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Mastering the Ride by J.P. Barnaby

Mastering the RideMastering the Ride by J.P. Barnaby
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Short Story:  15,874 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4
 

Josh, a young gay submissive with a strong desire to serve, is searching for the Master of his dreams. After being released by yet another Dom, he takes the advice of his trainer and leaves Chicago to accept the invitation of a Montana rancher—a real, live, modern-day cowboy. With his new Master, Wade Mallory, Josh may just find what he’s looking for… and more.

Excerpt

This is a short story and as such has some of  the typical  inherent flaws of shorts.  It ends just when it is getting good.  I would love to know more.  Josh is a sub and looking to be one full time to a Dom.  He is having trouble though and is in despair as another Dom dumps him.  Josh has lots of self doubt when it comes to his worth.  His service to his Dom helps him with that.  He wants to be necessary!  Wade has had a long road to get to where he understands himself more.  He left behind his life that he was living for his father to find a life for himself.  After he discovers his desire to be a Dom he begins his search for a Sub.  No Sub seems to want what he wants.  It isn’t about a thrill for him.  He wants a Sub to serve him but is having no luck.  Luckily for both men they have a common friend that sets them up.  Now they have to see if they each are what the other is looking for.

As the story is the writing is awesome.  I love the build up to the meeting between Dom and Sub.  It lets you know so much more about the men involved than a usual short would.  This does mean that the relationship part is very short.  This is where the short has problems.  You just start to see what these two men can have and it ends.  I still loved it.  It was a wonderful short that gives you a great view of this author and her writing.  Her abilities to write vivid and touching characters are shown here.  I usually have issues with the depth of characters in shorts.  Though we don’t get all the background on these characters, with even more hinted at, you still get a full enough one to start to really “see” them.  Readers will leave this short wanting more.

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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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Oren’s Right by Blaine D. Arden

Orens RightOren’s Right by Blaine D. Arden
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Storm Moon Press
Short Story:  16,900
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

NOTE: This book was previously released as part of the Carved in Flesh anthology from Storm Moon Press.

Veld, tree elf and Forester, fell in love with mute baker Oren, also a tree elf, when he first set eyes on him two turns ago, but Healer Haram, Oren’s vowed, made it clear that he had no intention of sharing Oren with Veld. Now, with Oren in mourning after Haram is killed, Veld is torn between Haram’s unwillingness to share and his desire to make Oren his. But when Haram’s death turns out not to be quite the accident it seemed to be, Veld is drawn into the investigation. At the same time, others appear to claim Oren’s independence, and Veld is forced to face his insecurities or risk losing Oren… again.

Excerpt

This story starts out on a sad note with what appears to be an accidental death of an Elf.  He leaves behind Oren his “vowed” which seems to mean spouse.  Oren isn’t just this Elf’s lover, he is also his submissive.  Oren is a service submissive.  He needs someone to serve and who will care for him.  He is lost without that.  Veld has been in love with Oren since he first met him.  (The relationships are open in this world but Haram, the dead Elf, wouldn’t share.)  He is yearning to go to Oren and help him but is kept back by custom and bonds of friendship.

This story has a D/s element in it.  Oren is a truly, deeply submissive man.  Most of the other elves don’t understand what and how his submission works.  Oren is a service submissive.  Haram and Veld are both into scarification.  Haram has put his “art” on Oren and some of the other elves believe this means he was abused.  Veld longs to put his own marks on Oren.

I think the author did a very good job in showing how scarification appears to those who love it and those who don’t.  It is easy to see and show the disapproval of the practice.  I did think the author did a good job in showing how that kind of attention is wearing and impossible to take for a true submissive.  The other side of this is a little harder and I think the author did well at showing some of it.  The art, love, and possession that these marks are is mentioned many times in the story.  Also I think the story is a good example of how those who are different are easily mistreated.  Veld is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit but it is easy for people to believe because he is different.  Those women wouldn’t leave poor Oren alone because he was different.  For a short story the author does do a good job with all this.

The bad in the book was the lack of any real in depth knowledge of the characters.  I would have liked to have known more about Oren and his background.  Also the ending was wayyyy too abrupt.  The characters are just getting together and it ends.  The whole of the book seemed to slowly build up to the moment these two get together and we never see it.  We get a to know it happened but that is about it.  I would have liked to see a little more of that fire that seemed to be waiting there between these two.  We actually get an epilogue of sorts that just down played the whole thing and almost ruined the whole book.  This was very disappointing to me as a reader.

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Yes, Sir by Ellis Carrington

Interestingly lit male body against a blue wallYes, Sir by Ellis Carrington
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Self
Short Story:  10,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Smashwords
Roses:  2
 

A New Orleans vacation takes an interesting turn when Grayson Harper lets a friend drag him along to see a voodoo priestess for a love spell. Suddenly he’s having very vivid dreams about a mystery man that seem all too real, and doing things in them he never thought possible. But what will become of the man of his dreams once he leaves the magic of the French quarter?

