Review: Blowing Off Steam by Joy Lynn Fielding

Two guys, a train, and lots of steam.

Sam Chancellor has been in love with the steam engine Old Bess since he was six years old. Well, maybe not literally, but even when he’s lost everything else in his life, he’s always had her. But now her place in his heart has been unexpectedly challenged. Her new driver, Ryan Saunders, is the embodiment of all Sam’s fantasies.

Ryan has written off Sam as just another geeky trainspotter—until the moment Ryan sees him without his usual shapeless hoodie, and realizes that for a nerd, Sam’s pretty built.

When Ryan overlooks Sam’s awkwardness long enough to suggest a hook-up, Sam seizes the opportunity—and Ryan—with both very eager hands. Finding common ground in their shared love of Bess, their time together is better than Sam ever dared dream.

But there’s a reason Ryan never talks about his past. And when Ryan's job is threatened, Sam’s well-meaning intervention puts both Ryan and Bess in deadly danger.

Product Warnings: Contains train geekery, bed-hogging, a hero with no experience and another with plenty to spare, and a spider called Mabel.

Oh this story. I loved it so. Every last word. The fan boy, the bad boy, the small town life and its characters, and of course, Old Bess, the steam train, I loved ALL the things. If you embrace any bit of vintage geekery in your life, you will enjoy this story immensely.

Sam is incredibly charming even though he’s living a stagnant life. He’s inherited his elderly uncle’s home, his friends and basically his whole life. Problem is, he’s a very young man and his prospects for a life and love of his own are pretty slim. He spends his time train-spotting, hanging out in online train forums, logging all things train-y in his notebooks and spreadsheets, tending to his uncle’s garden, and working his dead end retail job. He’s happy, because that’ just who he is, but there’s no denying he’s lonely.

Then he sees Ryan, the engineer of Old Bess, Sam’s greatest love. Ryan is highly skilled at his job, but he’s got the air of a bad boy about him (with good reason) that totally intimidates Sam so he admires from a distance both Ryan and Old Bess alike. They finally have their meet-cute and damn if it isn’t cute. And steamy.

I loved these two together and I think that was my favorite thing about the whole story. The evolution of their relationship was such a refreshing read. It wasn’t overly angsty, there weren’t a bunch of outside forces affecting them, they were just total opposites getting to know, and more importantly, getting to appreciate one another. They started out just ‘having fun’ but they didn’t fight the progression of the relationship just to be stubborn dicks like so many characters do and I loved that.

The story did have its twists that affected their lives though, and the bit of mystery gave the story an edge. Sam’s misguided and somewhat naïve attempts to help Ryan gave a needed blast of reality that sucked to read because I was busy being in love with their relationship and I didn’t want anything to go sideways, but the bit of pain worked to give them perspective and kept them from being too good.
I really liked how the author worked it all out in the end. It wasn’t too easy, there was a chance for Sam to be the hero he was meant to be and all the loose ends were tied up.

I highlighted so many quotes while I was reading because I just really enjoyed the author’s writing style and the way she could sum up emotions in one sentence. The story was really well told and the conversations between characters were so easy to read. It was funny, the characters were charming and I am looking forward to reading more of the author’s words.

For more information on Blowing Off Steam, check it out on Goodreads.

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

Review: Star Quality by Ajax Bell


Kevin Kaisho plays gay on the popular nighttime TV drama Shadow Lane. Kevin's on-screen love interest is his long-time friend, the out and proud (and married) Nick Jantzen. After spending a press junket flirting with Nick to titillate fans, Kevin's feelings become complicated: Nick's husband Andrew shows up, making suggestive overtures. With unexpected desires invading his dreams, Kevin must discover what kind of starring role he really wants.

