Review: 2230: The Perfect Year by C.M. Corett

Alex Coulson spends his days as a lowly laboratory assistant. At night, he watches movies in his lonely apartment and dreams of exciting adventures and handsome leading men.

When an electrical fire breaks out in the lab, an experimental machine malfunctions and Alex is caught in the explosion. He awakens, injured and confused, to learn he has traveled two hundred years into the future—to the year 2230. Under the care of the gorgeous Doctor Baylin Davies (a definite contender for a leading man) Alex recovers quickly, and his feelings for Baylin deepen each day. Baylin is handsome, sexy, caring, and a verified genius—everything Alex could ever dream of. Add in the whole concept of living in the future, and Alex soon decides the year 2230 is the perfect year to begin his new life.

But then there’s the major…

Whenever the intimidating military man, Major Marcais, is near, a strange power overcomes Alex’s senses, clouding his mind and weakening his desire to be with Baylin.

When the major reveals he is an alien and declares Alex to be his life mate, Alex must find the strength to resist him. And while fighting for the man he truly desires, Alex just might discover he’s the leading man in his own adventure.

First things first. The premise, the set up, when and where this took place, plus an interesting take on fated mates was what intrigued me most about this story.

Per the blurb, Alex works for a research lab, and an unforeseen fire somehow activates an experimental time machine that transports him into the future 200 years. What he finds there is all sorts of fascinating, not to say the least, hot doctor Baylin, who’s in charge of his care. It’s not enough that Alex has to adjust to his new situation, but an enigmatic intimidating Major also muddles his thoughts and pulls at him like no one has before. It’s a shock to learn that Alex is the Major’s mate and the desire to please and be with him wars with his growing feelings towards Baylin.

I don’t want to nitpick this to death. I will say that I wanted more world building. I wanted more character development and relationship development between Alex and Baylin. Often though, these two read on the side of immature and very very enthusiastic which marred the plausibility of their connection for me. This is important because their feelings for each other should directly juxtapose the situation between Alex and the Major. However, Alex and Baylin’s connection was instant, their feelings immediate, so their dynamic’s too similar despite it being sincere while the other is manufactured.

Overall, I liked the potential this story had, and it had its sweet and sexy moments. Points for questioning the beloved trope of fated mates that we all like to revel in by posing the scenario of what happens when one side doesn’t want to give in to the pheromone pull. Again, I really think this would have greatly benefited by fleshing out both relationships and expanding on the too easy resolution. However, I am definitely the odd man out here so go forth and enjoy!

Thank you to the author/publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway + Blog Tour: Would It Be Okay to Love You? Year Two by Amy Tasukada

Celebrate the release of Year Two (Would It Be Okay To Love You?) with author Amy Tasukada and Signal Boost Promotions. Find out more about this contemporary romance and enter in the giveaway to win your very own copy below! Good luck!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 113 pages

Would It Be Okay To Love You? Box Set (Books 1 - 3) - Amazon US | Amazon UK


An ex-playboy. A robot geek. Can their love last when the whole world finds out?

Robot fanboy Sato has spent too much time alone hiding the love of his life. But when Sato comes out to his parents, it doesn’t end well. He no longer wants to conceal their relationship, but he doubts his boyfriend is ready.

Aoi might spend all day moaning as an erotic voice actor, but he doubts his legion of fangirls will approve if he comes out. With his career on the line, Aoi feels like Sato has pushed him to the breaking point.

As Sato opens up to more people about his sexuality, can they find a compromise that will make them both happy, or will it be too much for Aoi?

Year Two is the fourth book in the gay romance series Would It Be Okay to Love You? If you like Japanese culture and sizzling romance, you’ll love this year-in-the-life anthology collection.

Buy Year Two to confess your love today!

Amy Tasukada lives in North Texas with a calico cat called O’Hara. As an only child her day dreams kept her entertained, and at age ten she started to put them to paper. Since then her love of writing hasn’t cease. She can be found drinking hot tea and filming Japanese street fashion hauls on her Youtube channel.





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Review: Denying Fate (A Series of Fate #1) by C.C. Dado

Fate is a funny thing. Some try to cut its threads, while others wrap themselves in it like a blanket.

