Review: Malrith's Shield (Dreamtide #1) by Azalea Moone

Forced into exile for being a dragon summoner, Kohaku’s problems only worsen when his dragon becomes inexplicably dormant. In attempt to find the reasons why, he runs into Sawyer, the handsome dragon hunter who freed him from persecution two years ago, and winds up awakening something very different—a love like no other he’s experienced before.

Sawyer’s never forgotten about the gorgeous red-haired summoner. He sets out to prove he’s no longer interested in slaying dragons. Instead, he wants to gain Kohaku’s trust, and his affection, while he helps search for the key in the dragon’s recovery.

However, there’s another frightful magic at play, and suddenly things are starting to fall apart around them. Can they maintain this forbidden love while facing the evils coming their way?


Kohaku and Sawyer has a not-too-happy initial meeting. Kohaku was a dragon summoner, which was forbidden. Sawyer was a dragon hunter who had mercy on Kohaku when he was found. Sawyer let him go, as long as he left and never returned.

Now, not only was Kohaku banished, but he's unable to summon his dragon. While trying to find answers, he ran into (and then away from) Sawyer, the dragon hunter who had let him go years before.

When Kohaku ran off after this second meeting, Sawyer chased after him not to punish him, but because he had never forgotten Kohaku. There was definitely an attraction between them, especially from Sawyer. It was obvious from their first meeting when he let Kohaku go, instead of punishing him like he was ordered to do. Sawyer's feelings toward Kohaku were a little insta-love-ish, but believable nonetheless.

Their journey was a fun one, to say the least. There was magic, dragons, knights, and kings, plus a couple twists and turns. The world building was vivid and painted a clear picture of Sawyer and Kohaku's adventure together. The ending was a bit convoluted for my tastes, but didn't take away from the overall fun-ness.

Malrith's Shield is high fantasy, but it's not too heavy on the world building. It was a light and fun read. A great introduction to a series that I look forward to continuing.

 A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Talking Trouble by Barbara Elsborg

 Two men are separated by more than the dam between their houses. Can Mollie be the path that unites them?

Flint Klavan appears to have it all. The sought-after British actor is affluent, loved and vocal in his professional life but privately he’s a mess. A devastating breakup leaves him full of self-loathing. He hopes to find the way to turn things around when disaster strikes. He’s left speechless with fear he’ll never get the chance to recover what he’s lost.

Mollie James has the perfect job teaching children, and used to have the perfect boyfriend. Attentive, kind and thoughtful. Only now he’s not. She has to sacrifice everything if she’s any chance to survive, and run as fast and as far as she can.

Lysander Weldon is a wealthy, talented artist who’s hidden himself away following personal tragedies. He shares his house and his body but never his heart. When opportunity to forgive confronts him, he has to choose between giving up his fortress or bracing to watch happiness leave him behind.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of physical abuse and MM content. 

E'ery once in a while I dig some self-created drama and Talking Trouble filled my quota for a little while.

This book started off great! We're introduced to Flint, world renowned movie star, hitting all the parties after wrapping his latest film. He is imbibing like Charlie Sheen and he's also getting blown by some chick who's name he doesn't know, but promises to help her get famous. During said blow job then exits rapidly after the big finish. He can't be held accountable for things said in the heat of the moment, right? He quickly heads to some random domme's basement where he asks for a beating, decides about two minutes into said beating that this was a bad call, but he's forgotten his safeword. Dumbass.

Self destructive character?

By Chapter 4 I was engrossed. Mr. Self Destruct has lost the ability to speak or understand others. Global aphasia secondary to a stroke at 33! EEP! He gets whisked away to Yorkshire by his publicist to begin recuperating and meets Mollie on the jogging trail shortly after she's moved into Lysander's house with his other roommates, Aden, Jean-Paul and Nikki. Flint's work with both his speech therapist and Mollie begins to give him back his voice, but he has trouble throughout the book, which I found endearing. Of the three MCs I liked Flint the best.