Andrew Walker is successful in his own right as a fashion designer, and he's quite happy with his life, even if he and Nick are often kept apart by their work. But when he sees a picture of Nick and his new co-star Kevin cozied up for the camera, he's intrigued. Can he coax Kevin--and Nick--into seeing that starring together in real life can be richer and more complex than a TV drama?
A term of endearment in Ajax Bell's "Star Quality". I renamed this story "Kittentits" in my head though.
Kittentits? The formerly straight MC, Kevin is called this by one half of the married gay couple in "Star Quality". When I first read it, I misread kittenitis. I wondered if it was a new disease that caused kittens to sprout when you're sick but's "kitten-tits". Um...I hated it in the beginning and by the end, it made me laugh. Unexpected comic relief score!

Set in Vancouver, the novella is about straight, Hapa actor Kevin and his co-star, Nick. Kevin finally hit the big time scoring a lead on a popular nighttime soap, as Nick's romantic lead. Nick is openly gay and married to Andrew, famous fashion design. The married couple are still in love after being together for over a decade. They have a strong open relationship and bring in thirds in their bedroom from time to time. Andrew sees the way Kevin looks at his husband and wants that straight, virgin ass spread on his bed and filled with he and his husband's cock. He manipulates Kevin into their bed for a night of fun...and unexpectedly into their hearts?

I was going to DNF this. The beginning wasn't strong. I couldn't get a sense of any of the characters. There was a miasma of superficial that I tend to disconnect from in stories. I don't care if Nick is so beautiful he's like a star in the sky or water in the ocean. (The water/ocean metaphors--*smh* I will gripe about this soon) Or that Nick's pale skin and blue eyes are so orgasmic that they look great against Andrew's dark skin or Kevin's amber eyes. I don't know if the shallowness of the main characters was supposed to add to the story's tone. If it was planned, it succeeded. If it wasn't...then everyone is two dimensional.

The story is basically PWP that played in the erotica romance(?) sandbox. PWP works best when kept to the sexy bits. This story would have worked better if it stuck to the sex, it pretty much covered about a third of the story anyway. Warning: there is a detailed M/F sex scene. I also don't think it was necessary to the story. Kevin really didn't struggle opening his anus to thick fingers, cocks or both at the same time. I'd have rated this higher if this just stayed in the PWP lane, the sex touched 4 Hearts range. I had to suspend reality a little to believe an ass virgin could handle not one but two cocks at the same time...just with some fingering and rimming and a "three-quarters hard" cock.

Even one of the sex partners thought this during the DP scene:
"He didn't think Kevin could take Nick's full size right now. He wasn't sure how Kevin was taking any of this at all."
While I love a good double penetration scene as the next smut loving gal, I just couldn't buy it. Maybe if the attempt to try to make Kevin have a semblance of depth didn't get in the way. I mean snowballing, felching and virgin double penetration menage doesn't grow on the smut trees overnight! And it sure isn't anything to sneeze at.

I think Andrew the manipulator was my favorite out of the three. I like my triads to have equal sides but it's clear Andrew has one more brain cell than those other two. They just bring a ready mouth, asshole and cock when needed. Andrew planted the seed of lust in both Kevin and his husband's heads and got exactly what he wanted.

The ending is HFN with a possible HEA. It wasn't bad. Kevin is readily open (ha!) for more and the couple seems to want to jump into permanent triad status. I just wished the filler was kept to a minimum. The waves and water analogy? Andrew or Nick or Kevin took turns are being waves and the ocean or a sea...I don't need metaphors in the smut. No thanks please. The filler diminished the impact the smut made.

The filler was 2 Hearts. The sex? Mmmm...I'll rate it 4 Hearts.

My rating is the average. :)

For more information on Goodreads or Booklikes!

Review: In from the Cold (Coyote's Call #2) by Bailey Bradford

Running away twenty years ago didn’t mean Gael could ever escape his past.

Gael Martinez fled the small Texas town of Del Rey the minute he turned sixteen. Legal or not, he had to leave or end up dead. Life’s been hard, and everything Gael ever hoped for has been stripped from him. He’s close to giving up, so worn down from fighting to live every day. When incredible information reaches him that gives him a reason to hang in there, at least a little longer, Gael is afraid to hope for a better life.