Young wolf shifter Max is cocky and crass. Unlike others his age, he has yet to discover a talent that will serve his pack. Since childhood, he’s been convinced the pack alpha is his mate, but Alpha Christian cannot envision unfiltered and directionless Max taking the place of his elegant mother at the head of the pack. As Max begins to build a life with his best friend, he also begins to see that maybe what he thought was inevitable was all in his head, and it’s time to move on.

Or are they both denying fate?

This was cute, short and perfectly fluffy. I love shifter books like this that focus on the couple and not all the pack politics usually involved. Also, this has fated mates and an omega so that’s always a plus too.

I will say right off the back this was told in an unusual and actually confusing way in the beginning. The story is about Max and his fated mate/Alpha Christian BUT we get the POV’s of Max and Max’s BFF Seth. I don’t know why Seth got a POV and Christian didn’t. Seth is important to Max and to the storyline but I would have rather got only Max’s POV or his and Christian’s. It was odd to have Seth start the book off, get a few pages in his POV and then just fade away. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Seth – his book is actually why I picked this one up – but I could have done without getting his POV in this book.

But anyway.

This was a fun read. I loved that Max has known since he was five that his Alpha Max is his mate but I was frustrated along with Max that Christian wouldn’t acknowledge him as such. Max is young and Max is a bit naïve about things, but Max is always honest and a comfort to those who know him. He knows that Christian is his ,so he goes about doing things to provoke Christian into admitting they are mates, even if it doesn’t always get the right reaction. It’s beyond obvious that Christian knows Max is his mate, with how he takes care of him, how he looks at him and how he’ll do everything in his power to protect Max. But Christian thinks Max needs to be more to take the place of his late mother, the omega.

Speaking of omegas. There is a bit in here about each wolf getting a talent that will serve their pack. Seth realizes his through this book, but it took a bit for everyone to realize what Max’s talent was; though Christian’s mother and the pack elders knew all along. Even Christian knew in his heart, it just took the chance of losing what he wouldn’t claim as his to take an honest look at Max.

Max and Christian have great chemistry. You feel it the moment they are on the page together and I got a kick out of how they flirt with one another. I think it was honorable and chivalrous that Christian gave a self-imposed penance to himself for how he treated Max and it was all worth it in the scene with their first kiss. That first kiss had so much meaning beyond the meeting of their mouths and it just melted me.

This was a short story that made me smile before bed. I really enjoyed Max and Christian and Seth as well. As I said before, it was Seth’s book that made me go back and read this so now I need to know all about the shenanigans Seth and Max get into so Seth can get an HEA too.

Side Note: for those who need on page sex; there isn’t any here. But it worked for the story.

An ARC was provided by the publisher.

Release Blitz: Safe Place (Rainbow Place #2) by Jay Northcote

Learn more about Safe Place (Rainbow Place #2) with the help of author Jay Northcote and Signal Boost Promotions today!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design

Length: 48,000 words approx.

Rainbow Place Series

Book #1 - Rainbow Place - Amazon US | Amazon UK


Where do you go when your home is no longer a safe place?

Alex is about to turn eighteen and is firmly in the closet. He’s been biding his time, waiting to escape to uni, and finally come out away from the oppressive influence of his homophobic father. When he flunks his exams, he’s stuck in the small town of Porthladock—and what’s worse is that he’s working for his dad. The only thing that makes it bearable is Cam.

Cam’s comfortable with his bisexuality, but he doesn’t broadcast it. Young, free, and single, his social life revolves around playing rugby and hanging out with his mates. He’s attracted to Alex, but with the six-year age gap, Cam’s wary of getting involved. Plus, he thinks Alex needs a friend more than he needs a lover, and as their friendship grows, Cam decides he’s not willing to risk ruining it for casual sex.

When Alex’s dad finds out about his sexuality, Alex is suddenly both jobless and homeless. He finds work at Rainbow Place, the local LGBT-friendly café and Cam lets Alex stay in his flat for a while. But Alex would rather be sleeping in Cam’s bed than on his sofa. With them both living under one roof, their feelings for each other grow stronger, and the sexual tension is hard to ignore. Will giving in to it ruin their friendship and complicate things for Alex even more?

Although this book is part of a linked series, it has a satisfying happy ending, and can be enjoyed as a standalone.

