulge in the dirtiest play, he finds Dima isn’t all that easy to shake, either. His cocky attitude and rough submission tempts X to go where he’d vowed to never return, and they plunge head first into an affair fueled by possessive obsession.

Run for cover

Sex and pain Dima can handle, and X delivers the most depraved kind. Their connection is explosive, their games addictive, but Dima can end it whenever he wishes. He doesn’t see that X is breaking him down, giving Dima everything he wants and even more than he ever thought to need. By the time he realizes who X is and what he wants, Dima is raw and bullet-riddled. It’s run or fight. And Dima doesn’t back down. Neither does X.

Warning: Includes strong BDSM elements, and reference to rape and sexual abuse.

What I'd really like to do is yell at you. Yell at you about this book and why it is deliciously filthy and does not care what you think about it. But I can't do that.

How can you not sing this song with the title and setting? Impossible!

This book hits a LOT of my FUCK YES buttons: kinky, interracial romance, crime, blood, cumeating, raunchiness, Russians, Jamaicans, crazy, possessive main characters that will do anything to get their man back, NYC (that's right - there's more to NYC than Manhattan), rimming, tons of stuff!

Give me a criminal any day in my romance! Glorious. It was smutty and fantab. If I had to describe this book take Avril's Brooklyn Sinners series and Mine by Mary Calmes, let them mate and turn up the intensity, so much that you might need to buy ice for your pants. That's "(Watch Me) Break You"in a nutshell.

Dima is the Russian head of a gang he didn't want but has to run in Brooklyn. He has people trying to kill him from different factions, a rival gang trying to take over his turf and he can't be with the one he wants because he left him. All the alcohol, drugs and orgies can't help fill the emptiness inside him. Until he sets his eye on Xavier/ X whipping another submissive in mid scene at BDSM club. Dima gets what he wants, any means necessary. And this starts the twisty, roller coaster ride of stalk, pain, wild sex, possessiveness and violence.

What a ride!

Is it for everyone? NO! Read the blurb, heed the warning. There are non-con moments. Let me add one more too, if you're a BDSM stickler, this might not be one for you. There is BDSM practiced but it's not textbook or filled with contracts/ negotiations. Kinky? Oh yes, this was. What to expect? Well someone loves the pain - whips, belts, breath play, gun play, dildos and butt plug to name a few. The gangsters are street, not the smooth nice guys. You're getting a loose trigger with Dima and X.

X hides who he is from Dima, the lies and the violence keeps piling up. And the boys get pretty cray-cray over one another. The crazy things we do out of love, huh?

Sometimes it read more like a drama or a script instead of real life characters. The main characters did repeat their sentiments a lot for emphasis but I got the point the first time. And even I questioned one SM scene between X and Dima, you shouldn't practice while in anger. But those two are so damn twisted, I won't harp on it. This author can rock a sex scene, there's no denying that. I still have wafts of steam rising from my body. There is some action, more criminal activity and sometimes the reality suspension button had to be pushed.

Is it dark? I've read some pretty sick and dark things, so my scale might be warped compared to yours. On a scale for 1-5, 1 being the lowest and 5 is the things that will leave your soul scarred, this book is a 3. It's more stalking/crazed/sadistic than dark to me. There are guessable plot twists but you know what, the book is serious hot. If you don't look to deeply and let the flames embrace you from the hotness that is X and Dima, you have one entertaining read.

The story ends with a HEA, where at one point I seriously did not see happening. But it is Avril Ashton, she likes making her boys work from their happy ending. (BK Sinners fans we get a little visit from a Sinners couple!)

CAN'T WAIT FOR THE NEXT BOOK, THE BLURB AT THE END HAS ONLY WHET MY APPETITE FOR MORE!!!!! I will probably need to read it in a freezer with the fire this author's writing can produce. 
Find more information on Goodreads or Booklikes!

Review: House of Stone by Vaughn R. Demont

A modern knight, a noble quest, and a magical sword. What could go wrong?

Welcome to the City, where gods run nightclubs, goblins hire out as mercs, sorcerers work their magic, the Fae hold court over every neighborhood…and humanity is blissfully ignorant of it all.