An accidental encounter leads to him being told things have changed with the coyote den that had been floundering in Del Rey years ago. Miller Hudson, the coyote shifter alpha, had found his mate, and the den was now flourishing—and the biggest miracle of all, some of the shifters could now actually shift.

As tempted as that makes him to return, it could all be a bunch of lies and Gael is still hesitant, even though he yearns to go home. There’s no point if he’s only likely to be killed. Dying at another’s hands isn’t the way Gael ever intends to die.

It’s only upon discovering the changes regarding some of the humans in Del Rey that allow Gael to truly consider going home.

What he finds in the small town is more than just a home. He finds himself, and the man he’s always meant to be.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of BDSM, BDSM-related genital torture and spanking, as well as references to fisting and to the sexual abuse of a secondary character.

So, y’all know that Bailey Bradford writes shifter stories just for me right? Seriously, don’t even try and convince me otherwise for I will ignore you completely. The shifter genre is not necessarily my top go-to, but when I get a hankering, it’s for a Bailey Bradford story first. They are consistently strong with memorable characters and the banter between them reads real. The heat level is always scorching and when you’re reading about two characters with a strong connection the heat means more than just getting off. BB (that’s how we roll now) books are just so much heat-ier than most because of that character connection. When BB’s boys get their kink on, there’s going to be a happy jism ending PLUS cuddling. It’s a pretty perfect scenario really.

In From the Cold is the second in the Coyote’s Call series and you should definitely read them in order. Miller and Gideon play significant roles in In From the Cold and the whole pack’s story continues. That’s a big strength in this series, the premise of the pack is unique in that collectively they have lost their way and are just beginning to learn their heritage, how to shift and how to make pack dynamics work for them all. The pack’s breakdown is what caused Gael to flee the town when he was just 16 and he’s barely survived ever since. The first half of the book is a real heartbreaker and Gael’s story was told so well. It hurt to read, but was never completely without hope. It was close, but I loved Gael’s voice and the matter of fact way he related his life on the streets did the “show not tell” thing just right. The impact of his life was felt without crossing the line to cliché.

A chance run in puts Gael back in touch with his old life when he and his ‘friend’ are just trying to find a warm place to crash for the night. What plays out next is trust dynamics slowly evolving. Miller’s mom is the one who recognizes Gael and she calls in reinforcements from home to try and convince Gael to return to the pack. No one really knows what happened to Gael and his family all those years ago, but seeing Gael as he is now, it’s obvious it was something horrendous.

One of the men who comes to the city with Miller is Iker, the town sheriff and fellow shifter. He’s from a different pack and is not a coyote so he’s got a bit more of a grounded history than anyone else there. He and Gael feel the mate connection right away, but Gael is so very damaged and meeting Iker gives him emotions he’s never been able to indulge before. The group convinces Gael to return with them along with his friend.

The strength Gael begins to indulge in with Iker happens pretty quickly and it was a smidge jarring reconciling his sex personality with his every day self, but there was enough of his struggles to keep him grounded and not feel like I was reading about a new character all of a sudden. He and Iker’s kinks complement one another just right and I know that’s where a lot of Gael’s confidence came from. Iker was able to give that to him and Gael ate it up.

There’s continuation of the drama and mystery that is a continuation from Book 1 that made for an exciting ending and set up to the next book. I’m really hoping it’s about Roman and Evans. Like, really a whole lot. I can’t WAIT for their story.

For more information on In from the Cold, check it out on Goodreads.

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

Unicorn Favorites: Love is an Open Road Stories: Week Two

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 is an Open Road 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.

We've already shared some of our favorite stories from the first week of the event. And some of our favorites from the second week, June 8-14, are below:

Breann: Waiting for Clark by Annabeth Albert
Cute prompt, cute pic, cute story!

Oh, Clark and Bryce put a big, stupid grin on my face. I was completely charmed by their nerdtastic ways.

