The Dom’s Way by Sean Michael


The Dom’s Way by Sean Michael
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (188 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M, Toys, Anal Play, Spanking, Multiple Partners
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Neal and Way from The Closet Boy are back, only now they’re Dom and sub, and exploring their relationship through the lifestyle. Way is eager to learn everything, and more in love with his master every day. For his part, Neal can’t believe how lucky he is to have found such an innocent but sensual boy.

As they learn what works best for them both, Way has trouble obeying some of the rules Neal imposes. Like the no touching himself rule. Neal wants Way to learn control, but Way, after so long holding back, has trouble not indulging. The two men must work together to find the balance that brings them each the most satisfaction and happiness.

Neal and Way are working on their relationship. It’s still quite new and they each have a lot to learn – and explore – about each other. Can they build on their relationship together?

While this book is the fifth related to the Iron Eagle gym, it follows very close on the heels of “The Closet Boy” which is the beginning of Neal and Way’ra’s relationship. While I feel that it can certainly be read as a great BDSM M/M romance by itself, I would recommend that readers catch up on “The Closet Boy” for a deeper understand of exactly how Way and Neal get to where they open up at the start of this book. I’ve greatly enjoyed all the other books in the Iron Eagle Gym series too – and they’re all worth picking up on their own merits, but this story really does round out and completes the relationship started in The Closet Boy.

Neal is exceptionally new to the entire scenario of the BDSM world. In some respects this would be a very good story for a beginner to read. A lot of the mechanics of how various BDSM relationships work is explained to Way in detail. There’s also a lot of discussion between Neal and Way as they communicate their thoughts and desires to each other as they build their own relationship up together. Way is very much a novice, and while I think readers unsure or new to the lifestyle will thoroughly enjoy having everything explained to them, I have to admit I was personally quite impatient to get to Neal and Way finding their own path and growing together. I have to admit though I really feel this is an exceptional “explaining” style of story and this is exactly the story of writing and tale I craved when the scene was new to me and I didn’t understand half of what I read.

Most of the elements are fairly standard to a BDSM relationship – boundaries, slit play, piercings etc – but I felt that something about the way this was so new and fresh for Way helped breathe new life into it. Neal loved teaching Way, and seeing how new and awesome the various aspects of the lifestyle was to Way helped make this story feel really fresh and exciting to me. I really enjoyed how Neal and Way are totally committed to each other, but there is a strong cast of recurring secondary characters (from the previous books) who also play an important part. They’re all friends and support each other. While there are a few group scenes everyone remains with their respective partners. While I labeled it as “Multiple Partners” it’s more they share their sexuality in the same room and share their experiences – but don’t actually swap partners.

I found this to be a wonderful story, full of the joy and excitement a fresh new relationship can bring. With plenty of spice and naughty sex this book pretty much has something for everyone. A great story.

Wish You Were Here by Asta Idonea


Wish You Were Here by Asta Idonea
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (54 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

​​The death of Oakley’s sister has left his family broken and buried beneath their grief. In an attempt to get out from underneath their pain, they rent an isolated cottage in the Cotswolds. For Oakley, it’s an exercise in futility. He doesn’t see much hope for things to get back to the way they used to be, and he’s bored and restless as he waits out the time until he can return to the city and university. All of that changes when he meets local boy Bobby, and the connection between them is instant. Within a few days, Oakley is ready to walk away from everything to stay with Bobby. However, Bobby has problems of his own, and they might be more than the budding romance can survive. But they might also give Oakley a new perspective on his own situation.​

Life might not seem beautiful, but it’s a wonderful ride if you open your eyes.

I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I opened this book. I knew it would be interesting when I finished the first chapter and raced right through to the second without a second thought. The writing captivated me and I wanted to know how this person, Bobby, could exist where he did in the conditions he did. I was certainly drawn in.

