Review: No Matter What (Sex & Mayhem #4) by KA Merikan

--- A gentle heart has no place in an outlaw’s chest ---

Ghost. Not a member of the Coffin Nails MC. Not a doctor anymore. Not gay.
Luca. Bent, not broken. Will not let go of Ghost. No matter what.

Ghost finds out the hard way that people you meet online aren’t always who they seem to be. When he met ‘Zara’ five years ago, they became inseparable. She’s been with him through the rough and the smooth. He’s been there for her when her abusive boyfriend had her in tears.

She is The One, and despite all his friends considering him crazy, Ghost is about to propose.

But ‘Zara’ turns out to be Luca, and Luca is most definitely a guy. Yet Luca is the same person with big dark eyes, so desperate to be saved that Ghost can’t help but fall head first.

Luca’s so-called boyfriend is not just abusive. He is a Sicilian drug lord, a man dangerous and ruthless. If Ghost is to ever save the person who wreaked havoc on his heart, he has to make a deal with the Coffin Nails MC. But being a member is a destiny he’s always tried to avoid. And when a life of violence becomes too much to bear, he might be the one needing Luca to catch him when he falls.

There were parts that I loved, and then some parts... that just lost me.

I totally loved the way Luca and Ghost meet. They had started chatting on a game they both played online. Only thing, Luca was under the name Zara and never corrected Ghost in his thinking that he was a woman. Luca confessed to Ghost of the abusive relationship he was in and Ghost was the only person he could open up to. They became really close through their chats. When Ghost found out that "Zara" was going to be in the States, he hatched a huge, romantic plan to snatch up his girl from her big bad boyfriend and then live happily ever after with her. It really was so sweet and romantic.

Ghost got over the fact that Zara was actually Luca and a man fairly quick. At first I was a little taken aback by how fast he looked past this. It certainly irked Ghost and it took him awhile to get used to the fact that the person he was planning on spending his life with is actually a man, but at the same time there wasn't much angst over it. He just took the time to adapt and never did it cross his mind to ditch Luca. His attitude towards Luca solidified the relationship they formed through their chats. After all was said and done, Ghost loved Luca. Period. He fell head over heels for this person he got to know over the course of 5 years, and in the end, gender just didn't matter. He's just the sweetest.

While I think Ghost is a total sweetie, he's also a total pushover. He really bugged me sometimes when he just let his 'friends' walk all over him. Yeah, they're big bad biker dudes... but c'mon! They're supposedly friends and they got Ghost into some deep stuff that he had no desire to be involved in. Peer pressure really bothers me on any level, so I did not appreciate these guys acting this way, and then getting a pass because 'that's just who they are'. Bull. Shit.

They both made a lot of sacrifices for each other and I wish they would have opened up about them. I get why they didn't, but I think a lot could have been resolved, or even avoided, if they had shared a little more.

As per usual with KA Merikan, the sex was amazing. So hot and intense. Gotta love virgins and all the tension that comes with. There were some surprises in the bedroom that I was more than pleased about.

It wasn't as good as book 1, but absolutely worth the read. KA Merikan is one of my auto-buy authors. Their writing just clicks for me and I'm guaranteed to enjoy myself. I'll for sure continue the series and fill in the ones I skipped, M/F books and all!

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Swallowing Mayhem (Outlaw MC #5) by James COX

What if bad guys ruled the world and the good guys were the outlaws?

This time the MC’s are taking the war to the surface of Mars. No more shadows. No more hiding. The old laws, homosexuality is a death sentence, women are for breeding, and dark skinned men as slaves, are going to be broken. But the Outlaw MC has a rat among them...

Torrin is a prospect. He doesn't have a big problem with the way Mars worked but that’s because he’s not just a prospective member. Torrin is also an undercover peacekeeper. His beliefs are thrown upside down because of one man, Mayhem. The Sergeant at arms and explosive expert managed to break Torrin.
Now, this formerly straight peacekeeper has to deal with the attraction sizzling between them and tell the club about his lies. The truth can hurt but for Torrin it may just get him killed.

And while Torrin sorts out his new feelings for loving another man, the club plans to take this war to the next step.

Cup your junk, things are about to get explosive.

Pay attention to that title. More literal words were never spoken.

This series is so great. It’s fast paced and the characters are memorable. Usually by book 5 in a series I’ve started forgetting the specifics of past MC’s, but not in this one. Their uniqueness in personalities and kinks has them branded in my feverish little brain.

