All in a Days Work Anthology

From Dreamspinner:

A guy’s got to make a living. He can do it the conventional way—by selling cars, scooping ice cream, or delivering sandwiches—or he can earn his money as a spy, a historical interpreter, or the host of a myth-busting television show. Whether the men in this anthology are working hard to build their own business or performing in drag at a dance hall, every day has the potential for surprises and the chance to satisfy their lust or maybe find something more permanent. For the guys in these stories, what’s all in a day’s work might be anything but what they expected.

Blurbs

Ice Cream Dreams by Shae Connor
Gage Albert is working at his Uncle Gordon’s ice cream shop when well-regarded young chef Loren Rey stops by, interested in using the shop’s unique flavors for his new restaurant. Gage plies Loren with samples and banter and soon finds ice cream isn’t the only thing on the menu. After the men share a hot night together, Gage approaches his uncle about Loren’s ideas, but he fears Gordon’s religious nature may mean rejection not just for Loren but also for Gage, who isn’t out to his uncle. Torn between the business and the personal, Gage has to decide if a future with Loren is worth revealing all.

**
Nice story about coming out and finding love. 3.5/5 hearts

My OTP by Bru Baker
Troy Casley and Ryder Hamilton cohost a popular myth-debunking reality television show, and their on-air chemistry is a big part of the show’s huge fan base. Fans have long suspected there’s more between them than just friendship, and most posts on Tumblr about them are accompanied with exclamation points and the tag OTP–One True Pairing.Little do the fans know, but they’re on to something. Troy and Ryder have been having a secret affair for months.

But Troy wants more than just a casual relationship with Ryder. Like their hardcore fans, he wants Ryder to be his OTP. When Ryder discovers the social media sites where Troy obsessively reads about them, his reaction just might surprise Troy.

**
Really cute story about finding out how much you mean to the other.
4/5 hearts

The Bet by Holly O. Hale
Established couple make a bet about having sex at work.

**
Very hot story about illicit sex while at work.
3.5/5 hearts

Not Quite 1776 by Therese Woodson
As a historical interpreter for a living history museum, Henry spends his days doling out facts about the American Revolution while wearing breeches and a tricorn hat. When he’s not working, he’s a serial flirt with a long string of one-night stands in his wake, never allowing anyone to get too close.

However, when a reenactment group comes to town for the weekend, Henry meets Owen, a private in George Washington’s army. After an intense encounter in Owen’s tent in the encampment, Henry breaks his self-imposed rule by seeing Owen again. It is clear Owen would be open to more between them, and Henry is falling hard in spite of himself. The trouble is Henry’s never been in a relationship and isn’t sure where to begin.

**
Very hot sex, and the beginnings of a relationship between a history enthusiast and a commitment-phobic local. This is one of the better stories, definitely would have been better if it had just been a little longer… but their HFN was very sweet.
3.75/5 hearts

Extra Mayo by Henrietta Clarke

Very sweet story about a guy with social anxiety disorder who meets a sandwich delivery guy at his office and the two navigate both their insecurities to go out on a date.

**
Really sweet and funny. It did a lot for a short story and hinted at a very HEA. I loved it. 4.5/5 hearts

Short Timer by Jenni Michaels

The fantasy shared by a couple about meeting for the first time at a car dealership.

**
Cute, sexy, short.
2.5/5 hearts

Dance Hall Days by Amy Jo Cousins
London, 1932

Bouncer Frank Armstrong has been watching drag performer Laurie Hale for months—watching him mesmerize the audience with his beautiful voice and shy charm, and watching him fall for the honeyed words of wealthy men who come to the ballroom slumming. One night, Frank finds Laurie suffering his latest heartbreak and decides to clean him up and give him some advice, but Laurie is in no mood for a lecture. An anti-sodomy raid puts a halt to Frank’s speech, and while the two of them hide from the police in a secret storage closet, they acknowledge the attraction between them. But it will only blossom into more if Laurie can convince Frank a dance hall songbird can be as strong as the man who guards the door.

**
Longish, historical story about pre-conceptions and living in tough times. It’s pretty depressing, but sweet and touching in the end.
3/5 hearts

Unmasked by Kay Walker
In the near future, the line between the poor and the Uppers—the cruel and greedy rich—is sharper than ever. Raven’s work as a spy is to maintain the public persona of a member of high society while teaming up with his tech handler, codename Glitch, to electronically steal from the rich and redirect resources to the poor. They’ve set their sights on avaricious Upper Jakinda Diaz, who Raven has been studying for months. After a close call on the mission, Raven returns to their safe house full of restless energy. Both Raven and Glitch need to relieve the stress of their dangerous careers in espionage and they find that with each other.