I liked Oakley, too. Bobby’s initial reaction to him amused me. “What kind of name is Oakley?” It’s a very young person thing to say. But I liked Bobby and Oakley both. Oakley has been hit hard by the passing of his sister. He’s dealing with the remorse of living while she isn’t and feeling he’s not reacting correctly. He’s very human in his reactions and I wanted to hug the poor guy.

This isn’t a super hot story from a sex scene point of view and that’s fine. It worked for me and the story.  If you want a short story that you won’t soon forget, one with heart and remarkable characters, then this might be the one for you.

An Enchanting Liftoff by A.J. Marcus


An Enchanting Liftoff by A.J. Marcus
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (56 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

The sky’s the limit….

It’s wealthy advertising executive Rusty Donovan’s first time at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. When he scores a ride on a hot-air balloon in rainbow colors, he’s as captivated with the balloon’s pilot, Chad Holmes, as he is with the breathtaking experience. Rusty learns Chad’s business is struggling to the point where he might have to close it down.

Fortunately, Rusty has some ideas about promoting Chad’s Santa Fe based tour company, and he also has some ideas about what he’d like to do with Chad. As they work together and get to know one another, the future—both for the business and for them as a couple—looks as bright as the brilliant New Mexico sky.

Rusty is a big-wig advertising executive. He and his best friend and photographer, Tyler are heading to the Balloon festival to get some amazing promotional pictures. While there, Rusty meets Chad – a seriously hunky Balloon owner. Can these two men find the perfect lift off together?

This is a fun and short story that I found wonderful, lighthearted and deliciously romantic. I loved watching Rusty and Chad get to know each other and start their lovely relationship. Even though the two men come from pretty different worlds, they clicked together immediately and had good chemistry. I found their romance believable and enjoyed watching them come together.

I also enjoyed the strong cast of secondary characters. Tyler was fun loving and a bit of a scamp, and even Rosie and Chad’s other helpers all seemed to make the story feel more well-rounded to me, not just thrown in casually to pad out the list of people populating the story. I felt each character had a proper purpose and helped highlight Chad and Rusty’s growing relationship.

While the sex was well written and spicy, I didn’t feel it pushed the envelope too much and it wasn’t as prominent as it often is in erotic romance stories these days. I actually enjoyed the fact the story seemed to focus more on the characters and the relationship growing between Chad and Rusty and didn’t miss that the sex didn’t have as much zing as you can often find. Other readers might not feel the same, but to me I enjoyed the stronger focus being on the men and their characters. This would be a good story for readers who don’t mind M/M storylines and aren’t looking for too much spicy sex with their romance.

A fun, light and happy short story that I feel lots of people will enjoy.

Seven Minutes by Grace Kilian Delaney


Seven Minutes by Grace Kilian Delaney
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (54 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex, Cross-Dressing
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Can love be found in seven minutes?

Heavy metal singer Stone Manson never acknowledged his attraction to men. But when he meets sexy cross-dresser Devon at a party and spends Seven Minutes in Heaven with him, he can’t deny his reaction. His confusion leads him to mess up—big time—with Devon, but after some soul-searching, Stone decides to do whatever it takes to show Devon he’s worth the risk.

Devon’s got a thing for hot, tattooed rock stars—just not the sexually conflicted and closeted ones. Stone’s persistence has Devon warming up to the idea of the singer in his bed, and maybe even in his life, until a threat emerges from Devon’s past. Now it’s Devon’s turn to trust Stone or both their lives could be in jeopardy.

These two seem totally opposite, but it’s so good.

This book was a first for me. I’ve never read a romance involving a cross-dressing character. I’m glad I rectified that. This story was sweet, cute and had some harder edges. There’s a burly rock star involved. It can’t be smooth all over. The writing flowed well and I read the book over the course of my lunch hour. Great quick read. I had to know what would happen between Devon and Stone.