There’s a rat in the clubhouse and while it’s no mystery who it is from the beginning (or the blurb), being inside his head was pretty stressful and his struggle to come to terms with his perceptions of right and wrong was interesting to read. I liked how James brought in the perspective of the soldiers on the other side. Not everyone was born an outlaw, some have to be taught and Torrin was a great example. It felt like Torrin’s character opened the door to the possibility of the MC’s winning the war against Wexmen and converting those on the ‘other side’ who just plain don’t know anything other than what they’d grown up with. I would have loved to have read more conversation between Torrin and Mayhem. Not that anything was left unanswered, I just love reading about when a character has a life changing epiphany.

Mayhem has been a gruff man of few words throughout the series and he stays true to his character that we’ve come to know in preceding books. Even when he and Torrin have their “moments” he’s still more rough than sweet, but that makes all the little sweet bits and grins that come through that much better. Torrin accepts his unexpected attraction to another man pretty much angst free and I was totally fine with that. If it feels right, makes you happy and hits all the tingly spots, go with it my friend.

Torrin doesn’t stay undercover for long, he can’t betray who he’s become because he’s met the Outlaw’s and Mayhem in particular. The Outlaws are obviously not quick to trust, but James wrote some great action sequences that allowed Torrin to prove himself and be the right kind of hero.

A little secret is revealed that has me SO excited for more story on the Prospect. Unrequited love? Yes please! I still have a major crush on Harley and the mentions of Whip and Grim in this one have me really anxious to get their stories.

The final scene was hawt as fuck. Not hot, but HAWT. This is the part where you pay attention to the books title. James writes voyeurism right and the ‘public’ aspect of the sexin’ pushes all the buttons for hawt public sex without crossing the line into discomfort and losing the intimacy these guys have achieved.

I can’t write a COX review without a classic COX quote.

“Mayhem why am I staring at your junk?”

“I wanna see!” Whip stuck his head in the room then whistled.

Mayhem ignored everyone, even the giant cock in the room.

For more information on Swallowing Mayhem check it out on Goodreads.

Review: A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion (Channeling Morpheus/Sweet Oblivion #6-10) by Jordan Castillo Price

Staking a vampire's not so easy now that Michael's got a vampire of his very own. Although killing them is no longer an option, he's as determined as ever to stop the spread of vampirism.Wild Bill is a lover, not a fighter-so he's tickled when Michael's new agenda, to dispense condoms and sterile phlebotomy gear among vampires, replaces the old "heads will roll" approach. It takes courage to track down vamps in their own territory and deliver a lecture on safe sex, and more importantly, safe bloodletting. Michael's never been short on audacity...but he's finding that he and Wild Bill aren't the only ones with agendas.

Excellent conclusion to this sexy & dark series.

The story continues to be sexy as fuck, creepy and twisted, and a wild ride all the way until the very end.
"What I had on my hands was a Van Helsing." 
Yeah, Wild Bill had his hands quite full with Michael. Michael is hell bent on stopping the spread of vampirism. He's like a walking sex-ed billboard. It's a good thing he has Wild Bill right there with him, otherwise he'd get into a whole heap of trouble. Well, more than he already does at least.

Wild Bill. *licks lips* MmmMmm.
"Wild Bill was naked. Lying in a bed. Smoking. Naked. He smirked when I got an eyeful of him, and teased one fang with the tip of his tongue."
Come ON! Damn. He is one sexy vamp. He's hot and dark and mysterious... yet, he still goes along with Michael with his crazy ideas. And by crazy ideas, I mean bad ideas. Michael really has some bad ideas.
"Mikey's plans usually have a Bermuda Triangle in the middle where, by hook or by crook, things are supposed to magically go his way."
S'about it. But Wild Bill was always there, right by Michael just in case things went wrong, which they usually did.

They have this passionate, intense connection. Everything they do together is magnified about a bajillion times. They don't often get mushy-gushy, but when they do... *melts* They very often get hot and steamy and every time they do... holy hotness. They have a crazy need for each other and their chemistry just jumps off the page. There's threesomes, name calling, dirty talk, lots of cum and lots of blood and biting. Things don't get much hotter than Michael and Wild Bill together.

Each novella is pretty short and a lot happens in each story. It makes for a really fast paced book. It's full of action, weird creepiness, hot as hell sex, and a bit of love.

 A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Flight 1710 #1: Retrograde by RJ Scott Blog Tour AND GIVEAWAY!