**
Easily the best of the bunch! Exciting spy story with futuristic toys and a hero’s agenda. The romance is a little bland, mostly because the couple is already established, but it’s still a great little story and I wouldn’t mind reading more from this author and especially this “world”.

4/5 hearts

Overall, 3.75 of 5 hearts – if you like short stories this is a very enjoyable, well written and fun anthology.

heart4

To buy

Amazon

The Shearing Gun by Renae Kaye

From Dreamspinner:
At twenty-five, Hank owns a small parcel of land in Australia’s rural southwest where he supplements his income from the property with seasonal shearing. Hank is a “shearing gun”—an ace shearer able to shear large numbers of sheep in a single day. His own father kicked him out when his sexuality was revealed, and since no one would ever hire a gay shearer, Hank has remained firmly closeted ever since.

Elliot is the newbie doctor in town—city-born and somewhat shell-shocked from his transplant to the country. When a football injury brings Hank to Elliot’s attention, an inappropriate sexual glance and the stuttered apology afterward kickstarts their friendship. Romance and love soon blossom, but it’s hard for either of them to hope for anything permanent. As if the constant threat of being caught isn’t enough, Elliot’s contract runs out after only a year.

My Review

Hank gets hurt playing “footy” and meets Elliot. There is some instant attraction, but Hank ignores it because he doesn’t “fish where he lives”. Hank fears being gay bashed like his uncle was and only goes to the city for anonymous sex and has resigned himself to a life of hook-ups and no real relationships.

Elliot the Quack (called by Hank, then turned into Quack Elliot, then Quakel) comes out to Hank but accepts that Hank is “straight” and becomes a good friend. Even once Hank is accidentally outed to Quackel the two are reluctant to start something up in their small, rural town, though the attraction is simmering between them.

As time goes by the reasons for not “fishing” get murkier and murkier until suddenly Hank was thinking about “fishing” but in fact he was already “hooked”.

**

I can’t say enough positive things about this book. It is funny, sweet, sexy, touching, a teeny bit angsty and just fun to read.

The Australian dialect is hilarious in the hands of the wooley headed sheep farmer and even Elliot has to translate sometimes to keep things clear.

The fishing theme is so well done! It gives Hank this way to think about his attraction to Elliot in this non-sexual way that ends up being totally emotional. Lines like “Suddenly fishing was my favorite pastime” or “I was a born again fisherman. “ And “Although fishing wasn’t all smooth sailing. Fishing trips got canceled at the last minute…”or “It seemed that the fish in my backyard were leaping from the pond onto my fishing rod”. I just loved them! So well used and imaginative and absolutely in character for Hank who is secure in his sexuality, mostly, but can barely get the words “I’m gay” out when the time calls for them.

The relationship between Elliot and Hank is magical. It’s such a slow burn as seen through Hank’s eyes. At first Elliot barely blips on his radar. Then, bit by bit, he grows on him, and suddenly what was sort-of attractive becomes beautiful. He’s now worrying about Elliot leaving him and wondering how he’s going to live alone for the next 25 years without him. Gah! So touching and sweet!

Meanwhile Elliot is just quietly persistent, he may have an end game in mind, but you’d never know it. He just does his thing, not hiding, not pushing, just being there, until now he’s a vital part of the community, of Hank’s life, everything.

I have really enjoyed all of Renae Kaye’s other books and this one tops them all.

I highly recommend this and give it 6 of 5 hearts, because I just want to go back and re-read it already!

amazing

To Buy
Amazon

Forgiving Thayne (True Mates #2) by JR Loveless

From Dreamspinner:

Nicholas Cartwright has done everything in his power to forget that night six months ago in Senaka, when his true mate rejected him, leaving him shattered and disillusioned. Burying himself in his work, he pushes himself to the point of exhaustion while finding the touch of another unbearable. Suddenly his mate needs his help, and he may be asking for more than Nicholas can find it in himself to give.

Thayne Whitedove has always been a wanderer, spending his days on the road and his nights wrapped in the arms of whatever random hookup he meets, until a fateful mistake sends him rushing for the comforts of home. To his utter dismay, the only way to correct his error in judgment is to accept the one thing he’s never wanted… his mate. Thayne must decide whether to keep running or to stay and fight for Nick’s forgiveness.

My Review

This is the sequel to Chasing Seth and it pretty much takes up right where that left off. Namely, Seth is settling in with his mate and Nick has just met Thayne (his mate) and been rejected by him.

Thayne carries lots of guilt and secrets, mostly about Created Ones and Mates. He absolutely doesn’t want a Mate, doesn’t think he deserves happiness, but isn’t in a position to stop the events that force him and Nick together.

