Category Archives: Two Roses

It’s an “okay” book but Lor wouldn’t recommend it to friends…

Knitter in His Natural Habitat by Amy Lane

Knitter in His Natural HabitatKnitter in His Natural Habitat by Amy Lane
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novel:  51,455 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

Stanley’s life took a left turn at a knitting shop and hit a dead end. The closest thing he’s had to a relationship breaks things off to date a “nice boy,” and none of the pretty young things in Boulder’s limited gay scene do it for Stanley. He needs to reevaluate whether working as a floor designer for a series of craft stores is really where he wants to be.

Then Stanley does a peculiar thing: he starts to live the life he fell into. Stitch by stitch, he knits his life into something meaningful. Just when he does, Johnny, the store’s new delivery boy, walks in.

Johnny is like no one Stanley has ever met: he doesn’t believe in quickies in the bathroom and has a soft spot for theater and opera. There has to be a catch. When Johnny’s dark past comes back to haunt them, Stanley realizes how much he loves his cushy life in the yarn store—but he’ll give it all up to keep the man who makes his ordinary life extraordinary.

Excerpt

This is the fourth book in the Knitting series by Amy Lane.  I have enjoyed this series with its humor, real life characters, and its life lessons all wrapped up in knitting.  We go outside the insular little farm to the big city of Boulder to Craw’s ex, Stanley.  Stanley is aging and is realizing since “losing” Craw that there might be more to life than a steady stream of meaningless sexual hookups.  It’s not long after that that he meets Johnny and finally starts opening his heart to a real relationship.

The author’s use of description and referencing it all to knitting is an interesting tactic.  I loved seeing all the other couples from the series and getting a little update on life.  Stanley wasn’t quite what I was expecting.  He wasn’t very solid to me.  He kept aging himself with the hair plugs reference.  I know that is part of the character because of his life before and how crippling aging is in that world but it really threw me off this character.  I didn’t really like him as much as I would have expected.  The author has always done well with connecting me to the main characters she writes about.  In this case I feel like the story was pushed.  It just didn’t flow and contained characters that just didn’t meet up to the usual standards in a book by Amy Lane.

Johnny was…unknown.  There is reference to him talking a lot with Stanley but I get very little sense of his character in the overall text of the book.  He remains elusive to me within the story.  Stanley for all his talk in the book, as the voice of the story, ends up really giving me very little to work with.  These characters do not behave like they should in regards to Johnny’s life.  WITSEC and yet here goes Stanley telling everyone.  Danger comes and Stanley runs out of town to where there is even less protection.  It is never explained how danger even follows Stanley when he runs.  Then even with these people in jail the danger to Johnny could still be very present.  None of the situation there really rang true to me.  NONE of it!

When I don’t consider any of the situations with WITSEC then the story is cute, sweet, and shallow.  This is a nice enough story but has a bit too many troubles with it.  I would consider this a one off for this author though.  She has wonderful work even within this series so there is no doubt I will continue to read her and this series.

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No Tea, No Shade by Clancy Nacht

No Tea, No ShadeNo Tea, No Shade by Clancy Nacht
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Loose Id LLC
Novella:  37,721 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

When Hank’s father catches him in a not-so-innocent childhood embrace with the neighbor Hank’s older brothers refer to as “Ladyboy Lindsey,” he forbids Hank ever to see his best friend again and sends Lindsey home in tears. Later, despite landing on opposite ends of the social and sexual spectrum in high school, neither can forget the boy who gave him his first kiss. While Hank becomes a sports star and bully, Lindsey throws himself into an elaborate sexual game played from afar for Hank’s benefit. When Hank’s football scholarship takes him away to college, their tenuous bond seems severed for good.

After Lindsey finds his calling as drag diva Miss Anne Thrope, embracing both his male identity and the natural androgyny of his intersex body, he’s finally in control of his world…until the night his first love disrupts Miss Anne’s show after a decade of silence. Hank’s dysfunctional behavior, crazy father, and their bittersweet history together threaten to destroy their fragile new romance before it’s truly begun. Should they let go of the past, or is this unique love one worth saving?

