Sunday, 29 June 2014


LAVENDER ROSE by Theo Fenraven

Pages: 93
Date: 29/06/2014
Grade: 4.5
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“Precipitated by an unexpected encounter with another man, Malcolm Hale flees a marriage that no longer fits and a soul-sucking job he hates. When his car breaks down near Naples, Florida, he stumbles onto the grounds of the luxury gay resort, Lavender Rose, asking for help. The concierge, Tristan Bellers, takes one look at him and offers him a job. With bridges burned behind him and nothing to look forward to, Mal accepts and becomes immersed in a seductive, private world of beautiful men and tantalizing sexuality. But even as Mal tries to work out where he belongs, and with whom, a hurricane approaches, threatening destruction… and death. A killer has been waiting for an opportunity, and the time to strike has arrived.


My thoughts:

I’ve said it before and you’ll just have to bear with me while I say it again; Theo Fenraven weaves magic with his words. I wish I knew how he does it; how he manages to convey so much with so few, carefully chosen and beautifully positioned words. The pacing in this book is just about perfect. The reader learns everything they need to know about the characters and the resort if and when it becomes relevant. No huge chunks of back story ruin the reading rhythm in this book and I didn’t encounter a single instance of ‘where the hell did that come from’ either.

Both Tristan and Malcolm piqued my interest from the moment they were introduced. And then they grew. Neither is exactly what he appears to be at first glance and both of them show their deeper layers as the story progresses. Tristan may initially come across as camp and over the top, but he soon reveals himself to be a sensitive and very perceptive individual. And I loved how Malcolm seemed to grow into himself as the story progressed, surprising himself once or twice as he finally embraces his true nature and follows his desires. For that I can even forgive him his hate of black licorice.

On a side-note, the various references to Voodoo Lily throughout the story made me smile. It could have been cheesy or self-indulgent but somehow seemed to fit, especially given the resort’s name.

'Lavender Rose' contained one paragraph that made me stop, blink and sigh. I read it, read it again and knew I had to highlight it and put it in my review because the image it created just blew me away.

 “Heaving a mental sigh, he again wondered when he would meet someone he could give his heart to forever. While he’d loaned it out plenty, he’d always gotten it back, sometimes much faster that he preferred and in worse shape than when it had gone out.”

'Lavender Rose' has it all; a beautiful love story, engaging characters and a thrilling threat in the background. This is a relatively short yet perfectly formed and ultimately very satisfying story. 

It is almost exactly six months since I first read a book by Theo Fenraven. ‘Blue River’ gave me a wonderful introduction to his writing and made me hungry for more. When I read ‘Transgression’ shortly afterwards I knew I had stumbled across one of those rarities; an author who can transport me to whatever world they feel like and make me at home there. ‘Wolf Bound’ confirmed that versatility and 'Lavender Rose' proves once and for all that a good author can write across genres without losing any of their voice or storytelling qualities. I count myself lucky there are still several books I haven’t read. And while I’m tempted to just devour all of those back to back I’ve decided to pace myself. I guess I’m going to keep those remaining stories for times when I need a very special reading treat. I have absolutely no doubt they will prove to be exactly that.

Saturday, 28 June 2014



Pages: 245
Date: 28/06/2014
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 1 Tucker Springs
            Received from Riptide Publishing
            Through Love Romances and More
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“Jason Davis can handle a breakup. And an overwhelming mortgage. And a struggling business. And the excruciating pain that keeps him up at night thanks to a shoulder injury. But all of it at once? Not so much. When his shoulder finally pushes him to a breaking point, Jason takes a friend’s advice and gives acupuncture a try.

Acupuncturist Michael Whitman is a single dad struggling to make ends meet. When a mutual friend refers Jason as a patient, and Jason suggests a roommate arrangement to alleviate their respective financial strains, Michael jumps at the opportunity.

