Review: The Family We Make (Finding Family #2) by Kaje Harper

At seventeen, Rick Albright left his home, his parents and even his old name, rather than pretend to be straight. But being on his own was hard. When his big brother Sam found him, and insisted on giving him a place to stay, he didn't resist too long. Living with Sam is better than fighting just to survive, but it's not easy to find his balance in a simple, small-town life, after his time on the streets.

Travis Brinkerhoff finally managed to come out in college, his second year anyway. It was the one bright side to losing his baseball scholarship and jock status. But without money for tuition, second year came to an abrupt end. He's back in his small Minnesota hometown, and back in the closet. Travis feels like he's trying to fit into a life he's outgrown. If he's going to survive, he has to figure out a way to be his own man, maybe even have his own man, without losing the family he loves.

When he left the Marines, Sam Albright wanted nothing more than to find his missing younger brother. Mission accomplished. Now he's got an independent, possibly traumatized, openly gay young man on his hands, a girlfriend in a war zone overseas, and parents he has to lie to in order to keep the peace. Keeping it all together won't be easy, but Sam has never backed away from a challenge.

A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

When a request to review Kaje Harper's new book, The Family We Make, came into the clubhouse I barged all the other Unicorns out of the way to get to it first. I may have felt a little guilty, but Kaje Harper is one of my all time favourite authors, so the chance to read and review this for the blog was a privilege. This book is a self-published sequel to her free story, The Family We're Born With, and does indeed also feature the characters from that book.

I never thought I'd find another character I liked as much as Mac from Kaje's Life Lessons series (I seriously LOVE Mac), but in this book I have to admit I totally fell for Rick. He is petty much the complete opposite to Mac, yet I loved every single thing about him. He's seventeen (turns eighteen in the book), a runaway, out and proud, mouthy... and so, so, so amazing. This is a boy who is not afraid of life. He is honourable - he has his beliefs and he will stick by them, no matter what. He is incredibly loyal (okay maybe that is a Mac trait) and, despite his attitude, he has a heart of gold. Except that phrase never makes logical sense to me - he has a heart of love. Fierce, loyal love. This is a boy who has taken the crap that life has chucked his way...and acted like a seventeen year old. But then he starts to grow up. Yep, he grows up, but he doesn't forgo who he is, in order to fit into someone elses (ostensibly his parents') ideal of who he should be. I don't think I can praise Rick enough. He is hard working, but so real. Kind - if you can find it under the layered sarcasm, and witty retorts. And unapologetic about being himself. Good for you Rick, good for you.

Travis is the quiet twenty year old who is the uber-responsible oldest son, in a family full of children and money worries. The family has a younger son who is often ill and they can't afford for Travis to stay in college for the next semester. But Travis doesn't complain, he deals quietly with the pain of having to move back home - even if he does get caught underage drinking by the local law enforcement and made to do some voluntary public service work (where he meets Rick). Travis is gay, but closeted in his home town. Rick is definitely not in the closet and Travis sticks up for him when he is dealing with some bullying. Slowly, the two become friends, then more. Travis's family though will be a different matter altogether, if he ever finds the guts to tell him.

Sam, Rick's older brother and one of the MC's in the first book, features a lot, we also re-meet Jesse and Devin among others. As ever, Kaje has a super mix of characters. They are all very human, none of that black and white, good and bad stuff. The 'goodies' aren't perfect and the 'baddies' aren't pure evil. They are all real. I feel she invites you to try and understand the homophobia from the parents' point of view. Not to agree with it, or condone it, but to understand it. We also meet Dora, the love of Sam's life, and she is a wonderful character - even though her appearances are brief.

Kaje's books always manage to be dramatic without containing an overload of drama for drama's sake. Every action has a reaction, a consequence and the characters deal with them as they come up. They do not overreact in an annoying way, everything is there to back up the story, not to create it. if that makes any sense. I'm not sure I can explain properly just how much I appreciate this quality of her stories. While they are NEVER boring, they are also never melodramatic. I feel almost as if these are real people and I have so much empathy and good will for them. This book is far from easy in places, it deals with some very sad and horrible situations. But these situations are dealt with so well. As much as my heart was breaking at times, it was also holding together because I knew things would be okay. Not ideal, but okay.

I loved this story. I loved Rick and I loved Rick and Travis's love story. Oh lord, I really loved the love story. My Kaje Harper bug has bitten again, I'm going to have to try and find something I've not yet read from her yet to subdue it. Thanks Uni's for letting me have this one!

Find more info on Goodreads and BookLikes!

Unicorn Favorites: Love's Landscapes Stories : Week Ten

The M/M Romance Group is celebrating its five year anniversary!
see below for more information :D
The M/M Romance Group on Goodreads hosts a Don't Read in the Closet event each year where they invite members to submit a photo with a story prompt.  Interested authors then volunteer to write the requested stories, which are published for free for everyone to read.  It's a fun/exciting/stressful process, and a great opportunity to read stories from favorite authors.  And chances are, you'll also discover some new authors, who hopefully have a backlist of goodies to check out :)

This year's event was named Love's Landscapes and they started releasing the completed stories on June first. Here at BMBR, we've been following along on comment threads, anticipating the stories from our favorite prompts, and now greedily reading the stories as they become available.