This is a story of two childhood friends that are forced by one’s father to part but never really “closed” the relationship.  Lindsey is a drag queen and quite happy with the life he leads.  He had no ambitions in school and loves to dress up.  Hank was Lindsey’s best friend in childhood but when Hank’s Dad catches them in a compromising situation he bands them from ever playing together any more.  Hank stalks Lindsey throughout high school with Lindsey’s full knowledge.  All of that ends though when Hank goes away to college and the two part ways.  Now Hank has returned and they beginning seeing each other.

This was an interesting read.  I really didn’t connect to the characters.  Hank went from totally jerk to fool in love.  I just thought his character a bit wish-washy.  Lindsey’s character was more even keeled.  The two of them fit together though and the story was cute.

Now the writing itself was not as well executed as it should have been.  I enjoyed the descriptions.  The plot was good and could have made a really good book.  I think the author just crammed too much into too little.  The characters aren’t developed enough.  The critical points aren’t well developed.  They skim over everything and then develop “easy” solutions.  There isn’t the growth of the story that could turn the book into an excellent read.  It makes the story too soft but without the mushy feel that make “soft” books comfort reads.

Overall it was an ok read but really missed the mark on execution of the plot.  The book itself is a nice read.

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Fantasy for Sale by Sage Marlowe

Fantasy for SaleFantasy for Sale by Sage Marlowe
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Totally Bound Publishing
Novel:  62, 570 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

What’s the price of reality when a fantasy is for sale?

Cam is young, sinfully sexy and willing to play without limits, a combination which makes him a fantasy turned to flesh for men and women alike—and he’s for sale.

Nate is curious when it comes to carnal delights but hasn’t found the right man to explore his desires with.

When a friend buys Nate a few hours of pleasure with Cam, it’s not much of a surprise that Nate ends up intrigued. He keeps coming back for more and the attraction between them
appears to be mutual but while Nate finds himself falling for the sexy hooker, Cam makes no secret of the fact that for him, sex is just a job.

Determined to win him over, Nathan tries to show him that sex is about more than physical satisfaction but Cam’s walls seem impenetrable until a dramatic event forces him to
reveal some of his secrets and Nate begins to understand that Cam pays more than just the price for the reality behind the fantasy.

Excerpt

This is a fairly typical troupe of a customer falling for a rent boy.  I will say there are some twists to the story and the ending wasn’t what I expected at all.  Nate’s best friend buys an escort for a party she must attend and though she told him she wouldn’t sleep with the escort she does.  The next morning when Nate meets “Cam” Nate’s friend decides Nate needs to get laid and proceeds to buy more time with Cam for Nate.

I will admit I was a bit disappointed to see Nate fall so fast to having sex with Cam.  The beginning seems to imply that Nate is a little more ethical than that.  So I could get Nate sleeping with Cam and even falling for him, which seems to happen with little cause, it’s the back and forth of Nate’s character I didn’t like.  One minute he is straight laced and the next sleeping with Cam or back to his boyfriend Keith.  I really didn’t like that.  This is a romance and I was seeing a lot of sex and not a lot of committed love.

I think the writing was good.  The plot develops in a logical way and the descriptions aren’t overblown and too much for the overall feel of the book.  The characters are well developed.  Cam/Noel is a wonderful character that draws you in and makes you hurt for him.  Keith, Cyn, and Nate are interesting characters.  We see little of Keith but what I did see made me wonder why Nate was with him.  Cyn is also not seen a lot but seems a bit jaded and callus.  Nate flip-flopped in his character a lot.  He wasn’t very consistent.  One minute he is straight laced acting like he would never do…and then he does it and never seems very bothered by it.  He wants a monogamous relationship but settles rather easily for the open on the open one with Keith.  He won’t sleep around on his boyfriend but does with Cam.  It’s on and on like that.  I could buy a character like that except he is never bothered by his own changes.  I think the characters are well written except for that.