Mollie's fled London and her abusive dickweed of a boyfriend. TRIGGER WARNING! DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ON THE PAGE. Mollie is a bit of a Mary Sue and has a martyr complex, but she does have her moments and I didn't want to drop her in a vat of hydrochloric acid, so that's a win. She's also very accepting of both Lysander and Flint's sexuality. She gets points for that.

Lysander is an artist who's isolating himself in the countryside. I think part of it is punitive for a wrong he feels he's committed (which he did! He totally did!), and part of me wanted to feel sorry for him, but he's a douche. I get why he's a douche and that part of it is a defense mechanism, but still. 

All of these characters are imperfect which I actually think is a feather in the cap for Elsborg. The fact that I wanted to center punch all of them at one point or another added to my enjoyment and, really, who wants to read about perfect plastic people? Not I.

The way the character's storylines and backstories are interwoven played out nicely, held my attention and pushed the pace. Then there was the sex.

They had to work through some insecurities, but I liked the way communicated, among other things.

“Being bisexual is difficult,” Lysander said. “I’m not saying being gay is easy, but when you’re attracted to both sexes, want both sexes, the chance of having a relationship that satisfies all your needs is very small. Society might be coming round to the idea that being gay is okay, but they’re not there yet with bisexuality. We’re seen as gays reluctant to come out and a threat to other sexual identities.”

“Talk too much,” Flint said. “Do things.”

And they did.

There was dirty talk and manlove and a daisy chain and some cheesy dialogue that made me chortle. It were the shit! Even when I was like, 'say whaaaaaaa?!!?' I still kept turning the pages like a maniac.

The drama is soap operaesque and easily resolved and, therefore, unbelievable. Did I care? Not in the slightest. As a matter of fact, the whole ex-boyfriend turned stalker who's also a cop that keeps turning up like a bad penny just got to be comic relief.

He is very persistent and a crazy train. And that train gets a helluva lot of mileage. 

But the ending was sweet. I hope for their sake's the bad penny doesn't make another 1,987,354,025 appearances in their lives BEFORE THEY ACTUALLY CALL THE COPS!

An entertaining, fluffy, brain candy  read that will appeal to m/m/f enthusiasts.

A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Review: Imperfect by A.E. Ryecart

From the moment City corporate lawyer Josh Cooper saw Alex Fulbright in the crowded café, he knew his life would never be the same again.

With looks, money and success, Josh has everything, but his life isn’t as perfect as it seems. Alex, too, has his issues, craving a quiet life as he recovers from a trauma that has left him scarred and broken.

From hesitant beginnings, Josh and Alex finally find the love with one another that neither thought they would ever have. But is Alex hiding something? Josh is forced to question how much he really knows Alex and, after a chance encounter where Alex’s past is dragged into the present, Josh is faced with a stark choice: can he accept the whole of who Alex is, or must he walk away from the only man he has ever truly loved?

First off, let's get comfy before I start the review, huh? You get the snacks, I'll get the booze. Trust me, we'll need it.

I don't know where to begin. I have a barrel full of quotes and a shelf worth of alcohol. This is a book that if someone rated it a 1, I totally would get it. And if they rated it a 5, I'd understand. Because while this wasn't the best story written, I was entertained. I think I hated just about all the characters. Wait. I liked Liam, the best friend of Alex. And I pitied the hell out of Alex, the naive twink and star of the book. *pours* But the other main players aren't fit to lick the bottom of my shoe.

So...let me top off my glass while I start off with there is cheating. The author kind of tries to be slick with technicalities but Josh seeks out a relationship with Alex while still in a relationship with Dan. Josh could deny it all he wants from now until the second coming but he had a boyfriend, even if it was one sided. And it was emotional cheating. *sips*

And I think I'll just blurt out my feels because I thought this book was going to be seedy hook ups and alley way sex when the boyfriend wasn't home. Dirty call me when you get home so I jerk off when he's not looking. And it wasn't. It really wasn't. It was tamer in some aspects, like instead of cry-fests and slap-fests, it was kind of orderly. Not overly drama llama. Well except for that boyfriend. He brought the histrionics. *points* That is what I came for. Messy, bitching out. Worth the price of admission. Yeah!!!!!!

