Saturday, 3 December 2016

Teddy Bears by Brandon Witt



Short Story – 16k words
Dreamspinner Press 2016 Advent Calendar
Buy Links:     Amazon         Amazon UK    Dreamspinner

The blurb:

Other than working the front desk of a gay bathhouse in Denver, Brian McKay is a bit of a recluse. At the best of times, his social life consists of work, role-playing games at a local toyshop, and making YouTube videos with his Teddy Bear hamsters. The arrival of the holidays—with the annoying music, Christmas shopping, and all the reminders of how he disappointed his father—just reinforces his reclusive nature.

When James Olsen, a gorgeous daddy bear who frequents the bathhouse, notices him, Brian is at a loss. He’s not proud of his own bear status or his struggle with weight. The idea that James has interest in him beyond an easy hookup is more than Brian can fathom. But with a little bit of holiday magic, James might help Brian learn to accept Christmas again—and himself.

My thoughts:

‘Teddy Bears’ is the most adorable bah-humbug to the-joys-of-Christmas holiday story. It is quite impossible not to feel for Brian McKay. He’s such a nerdy dork he both made me smile and broke my heart. To say this man has body issues would be a gross understatement. He doesn’t like the way he looks and can’t believe anybody could possibly find him attractive. In fact, he is so certain he’s destined to be alone he’s even given up on dreaming about a happy ending. His dislike of Christmas runs very deep and is rooted in bad childhood memories, and as the day comes closer, Brian gets ever more grumpy.

Enter James Olsen who is everything Brian desires and admires in a man and therefore completely out of Brian’s reach—right? Wrong! When James looks at Brian he doesn’t see an overweight and unattractive nobody, he sees a man he wants to spend time with. All he needs to do is convince Brian that he is really interested and not just feeling sorry for him.

The story of Brian’s slow realisation that not only is James really attracted to him but he also deserves that interest is wonderful and very well written. Rather than through a blinding moment of insight it is James’s wooing of Brian through an interest in his hobbies, an obvious attraction, and a genuine date, that Brian comes to accept his own worth.

I loved how this book was both very sexy and almost innocent at the same time. The contrast between the free-for-all nature of the bathhouse and Brian’s almost prudish self-consciousness was both poignant and very clever.

Brian being willing to settle for the memory of one good night with James all but broke my heart. His subsequent journey put it back together again in the best possible way. Brian’s belief in Christmas miracles came through James, for me it came through Brian’s courage and Brandon Witt’s wonderful writing.

Between Brian finding his happy ending and Spike and Angel (read the book if you want to know who they are) this story was nothing short of adorable. As Christmas stories go, this one is a keeper!

You can find Brandon in the following places:


Website        Facebook       Twitter

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

He's Behind You (Treading The Boards #3) by Rebecca Cohen - Series Recap




Length: 43,212

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner | AllRomance | B&N | KOBO

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Series

Overly Dramatic (Treading The Boards #1)
Summer Season (Treading The Boards #2)

Received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Rainbow Awards.

Blurb

A trip down to Cornwall is just what Ryan Penniford needs to recover from the daily grind of London life. Ryan and his amateur dramatics society, the Sarky Players, are traveling to Porthcurno to perform at the stunning Minack Theatre.

Stuart Box has returned to Cornwall after earning his PhD, and is killing time as he looks for a job back in London. Spending time with Ryan from the Sarky Players is a great way to take his mind off things.

During their first meeting, sparks fly, but not in a good way, and they must work to get past their initial hostilities to discover they have great off-stage chemistry. Stuart soon learns Ryan is not the superficial man people assume he is, and Stuart likes what he sees. The feeling is entirely mutual.

Pity Ryan is only visiting for two weeks, but both men want to see where this holiday romance might take them.

My Review

I reviewed this book a year ago and my thoughts could be best summarized as follows:

This was a very enjoyable, feel good romance which I mostly read with a broad grin of my face. The one or two more angsty moments were resolved quickly and didn’t interfere with the overall happy feeling of the story. If you’re in the mood for an uplifting, funny and festive story, you could do a lot worse than picking up He’s Behind You.’

If you’d like to read my full review you can find it here: He’s Behind You

Author Bio

REBECCA COHEN is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and young son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.

Contacts: 

Blog    Facebook       Twitter

Giveaway



Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Farther He Runs by Lynda Aicher



#3 Kick
Pages 226
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: December 6, 2016
Buy links: Amazon    Amazon UK    Loveswept

The blurb

In an explosive novel of long-awaited release from the award-winning author of The Deeper He Hurts, two emotionally exposed Marines learn to lean on each other—and discover the courage to act on their innermost needs.

