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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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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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When I Fall by Belinda McBride

When I FallWhen I Fall by Belinda McBride
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Loose Id, LLC
Novel:  52,661 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

As king, Helios Dayspring is desperate to secure the future of his people and their new homeworld. His lost memories are slowly returning, bringing with them danger and betrayal.

As the king’s consort, Griffin Hawke wrestles with growing isolation from his lover. When Helios’s secrets begin to come to light, Griffin finds that he barely recognizes him anymore. And Griffin is haunted by his own secrets, nightmares that bring torture and death in his sleep.

Surrounded by enemies and allies, seductive aliens and dangerous operatives, Helios and Griffin find themselves tested to their physical and moral limits. Not knowing who to trust, they can only turn to each other.

Will you be there to catch me when I fall?

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: male/male sexual practices, violence.

Excerpt

This is the second book in the An Uncommon Whore series.  I really didn’t think this was as good as the last.  This time the POV is from Griffin.  I did feel the author let down a lot of readers in the way he was portrayed.  He was a very insecure man.  I think this wasn’t too unexpected given how he was about his scars and eye but he really went off the deep end about secrets.  I really believe a man of Griffin’s position would understand and know that Helios would have secrets, that as king and priest, he couldn’t reveal to ANYONE.  Griffin is even keeping one and instead of being understanding he is suspicious and jealous of everything.  This might have to do with the way his relationship changed so dramatically with the two men’s return to their people but it did have a negative impact on the character.

The world building was much better in this book.   We learned a little more about everything in this story.  I was glad that Helios seemed to take well to being a leader.  It was interesting to see him through Grif’s eyes.

The writing was good.  The plot line was easy to follow and made sense.  I was disappointed in the overall story line though.  I thought there would be a little more focus on the relationship between the two men but it felt like it was more about the new world and the people’s growth there and in politics.  I really felt out of the story.  I couldn’t connect to most of the story line and really didn’t become involved until the end when the tide seemed to turn back to the two men and their family.

Overall I think the story was good just not good enough to capture and hold me.  I hope that the next book in the series will find a balance between the world building and the relationship.

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Nephilim Prophecy by Adrienne Wilder

Nephilim ProphecyNephilim Prophecy by Adrienne Wilder
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Loose Id LLC
Novel:  88,963 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  5
 

Genre: LGBT, Fantasy & Paranormal
Series: The God Code

Indigo Black is Palet: a human cursed with the ability to see the Demonic, trained to hunt and kill them. Since the peace Covenant was implemented by the Church, Palet have not been allowed to seek out the Demonic. And the one time Indigo challenged the Covenant nearly cost him the life of his lover and guardian angel, Ariel. Indigo was forced to watch Ariel suffer. They broke his wings and cast him out of Heaven, and the burden of that guilt has cost Indigo everything.

But now the rules are changing. The Demonic have broken the Covenant by creating a creature that should not exist: a Nephilim with a human soul who can withstand being possessed by the most dangerous members of the Demonic Parliament.

With the rise in power of the Demonic, Indigo must face the darkest battles of his life: one which will decide the fate of mankind, and another which will decide the fate of his heart.

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: male/male sexual practices, violence (including non-consensual sex).

Excerpt

There are essentially 3 main characters, Indigo, Ariel, and Neko.  Indigo is a human but he is an “enhanced” human that fights demons.  He is also the central character in this story.  Ariel is an angel, Indigo’s guardian angel.  The two men are bonded and in love.  Ariel was punished for interfering with free will.  Ariel saved Indigo but it cost him.  Since Ariel’s punishment Indigo has been unable to forgive himself or Ariel.

Serenity, the side of the angels and humans, and Chaos, the demons, has a convent that ended the fighting between the two sides.  Indigo has never been for it or believed that the demons haven’t been breaking it.  He just hasn’t had proof.  Neko, is an erotic dancer and ward of a man named Eami.  Neko is in love with another dancer named Jake.  The two haven’t been able to be together though since Eami has demanded that Neko remain a virgin.  On Neko’s 21st birthday though, Eami has promised that Neko can be with Jake but only if their first time is a performance.  They agree.  They have no idea that Eami isn’t what he seems and neither is Neko.  The three men’s lives are about to collide.

I really was unsure of this book.  It looked a bit complex and at times it is.  The writing was excellent.  The descriptions used were detailed without being overwhelming.  I thought the world building was very interesting considering the immense complexity of the world being created.  The characters were each unique.  They grab your attention and hold it.  They aren’t pure characters.  They show their individual good and bad sides.  In overall I would say the overall feel to the story is more on the dark side than light and good.