Please welcome RJ Scott to the blog to share the news of the start of her upcoming series, Flight 1710 with Retrograde!

Check it out . . .


Co-Pilot Lachlan Donaghue wakes up in hospital, a survivor of the crash of Flight HA1710, with memory loss and the suspicion that he could be at fault for the tragic accident. When everything becomes too much he goes home to hide, back to the small Scottish town he grew up in and to his family home.

Rory Kendrick watches the news, sees every hour of the disaster unfold but never thinks that Lachlan was in the middle of it all. Or that his friend will be forced to come back home to hide and to heal. What Lachlan needs is a friend, not a lover, but sometimes the lines are just too blurred to make any sense.

And an Excerpt:
Shouting from outside startled him from his introspection. Cursing and scuffling and discordant noise, then a smash against his door that had him suddenly nervous. What the hell was going on?
“That’s it, I’m done. You really think you’re going to stop me from getting in?” The shouting was getting closer, then suddenly silence and tension coiled inside him. Adrenaline coursed through him. Lachlan recognized the Irish brogue, the determination in the voice. Rory. Rory was here?

Then slowly, the door opened and a man walked in. With the room darkening, it was hard to see who it was for a split second, but Lachlan knew who it was. The only man who had ever held his heart.


Rory stumbled in when the door was pushed wholly open behind him. The policeman who had been guarding the door yanked at his arm.

“Sir!” The cop shouted at Rory. “Call for more security!”

“Let him in,” Lachlan said. “It’s okay!”

Rory broke free and came to Lachlan’s side. There was intent there in his eyes, and before Lachlan could talk, Rory leaned over and kissed him. Not the gentle kiss of a friend, but a heated, passionate taste that made Lachlan whimper.

It had been so long. But Rory shouldn’t be kissing him. Rory didn’t love him. Lachlan had seen to that.

“Please help me,” he blurted out when they separated, before Rory spoke.

“Take me home.” They parted, and Rory held his gaze.

“I’ll get you out of here,” he said. “Trust me.”

Sooooo, yummmmmy huh? And steamy. Yep, you can always count on RJ's characters to have a real connection that is just so fun to read.

Get your copy!

And now, the GIVEAWAY!
Competition to win $15 Amazon/Are giftcard, closes 29th June at 00:01 GMT (London)
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks RJ for including us in the tour, come visit the clubhouse anytime!

About RJ:

RJ Scott has been writing since age six, when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies. She was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.

With over seventy titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects. Her goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.   (some NSFW (not safe for work photos)

Review: Love Spell by Mia Kerick

Strutting his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug orange tuxedo as this year’s Miss (ter) Harvest Moon feels so very right to Chance C├ęsar, and yet he knows it should feel so very wrong.

As far back as he can remember, Chance has been “caught between genders.” (It’s quite a touchy subject; so don’t ask him about it.) However, he does not question his sexual orientation. Chance has no doubt about his gayness—he is very much out of the closet at his rural New Hampshire high school, where the other students avoid the kid they refer to as “girl-boy.”

But at the local Harvest Moon Festival, when Chance, the Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper Donahue, the Pumpkin Carving King, sparks fly. So Chance sets out, with the help of his BFF, Emily, to make “Jazz” Donahue his man.

An article in an online women’s magazine, Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with You (with a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure), becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz’s heart.

Quirky, comical, definitely flamboyant, and with an inner core of poignancy, Love Spell celebrates the diversity of a gender-fluid teen.

Love Spell is a super fun, young adult novel with a great message.

Chance can't help but be himself. He's bullied and tortured for it, but he still puts himself out there regardless of the ridicule. I have to just love and admire him for all his strength. Lord knows, I would not be that brave.

During the Harvest Moon Festival he meets Jasper.  A cute boy he's never noticed before (*gasp*). He also notices that the interest is reciprocated. Jasper's got his eye on Chance and Chance is going to make sure he gets the guy.

With the help of his best friend, Chance finds a list of ways to make a man fall in love with you from a women's magazine. He uses this as his guide to getting Jasper. There's all kinds of silly advice in this list that leads to some humorous situations. It was cute and funny, but I was exhausted with Chance by the end.

No, I was exhausted with him by the middle.

The book was told in a very personable, first person style from Chance's POV. There were hashtags, abbreviated words and made up words all over the place. Yes, he's a teenager and the tone was set, but it was too much. All of that mixed in with the silly schemes to win Jasper over... it felt overdone.