After years away from home, Tanner Dorsey is back and sorting through feelings that have him in a stranglehold. The hardened Marine will do anything for a fallen comrade, so when an accident leaves Finn Kelley fighting for his life, Tanner’s eager to be there for him. In fact, Tanner’s ready and willing to do anything Finn asks—especially if it means finally acting on the sexual tension that’s always kept him craving more.

Finn senses it too—when he brushes against Tanner’s stubbled jaw, when he inhales the scent of the T-shirt that clings to Tanner’s body like a second skin. Now that he’s more vulnerable than ever, Finn knows the time is right to take control, even if it means risking the heart and soul of their friendship. The bond they share goes beyond desire; it’s a bond of brotherhood, forged under conditions few could imagine. But once they cross that line, there will be no more secrets. No more boundaries. And no turning back.

My thoughts

I received my copy from Loveswept through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

The Farther He Runs is the third book in the ‘Kick’ series but can, in my opinion, be read and thoroughly enjoyed as a stand-alone novel.

This is one emotionally charged book. Finn and Tanner put themselves through an emotional wringer and pull the reader right along with them. From the opening chapters, when they say goodbye to the brother they lost, through the doubts and raging sexual tension, to finally giving in to a love and attraction they’ve both been hiding for years, they kept me hooked on their every thought, action, and feeling.

When Tanner and Finn at last give into the heat flowing between them (after what may well be the hottest workout known to men) it means that Tanner can at last show sides of himself he’s been hiding for decades. He embraces his gayness and allows his submissive side to surface.

“He’d never be a submissive in the purest sense of the word. Yet he longed to give his control over—even for a little while—to Finn and know, without question, that he’d be safe.”

Even more stunning than Tanner’s willingness to give his all in the aid of Finn’s recovery, is Finn’s growth from broken and close to desperate victim, to strong and dominant survivor. I found myself cheering him along every time Finn recovered another part of his old self as he and Tanner spend time together and push him towards life again.

“Lust blazed. Want called. Desire begged.
And Finn responded. His dominant side breaking free to take everything Tanner was offering.”

Finn’s journey was a marvellous thing to read. There are no short cuts for him; he doesn’t get an easy ride. Every step is hard, painful, and often frustrating and yet he perseveres because Tanner won’t allow him to fail. I felt such joy as he grew, got stronger, found himself again, and became all he had always been; everything he had lost.

Tanner on the other hand…. *sighs*. What to say about Tanner? On the one hand he took my breath away. Everything he’s willing to do Finn, the way he opens up, gives all of himself to the man he’s loved in secret for years, is nothing short of stunning. He bears his soul and hides nothing because his love runs deep and he’ll go to hell and back if it means helping Finn to become the man he’s supposed to be again. And yet…. When his leave is up and it’s time to say goodbye I could have taken him by the scruff of his neck and shaken him like you do a naughty puppy. Boy did he frustrate me. I wished for means to dive into my Kindle and confront him, tell him to embrace and accept himself as Finn does and stop hiding. I had a hard time reading that part of the story. In fact, I seriously considered skipping it. Part of that was my inability to deal with angst, especially when it happens to two characters I’ve come to care deeply about, and part of it was pure frustration with the character. I didn’t, of course, because if an author is able to make me get that drawn into a story it’s impossible not to read every single word, no matter how painful they may be. And of course it paid off...in the most wonderful fashion. Tanner may have needed a bit of a push, but when he does come through, he bloody shines.

These guys are, at times, literally able to read each other’s thoughts. The first time I encountered that it made me frown for a moment and then I loved it. Because I know it to be true that once you know someone well enough, love them deeply enough, and spend enough time with them, you do reach a point where you know what the other is thinking, long before they open their mouth. And Finn and Tanner had loved and known each other for a long time. And, what’s more, they’d been in situations where being able to communicate without words had literally been a matter of life and death; being a Marine will do that to you.

“Love me like no one else ever has. Be my strength when I can’t be strong. My courage when I’m scared shitless. My confidence when I’m doubting.
“I will. I do.””

Lynda Aicher has always had a habit of messing with my heart. More often than not her stories take me beyond my emotional comfort zone. But every single time I’ve allowed her to take me where I wasn’t sure I wanted to go, she’s rewarded me by giving me the most memorable of reading experiences. This story may have pushed me harder and further than any of the previous ones; it also had me crying happy tears when it ended. I totally recommend this steaming hot, emotionally engrossing, and very memorable story featuring two men I’m not likely to forget any time soon.

