Reading Round Up: September-October 2010

September and October were steady reading months with some very good to excellent reads. Early in September I revisited (and reviewed for the first time) two of my favourite books by gay romance/erotica author Sean Michael – The Center of Earth and Sky and its sequel Painting the Desert now available only in a compilation entitled, Center (Torquere Press), and made a small dent in my reading pile with Tere Michael’s third book in the Faith, Love and Devotion series and the eagerly awaited sequel to Faith & Fidelity – Duty and Devotion (Loose Id). I also had the opportunity to review for Rainbow Reviews The Guardian Angel of South Beach by Neil Plakcy (Loosed Id) an author I’ve been wanting to read for a while, as well as reviewed for Three Dollar Bill Reviews Test of Faith by Aleksndr Voinov and Raev Gray (eXcessica Publishing). Finally, I had the pleasure of reading George Seaton’s Big Diehl: The Road Home (MLR Press) which I reviewed for Three Dillar Bill Reviews and his short story entitled Continuum (Untreed Read) for Rainbow Reviews, both of which I absolutely loved.

The Center of Earth and Sky by Sean Michael (Torquere Press) – Read Review

Painting The Desert by Sean Michael (Torquere Press) – Read Review

Duty & Devotion by Tere Michaels (Loose Id) – Read Review

The Guardian Angel of South Beach by Neil Plakcy (Loose Id) – Read Review

Big Diehl: The Road Home by George Seaton (MLR Press) – Read Review

Continuum by George Seaton (Untreed Reads) – Read Review

Test of Faith by Aleksandr Voinov and Raev Gray (eXcessica Publishing) – Read Review

Test of Faith by Aleksandr Voinov and Raev Gray

July, 1187: Saladin has defeated the Crusader army at The Horns of Hattin. While hundreds of his comrades have perished in the battle, Thierry de la Tour Rouge, a Frank and Templar Knight, has survived only to be taken prisoner by the Saracens. Thierry is living hell on earth, but he is alive and sure to stay that way if his ransom can be secured. The only thing those bloodthirsty heathens like more than spilling Christian blood is good Christian silver.

Parched, stripped of his armor and tied like an animal in a tent, Thierry fears torture in the attempt to break him and his faith. While he suspects that he has been bought and paid for, he doesn’t know why.

Abdul Basir is French by birth and a convert to Islam. As an advisor to Saladin, Abdul has been accepted by the Saracens and regarded with respect, but he will never be one of them. Thierry has been bought for him and while Abdul owns him, he cannot guarantee that Saladin will spare Thierry’s life.

In the spirit of acceptance and forgiveness and in the hopes of dying without torture, Thierry chastely kisses Abdul, hurtling them both into a clash of faiths and a contest of wills, one man motivated by the fulfillment of a fantasy and the other by the need to survive and keep his faith intact. In the process, they come to show each other mercy, kindness, mutual respect and trust – enough to reveal their desire for one another.

As Saladin holds the fate of Thierry’s life in his hands, can Abdul ensure the safety of this honorable crusader? Or will he have to find the strength and courage to let Thierry go in peace?

Continue reading

Reading Round Up: July-August 2010

Given all the activity and travel over the months of July and August I’m quite surprised that I managed any reading at all. Not much actually, but certainly more than originally anticipated. Reviewing was another matter altogether as I found it extremely difficult to sit still long enough, especially on the many glorious sunny days, to actually write reviews for all the books read over the course of both months.

In all, I managed to read five books of which I reviewed three. Two books read were from new to me authors, Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy and Normal Miguel by Erik Orrantia, the latter of which I reviewed for Rainbow Reviews. I also read the first book in a new series by two of my favourite authors Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine entitled, Let Them Try, which I reviewed for Three Dollar Bill Reviews. All of the books read over these two months range within the good to very good categories and some are excellent.

With autumn just around the corner (although you wouldn’t know it with the 40° Celsius sweltering heat of this past week) and the cooler weather setting in soon I hope to fall back into my natural state of reading and reviewing more.