But Jason soon finds himself regretting it—he’s too damn attracted to Michael, and living with him is harder than he thought it’d be. In fact, the temptation to act on his feelings would almost be too much if not for the fact that Michael is straight. Or at least, that’s what their mutual friend claims.”


My thoughts:

Note: This is a revised second edition, with minor additions, of the first edition originally published elsewhere.

Anybody reading my book posts with any regularity may have noticed that I’ve developed a taste for L.A. Witt and her books. Without fail her stories and characters manage to pull me in, entertain me and leave me happy and fulfilled by the time I reach the end. ‘Where Nerves End’ was no exception to that rule.

From the moment we meet Jason Davis and Michael Whitman it is easy to like the two men with so very much on their individual plates. I had to smile at Jason’s reluctance to see an acupuncturist because he has no faith in all that alternative mumbo jumbo only for the pain in his shoulder to get so excruciating that he feels trying anything has to be better than accepting his suffering as a permanent feature in his life. His doubts about visiting Michael Whitman’s surgery disappear as soon as he sets eyes on the man and his ambivalence about the treatment soon follows.

The relationship between Jason and Michael grows naturally and although it seemed a bit of a stretch that anyone would invite their doctor to move in with them in order to ease the financial burdens both were carrying after only a few visits, it did work for me.

Jason’s conflicting emotions once Michael moves in were fascinating. I enjoyed the way he switched between being delighted to be living with the object of his dreams and feeling deep frustration because the man he was lusting after was not able to return his feelings.

I loved Michael’s relationship with his young son and his need to put the boy first, even if it meant denying himself what he yearned for. And may I just say that young Dylan put a huge smile on my face when he proclaimed that boyfriends are better than girlfriends because ‘girls are gross’.

Overall this was a smooth, fun and easy read with just the right balance between romance and angst to keep me happy. I remain delighted to have discovered L.A. Witt and grateful that there are still so many of her books I haven’t read yet.

Thursday, 26 June 2014


HERO WORSHIP by Phoenix Emrys

Pages: 224
Date: 26/06/2014
Grade: 3
Details: Received from Dreamspinner Press
            Through Love Romances and More
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“In 1975 Douglas “King” Fisher is a teenage crusader who, with the help of his three friends, keeps the environs of Warden High bully-free. On the last day of school he is about to leave, thinking his job is done, when he answers one last call for help, never dreaming this particular intervention will make much more of a difference than he can possibly imagine.

Thirty-five years later, King lives a quiet, deeply closeted, completely unremarkable life, far different from the destiny he was bound for on that long ago summer day. An unfortunate accident sidelined his dreams, and he never left town. While he never “made his mark,” he still does whatever he can to make things better for everyone—except himself.

He sees no value in what he is or what he does. He doesn’t think he’s a hero, but he has one: larger than life Rex Rodman, 80s action hero and former idol of millions. His impossible dream. Or is he? With his fifty-seventh birthday swiftly approaching, King is about to learn some amazing lessons about himself from the last teacher he’d ever expect.”


My thoughts:

I’m not looking forward to writing this review. This is another case of a fabulous story-idea let down – in my opinion at least – by the way it has been told.

I loved the idea of the Knights of Right we are introduced to in the prologue. A group of kids protecting everybody in their school from bullies is something I would love to see in real life. But even that early in the story the self-deprecating tone the main character ‘King’ uses to describe himself, his friends and the work they do put me off. I wanted to like him, had a feeling he really was likeable but had to read too far between the lines to get to that part of his personality.  

I hoped the tone of voice was the result of the character being a teenager at the time and that it would become more balanced as the story progressed. Unfortunately the opposite was true. If anything King became more cynical and down on himself as the story continued.

“There was a ‘King’ once. A long time ago. He’s gone. I let him go when I let him down and turned him into me.”

The more King put himself down, the less I liked him. And, while it was funny the first few times, I got a bit tired of reading the following line time and again.

“I could say it all right, but I’d be lying.”