And with that, I apologise for yet another gush-fest.

“Finn was his point, and Tanner would have his six for the rest of his life.”

And

“Tanner was his point, and Finn had his six.”

Links to my reviews of previous ‘Kick’ titles:



Monday, 28 November 2016

Snow & Secrets (Stanford Creek #3) by RJ Scott writing as Rozenn Scott - Review Tour



Author: RJ Scott

Publisher: OmniLit/AllRomance

Length: 50,000 words

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | AllRomance

Stanford Creek Series

Notes & Roses: Amazon US | Amazon UK | AllRomance
Love & Hope: Amazon US | Amazon US | AllRomance

Blurb

First comes trust, then love… then the fight to stay alive. 

Pop star Tyler Hart is desperate for peace after a humiliating public scandal. It seems like Stanford Creek may well be the place to lay low. After all, it worked for his friends and former bandmates, Cody and Danny. He borrows a cabin and settles in for a quiet Christmas…well, not quite.

Garrett Campbell is on the run. Wounded in the line of duty, he escapes to the only place he feels safe, Stanford Creek and his brother’s cabin. Only he doesn’t realize he’ll have a roommate, and a sexy one at that.

Amid snow falls and winter winds, passion burns bright. When danger threatens to follow Garrett, he has to decide whether to run again before his secrets could kill him and the man of his dreams.



 Review/Blog Tour

November 17 - Prism Book Alliance

Review:

This book is just wonderful. It starts with a truck load of drama and danger, turns into the sweetest and hottest seduction tale, and then switches back to thrilling and danger-filled before giving us the happiest of ever afters. What’s not to love?

If you’ve read the previous Stanford Creek stories you’ll know that Garrett is a bit of an enigma. He comes and goes to and from his home town and family at unexpected times and while he claims to have a rather uninteresting job, everybody is convinced there’s more going on in his life than he’s willing to admit to. In this book we find out exactly what Garrett hasn’t been sharing and boy, is his job anything but boring.

Poor Tyler; he falls for the oldest trick in the book and finds himself in the middle of his personal tabloid hell. A few weeks away from the limelight are exactly what he needs and an isolated cabin near Stanford Creek appears to be just what the doctor ordered. Except that he discovers on arrival that he won’t actually be on his own.

The attraction between the two men is instant. More than that, Garrett has had a crush on the Tyler for some time. But there are a lot of good reasons for the two men to keep their distance from each other. Except isolation and close proximity soon wear down any reservations either of them may have had. Attraction soon morphs into something more, but it isn’t until danger comes knocking that Garrett and Ty discover exactly what it is they’re feeling for each other.



I loved the slow and oh so enticing build up of attraction and sexual tension between Garrett and Ty. And once they give into the pull between them….WOW; they made my Kindle steam up (not to mention what they did to me). I was also delighted to be reunited with the other inhabitants of Stanford Creek and catch up with their lives; I’ve become quite attached to these characters over these three books and I can’t wait to read what I assume will be Kyle’s story.

While I loved the whole story and adored both characters, Ty found a special place in my heart because of the growing process he went through. Just when I thought the situation might well get too much for him and half expected him to fall apart, he surprised me by coming into his own and firmly standing by his man, regardless of the danger or the secrets between them.

Over all this was, once again, a wonderful and gripping read. RJ manages to time and again create characters that worm their way into my heart and take up residence there. And that’s just one of many reasons I keep on returning to her books.

While this is the third book in the Stanford Creek Series it can totally be read as a stand-alone. Having said that, unless you are totally allergic to female protagonists and MF pairings, I have no idea why you would want to deprive yourself of the pleasure that is the first two books in the series. Have a look at my reviews:

Series review links:  Notes & Roses                   Love & Hope

Author Bio:

RJ Scott is the bestselling gay romance author of over ninety MM romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn't with family either reading or writing.

RJ also writes MF romance under the name 
Rozenn Scott.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn't like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.


Website        Facebook       Goodreads               Twitter         Librarything




Friday, 25 November 2016

Merry Christmas Mr Miggles by Eli Easton – Blog Tour




Author: Eli Easton

Release Date: November 23

Length: 50,000 words

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | AllRomance

Blurb

Toby Kincaid loves being the junior librarian in his hometown of Sandy Lake, Ohio. He spends his days surrounded by books and chatting with the library patrons. He especially adores the head librarian, Mr. Miggles, who is kind, witty, knowledgeable about everything, and hopelessly addicted to Christmas. Sean Miggles is also pretty cute—especially for an older guy who wears ties and suit pants every day.

