Archive for the ‘3 Star Reviews’ Category

Reviewed by Heather C

SERIES: Agamemnon Frost Trilogy
AUTHOR: Kim Knox
BOOKS: 3
PUBLISHER: Carina Press

Agamemnon Frost and the House of Death (Book One, Agamemnon Frost Trilogy)

BLURB: Liverpool, 1891

Click image to view full coverDecorated artilleryman Edgar Mason was forced to find new work when the British Empire replaced its foot soldiers with monstrous machines. Now he waits on the Liverpool elite as a personal servant. He has just one rule: he won’t work for fashion-addled dandies.

Agamemnon Frost, however, is far from the foppish man-about-town he appears to be. He’s working to protect the Earth from an alien invasion being planned by a face-changing creature known as Pandarus. And on the night he plans to confront the aliens, he enlists Mason to assist him.

For a man to love a man is a serious crime in Victorian England. But when Mason meets Frost, his heart thunders and his blood catches fire. And when Pandarus drags the two men into the torture cellars beneath his house of death to brainwash them, Mason’s new passion may be all that stands between him and insanity.

REVIEW:

Okay, this was crazy!

The cover is what first drew my interest to this story, but when I originally read the blurb for this, I was immediately turned off by the Victorian England-slash-alien invasion concept.  Then, something kept pulling me back to it over and over, and when I finally realized it would be a trilogy, I decided to give it a try.

It’s Liverpool in 1891, and Edgar Mason, a former soldier, has been hired for the night to play manservant to Agamemnon Frost, a well-dressed gentleman *cough* and guest at Sir Randolph’s dinner party.  Mason soon realizes that ALL things aren’t what they seem and the two men soon find themselves on the run…from Martians!

I’m going to separate my review into parts: first half and second half…

For the first half, the entire first half, I was so lost and confused I almost gave up.  There was a lot of “alien speak” and I couldn’t figure out what the other characters were going on and on about.  Plus, all the Greek references were lost on me.  I couldn’t visualize any of the alien contraptions, nor could I picture what the bad guys were doing to the MC.  It was like all this was written for a higher level of intelligence and my measly, human brain could not comprehend the complexity of it.  Like I said, it was a real struggle for me to continue reading.

Then, for the second half, like right AT the 50% mark, something changed, and all of a sudden, it was making sense and I was really interested in what was going to happen.  The story was still crazy, but by then, it was a fun crazy in a creative and unique way.  I now believe that the beginning was meant to be confusing and hard to follow, since we are getting the story from Mason’s third person POV, and not necessarily a poor execution from the author.

My favorite part of this story was the sexual tension between Mason and Agamemnon.  There’s lots of heat there that I really hope will finally reach a climax in the next book. (Yes, I can’t wait to read it; I must find out what happens).  I am really, really intrigued by Agamemnon and want to know more of his secrets; and I want to know what’s really going on in Mason’s head.

I’m giving this one 3 stars for the fact that it failed to hold my interest for a large part of the story.

Don’t let the historical aspects scare you if that’s not usually your thing, because the feel of the story is more science fiction, alternate universe.

Heather rates it – 3-stars-out-of-5-300x70

BUY LINKS: Carina Press :: Amazon

Agamemnon Frost and the Hollow Ships (Book Two, Agamemnon Frost Trilogy)

Click image to view full coverBLURB: Edgar Mason is ready to embark upon his new life at Agamemnon Frost’s side. But all is not perfect. His Martian overlord, Pandarus, has implanted a dark voice in his mind, a voice that urges betrayal. And though Mason can keep close to Frost, there’s little room for romance under the watchful gaze of the engineers from Station X.

That changes when Mason and Frost reopen their investigation into their old enemy’s whereabouts. Posing as double agents and investigating cryptic rumors of “hollow ships,” they find him impersonating a London banker and worm their way into his confidence.

But their success brings them trouble in spades. Pandarus takes them into the belly of his ships, where he plans to transfigure them into mindless automata. And with Earth on the brink of invasion, Frost’s old flame Theodora reappearing and Pandarus’s brainwashing growing more effective, Mason and Frost will find their bond tested as never before.

REVIEW:

I’ve come to the conclusion that science fiction just might not be the genre for me.