I can’t escape the feeling that the author tried to outsmart herself here. It reads as if she intended for this to be a snarky, somewhat cynical but ultimately funny story. For me the author didn’t succeed in that quest. While there certainly were a few occasions on which I smiled and even laughed out loud I have to admit that overall King came across as a self-pitying and self-indulgent moan.

And that is a shame because this story had so much going for it.

It is great to read a story in which the main characters are in their fifties and no longer quite at their best. It would have been even better if King hadn’t sounded like a sulking teenager rather than a grown-up man.

And I really liked the idea of redefining what exactly constitutes a hero. We may look up to someone for whatever reason; it is quite possible others look up to us for reasons we can’t begin to recognise or understand. And the author did succeed in getting the message that heroes are rarely what we perceive them to be and that we can never know how we affect other people, across very well and eloquently.

“ the life of a real man, where it really counts, slugging it out on a day-to-day basis in the trenches of everyday life, that’s the mark of a real hero.”

So while this may not have been the right read for me, I hope it won’t put anyone off trying ‘Hero Worship’ for themselves. Like I said, it was the tone in which the story was told rather than the story itself that didn’t work for me. If you like your main character cynical and self-deprecating, you are in for a treat.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014


A CLEAN SWEEP by Tymber Dalton

A Clean Sweep (MFMM)Pages: 227
Date: 23/06/2014
Grade: 4
Details: no 8 Suncoast Society
            Received from Siren-Bookstrand
            Through Love Romances and More
Kindle / Own

The blurb:

Essline Barrone left Sarasota after graduating high school and never looked back. Sixteen years later, her neatly organized world in Spokane grinds to a halt when her mom drops the bomb that Essie’s father died.

And their hoarded house is at risk of condemnation.

Mark Collins carries a torch for Essie from their brief high school romance. Now she’s returned, and it’s up to Mark and his brothers to help her save her mom’s house while TV cameras film the whole thing. But Mark, Josh, and Ted have a secret—they’re looking for a strong-willed submissive to share their bed and their lives.

Essie feels torn between a tidy, self-sufficient existence, and the three brothers who insist she’s perfect for them. Can Essie empty the clutter in her heart and spare room for the three hunks who want nothing more than to help her make a clean sweep of her emotional baggage in exchange for a new life together?


My thoughts:

‘A Clean Sweep’ is the eight’ title in the Suncoast Society series but I can safely say it can be read and enjoyed if you haven’t read the previous books. I imagine I would have enjoyed quite a few happy reunions with familiar characters if I had read the other titles, but there were no references to older stories to trip me up.

I liked the story in ‘A Clean Sweep’ and how the author dealt with the issues in it. Tymber Dalton described the horrors of having to live with someone who is a compulsive hoarder in such a way that I could vividly imagine how soul destroying that experience would be. Her background made Essie a relatable character and her actions and thoughts completely understandable. It made sense for her to feel abandoned by her father and neglected by her mother. Her anger towards her father and the pain she experienced because she could vaguely remember what he’d been like before she lost him to his compulsion, were logical.

I liked the way the author dealt with the relationship between Essie and her mother. Of course Essie felt neglected by her mother as well but it doesn’t stop her from being there for her when Essie’s father dies. The words the mother uses to describe her feelings were powerful and inspired.

“When you truly love someone, you don’t always think with your mind. You think with your heart and with your feelings. I didn’t want to leave him. I knew if I did he would bury himself. I had no doubts about that. I gave him the best life I could, and now it’s time for me. And you.”

The author takes the time to explain every dynamic she introduces in this story. The reader gets the lowdown on BDSM and polyamory while never feeling as if they are being lectured to. There is no information dump; the explanations come in the context of the story and are short, to the point and on occasion enticing.