You can read about some of our favorite stories from earlier weeks of the event here
And some of our favorites from the tenth week of the event, August 3-9, are below:

Breann: Going Home by Kris Ripper

I can't even be coherent about this, so here we go:

Geo's complete adoration for Rory was so evident the entire time. My goodness, he loves his boy. It's obvious right from the beginning. The author never had to tell us he's completely lost without Rory, we knew because it was shown to us. Beautifully.

Rory is such a strong character. He's willing to take the hard road to do things right with Geo. He could have very easily gone right back into the life they shared, but instead he found out who he was without a Master before going home. (<-see what I did there? Heh.)

Because they did things right, it added to the complexity of their relationship. They didn't want to be a Master and his slave, but they wanted to act like a Master and his slave. They had a lot to work through and I loved everything about how they did just that. They worked at it.

But in the bedroom things were hot as hell and they definitely fell back into their natural roles. Geo for sure knows how to take charge juuuuuuuussssst how his Roar likes it. *bites lip*

I really couldn't have asked for more. I loved everything about Going Home.

OMG. Demon. Demon! Please tell me there will be more Demon and Teddy. LAWD, I need her to have an HEA.

Lorix: Indian Summer by D.C. Williams

This story was short and quiet and gentle. It seemed the kind of story where much was said in the silence between the sentences..if that makes sense. It wasn't obvious and in your face, but subtle. A friends to lovers with a difference. I did feel sad for the wasted years though, but know that the years ahead should be more than enough to make up time.

I liked the setting - it was simple, like the story itself. I like a change of pace in my reading sometimes and I found it with this book. 

Optimist ♰King's Wench♰: The Arroyo by M. Caspian
“The people who make the rules don’t have to follow the rules. That’s the one thing that stays the same no matter where you go.”
I’ve been waiting for this one ever since I saw the prompt and who picked it. Checking my computer and the event page like a madwoman.

If you haven’t read Kraken that shit is whack and a must read. This author certainly has a penchant for mindfuckery with a hint of horror. If you know me, you know horror isn’t my thing, but this author has a way of constructing worlds, characters and storylines wherein the horror bits are incorporated into the landscape. I find myself cringing and cheering simultaneously. An odd dichotomy to be sure, but I somehow crave it all the same.

The Arroyo is a dystopian tale wonderfully told with rich imagery, loathsome characters, and some of the most beautiful sentences I’ve read in quite some time. I blasted through this thing so quickly I didn’t have time to status update, but the language is both evocative and provocative. There aren’t many authors who can utilize such a dearth of words that conjure so much. There’s a precision here, a succinctness that’s very gratifying.

He clenched and unclenched his hands, and Trace was there, touching him, grounding him, smoothing across the landscape of his body and giving him something to cling on to that wasn’t this growing urge to come and come and shout and flail.

Oh, this was better; he could move now, mumbling incoherent words against Trace’s back as he pumped his hips and wished his skin could speak his feelings.
Trace is a slave, harvested twenty years ago with eight weeks left on his sentence to the Colonel. The Colonel is a bastard. Excuse me, a monstrous, fuckwit bastard. Trace has endured unspeakable things. He doesn’t remember a time when he made his own decisions, chose his own path and that sort of suppression leaches all the optimism out of a soul. The sense of despair and hopelessness permeates his thoughts until Isaac. Isaac doesn’t transform everything to rainbows and butterflies, no. Isaac does give Trace a sense of purpose and an emotion long forgotten, possessiveness. He wants Isaac. He knows it’s an impossibility, but the heart wants what it wants. 

The world building here is divine. I could see what’s become of America in all its desolate glory through this author’s eyes. Medical kink doesn’t do much for me, but it’s done well here. Trace and Isaac definitely have chemistry. Some will say this is instalove. I disagree, but I can’t say why for it’d be too spoilery. I like both of these characters so much, neither of whom are perfect, one of which has a touch of malevolence in him, both of whom leapt off the page. The literature references were a lovely touch. This author clearly enjoys reading. I, personally, would’ve liked a prologue with some further explanation of the Protectorate, the Federation of American States and why the harvest was instituted, but that’s probably me being curious by nature. And greedy. A solid 4.5 Hearts rounded up.

Don’t let the warning tags scare you away from reading The Arroyo. It’s beautiful and awful like any great story should be.

SheReadsALot: Elevation by Jenna Jones

“Have I been harassing you? I didn’t think of it that way.”

“It’s a fine line between harassment and aggressive flirting.”
I punched my bed. I punched my pillows and my bed. While reading you see. From utter enjoyment of this story.

I quelted.
I squealed.
I got all gooey and mostly pink. (Excuse my gushiness, cause I'm kinda soft and pink at the moment.)

“Sometimes you meet someone and you know not only are you going fuck them, but you’re going to fall asleep next to them and wake up beside them, and you’re going to be there for everything in between.”

