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.

Cowboys Don’t Ride Unicorns by Tara Lain


Cowboys Don’t Ride Unicorns by Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (226 pgs)
Other: M/M, Multiple Partners, Anal Play, Voyeurism
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Cowboy Danny Boone—a name he made up one drunken night and has regretted ever since—harbors a big past and yearns for a small future. A short, bright career as a champion bull rider almost ended in his death when his homophobic father discovered Danny was gay. Now Danny longs for a plot of land he can build a ranch house on and enough money to make up for some of the education he missed.

Danny also hides a preference for beautiful femmes who like to top—a combo rarer than a unicorn. Then onto the guest ranch where Danny works drives San Francisco decorator Laurie Belmont, a young man so gorgeous he makes horses gasp, and so ballsy he almost kills Danny’s attacker.

Laurie’s trying to find his way out from under the thumb of a domineering mother, helpless father, and rich, privileged boyfriend.

But no matter the attraction, their lives are worlds apart, and cowboys don’t ride unicorns.

Everyone has their own preferences and discerning tastes, but sometimes what you want and what you can actually get are on opposite ends of the spectrum. This is Danny Boone’s quandary – does he settle for what he can get his hands on or does he keep searching for that elusive man that will trip his trigger indefinitely? Should a cowboy search for his unicorn or stick with his ever-ready pony?

Danny Boone! I was so happy when I realized this was his book. I loved the relationship he and Rand had in the first installment and seeing him more fully fleshed out made me happy. He’s a great guy – solid, hardworking, reliable – and the best hand Rand has around. But he’s also lonely and looking for something more which made me sad to read. It was good going into the story knowing he was finally going to find his happiness.

Laurie Belmont. I wanted to like Laurie so much, especially once you learn about how his family and his boyfriend treat him. You don’t find many unrepentantly authentic characters these days and I was happy to see Laurie so at ease with the man that he was. However, since he’s very femme, at times, his actions and reactions went over the top. So much so that, at several points, he felt more like a caricature or stereotype rather than an actual character. The moments when he and Danny are alone, Laurie is most like himself and he’s really fun and lovable at those times.

Cowboys Don’t Ride Unicorns brings two very unlikely characters together under even more unlikely circumstances. Generally, those ‘deep, dark secrets’ don’t work for me, but Danny’s secret is of the kind that makes sense to hide in an effort to move past it. For the most part, he has done exactly that. The author does throw you a twist by switching up the sexual preferences of Danny and Laurie, giving you a less stereotypical romance between the two men. Even with all the drama, meddling parents, and other craziness, I enjoyed seeing Kai, Rand, and the kids again as well as watching Danny find his happiness.

Treasure for Treasure by R. Cooper


Treasure for Treasure by R. Cooper
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (333 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

In the nineteenth century, the dragon Dìzhèn put the small coastal town of Everlasting under her protection. Her family was supposed to carry on the tradition, but all of Dìzhèn the Great’s heirs eventually left rather than live in the shadow of such a powerful dragon.

Only the youngest dragon of the current generation remains: Zarrin, the softhearted disgrace of his family. He might be weak, small, and afraid, but he is determined to show the humans they have not been forgotten… one human in particular. The problem is, Zarrin can barely get that human to talk to him.

It should be a dream come true to have a dragon trying to get his attention. But Joe refuses to bow to Zarrin like everyone else. Yes, Zarrin is sexy, oddly gentle for a dragon, and stares at Joe with a gaze so hot it makes him shiver. But hurt, mistrustful Joe can’t believe Zarrin’s promises that he’s here to stay. Joe doesn’t realize he is the treasure Zarrin has been looking for his whole life, a treasure he once let slip through his fingers out of fear. Now, to win Joe’s trust, Zarrin has to be brave and become as strong as Dìzhèn herself.

Joe has always been an outcast in the town that he lives in. After high school and what happened during those years, he could not wait to get away but eventually something pulls him back to the little town. Coming back he finds a job at the local coffee shop and soon finds that he has attracted the attention of the local dragon. The dragons have been in this town for years but it seems that every dragon has left except one. Zarrin is not the fearsome dragon that he believes he should be, yet he is trying to take care of the town and Joe. Fear and hate are among the many things that Zarrin must overcome in this town. Is he strong enough to stand and fight for Joe and the town or is he truly as weak as all the other dragons have made him feel? Will Joe and Zarrin find a way to a happy ever after or is it already too late?