The story line is interesting and complex.  I wouldn’t say overtly complex but it keeps you guessing as to what is happening and definitely what will happen next.  I enjoyed the whole of the story but was a bit disappointed with the end.  I’ve become too complacent with simple HEA endings.  This isn’t necessarily one of those.  I won’t say it is an unhappy ending but it wasn’t all smiles and rainbows either.  I am thrilled there will be more books for this world.  There is no doubt I want to see what will happen to these men.

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The Island by Lisa Henry

The IslandThe Island by Lisa Henry
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Loose Id LLC
Novel:  78,380 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  5
 

Shaw is in Fiji to sell a stolen painting to the crime boss, Vornis. It will be the deal of a lifetime, if Shaw can pull it off. But then Vornis to parade his latest toy around in front of him–a captured DEA agent whose time is running out. It’s none of Shaw’s business, and it doesn’t matter that under any other circumstances Lee would be exactly Shaw’s type: he’s young, he’s hot, and he might even have a personality if they hadn’t beaten it out of him. Too bad there’s no way Lee is getting off the island. Too bad there’s nothing Shaw can do for him. And too bad there are some lines that even Shaw won’t cross.

Keeping his hands off Lee proves harder than he thinks, but Shaw’s not stupid enough to fall for the tortured captive of a dangerous crime boss, is he? If he did, it wouldn’t be just his job he would be risking–it would be his life.

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: male/male sexual practices, violence, flashback to sexual violence.

Publisher’s warning: Readers with a history of rape or sexual abuse may find elements of this story disturbing.

 Excerpt

I was prepared for a story a whole lot darker than this story was.  Lee is a captured DEA agent that is being raped and tortured on a Fiji island.  Shaw is a “middle” man whose business is putting together buyers and sellers.  He’s on the island to sell a stolen painting to the man who has Lee.  The story has many twists and turns to it.  You can’t help feeling for Lee and wondering why Shaw is being such a jerk, for want of a word.

The writer has done an outstanding job in detailing the scene and characters.  I thought there would have been a bit more explanations of Lee’s character, especially later in the story, but it didn’t detract from the story.  The characters are believable for the most part.  I did think it strange about Lee with his age and work history.  I just had a hard time believing that at his age he would be on an operation like he was with no indication of prior experience.  They also made him appear a lot more naïve than I think most in law enforcement are.  This didn’t put me off the story and may not have even raised any questions in my mind if I didn’t have a bit of experience in this field.  I really enjoyed seeing these two and what they went through, how they made a connection out the chaos around them.

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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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Moonstruck: Lucky Moon 3 by Piper Vaughn & M.J. O’Shea

Moonstruck by Piper Vaughn & M.J. O'SheaMoonstruck: Lucky Moon 3 by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Loose Id
Novella:  43, 254 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Surya Patel is the drummer for the massively popular band, Moonlight. When his label suggests a collaboration with Luck, the band Moonlight toured with the year before, he should be all for it. Except for one thing–he slept with Luck’s manager during the tour, and then bolted in the dead of night. He’s regretted it ever since, but he knows being around Emmanuel will only lead to disaster. Unfortunately for Surya, the person the label sends to sweet talk him into joining the collaboration is none other than Em himself.

Emmanuel Cortez has spent months trying to forget about the hottest night of his life–the night he slept with Surya. It’s been a year, but not even the death of his beloved grandmother and the subsequent drama with his family could keep the memories away. Now it’s time to be professional. His job is to convince Surya to collaborate with Luck, nothing more, but a day spent together leads to yet another passionate night. This time Em is the one to leave.

But unexpectedly Surya has a change of heart. He isn’t satisfied with just one night anymore. He wants forever.

Excerpt

Right away we are thrown into the story with the two main characters already in conflict.  Surya is in the closet because of how his parents are about homosexuals.  Em is hurt by Surya’s departure the night they slept together but has been busy dealing with his grandmother dying.  When Em goes to England to convince the reluctant Surya to agree to a collaboration of Luck and Moonlight, Em does his best to convince Surya that their night together would not interfere with business.  Somehow the two end up in bed again!  Surya has decided to try and have a relationship with Em but this time Em runs.  Surya agreed to the collaboration so he goes to the States and convinces Em to give them a shot.  This, of course, isn’t the end of their trouble.

I did think the authors wrote an excellent book.  The plot is well designed and the characters were “well fleshed out”.  The plot wasn’t very complex.  I was expecting a lot out of this book having read the previous books in the series and really enjoyed them.  This one just missed the mark for me.  Again the writing is good but the conflict and the resolution at the end of the story were a bit weak.  Em just became a very unconfident where as the rest of the book you can see he is a man who has great belief in himself.  There also was a big conflict in Surya’s reaction to the major conflict.  He did a total 180 with no explanation.  Given all this the book was good but had a very disappointing conflict to conclusion.

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