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.



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Review: Rebel (Ballsy Boys #1) by K.M. Neuhold & Nora Phoenix

"I don't do relationships, I break them." ~ Troy

If there’s one thing life has taught me it’s that everyone eventually leaves. But that's okay because I have a strategy: no friends, no boyfriends, limit repeat hook-ups, no sleep overs, and above all leave them before they leave me. I’ve put my break-up skills to work doing others’ dirty work for them. The last thing I expected when I agreed to do an embarrassing breakup song and dance was to end up on the doorstep of the very recognizable—and stupidly sexy—Rebel. When you meet a man like Rebel you'd be insane not to make a move. And just because he has me tossing out every single one of my rules doesn't mean I'm in trouble, right?

“I’m everyone’s friend, but no one’s everything.” ~ Rebel

I love working for Ballsy Boys, but when you make the kind of videos I do relationships are pretty damn impossible. Besides, guys find me sexy and want to either be with me or be me, but no one has ever cared enough to see the real me. Until I meet Troy. He has no problem whatsoever with my job, but he’s determined to keep me at a distance. For the first time, a hook-up alone is not enough. I want more with him. Hell, I want everything. But he resists at every step until I’m about ready to give up. What do I need to do to show him that this is real and worth fighting for?

***Rebel is the first book in the Ballsy Boys Series and is a super sexy MM romance with plenty of good times. While this book and this series do contain some instances of sex outside of the main relationships, they DO NOT contain cheating.

This was my first experience with both of these authors and while it had the potential to be a weightier read it was actually low angst, fluffy and sexy. It's also a nice introduction to a series featuring gay porn stars affiliated with a studio that bears a striking resemblance to the Cocky Boys.

Rebel is a Ballsy Boys staple who reminded me of Tayte. *growls*

NOT MAD AT IT! Heart eyes for days where Tayte is concerned.

Troy is a struggling college student who is trying to make ends meet by any means necessary including breaking up with others' paramours for them for money which lands him on Rebel's doorstep. In a banana suit. WITH WEED in there! Somewhere?

I digress.

Troy, being a porn star aficionado, of course recognizes Rebel right away. It just so happens Rebel is his #1 porn star crush so... one thing leads to another and these two have a sexy little friends with bennies thing happening.

I struggled with Troy a bit. He seemed sort of one note to me and Rebel is so outgoing with a charming bonhomie about him that I had trouble understanding their connection. Above and beyond their sexual compatibility, that is.

Troy has a childhood that is rife with hardships that has left him unwilling to make himself vulnerable to anyone. The feelings he has for Rebel he keeps channeling back into sex which works for awhile but Rebel is fairly dogged in his pursuit of more.

Make no mistake, Rebel makes good usage of the porn star angle. These two have large and in charge sexual appetites and are ready to go at a moment's notice. That pool scene... U.N.F.

The authors did a good job of building their relationship by utilizing dual perspectives. The progression from casual to more serious feelings between them was discernible. However, once they commit to being exclusive the story felt like it hit the fast forward button especially with Troy's ability to 180 on his relationship aversion. Some of the events and even his facing his feelings required some suspension of disbelief but it aligned with the overall tone of the narrative.

The secondary characters are what really caught my attention, though. I don't even have words for how much I want Bear and Pixie's book. Silver fox + twink?!!?!!!! Please kink gods, let them be kinky. Just a lil? Pretty please? With sugar on top? I can throw in some cuffs to sweeten the deal? #giver

But really, all of the other porn stars piqued my interest: Tank, Brewer and Heart. But I also really liked Troy's nerdy friend Mason. He needs someone that'll treat him better than his tool of an ex-boyfriend.

I'm antsy to continue the series and if you're looking for a light and sexy read, you've found it.

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

Release Blitz + Giveaway: Out in the Deep (Out in College #1) by Lane Hayes

Help author Lane Hayes and IndiGo Marketing celebrate the release of Out in the Deep(Out in College #1)! Learn more about the new adult series and enter in the $25 Amazon gift card giveaway!