Now, while this is a short story, there’s a lot going on. Devon is more than he seems. Sure, he loves to wear dresses and spike heels, but he’s also a dedicated mechanic. He’s not perfect, but that’s what I liked about it. I wish the story was longer because I enjoyed watching the romance unfold between him and Stone. Oh and Stone. He’s a tough nut to crack. He doesn’t think he’s attracted to guys, but there’s something about Devon. I loved his protective streak and his decision to open up. His growth through the story was great. Oh, and the sex scenes were off the charts. Very hot.

If you want a story that’s got heart, passion and something more, then this might be the book for you.

Runaway Rock Star by CJ Anthony


Runaway Rock Star by CJ Anthony
States of Love
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (87 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex, Masturbation
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Just hours before Brandon Harris is supposed to head home to Cincinnati for a Labor Day family picnic, his boss at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame forces him into giving a private tour to bratty British pop-rock star Lucas Black. Before he knows it, he finds himself swept up in a whirlwind road trip through Ohio with Lucas riding shotgun.

Lucas grabs hold of this wild opportunity to run away—even for a few precious days—from the gilded cage that is his carefully managed life. He’s just looking for a little fun and freedom as a normal person. From roller coasters to a college football game, Brandon begins to see the real Lucas Black buried under the famous persona. But by the time he and Lucas discover their mutual attraction, they only have one night left before both of them have to go back to their real lives. The fun is over…unless Lucas can run away for real this time and keep their adventure going.

He just wants a weekend on his own…while he travels through Ohio?

I’ve lived in Ohio all my life and while I know it’s exciting, I never thought about the state through the eyes of someone who’s never been here. It’s actually more interesting than I’d ever thought.

CJ Anthony does a great job at writing a road trip through Ohio. I felt like I was right there with Lucas and Brandon through the trip. I also liked how the author allowed Lucas to grow. This isn’t a long story, but both Brandon and Lucas certainly change. I felt a connection to Brandon and rooted for him to finally get what he wanted. The plot raced along well, with emotions as the driving force. The sex scenes came along after a slow burn and were a great payoff. The story is short, but it’s worth the read.

If you’re looking for a book that’s equal parts Ohio’s greatest hits and sexy rock star with nerdy-ish business guy, then this might be the book for you.

Beyond The Grill by Tracey Michael


Beyond The Grill by Tracey Michael
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (96 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Justin Walker is used to being the hookup but never the boyfriend, and that’s okay. Justin has goals—he might sling burgers by night and work on his car by day, but he has plans to go to school and make a life for himself. He also has a few friends and loving parents.

What more could a guy ask for?

Hot, muscular, manly Shane Steel is a walking wet dream. Justin fantasizes about having Shane as more than a casual acquaintance, and one night he works up the courage to flirt with Shane. To his surprise—and terror—Shane is interested. Very interested.

As they bond over their love of cars and drag racing, Justin begins to believe he can be more to Shane than a side guy. Too bad Shane’s manipulative and dangerous ex is dead set against letting that happen.

Justin and Shane have been casual friends for a while, but it’s only as they slowly get to know each other they realize just how much they have in common – especially when it comes to cars. Justin is wary, he’s screwed up too many friendships by falling in lust and scaring his friends away, but Shane doesn’t seem concerned. Indeed, when Shane offers the use of his garage to help teach Justin more about cars, the two men get even closer, and soon Justin is willing to push the boundaries of their friendship even further.

This is an interesting and multi-layered story. While initially the relationship between Justin and Shane is straight-forward, there come to be a few complications that I felt really deepen the complexity of the plot. Some readers mightn’t enjoy the nefarious lengths Shane’s high school friend Lukas stoop to (drugs and borderline non-consent) but I was pleased that while these lines were flirted with, nothing truly devastating actually occurs. This isn’t a light-hearted, fluffy or sweet style of erotic romance story though and so readers who are looking for something easy and cheery might not want to try this.

