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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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Sole Support by Kaje Harper

Sole SupportSole Support by Kaje Harper
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Novel:  118,082 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  5
 

He can find a use for his lover’s hands…except when he needs help the most.

Kellen is short on cash—at least until his first novel starts to sell—but he has plenty of friends. None of them, unfortunately, share his love of books. For that he turns to IM chats with Mike from his online book group.

Though he manages to coax the shy, socially inept pathologist into a real-time meeting, Kellen has no intention of letting his new friend become more than a casual lover. Shaky finances and ailing mother aside, self-sufficiency is Kellen’s prime directive.

Mike considers himself a nerd of the highest order—short, bespectacled, prone to blurting out the wrong thing at the worst possible time. Meeting Kellen face to face is the biggest risk of his life, and he wonders if they’ll get more body parts together than just their faces.

First meeting leads to first date—first everything for Mike—and soon Kellen’s faced with breaking his just-friends-with-benefits rule. Yet as his elderly mother wanders deeper into senility, Kellen wonders if it’s better to lean on Mike rather than fall.

Warning: Contains an emotional love story between a too-proud-for-his-own-good writer with an allergy to the L-word, and a painfully shy scientist who takes his sisters’ nagging to “get out there” literally. Oh, and an adorable stray cat.

 Excerpt

This is a very different story for me.  Kellen is an only child, whose father died when he was a child.  This had a huge effect of the young Kellen.  Now he has commitment issues.  If he never depends on anyone he can never be left alone.  Mike is a “geek” and a virgin at 37.  Mike has a hard time being social and so has no real social life except online which is where he meets Kellen.  So the two meet and just like one would guess the polar opposites attract.  Kellen though never talks about his private life and when his mother declines believes it is time to cut Mike loose.  When Mike learns the truth of why he was dumped he goes after Kellen to get him back but Kellen still won’t commit.

These are two very interesting characters.   I will admit I had some troubles through the whole book liking Kellen.  He is extremely self-centered, even when he dumps Mike there is a self-centeredness to it.  I never could really get past all his me, me, me.  Mike is so sweet and geeky.  I LOVE the character.  He is a little too good but I can put that niggle aside compared to Kellen.

The writing in this book was excellent.  There was a slow buildup so it takes a while to get into the story and characters.  The situation with Kellen’s mother was very well written.  You can really tell that the author has had experience with this issue.  It was a very moving portrayal of how taking care so some of the issues our elderly have takes a toll on their children, especially an only child with limited resources.  I really think the drama of this was better written than the romance itself.

The writer’s characterizations were enough to make the characters seem very real.  I didn’t like Kellen but I could still feel for him and get a real sense of him as a character.  Mike as well.  He and Kellen’s characters both grew and changed during the story.  They didn’t stretch the imagination to believe they were “real”.

Overall I enjoyed the story, even with contemporary not being my favorite genre.  I thought that the story with its slow buildup and realistic characters was a solid read and believable.  The author’s writing is enough to make me believe I would enjoy their other books.

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My Regelence Rake by J.L. Langley

My Regelence RakeMy Regelence Rake by J.L. Langley
Reveiwer:  Tj
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing, Ltd
Novel:  93,564 Words
Purchase at amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Before you find your prince, you have to kiss your share of rakes.

Sci-Regency, Book 3

With his days occupied with duties as Captain of the Guard, and nights consumed with upholding his reputation as a rake, Lord Sebastian Hastings’s schedule is filled. There’s no extra time to be anyone’s bodyguard, but the royal family’s safety is a task he sees to personally.

Prince Colton Townsend has loved Sebastian for as long as he can remember, but he’s done pining for a man who has vowed never to remarry. So he consoles himself with the second love of his life—horses. Stable building and horse racing consume his every thought, at least until he’s stuck with Sebastian dogging his every step.

While looking over the prospects at an auction, Colton is trying to ignore his sexy, pesky bodyguard when he feels compelled to take on a bully to protect an abused horse. Sebastian is dragged into the fray, and their good deed sparks a string of nasty rumors.

There’s only one way to quell the political storm: marry. But instead of solving everything, Colton realizes his new husband is a bundle of secrets, none of which he’ll give up easily. Unless Colton makes one, last-ditch effort that could break his heart for good.

Warning: Contains an obnoxious filly, a love-struck prince, a meddling king, a matchmaking duke, vicious rumors and hunky ex Special Forces soldiers.