But Jasper? Oh, I loved Jasper. He was honest, down to earth and sweet. He was caring and selfless. I wish Chance would have woken up sooner so they could have had more couple time. 

But amongst the quirky storyline there was a really solid and positive message. Mia does this so well. She intertwines these fun stories with serious issues that, I think, really speak to readers. Chance is uncertain of his gender. He doesn't fit into any particular label, and he wants a label so badly. He doesn't care what the label is in particular, just that he wants one. He wants to fit somewhere. I love how this was portrayed and how it was written into the book.

Very sweet and cute romance between Chance and Jasper, with an important and timely message.

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Just Business (Takeover #2) by Anna Zabo

From the thrilling new author of Takeover, a steamy new novel about having all the control—and losing it…

Note from the author: This is the followup to Takeover and features Justin and Eli. Sam and Michael are fairly important characters in this book as well.

Justin White may not look like an up and coming corporate superstar, but his new boss knows he has the smarts, grit, and determination to succeed. Now he just has to convince his company’s CFO, Eli Ovadia. Unfortunately, Justin can’t seem to keep his cool around the domineering Eli—and soon he finds himself taking their heat from the boardroom into the bedroom….

Still haunted by a tragic accident that left him with a wounded leg and broken heart, Eli has a need to be in control. But his desire for Justin makes him want to lose that control—and push them both far beyond their limits. But will his need to dominate Justin drive him away—or will Eli find a way to be the man he needs for both of them?

Just Business started off great! The kinky sexual innuendos slung between Justin and Eli were fun, sexy and had me chomping at the bit. I just knew this was going to be the book that took Zabo to the next level. Unfortunately, this didn't work for me.

There were a couple of hiccups in the beginning, but I was enjoying myself so I raised an eyebrow or two but largely ignored them.

They wend up at the same kink party and two things happened:  (1) I got bored; (2) we took a hard left in BDSM sponsored by Disney.

Eli is the finest, most sought after and, coincidentally, most elusive dom in all the land, I mean Pittsburgh. For reasons. I'm not exactly sure what those reasons are, but I'm assuming we're supposed to just go with it. Fine, fine. What the hell, right?

Though I'm fairly certain that the finest dom in all the land wouldn't fuck a sub's face in public without first having had the limits talk, but maybe I'm being too persnickety. 

Then I got to 42% and read this:

I love their pain, love making them feel it. How they move, how they sound. I-how can I not be a monster? People aren't like this!


There's a whole party's worth of people that are monsters then! Way to be judge-y, Eli.

If Eli's the finest dom in all the land that implies he's been around, knows the ropes, one might even presuppose that he's made peace with his deviance. I guess one should never presuppose.

So, my interest took a nosedive. Reading manufactured conflict a.k.a. a BDSexistentialM crisis is not my cuppa.

I decided to take a break hoping when I came back it was all a mirage.

Was not to be.

I came back to Justin inexplicably comparing Eli to his former abusive dom on top of Eli's woes! I still can't make heads or tails out of this comparison. It's nonsensical. It came out of left field. I was left with no choice but to deduce that it, too, is as bogus as Eli's BDSexistenialM crisis. 

I realize traumatic events can crop up at unexpected times and wreak havoc and both of them have had a rough go of it and I do empathize with that; however, that doesn't excuse the lie of omission nor does it give one free reign to overgeneralize and pigeonhole another. ANY relationship should be based on trust, especially one wherein you're surrendering your body to the desires of another and that other could very well be wielding a whip.

Justin should've trusted Eli enough to tell at least a portion of the truth, enough to let Eli know where landmines might be. This combined Eli angst/Justin ridiculousity nonsense builds over the next twenty percent, inflaming my ire to dangerous levels. 

All the time building toward a crescendo of epic Theater of the Ridiculous proportions. It's so absurd that I started to think I was reading AU instead of contemporary. Justin willfully (IMO) loses touch with reality and starts making all sorts of bizarre comparisons that have no basis in reality. 

They make medications for this. They're called anti-psychotics. Or therapy. Let's try some therapy, shall we?

Naturally and incomprehensibly, they still want each other, despite the cray cray and make their torturous way to an HEA. My only hope is they will move to an isolated island with all the other whackadoodles so they don't infect the rest of the population. Who knows if this is airborne.