Nick carries a bit of guilt himself over his involvement in making Taggart, a Created One, but is mostly excited about having a Mate and dumbfounded and hurt by Thayne’s continual refusal to complete the mating bond.

Danger chases Thayne and arrives at Senaka’s doorstep, forcing Thayne to reveal secrets and forcing him to complete the mating bond in order to save himself and others.

Nick, despite EVERY reason to turn his back on Thayne, agrees to help for the sake of the pack and his mate to complete the bond.

Once mated, the pair move back to California to join Nick’s pack, but Thayne continues to act like an a**hole and the two are as miserable in California as they were in Wyoming.

The danger is still present and in fact has followed them to California, forcing Thayne and Nick into close quarters which does much to bring them into a more real mating, but it takes violence and near death to make them realize how important they are to one another.

**
This is somewhat hard to rate and review because on the one hand I really liked the story. I thought the hurdles were somewhat realistic, the danger well plotted and the shifter world interesting and mulit-faceted.

On the other hand I thought the main hurdle: Thayne not wanting a Mate was way over-played. It didn’t make sense for him to continue to hang on this argument when over and over and over he was shown how a Mate is a good thing and not something to weaken you or cause you to be “enslaved”.

Nick acts like a door-mat the entire time, and this drove me bonkers. He should have booted Thayne out the door right from day one. I get that it goes against his mating instincts and his desire to help the pack, but Thayne does not make it easy to help him. Even when Nick gives up practically EVERYTHING to Thayne in order to help him, Thayne continues to act like a total prick-douche-bag and I, for one, wanted to punch him in the nuts!

The ending was very satisfying if a little rushed, and though I was happy to see the HEA for these boys I didn’t fully buy it. Sure, they have the Mating chemistry to pave the way and that covers a lot of romantic ground, but even with all those pheromones Thayne managed to be a big ole jerk to Nick, so I didn’t quite buy his immediate 180 from enemy to love.

Overall, if you enjoyed Chasing Seth you will definitely want to read this – Seth and Kasey play a big role in this book and this is more or less an extension of their story, too. If you like shifter romances this will satisfy but be patient. It’s a long book filled with a lot of (in my opinion) prolonged angst that doesn’t move the story forward but only serves to make Thayne look bad.

I liked it and give it a 3.5 of 5 hearts.

heart3point5

To buy:

B00NW0IY9Y

Home Run (Sequel to MIghty Casey) by Willa Okati

From Loose ID:

Sequel to Mighty Casey

If opposites attract—and in this case, they do—then Casey and Nate fit like puzzle pieces. Though married for a year and still rocking the honeymoon lifestyle, Casey’s starting to feel like it’s time for the next big challenge.

Casey’s never been interested in having kids, but knows Nate would love a family of their own and would be a fantastic father. He thinks he’s ready to put aside past prejudices, but he knows it’s not the kind of decision you make on a whim. Nate only wants to have a family with Casey if Casey wants it just as much. Neither would accept anything less.

The annual Rule family reunion is the perfect time and place for Casey to take his hopes for a test drive and inform his choice. He’ll have plenty of chances to practice—with Nate’s ménage-a-parents and seven sisters, there’s a smorgasbord of family to observe and a half-dozen babies to test his limits.

(And a few games to play. This is Nate, after all!)

Is Casey ready to grant Nate his wish to become a dad and wind up the pitch for a proper “home” run?

My Review

Nate and Casey have been married for a year and life is going along great. Nate has hinted he’d like kids, he’s one of 7 himself, but Casey isn’t so sure.

The two go to a family reunion of Nate’s family and it is there that Casey’s decision is cemented. Nate’s family is wonderful, 6 girls, all married, most with several kids, and even a new addition from another side of the family shows up to add more fun to the mix.

As with Mighty Casey, the two have lots of hot sex and are very touchy feely the entire book. For me, a lover of sap, it was heavenly.

I just loved Nate’s family, his two dads, and a mom, the sisters, the kids, the chaos… I liked seeing the changes a year of marriage had brought to the couple and enjoyed seeing Nate’s teacher friends again.

There is a brief epilogue, too, another of my favorite things, that will leave you smiling.

Overall, this was an excellent sequel to a great book and I highly recommend it.

