Unicorn Favourites: Love is an Open Road: Week Seven

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

This year's event was named Love is an Open Road 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 favourite prompts, and now greedily reading the stories as they become available.

OKW: The Spy and His Boy by Lyn Gala and An American Homo in Paris by Vanessa North

My initial review for this story was... less than cogent. Lyn Gala has a way of doing that to me but I'll admit I was surprised she made it happen in only 40 short pages. I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking I know the author personally, but I know how she approaches her craft. She is meticulous in her research and her stories are always superb in both character development as well as world building. This short exemplifies her skills well.

It's my understanding that this story has garnered some negative attention. I'm not sure what to make of that, but I can tell you this is one of my favorite stories of the event to date. It's engaging despite the subject matter or maybe because of and I loved the way it's constructed. Much of the relationship development takes place off page but, their connection is undeniable in the windows of time we're privy to peek into. As a matter of fact, I loved it so much I decided to re-read it just for this week's post.

And I loved it even more! I picked up more of the nuances I missed in my initial mad dash to gobble this up.

Jakob and Merle's story is told in three parts beginning just prior to WWII. They would seemingly be at cross purposes given their German and French heritages but nothing could be further from the truth. They meet just in a secret club for those with deviant desires. Jakob is a newbie and Merle snatches him up and soon makes many of the other doms envious of his find. The war forces them apart, forces them to act like enemies. They get but one stolen moment during which they configure a plan that could alter the course of the war.

He wrapped his arms around Merle’s waist and held on tightly. The world had lost its mind, and if these few stolen moments were to be all he had, he wanted everything.

Then they reunite afterwards, after a misbegotten war has stolen years from them to face an uncertain future. No one can endure that much pain and suffering and emerge unscathed. The fact that they must redefine their relationship dynamics is a given. The fact that Lyn Gala addresses the complexities of their relationship with subtlety and adroitness is what makes this story brilliant, in my opinion.

“I’m here. I will stay here,” Merle promised.
“I want to feel you in me,” Jakob said.
“Ah.” Merle smiled. “I am more than happy to indulge my boy.”
“I’m no boy, not anymore.”
“You are my boy, and you always will be.” 

It's a remarkable story of two men finding the only war they want to fight is the one to keep one another. Classic Lyn Gala and spot on the prompt.

My thanks to the author and her team for contributing to the LOR event.


WARNING: Self-indulgent, reminiscing "review" ahead.

Ah... Paris.

One of my favorite places.

My first began thought about this story was, 'it's SatC, the gay version! When Carrie goes with The Russian to Paris, but with less Oscar de la Renta'. 

Benji is probably more depressed and homesick than Carrie was, but still. Also, Carrie didn't get dumped by The Russian, though she did get slapped. Potato/po-tay-to. Aaron, Benji's boyfriend, lacks empathy to say the least. Aaron dumps Benji rather cruelly leaving him no choice but to return to Idaho, but not before he has one last farewell tour through the city of light with an affable fellow he met at the local coffee shop named Ziri. 

Ziri is his tour guide, his comic relief and the one partially responsible for pulling Benji out of the doldrums. Ziri's aide-de-camp is Paris.

Who doesn't love Paris?

They start an elaborate game of 'kiss or dare' involving Aaron's name and Paris. These two went to so many of my favorite places too! I wallowed in the memories.

Le Marais was where I stayed too. 

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And had the most expensive god damn bowl of 'mac-n-cheese' I've ever put in my mouth. It was hella good but christ on a bike.

I took somewhere in the neighborhood of a kajillion pics along the Champs-Élysées including the cite of the "Bad Romance" video aka Dare #1 that will so turn Benji into a household name.

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Le Metro is an experience like no other. Oddly enough, it wasn't that difficult to traverse once you get the hang of it. Course the map looked like it had been through a war zone once the vacation was over. It's framed now with the circling and highlighting and taped together and all. Because memories.

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Nothing like Benji and Ziri's memories. Can't top switching pants in public. Sadly.

Who knew letting someone wear your pants could feel like having them under your skin?

Pigalle was one of my favorites sections. It's so pretty and most of it is just an old, quaint neighborhood until you get to Moulin Rouge. Van Gogh and many other greats lived there. I'm sure Moulin Rouge and all that's associated with it had absolutely nothing to do with their decision to move into that area. *side eyes* There was a market where I got the best bottle of wine. Never to be found again and, trust me, I've tried. 

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Had the greatest crêpe just down the street. It was HUGE! Oozing with Nutella and bananas. OMG my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

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I have a thing for cemeteries. Every city I always have to go. Some say they're morbid. I find them irresistible. I just knew Jim Morrison's grave would be the be all end all. It was not and I had to hunt for that fucker forever, too! My favorite was Oscar Wilde's. Benji had a moment there as well that pulled at my heartstrings.

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I couldn't believe all the lipstick. The whole thing was covered in lipstick kisses and words of love. Amazing.

There is a saying about finding your favorite bridge on the Seine. 

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I'm just going to assume Benji and Ziri were near this one when their magical day started to wind down. Just before the passion, desperate needing and 'I-don't-want-it-to-ending' happened that was such a delight to read. I had serious reservations in the believability department of a one day whirlwind romance, but it's not sappy or super fluffy. Everything that transpires feels organic. They had a great day. They have fun together. Ziri validates Benji in ways Aaron, evidently, hasn't been. 

Can't say if they'll be together forever-n-ever,but I have high hopes for their future. After all, they have Paris. 

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Thanks to the author and her team for contributing to the LOR event.


SheReadsALot: Just a Feeling by JH Knight and Wolf's Honor by Laylah Hunter.

My review of Just a Feeling by J.H. Knight






I've been waiting for this one not even the psychic tag is going to deter me...because I really love nanny romances. 

Um...my heart melts when I see a tattooed, burly guy with a baby.

Pardon me.

Um...this story is somewhere in the 4.5 - 5 stars range, so I'm just cutting to the chase and round this shit because this is totally one of my favorites of the event. 

It was sweet but not overly sticky, it was funny but not at the expense of the characters, it was real because babies don't come with a manual and it was touching because through grief came a pretty solid HFN/HEA that read organic.

This is my first J.H. Knight too! Yay!

Mark is an ex-solider who planned on being uncle to his best friend's baby and due to an unfortunate event, he's a father to a baby boy he can't even name. He's tired, he's heartbroken and he is in love with the tiny human who is colicky and drives him up the wall.

But he knows the baby has him as his protector. And Mark is the kind of guy who will step up to the plate. 

Ian, the auburn haired (I swear he's a great character, I'm not rhapsodizing just because he's a ginger) nanny, who is snarky and overly qualified, makes Mark realize a few things:

- that he can accept help 
- that he can learn to balance this parenting thing with an extra set of hands
- that he can possibly...have a meaningful relationship

Ian is a great character (view spoiler) from a big family who gets people, how different personalities work. He's adaptable but firm in his beliefs when it counts.

Reading Mark fall for Ian was beautiful. He was trying to fight it but it's inevitable. *pink and gushy sigh*

My only complaint? I wished this was longer. :D

I loved Ian's family (Dave and his mouth is the shit! The shit!) And the snark, great level of snark. Yup. :D

Um...it's safe to say I'll try to fit in the books I have by this author collecting dust on my Kindle sooner than later. 

Highly recommended for nanny romance lovers, lovers of babies in romances and happy (let me borrow from Cupcake) squishy feels.

It's a feel good romance. 

My thanks to the author and the team behind the event! *♡*



(Cupcake tells me all the time to lead with your best foot forward.)

My KNOTTING aficionados and Sterek peeps who enjoy A/B/O might like this one.

This was another one of my top prompts. Why? Alpha and damaged omega, baby! I know KNOTTING was about to go down. And this author made quite the impression last year with The Raven's Luck

I got my snacks, got comfortable...I was READY when I saw today's LOR release.

Cory is an abused omega. He has been abandoned by the humans, he's been raped and treated like property by the wolves. His old master was killed and he finally gets his chance to escape. But the new Alpha catches him. Troy, new Alpha is not an alpha-hole. He's considerate and tries to fix the damaged pack but he's most drawn to Cory.

Damaged omega who smells too good meets an Alpha who thinks before he acts? Awesome. I like the way Laylah Hunter made the pack work. There were truly a pack where all opinions mattered. I wanted more but I have a tendency to be greedy when it comes to words that are good. :D

Now the KNOTTING. Not as intense as I like it. My favorite type of KNOTTING is when the omega can feel that fat KNOT at the edge of his hole and he worries it will fit.

And then the Alpha manages to stuff that hole full. And then they're tied by the Alpha knot...*grunts*

But this was not forceful KNOTTING.

This is thoughtful KNOTTING.

Cory blisses out into omega heaven for a while, content with the world in new and wonderful ways as most of his world narrows down to Troy’s marvelous cock working his ass. It starts to thicken at the base, like they always do, and Cory feels it when Troy lets go with a strangled snarl, slams in hard, and his cock starts to pulse with hot waves of release.

Still good.

Of course I'd read about 200 more pages of these words. But for what was given...I was satisfied.

My thanks to the author and the team behind this event.


So I'm cheating this week. There were several books I loved, but other's reviewed them better than me, so I'm just going to link the stories and let you find out for yourselves how fab they are. :)

The Spy and His Boy by Lyn Gala.
An American Homo in Paris by Vanessa North
Just a Feeling by JH Knight
Bright Like a Thousand Memories by Gabrielle Morgan
Loving Rush by Sofia Grey

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