I really enjoyed though how the shared love of cars and mechanics kept up as a strong theme throughout the story. Often once the plot deepens and the personal relationships get complicated sometimes shared interests can fall by the wayside in these sorts of stories, but Justin’s car and the stereo system Shane and Justin put in along with their mechanics are a strong thread throughout the story and I really appreciated this. I also liked how Lukas was a deep (albeit nasty) character. He wasn’t just some cardboard cut-out – or the “token bad guy”, he was complicated and wonderfully hateful. These things really filled out the story and kept me interested in each and every page.

A blokey and wonderfully emotional story with a lovely happy ending, this M/M should tick plenty of boxes for readers who like their stories spicy and their plots convoluted.

New Lease by BG Thomas


New Lease by BG Thomas
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (46 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Wade Porter spent his whole life in the shadow of a lover who doled out snippets of love and time as he saw fit—and who insisted that love stay deep in the closet. But now that man is gone, and Wade finds the oceanside cottage where they spent so many weekends together in the Florida Keys cold and empty. He has come one last time, not even sure he wants to keep living.

To his surprise, the house next door is occupied by another bereaved and lonely man. Kent Walker is an artist of romantic gay paintings who is open to the future—and determinedly interested in Wade. Kent wants to show Wade the beauty in being an openly gay man and the possibilities for a real relationship.

Maybe Kent can help Wade let go of the past and discover a better way to live—and love.

No one should ever be a secret.

My heart broke as I read this story. It’s been a while since I’ve had a story cut me to the marrow. BG Thomas wrote these characters in a tender, loving way that made me want to know more about them and root for them, too. I loved Wade and Kent. These two are flawed, sure, but the journey is so…good.

I said my heart broke. Wade lived for a long time in the shadow of his former lover, Gene. He was a secret and expected to be quiet. Considering there are many gay people who feel forced to live this way–from their own choices or those of others–made him realistic. I wanted to hug Wade and let him know it was okay to cry and to move on. I liked the dynamic between Wade and Kent. The age difference is great and the way they look at things is good, too. They’re survivors and finding each other might be the best thing to happen to them.

My only quibble is I wish the story was longer because I didn’t want to let these two characters go. But trust me, it’s not a true quibble. I just loved them so much.

If you want a short story that will tug at the heart strings, then this might be the book for you.

Back Off! That’s My Jock by Wade Kelly


Back Off! That’s My Jock by Wade Kelly
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult
Length: Full Length (280 pages)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lilac

Defining his sexuality didn’t make sense until his best friend spelled it out.

Doug Archer did some pretty idiotic things in the first eight weeks of his junior year of college. First, he kissed his gay best friend, and second, he kissed a guy he’d mistaken for a girl. Not stellar moments for Doug. If he isn’t careful, he’ll lose his spot on the soccer team to the new freshman, or worse, he might misconstrue his new friend Rob’s overly affectionate tendencies for flirting. But if Doug isn’t bothered by another guy’s attention, and he normally dates girls, does that mean he’s gay or bisexual?

Sam Garber suppressed his same-sex attraction his entire life. His father told him it was immoral, and Sam did everything he could to bury his feelings. However, after meeting Doug at a party and kissing him, Sam can’t think of anything else. He decides dating girls is the best way to keep his secret hidden. With playoffs in sight, this is no time to think about guys in any other context than soccer. Only neither boy anticipates the difficulty in suppressing his attraction for another jock!

Two college boys meet. One is dressed like a girl. A kiss happens. But one boy is bisexual and the other comes from an excruciatingly religious, abusive family. Angst, angst, angst abounds.

In case you want to know, Doug’s POV is in first person while Sam’s are in third person. That seems like the new norm for dual perspective these days. Just FYI. It’s easy to get accustomed to, so I had no trouble there.

The beginning is a bit on the dull side, with long pages of exposition. I wanted to see things happen, not be told about them after the fact. Namely how Doug and Sam(antha) met. We do get to see that scene eventually but it might have worked better in the beginning. Nonetheless, when we do see it, it’s short and to the point. I liked how easily the scene flowed.