Josh is an older lawyer type who is in a relationship, cheats on his boyfriend and is a jerk. He hates commitment and yet finds himself saddled down with a boyfriend because it's convenient. He has a pre-midlife crisis of sorts when he sees a young blonde twink (Alex) working in the cafe. He saves him from being bullied and bullies his way into Alex's life. Now Alex has a past and it's very apparent what happened to him with his past boyfriend and yet he goes directly to Josh, a controlling, manipulative type who goes away without telling him where and when for days on end. He hides his phone, etc. Obvious things that are warning signs for most single people but not gullible Alex. *chugs* Thankfully, there's a Liam in Alex's life.
Liam: He was blunt and I can respect that. He was rough at first. But you know what? Head-in-the-damn-clouds Alex needed a friend like him because he kept getting hurt over and over again. And if Alex had no self-preservation, at least Liam had his best interests. Liam's way might be with his fists but sometimes there are people you just can't use words with. Pounding it out just is easier. *shrugs and gulps*

Josh is an asshole. It's not even about the cheating for me. He's a loathsome character and I really wished Liam was able to unleash the beast on him at least once. I would have 5 Hearted this book in a heartbeat if Josh got his asshole handed to him in a brown paper bag. *deep sigh* Josh was manipulative and an emotional abuser. And he knew what Alex went through and he still treated him like that? Alex could do better. Josh knew which buttons to push and how make Alex come to heel in a few amount of words. It was pathetic and yet fascinating. Like watching a train wreck.

The book runs high on emotions and reads like a soap opera and yet I devoured this 300 pg book in less than 24 hours. It was a case of  "I can't believe he's going to fall for this, let me see what he'll do next". The book was slightly drawn out. It could have been shaved 20-25%, but the major plot points made sense. And for a messy, tawdry plot, it didn't end up as messy or tawdry as I thought. And there were unexpected twists, some that went deeper than I expected. Trigger warnings: Off page rape/physical abuse.

Do I think Alex and Josh actually have a shot? Hell no. This is a case where the age difference and life experiences will come to bite them in the ass in the future. Thank goodness, this is fiction.

Alex needs to be taken into a witness protection program and Josh needs to have a double date with Liam's fists and boots. Alex has no voice in his relationship and the fact that he thinks he has a say is sad. Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun Alex! Come over here, it's a Josh free zone! Boo Josh!

On the SRAL scale of cray cray, this couple rates a 2 out of 7: We get it you're in each others pocket 24/7. Good for you. Low factor crazy.

*looks into empty glass* But I was entertained as hell. Wouldn't read it again, but I enjoyed the ride!

For more information on Goodreads or Booklikes!

Review: Redemption (Diversion #5) by Eden Winters

Living is the easy part.

Agent Lucky Lucklighter and his partner escaped Mexico alive, only to plunge into bureaucratic fallout from their mission. Hell, maybe Lucky should have stayed south of the border. Especially when the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau places Bo into rehab, and Lucky’s facing both therapy and an inquiry into a fatal shooting. Watching over his shoulder for a vengeful drug lord or a cartel don calling in favors leaves him scarcely able to imagine a future for them as agents, or as a couple.

Bo Schollenberger once had a vision for their life together, but he’s bowed beneath the weight of his undercover work. Lucky’s hanging on by his deeply chewed fingernails, clinging to hope by making Bo’s dreams of a home into reality. The last thing he needs is a phone call from a dangerous man who knows too much, summoning him back to Mexico for “an early Christmas present.”

Not when the SNB brass asks tough questions, like “How well do you know your partner?”

Best of the series. 

Hands down, this is the best of the freakin' best.

Lucky and Bo are home from their Mexico shenanigans, but are far from being okay. Bo went through the wringer in his last undercover op and didn't come back quite whole.

Oh, how my heart broke for Lucky during the first half of this book. He was just so... lost without Bo. Their roles were a bit reversed with Lucky pining after Bo and Bo being unsure of where they stand. Unsure if he's even ready to think about long term.

I've always been a huge fan of Bo. He's one of my fave characters ever and he's sexy as hell. But Lucky really stood out in this installment. He was strong and stuck by his man, no matter how difficult everything had become. I ached for him and all the hurt he endured for Bo.