I could not like the characters of Keith, Cyn, and Nate.  I just was off put by the way they were all slinging around whore, hooker, trash, and rent boy.  They seemed very unfeeling of what the others would feel by saying these things and others and yet are all suppose to really care about each other.

One other thing is that the author created a relationship that just happens.  There doesn’t appear to be any growing feeling or reasons for them until suddenly Nate loves Cam/Noel.  Then everything that happens at the end of the story just jumbles all together and it’s suddenly over with little closure for the relationship.  I just didn’t care for that.

Overall, the story just wasn’t for me.  I couldn’t care for most of the characters or understand how Nate falls for Cam.  Most stories that involve prostitutes don’t have the sleeping around by the other character that this one does.  You expect it for a while with the prostitute character but not the other especially after they proclaim they are falling for them.  The ending was a big disappointment as well.  The thing that was good was the plot.  Though it wasn’t an original idea the author did a wonderful job turning it into something unique.

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Pavarus by Jennifer Wright

PavarusPavarus by Jennifer Wright
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Totally Bound Publishing
Novel:  66,092 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

Thrown into another world where dangerous creatures live and rule, will Wesley stay and find love with a vampire, or will the terrors of an unknown realm have him running home?

On a camping trip in Louisiana, Wesley finds himself sucked down a hidden portal and thrown into another realm where he meets Remus, a warrior vampire. With the help of Remus, Wesley embarks on an adventure to find his way home, back to a world not filled with vampires and dragons and magic folk. Along his journey, the handsome vampire finds his way into Wesley’s heart. But will his love for Remus overcome his fears of the creatures that reign in this world?

Remus has never wanted a man before, but finds himself drawn to Wesley despite his denying efforts. He’s happy with his life as the commander of the vampires, and has had no interest in finding a mate. But after Wesley is kidnapped, Remus discovers his feelings for the man are stronger than he thought. Is he strong enough, though, to honour Wesley’s wish to return home, and let go of the man he loves?

Excerpt

This was a fun read.  There is angst in the story but it really adds to the overall drama of the story.  The characters were entertaining and the storyline interesting.

Wes is a “city boy” and has no use for being in nature.  He is a bit whiney.  Remus was a good character but about halfway through his whole attitude changes.  This is a big issue.  Remus’s character change was a little too abrupt and overwhelming.  I thought between the two men there were times it was a little too much with the drama.  They don’t seem to talk but they are in love?  This makes no sense.

The author creates a very interesting world with unique characters.  The plot is interesting but the author made the whole premise of the story be undermined at the end.  It leaves me as a reader wondering what the heck was up with the whole of the story.  It wasn’t the best of plot techniques.  I will admit the rest of the story is interesting and makes me want to read more.

Overall the story was entertaining but not a well written story.  I think I will still read the next one because the other characters’ stories are interesting to me.  I would like to see where the author will take them with the hope that the writing improves in future books.

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Love the Sinner by Arvil Ashton

Love the SinnerLove the Sinner by Avril Ashton
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
Novel:  69,594 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

Detective Gabriel Ashby has never looked twice at another man, yet the criminal across from him, the man he’s interrogating, isn’t like any other. Gabe can’t deal with the sudden, intense need he has for one of NYPD’s Most Wanted. Everyone close to Angelo Pagan ends up dead, with the smug gang leader standing amid the rubble. Gabe would love nothing more than to bust Angelo’s ass and lock him up. So why is he seeing the bastard in his dreams at night?
Angelo Pagan knows attraction to Gabe is suicide. He’s resolute to ignore the chemistry…until a police raid goes wrong. He critically injures Gabe, changing the trajectory of both their lives. Now the two can’t get close enough. They settle into a forbidden affair threatened by lies and betrayal, living on different sides of the law with no way of breaching the gap between them. With the authorities looking to make an example of Angelo, Gabe has to decide if it’s really worth it to hate the sin but love the sinner.

