Archive for the ‘5 Star Reviews’ Category

Reviewed by Jen B.

(The series is rated 4.5 STARS – Individual ratings of the books can be found below along with the review.)

SERIES: Broken: Season One
AUTHOR: Kol Anderson
BOOKS: 2
PUBLISHER: Self-published

SERIES BLURB: What doesn’t kill you can still leave you broken.

Aaron Taylor is a rent-boy. The Dream everyone wants to come true. Vincent Greene is the client from hell. The man who wants to make sure that dream ends up BROKEN.

Just when Aaron thinks his life is beginning to make sense, his handler sends him to a new client. Vincent Greene looks like he might just be Aaron’s best client yet, but what Aaron doesn’t know, is that under Vincent’s alluring facade, lurks a heart capable of extreme cruelty.

The Prisoner (Book One, Broken: Season One)

18053428REVIEW:                 

It doesn’t take long for this story to get going. Once Aaron meets Vincent, things happen quickly and not for the better, that’s for sure. This was a super quick read for me, and even though I don’t think it needed to be much more drawn out than it was, there were parts I wish weren’t quite so glossed over.

There are a number of things going on here. Sebastian falls for Aaron the rentboy, but doesn’t want to give up his boyfriend, Eric, who is also cheating with rentboys. Aaron doesn’t want to give up his rentboy ways, for a number of reasons, and then goes to meet his next client, Vincent. Vincent abducts Aaron and attempts to break and turn him into a willing slave for a rich client. Poor Aaron endures an endless amount of pain, not to mention forced drug addiction.

Vincent eventually thinks he has some feelings for Aaron, but will it ever be enough to save him? Not sure. Thankfully, Sebastian has not given up on Aaron and is now convinced something happened and is attempting to find him. So, there are a few different scenarios at play here. Unfortunately, we are left hanging, and I really did not want this story to end where it did. I really hope we don’t have to wait too terribly long to find out what happens with everyone.

Jen rates it – four-stars_0

BUY LINKS: Amazon

 

Hell and Beyond (Book Two, Broken: Season One)

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18109544REVIEW: 

Wow.  I was on the edge of my seat on this segment. Could poor Aaron handle much more? It seems that he can.  I felt like I wanted to be right there holding his hand, encouraging him to hang on the entire time.  He is so screwed, mentally, physically and every other way possible.

Vincent is one effed up character.  He is the captor/director of all things good and evil to Aaron.  Yet, he has screwed up feeling of his own where Aaron are concerned.  Unfortunately, he is sort of stuck in that it’s either him or Aaron, so of course, he chooses Aaron.

And then there is Carl, supposedly worse than Vincent, if that can be believed.  He is the one putting the pressure on Vincent after all.  But then, wait, what? whoa!  What kind of ending is that?  Grrrr.  Must read the next installment asap!

I will be honest, as I always try to be, and say that I could really care less about what Sebastian and Eric were going through or dealing with.  Those who find these kinds of stories engaging and somewhat addicting, should definitely put this on their list.

BUY LINKS: Amazon

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

To read all her reviews, click the link: JENNIFER B’S REVIEWS
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Reviewed by Shelley

five-stars120205

14646784TITLES: Book 1: The Shattered Gates (#1-3); Book 2: The Holy Road (#4-7); Book 3: His Sacred Bones (#8-10)
AUTHOR: Ginn Hale
PUBLISHER: Blind Eye Books
LENGTH: Complete Serial – 1,294 pages

The Rifter is a ten-part serialized novel by award winning author, Ginn Hale. All parts are available in e-book format.

BLURB, BOOK ONE: When John opens a letter addressed to his missing roommate, Kyle, he expects to find a house key, but instead he is swept into a strange realm of magic, mysticism, revolutionaries and assassins. Though he struggles to escape, John is drawn steadily closer to a fate he share with Kyle—to wake the destroyer god, the Rifter, and shatter a world.

BLURB, BOOK TWO: Having escaped a brutal battle between Fai’daum revolutionaries and Guan’im cavalry, John has climbed the Thousand Steps to the heights of Rathal’pesha in search of a way home. He learns that the golden key he lost–the one that can open a Great Gate and allow him and his friends to return home–lies within his reach.

16293170But not even the remote mountain monastery of Rathal’pesha is safe from violent turmoil in an age of rebellion and religious warfare. Soon John is drawn into the heart of a power struggle that will decide who will live and who will die on the Holy Road.

BLURB, BOOK THREE: John Toeffler never saw himself as a warrior. He has spent years keeping himself and his friends safe through silence and subterfuge. But all that changes when he and Ravishan were betrayed. Now, with a bounty on his head and the Payshmura forces determined to destroy both Ravishan and Laurie, John knows he can no longer leave the battle against the Payshmura Church in the hands of strangers.

If he and those he loves are to survive the coming war, John must master the wild, killing power that he has suppressed all of his life.

But he is right to be wary – for the price of victory will be dear and not even he knows if he can truly control the terrible force that even now awakens deep within his sacred bones.

REVIEW:

17445438Magnificent … An imaginative masterpiece … Mind-blowing …Appalling … Intoxicating … Thought provoking … Genius!  I think you get the picture, but really … those words are trite in comparison to the reality of The Rifter. This series is a trip!

The Rifter hinges on the lives of two pivotal characters: John and Kyle, each man from a separate but parallel world, bound by so much more than the power of fate and world ending prophecy.  When John crosses over The Shattered Gates into Kyle’s world his presence upsets the foretelling of things and has the potential to change the destiny of a world. Well okay, there’s a LOT more going on but I’d be spoiling if I were to expand.  But I will give you a little clue …

“This is the Rifter,” … “Parfir’s most holy incarnation,” … “The divine destroyer. God’s will given form.”