Excerpt

Colton has had a crush on Sebastian since he was a young teen.  Sebastian has ignored Colton following him around and his puppy dog crush.  Sebastian is determined to never become attached again since his first marriage was a disaster.  Colton has finally got it through his head than Sebastian and him will never be together and begins to ignore Sebastian.  When saving a horse together they create an enemy that begins spreading rumors about the two of them.  Sebastian decides to marry Colton to save his reputation.  By now Sebastian has realized that he care so much more for Colton than he thought he did, but will Colton stay with him when Sebastian’s secrete is revealed.

I really didn’t enjoy this book near as much as the last book in the series.  I expected a lot more drama to the story than there was.  The troubles with the IN don’t advance really at all.  It is just a small side piece in the story overall.  It seems that the threads from previous stories are still left all there.  The story itself is cute but just not all that interesting.  I like Colton.  He seems like an interesting character that more could have been done with when paired with Sebastian.  I am disappointed by this.

The writing itself is good.  The story makes sense and flows smoothly.  I think the plot was a bit on the weak side.  Looking back on the whole read there just wasn’t much to it.  Yes, there is the romance, the two characters getting together and the mystery of Sebastian’s background.  The trouble is that the one element that seemed to be a key to the story isn’t addressed until the very end and then it isn’t even given much time to resolve or for anything much to occur after.   It really becomes a non-issue.  The characters are interesting but not much building is done on them.  I like that there are some new characters added but not much is revealed about them.

This book seems to fall into the category of “must read for the series”.  I am sure that in the series overall plot line that this story contains details that are needed or shown.  I think everyone that reads the series is much more interested in Trouble and Rexley’s story.

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From the Ashes by Daisy Harris

From the AshesFrom the Ashes by Daisy Harris
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing
Novel:  64,822 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 
 

He wanted a boyfriend. What he got was a hero.

Fire and Rain, Book 1

When an accident burns down Jesse’s apartment, he’s left broke and homeless, with a giant dog and a college schedule he can’t afford to maintain. And no family who’s willing to take him in.

Lucky for him, a sexy fireman offers him a place to stay. The drawback? The fireman’s big Latino family lives next door, and they don’t know their son is gay.

Tomas’s parents made their way in America with hard work and by accepting help when it was offered, so he won’t let Jesse drop out of school just so he can afford a place to live. Besides, Jesse’s the perfect roommate—funny, sweet and breathtakingly cute. He climbs into Tomas’s bed and tugs at his heart. Until Jesse starts pushing for more.

Their passion enflames their bodies but threatens to crush Tomas’s family. Tomas is willing to fight for Jesse, but after losing everything, Jesse isn’t sure he can bear to risk his one remaining possession—his heart.

Warning: Contains an angry older brother, judgmental best friends, a slobbering bull mastiff, and enough red-hot gay loving to make a porn star blush.

Excerpt

Jesse has barely been out on his own finally able to live his life as gay man when his apartment burns down.  He is crushed and on top of that he can’t let his landlord’s dog go to the pound so he takes her even with nowhere to go.  Tomas is one of the responding firemen.  Though it is against policy he can’t stop from offering Jesse a place.  Tomas is not out and really struggles with his ideas of what his sexuality means.

I admit I’m a bit of a cover whore.  I mean come on!  Look at that cover!  This had a great set up.  Out and proud boy is left without a home, closeted fireman (hot fireman) offers one and mayhem ensues.  The plot is actually decent and likeable.  Two things turn this from a possible 5 or 4 rose review to a 3.  One is the way the sexual relationship develops.  There was little to no tension between the two.  I wasn’t even sure they should be involved.  There just wasn’t that spark between the two characters.  The other was the characters themselves.  I just didn’t connect with them.  Tomas was by turns overly emotional and total idiot.  Jesse…well, I just didn’t get a feel for him.  What I could get I didn’t understand.  You are a virgin but you happily have angry sex even though you think it’s the end of the relationship?  Um…okaaaay O_o

It was a decent enough read just really didn’t hit with me and the characters were just … flat.  I will say the author did a wonderful job on the setting.  I’ve never been to Seattle but I could picture it easily.

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Camwolf by J.L. Merrow

CamwolfCamwolf by J.L. Merrow
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing
Novel:  66,888 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

To save his lover, he must become his own worst nightmare.