The investigation in Mexico wasn't quite over and they had to revisit everything they had just escaped. There was some focus on this part of the plot, but book 5 really focused on Lucky and Bo.

You'll hear no complaints from me. Or from fans of this series, I'd imagine.

There's so much progress made relationship-wise and I couldn't be more pleased with where they are now, compared to where they started. I always felt the love from Bo, but like I said, this book was all Lucky for me. He simply loves Bo. It's 100% evident from all his selfless and heartfelt acts for Bo. He made my heart melt, and believe me, I never thought I'd say that about Lucky.

I seriously can't wait for the next installment. I need more Bo and Lucky in my life. 

Like, yesterday.

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Wake Me Up Inside (Mates #1) by Cardeno C.

A powerful Alpha wolf shifter and a strong-willed human overcome traditions ingrained over generations and uncover long-buried secrets to fulfill their destiny as true mates.

Regarded as the strongest wolf shifter in generations, Alpha Zev Hassick is surprised and confused by his attraction to his best friend. His very human, very male best friend. A male shifter has to mate with a female shifter to keep his humanity, so shifters can't be gay. Yet, everything inside Zev tells him Jonah is his true mate.

Maintaining a relationship with the man he has loved since childhood isn’t easy for Jonah Marvel, but he won’t let distance or Zev’s odd family get in their way. When unexplained ailments begin to plague Jonah, he needs to save his own life and sanity in order to have a future with Zev.

Zev and Jonah know they're destined for each other, but they must overcome traditions ingrained over generations and long-buried secrets to fulfill their destiny.

 D'aw! What a sweet little tale. 

The story starts out with Zev dealing with his family and their frustrations with his mating. Or rather, the lack thereof. They wanted him to find a female to be with, to help keep him human. But he refused to even look, because he knew his true mate was out there and Zev was biding his time, waiting for the perfect moment. 

Zev and Jonah grew up together. They were drawn to each other at a very young age, despite Zev being a shifter and Jonah being a human. Human/shifter relationships are unheard of within the shifter community, even friendships like Zev's and Jonah's. Their story is told through a series of flashbacks and from their childhood friendship, to their budding more-than-friends status.

But their road to being true mates was not an easy one. Zev made a lot of sacrifices for Jonah. While I think Zev had good intentions and his heart was in the right place, he was inadvertently hurting Jonah as well as himself. Some more communication between the guys would have helped things move along a little smoother.

Regardless of the lack of communication, you can be sure their story is not lacking in the sexy, love department. This is Cardeno C., after all. Zev and Jonah were hot and loving together. They're fated mates, but I didn't get the ista-vibe too much. Through the flashbacks their relationship was really developed from childhood and I felt that what they had was solid. Maybe there was insta-friendship, but I felt their chemistry and love for each other, even before it was anything more than friends. 

Wake Me Up Inside was a very enjoyable shifter story. I'm for sure looking forward to Ethan and Miguel's story!

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Excerpt & Giveaway: Wake Me Up Inside (Mates #1) by Cardeno C.

The lovely Cardeno C. is re-releasing her sexy shifter series, Mates. She's here with an excerpt from the first book, Wake Me Up Inside, and you have a chance to win an ebook copy!

A powerful Alpha wolf shifter and a strong-willed human overcome traditions ingrained over generations and uncover long-buried secrets to fulfill their destiny as true mates.

Regarded as the strongest wolf shifter in generations, Alpha Zev Hassick is surprised and confused by his attraction to his best friend. His very human, very male best friend. A male shifter has to mate with a female shifter to keep his humanity, so shifters can't be gay. Yet, everything inside Zev tells him Jonah is his true mate.

Maintaining a relationship with the man he has loved since childhood isn’t easy for Jonah Marvel, but he won’t let distance or Zev’s odd family get in their way. When unexplained ailments begin to plague Jonah, he needs to save his own life and sanity in order to have a future with Zev.

Zev and Jonah know they're destined for each other, but they must overcome traditions ingrained over generations and long-buried secrets to fulfill their destiny.