Surprisingly, in what is a romance, it was the building relationship that bothered me at times. For me the way Essie just accepted the idea of a relationship with the three brothers and the ease with which the three brothers all agreed that’s what they wanted, seemed too smooth. Surely there would be a lot more questioning of the set-up, especially on Essie’s part? Taking into account that the BDSM dynamic of the relationship was as new to Essie as the polyamory aspect was, I would have expected a slower build-up and maybe a few more questions.
On the other hand the sense of community and everybody’s willingness to help each other was delightful.

The second half of this book is very hot and the scenes are vivid. Not all of it was equally enticing to me but I’m fully aware that is the result of personal preferences rather than any shortcomings on the author’s part so that was not taken into account when rating this book.

On the other hand there were some scenes that took my breath away. The moment when the three brothers explain to Essie what it would mean to each of them if she was theirs was wonderful; as was the collaring scene near the end of the book.

While this story deals with real issues and does so with care this never felt like a heavy read. Quite a few incidents or conversations brought smiles to my face and I also have to admit to one or two laugh out loud moments. Overall this was a delightful introduction to Tymber Dalton’s work and I’d be surprised if I didn’t pick up another book by her in the not too distant future.

Saturday, 21 June 2014


MARK OF CAIN by Kate Sherwood

Pages:  338
Date: June 20, 2014
Grate: 5
Details: Received from Samhain Publishing
            Through Love Romances and More
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“When a man is consumed by hatred, is there anything left to love?

After a tough day of counseling sessions, Anglican priest Mark Webber is looking forward to a relaxing dinner at a local restaurant. When he sees who’s bellied up to the bar, though, he reaches for his cell phone to call the police.

It’s Lucas Cain, the man who killed Mark’s brother three years ago. Apparently he’s out of jail and hanging out with his old crowd, which has to be a breach of parole, right?

Pulled over upon leaving the bar, Lucas blows a clean breathalyzer and hopes this isn’t a harbinger of things to come. He’s ready to build a sober, peaceful life. His friends aren’t ready to let him move on, though, and he ends up taking refuge in an Anglican half-way house.

Thrown together, Mark and Lucas find common ground in the struggle to help a young gay man come to terms with his sexuality—and the fight against homophobic townsfolk. As attraction grows, the past is the last stumbling block between them and a future filled with hope.”


My thoughts:

I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like the book. While the blurb sounded intriguing I also feared I might be in for a predictable and possibly slightly frustrating read.

Well, colour me surprised. Not because the story turned out to be completely different from what I expected, it wasn’t. No, I’m happily surprised because there was nothing frustrating about this book. The story didn’t contain any forced or protracted drama. With a story- line as described above this was always going to be an angsty book, and they have a habit of upsetting me. It was wonderful to read a book in which the angst made perfect sense and was portrayed realistically. There is a lot of it and yet it doesn’t feel as if that’s the central theme of the book. The angst is part of a much larger story; it didn’t take over or dominate the narrative

This story and the relationships between the characters develop organically. There are no ‘magical’ moments, no instant conversions or other miracles. Not every issue is resolved when the book ends. This realism made The ‘Mark of Cain’ a near perfect book for me. In most romance novels I read there will be at least one character I want to slap because of their stupidity or refusal to communicate. I loved the honesty and openness between Mark and Lucas. It is great to follow two characters who actually listen to each other.

Of the three main characters I was most impressed with Lucas. He’s made a terrible and fatal mistake in the past and is trying to keep himself going from day to day. He’s not looking for forgiveness because he doesn’t think he deserves it. He wants to be a better man but doesn’t think it will ever make up for the wrong he did in the past. He is matter of fact about the situation he finds himself in and never allows himself the luxury of self-pity. He never sees himself as a martyr, which means the reader doesn’t have to see him that way either.

“Nah. I deserve what I get.” Lucas

It took me a bit longer to fall for Mark and I’m not entirely sure why. There were moments when I adored him. I loved the words he uses when he talks to Alex about being gay, because it’s such a wonderful way of talking to a confused 16 year old.

