Review: Rated: XXXmas by Lisa Henry, J.A. Rock & E.F. Mulder

Fall on Your Knees
By: Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock

Asa and his longtime partner, Javier, are looking forward to a cozy, kinky Christmas together. But when Asa discovers his coworker Drew has nowhere to go for the holidays, he invites Drew home for dinner. His motives aren’t entirely pure: Asa and Javier are both dominant, and occasionally arrange one night stands with submissives. Asa’s been hot for Drew for months, even though he has no proof Drew is kinky.

Drew has wanted Asa since the day they met. Drew could never come between Asa and his partner, but it doesn’t stop him from fantasizing about belonging to Asa. About letting Asa do filthy, painful, incredible things to him. He accepts Asa’s dinner invitation reluctantly, not eager to witness Asa and Javier’s domestic bliss firsthand.

When Javier discovers Drew’s profile on a BDSM site shortly before Drew’s arrival, the game changes. A bold proposition leads to Asa and Jav sharing a night of play and passion with a dinner guest who’s nowhere near as innocent as he looks. But as their not-so-silent night progresses, all three find themselves on shaky ground. Can they keep this no strings attached? Or is there a way for each man to get what he really wants for Christmas?

MMMmmmmmm Kinkalicious

This Henrock short upends the kinky gear bag with one notable exception which I'll come back to shortly. Since it's a short the Henrock is concentrated down to a fine demi-glace of the ménage awesomeness. 

Asa and Javier are an established couple who are both dominants, so to quench their submissive thirsts they play with random submissives. Asa and Drew work together and the UST has been simmering. Opportunity presents itself via a snow storm in Minnesota and Asa jumps at the chance to invite Drew over for Christmas.

What. A. Weekend.

Good gravy.

Javier and Asa work Drew out harder than Jillian Michaels works out… everyone. I won't go into all the kinkanigans because there's too many to choose from, but I will say candy canes have a legitimate decorative purpose now.

What consistently impresses me about this duo is their ability to infuse their characters with life, make them three-dimensional and human. Above and beyond the kinkaliciousness I really, genuinely liked all three of these guys, and there is a sweetness between them that charmed me. The dialogue is crisp and fresh. They have a sense of humor. They're not the clichéd omnipotent doms nor is Drew a meek submissive. Henrock don't give us an easy journey between them or a outlandish HEA, but a first step towards a possible HEA.

A delightfully kinkalicious first step. Hopefully there will be a second and a third and I'm getting carried away now.

Now, about that missing element… *cough*MANTIES*cough*. I'd like a sequel to correct this egregious oversight. Pretty please.

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Shepherd, Wise Man, and the Little Drummer Boy
By: E.F. Mulder

They were as close as brothers, but hadn’t seen each other in a long time. The moment Shep sees Zeke again, standing there in his army fatigues, he wantes to strip him out of them. Shep's trying to salvage a toxic relationship, though, and giving into his desires for Zeke doesn't feel right to do. And even with Shep’s abusive ex gone for good, he still wants to wait.

When he and Zeke meet CJ by chance, however, CJ’s bold, brazen attitude lead to a sexual invitation they can't resist. Before Shep can say “three-way” he's lying beside the two, naked in CJ’s bed. The next morning, there are four of them. It seems like nirvana at first, but several partners engaged in sex is one thing; more than two to a relationship turns out to be something else. Shep has feelings for Zeke, and when it became obvious Zeke and CJ have feelings for each other, Shep's uncertain as to where that leaves him. He finds out quickly, and very soon discovers, that three might just be his lucky number for the best Christmas ever.

I'm not going to rate this one essentially because it'll make me feel like a total bitch to 1 star a first time author. I'm not sure how a first time author wound up in a book alongside Henrock. It's not a bad marketing strategy to ride their coattails but I think it backfired. You don't want to be sloppy seconds to Henrock with they bring the kink.  

I've no idea if there was a ménage prerequisite for entry into this publication, but this ménage never gelled. Everything about this story is awkward-the dialogue, the plot, the dynamics between all the characters, their reactions, the sex, everything. I think Mulder is going for raw authenticity with the dialogue, but it missed the mark and came off as strange, cheesy and/or stilted. OR the endgame is bad porn in which case DING DING DING. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

The characters have no depth and come across as mindless, horny drones who fall in and out of love at the drop of a hat. I've no problem with casual sex, one night stands, fuck buddies, whatever, but when you start talking about a future together after having spent 15 mins with that person and all the interactions you've had are superficial, I find that ridiculous and/or unstable. If you're going for characters that are unbalanced then they have to have depth otherwise I'm going to lose interest in a hurry and I did. They're all nonsensical, their actions are outlandish and, quite frankly, a lot of the things that came out of their mouths stunned me.

I appreciate the effort just not the execution.

A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

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