He reached out a trembling hand and stroked the soft fur on the head still resting in his lap. The wolf whimpered and turned into his hand, licking it. Then those familiar eyes looked up into Jonah’s face.

“Zev, I…I…”

Okay, so it’d be fine, but at that moment he felt cold and sweaty, he was having trouble getting air into his lungs despite rapid attempts to suck it in, he was nauseous, and he thought he might faint. Yeah, okay, so maybe he was in shock. Just a little bit.

Jonah dropped to his knees and then laid flat on his back, trying to calm down. He propped his feet up on the chair.

“Blondie?” Zev’s concerned face was right above him, petting his hair. “You’re shaking. Oh, damn. Jonah, do you hear me?”

He hadn’t even seen the wolf turn back into a man. It had happened that seamlessly.

“I… I… I’m fine. Just, um, need to lie down a little. Maybe…” Jonah tried to gather his thoughts. That effort alone was helping. “Just get me a blanket, okay? I’m cold.”

Zev shot out of the room, and before he knew it, Jonah felt a blanket being tucked around him. He looked up and saw that Zev’s gorgeous eyes were wide, his forehead was creased with worry, and his full lips were drawn in tight lines. Jonah tried to exude comfort.

“I’m okay, Pup. Promise. This is just a lot to take in. Give me a minute to adjust.”

All right, time to man up. So his boyfriend could turn into a wolf? Hell, he’d done rounds in the ER of a huge metropolitan city at night. Some of the shit he’d seen there firsthand was way scarier than a furry woodland creature who liked to nuzzle him. That train of thought almost made him laugh out loud.

He might have even managed a smile because he heard Zev let out a relieved sigh and felt the man relax, even though they weren’t touching. How could he feel what was going on in someone else’s body?

Okay, yeah, that was weird. He’d need an explanation. Add it to the ever-fucking-growing list.

“All right. So you can turn into a wolf.”

Jonah’s voice almost sounded steady. He gave himself mental props for that achievement.

“Yeah. Are you still freaking out?” Zev asked.

“Nah. You’re not the first seemingly normal guy I’ve seen turn into a wolf.”

“I’m not?”

Jonah shook his head.

“No. Of course, it usually happens at bars late at night when the guy’s had too much alcohol or controlled substances and he’s making a pathetic last-ditch attempt to get laid. Still, I’ll take your type of wolf over the kind that shows up right around last call anytime.”

Zev’s jaw dropped.

“Are you… Was that a joke, Blondie?”

Want to win an ebook copy of Wake Me Up Inside? Thought so. Comment below with your name and contact info (email, Goodreads profile, Twitter, etc) for your chance to win! This giveaway will be open until September 22, 9PM PST, when a winner will be randomly drawn. Good luck!

Unicorn Favourites: Love is an Open Road Stories: Weeks 11 & 12

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.  The stories are being released slightly slower now - and many are novel length - so we won't be reading them as quickly, but we promise, we're still reading them!. 

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 The Best Man by Olley White and An Unexpected Acquisition by L. L. Bucknor . That is all.

Sunny: The Last Yeti by Tully Vincent. 
4 stars

Maybe 4.5?

The loneliness, sadness, and pain were almost too much in this bittersweet story. So glad these two found each other, and made room for some happiness.

Will watch for more from this author :)

Optimist King's Wench: Angles by Tripoli
Tripoli did a fantastic job with an ambiguous prompt.

Mikhail and Dima are displaced Russians in Brussels. They meet at a sex club. Initially I was thinking this story would be some mediocre glitterkink filled with BDSM pomp and circumstance that would undoubtedly bore me to tears.

But it took a welcome and surprising turn down Suspense Lane ending up in Espionage Court.
 I love that destination!

Intriguing storyline with well fleshed out characters made for an entertaining read.

It's clear early on that Dima has suffered. His loneliness is palpable, and his self-image is so distorted that he's accepted his solitary existence. Were it not for his pushy and delightful best friend, Izzy, he'd be sitting at home eating TV dinners watching Eurovision. Perish the thought.