“I walk, I sit, I wake, I sleep. All gay, all day” – Mark to Alex

Maybe it took me longer to like Mark because I fell for Lucas straight away and he didn’t. And while his reasons for thoroughly disliking Lucas were better than good, I still wanted him to see what I saw in Lucas. As soon as he did start to see it, my reservations about him were gone. I also thought the process Mark goes through when it comes to his faith and the Anglican Church were well worked out and convincing.

The idea of the two men bonding over Alex - a sixteen year old boy struggling with his homosexuality and his homophobic father - and their need to help him was inspired. Alex infatuation with Lucas was adorable and the way Lucas and Mark dealt with it was sensitive as well as realistic.

I could say a whole lot more about this book. I fell in love with it and I tend to get carried away when that happens. So I’ll force myself to stop now. I just want to say that if you happen to be looking for a wonderful romance centred around two men you can’t help but fall for, you need to pick up this book. It is well written and immaculately plotted. You will find a smooth read with sparkling dialogue. If you enjoy a few smiles and chuckles with your angst, this is the book for you. If you want your next book to introduce you to two characters you may not want to say goodbye to, you could do a lot worse than pick up ‘The Mark of Cain.’

“We’re nothing like Romeo and Juliet, he said. Cause we’re going to make it.” - Lucas

Wednesday, 18 June 2014


DEVIL’S BREW by Rhys Ford

Pages: 65
Date: 18/06/2014
Grade: 5
Details: no. 2.5 Sinners
            Received from Dreamspinner Press
            Through Love Romances and More
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“Miki St. John’s life has been turned upside down, but it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to him. 

His best friend, Damien Mitchell, is back from the dead. He has a dog named Dude. And more importantly, he and his lover, SFPD Inspector Kane Morgan, now share Miki’s converted warehouse. 

For the first time ever, Miki’s living a happy and normal-ish life, but when Valentine’s Day rolls around, Miki realizes he knows next to nothing about being domestic or domesticated. Nothing about the traditional lover’s holiday makes sense to him, but Miki wants to give Kane a Valentine’s Day the man will never forget. 

Can he pull off a day of wine and roses? Or will his screwed-up childhood come back and bite Miki in the ass? 



My thoughts:

This was, for me, the perfect novella. I knew nothing about the characters before I started reading yet found myself deeply in love with them within minutes.

Miki broke my heart and lifted my spirit at the same time. It is impossible not to be taken in by this man who has a very low opinion of himself yet never stops trying to be the best he can possibly be for those he loves.

 “If he looked hard enough – really not that hard, actually – he felt stupid. Worthless.”

His friendship with Damien is beautiful and heart-warming while the conversations between them move from heartbreakingly deep and sad to laugh-out-loud funny. The way Miki talks about his lover, Kane, and the depth of his feelings for the Irish cop took my breath away.

“I knew I loved him when I realized he was going to be inside me – no matter where he was, I’d always have him there.”

Miki’s unfamiliarity with Valentine’s Day was as funny as it was sad. His quest to find the perfect presents for the man he loves endeared him to me as few characters, especially in shorter books, have.

And Kane and Miki together, well that has to be poetry in motion. They are tender, loving, funny and smoking hot.

I think this is my second encounter with Rhys Ford’s words and I have to say I’m liking her more with each new encounter. Her writing is wonderful and paints vivid pictures while her dialogue sparkles. I could hear the Irish brogue (yes, I’m sure living in Ireland helps, but still) and fall for the lure of it along with Miki.