For minor Fae noble Richard Stone, life is going well. He has a decent fiefdom (okay, it’s a slum), a budding acting career (okay, so it’s porn), and one of only five magical swords in the City. An arranged marriage is barely a blip on his worry meter—until his family blade loses its magic. The shame of it puts his noble standing in jeopardy.

To regain his status, Richard needs help. Fortunately, his new bride is a sidhe knight and his servant Simaron has, er, his back. Together they embark on a quest to find the demon who slew his father, investigate a conspiracy that goes to the highest echelons of Fae nobility, and discover a secret family legacy that could ruin his House.

All while keeping up appearances to a society that demands perfection. And they say a noble’s life is easy…

Warning: This book contains explicit gay sex, not-so-explicit gay sex, explicitly implied gay sex, routine breaking of the fourth wall, occasional bouts of Pearl Jam fanboy-ism, and plot. Side effects include confusion and headaches, and are best avoided by reading the pages therein in numerical order.

While Vaughn Demont is September's Author of the Month, these are not new reviews.  No, they're better.  What you are about to see is a couple of fangirl squeesplosions.  Unicorn twins Jenni Lea and Sunny Lea love this book so much they decided they JUST HAD TO re-read it.

Announcing Her Grace, Duchess Anastasia Gwendolyn Rebecca Sunny Glitterhorn, Lady of the House of Sunshine, Keeper of the Stable Lists, Protector of the BMBR Schedule, Guardian of the Neighborhood Garbage Bins and Wielder of the Almighty Spanking Ruler:

Take one minor Fae noble who also happens to be a snarky (and ginger!) porn star and one ever so proper, half blood manservant, throw in some intrigue, and you get a crazy, fun filled, sexy adventure with moments of nail biting suspense.  Incredibly entertaining, reminiscent of Month Python or Mel Brooks, but darker and more intense.

I have to start with the characters because they made the story for me.  Richard and Sim were so well drawn, and with such distinctive personalities, I couldn't get enough of them.  Their complex relationship was full of humor, and a sweet devotion to each other.  I loved every bit of it.

The world building was also well done, with so many great details.  I admit there were moments I got a little lost in all those details, though. Part of the confusion was probably due to Richard being the one who shared the information. He tended to ramble, and sometimes threw out facts without full explanation, leaving the reader to try fitting it all in to the existing framework.

The story, though! What a story!  A unique and intricate plot containing surprising twists and turns.  Definitely a rollercoaster of a ride.  As things came together, you could see the genius of it all.  I loved the intrigue and how everything played out.  It was so intense!  Especially the climax. 

Me, during said climax: "OMG! OMG! OMG!"


*bows to Mr. Demont*

Also announcing Her Grace, Duchess Ariana Kathryn Josephine Jenni Lea Fuschiamane, Lady of the House of Knots, Champion of the Pregnant Males, Defender of the Shifters, Warden of the Stable Boys and Guardian of Her Two Front Teeth:

That was fantastic! A perfect balance of action, adventure, drama, romance and humor. Exquisitely detailed, the complexities of the story made my heart leap whenever I discovered yet another twist in the plot. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire book.   

Vaughn Demont put so much depth into this story that I felt as though I was actually there.  I think that stems from his complete and total mastery of the fourth wall.  Rarely have I read a book that knows how to break through that fourth wall correctly.  He makes it feel as though you're not reading the story but that the main character is relating it to you as he stands next to you.  Now that's talent! 

And such details!  I could see everything, hear everything.  I had such a clear picture in my mind.whilst reading.

And the best part (for me, at least) is all the humor and emotions that are infused in the story.  Oh, the feels!  Mr. Demont certainly has a firm grasp on how it feels to love. *sigh*

I recommend this book to anyone out there that is looking for a wild adventure filled with hope, betrayal, swordplay, car crashes, secrets and fun.  Read it people!  This is my decree. 

Review: Siren by Suki Fleet

Grey’s greatest fantasy involves a fairy, but not just any fairy—it has to be Siren.