The friends to lovers was perfectly done. In such a short story, I felt all the chemistry from their past and definitely felt all their tension in the present. These stubborn fools were so obviously made for each other, I couldn't wait for them to freaking kiss already!

Lots of tension, lots of cuddles, lots of hotness. Made for one heck of an enjoyable story and one of my favorites so far.
 So nice I read it twice.

I cannot express the amount of joy this story has brought me. Cari Z. took my little ole prompt and didn't just knock it out of the park, she blasted it out of the stratosphere!

Anyone who knows me well knows what I like in a book. My closest friends will recommend books to me and say something like, "this is a JL book" meaning that the story hits a lot of my buttons and usually follows the norm of what I like to read. Well, I can confidently say that this is the epitome of a JL book.

It has everything I could ask for in a story. And I mean everything. It has action and adventure. It has humor and snark and witticism. It has romance and fight scenes. It has hijinks and shenanigans. Basically it's The Princess Bride of the Love is an Open Road event. At least to me it is.

I feel like I have won the lottery. I hit the jackpot with the author who picked my prompt. Thank you SO VERY MUCH Cari Z., for picking my prompt and writing such an amazing story. Thank you also for listening to my ramblings and actually incorporating them all. I don't think you missed even one of them. Bravo, Cari Z., bravo.

Now, please excuse me while I run off and read this again.

Justin: Hellion by Lisa Henry & Wrong Direction by Kelly Jensen

HELL F-ING YEAH! Now THIS is the kind of Regency I can get behind.

I loved everything about this story. The descriptions of the settings were fantastic. I loved the tension and buildup between Sir Oliver & Simon and I adored the way the story and the relationship between them played out.

Woop! I am 3 for 3 with "Love is an Open Road" stories.

A HUGE thank you to Lisa Henry and ALL of the volunteers that make this event possible!!! *tips top hat*
All of the stars from me for this one.

It was as if this was written just for me. I absolutely loved every word. It made me GIDDY. I'm talking full-on, fourteen year old school girl, giddy.

I got a kick out of the humor. Really laughed out loud quite a few times. The guys, with all their insecurities, were so cute. I wanted to visit Alvaro's family farm and I just wanted to hug Daniel most of the time.

The sexy times were smokin hot yet still sweet. And, AND the romance was all out swoon worthy. *still swooning*

I'm so sad it's over and I want more! More Alvaro and more Daniel PLEASE, Kelly Jensen!!!

Thank you to the author for this story and thank you to all of the volunteers who make this event possible!

Lorix: Salvaging Toby's Heart by Lexi Ander

So I've steadfastly refused to love tentacle sex. Tentacles are creepy, creepy, creepy things as far as I'm concerned. I am, however, trying to read all the offerings for the DRitC event this year, at least give them all a shot. So, when I started Salvaging Toby's Heart and it had tentacles right there on the front cover, I anticipated reading a couple of pages and then politely DNFing it because it wouldn't be for me.

What a fool I was.

I loved this story. Loved the characters, the mission, the world that had been created. I loved the sex. OH MY GOD. I loved tentacle sex. WTF?

Hot and sweet and romantic all at once. I am officially a tentative tentacle fan. Slap me with a kipper and call me fool, but I am. So there.

I loved this sci-fi, tentacled offering. Yep, you heard right - I've delved into tentacles and loved it.

Lord help me.

This reminds me of James Cox's work, which is never going to be a bad thing!!

Thanks for this offering for the DRitC event.

Optimist King's Wench: The Downs by Kim Fielding

I'm star blind by "The Downs". Fielding took this prompt and turned it into beautiful thing to behold.

It's a story of redemption, vengeance and acceptance. Magnificently told with two well fleshed out characters who happen to find love along the way.

The Downs are unforgiving and dangerous, full of deadly creatures and the caustic fog. You can't be a delicate flower and call the Downs home. You have to have grit and guts, be a fighter.