I give it 5 of 5 hearts.

heart5

To Buy: Amazon

 

Firestorm by Rory Ni Coilean

20935491
Rian Sheridan is a foundling, a Northern Irish Catholic corner boy whose world was destroyed in fire, and reborn the same way, beside an Orangemen’s bonfire last July the Twelfth. A consuming, dimly-remembered pain in his past calls to him, taunting him, daring him to find it and lose himself to it in the S&M underground of Belfast. Cuinn an Dearmad is the last surviving Fae Loremaster, and he’s just seen the beginning of the death of the Realm, the haven of the Fae race. The only hope of stopping it starts with him finding the Prince Royal of Fire he stole from the cradle, and lost in the human world, many years ago. He has a few guesses about where that hope ends, and he doesn’t like any of them. Rian and Cuinn are an impossible pairing, two SoulShared Fae. Any two Fae will strike sparks, but these two Fae are a conflagration. Unable to stand one another, yet drawn into an escalating series of sexual collisions, their passion will either save a world or destroy it.

Review

This is Rory’s fourth book in the Soulshares series and it is definitely the best, a close tie to the first though.

As I have noted with the other three books, this is a very densely written, carefully constructed world and though you might be able to figure things out without reading the other books, I don’t recommend it. The richness of the world, the other characters, the chronicity of the story all culminate in this final book and it would not be nearly as good as a stand alone book.

Cuinn is a character that captured my interest right from the start and he doesn’t disappoint in this book. His love, Rian, is also a great character – perhaps the most complex in the series. He has lived a life of pain and relates to others only through that medium. It is heartbreaking at times to read his story, but it makes his happiness that much more sweet when he gets it.

The evil Marfach is still a factor and the battle for the ley line energy continues in this book. We are given an ending – mostly tied up, somewhat heartbreaking, but overall satisfying with just a hint that if there was more to be said, it could be.

I enjoyed this series and recommend it – especially to people with vivid imaginations, an appreciation for detail, an enjoyment of snarkiness and a love of Fae.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 hearts

heart4point5

To buyAmazon

Creature Feature 2 by Poppy Dennison and Rhys Ford

Two Men. One Apocalypse.

Rise of the Revenants by Poppy Dennison
Vampyres are on the loose in Detroit, and novice hunter Taz Cohen is on the job. The mission seems simple: stop the vamps. But Taz knows nothing about the mythical creatures, so he’s in for the fight of his life. Then he meets insanely attractive construction worker Darren Foster, who jumps into the battle with both feet. Sparks and bullets fly as they struggle against the vampyre horde and their attraction to each other. Avoiding gruesome death from the undead might be easier than shielding their hearts from each other.

Legacy of Blood and Death by Rhys Ford
For Javi Navarro, Detroit will become another blood-splattered city in his rearview mirror after he puts its dead back into the ground. Expecting an easy hunting job, Javi instead finds a kiss of ancient vampyres on the hunt for a descendent of their long-dead creator.

Reclusive Ciarnan Mac Gerailt abandoned his family legacy of blood and death magic after it nearly destroyed him. Unfortunately, the Motor City can only be saved if Ciarnan resumes his dark arts and joins forces with Javi Navarro, the hunter who brought the vampyre apocalypse—and hope for the future—straight to Ciarnan’s front door.

My Review

Rise of the Revenants:
Taz is a hunter of werewolves (not shifters) and now vampyres (kind of like zombies but with more reasoning ability). Some old and powerful witches made these vampyres and now it is up to Taz (and later Javi) to clean up the mess.

Darren is a construction worker who happens to be working on sites that these vampyres are haunting. We find out there are no such things as coincidences, and there’s a reason for the vampyre’s location choices. Darren has lost a friend to their attacks so he is devoted to the idea of taking them down. It helps that he and Taz are super attracted to one another and that by chipping in he gets to help keep Taz close and safe.

This story “bleeds” into the next and at the end Darren and Taz have won the battle if not the war and are headed toward a future together.

Legacy of Blood:
Javi is a hunter of vampyres and is hot on the trail of one of the descendants of the witches that created the monsters. When he meets him he finds a powerful witch who no longer practices because he’s afraid of what his power can do. He convinces him to help as a layman and the two plan a trap for the “ticks”. Along the way, the two manage to find lots of common ground and chemistry together. When the final battle occurs, our boys are victorious and Javi and Ciarnan plan on sticking together to fight for Detroit’s future. We also find that Taz and Darren are still together and planning a future in Detroit as well.

Both stories were pretty detail oriented, laying lots of back-story, and focused a lot on the battle/action. I am hoping this is because there is a series planned? (Would be awesome!) The ending certainly leaves it wide open for such an occurrence.

Taz and Darren’s story isn’t as sweet or loving as Ciarnan and Javi, but you definitely feel their feels, and trust that they have a future together.

Rhys, in the way that she does so well, manages to throw the Kincaids (Hellingers) into her story and maybe we can see a cross over in the future.

There are also lots of “hunter” references, both boys drive Chargers and Javi can’t understand why anyone would drive an Impala unless it was to get busy in the back seat.

Both stories are funny, full of action and some hot sex and all around fascinating tales.