This is a short free story.  Grayson is a workaholic.  He hasn’t taken a vacation in six years because of his need to make sure his company is growing and succeeding.  While on vacation with his oldest friends he sees a voodoo priestess and begins dreaming of a man.  This man gives him everything he didn’t think he wanted in his sex life but it is only a dream.

Grayson is disowned by his family after coming out to them.  It is implied that that is why he is so focused and determined with his company.  He is a bit of a control freak and has promised his friends to try and relax for this vacation.  Grayson dreams after seeing a voodoo priestess of a man that takes control that ties him up and gives him pain something Grayson would have never believed would turn him on so much.  Grayson finds himself obsessed with his dream man.

This story is good but a little light.  I think this is due to the length.  There is only so much that can be fit into a story this long.  I felt like the beginning just drops you into the middle of this man’s life and gives the bare bones to catch you up.  As far as Grayson’s dream man we know little about him either.  I would have hard time believing this story if the two characters started acting like they were in love but that isn’t how the story ends.  Really this story didn’t end in a way that was unexpected or different.  I actually enjoyed the story but in a way I already knew most of what was coming the only real thing that was different to this story than others I have read in the same vein was the BDSM.

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Room at the Edge by Jane Davitt & Alexa Snow

Room at the EdgeRoom at the Edge by Jane Davitt & Alexa Snow
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Loose Id
Novel:  108,498 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4
 

Genre: LGBT, Menage & Polyamory, Contemporary
Previous Book: Room at the Top

Three sexy men, one hot relationship. In Room at the Top, devoted sub couple Jay and Austin went looking for a no-strings attached Dom and ended up falling for Liam, who, much to his surprise, turned out to be the Dom of their dreams. But their happy ending was only the beginning of their story.

Now Jay is begging Liam to turn up the heat with fire play and Austin wants them all under one roof, no matter what people might think. Caught up in the difficulties and pleasures of their new relationship, it’s easy to miss the way they’re moving dangerously close to the edge of falling apart, not deeper in love.

 Excerpt

Austin, Jay, and Liam are busy trying to figure out their relationship and how to make it work.  The boys are getting restless, they want more.  Liam is still in the closet because of his career and family.  Still, Liam wants more too.  So what should they do and will it still work between them all if they change up what is between them.  Jay wants to push for more in their scenes too.  He is rebelling but doesn’t know any way to accept without fighting it.  Liam is unsure about his ability to tame Jay and make him trust him.

The writing like the first one is very good.  The characters are complex and individual.  The major thing with this book is the sex.  It plays a huge role in the three’s relationship so of course there is a lot of it in the book.  It was a bit of a disappointment to not really see a lot more in the relationship without sex especially involving Liam.  Liam still seems so separate from Austin and Jay outside of the house.  I know that is what is suppose to be what has to be for Liam’s life it just seemed like a lingering issue that may never get resolved.  Still the rest of the story does deepen and grow the three together more.  I enjoyed learning about fire play since I had never heard of it.

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Shattered Heart by Nikki McCoy

Shattered heartShattered Heart by Nikki McCoy
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Silver Publishing
Novel:  61,908 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4
 

The ravages of biochemical warfare have devastated the human population. Born of rape and forced to become a pleasure slave, Corin has only known the kindness of his sisters, but his life changed when he was sold to Markus–a man known for his ruthlessness. In the depths of his despair over the loss of his sisters, however, he discovered mercy in the least likely of places, the heart of his new Master. Together they learn to need that which has always been denied them by the harsh hand of fate, but their cravings for love may not withstand the impending war. How far will they go to hold onto their morals, and each other?

CONTENT ADVISORY: This title contains extreme BDSM and scenes of dubious consent. It also includes scenes of rape and intense violence.

Excerpt

This was a very interesting book.  This is a post-apocalyptic world in which the world is controlled by basically gangs in charge of territories.  There is slavery in the world again as well.  Corin is living a hellish life.  His mother despises him due to the nature of his birth and his stepfather abuses and uses him, including renting him out as a pleasure slave.  His stepfather actually saved his life as a baby by telling his mother that Corin would be their slave.  Corin’s only light in his dark world are his two younger sisters.  He adores them and protects them knowing if he wasn’t there that his stepfather would turn on them.

Markus is the boss of the territory that Corin and his family live in.  When Corin’s stepfather can’t pay the “rent” on their hotel Corin’s Mom sells him to Markus as a pleasure slave.  Corin is heartbroken.  How will he protect his sisters now?  He also has heard that Markus is a cruel and ruthless man.

I really didn’t like Markus at first.  Who would?  He was no better than a rapist!  Still as time goes on you start to feel for the man and realize he isn’t as heartless as he seems.  Markus would have just been a Dom in this world and Corin a submissive.  Unfortunately the future world isn’t that nice and Markus has had a very painful past.  I came to really appreciate what these two had in this future world which seemed to leave so little room for gentle emotions.  Though these two’s relationship is brutal it is a lovely thing as well.

The writing in the story was well done.  The plot line wasn’t truly unique but I liked the author’s spin on it.  The characters really do grow on you and you learn to appreciate their different viewpoints.  I’m not sure if I liked the change of perspective the last chapter gives you or not but it was sweet.