This is a good book. I adored the other books in this series. Kelly is a great writer who has a knack for realistic characters and dialogue, humor and angst, awkwardness of teen years and growing up, friendship and family, not to mention love and sensuality. I especially love how the author portrays friends, for example Rob, who’s my favorite, a fun person I love to read about. Everyone needs a Rob in their lives. Though, on a side note, some might not appreciate the lengthy talks about religion here, specifically, Christianity. But since Rob is such a nice person, his views are positive and kind. In these turbulent, hate-filled times, that was a nice change.

Kelly’s grasp of characterization shines here as well. Both Doug and Sam come off as three-dimensional characters, flesh and blood boys trying to make sense of things changing in their lives. Doug’s temper and jealousy, for one, are a few of his defining characteristics. But he’s also a compassionate defender of those he cares for. Sam’s fears are also given center stage, the trauma of being brought up in fear because of a violent, ultra-religious father and a mother scared into silence. Sam is afraid to love Doug and Doug has ways to go before he knows who he himself is but the two boys inevitably gravitate toward each other.

The structure of the book is a bit off. For example, when Doug and Sam finally kiss again, the scene is immediately interrupted by several chapters of Sam’s version of everything that’s happened before, things that I already learned from Doug’s perspective. That really irked me, since it seemed useless. Sam’s feelings, his confusion, could have been depicted differently. It wasn’t necessary to hear his thoughts when the reader could infer those things from his reactions, expressions and words, from Doug’s chapters just fine.

The first half on the story is full of angst in the sense that Doug is confused about his sexuality and wants to be with Sam, while Sam is buried deep in the closet and afraid of being true to himself. Be forewarned that both guys date and kiss girls during the story, so if you consider that cheating, then steer clear.

The interpersonal angst and the inner self-reflections felt realistic and relatable. I especially appreciated the way Sam began to learn how to question the things his father had told him: that all gays are faggots, that it’s unnatural, etc. It wasn’t a quick epiphany but more of a series of slow realizations. Sam really grows into his own man during the story, finding his courage and sense of self. In contrast, Doug learns to curb his temper and think things through, take his time, and be patient. His puzzlement over whether he’s straight, gay, or bisexual was rather well done. His dad’s and Chris’s influence on Doug’s thought processes were quite revealing. I was glad bisexuality was given the credit it deserves. Labels and fitting into boxes don’t work for everyone.

In the second half of the book the plot kind of falls apart a bit. First, there are a lot of sports situations. And I mean a lot. Then there is a violent parent who goes off the deep end, leaning toward the melodramatic. It was obvious from the start this would happen but did it need to? It felt like once the boys decide to be together, the tension of would-they-wouldn’t-they was resolved, and a new one had to be created. After the intense interpersonal conflicts of the first half, the second half didn’t really do it for me. The sex was hotter than the sun, though, so that was a plus.

The overall message of hope, love, friendship, family, and togetherness were strong throughout. Kelly’s writing style is strong, with a mix of inner monologue, dialogue, and sensual or physical scenes. Noteworthy is the fact that the boys belong to a soccer team, so most of the story revolves around the team, friendships, games, competitions, etc. Sort of a sports-themed romance. But more than that, I think this was about sexual identity and self-identity, and those subjects were handled exceedingly well.

Though this is a standalone book, to get the most out of these characters and the issues and conflicts covered, I suggest you read the whole series. This is the third in the Jock series, and they’re all worth a read. Recommended to those who like college boys figuring things out, who appreciate romances heavy on the angst factor and naughty sex, and who wish to understand through one example of what it’s like to be bisexual. I liked this a lot, and I’m looking forward to more.

Cowboys Don’t Come Out by Tara Lain


Cowboys Don’t Come Out by Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (200 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Rand McIntyre settles for good enough. He loves his small California ranch, raising horses, and teaching riding to the kids he adores—but having kids of his own and someone to love means coming out, and that would jeopardize everything he’s built. Then, despite his terror of flying, he goes on a holiday to Hana, Hawaii, with his parents and meets the dark and mysterious Kai Kealoha, a genuine Hawaiian cowboy. Rand takes to Kai’s kid brother and sister as much as he drools over Kai, but the guy sports more prickles than a horned toad and more secrets than the exotic land he comes from.