Excerpt

Interesting book but very hard to rate.  Gabe is a cop who interviews Angelo the local gang leader after Angelo’s sister is killed.  There is instant lust/love when they meet.  Gabe is straight and has never looked at a man that way when you add to that Angelo being the leader of a gang that Gabe is on a task force for you have some problems.  Gabe is then shot but Angelo during a raid.

There is an overload of sex in this book.  I’ll be honest…I don’t get the relationship.  They should have never got together and then it seems that sex is all they have.  They are constantly fighting about the relationship or getting jealous over others because they have to hide.

The writing is good.  The author does a great job with descriptions and details.  Unfortunately the sex is a bit repetitive.  It is hot at times and rather rough, which I like but it gets a bit too much.  The characters are likable, even Angelo who kills during the book is likable.  The author really did a good job trying to portray Angelo in a good light.  I have my doubts about how realistic he is but he does end up being likable.

Overall this is an enjoyable read but it does come off as a little too much porn without plot.  Also the plot is very unrealistic and the attraction between characters unbelievable.

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No Quarter by Christine d’Abo

No QuarterNo Quarter by Christine d’Abo
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
Novel:  63,805 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

Book 1 in the Bounty series.
When bounty hunter Gar is given a simple locate-and-retrieve mission, he’s convinced it’s a waste of his skills. His success rate is legendary, and this assignment is almost too easy.
There isn’t a more prolific space pirate in the galaxy than Captain Faolan. When he walks into a bar with a proposition heavy in mind, he’s not expecting anything to go wrong.
Forced from his solitary existence to work with Faolan, Gar can’t deny his need and desire for a man who he should put in prison. When the hunter becomes the hunted, Gar must learn to put his faith in a man he doesn’t know, or run the risk of ending up dead.

Excerpt

This was a space pirate and bounty hunter book.  The idea of which isn’t real new.  Gar is a well known bounty hunter, known for getting who he is after.  He is a cold man that has a fairly clean living reputation.  Faolan/Wolf is a pirate.  He lives in the now and makes the most of his time.  He is also very successful and known as to never leave a crewmember behind.

The writer did a good job with the writing in the story.  The world created wasn’t full but what was given was very well detailed.  I think though that the author made it a bit shallow.  There was very little background ever given about the world.  You are actually left knowing very little about what seems to be a major conflict within this world.  Also this is an action type adventure but I really didn’t feel the excitement of that type of read.  It seemed like the sex scenes lasted the longest of anything.

The characters were vivid.  I loved their attitudes.  Gar’s decline in character from this cold fighter to a much warmer one was well done.  I think because of this shift some readers will be turned off.  Gar’s character in the beginning makes a much better read for some.  I get that the character was hiding but there is something about a ridged man giving in to love that just makes some of us gush.

The read was good but not great.  It just felt a little to cliché.  It becomes boring and the characters didn’t click with me.  I didn’t get into the feel of the book so it wasn’t what it could have been.

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Out of the Blue by Josh Lanyon

Out of the BlueOut of the Blue by Josh Lanyon
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Just Joshin
Short Story:  25,713 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

France, 1916. The Great War. High above the carnage in the trenches, British and German aces joust like knights of old for control of the skies. The strain and tension of living every day on the edge of death leads to dangerous choices and wild risks. When British ace Bat Bryant’s past catches up with him, he strikes out in panic and kills the man threatening him with exposure. But there’s a witness: the big, handsome American pilot Cowboy Cooper.

Cowboy, it seems, has his own ideas of rough justice.

Excerpt

I am going to start this out stating that I do not traditionally like historical because of the secrecy that must exist. There can usually not be a HEA.