R. Cooper weaves a magical story of love and devotion with this book. I adored Zarrin. He is so much stronger than what he has been led to believe. He is smart and loves with all his heart. Joe has had a hard life but is still a good man inside. Both men long for things that they think they cannot have and are not worthy of, but love does not judge in the same way. I loved watching the two find their way to a beautiful relationship. It was nice to see Joe and Zarrin willing to stand and fight for each other and their love. Not only did I enjoy seeing the two work through their emotions but it was also nice to see Zarrin find a way into the hearts of townspeople as well. Zarrin and Joe find out just how strong love and trust can be as they find their own way. Treasure for Treasure is a great addition to this series and I enjoyed this visit and hope to return to this world again.

Love’s Opening Night by Jeff Adams


Love’s Opening Night by Jeff Adams
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (48 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Can an onstage love story lead to a real-life romance?

Jeremy Steele is a veteran Broadway performer. For his latest role, he’s dancing alongside a man he’s fantasized about for years, TV star Ty Beaumont. Jeremy knows better than to get involved with a castmate, but when Ty has trouble learning the complicated choreography, Jeremy offers to lend a hand. When a rehearsal kiss turns into something more, Jeremy can’t help but wonder what a celebrity like Ty could ever see in a Broadway chorus boy like him. Will a relationship with his crush make it past previews, or can it become a long-running hit?

A sweet romance based in the theatre and peppered with dance.

I was on the hunt for a sweet short story with plenty of heart. This book did the trick. I knew what I was getting when I started it and wasn’t disappointed. Jeff Adams has penned a nice story of two guys who were on a collision course to meet. The writing flowed well and I couldn’t put it down until the last page.

This book focused more on the emotional aspects of the story and characters. The drama was to a minimum, but for this story, it worked. Sometimes life is filled with simpler drama. I did like the rougher moments for Jeremy and Ty. Jeremy was portrayed very realistically and I felt for him quite a few times.

If you’re looking for a feel-good short story to read over lunch that will leave you with a smile, then this is the story you’re looking for.

Falling for Santa Claus by CJ Anthony


Falling for Santa Claus by CJ Anthony
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (48 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

When Jack Frost’s aunt dies and leaves him her house in the tiny town of Great Falls, Jack seizes the opportunity to escape the rat race of Chicago for the quaint village he loved as a child. On his first night he’s welcomed by a baseball bat and a trespassing warning from Nick St. James—longtime Great Falls resident and infamous curmudgeon.

Jack wants to give Nick the benefit of the doubt—he can’t deny his attraction to the big man—but after several run-ins with Nick’s grumpiness and closed-off heart, he’s ready to give up. Only after discovering the secret Nick’s been covering up for years does he vow to break through Nick’s walls to find the loving man hiding behind them.

Satisfying for a chilly afternoon.

I’m all for a sweet story with a happy ending. Falling for Santa Claus delivers.

The writing was spot-on and snagged me from the beginning. I liked the characters and wanted to know what would happen to them. It was cute and sweet seeing these two characters come together. The town biddies are a treat, too. They help make the story memorable. Who doesn’t know a few individuals where are a tad too pushy and nosy? That relatable quality of the characters was great.

If I have one quibble, it’s the way Jack conducted himself. He tended to be hot and cold toward Nick. I understood exactly why he’d pull back, but the push-pull (while believable) was a tiny bit irksome. I wanted him to just decide what he wanted already.

Still, it’s a sweet story and a good holiday tale. The final result is satisfying and worth it. If you want a short read for over the lunch hour on a cold afternoon, then this is the book for you.

Alex’s Law by Jayce Ellis


Alex’s Law by Jayce Ellis
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense, Holiday
Length: Short Story (59 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex, Masturbation
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Alex Corrigan is in love with his boss, Judge Lawson Daniels, and thinks those feelings are returned. That assumption is sorely tested two days before the court holiday party they’re organizing together, when the venue calls and cancels, followed by a snafu with the caterer. Alex could handle that, but after an intimate dinner followed by a decidedly unromantic e-mail, he’s left wondering about the future of his employment as well as his relationship with the debonair older man.