This gets released just in time for Halloween, and I highly recommend it with 4.5 of 5 hearts.

heart4point5

To buy after September 29, 2014 from Dreamspinner.

Fever Pitch by Heidi Cullinan

Book Two of the Love Lessons Series

Sometimes you have to play love by ear.

Aaron Seavers is a pathetic mess, and he knows it. He lives in terror of incurring his father’s wrath and disappointing his mother, and he can’t stop dithering about where to go to college—with fall term only weeks away. Ditched by a friend at a miserable summer farewell party, all he can do is get drunk in the laundry room and regret he was ever born. Until a geeky-cute classmate lifts his spirits, leaving him confident of two things: his sexual orientation, and where he’s headed to school.
Giles Mulder can’t wait to get the hell out of Oak Grove, Minnesota, and off to college, where he plans to play his violin and figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. But when Aaron appears on campus, memories of hometown hazing threaten what he’d hoped would be his haven. As the semester wears on, their attraction crescendos from double-cautious to a rich, swelling chord. But if more than one set of controlling parents have their way, the music of their love could come to a shattering end.

Warning: Contains showmances, bad parenting, Walter Lucas, and a cappella

My Review

Finally!

That’s what I said when I found out Love Lesson’s was to finally have it’s sequel!

I knew it had been planned for a long time and was super excited to finally read it! Let me tell you that I was NOT disappointed!

This is another long book of the new adult variety, in keeping with the Love Lesson’s theme. Fever Pitch takes place at another university in the mid-west, small and liberal arts oriented – but no gay swans, mores the pity.

Aaron and Giles actually attended high school together their senior year. It is in their last days there that Aaron begins to give in to his cravings for male romance and Giles is happy to help him explore this side of his personality. Unfortunately, both boys are really quite scarred from past experiences and the relationship is over before it really begins, leaving Aaron tentatively in lust/love and Giles really pissed off.

Aaron follow Giles to St Timothy’s University, mostly in stalker fashion, and over the course of many months they eventually forge a friendship through their mutual love for music.

During this bonding process we get to see our friends Walter and Kelly again – woot! Walter ends up helping Aaron deal with his new feelings and helps him to “get his man”.

Once the boys get together the drama doesn’t stop. There are other crazy parents involved and other sad gay boys to be saved. We see parents who can help save lives and those who set out to ruin them. There is lots and lots of music being played, composed and sung. And finally there is a wedding. Sigh. Walter and Kelly get married in what has to be my all time favorite gay wedding to date.

I just loved these two books so much! This second book is even stronger than the first. The side issues are more serious and the tragedies more tragic. If I’m being honest… the sex is hotter too, but don’t tell that to Walter or Kelly.

I loved how the book furthers the lives of people we met in book one, but if you didn’t read the first book, no worries, this stands on its own quite nicely.

Again Heidi has given us a love story interwoven with some serious, coming of age issues and the result is a rich tale, full of well developed characters and satisfying story lines.

I highly recommend this book and give it a 5 out of 5 hearts.

To buy

Amazon

Read an excerpt here: Fever Pitch Blog Tour 

Prince of Faith Belinda MacBride Tour

Excerpt:

The next time I see Griffin Hawke, I’m going to kick his stubborn ass from one end of the galaxy to the other.

The refrain ran through his head, day in and day out. For how long now? Markus Dayspring wasn’t certain. Over a year, surely. Longer, given the events that had transpired since Griffin Hawke had shanghaied him into the service of the skeezy bastard, U’shma. Once the shock of the assault wore off and Markus recovered a degree of lucidity, he remembered the other man he’d glimpsed, a beautiful face gazing down at him in horror. Betrayal.

It was Helios staring at him without a trace of recognition on his face.

Gone was the choppy hair and ruggedly handsome face, so similar to Markus’s own. They’d looked so similar they’d often been mistaken for brothers rather than cousins. This new Helios wore the gowns of a whore of Warlan, his copper-red hair hanging to his hips, his gray eyes lined with tattoos. In all, he hadn’t looked bad. He’d been spared most of the hardware that decorated a sex slave. Markus had caught a glimpse of Helios Dayspring before falling under Griffin’s blows. Those few seconds still had the power to chill him to the heart.

In spite of the fury, the frustration of being betrayed, Markus took comfort in the knowledge of Helios’s safety. While Grif played a deep game, Markus had as well, hiding the intelligence he’d gathered during their travels together. That information ultimately pointed to Warlan and their missing king. In spite of everything, the gruff bodyguard would never let harm come to Helios. The knowledge allowed him to focus on his own plight, and how to escape. So far no strokes of luck or genius had come to his rescue. So he languished here, day after day, bound hand and foot to a ridiculously comfortable bed.