Love Means … Freedom by Andrew Grey (Dreamspinner Press) – Read Review

Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy (Dreamspinner Press)

Stuck On You by Selena Kitt (eXcessica Publishing)

Let Them Try by Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine (M&V Tailz) – Read Review

Normal Miguel by Erik Orrantia (Bristlecone Pine Press/Cheyenne Publishing) – Read Review

Let Them Try by Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine

The police motto “to serve and protect” takes on all new meaning in Let Them Try.

Twenty-six years of dedicated duty as one of Baltimore’s finest should earn a man some reward. One autumn night in a dark cemetery, Officer Rick Baker is forced to reflect on his lonely, closeted life when he meets a strange young man under peculiar circumstances.

Diego is unlike anyone Rick has ever met, and Rick has to face a new reality he’d never imagined in his wildest dreams. Couple Rick’s deeply rooted need for love and companionship with Diego’s remarkable gifts, and even the threat of hell might be too tempting to resist.

Continue reading

Reading Round Up: June 2010

Happy Canada Day! June was quite the eclectic reading month for me from contemporary romance, to horror, to political intrigue. I re-read and finally put pen to paper to review Purple Hearts by Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine a contemporary romance that is simply a pearl of a short story. I also read two Amber Allure titles The Delaneys and Me by Anne Brooke an enjoyable erotic romp and Rick R. Reed’s latest horror title The Blue Moon Café a chilling werewolf tale, both of which I reviewed for Three Dollar Bill (TDB) Reviews. And for Rainbow Reviews I read and reviewed the final book in the Condor series by John Simpson, Condor and Falcon.

The Delaneys and Me by Anne Brooke (Amber Quill Press/Amber Allure) – Read Review

Purple Hearts by Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine (M&V Tailz) – Read Review

The Blue Moon Café by Rick R. Reed (Amber Quill Press/Amber Allure) – Read Review

Condor and Falcon by John Simpson (Dreamspinner Press) – Read Review

The Delaneys and Me by Anne Brooke

When Liam makes a scene in the middle of a restaurant after his boyfriend, Brandon, dumps him, he knows Brandon’s cousins, the Delaney twins, will be after him. The Delaneys head up the local gangster scene and are not to be messed with. Liam knows their retribution is imminent, especially since, in the heat of the moment, he threatened to take what he knows (and, really, he doesn’t know much) to the police.

It’s a recipe for disaster.

But when the Delaneys confront Liam, they give him a choice between being shot, or having sex with both of them and Liam senses that his evening might turn out to be rather more interesting than originally expected.

**********

The Delaneys and Me by Anne Brooke is an entertaining and witty ménage short story that provides a good mix of suspense and humour for a relatively angst free read. The story is written in the first person through the central character of Liam, who is quite cheeky and possesses a sarcastic disposition providing for a tongue-in-cheek narrative.

Anne Brooke builds the suspense from the beginning of the story well-capturing Liam’s fear as he continuously looks over his shoulder, awaiting the moment when the Delaney twins, Johnny and Mark, will show up to take their retribution. And show up they do to give Liam an ultimatum as to his choice of punishment – bodily harm or sex with the twins all night long, for as long as they want, in any way they want, until Liam doesn’t know who he is and is “as sore as a cold razor on a winter morning.” Of course Liam chooses sex.

The menacing twins put Liam through his paces, some of which are humiliating, all the while holding a gun on him thereby prolonging his fear and anticipation as he awaits his fate. For his part, Liam accepts their bidding like a trooper, growing progressively more daring in goading Johnny and Mark into bed.

“A cool touch on my cheek almost made me jump. When I glanced to my left, I could see Johnny had eased over the seat so he was right next to me. Somehow, I hadn’t heard him. Now he was stroking my face, his finger moving across my skin. I tried to steady my breathing and, when he touched my mouth, I opened my lips and sucked his finger inside. His breath hitched.”

The author cleverly handles Liam’s predicament which, as he puts it, is a choice between “terrible injury or rape,” and diffuses what is an uncomfortable subject-matter for many readers through Liam’s resourcefulness and tongue-in-cheek attitude. If sex with the twins is the only viable choice of punishment then he may as well enjoy it.