“Some people call that falling in love.”

This was on my list of prompts I couldn't wait to read. And I just took a peek this afternoon...and well you see I finished it. You know how that story goes.

To put it succinctly, this is Cinderfella. But good Cinderfella.

Could this happen in real life? I highly doubt it but who gives a shit, it's fiction. :D

Cruz Morales has it rough. Life has shat on him and continues to do so. His mother left when he was fourteen, his father is emotionally comatose and depressed, he has to focus on taking of his family, leaving no time for himself. I get Cruz. I know Cruz. Life gives you a kick in the pants but you have to keep living, keep surviving.

He's a college student but his family situation keeps making him have to put his dreams and college education to the side to deal with reality. Enter the playboy knight who has a funny way of seducing which I enjoyed. Some readers probably won't but I thought it was fitting to the rich Malcolm.

(I loved when the main characters called each other Mr. King and Mr. Morales...I just adored that *gushes*)

A possible one night stand turns in a sort of reunion which turns into elevator camera seduction which turns in yummy words of characters who are circling around the L word but aren't quite there yet.

But they can be.
“We should go out,” he says. “See a movie, go out to eat?”

“Like, a date?” I say slowly, and he grins.

“Like a date.”

“Are we a dating sort of couple?”

“We are if we actually go on dates.”
This isn't instalove. There's time to watch feelings grow. There's a little twist that was unexpected but added more depth. The story got a little Disney-esque towards the end. But the main characters make up for any quibbles I have. (I have a few but the story just hit my buttons, I'll put them to the side. For now.)

There's hot, intense sex...that was hot but not perfect. There's some fade to black sex too but I enjoyed it just as much as the sex scene. And that first kiss scene was adoringly embarrassing.

I really loved these main characters. They made this story for me. So romantic yet with a dose of real life kinda fairy tale.

P.S. Cruz's job choice...that was unique and cool. Never read about a draftsman. And I loved the grandmother! :D

Sunny: Going Home by Kris Ripper

Wow...this was a wonderfully complex story. So much showing, and the emotions perfectly played out. Geo and Rory were so good together.

I liked their desperation to see each other, and their determination to do it right. When they did reunite, they struggled to adjust to new relationship dynamics, getting caught up in old habits, working to create new rituals. No easy fixes here, and the process added a lot of depth to their new relationship.

The secondary characters were also wonderful. Their strong, distinct personalities added so much to the story.  (More Demon and Teddy, please?)

This was everything I hoped for and more when I saw Breann's prompt.

The only detraction was the drama at the end. I thought it was unnecessary and too jarring. The sudden wrap up after the earlier slower build up was also disappointing.

The M/M Romance Group is celebrating its five year anniversary!
"In celebration of the groups five year anniversary, we're going to celebrate ALL WEEK LONG! We'll be posting lots of games, puzzles and contests with chances to win fabulous prizes. We'll be wrapping up the festivities next Sunday with another of our famous marathon chats where you'll have a chance to talk about the group, ask the mods questions, offer suggestions, schmooze with the authors and win prizes!"
For more information, see the Celebration 2014 topics under the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads. And check out that PRIZE VAULT!!! Woohoo!

Review: Designated Bottoms Anthology

Some men are bottoms by birth, others by choice. Whatever the reason, a designated bottom is someone who's happy to surrender, to submit, or just catch instead of pitch!

In Czech Me Out, by BA Tortuga, Korde discovers what it's like to fall for someone when food truck owner Josh takes on the cowboy virgin.

Katey Hawthorne's gamer grad student Paul doesn't date. He keeps things strictly physical. So why is Sammy so important to him in The Mistell?

Kitty shifter and stripper Aleks doesn't mix business with pleasure, but he thinks Rafe might just be the master for him in Julia Talbot's Faster Bobcat.

Sean Michael's Peter isn't sure about the club his friend takes him to, especially when Doms start hitting on him. Experienced Dom Rupert is happy to help, explaining about that Little Square of Cloth.

In Sgt. Hardass, by Shannon West, recent ex-Army man Jake meets up with a man he has history with, and Chad isn't sure he can explain himself and defuse Jake's anger.

In the Prince of Paupers by Kiernan Kelly, Prince Liam and longtime friend Deacon have to go back to Deacon's Appalachian home, much to the prince's dismay.

And in Switching It Up by KC Wells, Jay knows he looks like a twink, but only hunky Dean understands that looks can be seriously deceptive.

When this anthology with the intriguing title arrived in our inbox, several reviewers got a little...excited. Instead of fighting it out, we agreed to share and pool our reviews together for a group review :)

Czech Me Out by BA Tortuga- average 3.15 hearts

Ann: 3.5 Hearts -
Insta lust that works for new-to-town cowboy Korde and Austin native food truck operator Josh. Just enough angst for just the right reasons and the resolution and Korde’s realizations were really pretty sweet. Josh is a hot, dirty talking sexpert to Korde’s virginal ways and their “joinings” are steamy as hell. I’m a sucker for a bottom boy who has no idea how much he loves it until he tries it and Korde is totally my boy here.