Dr. Nick Sewell. Non-conformist. Werewolf. The first puts him at odds with his colleagues’ idea of how an All Saints College lecturer should behave. The second, bestowed upon him by an ex-boyfriend, puts him at odds with himself.

There’s his tendency to change into a wolf on the full moon. And his visceral attraction to Julian Lauder, a troubled young German student. Despite his determination not to act on his desire, Nick’s brutal response to seeing Julian with another man frightens them both. At first.

Then Nick learns that Julian is not only a naturally submissive werewolf, but one who has learned better how to deal with just being a werewolf. That explains the attraction, but it doesn’t make it any easier when the tables are turned, and Julian—once the student—is now teaching Nick…who still isn’t happy about conforming to the “werewolf way”.

Meanwhile, reports of a strange wolf stalking the town barely register on Nick’s radar—until Julian disappears. Accusing eyes—both wolf and human—are turned toward Nick. Even with the help of friends, hope is growing as cold as the kidnapper’s trail. Unless Nick gives free rein to the wolf’s inhuman power…

Warning: Contains hot outdoor, alliterative insults, allusions to abuse, and really awful sherry.

Excerpt

I wanted to really like this book.  I love paranormal stories.  This had some of the typical themes of a werewolf story as mate and mine but it’s not a fated mate or the like.  It had some dark elements at play too, abuse being the biggest.  Everything was there for a wonderful story.  Problem was that it didn’t deliver.

Nick after becoming a werewolf never really tried to learn anything about it and just fought it.  It makes sense that if he could become one there would be others so doing SOME research would make sense.  He didn’t seem to and it caused him trouble.  His last boyfriend he abused in a jealous, possessive rage.  Again you would think he would get some help…nope, he runs away from it and just figures no more boyfriends for him.  Yeah, didn’t make him real likable.

Julian, was given by his father to his beta to be trained but was physically abused.  I have a hard time with the idea his father wouldn’t have picked up on this and stopped it or that he would have even thought a wolf like Julian would make much of a fighter.  His mother flees with him to England where Julian just sluts around.  I don’t get this either.  I get that his mother would hesitate over taking him for help to a psychologist but I would think she would try to do something to get him help since he just seems self destructive.  He is a bit of a brat to Nick.  I felt sorry for Julian but otherwise I really didn’t get a feel for him.  The “relationship” he has with Nick doesn’t seem built on much but attraction and them both being werewolves.

The whole of the story never deals much with either man’s issues.  There is a very mild attempt with Nick’s but VERY mild.  I liked the writing it was good and very intricate.  I just didn’t do well as a story.

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Family Man by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton

Family Man CullinanFamily Man by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing
Novel:  67,154 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Sometimes family chooses you.

How does a man get to be forty without knowing whether he’s gay? That’s a question Vince Fierro is almost afraid to answer. If he is gay, it’ll be a problem for his big, fat Italian family. Still, after three failed marriages, he can’t help but wonder if he’s been playing for the wrong team.

There’s only one way to settle it, once and for all—head for Chicago’s Boystown bars, far from anyone who knows him. Naturally, he runs smack into someone from the neighborhood.

Between working two jobs, going to school, taking care of his grandmother, and dealing with his mother’s ongoing substance abuse, Trey Giles has little time for fun, let alone dating someone who swears he’s straight. Yet after one night of dancing cheek-to-cheek to the sultry strains of Coltrane, Trey finds himself wanting to help Vinnie figure things out—no promises, and no sex.

It seems like a simple plan, until their “no-sex” night turns into the best date of their lives and forges a connection that complicates everything.

Warning: This book deals with alcoholism, broken promises, and overbearing little sisters.

Excerpt

This is a sweet story, not a lot of sex.  There was a huge buildup to it.  I thought the idea of this book sounded good and the writers always write good stories.  I was a bit disappointed by this one though.  The writing was excellent and the character development was good.  I had a little bit of a hard time with Vince’s change in the story.  It seemed out of nowhere and so complete as to be unreal.  A few more crises with it would have made more sense.  Also it seemed that everything seemed to magically fix itself when something happened.  In overall it just didn’t seem very realistic for a contemporary story line.

Now if it is just the story itself and you can get past the believability factor it is very enjoyable.  The characters are warm and sweet.  The relationship is tender and builds at a fairly good pace.  I did enjoy that part if I just immersed myself in the story itself.

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