Mikhail is very dogged in his pursuit of the dysphoric Dima, arranging picnics, showing interest in many of the things Dima's passionate about and whispering filthy nothings in his ear while molesting him IN PUBLIC!!!!

“One day soon, I’m going to turn you over and fuck you over the table of our cottage. Fill you up with my cum; watch it drip out of you.”

Evocative and fluid writing style that drew me in and the imagery of Brussels and the surrounding area was very vivid. Makes me want to see it for myself.

Thanks to the author and their team for participating in the LOR event.

Lori: A Case of Time by Al Stewart and Noah Homes.

I loved this short story. So full of wit, and a wonderful understanding of relationships. I thought the fact that the MC's were older and the relationship established was a refreshing change (kudos to the prompter), and I adored how the authors made the story fun. It is something I'm appreciating more and more in my reading, the love and excitement in established relationships. 

Thanks for this story.

Review: Best Kept Lies by Helena Maeve

What becomes of the Russian spy who lands himself in the crosshairs of a rogue British agent?

Grigory Antipov’s work within the intelligence community is exemplary, but attracting too much attention is against his interests as a spy—a lesson painfully learned the night he is abducted off the streets of Rome. Captivity is a dangerous thing and Grigory already operates under a cloud of suspicion given his predilection for male company. Luckily, his stint in British custody is short-lived, a mere flex of muscle from Agent Karim Awad. 

Karim’s objective is obvious. Lure Grigory into Section’s clutches and turn him against his own people. Expose him to the wrath of Moscow if he refuses. His mission brief may not specify the methods to be used, but Grigory soon discovers that Karim is a man of many talents. With powerful interests at play and the threat of deadly force in the air, Grigory faces an impossible choice—surrender to his fate or sacrifice the only man whose touch makes him feel alive after so many years.

I love me some espionage. I love the exotic locales. I love the intrigue. I love the language with all its acronyms. I love that there are always plans within plans, that things are never as they seem.

As a matter of fact, if things had gone differently (and by differently, I mean if I could stomach killing someone with a bic) then Cupcake might've gone into the spy game.

This novella contains many of the things I like best about this subgenre. 

Grigory is an androgynous SVR agent who is on the radar of the director for advancement. He's cunning and ruthless and he plays the game like a true aficionado. Spies, by definition, are lone wolves and trusting another is typically not in their repertoire. Grigory is doubly cautious because he's a spy and gay in a country that considers homosexuality an abomination and tantamount to a death sentence, or in his case a quiet execution. 

When we catch up with him he's in Rome working with a very green asset that's SIS. Shortly thereafter he finds himself tased in an alley and the game is afoot! Best Kept Lies picks up quickly with diligent, chess moves and countermoves, cryptic subtext and smoking hot spy sex between Grigory and Kamir, one of his captors.

What's a little tasing amongst bedmates? 

The one wielding the taser is one Arabic SIS agent that is hot, just as guarded as Grigory and even more indecipherable. When these two get together the passion wafted off my kindle; they're literally ravenous for one another. Kamir is a take charge top which melts Grisha into a begging, desperate pile of goo. What surprised and delighted me was how shy Grisha was and completely undone by Kamir's... attentiveness. 

"Yeah, that's right... Scream for me, love. Let the neighbors hear you."

But there's little else that defines them. Hot sex is hot, but I don't quite grasp how they got from A to B. I feel like it was right there, just out of reach and if it had been slightly longer with more relationship development I would be rating this higher. The ending is very abrupt and, honestly, a bit farfetched for me to believe; it feels rushed and unfinished. Agents don't make impulsive decisions. There's too much at stake for that and there are always plans within plans, thus I had a hard time believe their relationship could ever be trusting.

What I loved was Maeve's usage of the English language. I wallowed around in her verbiage like a pile of freshly laundered fluffy towels. Words like propitious, métier, simulacrum and nimbus. If she'd walloped me with vicissitude I might've needed a change of under things. She also constructed the intricacies of international relations amongst agencies dexterously and engagingly.

I'll be on the lookout for other works by this author in the future.

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

Find out more on Goodreads.