“If I was going to get raped—which was infinitely preferable to getting shot after all—I’d do my level best to make sure I got some kind of fun out of it.”

Another element that adds to the slight edginess of this story is the author’s characterization of enigmatic Johnny and Mark, which not only heightens the suspense and sexual tension in the story but also provides a level of unpredictability as to its outcome. There are several instances throughout the story and right up until the end when the reader is simply not sure as to what the twins will do. The build up throughout the story leads to only one road – a three way between Liam, Johnny and Mark. And while I expected a much hotter sex scene between the three, the scene itself is interesting in that it reveals the true nature of the relationship between Johnny and Mark.

The Delaneys and Me by Anne Brooke is a well written, slightly edgy and fun erotic romp that I enjoyed and believe others will as well. The manner in which the story ends leaves the door open to future possibilities for these three, and in particular in respect of the relationship between Johnny and Mark, which I’m sure will delight fans of this author should she decide to further explore their relationship.

The Delaneys and Me by Anne Brooke is available at Amber Quill (Amber Allure) Press.

NOTE: This review was originally published online at Three Dollar Bill Reviews.

Reading Round Up: April-May 2010

The business of real life continued to interfere with my reading and reviewing during April and May. Too much work and lack of free time prevented me from reading as many books as I normally would over a two-month period.

On the positive side, virtually all of the books I did read fall into the category of very good to excellent reads. So the theme for Spring 2010 is quality over quantity. I’m starting to get through the backlog of reviews and hope to fall into a more regular pace of reading and reviewing for the month of June.

The Boy Can’t Help It: Sensual Stories of Young Bottoms by Gavin Atlas (Lethe Press) – Read Review

The One That Stayed by TC Blue (Torquere Press) – Read Review

Safe As Houses by Alex Jeffers (Lethe Press) – Read Review

Still The One by Shawn Lane (Amber Quill Press/Amber Allure) – Read Review

Tales From The Sexual Underground: Fact, Fiction and Stranger Than Fiction by Rick R. Reed (MLR Press) – Read Review

Happily Ever Before by Jaye Valentine (Noble Romance Publishing) – Read Review

Tales From The Sexual Underground by Rick R. Reed

“I wanted to write about people who were not just out, but out there, people who lived their sexual lives in ways most of us could only imagine … and for whom the flavor vanilla had absolutely no appeal. I interviewed porn stars, prostitutes, self-proclaimed sex pigs, and delved into bizarre sexual practices. It was eye-opening, arousing, and a lot of fun (but never, never good clean fun). I also include here my favorite dirty stories. They all explore a side of life that exists not in the twilight zone, but in my favorite destination … the sexual underground.” ~ Rick R. Reed ~

Tales From The Sexual Underground: Fact, Fiction and Stranger Than Fiction by Rick R. Reed is a daring and provocative collection of forty-three short non-fiction essays and fictional stories that explore the fringe of gay male sex – “fetishes, porn, misdirected affection, misguided objects of affection, polymorphous perversion or just plain perversion.” Both the title of the book and much of its substance are borne of a weekly column Mr. Reed wrote for a Chicago entertainment magazine called Nightspots. These non-fiction essays are complemented by the author’s favorite fictional dirty stories and the collection represents some of the author’s best writing to date.

Continue reading

The Boy Can’t Help It: Sensual Stories of Young Bottoms by Gavin Atlas

At some point, hasn’t every bottom yearned to be ravished by a powerful, inescapable top? What dominant hasn’t fantasized about a gorgeous young sub with an incredible ass, so horny he could never say no? The Boy Can’t Help It offers over a dozen such stories of beautiful young men: a gymnast, a diver, a surfer, a marine and an assortment of college boys submitting to construction workers, horny professors, butch jocks, corporate titans, insatiable miners, and even one’s own psychiatrist.

Continue reading

Happily Ever Before by Jaye Valentine

Featuring the White Queen and Red Knight from Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass, And What Alice Found There,” this erotic short story by Jaye Valentine incorporates Carrollian elements of nonsensical comparison and White Queen-specific time distortions, all wrapped up in a pretty, gender-bending package.

Continue reading