So, Mason is still trying to adapt to his “changes” and is working as Frost’s valet, but now they are stuck at Station X and really can’t explore any of that unresolved sexual tension that’s been building up between them.  Mason is also still struggling with the whispers in his mind that keep telling him that Frost is a traitor and urging him to report that to his master.  Nestor decides that Mason and Frost need to go check out the “hollow ships” and see if they can find Pandarus.  And that’s where things begin to fall apart…

I didn’t think it was possible, but this story was even more difficult for me to follow than the first one.  I couldn’t picture ANYTHING that was happening to the characters or the setting around them.  There were chambers, and spikes and ships made out of human skin…I think.  It was all over the place!  Mason kept thinking he was dying and then he would wake up and I would be even more lost. Then, I think there may have been some kind of time travel to an earth made of living skin…or was it dead skin?  I have no idea because then it was gone…I think.

The sexual tension/romance was much more lacking here than in the first book.  Previously, Frost was all ready to fuck Mason, and then when he finally has a chance, he turns him down!  But not before giving Mason a hand job that I couldn’t even see in my head. And Mason keeps going on and on about how Frost needs to be with his former fiancée, Theodora, even though Frost has told him over and over that he wants Mason and not her.

I struggled reading this from the first page to the last, but I’m still going to read the third book to see how this mess ends.

Heather rates it – 

BUY LINKS: Carina Press :: Amazon :: All Romance eBooks

PRE-RELEASE REVIEW: Agamemnon Frost and the Crown of Towers (Book Three, Agamemnon Frost Trilogy)

Click image to view full coverBLURB: Edgar Mason is losing Agamemnon Frost despite everything they’ve been through–the passion, the torture, the heat. Frost’s fiancée, Theodora, is back, and Mason can feel his lover gravitating toward her. Every day he sees them together, it tears at his heart.

Frost feels raw himself. His brother and sister-in-law are missing, and his guilt about failing to save Theodora from Pandarus eats at him. His feelings for Mason, whom he has put through hell twice already, just twist the screws tighter.

On top of that, Pandarus and the Martians are back to make their final push to Earth, and Frost and Mason are duty bound to fight them. People are vanishing. Bodies are turning up burned beyond recognition in the slums. The bleak, human-less future Frost and Mason saw in the hollow ships has nearly come to pass.

And in order to prevent it, each man will have to make a final choice: lose his lover or doom the world.

REVIEW:

Probably my most favorite book of the series and the most coherent…for the most part.

After rescuing Theodora, Mason and Frost are now protecting her at Frost’s home, Greenbank Hall, and trying to keep the darkness in her mind from taking over. Then, Frost’s brother, Menelaus, and his wife go missing and Frost decides he must take action against Pandarus and discover what the puzzle of The Crown of Towers really is, and choosing between Mason or Theodora’s safety.

For about the first 75% of this book, I was really liking it and was able to follow what was going on.  We get to see more of Frost’s vulnerabilities when it comes to the safety of Theodora; and Mason’s jealousy of Frost’s “engagement” to her.  We also get to see a resolution to all the sexual tension between Mason and Frost…and it’s totally HOT!!

For the last 25% of the book and the big climax where earth is saved from the invading Martians, well, this is where I got confused again and I’m still not sure I understand what really happened. Somehow Mason was the brain of Pandarus’s ship and then Frost’s cravat pin somehow becomes the key to saving the world. Huh?

In the end, Mason and Frost are free from Pandarus and Theodora and can now live happily ever after.

So probably, this kind of science fiction just isn’t for me.

Heather rates it – 3-stars-out-of-5-300x70

BUY LINKS: Carina Press :: Amazon :: All Romance eBooks

==================================
Heather C. is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: HEATHER’S REVIEWS
==================================

Reviewed by Elizabetta

18329498TITLE: Bloody Kiss
SERIES: Proud to be a Vampire
AUTHOR: Mell Eight
PUBLISHER: Less Than Three Press
LENGTH: 50 pages
BLURB: Lis had been enjoying his school trip to Egypt until a statue came to life and drank his blood. Back home in Boston, nothing feels or tastes or smells quite the same, he’s plagued by strange dreams, and has a craving that nothing seems to satisfy—until the statue shows up again.

REVIEW:

College student, Lis, is on a study-abroad tour to Egypt’s Valley of the Dead. An ordinary visit turns into a paranormal adventure when, like Alice through the rabbit hole, he falls into an underground tomb and has a close encounter with an over-sized stone statue buried there. A very sexy statue. Lis’s actions, a bloody kiss, unravel a spell cast on the statue many years ago, and trigger a series of events when Lis returns to his home in Boston.

This had a great start, the exotic setting, the whole statue and hex thing. When we return to the States, some strange stuff happens to Lis: he has a sudden yen for raw red meat (yet, enjoys a well-cooked stew), he feels generally out of sorts, and vampires start appearing out of nowhere. Lis is also plagued by a series of weird, intermittent waking dreams which are used to deliver the backstory. It’s an interesting plot device if a bit awkward, but the dreams converge nicely to present day action.