I’m convinced I would have gotten even more out of this story if I’d read the first two books in this series, ‘Sinner’s Gin’ and ‘Whiskey and Wry’, first. It speaks volumes about the author’s talent that I didn’t feel I was missing anything while at the same time realising that it is only a matter of weeks before I’ll have to read those earlier titles. I’m pretty sure those first two books are going to break my heart, regardless of the fact I now know where they’ll eventually take me, but this story, these characters...Yes, I need more.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014


ALL OF ME by Cardeno C.
Pages: 54
Date: 17/06/2014
Grade: 4
Details: Received from Dreamspinner Press
            Through Love Romances and More
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“Bonded by their parents before they were conceived, Abel Nasa and Zakai "Kai" Berura adored each other since they were children. As teens, the two future Alphas took the next step in their bonding process and vowed to remain true to one another until Kai came of age. But when tragedy struck, Abel felt betrayed and ran from Kai instead of completing the mating bond.

Years pass with no contact between the two, but Abel never stops yearning for the man who was supposed to lead by his side. When Kai returns, broken and on death's door, Abel must look past what he saw and trust his heart so they can fulfill their destiny and merge their packs.”


My thoughts:

Some novellas are exactly the right length as well as much too short. “All of Me” is one of those for me. I really enjoyed the story and the characters in it. Everything we need to know is told in a smooth and unhurried way. And yet I couldn’t help wishing for more time with Abel and Kai; I had gotten quite attached to them over the course of 54 pages.

We get the story from Abel’s perspective and seen through his eyes all his decisions and his pain make perfect sense. I could feel how badly he was hurting when he made his shocking discovery and understood how it still had an effect on his thoughts and actions even a decade later.

Of course, once we find out what exactly happened to Kai it was impossible not to feel sorry for him as well as impressed with him for everything he had gone through. (I know I’m being somewhat obscure here but I don’t want the spoil the full story for those who haven’t read it yet).

One thing I always like in Shifter stories and loved in this one is the bond between two mates destined to be together. It is hard to imagine anything more romantic than that. Of course the bond being unbreakable has a flipside; not even betrayal or a long time apart can diminish the pull. The one he was meant to be with is lost to Abel and with it his ‘joy de vivre’.

The reunion and reconciliation was a bit too quick and easy for my liking. On the other hand, their actual bonding after all the secrets have been revealed and forgiven was wonderful and just about right as far as pacing and detail were concerned.

Overall this was a rather sweet, well written and very sexy paranormal romance by an author who is slowly claiming her place on my ‘must read’ list.


BONDS OF COURAGE by Lynda Aicher

Pages: 263
Date: 17/06/2014
Grade: 4.5
Details: No. 6 Wicked Play
            Received from Carina Press
            Through Love Romances and More
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

Pro hockey player Holden Hauke has kept his sexual needs buried for years. After a near miss over a picture of him bound to a spanking bench resulted in a mid-season trade, he's kept his image clean. But with the season over, he's ready to surrender control. And he's found just the woman to help him—if only he can convince her to give him a chance.

Bending men to her will is nothing new for Vanessa Delcour, aka Mistress V—she's a full-time rep for pro athletes, a part-time owner of exclusive sex club The Den, and an experienced Domme. But when Holden Hauke comes looking for a discreet partner, Vanessa's concerned about his motives. Touching his training-toned body during a scene wouldn't exactly be a hardship, but taking him on crosses barriers between work and play that she's had in place for years.

From their first intense encounter in Mistress V's playroom, Hauke knows he can't let this chance slip away; he's found the woman he's always needed. Submissive or not, he's willing to push her every limit to prove how good they can be together.

My thoughts:

‘Bonds of Courage’ is the sixth title in the ‘Wicked Play’ series and more than lived up to the expectations I had based on those earlier books. Over the course of six books I have gotten very attached to The Den, the people who own the place and their partners.

This instalment features Vanessa Delcour – full-time rep for professional athletes, partner in The Den, an exclusive sex club, and known as Mistress V an experienced Domme. For years she has successfully kept all the threads of her life separated and she is determined to keep it that way. Vanessa is in control of her life and doesn’t allow anyone to breach her carefully set boundaries or anything to control her. It is a balancing act but a successful one until Holden Hauke applies for membership at The Den.