But Sean keeps himself at a distance, and there’s a sadness about him that Toby can’t figure out. When Sean is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he gives up without a fight. Toby realizes that he alone can save the library—and their head librarian.

Toby will need to uncover the darkness in Sean’s past and prove to him that he deserves a second chance at life and at love too. And while Christmas miracles are being handed out, maybe Toby will get his own dearest wish—to love and be loved by Mr. Miggles.

Review

“I sucked on his tongue like it was made of cocaine, chocolate, and orgasms.”

Full disclosure first: I am a librarian in my day job so I may have been a wee bit prejudiced when it came to this story, its setting, and the characters involved. J

And this story is all about a library and its more than dedicated head librarian, Mr. Miggles. Having said that, the story is told from Toby Kincaid’s perspective. He’s the twenty-four year old assistant librarian who has looked up to his boss ever since he started his job, just as he’s intrigued by the sad aura surrounding him.  While it doesn’t occur to Toby that he might do more than ‘just’ admire Sean Miggles, those of us who read between the lines soon pick up on that fact.

When, as it says in the blurb, Sean Miggles is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Toby decides to step up to the plate and not only save his boss but also the library they are both devoted to.

I loved how the library was described in this book. Libraries are so much more than ‘just’ a collection of books; they are vital to local communities in numerous ways and this story shows that in vivid detail. And, just as the library in Toby and Sean’s hometown is under threat, so are libraries almost everywhere, which made me extra invested in this story. When Toby rallies the troops (also known as borrowers/library visitors) to state both Mr. Miggles’ and the library’s case to the local council, the book got an almost magical quality, very fitting for a seasonal story.

Mr. Miggles fascinated me from the moment the book started and the better I got to know him and the more I learned about his past, the more I grew to adore him. Unfortunately Toby didn’t work quite as well for me. For about the first half of the book he rubbed me up the wrong way, which had probably a lot to do with the Justin situation. Once he got his shit together and decided to step up to the plate, he more than redeemed himself though. By the time this story reached its happily ever after I was fully invested in both Toby and Sean Miggles, as well as their future together.

This was an easy, mostly angst free, but captivating story. Mr. Miggles past and his present predicament give the story drama while Toby mostly made me smile or grimace. The story takes its time before getting steamy but when it does….

Overall I can only say that I thoroughly enjoyed this story and was delighted to have four hours without interruptions to read it from start to finish in one sitting – Reader’s (and librarian's) delight.

Author Bio

Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, an organic farmer, and a profound sleeper, Eli is happy these days writing love stories as a m/m romance author.

As an avid reader of such, she is tinkled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in rural Pennsylvania with her husband, three bulldogs, two cows, pot belly pig, and cat.


Website        Facebook

You can email her at eli@elieaston.com

Giveaway




Thursday, 24 November 2016

Dirk Tales, The Book by Dan Skinner



It’s my pleasure to welcome Dan Skinner and his ‘Darn Muse’ to my blog today and I’m delighted to be able to help them promote their fabulous Dirk Tales. Below you’ll find an inspirational guest post, all the details about the book, as well as my review. Please don’t forget to scroll all the way to the end and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy of the book signed by both Dan and Dirk—does it get any better?

HOPE

A funny thing happened on the way to mine and Dirk's friendship. His little oddities amused me and so I began sharing them with my friends on social media. No big deal. They were something that made me smile and I offered them as a way to make others smile. More and more people came every day to see what quirky little things he said and how I reacted to them. After all, we were two different generations of gay men. I grew up on Streisand and Aerosmith. He was a Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana and Justin Bieber baby. Not so much polar opposites in personality because of our mutual ADHD as generationally distinct. But a friendship formed and a bond cemented and somehow our lives became intertwined on a daily basis, even when we were separated for a year by the distance of my move.

Our friendship, and what we shared of it with others, became even bigger. People began writing us sharing the quirks and foibles of their lives, which were just as funny and proof that none of us is really ordinary. Each of us has our own purpose and significance and place among others in the world.

More than that, what we proved to each other was that in spite of differences, be they generational or personal, friendship has a way of doing something remarkable to all of us. It gives us... HOPE.

So we want to thank you for letting us in and accepting us... Your love has given us proof that good things still exist; nice people are not a rarity and HOPE does spring like youth eternal in all of us!

Love to you all
 D&D


The Book Blurb

Dirk Tales, The Book includes previously released Misadventures of Doc & Dirk volumes, available now for the first time in paperback, an additional episode, and more!