Title: Out in the Deep
Series: Out in College
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Lane Hayes
Release Date: August 29
Heat Level: 4 - Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 41K
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Bisexual, College romance, Water Polo, Coming out

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Derek Vaughn is a little too serious. He’s a type A control personality with a penchant for order and a love of water polo. But he’s determined to enjoy his last year of college. The real world with a serious job and big expectations can wait for a few months. He’s going soak up every minute on campus with his friends and teammates before he moves on. The only possible kink in his plan is the new guy on the team… also known as his nemesis.

Gabe Chadwick has big Olympic dreams. His transfer between Southern California universities has nothing to do with scholastics. The degree is his backup plan. He’s not there to party or make friends. And he certainly isn’t going to announce his sexuality. But he can’t deny there’s something special about the uptight team captain. However, when an unwitting friendship and mutual attraction collide, both will have to decide if this is the real thing or if they’re about to lose it all in the deep.


Maybe I just needed a good night’s sleep. It had been a long day. And a weird one. I could never have dreamed up a scenario featuring Gabe Chadwick in my house after this morning. But here he was.

I gave him a thorough once-over as he walked into the kitchen. And again, the first thing that crossed my mind was, “Wow, he’s really fucking hot.”

“Nice place.”

“Thanks. Do you want some water or something?” I asked, awkwardly pointing at the fridge.

“No, thanks. I’ve had enough tonight,” Gabe replied with a laugh.

I should have said good-bye then and escorted him to the door, but I had a strong desire to keep him talking and maybe dispel the weird admiring thoughts going through my brain. Yes, Gabe was a good-looking guy, but I shouldn’t be fixating on his long eyelashes and the way the kitchen light framed him in a halo of sorts. I couldn’t let him go until my brainwaves returned to normal, and he was the same annoyingly smart and talented opponent I’d played against occasionally for years. The thing was, I didn’t really know him and at that moment, I wanted to.

“Where do you live?” I asked.

“About fifteen minutes away. I scored an apartment by campus. I have one roommate. Brent’s a volleyball player. We might get a third to cut expenses, but I don’t want to share a room, so that’ll be up to him.”

“Sharing a room gets old fast. Evan and I knew we wanted to live together, but I’d probably smother him in his sleep if I had to listen to him snoring every night a few feet away from me,” I said in a lame-ass effort to keep him talking.

Gabe chuckled. “That would be rough. Evan seems like a cool guy. Is he as neat as you? This house is spotless.”

“No, that’s all me. I can’t help it. I have a thing about order. Evan’s a slob. You should see his room. At least he tries in shared spaces. I don’t bug him about his unmade bed, scattered clothes, and random dishes he leaves on his nightstand as long as he keeps the bathroom and kitchen tidy. He’s been on the receiving end of a couple of classic Vaughn meltdowns,” I said with a self-deprecating shrug.

“A Vaughn meltdown,” Gabe repeated. “That must be a version of what I experienced this morning when you tried to drown me.”

“Fuck off.” I laughed, then looked away quickly when a rush of heat flooded my cheeks. Oh, my God. Please don’t let me blush. Not now. He’ll know something’s wrong with me.

Gabe stepped closer to me and cocked his head. “Are you blushing?”


“I don’t blush.”

“Whatever you say.” He winked and gave me a mischievous smile that turned me inside out.

This couldn’t be happening.

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Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is finally doing what she loves best. Writing! An avid reader from an early age, Lane has always been drawn to romance novels. She truly believes there is nothing more inspiring than a well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Lane discovered the M/M genre a fews ago and was instantly hooked. She is the bestselling author of the Better Than, Right and Wrong, A Kind of Stories and Leaning Into series. Lane's novels placed first in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves travel, chocolate, and wine (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an empty nest.

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Audiobook Review: Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride by Eli Easton

Being a fugitive in the Old West shouldn’t be this much fun. The year is 1860. Robby Riverton is a rising star on the New York stage. But he witnesses a murder by a famous crime boss and is forced to go on the run - all the way to Santa Fe.

When he still can't seem to ditch his pursuers, he disguises himself as a mail-order bride he meets on the wagon train. Caught between gangsters who want to kill him and the crazy, uncouth family of his "intended", Robby's only ally is a lazy sheriff who sees exactly who Robby is - and can't resist him.