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Pup by S.J.D. Peterson

Pup by S.J.D. PetersonPup by S.J.D. Peterson
Reviewer: Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novel:  61,898 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Micah “Pup” Slayde knows he wants Tackett Austin the moment he lays eyes on him in the Guards of Folsom. Micah wants to have purpose, to be taken care of, and to take care of his Dom—wants to trust him completely, live for him, belong to him. To become his everything. Micah is sure Tackett is the one. The problem is, in order to be the perfect sub, he needs to stay focused, and that’s not easy for Micah, who suffers from what he refers to as a “broken brain.” Focus and adult attention deficit disorder rarely coexist.

Ever since Ty Callahan and Blake Henderson’s collaring ceremony, Tackett’s been thinking too much about his own loneliness. Even though Ty introduces Micah and urges Tackett to give him a try, Tackett isn’t so easily convinced. He’s spent his life pursuing a successful business career, and the subs he dominates almost never enjoy the kiss of his leather twice. Twenty years Micah’s senior, Tackett has no interest in taking on and taming such a young and naughty sub—but it’s difficult to resist such an adorable pup when he begs.

Excerpt

Warning this is a BDSM book so if you don’t like that kind of book don’t bother reading.  Warning number two has to do with mental health issues, if you struggle with mental health this may not be a book for you.

I struggled a lot with the rating for this.  The writing was good and the characters were engaging.  I enjoy reading BDSM so that never bothered me.  As I read this book though something did bother me.  I’ve never usually been squeamish even with harder core BDSM writing even straight out non-consent but this one bothered me and I could not put my finger on why.  Finally after seeking out others who had read the book I figured it out.  I really had a hard time with the control of Micah’s condition.  There were never any questions asked about health care and mental care when it was introduced into the discussion between Dom and Sub.  (These are two major questions to be asked in these relationships.)  I really didn’t like how Tackett controlled Micah when it came to this issue.  It was very disturbing to me.  If this had been a non-con it would have been different but it wasn’t.

Separating all of that out of the context of the review, the story was good.  I really wanted to see these two make it.  Part of making a good story to me is how much the author manages to engage the reader into the story.  Are you having some sort of emotional reaction to the story?  Is the reader invested?  To me if you make me care about the characters and what happens half the battle to making the book good is won.  The author did manage to do that with me.  I cared about the characters.  Is Tackett going to cave and finally keep a Sub?  Will Micah be able to control his “broken brain”?  Will Tackett be the one to help Micah with that?

I do wish I could have had more of a positive look at the story.  I would have been more positive if there had been a different look at how a mental illness or condition can work in a BDSM relationship.  Still if you aren’t bothered by this aspect of the book it is an entertaining story.

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Clown’d by K.A. Merikan

clownd_cover600
Clown’d by K.A. Merikan
Reviewer: Lor
Self-Published
Short Story: 10,000 words approximate
Purchase on Amazon or Smashwords
Goodreads Page
Roses: 4

 — It’s clowns. It’s a gangbang. It’s helium balloons. —

Some nights just don’t go as planned. It’s Halloween and Kyle’s rushing home to see his boyfriend after a late evening shift at work. As usual, he takes a shortcut through the local park, but a poster informing about a killer clown in the area makes him apprehensive about being alone in the dark. It’s only when he discovers there is a man in a clown costume following him that he panics. Soon, it turns out his cackling shadow isn’t the only circus freak hiding in the dark, but what does a bunch of crazy clowns do when they catch you?

Excerpt

Let me start off by saying that I hate clowns. HATE. Both Kat and Agnes have tortured me relentlessly over the past months with stupid clowns. Mostly Kat but who’s keeping track besides me? Despite my reservations I started beta reading this last week.

Putting my wig out sessions aside this what I truly think of Clown’d.

The story itself is engaging and semi-terrifying even if you’re okay with clowns. Kyle, the MC, is walking home through a park, late at night, and comes across a sign, “Be especially vigilant on Halloween and do not underestimate people in costume… BEWARE!” he thinks little of it and continues on till something brings him up short. Clowns.

Three clowns corral Kyle in the park’s playground till the unexpected happens. Kyle realizes he’s kidnappers are in fact his boyfriend and several other unknown men.

This took me by surprise but it was a good surprise to say the least. Now poor Kyle isn’t getting dragged off by unknown murderous clowns. I probably would’ve died or something if he was… Moving on!

The clowns proceed to “kidnap” Kyle and a lovely gangbang ensues in the back of a truck. The clowns use Kyle in the best ways possible. What I loved is the emphasis on safe sex in this piece. Relations between Kyle and his boyfriend were unprotected but between Kyle and the rest of the men a condom was always used. I don’t see this enough in the M/M genre.

The story ends wrapped in a nice little bow and I can honestly say I love it. Do I want a sequel with more clowns? No. Only because I don’t think I can take the torture of more clowns (or Kat and Agnes).

I am glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to read this and K.A. Merikan was the perfect author to pop my clown reading cherry. Now if everyone would excuse me I have to go burn my blankie.

Why you ask? This is in Clown’d’s dedication:

P.S. Lor, there’s a clown under your blankie.

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