Holdon Hauke is a professional hockey player. He has kept his sexual needs and desires buried, especially after one indiscrete photo of him tied to a spanking bench nearly cost him his career and forced a mid-season transfer. With the summer break on his hands Holden turns to The Den in the hope of finding a discrete Mistress. One look at Vanessa is enough to tell Holden he’s found what he’s been looking for.

With their first encounter going off to a bad start because of Holden’s lie on his application to The Den and Vanessa’s reluctance to let anyone in to her life never mind her heart a relationship between these two seems doomed from the start. Holden is not prepared to give up though. He may be submissive, he is determined to do whatever it takes to show Vanessa that they belong together.

For the sixth consecutive time Lynda Aicher has brought her readers two characters who are interesting, easy to root for yet realistic and flawed. I fell in love with Holden the moment he made his first appearance. I loved the ease with which he surrendered to his needs despite the risks involved and Vanessa’s attempts to push him away, and delighted in the release he found in bondage.

“The firm clasp of the thick bands of leather was his freedom.”

Vanessa was a little bit harder to like. She was so determined to be independent, to keep all the different threads in her life separate and avoid all attachments, that it was almost too easy to believe she really was the hard bitch she portrait herself as. That image made the rare occasion on which her hard shell cracked all the more beautiful though.

“It made no sense, but he was under her skin, burning through her as no other sub ever had.”

This story is a reversal of the BDSM story we usually read. In this book it isn’t the sub who needs to be convinced of his needs, it isn’t the sub running away from something new and scary. This time we are dealing with a sub who knows exactly what he wants and has a job on his hands convincing his Domme that his needs happen to mirror hers.

“He could make her happy. Please her. He got everything he needed by giving her what she needed. It was a perfect combination that.”

I loved Holden for getting Vanessa, for taking his time and for reading her well enough to know what all her small sign and gestures meant. I loved the moment he gave her a pair of flip-flops.

“The only time she wasn’t in heels was when she let her shields down, and he wanted that all the time with him.”

I’m very grateful that although there is lots of angst and conflict in this book I didn’t have to read my way through a lengthy split between the protagonists based on fear or a misunderstanding. I’m equally happy that the author kept things real; the resolution of issues was organic and believable.

Overall this was a wonderful, smooth, very sexy and fascinating read. The descriptions of Vanessa’s sessions with Holden were captivating as were the occasions when the two of them gave into their feelings without any play involved.

I discovered that there is one more Wicked Play story to come in September 2014. While I’m delighted to have another book in this series to look forward to I am already sad that book will also mean I’ll have to say goodbye to The Den and all who play and love there.

“I’m yours. In every way. Beyond the playroom. Beyond the spankings and bondage and play – I belong to you.”

Sunday, 15 June 2014


NOT QUITE SHAKESPEARE a Dreamspinner Press Anthology
Edited by Anne Regan & Sue Brown

Pages: 354
Date: 14/06/2014
Grade: 4
Details: Received from Dreamspinner Press
             Through Love Romances and More
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

Take a ride to Northern Scotland on the famous train, the Jacobite, and rediscover desire. Get lost in the Peace Maze in Northern Ireland during a downpour and let a handsome young redhead come to the rescue. Take a tour of historical Blackpool on the English coast and set the stage for the perfect romance. From England to the outer isles, the UK holds treasure troves of romance, history, intrigue, and—naturally—quirky British humor. Not Quite Shakespeare samples it all in fifteen stories.

A man in London makes an accidental confession of sexual need to a virtual stranger who happens to be his boss. An American revisits West Sussex and rekindles an old flame with a romp in the stables. A couple finds their perfect third while vacationing on a pig farm in Yorkshire. In the office, on the race track, or in the kitchen baking bread—romance in the UK is alive and well, and full of sweet surprise.

My thoughts:

Ninety-nine problems by Becky Black (4.5):
Ice cream and two young men, Rob and Chex, newly in charge of their rival family businesses, one of them firmly closeted and also not entirely up to the role that’s been thrust upon him.
Told with a sweetness that resembles the ice cream it features this was a delicious delight.