Only problem is, Si can be too complicated for his own good sometimes.

Suki Fleet is a new-to-me author, I've recently read, loved, and pushed on everyone I know, her book This Is Not a Love Story. I also read and loved her Love's Landscapes entry this year, Metronomy,(though I'm HOPING it's part of a longer story to come). So when a request to read and review her new FREE short, I was all grabby hands for it.

Siren is a hot short about a man and the faery he wants. They are already friends but he wants more. And boy does he - and us - get more.

This book is steamy, it's yummy - it's short. I enjoyed every second I spent reading it...I'm hoping these characters are going to be part of something bigger. This short was wonderful, but the characters are too good to let go. There were too many unanswered questions - or maybe, introduced mysteries is a better way of putting it - that I wanted to know about. If this is a teaser for a longer story it's done it's job, I want to know all about Si and Grey.

Why has Siren no longer got any wings? What happened to him? How does Grey know Si...know what Si is? Does anyone else know? So many questions!

Suki Fleet really knows how to draw readers into a story.She gives you characters to care about and a beautiful way with words. I'm going to haunt this author's works because I feel that she is going to become an auto-buy author for me.

To find out more, check out Goodreads.

A copy of this story was sent in for review - it is however, free to everyone, so give it a go, you have nothing to lose!

Review: Taking Stock by Barbara Elsborg

"Her last days on Earth could be out of this world."

Zoe has accepted that a brain tumor will make this Christmas her last. She plans to spend it in the Caribbean, hoping some gorgeous guy will scoop her off the beach for a passionate affair, a one-night stand anything just to be held and wanted.

When she discovers horror of horrors she has no unread books for the plane trip, she heads out for an early-hours run to good old 24/7 Supa-Mart.

Rowe's and Kai's lives are so regulated by their home planet's equivalent of Big Brother they even have to hide their thoughts. Not easy when a secret attraction exists between them. When they're chosen for an off-world reality show involving unsuspecting humans, they jump at this no-rules chance to open their hearts.

When the giant store's exits clang shut, trapping Zoe and several others inside including two impossibly sexy guys Zoe figures she won't need a beach for a no-strings romance. But it doesn't take long for her to realize she could be facing the end of her short future sooner than she expected.

Warning: This book contains two hot aliens with interesting anatomy, one lucky human heroine, zero-gravity menage sex, male-male tongue worship, and all the toys one super store can provide.

Okay, okay I know what you’re thinking.  You saw the blurb where the first word is “her”.  Yes, you read that right so I’m just gonna go ahead and warn you now.

There are girl parts in this book.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me tell you about this book.  

Have you ever been shopping at your local Wal-Mart and thought, “You know, one could actually live in this store.”?  Yeah?  Well so did a bunch of aliens from another planet.  So much so they decided to create a reality television show based on this very thing.

Our first MC, Zoe is a 27 year old schoolteacher who has only three months to live.  You see, she found out recently she has an inoperable brain tumor.  Zoe, being one who never gets into trouble, never takes risks or strays outside the norm, decides to have one last hurrah and books a trip to a tropical paradise for Christmas.  She plans to relax on the beach, soak up some sun and possibly have one last fling before she dies.  Finding at the last minute that she doesn’t have anything to read on the plane she runs out to her local Supa-Mart to pick up a trashy romance novel at three o’clock in the morning.  Just a quick in and out and she’ll be back at home ready to leave for her trip.   
Yeah, right.

Enter Kai and Rowe. They’ve been best friends since they were kids.  Consummate party boys.  Rowe is a big wig and Kai is his right hand man.  Oh, and they’re also aliens.  They’ve been sent by their producer to ‘play human’ in the newest reality show that has been sweeping their planet.  But they have each been harboring a secret love for the other.  Will Kai ever tell Rowe that he secretly wants in his pants but was afraid he was beneath Rowe’s station so he never tried?  Will Rowe ever tell Kai that he’s been secretly in love with him since they were just boys?  Stay tuned to find out.