Law can’t wait to see his clerk again. But Alex is cold and distant in the light of day, and Law doesn’t understand. The party looms in the background, but Law’s excitement is turning to dread. On top of that, someone is sabotaging them, trying to get Alex fired and drive Law off the bench. If there’s any chance for a happy holiday for Alex and Law, they’ll have to find out who.

A workplace romance? Who says it can’t happen…

I haven’t read anything by Jayce Ellis, but I’m glad I remedied that. This book rocked. I loved the characters and the build-up. The author knew how to make the characters dance around each other and seem realistic. I read the author’s bio and see she’s a lawyer. This was why the courtroom portions of the book were so detailed and interesting. I felt like I was right there with Alex and Law.

These two characters were so funny in the way they couldn’t quite figure out how to say what they wanted. I rooted for them all the way. Ms. Ellis wrote with a good knowledge of law, which helped make the story better and deeper. I could feel the passion between the characters and wanted to see them find their happy ending.

If you want a book with a touch of suspense, a little mystery and lots of heat, then this might be the book for you.

Treasure Trail by Nicole Dennis


Treasure Trail by Nicole Dennis
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (71 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Owner of Matey’s Tavern, a popular brewpub-tavern in St. Augustine, Florida, Derick Keyes loves his adopted hometown and job. He also harbors a crush on a pirate captain.

Tour guide for the popular Pirate Pub Walking Tour, Christopher Easton portrays a pirate captain as he takes visitors on a guided tour of St. Augustine, stopping at certain taverns for a pint of grog and tales of the golden age of piracy. With a little liquid courage, Chris breaks the cycle when he talks to Derick. Things change between them. Derick wants a chance for more with Chris.

During the Annual Pirate Festival, Derick creates a treasure hunt for Chris after “cursing” him. To break the curse, Chris must find four clues before the final battle on Sunday night. Only then can the curse be broken.

Matey’s Tavern is one of the oldest pubs in St. Augustine. Derrick is the owner and is very happy that his pub is on the regular route for the tourist attraction – the Pirate Pub Crawl. Captain Chris was far and away Derrick’s favourite tour leader, six feet tall of deeply interesting man, Derrick couldn’t deny his attraction to the Captain. But Derrick is painfully shy and doesn’t know how to approach Chris. Chris is certainly interested, but doesn’t know Derrick returns the attraction. Can these two men find their way to each other?

I found this to be a fun story, full of pirate lore and set in the lovely historical city of St. Augustine. I enjoyed how the author worked in a fair bit of history about the city without info-dumping and made it feel relevant and intriguing. Derrick and Chris are both really interesting characters and I found myself drawn into the start of their relationship quite quickly. Readers who like a slower pace to their romances should be as thrilled by Derrick and Chris as I was. I loved how they got to know each other a bit first, talking and spending time and not simply jumping straight into bed.

Readers who like pirate stories should also find this a fun and great read. While the re-enactments and pirate stuff is certainly part of the plot, I enjoyed how it was (for me, at least) a completely different way for the two men to come together. And while both Derrick and Chris talked about a whole lot of other things as they got to know each other, the theme of the pirate tours stayed strong throughout the story – it wasn’t just dropped as soon as the men got to know each other, and I found this quite refreshing.

For a hot, sexy and explicit read this story ticks a number of great boxes for me. I loved both Chris and Derrick’s characters and found myself quite attached to them both almost form the start. With a fun scavenger’s hunt, loads of pirate acting and games and a bit of history about the town of St. Augustine, I found this to be a fantastic book and a great read. I’ll happily be reading it many times to come.

Taming The Wyld by Lucie Archer


Taming The Wyld by Lucie Archer
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (101 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

The Witness Protection Program dumps JD Smith practically at the ends of the earth—in Two Pines, Alaska—to protect him until he can testify against a dangerous gang. He tries to stick to his story and keep his head down, but it’s impossible to ignore bush pilot Jake Wylder, a sexy loner with quite a reputation around the small town.