Breann: 3.5 Hearts - Holy needy virgin bottom boy! Whew.

*chugs cold glass of water*

*pours water over self*

Sex. Lots of sex. Controlling, hot and needy sex. Mmmmm.

That's pretty much what this hot little number consisted of.

That being said, Korde and Josh were talking about their future pretty quick considering all they had was a sexy tumble together. I'm rating this for what it was, PWP. Definitely enjoyable. But I would have preferred it was kept at PWP with a little less than a HFN. There wasn't enough interaction (besides the sex) for me to believe in their 'relationship'.

Optimist ♰King's Wench♰: 3 Hearts - Funny and very Texan.

Ms. Tortuga got Austin to a T. Not gonna lie, I like it. I laughed at: “Barbeque, the redneck aphrodisiac.” She seems to have taken a page out of the SM school of romance-one part instalove, one part feel good to a truckload of smutastic.

A quick read plus duck kolaches… *quelts*

SheReadsALot: 2.75 Hearts -
I like BA Tortuga. She can rock a sex scene. This 2.75 hearts for me. Why? The sex saved the story. Was is it spectacular? Nah, all the "honey" and "baby" endearments threw me out of enjoying. Also...a virgin gives his butt cherry to basically the first guy he meets, a food truck guy? It wasn't PWP really, definitely insta-dick. Maybe if it was a novella, I'd buy the fantasy. Not bad though. Made me hungry.

Sunny: 3 Hearts - Needy virgin meets dirty-talking top, steamy goodness ensues.  A little silly, but also sweet and sexy. 
This was his fantasy-- a strong man bent over his bed, muscles straining, maybe fighting him a little and wanting it all the while.

The Mistell by Katey Hawthorne - average 4.35 hearts

Ann: 4.5 Hearts -
Hella cute and I loved it. Pete’s voice absolutely cracked me up and I loved reading about him reforming his slutty ways for the oh-so-beautiful and oh-so-right Samir. Pete has some great friends who thankfully call him on his bullshit and they help guide him in Dating 101. Something Pete just doesn’t do. I love when his roommate Dave told him, “Dude, for someone who fucks anyone who doesn’t actively run away, you’re a fucking idiot about dating.” Heh heh. We know throughout that Pete LOVES to bottom, but we don’t get the scene, but the story is just so good it’s almost forgivable that it isn’t there. I get it might have been gratuitous for this story, but I’m down with gratuitous and would love to read more about these two.

Breann: 4.5 Hearts - I so enjoyed this story!

Cutest meet-cute of all time! Gaming buddies? Gah. Loved it.

There was great chemistry between the guys and most of the story took place in their 'get to know you' stage. And, lemme tell ya, getting to know them was fun.

This is an anthology all about the bottom boy. We definitely had our bottom, but I would have loved a sex scene. Just one pounding into the mattress would have sufficed.

Optimist ♰King's Wench♰: 4.5 Hearts - Truly delightful.

The Mistell is a lovely little nugget of a story that’s fresh, emotive and engaging. I like this author’s voice with her sprinkles of dry humor… actually, she uses an awful lot of phrases/terminology that I do so maybe I’m projecting. Whatevs.

A protag that describes himself as a “tattooed pierced Art Historian” is always going to garner my attention. I’ll admit a lot of the gaming stuff went over my head, but I like the interaction between all the characters and that Pete thought Samir was a “Cheetos dust covered nerd living in a Mountain Dew bottle fort” prior to laying eyes on him. Not a Mountain Dew dwelling troll. However, it’s a little known fact that Cheetos and Mountain Dew is the breakfast of champions. Clearly this author has experienced it for herself.

The Mistell is a slow burn that felt a little abruptly ended to me. She’s piqued my interest with this and I’ll definitely read more from this author in the future.

SheReadsALot: 4.25 Hearts - Any story that hits you with a "boi-pussy" mention (of it's ridiculousness and offense) is always worth a gander. I was pleasantly surprised with the crisp writing about a art history TS/grand student gamer, Pete who is a bottom who loves sex...and is a hot boy at that. So he undervalues himself just a smidge yet doesn't self-depreciate to the point of annoyance. He meets a fellow gamer in real life, the mega fuckhot Eygytian American, Samir.
"I've never been with someone--like you."
"No." He gave me a dirty look that faded into a grin instantly. "Just. Popular."
How cute is that quote? The story is not explicit. The MC's don't even have anal. That's how slow they're taking it...but it's a good slow, you know? No insta-dick here. This story has substance. A believable ending and believable characters. A gem in this anthology.

Sunny: 4 Hearts - Delightful story about online gamers who meet up. I loved Pete's voice...
I admit, I suggested we go out to the bar just so I could change. I’m vain that way sometimes; I regret nothing. 
My heart sped up. That, like, weird adolescent dizzysick feeling when your crush smiles at you in the hall. Such an idiot, oh god. “Nope,” I said. Oh yeah, totally cool. 
And Samir was a cutie-patootie. Another sweet and sexy story with lots of laughs thrown in. My favorite of the collection.