Trace Crabtree took the job as sheriff of Flat Bottom because there was never a thing going on. And then Robby Riverton showed up disguised as a woman and betrothed to Trace’s brother. If that wasn’t complicated enough, Trace finds the man as appealing as blueberry pie. He urges Robby to stay undercover until the danger has passed.

But a few weeks of having Robby-Rowena at the ranch and the Crabtree family will never be the same again.

Narrator: Matthew Shaw
Listening Length: 7 hrs and 34 mins

I’m going to try to keep this short because there are multitudes of reviews already out there singing this book’s praises!

Per the blurb, Robbie, in a desperate move for self preservation after witnessing a murder, takes on the guise of his traveling companion and impersonates her to be the intended bride of a rancher. When said rancher's brother is the sheriff and quickly works out what’s what, their shared little secret is how Robbie and Trace bond while trying to find the right way to handle Robbie’s predicament.

Being an Easton story, this doesn’t shirk on the feels and relationship dynamics between Robbie and lawman Trace. This was definitely one of her more smexier works and unlike the anxiety most historicals invoke, this didn’t overly fray my nerves for which I’m quite grateful for.

Narrated by Matthew Shaw, this was my first listening experience of him and it won’t be my last! He did great voice distinction that was really easy on the ears and highly entertaining. Definitely an audio win for me!

Again, if you like Easton and westerns, know that this was a feel good story with plenty of great family dynamics, a good dose of gun shooting action, and some much appreciated hot smexy! A win on all fronts!

Thank you to the author/publisher for the audio in exchange for an honest review.

Don't miss the chance to win your own audio copy of Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride HERE! Ends 8/31/18

Audio Review Tour + Giveaway: Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride by Eli Easton

Help Eli Easton and Signal Boost Promotions celebrate the audio book release of historical romance, Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride! See our review HERE

Find out more about the Matthew Shaw narrated tale today and enter in the giveaway to win your very own audio copy!

Buy Links: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 7hrs 34 mins

Narrated by: Matthew Shaw

Cover Design: Dar Albert @ Wicked Smart Design


Being a fugitive in the Old West shouldn’t be this much fun. The year is 1860. Robby Riverton is a rising star on the New York stage. But he witnesses a murder by a famous crime boss and is forced to go on the run - all the way to Santa Fe.

When he still can't seem to ditch his pursuers, he disguises himself as a mail-order bride he meets on the wagon train. Caught between gangsters who want to kill him and the crazy, uncouth family of his "intended", Robby's only ally is a lazy sheriff who sees exactly who Robby is - and can't resist him.

Trace Crabtree took the job as sheriff of Flat Bottom because there was never a thing going on. And then Robby Riverton showed up disguised as a woman and betrothed to Trace’s brother. If that wasn’t complicated enough, Trace finds the man as appealing as blueberry pie. He urges Robby to stay undercover until the danger has passed.

But a few weeks of having Robby-Rowena at the ranch and the Crabtree family will never be the same again.

About Eli

Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, and organic farmer, Eli has been a m/m romance author since 2013. She has over 30 books published.

Eli has loved romance since her teens and she particular admires writers who can combine literary merit, genuine humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, bulldogs, cows, a cat, and lots of groundhogs.

In romance, Eli is best known for her Christmas stories because she’s a total Christmas sap. These include “Blame it on the Mistletoe”, “Unwrapping Hank” and “Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles”. Her “Howl at the Moon” series of paranormal romances featuring the town of Mad Creek and its dog shifters has been popular with readers. And her series of Amish-themed romances, Men of Lancaster County, has won genre awards.

In 2018 Eli hopes to do more of the same, assuming they reschedule the apocalypse.

Her website is
You can email her at

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Audiobook Review: Bromantically Yours by K.C. Wells

A friends-to-lovers novella that came from Out of the Shadows, because Nate and Dylan needed a story….

Nate and Dylan have been pals for a long time. So what if their friends think they’ve got a little bromance going? Doesn’t mean there’s anything more to it than that, right? And even if there is, Nate and Dylan are totally oblivious….

Until the night they share a drunken kiss—and everything changes.

Narrated by Daniel Henning
Listening Time: 3 Hours, 13 Minutes

Bromantically Yours was a sweet, no angst listen that was a pleasant enough diversion if not particularly memorable. The novella length story is a spin off to Out of the Shadows and I absolutely loved that book, but Bromantically Yours can be consumed as a stand alone. Although the buildup and introductions happened in Out of the Shadows are helpful because the reader/listener gets dropped into the bromance at the very beginning of this story as Dylan and Nate are off to the experimental races from the get go.