There’s other information that I guess was included for color but just seemed distracting: lots of mention of the Red Sox, scenes in the bar where Lis works but nothing much happens, a best friend and his grandma who Lis have known for years and who suddenly come out as witches with special powers. The powers don’t serve the plot much other than the use of some camo-glitter, and the grandma mostly exists to explain a lot of what is happening to Lis.

I dunno, this seemed like a hodgepodge, and it felt undercooked, like a sketch of an interesting idea. It’s so short that there’s a lot of stating of facts and not enough space to get to know or care about Lis, his friends, or his romantic interest in any great depth. Three stars for the effort, but it’s really around 2.5 ’cause it never really takes off for me.

Oh, and I did not like the cover.

I did really like another work by the author, Road to Revenge, a modern-day thriller, so maybe I just prefer the contemporary stuff.

Bloody Kiss is published by Less Than Three Press as part of their “Proud to be a Vampire” series with various authors contributing.

Elizabetta rates it – 3-stars-out-of-5-300x70

BUY LINKS: Less Than Three Press

==================================
Elizabetta is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: ELIZABETTA’S REVIEWS
=====================================================

Reviewed by Elizabetta

Serve MeTITLE: Serve Me (Anthology)
AUTHORS: Anna Hedley, Gabriel Belthir, Lor Rose, Fox Lee
PUBLISHER: Storm Moon Press
LENGTH: 129 pages
BLURB: For some people there’s nothing more appealing than the idea of a man forced to serve against his will, as a second-class citizen: a slave. Despite the dark history surrounding forced servitude and slavery, there remains a growing desire for depictions of fetishized slavery fantasies. Like rape fantasy, the appeal for readers in slave fiction lies not in a desire for the actual act, but in the ability to explore such things in a safe space. Many people harbor a secret wish to be forced into certain acts that they know they want, but have been socially conditioned to abhor. Such is the core of the Serve Me anthology. Be warned: these are not stories of consensual, negotiated power exchange. The stories in this anthology focus on true sexualized, erotic slavery: stories of men forced, coerced, or otherwise bound into a second-class life servicing another in whatever ways their master sees fit.

Idris is part of The Spoils of war: the last surviving member of a barbarian clan, he is famed in the gladiatorial arena for his bloody ruthlessness and outside the arena for his carnal appetites. His inner beast is calmed by the presence of his slave and lover, Theo, but to be true to his heart, Idris may have to risk breaking it. Samuel has spent years striving toward the Viscount’s circles, where rich and fantastical parties are given and elaborate slave auctions held. He thinks he wants a young lover, but when he buys an Adonis known as Apollo, he realizes what he was truly missing. Now Apollo gives the orders, and it is Samuel saying, As You Wish. Life is Unforgiving for Aidan and Aaron, criminals who have been doomed to live as slaves to vampire masters, whose appetites can be agony… or bliss. When Aidan is given a new lease on life with a benevolent Master, his relief is tainted by pain at leaving Aaron behind; pain which only his Master Ryce has the power to end. Yuta is a gentle giant who joins a local gang for the sense of family that they can provide, but when they leave him high and dry in the middle of a failed heist, it’s his captor, Takashima, who shows him what family can really mean as the vicious gang enforcer tenderly turns him into Takashima’s Pet.

REVIEW:

Forced servitude is the common theme in this anthology about slave fantasies. If non-con, multiple partners, slave pets, bondage, and humiliation are triggers, stay away. If not, you may find something here to titillate.

Overall rating = 3.0 stars

The Spoils by Anna Hedley

Idris’ berserker skills make him a formidable combatant in the arena where he fights for the entertainment and gain of his Master. Problem is, Idris can’t control when he “whites out” and goes crazy on his opponents’ asses, and he remains invincible. That is, until he meets the snarky demon Kage, who kicks his butt; until he starts hallucinating the ghosts of all those he’s killed in the arena.

Idris is going through the motions, he’s had enough of the carnage and chewing on his opponent’s guts. Theo, a maenad (confusing, as they are supposed to be feminine; or maybe this is a playful poke at girly guys?) pleasure slave with magic healing skills, is given to Idris. He and Theo take a pretty quick cottoning to each other… or maybe Idris just appreciates healing massages…  and Theo just wants his freedom. Anyway, I’m not really feeling it.

Kage, however, is fun. He’s a sexy, wise-cracking ninja master with a wicked toothed whip, and he knows how to take control. We don’t get nearly enough of this demon match-maker.

The debauchery à la ancient Rome, is chock-a-block with lusty pleasure slave rapey-ness, multiple partners, oily wrestling, public sex and humiliation, and even a double penetration. So, lots of fluid swapping excess swamps the action.