Faster Bobcat by Julia Talbot - average 3.25 hearts

Ann: 3.5 Hearts -
I think I like reading shifter stories in short story format a lot. There isn’t a lot of rigamarole about shifter rules and territories and nonsense. I mean they all seem to follow some pretty basic rules so I really don’t need to read about them again. So, I liked that aspect in this story. These dudes are shifters, they sniffed each other out and they both like what they sniffed. Good enough for me. My only issue was the BDSM element and the use of the title “Master”. I wasn’t really feeling that in their relationship so didn’t get why it was a big deal. Neither one seemed like they wanted to play that hard, that way. They both just seemed to like it more for a role-playing thing. That was my impression anyway, so the angst over that didn’t seem necessary.

Breann: 3.5 Hearts - Wining & dining. Sexy shifters. Hot D/s action.


While I certainly appreciated the BDSM, it was all a little fast to me. Especially because Rafe was so apprehensive in the beginning. Still, the story left me wanting more, which is always a good thing.
SheReadsALot: 3.5 Hearts -
Russian Stripper. Cat Shifters -Lynx & Jaguar to be exact. Interracial instalove...mate/bonding. Pretty much a recipe with my name on it. And light D/s. Oh yes. Aleksy is a submissive Lynx stripper who has a secret desire to be dominated and Rafe, a patron of the Las Vegas strip club, Faster Bobcat. The story is good. I'd have preferred Aleksy to not be naive at points. I tend to question a submissive if they seem too unsure of making simple questions...can they actually handle D/s? The crux of the story is in the importance of Sir/Master. I think a little more length giving more explanation on the words importance to the two. Overall, it was decent.

Sunny: 2.5 Hearts - This story started off strong, with Aleksy, the hot little stripper who happens to be a lynx shifter, and Rafe, the jaguar shifter who wants to dominate him. Aleksy was cute,
  “Hi. I mean, thanks. Yeah. Um, this place smells good. Like fish. Can we sit down so I don’t hump you?” 
 but his awkwardness was overdone at times and he came across as too naive. Rafe came on a little strong and sometimes he put me off. Add in some odd dialogue, over the top reactions, and a little melodrama, and my enjoyment started to slide.

Little Square of Cloth by Sean Michael - average 3.375 hearts

Ann: 4 Hearts -
D’awwwww, I liked this one muchly. Pete is adorable and I loved how he felt safe enough with Rupert to say “fuck it” and just roll with living out every one of his fantasies with his walking wet dream. Rupert was so good with him too and I really got that he was into Pete for more than just one night and for more than just the lifestyle. These two turned each other’s cranks perfectly.

Breann: 4 Hearts - What a fun bit o' BDSM fluffiness.

Pete was adorable. I just wanna hold him and pinch him. Even though this was Pete's first rodeo, he really went for it with his new master. He had some hot chemistry with Rupert. Ah, Rupert. You perfect Dom, you. His rescuing of Pete was cute and I liked how their relationship developed from there. He knew just how to push his new boy.

Perfect sub + Perfect Dom = easy BDSM fluff.

I like.

SheReadsALot: 2 Hearts -
"Oh fuck a doodle doo." Typical Sean Michael quotes...absurdity at it's Sean Michael-est. Guh.

At this point, I let the quotes do the reviewing for me.

""I...I'm obviously out of my league, like whoa." Like super whoa, if he was honest."

There's a Dom who can look at a guy and tell he's a bottom. A MC who has a gay twin that's a drag queen. I'm waiting for the pink aliens to make a drop by because it's Sean Michael warped world. I have abstained from this author for months...and it didn't work with unseeing his standard formula. 2 hearts because of "fuck a doodle doo". I need my brain checked. Oh I also gave up on reading this fully. *facepalms*

Sunny: 3.5 Hearts - Another D/s scene, this time with an in the closet virgin and an experienced Dom. Rupert knew exactly what to say and do with Peter and Peter loved all of it. Dirty talk, hands free coming...I loved all of it, too. I did have a few niggles. Rupert's voice sometimes threw me off, at times he sounded older, more mature, and other times he sounded like a college student ("No way!" "cool"). And Peter sometimes came across as too wide eyed and innocent, even for a virgin.  Just a little too "dorky". Some over the top dialogue, too, but the sexy times made up for that. Peter's initiation to sex was...*fans self*...such a needy sub, such a good boy :)

Sergeant Hardass by Shannon West - average 2.17 hearts

Ann: 2 Hearts -
I would have liked this one a lot more if the majority of the story hadn’t been spent with the two MC’s either fighting or apart. So, I got how they loved each other, but since most of the story wasn’t in their “present” I had to be told it and the seeing came just from reading about how their split was so devastating. By the time the happy rolled around it was over. I also get how Jake was SUPER pissed, but I really didn’t like how he was talking to Chad when they met up again and instead of feeling sympathy for him I just felt like he was an asshole and no one, not even Chad, for all his perceived wrongdoing deserved to be treated and spoken to like that.