The author does a great job of making sure the connection between Dylan and Nate is strong and the loyalty they have to one another is unquestionable. I totally bought into them having more than “just friends” feelings going on even after the drunken kiss catalyst. There was no regret and little worry really after the fact. The expected angst wasn’t much of a thing, just anxious excitement as to what could happen next between them. So, while not the most believable thing, it did fit with overall tone of the story. The lack of conflict would not have worked in a longer story, but this was meant to be lighthearted and loving and that’s what the listener gets.

Daniel Henning is a new narrator to me and I very much enjoyed his tone and style. His pacing is easy on the ears and his words flow naturally. Unfortunately I didn’t feel he was a fit for this story overall. Dylan and Nate are supposedly straight but the narrator’s speech pattern is anything but stereotypically straight and became more effeminate and flamboyant as the story progressed. It took away from the whole plot point of two “straight” best friends falling in love (and lust). I would definitely listen to the narrator again with a book that his tone would match with, it just wasn’t this one.

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

Release Blitz + Giveaway: Top and Tails (With a Kick #9) by Clare London

Celebrate the release of Top and Tails (With a Kick #9) with author Clare London & Signal Boost Promotions! Learn more about the menage romance and enter in the backlist giveaway!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 46,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Lou Harper

With A Kick Series

Book #1 - A Twist and Two Balls - Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 - Hissed as a Newt (Sue Brown) - Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 - Slap and Tickle - Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 - Bells and Balls (Sue Brown) - Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 - Pluck and Play - Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 - Nice and Snow - Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 - Smack Happy - Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #8 - Double Scoop - Amazon US | Amazon UK


Three men, one love—and a passion he only ever dreamed of.

Karel Novak is content with his busy job in hotel refurbishment, enjoying the social scene in Soho, London and the company of new friends he met through working at With A Kick. All he’s missing is a special man in his life. Or maybe two.

His first meeting with the mercurial pole dancer Leroy and his socially anxious partner Griff isn’t impressive, but none of them can ignore the sexual spark that
flares between the three men.

Their relationship builds in steps of passion, frustration, and finally love. Both
Leroy and Griff have complex issues in their lives to work through, and at
first Karel brings a new dynamic that both settles and supports them.

But although he loves his men, Karel gradually realises the issues are still
present. His partners struggle with living individually as well as together.
His heartfelt wish is for them to create a lasting bond as a trio—but that
means putting others first, all too often.

And will that mean sacrificing his own joy and dreams?


Karel needed to stop this conversation. Not that the guys weren’t perfectly entitled to talk about whatever they chose, in their own home. But he didn’t want to get drawn into—

“There are several sculpture exhibitions in the arts festival, one at the local school.” Griff opened the booklet, as if ready to search the index.

“Karel?” Leroy was looking at him curiously. His hand squeezed Karel’s, his thumb distracting, massaging Karel’s wrist. He threw a comment to Griff, over his shoulder. “Let’s talk about something else.”


Leroy rolled his eyes. “Man, it’s too late tonight for chatting about art and stuff. Isn’t it?” The question was aimed at Karel.

“I… don’t mind,” he said.

But Leroy laughed. He swept the brochure from Griff’s hand, dropped it on the far end of the counter, then turned fully to face Karel. “Yeah. Talk about something else, Griff. Something just for fun. Like the time you made chilli frozen yoghurt and burned my mouth at the same time my tongue froze to my teeth—”

“—or the time you bought kids’ dance tights by mistake, fell over trying to put them on, and nearly strangled your balls?” Griff countered.

Everyone laughed. The awkward moment had passed. Karel was relieved he hadn’t been led astray by his own worries. The kitchen was suddenly full again of amused banter, with Griff leaning over the counter to gossip, and Leroy’s soothing yet stimulating touch on Karel’s skin.

And underlying all of it, a thread of fizzing, humming desire growing between them. Karel wondered how he would have coped if the conversation had gone a more cultural route, when all he could think about at the moment was energetic, obscene sex with these men.