Bread and Butter Pudding by Jules Jones (3.5):
Two men, homemade bread and a sensual massage make for a sexy, funny and rather sweet story.

Chanctonbury Ring by Sarah Madison(4):
Denny, an author of M/M romances is back in England for the first time in over a decade. When he reunites with his the man who was his lover during his visit it is a dream come true except that Tarquin is keeping his distance. A wonderful second chance at first love story.

Wrong Number by Megan Reddaway (4):
Maybe the story idea isn’t the most original; a guy accidentally calling his boss instead of his friend and saying mildly obscene things before realising his mistake, and maybe what happens next isn’t a huge surprise either but the story was easy to read, sexy and at times funny.

“(...)unfortunately you can’t just grab the cutest-looking stray man from the nearest gay bar, take him home, feed him twice a day, and expect him to love you for it.”

In the DogHouse by Chris Quinton(4+):
Another second chance at first love story but completely different from the previous one. This one includes a greyhound, a few gangsters and quite a few funny moments.

The Benefits of Hindsight by M.A. Ford (4):
Two racing drivers in love, one needing to be open about it the other too firmly closeted to even consider it. A bad accident and a strange experience lead to new perspective.

Misadventures of Mislaid Men by Penny Hudson (4):
A funny story. But what I liked best was the fact that it was completely open-ended.

Best Vacation Ever by Rob Rosen (3.5):
A nice quickie, both in length and content, and set in Northern Ireland not too far away from the place I call home.

Rough Tackle by Annabelle Jacobs (3.5):
Sweet story involving a rather drunken birthday celebration, a football match, a twisted ankle and two cute young men.

Illumination by Sam Evans (3.5):
One angry man thinks he’s about to lose the theatre that’s the passion of his life but finds not only doesn’t he lose anything, he gains quite a bit too.

The Jacobite by Bette Brown (4.5):
An Aussie expat in Scotland meets a man from Cornwall on a steam train. Easy companionship soon turns into something more.

Wag, Not a Dog by Theo Fenraven (5):
Written by the only author in this anthology I’ve actually read and enjoyed before this mark may partially be the result of familiarity. On the other hand it may be caused by the fact that this is a sweet, original, fully formed and well written story.

Tops Down, Bottoms Up by Jay Northcote (4):
Morris dancing might not be the first thing to spring to mind when it comes to romance but boy did it work.

First Contact by Rhidian Brenig Jones (3):
Set in Wales an American traveller meets a sulking Welsh man and helps him out of his dark mood. I liked the characters but the story felt a bit jumpy and unresolved.

Apollo, Heathcliff and Hercules by S.A. Garcia(4.5):
In which an established couple goes on rents a holiday cottage on the Moors, much to the regret of one of them. What could have turned into a weeklong disaster takes a turn for the better when they meet the owner and the possibilities he offers. Funny and at times very imaginative.

“I suffered a heated, fast fantasy of being a sheep submitting to his special herding skills.”

This is a wonderful and varied collection of stories. We have reunions, encounters that may or may not be one night stands, established relationships, unexplained phenomena, angst and lightness. We are treated to full on sex, glimpses of passion and encounter that leave the intimate details up to the reader’s imagination. I don’t think there are many regions in the United Kingdom not featured in this anthology, making this book as varied when it comes to setting as it does in every other aspect.

Not every story will give you a happy ever after, in fact a lot of them leave it up to the reader to imagine what might happen next, and since I like nothing better than fantasising on after a story finishes, that worked wonderfully well for me.

This is great book if you like to occasionally dip into a well written but quick romantic M/M story. Every single one of these stories would make for a perfect lunch hour or bedtime read. ‘Not Quite Shakespeare’ works even better if you have been thinking of dipping a toe into this genre but didn’t know where to begin or are just looking for new authors to explore.