Posts Tagged ‘shelley’

Reviewed by Shelley

TITLE: Chance Assassin: A Story of Love, Luck and Murder
AUTHOR: Nicole Castle
BLURB: Vincent Sullivan is down on his luck. When a chance encounter generates a job prospect he’s too desperate to decline, Vincent is well on his way to a career in crime. But after the job goes wrong and he’s gravely injured in the process, things couldn’t get much worse. Except that he may have just killed a man.

With the entrance of a mysterious stranger, life is finally starting to look up. Unless his luck is about to run out for good.

REVIEW:

Chance Assassin is Nicole Castle’s debut novel and it is superb. A clever and twisted highly amoral love story – and it is a love story. Just like Natural Born Killers with Micky & Mallory was a love story (ha!), so too is the story of Frank and Vincent. I mean, murdering sociopaths get to fall in love too, don’t they?

The story begins with 16 year old Vincent freezing, bleeding and quite possibly dying when a ‘job’ goes horribly wrong.  After making his way back to ‘safety’ he quite literally falls into the arms of the most handsome man he’s ever seen – the man of his dreams. Frank.

Their eyes meet and everything changes …

“I felt a sense of calm wash over me, like the end of a horror show when a commercial comes on to advertise exactly what you need, and suddenly the world is safe and warm and you don’t even have to make up your mind what to eat because of course it’s Snickers and always has been.” –

See, totally a love story! Strange, twisted and quirky – it’s my favourite kind.

So, long story made short: Frank is a dark assassin, and Charlie is his handler who wants Vincent dead and Frank? Well … he likes the mouthy suggestive kid who has more than intrigued him. So he hides Vincent from Charlie and takes him on the road, assuming the role of Vincent’s protector and later his mentor.

The relationship is a power struggle of sorts: Frank tries to keep Vincent innocent and Vincent wants to learn the trade, but more than that he wants in Frank’s pants.

“The idea that Frank was a murderer discouraged my affections less than the knowledge that he hated me. In fact, I was flattered”

Vincent’s fearless tenacity and teasing charm leaves Frank helpless, and thus Vincent becomes V – assassin in training. He’s a natural.

“I really wanted to see him kill again. I salivated at the thought of it. And more than that, I wanted in on the action.”

Now don’t judge V a lunatic from that quote alone please. That’s just his kink and he really doesn’t have a moral code in regard to death. That’s just the way he is, and I can’t blame him.

Vincent’s past is a disturbing one, which I’ll leave for him to tell you about because nobody tells it like Vincent – with detached matter of fact witticism that packs more punch than any sob story. It’s a wonder that he’s still alive really. Alive, but not unaffected.

Vincent is kind of nuts, and the sexy but very scary Frank is an enigma all his own.  I’m not about to spoil your fun because discovering them for yourself is the best part. But I will say is that V is funny, loving and deadly – a cute crazy-arsed killer without an ounce of remorse, and I loved him. Frank is the perfect anti-hero: dark, introverted, intelligent, cold blooded killer, sociopath, compulsive obsessive, sexy like the devil makes sexy, paranoid and fiercely protective.

Vincent and Frank are a psychologist’s wet dream; both are uniquely multi-faceted characters who seized my attention absolutely.

The relationship dynamic is disturbing, witty, sexy, scary and sometimes sick. But it’s theirs and theirs alone. You’ll never come across another one like it.

I loved being inside Vincent’s head; every thought is a unique perspective without consequence or repercussion. His vanity never outweighs his shame and his masochism is as much a source of discomfort as it is humour.

“It took all my concentration not to get an erection now that he was being mean to me again. He was really fucking sexy when he was hostile.”

I love uncovering the reason and psychology of socially deplorable characters like Frank and Vincent.  Think of Bonnie & Cylde and Micky & Mallory – couples that do bad shit. Their stories are epic and will remain icons forever, no matter how badly they behave.  There is murder here and not everyone they kill deserves it, but they are assassins and they got a job to do.

This story might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and a few of V’s kinks are a bit hard to stomach but it never bothered me much. The story is too fascinating, too fresh and just too damn good for me to give a monkey’s about morals and how I should feel about it – I don’t care. I’m too much of a Quentin Tarantino fan to care.

The author has done an awesome job and I treasured every word of V’s narrative, right up until the 85% mark.

The tempo changes and the unwelcome arrival of new characters at this point spoils the mood for me, I couldn’t see a reason for it. Perhaps only to establish a sense of jolly normalcy? Who wants normal when we’ve lived through this epic adventure of murder and mayhem? I don’t. I want guns and glory – not normal!

It just means that for me this novel went from being potentially magnificent, to simply splendid – hence not quite the full 5 stars.

Chance Assassin: A story of Love, Luck and Murder. That’s exactly what this story is about: Love, Luck and Murder – don’t think that the cover is metaphorical either, nope – you can interpret that quite literally. Chance Assassin is not without flaws but I don’t care. I’ll recommend it for those who can wave goodbye to their morals with the middle finger raised.

Nicole Castle has done a sterling job and I will be stalking her relentlessly to see what she delivers next.

‘Do you want to die?’ I asked, terrified that he’d say yes. “For you?With you? Willingling. Otherwise,no. Not anymore.”

… yeah, totally a love story *sigh*

**End Note: My stalking pays off and Nicole Castle is working on a sequel (YAY!)  Which gives thatending a lot more weight.**

Shelley’s rating:

BUY LINK: Book Store

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

Check out all our recommended books in Sid Love’s eBook Store:
Recommended Books

(Support this site and buy the books from my A-store)

Reviewed by Shelley

TITLE: Starfish and Coffee
AUTHOR: Kele Moon
PUBLISHER: Loose Id Publication
BLURB: On the island where they first met, two lovers from opposite sides of the tracks are reunited. Now jaded and broken, Alex and Matt still can’t deny their sizzling connection or the memories of one perfect, uninhibited year together.

At twenty-two, Matt Tarrington is rich, good-looking and destined to be powerful, but behind that confident exterior lurks a man who resents the life his family thrust upon him. Desperate for an escape, Matt heads to Mirabella Island off the coast of Florida for a year of relaxation and some wild nights with vacationing party-girls.

Matt never expected to find real passion in the arms of Alex Hunter, a handsome, laid-back local.

Alex is gay, but closeted. Matt should be completely off limits, but Alex finds the deeply in denial rich boy too tempting to ignore. Especially when a bet has them working together, fighting the heat in the rundown, beachside cafe where Alex sweats for every dollar.

Their love felt inevitable until youth left them vulnerable to hatred and greed. Now after six years of hating the lies they live, Alex and Matt will have to risk it all for the second chance they both desperately need.

REVIEW:

I expected this story was going to be one of those done-to-death romances of young love lost & found with a gay-for-you, coming-out trope. I knew how it was going to go before I even started – the synopsis is quite telling. I was in the mood for a nice enjoyable story but what I never would have guessed, is how much I would ADORE it.

Matthew (Matt) Tarrington: privileged, beautiful, straight  republican, and a fearless frat boy who is the heir to a Fortune 500 company and a heart attack waiting to happen meets (officially) Alex Hunter: orphaned, beach bum, gorgeous, gay, closeted, zero college education and he works as a line cook! And on the scruffy side of Mirabella Island no less. Alex is so far removed from Matthew’s social standing he should be on another planet.

These guys should have nothing in common, apart from being young and horny. A fast friendship develops despite their differences and initial opinions of each other.  But the attraction and chemistry between them is POWERFUL and dominant. None of the dangers of being discovered can deny the desire and consequent secret love affair that ensues. I believed in every word of their dialogue, and action; I was completely side-swiped by their soul-deep romance, the build-up and execution totally flawed me.

The sex – and there is a lot of sex – is an erotic toe-curling exploration as tender as it is wild and made more life-like by moments of uncertainty which briefly dilutes the passion, but fuels and compounds the sweet realism of the moment.  Each and every time was a moment the reader gets to cherish and revel in – so beautiful, so erotic, so powerful and made to last {insert dreamy sigh here} a million years.

My response to their love exposes my jaded and cynical heart to aching emotions, which proves to me that love stories like this still have the ability to move me deeply. I LOVED it. I loved them; together and as individuals, they both shine. I wanted to stay with these guys on Mirabella Island forever. If I could just be the one to towel dry them after skinny dips and fishing trips and then pass the condoms, I’d be a happy woman.

This should have been perfect! And most of it was perfect, the setting, the romance, the characters, even the break up was perfect. Then toward the end it all just slips away down the slippery slope to fall in line with all the other mediocre rekindled love tropes; and mediocrity does no befit Alex and Matt’s story. Oh how I stomped my foot and wailed for it not to be so, shaking my fist in the face of ordinary didn’t work but I sucked it up and wouldn’t let it steal my glow.

I was willing to overlook the seriously weird, too close relationship that Alex shares with Holly (which creeped me out) and the villainess who wouldn’t have been out of place in a pantomime where I could boo and hiss every time she made an entrance. Yes, I was going to ignore all that, but the last 20% is too rushed and lacks any anticipation of the big reunion, which is hasty and most uninspiring. Ordinary. The six years of separation are too briefly glossed over with minimum build up to the present. I got my HEA (not a spoiler) but I feel cheated because the book just got shoved into the realm of chick flick – urghhhh!

Despite that, I DO recommend this book, it’s going on my favourites shelf just for being the perfect romance (till 80%) which had my tummy doing flip flops and my heart sighing. Its days later and I miss Matt and Alex already, I feel like I’m in mourning for those beautiful boys.

So move away from your pick and mix that is your to-read pile and pick this one. I promise you that it’s lovely and memorable and in a way I just don’t care about being cheated with that ending anymore. I loved it, it was almost amazing.

Shelley’s Rating: four-stars_0

BUY LINK: Loose Id Store  ||  Book Store

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

Check out all our recommended books in Sid Love’s eBook Store:
Recommended Books

(Support this site and buy the books from my A-store)

Review by Shelley

TITLE: Don’t Look Back
AUTHOR: Josh Lanyon
BLURB: He was chuckling, a deep, sexy sound as he pushed Peter back on the satiny cushions. Was this for real? Was he going to go through with it? Peter blinked up as his tie was unfastened, tossed aside, his shirt unbuttoned, laid wide. The evening breeze — scented of smog and jasmine — felt cool against his overheated skin, like the lightest breath…

Peter Killian, curator at Constantine House in Los Angeles, wakes in the hospital to find himself accused of stealing a tenth century Chinese sculpture. Peter knows he’s not a thief — but that’s all he knows. Why is hot and handsome Detective Mike Griffin so sure he’s guilty — and so hell-bent on seeing Peter arrested?

And why is Peter having these weird dreams about an unseen lover who somehow reminds him uncomfortably of Michael Griffin?

REVIEW:

This is good. If you know Josh Lanyon’s work, particularly The Adrien English series, you’ll recognise the likenesses here.  Peter Killian is the well-ordered intelligent and conservative type, slim, neat and appealing in appearance.  Detective Griffin is the big, sexy, mysterious alpha in charge.  The atmosphere is comparable and Peter’s voice also bares a strong resemblance to Adrien English.  Luckily for me, I’m a big fan.

Even with these similarities, Don’t Look Backstands out on its own just because of the situation our MC Peter Killian finds himself in when he wakes in a hospital room with no memory; accused of a crime he’s sure he didn’t commit and faced with a surly detective Mike Griffin who needs convincing otherwise. Okay, those parts are not so different but the loss of memory and how Peter copes is what sets this book very much apart.

Peter can remember everything, as long as it’s not personal.  His job as curator of a museum is clear, as are the thefts of small valuable artefacts for the past year. Any personal relationships he may have had are a blank, and the only clue is the recurring dreams of a faceless lover, who is yet to step forward – or has he?

As Peter slowly starts to recall his life bit by bit, he discovers himself with a new found clarity- unhindered by old emotional connections he gains a clear perspective of what his life was like. With every new recollection the threat surrounding him escalates and the plot thrives. The angst is tangible when Peter’s panic intensifies and things really do fall apart for him. Who does he trust or believe?  And who’s setting him up?  It’s a case of having to prove his innocence when he’s the only suspect and tension between Peter and the sexy detective develops into something … more?

It’s all classic Lanyon as I know him, and very well done – especially how Peter deals with his injured memory. It definitely provided me with a certain amount of food for thought. What would I do if I lost the memory of people who have been in my life forever? How would I recognise their influence over me? How would I judge my own image? Would I identify the power of a narcissistic personality?

I enjoyed this aspect and really, this is what lifts the book from being a likable 3.5 Stars to a thoroughly enjoyable 4 Stars. My only annoyance is that Mr Lanyon’s novellas are too short, and this one in particular would have benefited from more page time between Peter and Mike. I always want more of everything with a Lanyon novella. He is so wonderfully descriptive and sensual in his writing and I’m always happy to cosy up with one of his stories.  The more of Lanyon’s work I read, the more I find his stories to be dependable, and very satisfying in more ways than one.

Shelley’s Rating: four-stars_0

BUY LINK: Book Store

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

Check out all our recommended books in Sid Love’s eBook Store:
Recommended Books

(Support this site and buy the books from my A-store)

Review by Shelley

TITLE: The Good Boy
AUTHORS: J. A. Rock & Lisa Henry
PUBLISHER: Loose ID publication
BLURB: Introverted college student Lane Moredock is in a bad place. His mother has been arrested for securities fraud, his father is on the run, and everyone, including the SEC, suspects Lane knows where the missing millions are. Lane, with no money and nowhere to live, makes a desperate deal that lands him in trouble and leaves him unwilling to trust a so-called Dom again.

Photographer Derek Fields lost money to the Moredocks, and is as sure as anyone that Lane is guilty despite his claims. A chance meeting with Lane shows him there might be something more to the young man than arrogance and privilege, and Derek wonders if Lane might be just what he’s been looking for: a sub with the potential to be a life partner.

As Lane slowly begins to open up to Derek and explore his needs as a submissive, the investigation closes tighter around him. Lane might be everything that Derek wants, but first Derek needs to trust that Lane is innocent–and Lane needs to trust Derek with the truth.

REVIEW:

An admirable collaboration is the first thought that comes into my head. Yes, admirable.

It is obvious that the authors complement each other very well.  I am not familiar with J.A Rock’s individual work (yet) but I am familiar with Lisa Henry’s work, namely The Island: her writing is beautiful, raw and dark but always balanced with hope and love. She excels at capturing the essence of a tortured soul, and The Good Boy is no exception.

There is much to admire in the well-constructed plot and the distinctive characterisation, especially the more, er … colourful ones like Mr Zimmerman – a Macaw parrot with Tourette’s and Brin, a bratty Hanna Montana trapped in a gay man’s body.  Lane is a character you won’t easily forget; his sweet painfully shy nature is set up to endear him completely to the reader – I defy you not to shed a tear for him, even just a tiny one for the injustice aimed at his arse, uhm … I mean his character.

Derek is not your stereotypical Dom as featured in most BDSM novels, he’s older yes, but not rich and not without his own insecurities and problems. It’s acommendable take on a Dom persona for which the reader benefits from a refreshing perspective.

Mostly I found the mood of this book quite sad.  Lane is constantly beaten down and Derek’s poor me, I’m lonely and broke and I’ll end up alone voice rather tiresome.  There is some great comic reprieve whenever Mr Zimmerman’s squawking things like “I used to bend like a Vietnamese hooker, “and “ Fuck it, baby.”That bird cracked me up every time! Brin offers his own sort of entertainment;but let’s just say … he’s an acquired taste. {I’ll insert my best smirk here} You love him or hate him, either way I just want to bitch slap him and call him fat to see him react.

I felt rather ambivalent with regards to the BDSM element in this novel. BDSM as a healing process is all fine and dandy if that’s your kink, even the puppy play doesn’t raise my eyebrows (much) I may or may not have giggled at this point. There is a too obvious metaphorical link with doggie rescue which would have served to justify quite nicely.But when the authors go on and on about the reasoning and psychology of it all – it reads like a politically correct how to handbook, all too carefully scripted so as not to cause offense. This really distracted me from the romance and eroticism. The tenderness and heartfelt emotion is what dominates the sex here, not the smouldering physicality of BDSM.

Overall, this is a sad story, a healing journey where love and trust must conquer all. It wasn’t as raw and dark as I thought it would be. In fact it’s rather sweet and fluffy in spite of Lane’s graphic reflection of abuse.

Do I recommend it? Yes, of course. I can see why this is a favourite for many readers, just not this reader.

Shelley’s Rating: 535px-3-5_stars-svg

BUY LINK: Loose ID Store  ||  Book Store

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

Check out all our recommended books in Sid Love’s eBook Store:
Recommended Books

(Support this site and buy the books from my A-store)

Let me take some of your time to introduce you to my dedicated team of Official Reviewers who have recently joined forces with me to find the best M/M books out there for you all to read!

There’s me, then you have met Macky already (Read her bio: HERE) and there are four more reviewers who have agreed to work on reviews for The Blog of Sid Love. These four have an entirely diverse tastes, preferences and likes, which I thought would be great if we were to review a wide range of M/M books. Apart from being the smart reviewers that they are, all of them are also very good people at heart. I am sure you’ll like them as soon as you get to know them a little bit more.

So, presenting to you my Official Reviewers:

1) Heather C.

“Hi, my name is Heather C, known primarily by my Internet friends as simply ‘HC’. I’m a Clinical Nursing Informaticist by day and voracious smut reader by night. In other words…I’m a Registered Nurse with a fancy desk job and lover of romance novels.

“I have been reading for as long as I can remember! I’ve read through all kinds of genres, but since I discovered M/M Romance several years ago this is basically where I live now. I do try to read at least 1-2 M/F Paranormal Romances or Urban Fantasies a month just to keep up with some of my favorite series. The M/M Romance community is amazing and I’ve found many friends for life since joining Goodreads.

“I don’t consider myself picky, although I have friends who tend to disagree. Maybe a better word would be ‘selective’. I prefer plot before porn and I LOVE lots of sexual tension.  My two favorite tropes are gay-for-you and friends-to-lovers. And I love a good mystery. I’ve even been known to read a few historicals now and then. I’m willing to give anything a try as long as it comes highly recommended.

“Before, I’ve only ever reviewed for fun and closure, so you can imagine my surprise when Sid invited me to join him here on his blog. I’m still trying to figure out how I really got here, but I’m really looking forward to giving it 100%. I’m so excited to be part of the team.”

2) Katinka

“Hello! I’m Katinka, just turned 29, and I’m from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. When Sid got in touch with me via Goodreads (I’m Loederkoningin over there. Which I’ve been told sounds a lot like ‘Leather King’, but I swear that’s not what I went for! lol) about reading and reviewing exciting new releases and hidden gems for Sid Love, I wasn’t too sure if I could combine this with my job and other obligations. Then I took a peek at this blog­ – which is already chock-full of interesting author interviews, reviews and give-aways that, let’s face it, will make everyone greedy ­ – and I knew instantly: resistance is futile!;)

“Although I’ve always devoured all sorts of books, including LGBTQ, getting an ereader has definitely spiced up my collection. I don’t know, there’s just something amusing about reading a dirty hot m/m novel during your lunch break, while your colleagues are completely oblivious to that fact? That is, until I’m caught groaning out in frustration again; “Why can’t I have a prostate? Why?!” I started reading m/m less than a year ago and yet my collection has already surpassed my f/m reads. I…uhm..guess that makes me completely and utterly hooked?

“So what sort of reviews can you expect from me? I’m especially interested in darker and somewhat twisted books. Power dynamics and aspects of BDSM, as well as disturbing characters intrigue me, and I don’t mind dub con/non con either. I find that my comfort zone is still expanding. Which doesn’t mean that I don’t get burned every now and then and have to gobble up as many tooth-achingly sweet romances as I can get my paws on to recover. Anyway, I love to hunt for well-written m/m with a sturdy plot, a dash of danger and some sizzling hot scenes. Finding hidden gems puts me on cloud nine, and I hope to put you there as well!”

3) Elizabetta

“Hi all, Elizabetta here. You may have read some of my reviews on Goodreads where I tend to prattle on and have been known to, ahem, post some lovely pics. Like many others, I have fallen under the spell of gay romance and erotica. I enjoy the whole gamut, from light, frothy, fun stories, to coming-of-age Young Adult tales, to sci-fi/pnr tentacle love, to very dark, push-the-boundaries reads.
“We know that sales in erotica in general, have taken off with the advent of the e-reader but gay romance has also grown in popularity because we are undergoing an age of enlightenment concerning gay rights. What better promoter for increasing awareness and understanding than through reading? Gay romance writers work as ambassadors to help spread the word that ‘love is love’. This is valuable PR.
“Having said that, I firmly believe that this genre should hold up to the same scrutiny as mainstream literature so I read not just for entertainment but also for solid construction, good flow, and uniqueness. It’s all about plot and execution. I will give a book a higher rating (even if it has some edit flaws) if it can adhere to some or all of those criteria and pull at my heart. No book, like no person, is perfect — but can it grab us and give us a shake? That’s what it’s all about! Wishing you happy reading!”
4) Shelley

“Reading is my passion, my weakness and my escape. I am a voracious devourer of great fiction.  No, not greatfiction like Dickens and Tolstoy and the like,pffft … not that kind of fiction, jeez. I mean my version of great fiction: literature that’s laced with smut, peppered with tummy twisting angst, stuffed full of credible and original charactersthat will make me laugh, cry, hate, love and inevitably rip my heart out.  Give me great fiction with plots that have me tripping over myself in an attempt to figure it all out. I want to be shocked and awed, surprised and turned on. I want passion, real passion with heart and emotion. Not too much though, let’s not overdo it on the hearts and flowers, nothing too sweet please, only on occasion do I like a bit of sweet.

“I want to be left breathless, sated and satisfied in every way. I need to remember that book for years to come and know that those characters will forever have a place in my heart (stupid cliché, but true). Yes, I’m a greedy obsessive reader, I want a lot and I expect a lot.  I’ve read a few (just a few) books that give me all this and more. So why should I settle for less?

“In my quest for the perfect read, I enjoy discovering new authors and new characters. It’s like embracing a new world, a new family. I’m open to most sub genres and will try anything once. The only thing I’ve sworn off is YA.

“So let’s go forth and discover greatness!”

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Join me in welcoming them on board!