Rated: 3-stars-out-of-5-300x70

As You Wish by Gabriel Belthir

Set in a pseudo Victorian-era England, a young working stiff gets his fondest wish when he is invited to hobnob with the ton. It’s never clear just what Samuel’s allure is to Viscount Edmund Kaylock, why he’s been invited to his private slave auction at the mansion– I was eager for more information about that.

Samuel can’t believe his good fortune as he surveys the tall and massive, ebony skinned, Apollo, up for bid. This slave spells danger, is rumored to have murdered, but that doesn’t stop Samuel from taking him home.

There is some initial awkward racial “Mandingo” stereotyping that had me worried. But a nice role twist develops and Apollo eventually shows insight and ingenuity. I found this mostly pedestrian though, and there’s not a lot of world-building. But, there is a hot role-play scene and the relationship works sweetly in the end.

Rated: 3-stars-out-of-5-300x70

Life is Unforgiving by Lor Rose

In this paranormal vamp story the slaves are called ‘blood bags’. Vamps, or Daeva, are out in the world but feared by all. And they are allowed to take slaves.

Aidan is discarded by his old Master; he’s sold to Ryce who is quite gentle and indulgent with him. So things start looking up for the horribly abused Aidan. There is a very hot menage scene– Aidan is the middle in a vamp sandwich with Ryce and vamp friend, Levant. They work very well together, in concert and synchronized… oh hell, the whole thing is sexy. Let’s just say that Aidan’s luck has changed when he discovers vamp sex. He may even find vamp love. This is my favorite of the anthology, I like Ryce’s treatment of Aidan throughout and his promising him a happy ever after is sweetly romantic.

Rated: 535px-3-5_stars-svg

Takashima’s Pet by Fox Lee

Yuta has the misfortune of getting caught when his gang attempts to rob Takashima’s warehouse; they take off running, leaving him behind. Fortunately, the well-known yakuza likes the look of Yuta and gives him the choice of death or becoming his sex slave.

The first day Takashima keeps Yuta he leaves him alone bound, ball-gagged and catheterized, on his bed. For the whole day. Alone. No food, no water. This was completely unappealing. It doesn’t matter what Takeshima thinks of Yuta, it’s just plain dangerous behavior. The blurb says that Takashima tenderly teaches Yuta the meaning of family. It’s all relative I suppose, as Yuta hasn’t known much tender love in his life. He quickly adapts to being Takashima’s pet, and says he’s in love and in it for the long haul. Not surprising since he doesn’t have anywhere else to go. I didn’t find this particularly romantic or erotic, I couldn’t get past the initial abuse.

Rated:

OVERALL RATING: 3-stars-out-of-5-300x70

BUY LINK: Storm Moon Press  ::  All Romance eBooks

==================================
Elizabetta is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: ELIZABETTA’S REVIEWS
=====================================================

Reviewed by Danielle

The Strongest ShapeTITLE: The Strongest Shape
AUTHOR: Tessa Cardenas
LENGTH: 248 Pages
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
BLURB: After his boyfriend breaks up with him, fashion photographer Caleb Moss finds himself alone in Los Angeles looking for work and friends. He finds both in a group of aspiring musicians, who offer help through their connections. But while building a strong friendship with Scott and Chris, a startling sexual tension flares to life among the three men, and Caleb is afraid the new friendships will fall apart.

It won’t be easy for Caleb, trying to find his way when Scott and Chris invite him into their relationship. They face criticism from their friends, but they’ll struggle to stay together because they have discovered a three-fold love.

REVIEW:

I have to say that I went in totally blind with this book, not knowing what to expect. What really confused me is that it feels like there is no start to the story. It lacks a beginning?

It feels like you fall into the middle of the story out of nowhere and get introduced to three handsome men, who you find out about going through the story.

It doesn’t make it easy to get into the book. Even though the men are attractive and you can feel that in the story, there is nothing that builds them up or rounds them out to give them character. You can hardly figure out what they do for a living.

The story contains a lot of sex. Honesty requires me to say the sex is hot and well written, and the author takes time to make the connection between the three main characters Chris, Scott and Caleb.

But besides the sex there isn’t much to tell about this story. It flows easily and the characters seem like nice, attractive, sexy men who work their way in a three-way relationship. We read about the insecurities they feel, especially Caleb’s as he is the third who comes in to an established relationship between two men (Chris and Scott). They feel real and believable and the meeting of the families gives a little tiny bit of drama when it concerns Chris’ mother.

A nice part into the story is when Chris, who’s the strong, silent type – for whom words are difficult – breaks down.