The writing is wonderfully done. I do wish that there had been a bit more detail. Most of the book is fairly frank and short. Still you catch a glimpse of what these men lived through in WWI as pilots. Most didn’t live. The statistic given of 11 days being a pilots life span is one I have heard before and it is startling. You feel for them.

The characters are interesting and you care some for them but they aren’t as fully “fleshed” out as one would hope. You get nothing on Cowboy’s background and little more on Bat’s. You don’t get a good enough grip on what drives these men beyond the war. It leads to a lack of attachment to them and so makes it harder to approach Cowboy’s actions in the beginning of the story with any hope of understanding. Most readers aren’t going to like Cowboy because of his actions. To me it really didn’t feel like non-con but I know others will feel differently.

The plot was fairly simple and not involved. To be honest the blurb wraps up most of it. This isn’t a long read so there really isn’t much to tell with it. I could guess where the story was heading from the beginning so it was more about how the author choose to get there.

Overall it was a decent read but nothing really great. I enjoyed it but didn’t think it anything to wonderful.

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Bound by Honor by S.E. Jakes

Bound by HonorBound by Honor by S.E. Jakes
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing, Ltd
Novel:  58,570 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

A promise forces two men to bare themselves…completely.

Men of Honor, Book 1
One year ago on a mission gone wrong, Tanner James failed to save the life of Jesse, his Army Ranger teammate. Before dying in that South American jungle, Jesse extracted a promise that won’t let Tanner rest until it’s fulfilled—no matter what it costs him.
Damon Price loved Jesse, but problems in their relationship had come to a head right before Jesse left on his final mission. Now a reluctant Dom and a man still in mourning, he’s not happy when Tanner appears at his BDSM club. And even less happy with Jesse’s last request—that Tanner sub for him for one night.
After a rough start, Damon realizes that the tough soldier, despite his protests, aches for someone to take control. And Tanner senses a hesitance, an insecurity in Damon that makes him wonder if he’s simply a placeholder for Jesse, or if their tentative connection could grow into something more.
For Jesse’s sake, they agree to try one weekend together. Then duty calls, and a series of attacks that have been happening near the club hits too close to home, making both men wonder if giving their hearts is a maneuver fraught with too much risk…

Warning: Contains rough language, rougher sex and warriors who fall hard for each other.

 Excerpt

I must admit that at the beginning of the book I did REALLY not like the story.  The way that BDSM was portrayed and the military men just wasn’t sitting well.  Most special forces men aren’t these over the top power looking guys.  (Now from the description of LC I could believe him to be one.)  Those men are in shape, have to be, but a lot of them are ordinary in order to fit in that is how they usually are.  Now there are exceptions but it seemed like LC was the only norm.

The story did get better.  Actual BDSM in the story is not really a factor.  It is more restraints than anything.  I never warmed up to Damon, Tanner gave him too many chances to stay instead of every time running.  As a military man I have a harder time believing that Damon wouldn’t have seen to at least some of his issues but that is just me.  The relationship really doesn’t develop.  It just starts and has these jerky movements and then it is full blown love…umm, yeah, no real development.  I just didn’t see this as being at all realistic.

The writing wasn’t as good as I had hoped.  It wasn’t bad it just didn’t make me believe.  There isn’t great detail and it is rather jerky in development.  The characters aren’t great.  I got LC more than the main characters.  Tanner has very little background other than he seems to be a brat of a rich kid.  Damon also has bits of information thrown out there but I ended up still feeling like I never knew them.  There was just not a connection made to these characters.

The storyline itself was interesting.  I think I could have enjoyed it more if the development was better.  I liked the premise of the story and the mystery of Damon’s background and who was after them.  I didn’t like how the author put it all together.  Still I found some enjoyment in the read so it wasn’t all bad.