Needless to say, I didn't connect with either of these MCs. The BDSM dynamics didn't work for me, though they were occasionally titilating. The kinky sexual innuendos at the beginning were the bright spot and deserving of a half star. I'm not so callus as to say that I wasn't affected by the resolution, but it still felt like a Disney movie with an oversimplified resolution to complex relational issues. The Judaism aspects were interesting. I always enjoy learning new information regardless of topic, but Judaism is not what brought me to this party nor was it enough to save it. 

A frustrating and disappointing read for me, but judging by early reviews I'm in the minority so... grain of salt.

An ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Review and Excerpt: Drama Queen: A Nicky and Noah Mystery by Joe Cosentino

It could be curtains for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodies popping up all over campus, Nicky must use his drama skills to figure out who is playing the role of murderer before it is lights out for Nicky and his colleagues. Complicating matters is Nicky's huge crush on Noah Oliver, a gorgeous assistant professor in his department, who may or may not be involved with a cocky graduate assistant...and is also the top suspect for the murders! You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino's fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat, delightfully entertaining novel. Curtain up!
Oh. My. God.

I cannot stop laughing.

Drama Queen is Hardy Boys-meets-Murder She Wrote-meets-Midsummer Murders, with a side of parodic, farcical, satire.

Colonel Cumharder did it in the boudoir with the oversized dildo...

Who-dunits don't come more whodunnity than this. It really was a delightful read that had me laughing out loud despite being (quick, ready those violins) poorly. With an MC who has a nine inch cock (and only a little aspiration to be a porn star), to an old fart called Wally Wanker, this story is the perfect mixture of humour and mystery. It's nice to read a story that doesn't take itself too seriously, that has both an overt and covert humour to it.

Being part of the drama department at this school is akin to living in Midsummer - the chances of making it out alive buy the end of the book (programme) are limited. And if you have a secret, some skeleton hidden in the back of the closet (well you're not in there, so something needs to be and clothes are so mundane) then you'd better be prepared for that skeleton to end up centre stage dancing to its own tune.

(And then prepare yourself for a likely imminent death). Nobody was beyond suspicion. I think I suspected every character in the book (though hands up, detective material I am not) and I was second guessing myself constantly. 

Let's not forget the sex. Sex makes the world go round, or at least the theatre tick! Who was sexin' who - past, present or even in the future, was almost as much of a whodunit as the mystery. Or maybe more of a whodunthem. Of course, Nicky and Noah stole my heart. Every farce needs a romance that is sweet. Every amateur sleuth needs a willing partner. Willing to be the Holmes to his Sherlock that is... Willing to don a moustache and greasepaint and play the sidekick. Also willing to give soppy old romantics like me a falling in lurve storyline. Perfect.

If you like something a bit different. If you need a laugh. If sometimes, just sometimes, you think life takes itself too seriously, then this could be the book for you! Thanks Joe Cosentino for cheering up my Monday!

Excerpt from Chapter 1
After I had given my first few notes, I noticed Noah Oliver standing in the back of the theatre. Noah is tall and lean with curly blond hair, blue eyes, and the sweetest smile I have ever wanted to kiss in an Assistant Professor. While I teach Theatre History and Play Directing, Noah is our department’s specialist in Acting, and for good reason. Noah is a terrific actor, a creative and passionate teacher, and a wonderful colleague. More importantly, I have had a crush on him since the moment he made his entrance into our humble campus three years ago. Noah is single, gay, and seems to really like me. Why don’t I ask him out? Noah is twenty-eight years young. As a junior professor in my department in need of my vote for tenure this year, if I make a pass at him it could be considered attempted coercion on my part.
It was difficult for me to concentrate on giving my notes to the students since Scotty Bruno, my graduate assistant and Assistant Director of the play, was talking, laughing, and obviously flirting with Noah in the rear of the theatre. I had reason to be concerned. Scotty has bleached blond hair, contact lens turquoise eyes, ultra-white bonded teeth, and muscles as if sculpted by Michelangelo,
housed in multi-colored, stuffed shorts and tank top (in winter) that were not unnoticed by Noah. Unless I was becoming nearsighted, I could have sworn that Scotty whispered something into Noah’s ear then handed Noah a box. What the heck is in it? Love letters? Condoms? My heart on a silver platter?

A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.
Find out more on Goodreads.

