Category Archives: gay lovin’

Riptide Rentboys: The 2012 Collection

Riptide Rentboys: The 2012 Collection
by Anne Brooke, Cat Grant, Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
Published by Riptide Publishing
Available on Amazon.com
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
3 / 5 cupcakes

If this is THE collection of 2012 for Riptide Rentboys, I’d hate to read what was left on the cutting room floor.

This trio of stories is kind of like Goldilocks and the Three Bears: one is unfathomably bad, one kind of meh, and the third is cute.

Let’s start with the one most likely to result in a WTF? reaction.

“Cruce de Caminos,” by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane (the authors’ names sound like romance novel heroines, don’t they?) seems to be one of those paranormal, “this is what the underbelly of society is really like” kind of tales, but really it’s just an awful short story. Sean, who is Irish but apparently looks Hispanic (don’t ask – seriously, do yourself a favor and DO NOT ASK), has a girlfriend with whom he fights and rocks the headboard. An industrial, entrepeneurish kind of guy, Sean decides to make bank by selling his services. But good old Sean either has appallingly inferior gut instincts or he is just plain stupid. He winds up in the clutches of one of New Orleans’ famed netherworld practitioners, with whom he shares quite the night, as the two service a wealthy businessman. It isn’t so much that the story is convoluted and ridiculous (and it is), but rather that the sex scene is so unfulfilling. Evidently, the best part happened after Sean passed out, so we don’t even find out about it except in a rather cursory way. This short story is a Fail.

What “Cruces de Caminos” lacks in depth and compelling characters, “Priceless”, by Cat Grant, makes up for, almost too much for a short story. Connor is a college professor whose bestie decides to fix him up with young Wes, a hot student. The socially repressed and stifled Connor turns Wes down, however, but the two later are reunited most fortuitously. And then reunited again. A lot of time is spent discussing Connor’s isolation and Wes’s financial desperation. A whole lot. Still, though, you can’t help but like Connor, even if Wes is a bit too annoying and helpless for me. The sex scenes are hot, although there aren’t enough of them for this type of story. It’s a cute tale, if too long.

Thank goodness, then, for Anne Brooke’s “Where You Hurt the Most,” which is the jewel of the collection. Adrian is an escort for hire whose boss fixes him up with his cousin Dan, whose face was horribly disfigured in a car wreck. Dan hides his face in a hoodie, and Adrian is sensitive to Dan’s fears and vulnerabilities. The two share a HOT night together, and then Dan disappears. Of the three, this is the most romantic tale, not to mention the hottest.

So this collection is hit or miss. I can’t hep but wonder how much better it would have been if “Cruces de Caminos” had been replaced by something better written and certainly something hotter.

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Power Play: Awakening

Power Play: Awakening
Rachel Hamowitz & Cat Grant
Published by Riptide Publishing
256 pages
Available on Amazon.com Kindle
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.
4 / 5 cupcakes

When we last we left off with Jonathan and Brandon in Power Play: Resistance, their Dominant/submissive relationship had gone through a bit of a rocky patch. Brandon realized that he wants to be with Jonathan, Jonathan realized that he needs to treat what they have as a relationship just as much as an opportunity to exert his Dominant side, and those two crazy love birds decided to give it another whirl.

But of course it does not come easily to either of them.

Whereas Resistance focused on Jonathan breaking down Brandon, Awakening is the story of building Brandon back up. It’s also something of Jonathan’s story, as we get to know him better. We meet the man who introduced Jonathan to the Dominant lifestyle, and we also meet a female ex-sub of his. Whereas Brandon’s issues were obvious, Jonathan’s are more subtle; he has to change every bit as much as Brandon if their relationship is going to work.

If Resistance was the set-up, Awakening is the payoff and the love story. As Jonathan and Brandon come to terms with themselves and each other – as they  fully trust each other with all that they have and are – their feelings intensify. Brandon begins to understand that with submission comes power. The power to overcome everything that has held you back, the power of confidence and trust. He also comes to see the power in giving himself to Jonathan for the latter’s sadistic needs.

This is an unconventional love story, to say the least. And not because it’s about two men. It’s more the way they come to love each other, through domination and submission, through pain and pleasure. Unlike Resistance, there are moments of sweetness in this book, of courtship and love.