Breann: 2.5 Hearts - I liked that this was a second chance romance. It's one of my favorite tropes, but I would have preferred to spend more time in the present with the couple than in the past. I get that we needed some background to get a feel for their relationship, but so much time was spent there that I think the whole 'second chance' part was rushed. Plus, overreact much? Sheesh.

Sunny: 2 Hearts - A lot of time was spent on the back story, told in a flashback, and with too much telling, not enough showing. Add in some questionable decisions and overreactions, Jake turning into a complete ass, and some melodrama, and I ended up not caring what happened :(

Prince of Paupers by Kiernan Kelly- average 3.67 hearts

Ann: 4.5 Hearts -
Ok, I TOTALLY LOVED this one. Never mind that “Prince Murray” sounds a little weird, who cares? Liam was made of awesome. I loved him to pieces and Deacon was the dreamiest country boy ever. It read like a charming summer rom com. Besties-to-lovers MC’s who are hunky polar opposites, pampered prince goes to the country to save the day, a super evil bad guy and heroic deeds that give an HEA. It moved fast but it was full of some great lines and Liam never took his own pampered ass too seriously. I definitely had fun reading this one and an expanded version would be great. Or a movie, either one.

Breann: 3.5 Hearts -
At first I was really worried I wouldn't like this because Liam was damn annoying. But he quickly won me over with his insistence at going with and helping Deacon. And then I LOLed that he brought the butler. (Who, by the way, totally reminds me of Summerset! <- if you don't know who that is, rectify immediately)

They're friends-to-lovers and 'why haven't we done this sooner' relationship was way cute and I enjoyed them immensely.

The end went way fast. Like, WHOA! what they heck just happened. There was way too much going on in all of two pages.

Sunny: 3 Hearts - This story was so over the top silly. A crown prince with no responsibilities? A villain of a minister stealing money? The super rich royal family giving all that money without verifying how it was spent? *smh* It made me smile, though, at all the ridiculousness, and I think (hope) that was the point.

Switching It Up by KC Wells - average 3.625 hearts

Ann: 4.5 Hearts - Extra ½ heart for the theme I was dying to read and hadn’t found yet. Poor Jay’s birthday wasn’t going as planned. He had a smidge of a confusing issue with his work bestie (which makes sense later on, but threw me for a loop at first – who’s going to really be MC #2, what was up with Brenden???) and is left alone at the bar. He meets Dean whos night isn’t going as he planned either and it turns out both are tired of the assumptions men automatically make about them based on their physical appearance. They figure out they push each other’s buttons JUST right and Jay is a dirty talking machine and I LOVED it! A very sweet ending (which was also dirty) and it left me all kinds of happy.

Breann: 4 Hearts -
I love this theme! Since I love a bigger bottom story, I especially love the sexytimes. Mmmmhmmm, they were good. But I would have loved more from Jay and Dean. Especially since there was some light BDSM, more of that would have been perfection. In fact, I could have read an entire story of just them and their dirty talk.

The secondary love-story was a great addition (although a bit predictable) and I would definitely read more about these guys.

Optimist ♰King's Wench♰: 3 Hearts - 
Two guys meet at a bar named G-A-Y… *pause* Seriously? The owners of that bar really went out on a limb bar naming wise, huh?

Anyhoo, I'm a huge fan of size difference and this started off with a bang and a chest full of kinky so, I for realz thought this was going to be a win. Then it took a turn into domestic bliss and sputtered for me.

The sex was pretty hot, though.

Sunny: 3 Hearts - I love stories where the bigger guy bottoms. Love them. So I was excited to read this story about the construction foreman who bottoms for the smaller guy. And I wasn't the sex scenes, that is. Although there weren't enough of them! The rest of the story wasn't quite my thing, though. The morning after and the week after were irritating, the next meet up too easy, and the parts with Brendan were a little off. The sexy times were very good, though :)

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Cover Reveal & Giveaway: A Matter of When by Eden Winters

Today, we are welcoming back our June Author of the Month, Eden Winters!  Her new book is coming out September 15th, check it out:

Wealth. Fame. Gold record. Hookers and Cocaine front man Henri Lafontaine has it all…including a control freak manager, band members who smile as they sharpen blades for his back, and last but damn well not least, a fan out to steal his heart. Literally. Trying to write hit songs and plan a comeback in the midst of the hi-fi white noise of LA feels more like watching his world implode, until he’s offered a month in the Colorado Rockies for vocal coaching.

Sebastian Unger’s rich, classically trained tenor inspires wicked thoughts. More than a pretty choir boy, he cracks the whip without hesitation to drive tattooed bad-boy Henri to give his all to his music. Working, fighting, and finally establishing a fragile peace, they find inspiration and perhaps more in each other. But the clock is ticking. Time will pull Henri back to the grit and gold of LA’s mean streets and fame machine, while Sebastian must return to the opera circuit, where a mysterious man known as “the patron” holds far too much sway. Only the trust they've built on a handful of notes bridges their two worlds...and shields them from malice.