Review: Blood Ties by Lavina Lewis

Vampire prince Thomas Vanderguard has been alone for over two hundred years - ever since the deathblow that killed his companion Jacob. For centuries, Drones have sought to eradicate his family’s royal lineage so that a rival family may seize the throne and gain control of their territory. But Thomas's life of self-imposed solitude came to an end a little over a year ago when Daniel Alexander walked into his life. After months of refusal, Thomas finally gives in to Daniel's request to change him into a vampire even though he fears Daniel will meet the same fate as Jacob.

With a possible eternity of happiness stretched out in front of them, can Thomas keep his lover safe or is history about to repeat itself?

An enjoyable introduction in what seems to be a promising series.

Thomas has been alone and mourning the loss of his lover, Jacob, for far too long. His family has been at war with a rival family for centuries and is always under attack from their drones. He isn't willing to risk losing someone else he loves to them.

In this world there are born vamps and made vamps. Born vamps are more like humans than the made ones. The made vampires can't eat food or go out in the sun. There's also no telling how they'll react to the turning, if they'll keep their humanity or turn into killers.

When Thomas meets Daniel he immediately intrigued and protective of him. He keeps the other vampires away and stops them from pursuing Daniel. When he realizes that he feels far too much for Daniel, he pushes him away. I have to say, I really liked Daniel. He didn't fall for Thomas' crap and saw right through his act. Not only did he see through it, but he also completely won over Thomas' family. Yeah, Thomas was a goner. Really, his only option was to admit defeat and keep Daniel for himself. Which is exactly what he did.

Because Thomas had lost a lover in the past, he's fiercely protective of Daniel. Daniel wanted to become a vampire and be with Thomas, but because of all the uncertainty surrounding turning someone, Thomas isn't convinced it's a good idea. Thomas was protective and possessive of Daniel without being all "He-man You Are Mine Alpha" guy, which I always appreciate, especially in a vampire story. It's so easy to make them into growl-y cavemen, but Thomas' character was more than that. Daniel certainly made his wants known and he wasn't a pushover for Thomas. They really fit well together and I enjoyed their romance.

There was action, a few steamy scenes, some sweet romance and a bit of a cliffhanger. Blood Ties is a really good start to this paranormal series.

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Unicorn Favorites: Love is an Open Road Stories: Week One

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 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 favorite prompts, and now greedily reading the stories as they become available.

As an aside, there are SO many amazing stories being released and while we haven't read all of them yet, we will get there. There will be a few however, that won’t be reviewed here. You see, unicorns are not only badass, they are also mysterious and magically rare. We can't expect their presence to show up in our reviews, the interwebz couldn't handle it. But, just know this, this week, we LOVED fawn by Nash Summers and The Frat Brat by Nico Jaye. That is all.

Other than fawn and The Frat Brat, here are some of our favorites from the first week of the event, June 1-7:

Ann: All About Trust by D.P. Denman

 I saw the pic, I read the prompt and I gotta admit, I got skeered. Seriously, how could this story possibly wrap up with me feeling anything but uber sadness? My curiosity got the better of me though and I started reading. Cue the clock striking at 1:00 a.m., I finished and you know how I felt? Hopeful, full of warm fuzziness and my faith in humanity was restored. Not that parts of the story weren’t incredibly difficult to read, the author didn’t take a Pollyanna view of the brutality Eric suffered. It wasn’t described in a gratuitous way though, there was just enough description given to get your imagination going and there was no question about where Eric’s distrust and hopelessness came from.

Marcus is volunteering at the hospital where Eric is recuperating after being left for dead by Daddy. Marcus is the quintessential good guy. He’s not too-good-to-be-true good, he’s just an honestly decent human being. It really bothers him that Eric is alone with no prospects but a life on the street when he is released from the hospital. They forge a tentative friendship of sorts and the author really captured this time between them so well. It wasn’t easy, but it didn’t have any added unnecessary drama or angst to try and make a point. There was already plenty in Eric’s life and the author let all that speak for itself and let the characters be and grow organically.

I have to mention the absolutely amazing secondary characters. The story wouldn’t be what it is without them. Once you meet Marcus’ parents you can immediately see how Marcus turned out so amazing. They were exactly what Eric needed when he needed it. I appreciated how the author kept the relationship between Eric and Marcus tame. Anything else would have been totally unbelievable and would have cheapened all the trust they achieved throughout the story. This was not the story for the magical peen that comes along and solves ALL the problems. It really was all about trust and how much work both Eric and Marcus put in to get their happy.