Things could always be worse.

The door unlocked and creaked open; Markus automatically tested the deceptively light chains holding his wrists in place. His jaw went tight, already fighting the battle he faced. His heart pounded, and his breathing accelerated in fury. In anticipation. In shame.

A wizened old creature shuffled into the room, bearing a heavy tray in her bent, twisted hands. She grinned toothlessly. She’d once told Markus her teeth had been knocked out when she’d accidently clipped a customer during a blowjob. To her delight, the missing teeth made her job much easier.

He figured she must work in the dark. He couldn’t imagine anyone paying for her company.

She kicked the door closed, set the tray on a table, and turned to him. “You got a big night ahead, Your Highness. Boss wants you fed and prepped.” She double-checked his bindings, making an occasional adjustment. “We’ve moved outside coalition space. First day orbiting a new settlement. You’re in for a ride.” Her Common was fluent enough, though heavily accented. Of course, that could have been the missing teeth.

Her gnarled hands wandered his body in a rude exam, searching for weapons or anything he could use to injure a client. She slipped a hand into the cloth covering his groin, pinching a testicle. He gasped and writhed, and she cackled her amusement.

“Guess the last dose wore off.”

His heart dropped.

“Don’t. I can function without it.” He broke out in a cold sweat, and he wasn’t sure if need or dread caused his skin to prickle. The hag loosened his chains, using a single anchored length to guide his movements. Stiffly, he rose from the bed, eyeing her balefully. She was old, decrepit, and the most evil being he’d met in his life. No, she was the employee of the most evil person ever. The hag was merely his tool. That didn’t excuse the woman’s crimes against him. She was a beast.

With a jerk on the line, she guided him to the tiny toilet. A hiss of vapor released in his face, and he coughed, bracing himself for pain.

“Do your business.”

On command, his gut cramped. He pushed the loincloth to the side and collapsed onto the toilet, his intestines gripping like ropes of concrete. He groaned, hating the drugs, hating the old woman…hating everything. Everyone. Through pain-hazed vision he glared at her until the ordeal was completed.

She jangled the chain. “Get in the shower.”

Slowly he obeyed, flinching against the harsh, tearing scream of the poorly functioning sonic unit. If it’d been water, she’d force him to strip fully naked before her greedy gaze. She’d seen him naked many times before, but it didn’t matter. When there was so little dignity left in life, Markus held desperately to what he could.

He stepped out of the unit on trembling legs, cold sweat blossoming over his skin. He clenched his fist in fury. He could easily break away and kill the woman, but the price would be too steep. The time to escape would eventually come, but not now. She was ready for him. He’d learned the lesson in the harshest manner possible and wasn’t prepared to face the consequences again. There was a reason the hag had grown old in her dangerous profession. He ground his teeth, reluctantly taking his position on the bed. He carefully arranged a fold of fabric over his groin.

Ludicrous.

“Drink up.” She shoved a battered tin at him, and Markus looked at it with suspicion. He sniffed cautiously. After all this time, he still didn’t know what they were dosing him with. “It’s water. You humans need it. Scans say you’re too dry.”

With a prayer he gulped it down, choking, but loath to waste a drop. A minute passed, and another while she worked at his restraints. He felt unaffected and began to relax.

Shit. Relaxed. The goose bumps faded, and his body went warm with euphoria. In panic, he jerked the chains, too late to break away.

“Fuck!” he shouted.

“Open up.” She dangled some unidentifiable morsel in front of his mouth, and then pulled her hand away as Markus bit savagely. He chewed, glaring at her the entire time. He swallowed, and the feeding proceeded. “You’re lookin’ a little sleepy. How you feelin’?”

He didn’t answer. She was vanishing behind a blissful haze. He fought to hold on to his anger.

“You’re gettin’ sleepy. Can’t have that.” She floated through his vision, across the room, and then suddenly back in his face. Before Markus could react, his jaw was trapped in her shockingly strong grip, and a wand was cruelly inserted into a nostril. He flinched, but already the pungent, musky fumes overpowered him.

His erection was instantaneous. He howled in anger, fury. Pain. Fire licked his body, starting deep in his pelvis, reaching out to consume his cock and balls, his belly and chest. It burned from the inside right out to the skin, and his vision went red. His hips thrust uselessly, and Markus was fairly certain he begged for mercy. For relief.

For death.

The old woman laughed.

* * * *

Caius gazed at himself in the hotel mirror, noting the weariness he felt did not show on his face. It was there in the slight droop to his shoulders, in the sluggish movement of his body, but his false face wore the same placid, dour expression as always. With a sigh, he turned to the rickety worktable and opened his comm unit, journaling the activities of his day, and then sent the report to King Helios.