About the sexy times: they are every bit as graphic and brutal as those in Resistance. But they are not repetitive; Jonathan takes Brandon through different experiences, and because of the love story aspect, the headboard rockin’ takes on a different sheen. It’s still about power and submission, but it’s also about love. You know, feelings and all that stuff.

Will you like Brandon more? Eh. I don’t know. I still am not a big fan of his, although goodness knows the man fully gave of himself to Jonathan. I just couldn’t warm up to him the way I think I was supposed to. Now, Jonathan, on the other hand? I love him.

If you read Resistance, you must read Awakening.

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Power Play: Resistance

Power Play: Resistance
Rachel Haimowitz & Cat Grant
Published by Riptide Publishing
254 pages
Available on Amazon.com.
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.
3.5 / 5

If Fifty Shades of Grey was too hardcore for you, let me just say that (a) the BDSM community finds you precious and (b) don’t even THINK about reading this book, especially if the spectre of gay lovin’ scares you to death.

Brandon “Bran” McKinney is one of those men whose rough and tumble background has caused him to be arrogant, tough and unyielding. So why Jonathan Watkins thinks Brandon will make a fabulous submissive is a bit mysterious. Yes, Brandon drops to his knees during their first assignation, after Jonathan kind of forces him to do so. And, yes, Brandon does not unlock the cuff that Jonathan puts on him. So those two slim artifacts appear to be enough to convince Jonathan that Brandon will be the sub to his Dom.

Well, as anyone could have told poor old Jonathan, Brandon is a tough nut to crack, and he does not go willingly into the sub lifestyle. He agrees to a six-month contract, only because he wants $3 million to buy his own contracting company. But Brandon turns out to be woefully naive, because the whole “You are mine and you must do as I say” thing rubs Brandon the wrong way. No pun intended.

Brandon puts up a mighty fight, so much so that Jonathan finds himself at a loss. Brandon won’t use his safe word, won’t leave the contract, but also won’t submit. What is a poor Dominant to do?

This book, folks, is raw. The sex scenes are severe, brutal and graphic. Brandon has Issues, and Jonathan is determined to beat them out of him, so to speak. Can this relationship be saved? You need to read to find out. (But here is a hint: there is a sequel.) Brandon is such a pig that it’s difficult to sympathize with him, even from the standpoint of his shock at Jonathan’s proclivities. Jonathan, on the other hand, is adorable, and he’s the reason you will keep reading this book. Unfortunately, the focus tends to be on Brandon.

The thing about this book, though, is that ultimately it is the story of trust. How can you get someone to trust you? How can you learn to trust when doing so has brought you nothing but agony?

Give this a whirl if you have a hankering for some gay lovin’, bondage styles.

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Filed under BDSM, erotica, gay lovin', not another excuse to bring up Christian Grey again, someone other than Christian Grey likes to spank

His Heart’s Obsession

His Heart’s Obsession
Alex Beecroft
Published by Carina Press
Available on Amazon Kindle
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.
4 / 5 cupcakes

Before we commence with the review, let’s look at that cover for a moment, shall we? Is it just me, or does the dude on the left look like Ryan Seacrest? It’s probably just me. I swear, though, it looks just like him. Hmmmm ….

Okay, so. The path to true love never runs smoothly. We know that, right? Well, imagine, if you will, what the path to true gay love, circa 1752, and on a ship. For Robert  Hughes, the challenge is even more fraught with tension and frustration because Hal Morgan, the man he loves, is in love with another man. As crewmen on a ship, the two are closeted, to say the least, but Robert knows of Hal’s infatuation with William. Hal, on the other hand, has no idea that Robert is gay; he assumes Robert is in love with a woman.

One night, fueled by the giddy taste of possibility, Robert confesses all to Hal: I love you, William doesn’t, give us a chance.

Hal’s response and the ensuing drama verge on the emotionally fulfilling and the emotionally devastating. For such a slight book, Alex Beecroft draws her characters very well, causing us to care about and understand them. We  can see why Hal feels so strongly about his fidelity to William; we feel Robert’s frustration and sadness. When Robert makes his move, we are nervous with anticipation:

Robert ached for Hal with a fierce, hot pain, He put a carefully casual hand on Hal’s knee, feeling the roughness of the heavy linen. The warmth of Hal’s flesh, seeping through it, travelled up his arm like a flame eating along a fuse. So far, so good, and yet Hal had been about to tell him something. after all these years of being at arm’s length, he had been about to confide in Robert as though he considered Robert a true friend.