Enter a world of magic and mystery, where talking bones hold the souls of witches and heretics are burned alive. Navigate your way through non-linear time lines and piece together a 10000 piece puzzle that the author reveals ever so meticulously, skilfully and for me …agonizingly. Hale is a master crafter of a vivid realm made fantastical with its crooked streets, stone pathways, and tall towers. The spicy aromas of exotic strange foods (roast dog –anyone?) the scents of pollen, earth and ozone make my senses reel. I’m dizzy with appreciation. Her accounts are utterly breath-taking, making every image crystal clear in my mind.

Now I have some advice for you before you begin this most EPIC of adventures.

Be patient (ha! Says me) there will be questions, so many questions and confusion but trust in Ginn Hale to deliver your answers and give clarity. She will 🙂

Defend yourself (somehow) from a bigoted culture that will enrage and sicken your soul with their piety and unforgiving brutal acts of torture and harsh judgements.

Delight in the intrigue and plotting of assassins and rebels whose very uprising balances on a razors edge. Revel in the back-stabbing malicious manipulations and downfall of greedy power-hungry men.

Brace for the horrors of war.

Pay attention to the details, it’s all fast, crazy good and totally addictive with so much to discover between the lines.

Anticipate. Watch your blind spot, you are guaranteed to get side swiped, often. The angst is an intense nail-biting experience that will compel and induce your joy, horror and fascination in spades.

And finally, make space in your heart for our heroes. I almost said guard your heart, but it is impossible. I challenge even the most cynical of readers not to be affected by the fierce courage, power, strength and sensuality of these men. Stand by them as they fail miserably, as they love each other desperately, suffer for each other endlessly, sacrifice freely, fight for morality and freedom, and ultimately …win.

“To cling to what is lost, no matter how real it once seemed or once was, will lead only to madness.”

Cheer them on as they destroy their enemies and break world ending prophecy. It’s brutal, it’s heart-breaking, but it’s also exceptional in its touching sensuality. Together our heroes are sweet, sweet perfection!

“Your flesh is my earth. Your blood is my river. Your breath is my sky. Your body, my world. Your will, my life…”

The Rifter is a thousand pages of staggering emotion that will linger for a lifetime. For me it will be treasured and held close forever. Ginn Hale explores every aspect of human nature, confirming AND defying the old saying of ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’. She demonstrates the strength of compassion and the futility of anger, vengeance and war; it doesn’t matter that it exists in another world we are all alike in our mortality – with or without the power to shape the world.

“Strength and courage are as much a part of human nature as weakness and cowardice. I don’t have much of a use for people who choose to be less than they can be.”

This series can be brutal and gruesome but it is balanced with so much goodness. There will be plenty to feed your soul and your heart; but take what you want from it, it’s yours if you want it – Ms Hale is very generous.

The Rifter is the most beautiful piece of fantastical escapism that I have ever read.

Thank you Ginn Hale.

BUY LINKS: Blind Eye Books :: Amazon

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To read all her reviews, click the link: SHELLEY’S REVIEWS
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Reviewed by Carissa

five-stars120205

18068792TITLE: Junk
SERIES: The Bristol Collection, Book 1
AUTHOR: Josephine Myles
PUBLISHER: Samhain Publishing
LENGTH: 351 pages
BLURB: Letting go is the first step to healing…or bringing it all crashing down.

When an avalanche of books cuts off access to his living room, university librarian Jasper Richardson can no longer ignore the truth. His ever-growing piles of books, magazines and newspapers can no longer be classified as a “collection”. It’s a hoard, and he needs professional help.

Professional clutter clearer and counselor Lewis Miller thinks he’s seen it all, but even he has to admit he’s shocked. Not so much by the state of Jasper’s house, but by the level of attraction he still feels for the sexy bookworm he remembers from school.

What a shame that Lewis’s ethical code forbids relationships with clients. As Jasper makes slow but steady progress, though, the magnetic pull between them is so strong even Lewis is having trouble convincing himself it’s a temporary emotional attachment arising from the therapeutic process.

Jasper longs to prove to Lewis that this is the real deal. But first he’ll have to lay bare the root of his hoarding problem…and reveal the dark secret hidden behind his walls of books.

REVIEW:

Junk: where a sexy librarian hoarder meets a shopaholic clutter-cleaner with (over)commitment issues, and falls promptly and fully head over heels. What’s not to like?  Well except the fact that our sexy hoarder, Jasper, is one false move from being buried under his hoard of books and newspapers.  Or that clutter-cleaners with therapist leanings, like our Lewis, might just let morals get in the way of his happily ever after.   It’s nothing that can’t be conquered, but can these two, and all their issues, fit into a house that’s packed to the brim with books, papers, and a secret that not even death can bury?  Only time and love can tell.

I knew from the moment that I read the blurb of Junk that I was going to like this book.  Even discounting my love for the books of Josephine Myles, this truly sounded like a unique story being told.  Yet, hoarding?–the supposed province of crazy old bats with hygiene issues and more cats than could ever be healthy–how could that possibly lend itself to a good ol’ gay romance?  Turns out it lends itself superbly.  Not just because Jasper and Lewis make my knees go weak, or that my inner anglophile has a girlish fit every time I read a book set in the UK.  No, this book actually has the audacity to have depth of character and plot.  And I love it.