Audrey: A Single Step by Vicky Heysham

 Lovely and unconventional short story that features an online romance. Told entirely through blog entries, blog comments, and emails, this story isn't erotic, but it's heartfelt. I personally love the epistolary format, and A Single Step did it very well. Definitely worth a read, and at a shorter length, it's easy to fit in for a lunch break. :)

Breann: All About Trust by D.P. Denman

Honestly, the prompt and picture really did nothing for me. So much that they almost deterred me from reading the story. The author took what was a so-so prompt for me and turned it into an amazing story.

Eric's story was all about his growth and healing from the horrific experiences he endured. I can't begin to think about how much strength someone has to have to learn to trust after abuse like Eric suffered.

But it wasn't all Eric, the humanity and love from Marcus' family was so beautiful. Yes, Marcus' family did take a risk with letting this stranger into their lives, but all it took was some love and humanity to make such a difference for Eric.

It was a lovely, heartbreaking and touching story.

Lorix: Risking the Field by Jean McGray and Lima Oscar Victor Echo and the Truth about Everything by Suki Fleet

Oh wow. *sighs*

This story was written for my prompt - and truly. for the second year running I feel like such a winner. What an amazing story.

Friends-to-lovers is my all time favourite storyline. There is something about the trust and love that already exists in a friendship that just makes the move into more just wonderful. Therefore my prompts tend to be of a friends-to-more variety - and Jean McGray has truly captured everything I was hoping for.

This short story shows us basically one day and night in the lives of these two friends - but it's the day and night when everything changes for them. Jean McGray has captured the moment so perfectly. i swear, the first (proper) kiss had me melt into a gooey puddle. It was so perfect, I'm such a sucker for kisses - I need those kisses more than sex in my books. Pen and Davey's first kiss in most definitely one of the best snogs I've read. It was beautiful.

Although this was set within just a twenty-four hour period (save the epilogue & prologue), I believed in the friendship between Pen and Davey, therefore I believed in teh developing relationship. Jean McGray did a wonderful job. The writing was light and witty and so easy to read. I swear I could read more and more about these two.

In fact, more than just those two, I also loved the secondary characters. Mom 1 and Mom 2 especially. I could feel their pain at having graduating sons! Children grow up WAAAAAY too quickly. It struck a chord.

Thank you so much Jean McGray for this story. It was everything and more than I hoped. <3 I love Davey and Pen. xx

Thank you to everyone involved in making this event happen. You are all fantastic!

 Every single star ever gets thrown at this story. There is a reason Suki Fleet is one of my favourite authors, and that reason is everything about this story.

The characters, the love. That first kiss - OH MY GOD, THAT FIRST KISS! There is not a word out of place in this story. Not one. Friends falling in love, yep, my favourite theme. Friends with a welsh accent (my favourite accent) - could it get any better? Pretty much no. I will read and re-read this story forever. I love Oscar & Jamie. I would adore more from this world. *bats lashes*

Thank you so much for your entry Suki, it's perfect. (Oh & get out from behind that rock!)

Sunny: The Forest Savage by Claire Davis & Al Stewart

Raw, unflinching, and so very sad. With gradual healing, though, we got glimpses of hope and happiness. I alternated between wanting to shake the MCs and wanting to hug them.

Side notes:
I don't know the right words, but I was especially impressed by the strong sense Setting? Mood? Whatever it was, it permeated the story and made it all so believable.

I loved how well I could see Troy, just through Cal's eyes. Clear, consistent characterization. He got to me, that sweet, mixed up boy.
SheReadsALot: Obsidian by Rory Ni Coilean

 "Once I lived for the touch of the Sun. I dimly remember this. Now, though, I am part of the human world. I need to know why, I need to know what has happened to me. But this male, this beautiful gentle male who rescued me from the forest floor and touches me so sweetly… he is mine.

This, I need no one to tell me.

This I know."

Okay, I'm one of those 'ew, snakes' people - can't stand snakes, scare the hell out of me, etc.
But there is something about snake shifters that change the game for me.

Rory Ni Coilean's Obsidian packs a punch in less than 8K. The prose was touch purple in the beginning. We're talking lilacs and violets. But the world building and race she creates held my attention that I didn't worry about the purple.

It was all about Naqxo, Lamia (snake) shifter and Damis, a human who was betrothed to the female-dominant race. The inner turmoil of Damis, who prefers men and laments having to be given to a woman was done very well. The fact that Naqxo is a snake takes a backseat to the fantasy filled magic that happened on the page.

It was magical, romantic and gives enough without giving anything away. Some authors can be open and others hold their cards to their chest. This one is the latter giving just enough to carry off this short story.