In the end, because the characters seemed really nice and the story had so much potential, combined with the fact that I like sex in a story, I came to rate it 3 stars!

Danielle’s Rating: 3-stars-out-of-5-300x70

BUY LINK: Dreamspinner Press  ::  All Romance eBooks

==================================
Danielle is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: DANIELLE’S REVIEWS
=====================================================

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Reviewed by Elizabetta

IntercessionTITLE: Intercession
AUTHOR: Pepper Espinoza
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 206 pages/61,584 words
BLURB: After fifty years of searching for his lost brother, vampire David Derringer attempts the unimaginable: he bends his knee in prayer. While he doesn’t believe, his mother’s faith was strong, and her final request—a request made the night she and David died—keeps David on the path to his younger brother, Danny, despite the many obstacles.

David doesn’t expect his prayer to be answered. He certainly doesn’t expect an angel to intercede on his behalf.

Jophiel is tasked not only with helping David find his brother but with saving David’s soul. It seems like an impossible assignment meant to punish him, especially when they must face the Brotherhood of St. Rocco, an organization dedicated to eradicating vampires.

But David has a chance to prove he’s not like other vampires when he meets Arthur, a young man with a secret and a death wish. Following a very steamy encounter, Arthur expects to be bitten. David never even drops his fangs. Which is a good thing, since Arthur might be the key to finding Danny before it’s too late.

REVIEW:

The blurb really whetted my appetite… ingredients for an interesting recipe:

take one Vamp with some shred of humanity left in him

add one ex-archangel seeking his own redemption

stir in one human with a death wish

Mix well into a hot PNR menage romance. Right?

David, on the run from gangs of vampire hunters, stops to send up a prayer in a church. It’s the last place you’d find a vampire, but he begs God for an intercession. He asks for help in fulfilling his dying mother’s last wish, to find his younger brother. This gets some notice in Heaven, and Jophiel is assigned to helping David. But when he discovers a small light glimmering in David, Jophiel’s task becomes another intercession, the saving of a soul. Arthur’s involvement, why he, a weak human, would knowingly hook up with a vampire (and thumb his nose at death), is crucial to the story and related to David’s quest. Arthur has secrets of his own.

So, the set-up gets extra points but there were some things I just wasn’t feeling. The interaction between David and Jophiel wasn’t remarkable. Don’t get me wrong, I liked David, he added humor with his flippant wise-cracking, But it felt like this detracted from that heavier darkness I wanted to feel in his story— the darker he was, the greater his redemption would be. And I got Jophiel’s turmoil, that he didn’t fit into heaven and its politics; yet he desperately wanted to prove his angel value. His investment in helping David— the redemption of his remaining humanity from vampiferocity— added to his character. But them together as a couple? Not so much. It really wasn’t until the ultimate sex scene between all three guys, sensual and inventive, that things finally started cooking. Arthur’s acting as a conduit between David and Jophiel was cool, and hot. A sexual mediation and a high point of this thing. But was this enough?

The scenes in heaven distracted and the religious expounding became annoying— and these were a large part of the story. I need careful handling of any religious subtext to avoid preachiness and while it didn’t quite get there, it was too much for me. The vamp hunting monks could have been interesting in their twisted righteousness but they became caricatures and I couldn’t take them seriously. In the end, the recipe for deliciousness just didn’t mix well.

And the ending? A big HFN, that’s ‘holding’ not ‘happy’ for now; a sequel seems to be in the offing. This was not indicated in the blurb and I don’t think it’s spoilering to mention it here… a big no-no, homey don’t play me that way.

Elizabetta’s Rating: 3-stars-out-of-5-300x70

BUY LINK: Dreamspinner Press :: All Romance eBooks

==================================
Elizabetta is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: ELIZABETTA’S REVIEWS
=====================================================

Check out all our recommended books in Sid Love’s eBook Store:
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Reviewed by Ilhem C.

Drama Queens With Love ScenesTITLE: Drama Queens with love Scenes
AUTHOR: Kevin Klehr
PUBLISHER: Cambridge Press US
LENGTH: 342 pages
BLURB: Close friends Allan and Warwick are dead. They’re not crazy about the idea so to help them deal with this dilemma are Samantha, a blond bombshell from the 1950s, and Guy, an insecure angel.

They are soon drawn into the world of theatre – Afterlife style, with all the bitchiness, back-stabbing and ego usually associated with the mortal world.

Allan also has a secret. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro.

Not only does Allan have to win the heart of his companion, he also has to grapple with the faded memory of how he actually died.