I love that these character–all of them–exist in three dimensions.  It would have been enough to find two protagonist who are more than just top and bottom, domineering or shy, but we got so much more.  Jasper and Lewis were great characters to come to know, but Yusef, Carroll, Mas, and of course the clothing free, free-speaking, parents of the Miller twins were a joy to read about.  Feeling like you could actually come across these people, if you take a quick (or not so quick, for the poor residence of sunny cali, like me) jaunt up to this English town, was a wonderful feeling.  The more I found out about these characters the more I wanted to know (if not exactly see–the only people I want to hold naked conversations with are those I’ll be tying to my bed later on).  I am also hoping Myles might be feeling benevolent and will give Mas his own happy ending–because seriously, that bouncy, sassy man has some serious depths that need to be plundered…er…discovered by the right man.

Jasper is a hoarder, but not a pushover.  He has a strong will, a working love life–well, he at least is getting some, if not from the right person, or in the right way–and the determination and courage to go after what he wants.  Be it a solution to his overwhelming hoarding problem, or after the reluctant clutter-cleaner that came to save his house and ended up claiming his heart, he is willing to take the steps to get it.  Yes he has doubts–and plenty of dithering about before he forces himself to change–but he does make those changes.  He does go after his man.  Even if said man made me want to whack him with the stick even as Jasper lulled him in with his, ah, carrot.

Lewis has pesky ethical issues, and unfortunately I can’t say that they are wrong.  Not even if they almost cock-blocked the happily-ever-after.  Lewis does have commitment issues–in that he comes to them way too fast and way too hard–so it is perfectly reasonable, and probably much healthier, to insist that they know that this is what they really want.  Both of them.  Did it bug me?  Of course.  I am a hopeless romantic that would happily live in a world of love at first sight and forever.  But I am also an unrepentant realist and hate when things come too easy to my heroes.  Make them strive for it, make them work hard for it…and then let them declare their undying love as they fall into each other’s arms.

There were so many little moments in this book that made me smile.  Zombie flirting in the cafe (a proven method of convincing your desired other that you are the perfect partner is to show just how useful you would be in a zombie apocalypse).  Decorative fountains that were so much more.  A brother and sister who reminded me quite a bit of how my sister and I act whenever we are in the same room (she’s the pretty one, I’m the smart one.  And most likely the dead one if she ever reads this!).  Yet for all its face splitting smiles and lighthearted nudist oversharing, there was real depth and insight into to the problem of hoarding.

These people don’t just have a problem throwing things away.  It is much more complex than that.  They can’t let go of what they have because they either feel that no one will love it like they do or they are sure that one day they will need it, use it, or turn it into something better and new.  But after a while the sheer weight of stuff, of time, of guilt, build up around them, and make even the thought of trying to move stuff out, impossible.  It does keep piling up, too, because it is hard to pass up that one last book, that one last set of knives.  After all, what is one more in the grand scheme of things?  Then one becomes ten, becomes fifty, and then three rooms are forever closed to you because gravity won out over haphazardly placed piles of stuff.  This was Jasper’s world, and it is no wonder that even thinking about the task before him made him cringe in horror.

And Jasper’s big secret?  Well you’ll just have to find that out on your own, ‘cause I can only deal with so much heartache.  I don’t need to go and break your heart as well–I’ll let Myles and Jasper do that for me.  But I will say, that while I got hints of it along the way, it still hurt to hear.  Maybe it was the combo of wine and late-night reading, but to see what Jasper had put on him, what he had to do, and then having to live with it every day after, it about broke my heart.  I don’t know where I come down on the issue itself, but that is one hell of a burden to carry.

But don’t worry, it is not all doom and gloom!  The love here is genuinely heartwarming, and the chemistry between these two is like a bonfire on a cold night: irresistible to watch and you can’t help but get as close as you can so to feel the heat lick up your skin.  Surprisingly it is Jasper who is the driving force behind most of the action.  He seemed so broken at the beginning of the story, and even with him saying that he’d the one topping Mas, I didn’t think he really had it in him to go after Lewis like he did.  But, boy, was I wrong.  I was wrong in the garden, on the bed, and in the warehouse–several times!  And while Jasper may eventually want to be able to switch it up, it was hot and sweet and very very much a pleasure to read with him in charge.  I do take issue with the fade-to-black before Lewis got to go all toppy on Jasper wonderful behind, though–that was just mean…if completely the right choice for the story.  But still.

I loved this story, and while there were a few areas where the transitions were a little iffy and I might have been jolted out of the scene as I tried to figure what was going on, I don’t have many complaints.  This book took me, my heart, and my head, through a wringing and wonderful journey, and I have no qualms about recommending it to anyone who wants to fall in love vicariously, likes pants-melting kisses, and who is willing to see some of the crazy secrets that hide behind the towers of literary genius.  5 stars.  Go pick it up; you will not regret it–unless it is the domino that sets off your own worded avalanche.

(This book also prompted a little clean-out on my part. So yea! to more shelf space and less shoes clogging my closet.  That means I can buy more books right?)

BUY LINKS: Samhain Publishing :: Amazon :: All Romance eBooks

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

To read all her reviews, click the link: CARISSA’S REVIEWS
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Reviewed by Taylor

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TITLE: Made of Stars
AUTHOR: Kelley York
PUBLISHER: Entangled Publishing
LENGTH: 320 pages
BLURB:
When eighteen-year-old Hunter Jackson and his half-sister, Ashlin, return to their dad’s for the first winter in years, they expect everything to be just like the warmer months they’d spent there as kids. And it is—at first. But Chance, the charismatic and adventurous boy who made their summers epic, is harboring deep secrets. Secrets that are quickly spiraling into something else entirely.

The reason they’ve never met Chance’s parents or seen his home is becoming clearer. And what the siblings used to think of as Chance’s quirks—the outrageous stories, his clinginess, his dangerous impulsiveness—are now warning signs that something is seriously off.