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Shane and Trey by Anyta Sunday

Shane and TreyShane and Trey by Anyta Sunday
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Self
Novel:  268 Pages
Purchase at Amazon
Roses:  2
 

Shane is a little bit screwed, he’s just started college and stuck rooming with that bastard Trey. His sister’s boyfriend. His sister’s damn fine boyfriend. Uh-oh. This so wasn’t going to happen. But try as he might, there’s just a little too much to ignore between the two of them…

This was a nice read.  I think there is the need of some editing but it isn’t HORRIBLE.  Shane and his twin June are getting ready for college.  They along with June’s boyfriend Trey are all going to the same school which is close by.  Shane and Trey aren’t friendly.  Trey gave Shane a “wedgey” after a game of field hockey that Shane’s team won.  Shane avoided Trey when he could.  Unfortunately for Shane Trey ends up being his roommate at college.  Things begin happening between the two that starts to make Shane wonder if Trey likes him.  Worst of all Shane finds himself returning the feelings.

This was a mostly sweet romance.  I thought there would be more trouble with June in the whole mixture.  I don’t really feel there was cheating though it did come close a time or two.  The unfortunate thing is there were a lot of things that threw me out of the story.  I could tell the author wasn’t American and I had a really hard time figuring out where the story was set.  There were a lot of slang words used overseas but not in America yet it seemed that the author set it in America.  I’m still confused over that.

I also think the whole thing with Trey’s family was a bit overdone.  I don’t think parents would be that remote to their child over an incident like that.  I just didn’t see that.  There were also a few threads left hanging.  I don’t think it really detracted from the story but the story itself didn’t feel as complete because of that.

Overall it was a good read but just didn’t hit the mark for me.  I really wanted to like it and the overall underlying story line is good but the writing just made it too difficult to stay with the story.

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A Beautiful Disaster by Will Okati

A Beautiful DisasterA Beautiful Disaster by Willa Okati
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Loose Id LLC
Novella:  38,958 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

After being betrayed and abused by an ex-lover, Sean trusts no one–but he can’t help wishing he could trust gentle-hearted tattoo artist Riordan. When these two vulnerable men, scarred inside and out, find each other, neither is willing or able to walk away.

Both starved for touch and lonely in his self-imposed exile, Sean can’t help wanting Riordan both body and soul and in his bed, and Riordan is captivated by the sweet nature and the beauty he can still see beneath Sean’s scars. Yet despite his hunger for affection, Sean can’t break free of a cycle of shame and despair, not even as Riordan’s falling in love with his beautiful disaster.

Will Sean be able to break through the barriers he’s built around himself and let Riordan in–and will Riordan find the key to unlock Sean’s frozen heart?

Excerpt

We see Sean desperately trying to escape his boyfriend, Leo.  He is betrayed and run down by Leo.  We next go to Riordan and his friend Jae.  They see Sean at a bus stop.  This is the first that Riordan and Sean see each other and they think the last but fate has another plan.

This story has LOTS of potential.  I think the plot wasn’t as good as it could have been.  Sean is so wounded in body and spirit.  The biggest snag for me was Sean.  Sean would have been believed more by police and the system.  I’m not saying the boyfriend wouldn’t have gotten off still but he would have been believed.  He would have received counseling I’m sure.  I doubt how damaged he still was would have been missed by the professionals.  Considering that he supposedly didn’t have counseling he seemed like he was more open than I expected.  I also have a hard time with the amount of abuse he went through.  I’m sorry but he tried to escape and had those marks on his back they would have figured out what was happening and helped him more.  I almost wished the author wouldn’t have put in the running over item.  I think the story would have been more believable for me and may have made an even better one.  Sean would still be scarred so it would have fit with the direction of the story.  He would have also still been scared and ready to run which makes even more sense than the way it was portrayed in the storyline.

Riordan was a much more believable character.  That he wasn’t hardened by his work too much isn’t even a stretch.  I think the story was just a little too shallow.  We just don’t get much background details on the two men and so it leaves a lot of emotional detail lacking for the reader.  I wanted to like this story so much more than I did but in the end it failed to live up to the promise in the storyline.

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