He didn’t think he was presuming anything, either.

Finally, Leroy collected their empty plates, placed them in the dishwasher, then sauntered back to where Karel sat. He didn’t sit back down again, but stood there, his hip nudging Karel’s. Griff wiped the counter briskly but thoroughly with a wet cloth, placed it neatly on the side of the sink, took off his glasses, then came to stand beside him.

The dance was moving into its second set.

Karel stood, as steadily as he could. His skin prickled as if electricity sparkled over it, and his limbs felt almost too weak to respond. But when Leroy leaned in to kiss him, he was more than ready. He cupped Leroy’s cheek, thumbing the gentle bed of stubble, enjoying the brush of Leroy’s hair on the back of his hand. Karel pushed his tongue gently at Leroy’s mouth and the lips parted quickly, eagerly, for him. They kissed in near silence, the only sound their panting, the soft slick of their mouths.

And Griff’s soft breath in Karel’s other ear.

“We’ve taken this evening in the wrong order,” he said. When Karel turned reluctantly from Leroy’s kiss, he found Griff staring at him with a slow, seductive smile that Karel hadn’t seen before. “Dessert before the main course.”

“No,” Leroy said from behind Karel. “That was only ice cream. The proper dessert hasn’t even been served yet.”

“Whatever,” Griff murmured, rolling his eyes like Leroy had earlier, still smiling at Karel. He lifted his face for a kiss. His lips were plumper, his mouth wider. Karel didn’t know why he should be shocked that Griff’s taste was so different, but he was delighted by it. Griff was surprisingly assertive, thrusting his tongue into Karel’s mouth, his beard softly tickling Karel’s chin.

Leroy hadn’t moved away. His breath was warm on Karel’s neck, but Karel appreciated the way Leroy took his time: no one was hurrying. He relaxed into Griff’s kiss as he had Leroy’s, and behind him, Leroy’s lips touched the nape of his neck, kissing around to Karel’s throat and down towards his collarbone. Griff nipped briefly at Karel’s lower lip, just shy of breaking the skin and Karel gasped. Leroy slid his fingers briefly, tantalisingly, under the neck of Karel’s T-shirt, running along the seam, tugging it away from his body.

“I worked on the site today,” Karel said, not surprised to find his voice was hoarse. “I’m sweaty. My clothes are dusty.”

“You can shower here,” Griff said quickly. “If you want. Or…”

“…No. Do it after,” Leroy said, just as quick. His tone roughened. “I want you like this.”

Jesus. A wave of desire swamped Karel from head to foot. He leaned away from Griff as Leroy peeled the T-shirt over his head.

Griff’s gaze dropped to Karel’s chest and he licked his lips.

Leroy sighed happily. Then he took Karel’s hand and led him out of the kitchen.

Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with the weekly wash, waiting for the far distant day when she can afford to give up her day job as an accountant. She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters.

Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.

All the details and free fiction are available at her website. Visit her today and say hello!

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Guest Review: Lifeline by Amelia Lawrence

Alex Goodwin is a handsome first-year intern at a small town hospital in Pennsylvania. After five years of living with his abusive boyfriend, Cole, Alex has given up on ever being happy again—until his college boyfriend moves into town. Jack Reed is now out, proud, and a cop with a keen eye for those in trouble. Both can’t forget the love they shared for one another in college. As Cole’s abuse gets worse, Alex begins to see that he deserves better. But Cole Harrison is not one to let things go easily, as a grim reminder of his murderous past sends him spiraling into a rage that leaves Alex in the crossfire.

Reviewer: Annery

***3.00*** From my cold cold heart. (Really 2.75 but ¼ stars don’t exist)

On paper Alex Goodwin’s life is peachy. His dream of becoming a doctor has come true and he’s now starting his internship. He has a handsome & loving boyfriend who even helped pay for his medical school. He has friends who care for him even when his family does not. Reality is quite different.

Alex’s home life is a living hell. His live-in boyfriend, Cole, is controlling and abusive physically, verbally, and emotionally. This translates into an Alex who’s always nervous and exhausted which bodes ill for a medical intern. Cole has rage issues because … well basically because he’s a sociopath but the character’s back story is that before DADT he was outed and kicked out of the army. In civilian life he’s an accountant who resents everyone, is prejudiced, racist, and any other bad quality you can peg on a human being, but basically he’s an a**hole. One day a police officer gets injured in the line of duty and is brought to the hospital accompanied by his partner, Jack Reed, and Alex’s world is thrown for a loop.