He’d been on the brothel barge Paradise for a week, following leads on a prostitute billed as the Royal Concubine. The term prostitute might be misleading; most of the whores on this ship were serving prison sentences for debt or theft. Others were undoubtedly slaves, their paperwork forged. The operation was shady at best, and always under coalition investigation.

Problem was, barges were vast, heavily armed, and continually in motion. A simple, effective intelligence network greased their way, paying copious bribes and hush money as a barge visited systems in seemingly random fashion. By the time Interstellar Coalition Enforcement could respond to its presence, the barge would be long gone, into another sector, or out of coalition territory completely. Right now, the Paradise was on the wrong side of the frontier. No law existed but the rules on the barge. If he screwed up, his stay on the Paradise might wind up a long-term engagement.

At the end of his personal report, Caius flashed-scanned a handbill, saving it to his journal. He shut down the unit, then sat on the bed, looking through the curtained window down onto the street.

Like all other brothel barges he’d searched, the Paradise was massive, the size of a large city. He’d sectioned it off, walking all day, gathering handbills, listening to panderers pitch their products. He feigned interest in drug-addicted Valorans and serpent-tongued Tohrc. He grinned lewdly at humans in all their varied forms. All the while he searched for one specific man. If he asked openly, suspicion would close mouths, and he’d find himself standing alone on the street, shut out completely. So he played the game, posing as a lust-addled tourist taking a hard-earned vacation.

Caius lay back and rested his head on the pillow, holding the yellow handbill up in front of his face. It was crudely drawn, portraying a bejeweled man in a crown. He was nude, his enormous cock erect and studded with golden loops. Simple sketched lines illustrated long hair falling in waves past his shoulders.

He looked frighteningly similar to King Helios, which was undoubtedly the intention of the advertisement. The king was a celebrity throughout the coalition, and Caius had tracked numerous pretenders capitalizing on the popularity of Helios Dayspring.

He let the paper slip from his fingers. Time was running out. If Markus Dayspring was indeed alive, he wouldn’t be for much longer. Caius had followed his tempestuous trail from Warlan out to the brothel barges. The prince fought and battled every man or woman foolish enough to purchase him. Needless to say, Helios’s owner U’shma hadn’t kept Markus more than a few days. He couldn’t cook. He wouldn’t whore for the big Morgaise. He couldn’t be beaten into submission. He also had a nasty tendency to attack his owner.

Poor U’shma was now making do with himself for company. If he was still alive. He’d angered some very important people back there on Warlan.

The king’s cousin had moved from household slavery to scat mines and then on to whorehouses, never lasting long without leaving mayhem in his path. He’d finally ended up with a broker who placed slaves on brothel barges. From there, the trail had vanished.

Caius rubbed at his temple, trying to soothe the headache that never quite went away. With a trembling hand, he fumbled at the small box mounted on his belt, pausing to command the lights down before summoning the courage to disengage the holo-disguise.

The sudden silence in his brain was so abrupt he nearly bolted from the bed. He lay staring into the darkness, counting off the seconds. Last night, he’d made seven minutes without the unit. He was aiming for ten tonight. Or maybe fifteen.

When he reached three, his mouth was open, and he panted, partly in discomfort, partly in panic. At five minutes, small animal noises rose from his throat. His hand hovered over the box while his heart raced.

General Hawke had extracted a promise from him. He’d objected to sending Caius on this mission until King Helios stepped in, avowing his faith in Caius. Carlotta had been there too, her dark eyes bright in pain…and trust. It was because of her unquestioning faith that he persisted in the gradual withdrawals. Every night he had to turn the box off. Every night he had to increase the time in his own skin. Eventually, he’d destroy the damned unit, but right now the very thought unnerved him.

Ten minutes passed, and he dredged up the words he’d spoken to the general—his solemn vow. At fourteen minutes, he’d doubled the previous night’s time, and with a sense of elation, he kept going. The headache moved from a dull throb to a brilliant point of pain that dazzled his eyes, yet he bore it. The day was too far gone for him to keep looking for Markus, though the bars and whorehouses operated around the clock. He needed downtime, so he could rest and plan.

Unable to bear any more, he gasped, jerked, and slapped at the unit, collapsing onto his back as the nearly imperceptible hiss of the holo-disguise engaged. He held his hands in front of his streaming eyes, watching as they once again morphed into the large, blunt-fingered fists of Caius, complete with a white scar over his knuckles on his left hand.

He panted and groaned, perversely amused at the noise he made. Agony sounded rather like sex.

He shoved his knuckles into his eyes. His stomach lurched with the intensity of the migraine. He could take medication to dim the knife-edged agony, but pain was his penance. It was the price he paid for the box he wore on his hip and for the illusion that cloaked his body. It was the price a man paid for pretending to be other than what he really was.