Kai’s earned his privacy and lives to protect his “kids.” He ought to stay away from the big, handsome cowboy for everyone’s sake—but since the guy’s just a haole on a short vacation, how much damage can he do? When all of Kai’s worst fears and Rand’s darkest nightmares come true at once, there’s not much chance for two cowboys who can’t—or won’t—come out.

They say opposites attract and there aren’t two men more different than Rand and Kai. But when the two men finally meet and discover an undeniable attraction, will the two closeted cowboys find a way to overcome their fears and find happiness? Or will they allow their stubborn pride and obligations come between them? Hop a flight to Hawaii and come find out.

Rand is my kind of guy. Although he’s so far in the closet he might wind up in Narnia one day, he’s content with the life he’s living. He puts all his energy into running a little tourist ranch and raising horses. His loyalty to his crew and his love of his parents made me like him even more. He’s a good guy who only needs to meet the right guy and he’d finally have it all. Kai truly is that right guy.

Kai is an interesting guy who is hiding a secret. Unknown to anyone, he is sole provider to his much younger brother and sister. Working as a trail guide, he does everything he can to provide for the kids and keep their situation quiet. While this is admirable, it does cause Kai to act a little suspect at times. Until this book, I’d never heard of panilolos – Hawaiian cowboys. And then I met Kai and was entranced. There is so much history in Hawaii and I have only scratched the barest surface. It added an interesting dimension to his already complicated character.

Cowboys have long been a favorite subject of mine, seeing as I’ve spent most of my life in the southwest, so Cowboys Don’t Come Out was a natural choice for me. Although, at times, there was a bit of unnecessary melodrama due to a few side characters, the overall story was sweet with a few heartbreaking moments near the end. It was an excellent start to the series.

Just a Cowboy by Julia Talbot


Just a Cowboy by Julia Talbot
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (88 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Can an old-fashioned cowboy and a young man on the run from his dark past find a future together?

Herschel is a simple rancher who believes everybody deserves a second chance, which is why he tends to hire underdogs—like Dalton, a young cowboy who needs all the support and TLC Herschel can offer.

Dalton doesn’t think anyone can forgive him for what he did, but Herschel seems willing to try. In fact, he might be the best thing that has ever happened to Dalton. He might even be the one to help Dalton trust in the future again. Just when he’s about to tell Herschel everything, all hell breaks loose. Herschel must help Dalton break free from everything that’s haunting him, or they’ll both end up alone.

Everyone deserves a second chance… or do they? If you ask Dalton, you might be surprised by his answer. What Dalton doesn’t expect is to run into the one cowboy that can change it all for him if he’ll only put forth a little effort and communicate. Can two very stubborn cowboys from different worlds find a way to make it work? Time – and a little love – will tell.

I loved Herschel from the very beginning. He’s your typical cowboy who only wants a simple life doing what he loves. Herschel can waver between big brother and father figure to everyone he knows and it’s quite endearing to see how he is with other cowboys. Watching him move from boss to lover with Dalton was a real treat.

Dalton has a habit of acting like an irrational child. While he’s young, he’s been on his own for a bit and should have a better handle on his reactions. That said, he’s a sweet kid and an excellent match for Herschel as he brings a bit of levity to Hersch’s stubborn ways. The older cowboy does a lot to help Dalton overcome his fears and grow into the boots he’s wearing in return.

Once Dalton is forced to face his past, things get hairy, mostly because the entire situation is a little dramatic. Dalton’s pregnant sister, his parents, and half the town where Dalton grew up only add to the chaos. This is one of those times where being a bit stubborn is both good and bad. Good because it gives you the drive to do what needs to be done, but bad as well because it keeps you from admitting to being wrong. In the end, Just a Cowboy, was a sweet and enjoyable story full of hot cowboys and a lot of craziness.