This book was chock full of delightful surprises.  Seeing as how I’ve loved other books by Ms. Elsborg I expected to enjoy this one as well.  What I didn’t expect to get was a book that might as well have been titled ‘Written Exclusively for Jenni Lea’.  It had everything I like in a book.  EVERYTHING.  I had such a huge grin on my face the entire time I was reading - even during the girl parts!  Because let me just tell you, even though I had to endure reading about girly bits Ms. Elsborg more than made up for it with the anatomy lessons.  I mean, the things those aliens can do with their cocks… MA GAWD!

This is such a fun story!  It’s an easy and enjoyable read.  There’s action, adventure, and quite a bit of humor as well.  It also has the most creative form of ‘knotting’ I’ve ever read.  Plus!  It has the one thing I love more than knotting.  Can you guess what that is?

For those of you who are worried this is not a true MMF, worry no more.  While it is quite heavy on the female parts, there’s tons of hot man on man lovin’.  Barbara did not disappoint!  

So, take a chance on this one.  Don’t let those girl parts scare you off.  You’ll miss out on a fun and exciting story if you do.

Highly recommend.

Review: A Forbidden Rumspringa (Gay Amish #1) by Keira Andrews

When two young Amish men find love, will they risk losing everything?

In a world where every detail of life—down to the width of a hat brim—is dictated by God and the all-powerful rules of the community, two men dare to imagine a different way. At 18, Isaac Byler knows little outside the strict Amish settlement of Zebulon, Minnesota, where there is no rumspringa for exploration beyond the boundaries of their insular world. Isaac knows he’ll have to officially join the church and find a wife before too long, but he yearns for something else—something he can’t name.

Dark tragedy has left carpenter David Lantz alone to support his mother and sisters, and he can’t put off joining the church any longer. But when he takes on Isaac as an apprentice, their attraction grows amid the sweat and sawdust. David shares his sinful secrets, and he and Isaac struggle to reconcile their shocking desires with their commitment to faith, family and community.

Now that they’ve found each other, are they willing to lose it all?

Simply wonderful.

I was so worried this would be overly angsty for no other reason than it would be easy to do so.

But, no. 

No, this was about Issac's journey to finding his own happiness. Taking his own rumspringa, regardless of the strict rules that govern his life.

When Issac is first assigned to be an apprentice for David he knew it was a bad idea. He knew being around David would worsen his already sinful thoughts about the other boy. As they continued to work together, Issac realized that his attraction may be reciprocated. 

Even though they both realized that they liked each other in that way, they couldn't risk it.  They danced around each other, a touch here and there, until finally... 


*really bad explosion sound effects*

"Issac waited for the horror of what they'd done to reach him-to grip his soul in terror. Yet as they kissed and breathed each other in, sticky and sated with the oaks standing sentinal, Issac felt only a peace and wholeness he hadn't realized he'd been missing.

That it was a sin, he had no doubt. But it was the sweetest sin he'd ever known."

Coulda been the hottest frottage scene ever. I'm pretty sure it was. Their exploration of each other was worth the wait. Don't let the Amish theme fool you. David did done his research in the ways of sexytimes. He did good research. Mmmhmm. They didn't let their innocence hold them back at all. Even still, they were pretty clueless about relationships in general and learned how to love together.  
"'We don't have to do anything else if you don't want to.'

Issac took a deep breath. 'But I do. I want it so much.'

'So do I.' David kissed him softly. 'Touching you feels right. It feels... beautiful. It makes me so happy, Issac. If it's a sin, then I'll gladly call myself a sinner.'"
*dreamy sigh* Issac and David totally captured my heart and would not let go.

The weight they had to carry because of their feelings seemed almost unbearable. What they had to go through was heartbreaking. But I was so glad that they did it anyway and that I was able to be a witness. Ack. I'm such a goner for them.
"David had drawn his fingertips down Issac's cheek. 'This will be our own little rumspringa. They never have to know.'"
The fact that they had to hide completely was gut wrenching. It's not just them that would be made to suffer, but their families as well. Neither boy was willing to do that. Even though they risked everything for each other, they still put their families above themselves. Even in the end, they tried to be as selfless as they could.