REVIEW:

Picture high raised eyebrows and a scrunched up nose. Add grumbles and sighs for the soundtrack. Mix that nonetheless with smiles, snorts and chuckles and you’ll have my very conflicted feelings. Then round them up to a 3 stars rating. Confusing? That’s my point.

Let me set the scene. As the story is beginning, Allan and his best friend Warwick are welcomed in a strange place called the “Limelight Quarter”, and have no memory of how they landed there. The fact that one of their guides is winged might however be a hint that it is the Afterlife. They meet a whole cast of secondary characters and soon, everyone is playing a role in a play within the story. Soon too, we have a lot of questions. How on earth did they die? Did they die? Were they lovers? Who is trying to sabotage the play? Will Allan -who is very confused (ha!) and very much in love – succeed in conquering Warwick? And that is not all but I can’t tell.

So, we have no answer, a mystery and an unrequited love on our hands, and Allan is coached in both of them by an angel who can’t fly and an actress from the 19th century. The scenes I liked the most are theirs! I felt that the trio’s moments were when this odd mix of offbeat production, humour, vulnerability and reflexion about love and life was the most successful, and it is precisely this odd mix -plus the amusement of seeing familiar romance tropes peeping around the corner and passing by, that made me relax towards this story despite my reserves about the execution.

Facts, actions and scenes chain up seemingly erratically, almost like in an “Exquisite Corpse” game. It matches the characters’ confusion and the setting between reality and fantasy, but makes it difficult to get into the story and to follow the threads. To be honest, my attention wandered a lot, and I think that the book would have been more efficient if it had been shorter.

Absurd is enjoyable when it is dynamic and fast paced, but the story often drags, the funny lines are brought too repetitively, and above all, the writing needs to flow a lot more smoothly to pull the reader along.

In the end, “Drama Queens with Love Scenes” is a surrealist farce; flawed certainly, but also a creative change. I’m curious to see what’s in store in the sequel.

Absurd lovers, give it a try!

Ilhem’s Rating: 3-stars-out-of-5-300x70

BUY LINK: Book Store

==================================
Ilhem C. is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: ILHEM’S REVIEWS
=====================================================

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Reviewed by Susan

TITLE: Stripped Barestripped bare
AUTHOR: Susan MacNicol
PUBLISHER: Buroughs Publishing Group
LENGTH: 290 pages

BLURB: After two years, Matthew Langer is still getting over the death of a loved one. He’s steered clear of serious relationships, but when he meets the irascible, dirty mouthed and tempestuous Shane Templar that decision has never been harder. Shane is sexy, warm and funny, and Matthew finds himself trying like hell not to care about him. Especially when Shane, with his quick wit and hacking skills, is quick to stand up for justice and avenge wrongs. Then Shane strikes at the wrong target, and Matthew realises just how far gone he already is. At the threat of losing for good yet another man who’s broken through his armour, Matthew finds his heart stripped bare. He must face the demons of his soul or a future without love.

REVIEW:

Stripped Bare is another one of those stories (I feel like 1 in 5 of every M/M book out there is this story) about a man (Matthew) who lost his partner and struggles to give himself to new love.  He meets the gorgeous escort/computer hacker Shane via some odd circumstances with a mutual friend and it’s instant attraction.  Matt has a hard time letting go of the past but can’t help his growing affections towards Shane.  There is flirtation, a physical relationship, and then an emotional commitment…all peppered in with other random story bits.

Stripped Bare, if it were indeed stripped bare would actually be an interesting book.  The whole computer hacker angle had potential.  There were a couple great “villians”, some zany sidekicks, a friends-to-lovers storyline, and 2 hot MC’s.  The problem with the book, however, was that none of this actually comes together.  It’s a bunch of parts that from far away might seem like a whole, but up close, you can see all the spaces between them.  And though I kept trying to stay engaged in the story in hopes that something great would come out of this potential, I more-often-than-not felt annoyed and irritated.

My greatest frustrations really came with the dialogue between the 2 MC’s.  What I think was supposed to be banter and flirtation, actually read as cheesy, overly done, clichés. The 2 men fought like emotional old women, constantly judging each other and nagging each other and lecturing each other.  I felt like the author wanted there to be some angst and tension, but other than the fact that the 2 of them had sex ALL THE TIME, when they weren’t pawing each other (and I’m curious how many times the term “cock twitch” was used in this book…it felt like every page), they were arguing with each other. I had to ask myself, “Do these 2 even LIKE each other?”  What’s to make me buy into their relationship?