It so happens that Jack was Alex’s college boyfriend. Things did not end well. Jack ended them spectacularly badly. They were young shy gay boys, closeted from their religious families at home, who, as is true for many, took their first forays into exploring and embracing their sexuality when they went away to college. They met during their freshman year, back when Alex was feisty and outgoing and Jack was seduced out of his shell. Things went well until Jack, incapable of publicly admitting his sexuality, sundered them inexorably apart. But the new Jack, the one who shows up at Alex’s hospital is an out and proud gay man, a police officer, who looks at Alex with tenderness, regret, and longing for the past. He offers a lifeline to Alex, even though he doesn’t “know” the extent of what is happening to Alex.

Ultimately this is a second chance, hurt/comfort story wrapped in a PSA about domestic abuse, and how it’s not a problem exclusive to heterosexual couples, or those without higher education. All of this is laudable and fairly well done and I’m a terrible person because ultimately this story left me cold. Sorry.

I’ve been racking my brains trying to figure out why I really didn’t care at all for these characters or their story, plausible & believable, though it was, and I’ve come up with things that are probably particular to me and my tastes. Therefore you should absolutely ignore them.

My biggest problem is that I felt nothing for Alex & Jack as a couple. Yes we get flashbacks to their cutesy campus life but that didn’t sustain or flesh them out for me. I didn’t believe or care enough about them to slosh through their, necessarily, messy reunion. All of the drama inherent to a person, Alex, who’s living under domestic abuse and has their happy/painful past come back, was just exhausting. Alex was terrified of Cole, snippy to his best friend, and prickly towards Jack. Perhaps accurate and understandable behaviour, but *ducks* he’s a character you don’t really want to hang out with. Why were Alex & Jack still in love each other? Dunno.

The side characters were also THAT: characters out of central casting. Again totally a personal taste thing. Jack has the boozy landlady, whose seen it all and done it all, but has a heart of gold. Fine. I can live with that. But did she have to be called Delilah? Then we have Alex’s “best friend” Andrea. I’m not sure whether to applaud the inclusion of her character or be annoyed. For starters how is she Alex’s BFF? It would seem, and I may be wrong, that they’ve known each other since Alex started at the hospital, where she’s a nurse. A year. Alex doesn’t appear to have any other friends which is usually true of people in coercive relationships. Their captors do everything possible to isolate them. Also Alex was so heartbroken after his break-up with Jack that he just lost touch with former classmates and friends; how is Cole, a racist control freak, okay with this “newfound” friendship with Andrea, who is presumably Mexican? To me her character was more of a nudge & wink to “we’ve got diversity here” and part of the “every gay guy has a female bestie” canon. Also, again personal, but can we stop with every character who’s meant to be Latino dropping random Spanish words when speaking to non-Spanish speakers. I would venture to say it’s not a thing. Don’t get me started on Andrea calling Alex papi at work? Umm … NO. Just no. Alex doesn’t come off as warm and fuzzy, more like nervous and reserved. I don’t think someone like that would invite one calling them papi. Much less at work. And I won’t get into how the use of papi as an endearment is usually more prevalent to folks from Caribbean descent than Mexican. Prevalent being the operative word. Anything is possible and can happen and I’m sure someone has a best friend who …. etc. etc. etc.

This brings me to my other BIG stumbling block. Cole. He’s properly evil and believable in his treatment of Alex. His belittlements, threats, and later crumbs of affection. He was perhaps the best fleshed out character in the ordinariness of his horribleness which is why when things took a movie-of-week turn I was disappointed. It was as if the author didn’t trust that the everyday humiliations, random physical violence, and unwanted sexual contact were sufficient to make Cole a proper villain. It was.

Again, this was the author’s story to tell however they saw fit, but all these factors and the lack of others made this not work for me. Not as a romance and only marginally as a hurt/comfort story. Others may enjoy it. It’s not badly written and tries to earnestly tackle domestic abuse. Kudos. I’ve never been so sorry to dislike something.