I don't know anything about Amish culture. So, I can't say if the way they were depicted in The Forbidden Rumspringa was accurate. But I can say that it felt real. Every scene with their families felt genuine. Every interaction between the characters felt like it really could be happening. Hell, it felt like it was happening.

And the ending. I couldn't believe that the words on that next page were THE END. I'm pretty sure there was yelling involved, especially when I saw '2015', which feels like an eternity away. So, I went back. (I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who does this, right?) I went back to the last page and reread it over and over again. I wanted to make sure I soaked up everything I could about David and Issac and what they are about to embark on. The end was completely satisfying while making me completely crazy with wanting more. 

I'm so glad their story isn't over yet.

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

 Find out more info on Goodreads and BookLikes!

Review: Holding on to Hope by Sid Love

Bradley Parker has waited twenty years for Mr. Right, and on Valentine’s Day, he finally finds him. It’s love at first sight, and Brad even loses his virginity to the man of his dreams. But when he wakes up the next morning unable to remember anything—even what the man looked like—his best friend, Leslie, is convinced he imagined the whole thing. Brad knows he didn’t make up the best night of his life, but he has no idea of the danger he’s putting himself in as he struggles to recall the details of his perfect man. His search may lead him to parts of New York City he never dreamed existed and a war being waged in the shadows.

So, this book is pretty unique. The cover isn't the only part of this story that's very green--that author's writing could also be labelled as such. It's hard to describe because I feel like it was written by a very new author, and I can see potential. I mean, everyone starts somewhere. I look back on the things I've designed in college and cringe. Terrible. That being said, I think the ideas and the bones of this book were quite unique and interesting, but the execution needs some work. Still, I'm giving this book 2.5 stars, which really ain't bad, because I can see a lot of potential.

The POV is odd in this story. It's from Leslie, the annoying, terrible best friend's POV. I didn't like her. I found her to be self involved to a disturbing manner, and the things she did were annoying, but just because I didn't like her, didn't mean I reflected that in my rating. 

Our MC, Brad, is forced to forget about his sexy encounter(s) with the man of his dreams. Without spoiling the plot, it basically reads like the story is going to be contemporary, then you get a hint of mystery/thriller, perhaps, then straight onto paranormal. This didn't bother me. In fact, I thought it was pretty unique. I'd still read more from this author in the future, because I feel like if he worked on some of the foundations of engaging writing (which comes with practice), the unique concepts he could come up with may be very cool.

The romance was a little wavy, for me, and the characters were all kind of bland. Everyone just fit too much into a stereotype. That being said, I had to keep reading it because it was so bizarre. I literally had no idea what was going to happen. I knew how each character would act given each situation, but I didn't know the situations.

*sigh* Dreamspinner editors. Sometimes I read things from Dreamspinner and wonder if an editor was involved at all in the process. I mean, for content editing. I feel like this story could've become much better with some content editing, perhaps. Maybe a beta-read or two more than this book had, prior to submission.

Regardless. I think this book was pretty okay, and I think this author has some potential, especially in the M/M Paranormal genre. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I think the bones of this story were quite refreshing.

Find more book information on Goodreads!

Review: The Knife of Narcissus III by Carolyne Chand

Lucius Sentius had always assumed the debauched and corrupt days of Nero were over. He was wrong. Being celibate and sober may be good for the reputation, but it’s a dead-end path for an ambitious Roman looking to rise to wealth and power in the city.

His friendship with the man he loves has been broken by the flare of passion between them, his wife has a better command of his household than he does, and gossip around the city about his hedonistic lifestyle is growing faster than any actual attempt to be wanton. When his new brother-in-law hires him to take on a mysterious task for a powerful, unidentified patron that requires someone willing to set aside all scruples, Lucius throws himself into a chance to prove his worth.

It’s enough to make a man turn to the gods for help. In Lucius’s case, the one goddess who seems to listen—to the right sort of worship—is Venus….

Building Block Episode, Folks.

I don't know why I'm calling them episodes. Just humor me.

If you've not read the first two it's probably a good idea to step away now. 