The entire middle of the book was slow and nothing actually happens.  The story turned to focus on the relationship, which I would normally love. But, because I didn’t even like the MC’s and didn’t feel their chemistry, it felt as though I would never get to the end.  Thankfully, it picks up and some curveballs are thrown into the loop. But I think I was already too far “over it” to be that interested.  Everything ties up in a pretty bow in the end.

One additional minor annoyance: the chapter titles.  Really? It’s like broadcasting exactly what’s going to happen in that chapter. Borderline spoiler’ish.  I really didn’t get those.

I do think that there is an audience out there for this book. I actually would have thought I was a part of that audience…it’s right up my alley as the type of story I typically enjoy.  But, maybe I’m too jaded to take to the cheesiness.  Who knows?  If you like the stories where they have pet names and call each other “oh lover” all the time (in normal conversation), this one could work for you.

I think it was fine. I liked it ok. I did skim maybe 1/3 of it. But, there’s potential there.

Susan’s Rating:  3-stars-out-of-5-300x70

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Reviewed by Elizabetta

DandyTITLE: Dandy
AUTHOR: Jaidon Wells
PUBLISHER: Less Than Three Press
BLURB: Andrew is a little overwhelmed, between grad school, his bookstore job, crazy friends, and a roommate slowly turning criminal. The very last thing he needs is more stress, but it’s what he gets anyway, in the form of Cassidy, the frustrating, intriguing, and supposed-to-be-dead brother of his law-breaking roommate.

Throw in a flamboyant campus hero, a series of kitchen fires, a slanderous romance manuscript, stoner music shops, an arguably-mad scientist, a terrible indie band, and a blue period, and Andrew realizes that being overwhelmed is easy. It’s the rapidly spinning out of control that’s a bit difficult to handle.

REVIEW:

This was quite the different read and hard to categorize. As the blurb states, there is a little bit of everything thrown in, but it’s based around the zippy character sketches the author sets up. It reminds me of a “Friends” episode in that there are a lot of attractive people talking, hanging out at coffee shops and bars and such, but nothing much really happens. At least not for a long time. This is not so much a romance as it is about quirky characters acting… quirky. So the charm is dependent on those characters pulling off a likable wackiness, and the nothing much else that isn’t happening needs to be entertaining at the very least. Luckily, the author does deliver some laugh out loud moments.

In the “straight”-man role is Andrew (Ross?), a gay uni graduate student (of British extraction) studying somewhere in the US. So, Andrew is set-up as a bit of an awkward foil for his friend’s looniness (yeah, Ross). For someone who doesn’t make friends easily, as stated by said friends, he has a lot of people swirling about him, greatly concerned and interested in his romantic life. Or, the absence of one. At the top of the list are girl friends, Channary and Tansy.

(A tangent… Suffice it to say, it seems that in slash romance, the girl friend of the gay guy is a hugely difficult character to write… So often they are just plain hard to like or annoying, and they usually serve as nothing more than to make a romantic partnership happen. I go back and forth with Andrew’s female BFF’s. I think they mean well but after a while, I just wish they’d go away.)

The claim by Channary (or was it Tansy?) is that Andrew is too surly to find a boyfriend. They have a point, but maybe it’s because he spends an inordinate amount of time never getting his work done because he’s running after his friends, cleaning up their messes, and indulging their demands. It’s no wonder a boy hasn’t a moment for himself; he is long-suffering (I counted 45 sighs). But, I heartily swear that when Cassidy (a graduate student in music; these names are Confusing), in all his snarky, stalking/wooing, self-assuredness, sets his eyes firmly on Andrew… I just want them together, and all the crazy friends to take a back seat. Just when you think it’s going to happen, something interferes.

I have other issues: the main characters have got to be around their mid-twenties (they’re grad students), they certainly speak as if they are, but they act and interact like teen-agers. Secondly, the story starts off as one thing… a festival of witty repartee and awkward flirtation between Andrew and Cassidy that morphs into a paranormal pseudo-crime story. At one point in the story, Andrew is assaulted and a mysterious masked, winged, in flight, “Dandy Boy” superhero comes to his rescue.

At the start, I had high hopes for Andrew and Cassidy, it was fun to watch their verbal sparring and posturing. But it went on forever and got diluted with too much other stuff. Also confusing— while there are adult themes that include depiction of alcohol and drug abuse, there is no on-page sex. I enjoyed the beginning of the story, but the UST vibe became compromised by the PNR twist, and it fell apart for me. This is apparently a debut book and I greatly appreciate the author’s effort here and do think he shows promise. If you’re looking for paranormal zaniness with a touch of romance and can ignore all the rest, this may just be for you.