Caius touched his skin, feeling wet tears on his cheeks. He trailed the tips of his fingers over his face, touching the features he’d come to hate. To fear. The mirror in the bathroom reflected Caius, with his blunt face and sandy hair and pale blue eyes. His fingers told him a whole different truth.

He rolled to his side in a fetal position, breathing through the pain. Soon enough he’d have to take something; he couldn’t afford to give too much time to the headache. But for now, he embraced his penance, falling into the brilliant lights and hypnotic agony, and eventually into darkness.

BM_UW3_princeoffaith_coverin_1

Goodreads Link: Prince of Faith 

Author Name: Belinda McBride

Author Bio:

Belinda is an award-winning, top selling author of erotic romance, speculative fiction and

LGBTQ romance. She lives in far Northern California with her family and a pack of Siberian

Huskies.

A graduate of CSU Chico, she managed to attend the notorious party school without once getting

drunk, arrested or appearing in a “Girls Gone Wild” video. Her main focus of study was classical

and archival history, cultural anthropology and theatre arts.

After several years in the workforce. Belinda purchased a laptop computer and from there, knew

that her childhood dream of being an author would come to life.

Belinda’s books are available at all the typical distributors as well as on the publisher’s

homepages.

Author Contact:

Facebook

Twitter: @Belinda_McBride

Publisher: Loose ID

Cover Artist: PL Nunn
a Rafflecopter giveaway

PoFBadgeTemplate

A Fostered Love by Cameron Dane (Foster Sibling’s #1)

From Loose ID:

CamDan_FosteredLove_coverlg

Foster brother to Jonah for a short time as teens, Christian developed a massive crush on his tough, older roommate. That all ended when the cops came and arrested Jonah, stealing him from Christian’s uncertain world.

Jonah knew the kid with the crush on him would be better off forgetting that he ever existed. Jonah stayed in contact with their foster mother Marisol, but refused to hear news about Christian, and made the woman promise never to tell Christian anything about him.

Upon her death fifteen years later, Marisol leaves a request that Jonah come home and help Christian renovate her house. Jonah can’t refuse, even though he knows he will have to face Christian once again.

Although they haven’t seen each other in years, neither man has forgotten the other. Neither man will deny Marisol her final request… even if it means facing their past, working together, sharing the room they had as teens, getting to know one another now as men, and discovering that the brief friendship they shared has altered into a consuming, abiding love.

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, male/male sexual practices, violence

My Review

Jonah fell in love with Christian and vice versa when the two were fostered together years earlier. Jonah ends up going to Juvenile Detention for committing a crime and this both helps to save his life and set him up for believing he can never really trust or love another.

Christian pines for Jonah but does manage to try other relationships, including a disastrous affair with a closeted man named David, who later stalks and almost kills him. David later plays the MC in book 4.

When Marisol dies, Christian and Jonah pretty quickly realize they have been pining for one another and decide to trust one another and give a relationship a try.

We also meet Abby, Braden and Rodrigo, who will play a role in book 2.

**

I first read this book a couple of years ago, and then re-read it when book 4 was released. At the time I had read it, I was fairly new to the genre and thought it was amazing. Cameron Dane writes really detailed and fairly hot sex scenes and I was really touched by the love and devotion between Jonah and Christian.

Now that I have expanded my reading repertoire, my review is a little less glowing.

First, I was bugged by Jonah always claiming to have no feelings but being able to specifically detail his emotions in long speeches delivered to Christian.

I also found Jonah’s explanation of his “hardness” due to his time in JD to be a little thin. It wasn’t prison. It was juvie.

Then, there are the euphemisms. Sure, we have to describe body parts to know what is going where and when and how, but there are ways to go about this that don’t pull you out of the story with their strangeness.

For example: “…driving Jonah’s shivering anus into a frenzy.” Or “…driving his chute crazy as it milked and squeezed…”Or “His chute craved the invasion…” And this one “…Jonah’s esophagus rubbed raw as he forced out that one short sentence.” The esophagus is for eating… I think she meant trachea… but, maybe not.

The feeling that these body parts are sort of sentient “craving” and being “driven crazy” kind of pulled me out of the story with a big eye roll. I just think there might be more elegant ways to describe this.

But, really, the love story is quite touching. The emotions are there and the stalkery part of the story was exciting.

I really love when two broken characters can help fix one another and so I was very satisfied with the overall story, even if some of the wording was strange or some of the dialog unrealistic.

So, though I won’t call it a 5, I will give it a 4 out of 5 hearts and just accept the imperfections for the sake of the story.

heart4

To buy

Amazon