Lucius is fumbling throughout this episode, trying to figure out what prompted Trio to bolt and coming up with very few answers. After they did the deed (and during) in II some warning signals went off that something was amiss. I had a feeling that Lucius seems to realize as well during this episode, and let's just say what's good for the goose is not good for the other goose in Lucius' opinion. What's a wealthy Roman to do without his beloved? This is Lucius we're talking about so… 

I like him. I really really like him. Trio leaving has vexed him. Trio absconds to the country and is MIA in this episode. Lucius tries celibacy but he is not cut out for it. He's just not. Dude likes to get his groove on and everyone wants in his toga. It's a public service he's performing. Really it is. Besides Venus told him to! You shouldn't go against a Goddess. Bad things could happen. Very bad.

He also decides he's going to get in shape to increase his wooing chances when Trio returns and meets a former gladiator. Close. I'm getting closer to MORE GLADIATORS gladiating!!!!! His trainer, the gladiator, his new regimen are all very amusing as are his discussions with himself. My ¢2 are Lucius needs to go into politics. He can rationalize just about anything. This skill likely will come into play soon with this mysterious shipment for the brother in law out of Alexandria not to mention retooling his reputation. Seems word is out on the cobblestones that Lucius plays on his side of the fence ONLY. 

Lucius ain't going down that pigeon hole like that! It's on like Sean. Pretty sure things are about to get interesting in the Lucius household.

I liked this episode but I wanted more insight into why Velleia treats Lucius with seemingly such contempt. I have a few working theories which are all just conjecture at this point. I'm still thoroughly invested in this series and would recommend to Roman enthusiasts. If you're going in, it's in for a penny, in for a pound.

I would like to thank the author for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Find out more on Goodreads

Blog Tour: Duck Duck Ghost by Rhys Ford

SQUEE!  Look who's joined us in the clubhouse today!  It's everyone's (or at least Jenni Lea's) favorite author Rhys Ford!  She comes bearing gifts and a look into the lives of our newest favorite couple, Wolf and Tristan.  Welcome Rhys!

Hey! I am Rhys Ford… speaking to you in my own… okay that doesn’t work. Does anyone else remember Don Carnage!? He’s speaking at you in his own voice! Ah, the esoteric memories. You’ll probably want to skip this part during the next few…*coffs*…okay, over a dozen blogs as I parcel out a short tale featuring Wolf and Tristan!

Welcome to a Hellsinger Investigation!

There will be prizes and giveaways. Be sure to hit up each blog for an update on the investigation. I have brought in for this tale of ghosts and shenanigans two special prizes (well many of them…but two!). You might have seen them already; a pair of cuddly alpaca and a braided leather Wolf sigil bracelet. You’ll be able to win one or both at each stop with a Grand Prize to be given away at the end of the tour.

The giveaway for this spot is: A Pair of Alpaca and a Wolf Sigil bracelet

 Leave a comment to enter to win!

Hellsinger Investigations
File #241

Residence: Hazel Maplethorn-Bocker
Paranormal Activity: Objects Relocating
Location: Eureka, CA

The residence is occupied by Ms. M-B and ten cats. Client is retired school-teacher and has no history of psychic or paranormal activity either personal or in residence. Residence is 1940s bungalow with no recorded deaths. Land cleared of any prior paranormal activity; formerly undeveloped acreage. No structures or causalities reported at location. Cannot discount native population or transitory inhabitants prior to establishment of city boundaries.

Team: Gidget and Matt
Consultant: Tristan Pryce


The screaming jerked Hazel up out of her sleep, yanking the breath from her lungs as the piercing broke through her dreams. The house was dark, so very dark and despite the soft sounds of chatter coming from down the hall, she felt so very alone. Her bed was empty, cold and clammy despite the cozy warmth of her home and not for the first time since she’d called Hellsinger Investigations, Hazel wished her lover, Andrea, hadn’t taken her damned business trip to Toronto.

Scrambling to find her robe, Hazel slid halfway off the bed and felt around at the floor with her feet, looking for the pair of fuzzy slippers Andrea’d  given her last Christmas. If anything, the floor was colder than her bed and Hazel shivered, feeling as if ice chips were crinkling through her blood.