And the first time sex scene was scorching. I'm hissing along with Damis and Naqxo.

*** All stories are available for download at ***

Review: Shift in Time (Out of Time, #1) by Mercy Celeste

True love’s first kiss will not break a curse.
Everyone knows that. Even a Normal like Morgan Monstros knows that. But Fane Llewellyn isn’t everyone. He’s like no one Morgan has ever met.

Small, fragile and fierce, Fane doesn’t remember who he is or where he came from. He remembers pain and loneliness. Decades of pain and loneliness. And Morgan Monstros. He could never forget Gan. Gan was his from the day he came to the island. And Fane would fight to the death to keep Morgan safe. Even if he has to fight the whole world to do it.

Take one powerless witch, a sassy Siamese familiar, a panther shifter with amnesia, a meddling wolf clan, and a coven of witches hell bent on war, swirl all together and you get the perfect spell for all out mayhem…..oh yeah and there’s chocolate cake too.

Before reading: Mercy Celeste? Cat Shifters?

It's going down!

After reading: As a Mercy Celeste fan, I can say this is one of the lightest stories I've read from her. Not saying it's bad or good. It was different. When I see a Mercy Celeste story, I know to expect hot, Southern men who love hard and scorching sexy times.

This book, set in Alabama and Florida, most definitely delivered that. Morgan Monstros is a normal in a family of witches. (Think Muggle to Wizards (hey HP fans)) He's in the closet and a virgin, running his family's bed & breakfast on an island in Alabama. His sister leaves her Siamese cat, Starbuck in his care while she returned to the mainland. The cat seems to claim Morgan and has a secret. Morgan and the cat, Starbuck aka Fane Llewellyn have a connection. Through magic, Fane returns to his human form. Both men are fated mates - they face angry family members, witches council and discover Fane's past life before he was turned into a cat.

Human Fane was funny in the first half of the book. I didn't care for the cat speak to be honest but it led credence to Fane's character and the way he was written. His possessiveness of Morgan was a nice touch. And he was supposed to look like jailbait in human form (don't worry about his age - he's legal), so when Fane got Alpha lover on Morgan, it made the scenes more interesting in my head as I read. An Alpha twink? Different. I do like the Civil War angle, anything to do with real historical events always catches my interest. (It was tamer in description than the actual war)

I think Morgan helping Fane acclimate to present day was my favorite, even over the shifter and sex parts. I enjoyed the Llewellyn family reuniting especially the brothers, Falyn and Fane.

Morgan and Fane were a hot couple, sometimes their affection was laid on thick but the sentiment is nice. The story is good. If you like cat shifter stories that are low angst, sassy and dosed with insta-love (paranormal fated mates get a pass for me), you might want to check it out. I prefer Mercy Celeste's contemporary over her paranormal it seems. This was my second paranormal romance I've read from this author.

Great ideas can be found in her paranormal - a Siamese cat shifter who comes from a family of werewolves? Different.  A witch who is ordinary from a family of extraordinary? Cool. The first half stronger than the second half for sure. Once the pair gets to Florida, the focus isn't as sharp as in the first half. More plot lines get introduced, some get lost in the wind.

A few items from the story that wasn't as strong or unclear:

Laurel - villain or not? She's Morgan's homophobic sister who hates magic, seems to be plotting with the evil witch and then she fell off to the wayside. And was forgotten.

Falyn's attraction to Morgan? I won't lie - I was hoping it'd turn into a threesome, a permanent one. Fane's brother started to desire Morgan, he went from homophobe to lusting after a man and not any man, his brother's man. And then it too went off into wayside.

Fane's youthful appearance was explained (mostly) but nothing was discussed as to why he received a new eye and hair color. And the biggest question of them all, how was he able to turn into a cat from his original shifter shape in the first place? The ending made it seem that he could choose any shape so what happened to his original one?

The last 15% - It got a little sloppy with trying to connect the dots with the plot twists. The effect wasn't a big moment which I usually get from this author. The villain had an agenda - what happened with the progeny? Some ideas were introduced and then kind of dropped. The epilogue didn't make much of an impact either - the ghost bit was a little late to the party. When the story focused on just Fane and Morgan without the family members, witches and drama, Shift in Time read great. It ends with a sappy HEA and no cliffhanger.

If the future pairing for the next story is who I think it is, I'm definitely down for reading #2.

For more information on Goodreads or Booklikes!