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Sales Links: Ebook and Paperback

About the Author:
Captivated young by story-telling, Eden Winters’ earliest memories include spinning tales for the family's pets. Her dreams of writing professionally took a sojourn into non-fiction, with a twelve-year stint in technical documentation.

She began reading GLBT novels as a way to better understand the issues faced by a dear friend and fell in love with the M/M romance genre. During a discussion of a favorite book, a fellow aficionado said, "We could do this, you know." Good-bye gears, motors, and other authors’ characters; hello plots and sex scenes. So far that's produced such award winning novels as The Wish, Settling the Score, The Angel of Thirteenth Street, Duet, Naked Tails, and Diversion.

Somewhat of a nomad, Eden has visited seven countries so far. She currently calls the southern US home, and many of her stories take place in the rural South. Having successfully raised two children, she now balances the day job with hiking, rafting, spoiling her grandchildren, and stalking the wily falafel or elusive tofu pad Thai at her favorite restaurants. Her musical tastes run from Ambient to Zydeco, and she's a firm believer that life is better with fur kids and Harley Davidsons.

For more information about Eden, please visit her website at
Be sure to look for Eden’s soon-to-be-published works: A Matter of When and Manipulation.

Author Links: 
Author Page 

There is a giveaway for that will be available throughout all blog tour stops. The prize is an E-copy of ‘A Matter of When’ after it is released. Enter with the Rafflecopter here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck, and thank you for stopping by!

Tour stops:

Full Moon Dreaming, Parker Williams, SA McAuley, Prism Book Alliance, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Boy Meets Boy Reviews, Hearts on Fire, Iyana Jenna, Angel Martinez, Nephylim, Carly’s Book Reviews, Velvet Panic, 3 Chicks After Dark, MM Good Book Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, The Hat Party, Andrew Q. Gordon, Book Reviews and More by Kathy

A special thanks to Will at Pride Promotions for his assistance.

Guest Review: From Temptation (Deliver Us, #2) by Lynn Kelling

Sequel to Deliver Us:

Kyle Roth is no longer safe–not from his lover, not from his friends and, especially, not from himself. Questioning the choices that led him to a life of submission to the potentially dangerous Dominant, Ben Knox, Kyle sees no other way out than through old vices. Just when Kyle assumes all hope is lost he is saved by the persistence of an old enemy, Gabriel Hunter. Worse yet, a secret past withheld from Darrek–Kyle's friend and Gabriel's partner–threatens to destroy them all! 

(M/M - For content labels and excerpt, see details on publisher's site.)

Reviewed by Vivian

Crazy Train, Part II

The second book in the series takes the reader on another ride of incredibly hot sex and insanely messed up characters. Having read DELIVER US I can’t say I’m surprised by the trajectory of the story. In this book, we get to see Kyle and Darrek lives implode.

Is there anyone in this book who is not completely fucking, batshit crazy?  I like how the couples do it together, taking each other down liking drowning rats.

Ben's borderline and teetering with rage
Kyle's snapped and you can only put Humpty Dumpty back together again so many times. 
Darrek slides into darkness
Gabriel keep flipping on and off like a switch

If you enjoy soap operas with incestuous bed hopping, wild behaviors, shocking reveals, and dramatics—then you’ve found yourself Grade A quality stuff. Personally, I found this less engaging as there are similarities between the characters demons in books one and two. I won’t say it is a reboot, but there are strong parallels and it is more of a twist of the kaleidoscope.

Additionally, the sex while copious is less startlingly physical and plays a great deal more with the psychological which I enjoyed, but combined with the blatantly bad idea fairy regarding the characters’ actions made it less enjoyable than just the voyeurism of the S&M—my preference, so reader satisfaction will vary.

The carousel wheel perspective of getting a scene from one of five characters is a bit much when combined with the POV shifts mid-paragraph. So prepare for disorientation. Again, not thrilled with BDSM being portrayed as something only practiced by those with serious mental conditions. Then again, I’m slightly disturbed by the book using horrific crimes for salacious purposes, too. Honestly, this book makes me contemplate why reading it?

I’m kinda torn between wanting to finish the third book because then the series is done—check mark. But the other part of me is already plotting out the last book, knowing there won’t be a ton of surprises since there’s been some foreshadowing this round regarding Micah. Hoping the series ends stronger since this was a bit of a lull even with all the machinations and shenanigans. What was shocking in DELIVER US doesn’t have the same punch; I blame it on desensitization.

Overall theme of the book can be summed up: 
I’m going to keep you safe—from your enemies, your friends, and yourself.

Note: A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Will and Pleasure by Iyana Jenna

After his parents’ nasty divorce, Jake Welther was raised by his mother, so when his father dies, he’s surprised to find his name among his brothers’ in the will. Jake never thought he’d get anything from his old man, but neither the house nor the money is his inheritance. It’s a young sex slave named Luke.