Elizabetta’s Rating: 3-stars-out-of-5-300x70

BUY LINK: LTTP Store

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Elizabetta is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

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Reviewed by Shelley

Weregild (Wolf's-own, #2)TITLE: Weregild (Book #2)
SERIES: Wolf’s Own
AUTHOR: Carole Cummings
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 350 pages
BLURB: The amorality of gods makes it hard to tell bad from good and right from wrong. Fen Jacin-rei doesn’t care. All Fen cares about is saving his family, and he’ll sacrifice anything that gets in his way. Including his own soul.

No longer willing to wait for the machinations of the gods’ minions, Fen accepts the trade Kamen Malick offers. Together they set out to rescue Fen’s family and kill the man who betrayed them. But Fen is an Untouchable, one whose mind hosts the spirits of long-dead magicians, and with Voices of the Ancestors screaming in his head, Fen finds it harder and harder to stave off madness.

Malick has his own reasons to hand over everything Fen wants and equally compelling reasons to withhold everything Fen needs. In over his head with his timing as bad as ever, Malick must devise a way to do his god’s bidding without breaking his god’s laws-and keep Fen sane and on Malick’s side in the bargain.

REVIEW:

Beginning exactly where Wolf’s Own left off, Malick and his merry mercenaries are in a race to save fen’s family before Asia and his hirelings can steal them away to be used as leverage for Asai’s great plan. Fen, already sick and injured leads the fight, placing him in the front line without conscious thought for self-preservation – or is he suicidal, resolute, guilt ridden or just plain crazy? It’s an examination that continues to dominate.

Once again Cummings commands with her poetic writing and cryptic lyricisms. It’s easier this time around as we know these characters and much of their world and their Gods already. The manipulations and machinations are trebled or even quadrupled when fates hand is revealed within new cryptic ramblings. Present reality becomes a precarious place to make a stand when everyone involved has an agenda of their own. Fen and Malick are forced to make impossible choices while skirting the laws of the Gods and thus, dodging the harshest punishment. Those we trust fall prey to fear and self-preservation and a bitter betrayal with shattering consequences ensues. Cummings does not hold back in this, she is as ruthless as the Gods in dealing with her darlings. You have been warned.

The plot is forever evolving and surprising and yet I find myself smothered by the machinations that are too wide and far reaching. My head hurt trying to keep up with it all, there is no reprieve and I was exhausted by the end. It’s the same thing over and over again, from everyone’s perspective; and just about everyone’s guilt or oath turns them into a wanna be martyr – it’s a macabre and trying place for me to be. I missed the sexy Malick’s quick wit and charm; I missed the strong willed and determined young Fen. This book was too longwinded, too wordy and the constant damned if you do, damned if you don’t theme was too wearing.

There are some good highs and some clever plotting but in the end I was relieved it was over. Samin and Shig where my heroes in this book; bringing it back to basics in their own unique approach – Samin in his simplicity and Shig with her all-knowing smirk and cryptic clues. I DO look forward to more adventures from all of these characters; but I do it in the hope that things will turn back to something lighter, wittier, and sexier.

Shelley’s Rating: 3-stars-out-of-5-300x70

BUY LINK: Dreamspinner Store :: Book Store

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Reviewed by Heather C.

Heart of Dixie (A Hearth And Home Spinoff)TITLE: Heart of Dixie
ANTHOLOGY: Fever Anthology
AUTHOR: Mychael Black
PUBLISHER: Torquere Press
LENGTH: 19 pages
BLURB: Mack Sexton has been the pillar of the Sexton clan since his brother’s death almost six years ago. He’s seen his nephew Robbie find true love, and he’s watched other family friends come together as lovers. Mack has had his own share of fantasies, and they all involve his friend, Les Spencer — recently divorced and straight. Just when Mack gets the notion to call Robbie and ask for advice, Les surprises him in more ways than one.

REVIEW:

Mack has been pining after his good friend Les for years. Now, Les has come to help Mark with his farm. It takes everything in his power for Mack to keep himself in line because he thinks Les is straight…or is he?

This was a short, erotic story about two friends-to-lovers. I initially thought it was going to be gay-for-you, but after reading it, I would classify it as out-for-you. The steam level is pretty decent considering the author managed to fit 3 sex scenes into the span of 19 pages! Then, suddenly I was confused when all these family members of Mack’s were being introduced to Les! I immediately did a little research and realized that this is a spin-off story of the author’s Hearth and Home series.

While this is an okay erotic story to be read on its own, I think maybe it would be more enjoyable to the reader if they were already familiar with the series. I only got to see a glimpse into the lives of several other couples that would have otherwise been familiar to me.

Heather’s Rating: 3-stars-out-of-5-300x70

BUY LINK: Torquere Press :: Book Store

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