Something fuzzy brushed her toes and Hazel let loose a small grunt of triumph. Working her foot into her slipper, Hazel bent over to grab its twin when the ground gave way under her. The hardwood floor she and Deidre stripped, stained and varnished slipped out from under her and Hazel went down, sliding into the ooze bubbling up around her bed’s frame.

Every part of her mind screamed the slick liquid swallowing her up wasn’t real but Hazel choked, trying to clear the viscous fluid from her open mouth. It clung to her skin and tongue, a foul sourness working its way down her throat and filling her lungs and belly. The bed tilted away from her as she sank further into the growing damp lake. Kicking her feet only bound her nightgown and wrap around her legs, restricting her movement and the heavy weight of the sodden material seemed to be pulling her down further, sucking her down into the murky depths. Afraid to stretch her toes out in case it drove her deeper into thick liquid, Hazel steeled herself and tried to find steady footing beneath her.

There was nothing there and she felt herself being dragged down deeper into the muck, her frantic struggles splashing up waves of the foul oily water into her face. Panic set in, chilling and prickling her skin and Hazel let go of her pride, screaming for someone…anyone… for help.

Breathing deep, she scolded herself, “Come on, old girl. Do something. Be smarter than this.”

The bed seemed immune to the spreading sinkhole and Hazel slowly churned her legs, trying to bring herself closer to the frame. The room’s walls were wavering, slowly folding down into the rippling fluid. Kicking hard only dragged her down further but swaying helped her drift closer.

Nearly to the bed, she made a grab for her knitted coverlet, hoping to hook her fingers into the tucked in throw’s open weave. The yarn slithered around in her hand, curving to tighten painfully around her wrist. Her cry must have shaken the house because the pendant light set into the recessed ceiling began to sway and chunks of plaster broke off above her, crashing down into the water below.

Fighting the coverlet, Hazel spat out a mouthful of rank liquid, alarmed at how warm it was getting. The ripples grew stronger, cresting up into tiny waves and splashing her face. There was shouting going on somewhere, faint and indistinct and Hazel opened her mouth to respond, hoping to draw someone to her room to help her.

Her screams turned to horror then silence as something grab at her ankle and yanked her down into the burbling, hot depths and she disappeared beneath the churning surface.


Duck Duck Ghost by Rhys Ford

Paranormal investigator Wolf Kincaid knows what his foot tastes like.

Mostly because he stuck it firmly in his mouth when his lover, Tristan Pryce, accidentally drugged him with a batch of psychotropic baklava. Needing to patch things up between them, Wolf drags Tristan to San Luis Obispo, hoping Tristan’s medium ability can help evict a troublesome spirit haunting an old farmhouse.

With Wolf’s sister handling Hoxne Grange’s spectral visitors, Tristan finds himself in the unique position of being able to leave home for the first time in forever, but Wolf’s roughshod treatment is the least of his worries. Tristan’s ad-hoc portal for passing spirits seems to be getting fewer and fewer guests, and despite his concern he’s broken his home, Tristan agrees to help Wolf’s cousin, Sey, kick her poltergeist to the proverbial curb.

San Luis Obispo brings its own bushel of troubles. Tristan’s ghost whispering skill is challenged not only by a terrorizing haunting but also by Wolf’s skeptical older cousin, Cin. Bookended by a pair of aggressive Kincaids, Tristan soon finds himself in a spectral battle that threatens not only his sanity but also his relationship with Wolf, the first man he’s ever loved.

Available from Dreamspinner on Sept 8.

Duck Duck Ghost Promo Tour
Sept 2 Love Bytes
Sept 7 Boy meets Boy
           MM Good BookReviews 
Sept 11 Joyfully Jay


About Rhys Ford
 Rhys  admits to sharing the house with three cats of varying degrees of black fur and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and an overworked red coffee maker.

My Blog: www.rhysford.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rhys.ford.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rhys_Ford

And at the Starbucks down the street. No really, they’re 24/7. And a drive-thru. It’s like heaven.

My books can be purchased, folded and first chapters read at Dreamspinner Press. http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com