He's a middle-aged, newly single, gay photographer starting life over. Along comes a freshly out nineteen-year-old, irreverent free spirit who wants to be his apprentice. Mismatched by more than a generation, what could possibly go wrong? Everything! And it's AWESOME!

Dirk's First Time: Every gay boy has his first experience. Usually it's a memorable, exciting personal time of discovery and intimacy between two young people. But two comic book characters? Is it horseplay or Cosplay?

The Boy At The Gym: First impressions can be deceiving. Sometimes that boy in the baggy clothes, talking to himself in the gym isn't as shy as he appears. Sometimes there's a deviant imp lurking beneath that freckled mask of innocence. Beware the Trojan Nerd!

A "Muse" ing: Most authors struggle with the voices or "muses" in their head when writing. Tuning that voice out becomes a little more challenging when your muse is a real-life nineteen-year-old who inhales espresso and turns out ideas at light speed. Danger Will Robinson!

Daddy and The Rent Boy: In sales, advertising is half the battle. That can become hazardous when you're in the company of an irreverent walking billboard.

Sex Dolls and Bad Dates: We’ve all had one of those dates where we think we've bitten off more than we can chew. The trick to know is Bite or Flight?

Dirk's Quirks: Everyone has idiosyncrasies; that's what makes us interesting. If you're lucky, you get a heaping helping and can share them with everyone.

Make it Naked:Teaching a nineteen-year-old walking hormone photography apprentice to shoot nudes is more than an adventure...It's a human obstacle course.

Buy links:      Amazon         Amazon UK    Smashwords



My Review

Muse – A living, breathing, never-ending pest that prodded me forward where I normally procrastinated.

First things first. This is not ‘just’ a compilation of the first three episodes in the ‘Dirk Tales’. Far from it in fact. This book contains added ‘Dirkisms’ as well as a new, and possibly my favourite so far, episode all about Doc/Dan’s first photo shoots and the first time Dirk shot nudes by himself.

As I mentioned in my earlier reviews, what I really love about these tales is that they describe a wonderful, hysterically funny, but ultimately beatiful relationship in which two people learn from and teach each other in equal measure. Sure, it started as Doc/Dan accepting Dirk as his apprentice, but I think it’s fair to say that for everything Dirk learned about photography, Doc/Dan learned how to embrace life again. Dirk is an unstoppable life-force and Doc/Dan has been swept up in his passion—or, in Doc/Dan’s words:

Change is what dreams are made of…and I was dreaming again, and looking forward to the next wave. Wherever it may take me.

These anecdotes show us the amazing, fun, inspiring, and heartwarming journey two men make as they create a deep and honest relationship which appears to be far more than just a friendship or teacher – student dynamic and yet hasn’t evolved into a romance (although I can’t help feeling that possibility is always just a heartbeat away).

It is impossible not to fall for Dirk who is clearly highly intelligent and very quick-witted.

“I like that word, foolhardy. (…) Sounds like a word that means your brain has a battle to do something smart or something fun, and fun wins.”

It is so tempting to go into detail, accompanied with a long lineup of quotes, and share all the (more often than not) juicy details of that new episode. I’m resisting, but do urge you to make sure you get your hands on it and read it. Like I said, this one may well be my favourite so far because apart from funny and sexy, it also touched me deeply. It shows so very clearly the honesty between these two men and how very close they have grown. I smiled as often as I always do when reading about the ‘Muse-Nerd’ but my heart melted on more than one occasion too.

“One day you’ll have an apprentice telling you their tales of terror and how they made it through them. And you’ll be as proud as I am of you right now.”

Oh, I have one piece of advice for you. Do not stop reading when you think you’ve reached the end of these tales. There are quite a few Dirkisms hidden among the author and book information and you do not want to miss them.

For my thoughts on the episodes shared in the first three books I refer you to my reviews about those—the links can be found below. All I can say (again) is that I highly recommend these stories. They will lift your spirit and brighten your day. And goodness knows we need that more than ever these days.

Links to my reviews for the individual books: Book 1     Book 2          Book 3

THE GIVEAWAY

Please enter the give-away for your opportunity to win one of five copies of the paperback signed by both Doc/Dan and Dirk!


ABOUT DAN SKINNER

I’m a single gay man living in the Midwest. I write because I consider myself to be an old-fashioned storyteller. I’ve been a photographer for half my life, specializing in male romance cover art. My dream is to one day live on the beach with my dog and continue to tell tales that inspire and entertain.

Social Media Links

That Darn Muse Blog          Facebook       Twitter         Tumbler        Deviant Art