Then Chance’s mom turns up with a bullet to the head, and all eyes shift to Chance and his dad. Hunter and Ashlin know Chance is innocent…they just have to prove it. But how can they protect the boy they both love when they can’t trust a word Chance says?

REVIEW:

I don’t think I can put into proper words my feelings about Kelley York’s writing. Thus far, she’s always written LGBT young adult fiction with broken boys.  But really, that’s putting her prose far too simply.  She always writes with an authentic voice that somehow manages to come across childlike, but adult.  A voice that manages to sound innocent, but jaded.  A story that shows humans can easily be both good and bad.  She writes stories that make me think, make my heart break in tiny pieces, and make me look at things surrounding me in new ways.  She inspires me simply put.

Made of Stars is a complex story of three teenagers on the precipice of discovering who they are, what they want in life, what they are willing to sacrifice and give up, and what they are willing to fight for at all cost.  Hunter Jackson and his half-sister Ashlin meet the boy they will grow to love, as they mature, by the water one summer.  Chance, the boy the author describes perfectly as “strangeness and whimsy in human form.”  I don’t think I can tell other readers how large my love for Chance was throughout this book.  He’s both truth and lies, strength and vulnerability; he’s a boy who loves animals and sad movies, that never stops dreaming because it’s the only thing keeping him going, other than a love deep in his heart for boy he considers his haven.  And for Hunter and Ashlin, Chance was their summer.  He’s adventure, spontaneity, and sunshine.  He’s an escape from their normal lives, and something they look forward to during those cold months away from their summers visiting their dad.

The real start of this novel begins in November.  Ashlin and Hunter have graduated from high school and have decided to take a year off before deciding whether or not to attend college.  Ashlin lives in California normally with her mom, and Hunter lives in Maine with his mom and her boyfriend, Bob, about four hours away from their dad, in Otter’s Rest, Maine.  When Ashlin and Hunter arrive for their first winter, they don’t immediately see Chance, and it’s nerve-wracking because they haven’t been home to see their dad (or Chance) in two years due to an injury their father suffered.  However, as soon as they see Chance everything goes right back as if they were all kids again.  Except things aren’t quite what they seem.  Ashlin still holds out for Chance’s attention, but he only has eyes and room in his heart, in that way, for Hunter.  When Hunter’s girlfriend comes for a visit in Christmas, all of the relationships change.  Things that have been buried come to the surface and teenagers have to face some harsh truths about themselves, the people they love, and what makes up the idea of a family.  Feelings of guilt, shame, envy, awakening, and joy take over their young bodies throughout these months.

This book is slow at times, but it’s an enjoyable pace.  The writing is quite sparse, yet it says so very much.  It’s poetic, but at the same time, I can clearly see a real person speaking these words, having these internal monologues within themselves.  There is that joy of snow, the adventure of an island, tall tales and scary truths, and the sense of family and what you make of it.

Kelley York shines, as always, in her character studies.  Whenever I finish one of her books, I feel as if a part of me was torn away when I put the book down, as if leaving her characters rips them from my life.  I worry about them, I love them, and I just want the best for them.  To me, that’s what books are about and what brings me joy.  What I most appreciate, though, is she will make you work to love each one of them or emote understanding for individuals you’d otherwise never would.

Ashlin is such a wonderful, selfless, brave young woman.  A caring daughter, a giving sister, a devoted friend.  She, also, recognizes emotions and feelings of other characters in such simple, understanding ways.  I loved when she understood why she wanted Chance, and it correlated so perfectly of what she thought Hunter and Rachel’s relationship held, and even more when she saw the truth between Hunter and Chance.  Hunter is that all-American boy whose story should be so simple, if this was just any fairy-tale story.  And Chance…Chance is best left for the reader to discover on their own, but I heart him so very, very much.

BUY LINKS: Amazon Link :: All Romance eBooks

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

To read all her reviews, click the link: TAYLOR’S REVIEWS
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Reviewed by Heather C.

five-stars120205

Learning Curve (Life Lessons, #4)TITLE: Learning Curve
SERIES: Life Lessons series #4
AUTHOR: Kaje Harper
PUBLISHER: MLR Press
LENGTH: 117,000 words
BLURB: Mac is afraid he’ll never recover enough to go back to being a cop, while Tony is afraid that he will.

Three months after being shot, Detective Jared MacLean is healing, but he’s afraid it may not be enough to go back on the job. He won’t give up, though. Being a cop is written deep in Mac’s bones, and he’ll do whatever it takes to carry his badge again. Tony used to wish he could have Mac safely home, but watching his strong husband battle disabilities is far from Tony’s dream come true. When Mac is asked to consult on a case involving one of Tony’s students, both men will have to face old demons and new fears to find a way to move forward together.

REVIEW:

It’s Mac and Tony’s final book!!! Gah! I ♥ these guys so much!

For those of you who haven’t read Home Work, you’ve been warned there will probably be spoilers in my review.

This book was long…I mean really long with a lot going on. Some may even say it was “too long”, but I loved every page of it. Since this is supposed to be the final book of the Life Lessons series, there were a lot of things going on in Mac and Tony’s life since the very beginning that needed resolutions, and I feel happy about how things were wrapped up.

I’m going to break my review out into a list because…well, that’s just how I like to do it.

♥ Its a few months later and Mac is still recovering from the brain injury. Book 3 ended on a sad note with Mac’s career future still up in the air. I really liked how the author handled the realism of the aphasia and what all Mac has to do to retrain his speech and overcome his fears. It’s hard seeing Mac so vulnerable, but he will always have Tony there to support him in who he needs to be…no matter how much it scares Tony.

♥ The murder mystery. Honestly, it wasn’t the most interesting mystery in the series. It was a bit simple with really only one possible solution that was glaringly obvious to me. BUT…the key point of the mystery was how Mac was able to slowly reorient himself to working a case after the injury, without “officially” working a case. Also, a few of Mac’s old cases that we’ve been following over the last few books finally get resolved.

♥ Tony is still having problems with that stupid, homophobic, bitch Grady at his school. And that storyline also gets a bit tied into Mac’s mystery. Not a major factor in the story, but it also uses the time to touch on the realities of teen bullying and the benefits of a having a Gay Straight Alliance to support gay teens and their networks.

♥ Tony and Mac are still hot hot hot! I think this book was definitely the smexiest book in the series…as a whole; because nothing will ever top the hotness of their wedding night for me. They are so fucking perfect together!

“Look in that mirror,” he whispered. “There. That stunning, big, dark man, and that smaller guy. That’s you and that’s me. And that’s fucking hot and gorgeous and just about perfect. That’s as gay as an Easter parade, and still completely about two real men. Your family can throw insults, and they can shun us, and they can discriminate all they want, but they can’t make that less than fucking perfect.” ~ Tony

♥ Speaking of Mac’s family, we finally get to meet them. We learn a lot about Mac’s childhood and the foundation for many of his fears. It’s now obvious why being a detective is who Mac really is and that it will never change. His family is horrible; thank God he now has a new family with Tony, Ben, and Anna.

♥ Tony finally becomes Ben’s “Dad”! I know that’s a spoiler, but did you really think that wouldn’t happen? It was so sweet and perfect, and of course I had a happy cry through the whole thing! I just adore Ben, and I wish his judgmental, homophobic grandparents would give him the love he deserves. Maybe someday…a long time from now.

♥ The HEA. It was beautiful and perfect and I CRIED like a baby at the end. Tony and Mac’s journey hasn’t been easy, but seeing the life they made together is inspiring and still leaves me with happy tears and a smile on my face. I hope Kaje gives us happy updates of their future together.

5 stars…no question about it!

BUY LINK: MLR Press  ::  All Romance eBooks  ::  Amazon

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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
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Reviewed by Jennifer B.

five-stars120205

Beyond Duty (A Mac & Gunny Novel)TITLE: Beyond Duty
AUTHOR: SJD Peterson
LENGTH: 212 pages
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
BLURB: The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell didn’t come soon enough for Gunther “Gunny” Duchene and Macalister “Mac” Jones, career US Marines who met at boot camp in the 1990s. They’ve been somewhere between best friends and lovers in peacetime and wartime both, but as the clock ticks toward Mac’s and Gunny’s retirements, the guys have much more to worry about than coming out.

Whether their relationship will survive outside of the closet they’ve had to shove it into for over two decades is a big question mark. After all, Gunny questions why a hot military man like Mac–who could get any guy he wanted, including a younger, sexier one–would want him. But as Gunny and Mac navigate emotional waters as choppy as any they saw on duty, they just might learn Semper Fi applies to more than their careers.

REVIEW:

I first met and fell in love with Macalister Jones (Mac) and Gunther Duchene (Gunny) in their free short story of the same name.  The short story was perfect, but these guys had so much more to show us, and I’m thankful they were able to tell it here.

Mac and Gunny met in boot camp, became friends and then lovers.  After a few years, they became exclusive, but still remained more best friends with benefits, having to continue hiding under DADT.  Now, some 22 years after they met, they are facing retirement from the military which is coinciding with Obama’s signing of the repeal of DADT.

Both men are a little worried about the changes this could bring to their relationship.  Both are terrified of losing each other, but Gunny seems to be having the most trouble, thinking the younger Mac will want to take the opportunity of freedom to find someone younger and new.  These guys are super hot, both alpha marines, and even though Gunny outranks Mac and they are the same size and build, Mac is the more dominant of the two.  This leads to a very hot d/s scene that, quite frankly, I wish there was more of.

Mac is quite the cheeky fellow, and while very cocky, there is never any question, in my mind, about his feelings for Gunny.  He is playful and fun at times, super hot dominant male at others.  These two were made for each other in every way.  They share so much and always seem to know exactly what the other needs.

As their retirement ceremony draws near, they deal with coming out to family and friends, as well as their fellow marines.  Gunny’s coming out to his parents about broke my heart.  This has its ups and downs, but it is something they feel needs to be dealt with before their ceremony.  Another thing they struggle with is what they will do with themselves once they are officially retired.  Mac is worried he will get bored quickly and get himself into trouble, so they are trying to figure out the next stage of their lives as well.

I had almost forgotten how much I loved these guys, but it came flooding back the moment I started reading this.  It is just as wonderfully written as the free short story, captivating and fun, sexy and sweet.  There are some moments of sadness mixed in with a lot of hot sex, but through it all, their love shines through, and I don’t think I could ever get enough of them.  Ms. Peterson has delivered another fabulous story with these guys, and I will always hold onto the hope that we will still see them again.

LINK: Dreamspinner Press

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

To read all her reviews, click the link: JENNIFER B’S REVIEWS
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Reviewed by Katinka

five-stars120205

One Saved to the SeaTITLE: One Saved to the Sea
AUTHOR: Catt Kingsgrave
PUBLISHER: Circlet Press
LENGTH: 29,000 words
BLURB: In the Orkney Islands, mothers tell their children of the selkies, seals who can shed their skins and dance on land. They also tell that whoever holds a selkie girl’s skin can trap her for a wife. From the lighthouse where she was raised, Mairead has watched the selkie girls secretly since she was small. She longs to leave the home that has never really been hers and join them. She could never have guessed that a limping selkie girl has been watching her too, nor what wildness the shapeshifter would draw her into. Their paths collide when most of the men including Mairead’s brothers have been called to war, the village idiot decides to catch himself a wife, and Mairead is the only one who can stop him.

Drawing on myth and history, Catt Kingsgrave writes a tale of the clash of the modern age with magic, of loss and searching, a tale that will sweep you away to a past that never was, and into a sapphic love story just this side of impossible.

REVIEW:

To be read on a stormy night…

A precious folktale, that delivered in more ways that I had anticipated. Kingsgrave’s writing has a certain poetic quality, evoking a dreamy atmosphere that I found myself reveling in. I expected this story, that’s set on one of the tinier Scottish Orkney Islands, to focus on hazy eroticism and not be very plot-driven. But it’s such a wholesome tale instead! With a plot that captivates and weaves all details together for a thrilling climax.

One Saved by the Sea is about a tough island-born girl, Mairead, who is called an unnatural creature behind her back, because she is still unmarried and – shockingly enough  – not the slightest bit interested in men. Instead, for as long as she can remember she has secretly spied on the selkies; beautiful pale and dark-haired girls, mythical creatures that shed their seal skin at night and crawl out of the gray sea to dance and make love underneath the stars. Mairead watches, loves and lusts from afar. And envies them…

They did not have to live on the island, with no escape from those smoke-dried, strangling moralities.

Now Mairead, she is not one of those spoilt city flowers who only come up to the Orkney Islands for the summer nights and Beltane fires. Smelling of kelp, rust and diesel, the taste of sea salt always on her lips, she is the Keeper of the Selkeness Light. The lighthouse’s flame a beacon during dark and stormy nights. Unfortunately, being a lighthouse keeper is considered a man’s job. And it’s only a matter of time before Mairead father, whose mind and body are consumed by illness, passes away.  With her three brothers fighting in the First World War, she will be left with empty hands.

But there are more pressing matters at hand. A girl alone is an easy target. And when one day a thief steals the skin of one of the selkies, leaving the seal girl naked and trapped on the island, Mairead has to fight back for the girl that occupied her daydreams for years. And for her future…

She couldn’t bring herself to care. Not with the memory of kisses so fierce she almost feared to end them still hovering about her lips. Not with the smell of what they’d done still haunting the back of Mairead’s throat – a lush, decadent perfume that the freshening sea wind served only to enhance. Any shame she might have expected to feel, now that her long-silenced yearnings had finally been met, simply could not make their way through the press of warm, flustered amazement. 

Final thoughts: I loved how the author kept me spell-bound throughout the story, her writing style – never vulgar and cliché, mesmerizing instead – fit the magical ambiance perfectly. I especially adored how the sea played a role in every aspect of Mairead’s life, the erotic scenes included. They didn’t make me tingle with desire, but their originality and beauty was something to behold. I would almost call this old school writing and cry out: “THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE, FOLKS!”.

BUY LINK: All Romance eBooks

Reviewed by Nina

five-stars120205

HushedTITLE: Hushed
AUTHOR: Kelley York
PUBLISHER: Entangled Publishing
LENGTH: 229 pages
BLURB: Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another – Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.

Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.

REVIEW:

Goddamn, this is good.

I don’t know how Kelley York does it, but it’s like everything that comes out of her brain and fingers is magic. Don’t get me wrong, it does have a few flaws… I think. I mean, there must have been something. It’s just that I couldn’t see it.

From the writing to the characters to the plot – everything was masterfully narrated and fully developed. Beware of the gushing!

Let’s start with the writing, shall we?

It’s quite original, to be honest. It has something different, something very individual, that I couldn’t pinpoint at the beginning. Sometimes I felt like I was being told every feeling Archer was experiencing, like there were no secrets left for me to discover on my own, but then I realised that what this novel is, is not unsophisticated in matters of layering and secrecy – it’s candid.

The protagonist is fucked up, intense, hurt, emotional, good and bad and everything in between – and it’s all out in the open, for me to take with both hands and savour. And it feels wonderful, refreshing and startlingly intimate.

This kind of narration allows the reader to be swept along by the flow of events fully, aware of everything that’s happening and without having to worry that they’re missing some piece of information or being left out of the protagonist’s head.

Kelley York, I’ve noticed, has this two-boys-and-a-girl pattern in all of her GLBT books – this one, Suicide Watch and the upcoming Made of Stars – but it’s never repetitive or stereotypical, and I can tell you why. This author gets human relationships and dynamics and how different and original they can be, and she gets them because she knows how to build a complex, well-rounded, intense, humane character, who relates to different people in different ways and reacts to what happens around them in a way that is their own.

Archer, Evan and Vivian (I chose to list them in alphabetical order because I can’t figure out which one to put first, which should tell you something) stole my heart and trampled it. Period.

I can’t even talk about Archer, because he’s so broken, hopeless yet strong and full of light that you should discover him for yourself, and figure out if you can blame him for what he did. I know I do. But then, I can also understand and forgive. This is one of the reasons why I liked this book (and its author) so much. This is not a character that makes you say “well, you really can’t blame him” or “he was right all along” or “he’s actually perfect, other people made him do this”, like most others do; this is a person who has made many big mistakes. And yet I (and most other readers, from what I saw) still love him.

Evan… Evan is wonderful. Simply wonderful. Good, caring, sweet, strong – yet not perfect. He can push too hard while trying to help, he can blame people and be mad at them, he can give up and be defeated, although never completely – but what really matters is the way his essential goodness and ability to love shine through, and how he chooses to give all that love to Archer and get him through it all, helping as much as he can.

And help is what he does, because he’s exactly what Archer needed – someone who would get him and love him no matter what he’d done in the past, no matter his irrational feelings for someone who doesn’t even exist anymore.

In their relationship, the idea of “no strings attached” that Archer mentions is turned upside down, because here it doesn’t mean physical comfort without emotional ties – it means love and affection without any expectation or debt towards each other.

His relationship with Evan aside, the other two major events or changes that Archer faces are coming to terms with the new face of the girl he thought he knew, accepting that she’s not the girl he used to love anymore; and coming to terms with himself and with what he did.

And each of these is a long, slow, painful process, for him and for Evan; no easy cop-outs or fairytale happy endings – although, don’t worry, there is a happy ending.

And here comes the third element in this trio.

Vivian is a difficult one, and I think I’ll end up pondering her actions for a while.

What I can say with absolute certainty is that she’s fucked up. She’s damaged. She has issues, and needs help. Is she evil, though?

(I seriously need to shut up. Just bear with me a little longer. Here’s about the plot. Or, wait, I’m not telling you anything about that; here’s about how the plot made me feel.)

The story happens over the course of three months – from August 31st to December 6th, and it feels weird to see how quickly things can change so much. Three months is a flash, a moment, considering the amount of traumatic events packed in here, but at times I could feel time trickle by, agonisingly slow, just like Archer perceived it, and that’s only proof of Kelley York’s talent in keeping readers on the edge of their seat, slowly dying inside and being sparked back to life with every chapter.

The second time around reading this novel – which happened because I want to review all of Kelley York’s books (weird obsessions, anyone?) and because I wanted to see how much my opinion has changed after reading hundreds of other books with GLBT characters – I realised that the first time I liked this novel not because of the thrill of new-to-me gay deliciousness, but because it’s fucking great, and that has nothing to do with the genre it could fit in.

Suspense, love, craziness – you’ve got it all.

BUY LINK: Amazon

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Nina is one of new reviewers joining The Blog of Sid Love.

I welcome her to the team!
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Reviewed by Nikyta

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Hanging by the MomentTITLE: Hanging by the Moment
AUTHOR: H. B. Pattskyn
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 350 pages
BLURB: Pasha Batalov has lived his whole life doing what a good son is expected to do. He dropped out of school to help run the failing family restaurant, and ever since he’s put up with his difficult business partner, who also happens to be his father. And, of course, he keeps his sexual orientation a secret from his conservative Russian family. After being closeted costs him his first serious relationship, Pasha resigns himself to one-night stands and loneliness.

But after a chance encounter with lost delivery truck driver, Daniel Englewood, Pasha starts to question all of his assumptions about life. Daniel is sweet, funny, smart, drop-dead gorgeous—and for the last six years, he’s been living with HIV. Pasha worries that he won’t be strong enough to help Daniel if HIV turns to AIDS, but he can’t walk away from their deepening attraction. He also doesn’t know if he can be strong enough to face the hardest task that a relationship with Daniel demands: coming out to his family and friends, and risking losing everything else he holds dear.

REVIEW:

I first got acquainted with H.B. Pattskyn’s books when I read Heart’s Home in early 2012. I loved that book and thought the writing was phenomenal. When I noticed Hanging by the Moment, I knew immediately I wanted to read it not just because I enjoy Ms. Pattskyn’s writing but also because the blurb intrigued me.

I’m ecstatic to say that I loved this book just as much as I loved Heart’s Home. The writing was just as great, so much so that I was enamored with the story and once I started, I didn’t want to put it down. I couldn’t wait to see what Pasha and Daniel go through, how certain situations played out and whether or not Pasha will have the life he always wanted.

To be frank, this is a story about life being too short to fight or to worry or to even get hung up on the little things. It’s about living in the moment and taking chances you wouldn’t normally take because anything can happen tomorrow but today is what counts. It deals with a lot of issues such as coming out, HIV, gay-bashing, homophobia and ultimately sticking up for yourself and living the life you want to live but also about accepting who you are. It was a beautiful story that had me sad and crying one moment then happy the next.

Pasha is an unconventional character. He has a lonely life filled mostly with working in his family’s restaurant every day and fighting with his father constantly. He stresses over his weight and the fact that he’s in the closet and doesn’t think he’ll ever be happy. It’s sad but I connected with Pasha and I enjoyed the fact that he had issues with his weight. He would start a diet then something would happen so he’d eat a carton of ice cream to drown his sorrows. When he meets Daniel, there’s an instant attraction but Pasha doesn’t think Daniel would ever look at him twice… until Daniel comes back to his restaurant to see him.. except Pasha freaks out and pushes Daniel away and then regrets it later. Poor Pasha! He just has no self-esteem 😦

What I really loved, though, was the fact Daniel didn’t give up. Daniel might be this incredibly attractive Native American but he sees Pasha for more than just his waist size and thinks Pasha is gorgeous inside AND out. I loved that while Pasha wanted to lose weight, Daniel made every effort to let Pasha know that his weight didn’t matter to him even to the point of pushing Pasha into ordering what he really wanted and not some bird ford. It was sweet and made me fall in love with Daniel. More than anything, I liked the balance between Daniel and Pasha. We get Pasha’s troubles and we get Daniel’s troubles in their own time. I loved experiencing the emotions between Pasha and Daniel over Daniel’s HIV; from being freaked out to wary to scared to accepting but also the fact that Pasha eventually realizes that no matter why Daniel is with him, Daniel’s feelings and emotions are genuine and not a result of some bad luck (you’ll understand this when you read the book). It wasn’t just hard on Pasha because he didn’t want to lose someone he was growing to love but also on Daniel who had a constant fear that he would get Pasha sick or Pasha would see him in a different way and then leave Daniel. It’s heart-breaking if you really let yourself get into the story but it unfolded in a way that was enjoyable without being too overwhelming or too dense. It was just right, IMO, but mostly the fact that even when one of them freaked out, they eventually talked about it and got through their issues together.

My only issue with the story is that I felt the beginning was a bit rough. Pasha is very self-degrading. He doesn’t think highly of himself because of the situation he’s in and the way he’s been acting since he broke up with his ex, who he was still yearning for. When he meets Daniel, he can’t understand why Daniel likes him because Pasha thinks he’s unattractive since he no longer has a size 32 waist. In the beginning, it’s rough because it’s almost as if Pasha hates himself or at least his life. So, for me, it was brutal to see him debase himself in some ways (although it’s not extreme just sad) and some readers might have a hard time getting through this. However, as the story progressed, I couldn’t help but love Pasha. He doesn’t want much in his life except to be loved and respected by his father AND to have a man that loves him. Thankfully, he gets that in Daniel!

I will warn some readers that Pasha and Daniel move a little fast when it comes to love but, to me, it fit the story well. I enjoyed the intensity between them and I felt the love that they developed. I liked that they took things slow when it came to sex because of Daniel’s HIV but I also liked that their feelings for each other are shown and we get to experience every step of it. They call, they text, they go on dates, they even have some fights and we get to see it. It helped me connect with the characters, to get to know them in a way that had me very invested in the story.

With that said, this was an amazing novel that I loved reading. It’s sweet, intense and at times sad. I cried, I laughed and I fell in love with the characters and their journey. I even adored the secondary characters that weren’t so nice. I love Ms. Pattskyn’s writing and I really hope we’ll one day get more of either Pasha and Daniel (especially to meet Daniel’s family) or at least see the journey of another couple (*cough* Brett and Mark *cough*). For those readers looking for something that handles a range of issues that has a little angst but a happy ending, try this one because it was definitely something I enjoyed every step of the way!

BUY LINK: Dreamspinner Press  ::  All Romance eBooks

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

To read all her reviews, click the link: NIKYTA’S REVIEWS
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Reviewed by Elizabetta

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The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies, #1)TITLE: The Magpie Lord (Book #1)
SERIES: A Charm of Magpies
AUTHOR: K. J. Charles
PUBLISHER: Samhain Publishing
LENGTH: 200 pages
BLURB: Exiled to China for twenty years, Lucien Vaudrey never planned to return to England. But with the mysterious deaths of his father and brother, it seems the new Lord Crane has inherited an earldom. He’s also inherited his family’s enemies. He needs magical assistance, fast. He doesn’t expect it to turn up angry.

Magician Stephen Day has good reason to hate Crane’s family. Unfortunately, it’s his job to deal with supernatural threats. Besides, the earl is unlike any aristocrat he’s ever met, with the tattoos, the attitude…and the way Crane seems determined to get him into bed. That’s definitely unusual.

Soon Stephen is falling hard for the worst possible man, at the worst possible time. But Crane’s dangerous appeal isn’t the only thing rendering Stephen powerless. Evil pervades the house, a web of plots is closing round Crane, and if Stephen can’t find a way through it—they’re both going to die.

Warning: Contains hot m/m sex between a deeply inappropriate earl and a very confused magician, dark plots in a magical version of Victorian England, family values (not the good kind), and a lot of swearing.

REVIEW:

Excellent stuff! This is a cracking good paranormal mystery set in Victorian England, with haunted mansions, sorcerers, snooty aristos, charming adventurers, and magpies… magpies everywhere!…seven for a witch, I can tell you no more

Lord Crane, Lucien Vaudrey, is not your ordinary pampered aristocrat. He’s had a rough twenty years but returns from exile in China, a self-made man, an opportunist, tattooed and hard-forged… and immune to the strict English dictates of his class. He enjoys his freedom, his privileges, and his men. He is a great main character.

Crane finds upon his return home that he has more to manage than inherited money and property. There is the issue of his father and brother’s alleged suicides, and now it seems that someone is intent on bringing harm to Crane… with the help of sorcery. He hires Stephen Day, a practitioner, a magician with expertise in ferreting out the nefarious forces at work against him.

The scene is set mostly at Piper, Crane’s gloomy country estate shrouded in some strange, malevolent force. The house is spooky, the servants are surly, and the grounds are populated by vast charms of magpies. In fact, this bird serves as the family symbol (hence the informal title, Magpie Lord) and given their reputation as an omen of ill fortune and connection to witchcraft, are fitting to the story.

The paranormal phenomena are ghastly and graphic with more than enough inventive haunting and devilry, spell craft and things that go bump in the night to keep Crane and Stephen scrambling. The sexual tension between them is slow building and sizzling. While at first they seem incompatible, Crane is drawn to Stephen’s goodness, his magic skills, his beautiful amber eyes, and those hands that make him shiver. It’s fun to watch him seduce Stephen who is not initially a fan. Even with all the scariness, the connection and banter between them is infectious and humorous…

“What the fuck, what the fucking, bloody devil-shit, what in the name of Satan’s swollen cock was that?” — Crane

“Do you speak in the House of Lords with that mouth?” — Stephen

The story is well-paced and well-edited, the writing fluid and atmospheric. I’m not a big fan of historical romances but when they’re this much fun, well, who can resist? This one is a keeper and luckily, there is a sequel to the adventures due out early next year, so more fun on the way.

BUY LINK: Samhain Store

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

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