While this romance may not be typical in that it features two men, it certainly rings true in its sense of hope and loss.

My only complaint, though – and I think it’s a biggie – is that there is no rocking of the headboard. Or at least there is no detailed rocking of the headboard. There are a couple of love scenes, but they are so vaguely written that you are left unsatisfied (no pun intended).

Even so, this is a sweet little read. Just don’t go into it expecting hot sexy times.

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Filed under gay lovin', Not so Hot Romance Novel

Brook Street: Thief

As part of the Brook Street trilogy, Thief concludes the story of gay men finding love and romance in early nineteenth century England. They also find some pretty hot headboard rocking.

Lord Benjamin Parker suspects he might prefer the company of men, but that’s all it is – suspicion. He has never acted on his urges, mostly because he’s never ventured beyond his social realm. But at twenty-five, he realizes that his friends and his five siblings will start to urge him toward matrimony, and he wants to know, beyond a doubt, if he can marry a woman.

He heads to a club he believes is frequented by homosexuals, and while at a gambling table, he meets Cavin Fox. The two wind up in a seedy hotel, and Benjamin has his answer. Women will not do.

“Why be unhappy when I could be happy?” It seemed rather silly now to have waited so long, but if he’d have acted on his desires years ago, he highly doubted he would have met Cavin. “I realized there was no point in fighting with myself. If I preferred men, so be it. … Not every gentleman takes a wife, and I certainly don’t want to now. That would be cruel, condemning some poor woman to a husband who can’t feel true attraction toward her. It’s the reason why I wanetd to find out the truth about myself now.”

Ben wants more than one night with Cavin. Unfortunately, Cavin, a pickpocket and occasional paid consort who works for an evil pimp (for reals), fears that Ben can’t possibly want to be with him if he knows how Cavin plies his trade, so to speak.Yet the two are drawn together, and through various quirks of fate and coincidence, continue to rock the headboard (and the floor).

Brook Street: Thief is a breezy, hot read, if you’re into m/m lovin’. Ava March writes hot sex scenes, and she draws Benjamin and Cavin with great care and affection. There isn’t much plot to be found here; what there is tends to be a bridge between the rocking of headboards. And that’s just fine.

Published by Carina Press and available on Amazon.com.
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview. 

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Brook Street: Rogues

Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we? I cannot get into lesbian sex scenes. It isn’t that I’m a prude – good grief, I loved that crappy Fifty Shades trilogy. I think it’s just that I have no interest in it, and I can’t make the leap to enjoying reading about it. Just like I’m not a huge fan of paranormal romances. They just don’t turn my crank.

But Brook Street: Rogues, by Ava March, is about gay men, and I enjoyed THAT quite a bit.
This is my first strictly dickly romance novel, and I have to say, I found the headboard rockin’ to be quite hot. But first, the plot.
Rob and Linus have been friends forever, and now live side-by-side (no pun intended – their homes are next door to each other) in 1822 London. Homosexuality was not in vogue, nor was it condoned. The two men hide the preferences, so much so that Linus believes Rob prefers sex with women. But Rob isn’t so sure. He asks Linus to be his exclusive lover, to which Linus responds, “Thank you, but no.”
Rob is devastated and confused. As far as he can tell, he and Linus are made for each other.

He’d been with enough women. The mechanics were different, but intimacy was intimacy. He and Linus were damn amazing together. Always had been. No way could Linus be fool enough to believe otherwise. And that wasn’t misplaced pride or arrogance on Rob’s part. It took two to create the level of heat that burned between them. One kiss was all that was needed, and every line of Linus’s body shouted his desire for more. Much more.

This is not a case of opposites attracting; the two have their differences, but they are more alike than not. And, as Rob observes, they are completely simpatico between the sheets, each determined to satisfy the other.

Ava March may not create wildly unforgettable characters – I can’t remember their last names, and I’m too lazy to look them up – but the sex scenes. Oh, people. The sex scenes between these two are HOT.

Brook Street: Rogues is a fast read with a negligible plot. It won’t make you ponder any of life’s great mysteries, nor is there much to analyze, discuss or think about. But it’s got some hot sex scenes, and it may open some minds that are closed to gay lovin’.

Published by Carina Press and available on Amazon.com.
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.

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