Flying medical supplies around Alaska suits Jake’s wild streak and love of freedom. He’s perfectly content to keep his romantic encounters casual—at least until he meets JD. Something about the nurse makes Jake think settling down might not be such a hardship. Now he just needs to convince JD he’s serious—which won’t be easy, given his past.

For a relationship to stand a chance, JD must testify so he can return to Two Pines as the man he really is—and Jake must grow into the man JD needs him to be.

Jake owns two bush planes and his company – Wyld Freight and Transport – delivers medical supplies to small towns in the Alaskan wilderness. On one of their supply runs, Jake meets JD. JD was hiding out in Alaska and had no plans to stick around longer than necessary. But can Jake make JD change his mind?

I found this a fun and light-hearted story. Jake was a total player – a bit of a good-natured hound dog really – and while sometimes those kinds of characters really irritate me I have to admit I loved Jake. While he was a bit free and easy with his bed-partners, he was good natured about it and genuinely didn’t mean anything bad by all those one night stands. JD, in contrast, has secrets and despite his attraction to Jake has no intention of starting a relationship when so much of JDs life is a complete mess right now.

I really enjoyed the characters, both Jake and JD were layered and I found them extremely interesting. There were also plenty of very strong secondary characters who I thought helped make the story really great. While much of the plot revolved around JD and Jake circling each other, disagreeing with each other and fighting their attraction, there was a decent sub-plot around JD’s secrets that I found really interesting.

Best of all I loved how Jake and JD didn’t just jump into bed, or fall at each other’s feet and instantly have sex. I loved the build-up of their attraction, the chemistry that sparked and grew until neither one could deny it, even if they did butt heads plenty. I thought this was a well-paced, realistic love story with a great plot and all that wrapped up together made this a deeply satisfying read for me.

With great characters, interesting plot and some steamy sex I feel this is a fantastic book and one I would happily recommend to friends.

Plaid versus Paisley by KC Burn


Plaid versus Paisley by KC Burn
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (209 pgs)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

Two years after his life fell apart, Will Dawson moved to Florida to start over. His job in the tech department of Idyll Fling, a gay porn studio, is ideal for him. When his boss forces him to take on a new hire, the last person he expects is Dallas Greene—the man who cost him his job and his boyfriend back in Connecticut. He doesn’t know what’s on Dallas’s agenda, but he won’t be blindsided by a wolf masquerading as a runway model. Not again.

Dallas might have thrown himself on his brother’s mercy, but his skills are needed at Idyll Fling. Working with Will is a bonus, since Dallas has never forgotten the man. A good working relationship is only the beginning of what Dallas wants with Will.

But Dallas doesn’t realize how deep Will’s distrust runs, and Will doesn’t know that the man he’s torn between loving and hating is the boss’s brother. When all truths are revealed, how can a relationship built on lies still stand?

Will has gotten himself a good job and although he is happy and comfortable he never forgets why he is where he is now. Will may be happy at his job but everyone including his friends can see that he is burning himself out. When his boss brings a young man names Dallas to help him Will is more than surprised. Add in the fact that Will believes that Dallas is the reason behind his firing and the sparks fly. There is a strong attraction between the two men but Will believes Dallas to be an enemy. Can the two find a way to a truce to help Idyll Fling grow into the company that it can be?

This is book two from the Fabric Hearts series. I am enjoying my visits to this world. Plaid versus Paisley gives us Will’s story. We met him in Raven’s book. Will has a reason for hiding out in the server room and it has more to do with his last job than anything else. I loved getting to see Will’s past and his reasons for his actions. When Dallas arrives we see the attraction that these two have for each other but their past plays a large part in their present. Misunderstandings and assumptions lead to pain and heartache. Can the men figure out that their love worth fighting for or is it too late? I enjoyed watching Will and Dallas find their way. Their love is stronger than they realize and seeing the work that they put into it makes for a nice read.

The author does a wonderful job of moving this story along and keeping the reader interested. Will and Dallas are both strong characters full of emotions. Their story has its ups and downs and it pulled me right in from the start. I was quickly immersed in their story and kept turning the pages to see just what would happen between the two men. Not only did Dallas and Will have a lot to say but the secondary characters also made themselves known making this a well rounded story and I hope that this is not the last time we get to visit this world.