Luke is a product of the streets. One unfortunate night, a bad encounter with a client ended with him curled up in an alley, filthy and hurt. When Craig Welthier Sr. took him in, Luke thought he was finally safe and protected. Little did he know Craig would turn out to be worse than any of his previous clients.

With his father gone, Jake doesn’t know what to do with Luke. His three brothers see no harm in continuing to use their father’s slave for their own twisted purposes. Though he doesn’t think of himself as anyone’s hero, he knows what Luke has endured at the hands of his family is wrong. Can Jake stand up to his brothers to rescue Luke? Will Luke find his happy ending after all?

I wanted to love this story. Really, I did. Read the blurb. That's totally me. Slavery, maybe a little non-con. This book was flagging me down like a hitchhiker on Route 66 circa 1969.

Unfortunately, it did not work out betwixt us. Things might get a little spoilery, so if you're planning on reading this, look away. Look away now. 

My suspend reality button lost propulsion at 4%.

I simply cannot understand any of these characters' actions. They are nonsensical. What's worse, they change on a dime without explanation. The father, Craig, picked up Luke for seemingly altruistic reasons. About five seconds after he carries him to the limo he decides he's not only going to keep him? He's been married for 20+ years, I'm assuming he's some sort of successful businessman, he's certainly affluent since his sons all drive Ferraris, but he picks up a beaten to a pulp rent boy in an alley one day becomes gay, divorces his wife and locks Luke up in a room that he doesn't even let him out of to shower? Not to be rude, but WHAT THE FUCK?!?! 

Apparently, this "condition" is either airborne or genetic since three of his four sons upon discovering that Luke has been left in their fucktard of a father's will decide they're going to keep AND share him. Ewwww! Just ewwww. Except Jake. Jake is the "sane" one and the black sheep of the family.

Jake initially wants nothing to do with this nonsense, but really, what fun would that be in the grand scheme of things? So, Jake gets in the game. Why his brothers let the black sheep have first dibs is beyond me. Guess who's not gay, but as soon as the slave gets on his knees and crawls to him he wilts like a daisy in August. Jake is quite the humanitarian. I wonder if he picked that up during a blue light special at K-Mart?

Never once does Jake think of getting Luke medical care. He's malnourished, underweight and hasn't seen daylight in probably a few years. Nope. Medical care, schmedical care! What's on tap first? Why shopping of course! And guess who shows up looking for their slave? And guess who sees them yet still leaves the safety of the coffee shop and goes to walk around the shopping center?

I could go on, but I'm just getting worked up again over the idiocy. The whole thing is absurd. I felt like I entered the theater of the ridiculous. I could maybe see Luke as having a touch of Stockholm Syndrome, but I'm not even sold on that.

Add to all of this the dizzying amount of perspective AND time changes and you get a one heart review. I cannot in good conscience recommend this to anyone.

I would like to thank the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Summer when it Snowed by K.A. Merikan

The year winter came back in the summer, Kirkor, the young son of a chieftain meets Alin, a man with eyes so blue they seem to melt the snow around him. That same night, Kirkor loses Alin to another man’s ruthless greed, but he is only a child, and no one believes his testimony. Years later, Kirkor is unjustly accused of plotting against the chieftain and banished from his home.

Roaming through the forest, he finds shelter under a lone weeping willow. There is nothing extraordinary about the tree, but if so, why does its whisper seem so familiar?

If you’ve read any of K.A. Merikan’s work, you know to expect something out of the ordinary, probably a little off the wall and possibly disturbing. I like all of those things. This story though? This story was different. It’s a beautifully written fairy tale and because it doesn’t really have any - WTF? classic Merikan moments - so, I could really see the beauty in the words. I definitely don’t mean to imply that anything I’ve read previously isn’t well written, not at all! I’m guessing I just didn’t appreciate it as much as I did here. Each turn of phrase used to describe the characters, the settings and their emotions added to the mood of the story.

Loosely based on classic Slavic folklore, The Summer When it Snowed gives the tale a twist that works perfectly for the MM fan. I really appreciated how both MC’s got to be heroes and it gave the characters equality regardless of the station in life they were born to. It’s a short tale that covers a lot of ground and a long period of time but never feels rushed or lacking, so they balance works really well. Kirkor and Alin have just enough “moments” to feel the connection they have. That fairytale connection, that’s all about tender swooning and heroic sacrifices.

This fairytale has a great villain, Balladyn, and I do love me a great villain. He literally has blood on his hands and is rotten to his evil little core. There is also the perfect selfish and chaotic spirit, I love those too, and she brings the story full circle. I actually love the veela’s character a lot because she’s above all the human hullabaloo and is all about the booty. I like her.

Speaking of a “veela”, definitely read the Foreword and the Glossary (don’t be afraid of the glossary words, you won’t be quizzed). I read them before and after and it brought more light to the story and it gave more meaning to the symbolism and to the beautiful cover art.

The Summer When it Snowed is a highly recommended escape to a beautiful world with dreamy tragic heroes. K.A. Merikan can really write a fairy tale and I’d love to read more of their interpretations of classic folklore.

*** a copy of this story was provided by the author for an honest review ***