Enitan is a fighter. He just has no cause, no purpose and his sister has betrayed him in so many ways. He is broken by more than just the fall into the Downs, but Rig only sees the good in him.

But can Enitan see the good in himself before it's too late?

Excellent world building and lovely prose so common to Fielding's work.

A marvelous addition to the LOR event. Thanks to the author and her team for participating.

SheReadsALot: Burn for Me by Ann Anderson

Pirates? Always in season for me. 
Genies? Same thing. 
 “I know of genies, of their need for a master, but none have a need quite like yours, do they?” There was no pause as he continued, “No, none like you. Fire trapped inside a cage, needing someone to release you and let you burn.”

A gasp, a hiccup, and Salai shuddered, his mind a wreck as his master’s will stroked over his core, far gentler a caress than Salai had ever encountered.

“Will you burn for me?”
I've searched high and low for good genie MM and the results have been sorely lacking. (Note to authors: Think genie for a main character. Please!) Last year, I came up with an idea to have a genie and pirate mash up romance. Of course, I wanted kink thrown in especially some aftercare. And wouldn't you know, Ann Anderson decided to take a chance on my prompt. I had such high hopes for this. I stared at Salai and Laren's picture for over a year waiting for DRiTC to return. 

The results were amazing! I am thanking Ms. Anderson once again for this delicious kinky romance. There was magic, there was D/s...there were PIRATES! The author made Salai more than a picture, she made him a person. He had family, he had feelings, he had a back story! And the author took the time to add little tidbits of things I like to this story...I truly treasure it like pirates treasure. I'm crossing my fingers that she'll revisit this world and boys. I could read pages upon pages of these two!

*** All stories are available for download at ***

Review: Faking Perfection by Mia Watts

Father Garth Roderick is a priest with a problem. He’s had a fascination with a particular congregant for years. Though he’s never actually acknowledged his sexuality, Garth’s definitely more attracted to men than women. Fortunately, he hasn’t had to deal with making a moral decision... until the night he is caught in the dark and kissed senseless. Now he fantasizes that the kiss was from the one man he can’t forget, Eli Jennings.

For Garth, the man of his fantasies could be his, but how does he reconcile human desire with his vow to God? And for Eli, coming in second best hurts like hell, but how do you ask a man of God to leave the church and take a chance on love?


The lure of the cover was too much to resist.

The words inside that cover... let's look at that cover again. No, seriously, it wasn't horrid. Some reality suspension is required, but the struggle Garth goes through felt genuine, for the most part.

Garth has known Eli since he was a child. Kinda squicky, I know. Watts tows a fine line between ewwwwwww and awwwwwww. When the attraction began is nebulous, so I chose not to dwell too heavily on it. Suffice to say, Garth's been carrying a torch for Eli. He even had an encounter with a kissing bandit/secret admirer three years ago that he's fantasized was Eli.

Guess what?

It totally was! 

Eli's been in love with Garth for years and decides to make his intentions known at his sister's wedding. Some flip fucking went down in the vestibule. Did I think it was weird that a virgin priest was down to flip fuck with a parishioner in the vestibule? Uh, yeah. Not half as weird as his fellow priest walking in on their post-coital bliss then REFUSING TO LEAVE!

For a minute I thought the other priest was going to join in instead he started to give Garth and Eli the hell fire and brimstone business.

So weird.

The angst and Catholicism politics that ensue read authentic where the disconnect occurred was between the two MCs. There wasn't enough on the page to make me believe in their love; they're not together all that often and when they are they're having sex in semi-public places. It should've been hot; I wanted heat between them and what I got was mostly awkward. My other problem was the continuity errors, some of which were glaring and yanked me right out of the story. 

Another problem is I continue to have questions. Why wait three years? It's sort of intimated that Eli lives out of town which has prevented their contact, but he's at the church regularly over the next few weeks? Who takes a few weeks off for their sister's wedding?

Not a bad read, but not memorable one either.

A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads.