Secured and Free by Z. Allora


Secured and Free by Z. Allora
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (219 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Fetish, Toys, spanking
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

An abusive Dom robbed Orion Gordon of his love of BDSM, destroying his confidence and leaving him unsure he’ll ever find peace through submission to another. Still, deep inside, his longing continues.

Marcus Sadir loves Hunter Dixon, yet can’t be the one thing Hunter truly desires: a sub to control. And Hunter can’t find satisfaction in the sadistic aspects of the BDSM lifestyle, while Marcus thrives on inflicting and sharing pain. When Marcus convinces Hunter they should find a third on a permanent basis, they discover Orion might be the key to bridging their differences and joining them on a deeper level.

But they must help Orion move past his trauma enough for him to enjoy new facets of BDSM and kink again. Their journey toward becoming whole—together—won’t be without challenges. Can Orion trust enough to try again?

Orion loved to play in the lifestyle and play hard. That is until one careless excuse for a Dom took it all away from him. Believing that he could trust the man Orion played without a safe word and let the Dom continue to play harder and harder until the day came that he played too hard. Orion awoke to find himself robbed of not only his dignity but his safety as well. He has tried numerous times to trust other Doms and get back into the lifestyle but each attempt has failed. When Hunter and Marcus enter the picture, Orion is more than conflicted. He longs to belong to the two men but his fear is still a wall to get past and Orion doubts he will ever get past it.

This is a great story full of well-rounded characters who are full of emotions. I loved each and every character in it. Orion is a sweet guy who has gone through a rough time and suffered some trauma yet he is trying his best to overcome it all.

Marcus and Hunter are great men who love each other and even if they are both Dominant men they make it work. Adding Orion to the mix helps balance them all. I enjoyed watching their relationship take shape. Marcus and Hunter are both attracted to Orion and are open and honest with him no matter what. Giving Orion a safe place to try again. The love that the two men have together is beautiful and seeing them want to share that with Orion made for a wonderful read. The men are understanding and let the relationship move at its own pace allowing friendship turn into more. I liked that readers got to see a good balance of Orion and his men together and apart. Seeing into each other’s personal lives made for a far more interesting read and that much sweeter when they finally find their way. Plus, we get to see their personalities shine through out their story.

It was nice to see the camaraderie in this book. From the friendships to the relationships everyone stands by each other and is always ready to help. Not only did I enjoy Orion’s story but I also enjoyed getting a look at the other couples in this story and hope that we get their stories as well.

Ride Along by Meghan Maslow


Ride Along by Meghan Maslow
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (122 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Drew Nolan is a loud-and-proud mystery writer with a brutal case of writer’s block. He needs practical experience with the Baltimore police beat to get his latest manuscript to his publisher on time. When he wins a ride-along at a writer’s conference, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot… until he meets his partner.

Closeted cop Josh de Oliveira lost his family, his partner, and the respect of his unit—all for doing the right thing. Recently busted back down to patrol, he’s relieved to get a cushy assignment at the Author’s Police Institute where he’ll take one lucky writer on a ride-along. Unfortunately, his author looks like he belongs in the backseat of Josh’s squad car—long, ginger dreadlocks, piercings, and an “I would bottom you so hard” T-shirt. But there’s something about Drew Josh is having a hard time resisting.

It’s going to be a long night and one hell of a ride as opposites attract and realize they share a lot in common beneath the surface. As animosity becomes desire, they realize they can help each other out—in more ways than one.

Drew is suffering from some monumental writers block and had thought attending a conference might help inspire something in him. But so far it had been a complete bust. Struggling to think positive, he is thrilled when his name is called for a ride-along in a police car. With his career as a policeman hanging by a thread, Josh is resigned to all the drudgery tasks his boss can think to throw at him. Initially annoyed at having to ride with an author, Josh soon finds that Drew is nothing like he expected. Is this the start of something great for them both?

This is a lovely, fun story that I really enjoyed. While Drew and Josh’s relationship started out quite rocky I loved watching it flourish and grow as the story progressed. Both Drew and Josh have plenty of their own problems, but once they finally relax in each other’s company they become first friends and then so much more. I found this a real pleasure to read.

While their relationship is certainly front-and-center of the story, I also appreciated that the plot was not simply a quick and unimportant thing. Josh’s problems with his fellow police officers and Drew’s stress about his new book were both handled very well I thought – and weren’t simply an after-thought and shoved in idly at the start and end to make the book feel as though it had some semblance of a plot. I enjoyed how while yes, their relationship was the main thrust of the story, the two plots around each man were evenly and consistently brought up all through the story giving it the feel of a good flow and excellent pacing.

A fun and lighthearted story this has an excellent and thorough plot and a bunch of wonderful characters. Sexy and hot but equal parts interesting and intense, this is a great M/M that I feel many readers will totally enjoy.

Patron by C.B. Lewis


Patron by C.B. Lewis
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (78 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Theodore Wentworth, who possesses little more than a sharp and well-educated mind, is trying to solicit a sponsor for his studies of Greek antiquity by performing recitations at gatherings of collectors. Desperate for luck and better skills in oratory, in jest, he places a coin at the feet of a statue of Hermes. It seems like coincidence when his fortune turns and a gentleman calling himself Alexander becomes his benefactor. Despite his friend John teasing him about it, Theodore continues to offer tokens to Hermes and sinks himself into his study of the classics.

Alexander encourages Theodore’s interest, prompting Theodore to face desires he tried to put aside years before. As Theodore embraces the knowledge, he must also resist his attraction to Alexander—knowing his feelings are a serious crime in Victorian England.

But the secret Alexander keeps will change everything in a love story for the ages, steeped in taboo, temptation, history, and myth.

Theodore knew it was crazy but, enraptured by a statue, he gave in to whimsy and made an offering – softly requesting for clear speech and good luck in the presentation he was about to make. Succeeding beyond his wildest dreams, Theodore embarks on a literary journey, pleased beyond measure when he finds a new friend along the way.

I really enjoyed the whimsy in this story. While historical and set roughly in the Regency period, I found the undertone of almost paranormal luck throughout the story delightful. Theodore is an avid student of Greek – the history, religion, gods and heroes – and so his monetary offering and quiet plea for help, both clarity in his speech and presentation as well as assistance in acquiring a patron really struck me as fresh and different. I thoroughly enjoyed it and don’t think the story could have had the same impact had it been a contemporary story.

While I did enjoy the pace of the story, part of me wished that the first half or so of the story wasn’t so completely focused on Theodore. I could certainly appreciate getting to know his character so well – and his position, dreams and goals, but I was a little disappointed that for an erotic romance that it was almost half way through the story before there was any romance – or passion – between Theodore and Alexander. That said, once the two men became better acquainted, the chemistry sky-rocketed and all but burned off the page. Readers looking for an explicit story might not find exactly what they want here, but personally I found the chemistry and build-up perfectly satisfying. I was also really pleased that the author didn’t skirt (or ignore) the implications of having a homosexual romance in that historical setting. The ramifications were discussed and at the fore of Theodore’s thoughts, but also not dwell upon to a depressing degree. I felt the author did an excellent job of balancing this reality along with the romance and fantasy of the story itself.

A lovely short story set in the Regency era. I loved how there was a really solid plot, a hint of paranormal/Greek god whimsy and deep, interesting characters. Recommended.

Joy by C.S. Poe


Joy by C.S. Poe
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (69 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Down on his luck is Gideon Joy’s default state. He doesn’t know why he expected anything different on his cross-country trip, but not surprisingly, the hits keep coming—literally this time. Gideon strikes a moose with his car in New Hampshire, not only totaling his own vehicle, but damaging one belonging to local construction worker Silas Bright. He has no choice but to stay in Lancaster and take a job that’ll pay for the repairs. And in a town so small, Gideon’s always running into Silas. What starts as annoyance between them soon blooms into something much more romantic. But when Gideon’s notorious bad luck rears its head yet again, how many disastrous dates will Silas be willing to weather before realizing Gideon’s not worth it?

Despite Gideon’s desire to remain in the quaint community that has accepted him as one of their own, past fears of inadequacy threaten the very joy he left Los Angeles to discover. If he’s to find a happily ever after with Silas, Gideon must learn that sometimes it’s okay to not be the best. And true happiness might be waiting in a small town nestled among the great White Mountains.

After crashing his car when a moose jumped out unexpectedly at him, Gideon Joy was pretty sure he was the most unlucky of men. Thankfully, fellow dinted-car-goer, Silas, turned out to be a decent guy and gave Gideon a lift to the nearest “town”. Needing to stay and earn some money for Silas’ repairs, Gideon is about to find that his life had taken on a complete turn-around.

This is a fun short story told in the first-person perspective from Gideon. While it’s clear that Silas is to be our hero’s hero and love interest, reading everything purely from Gideon’s perspective meant it took a little while for me to really thoroughly warm up to Silas. Silas is the strong, silent, mountain-man style of character and so not being able to see his perspective – while keeping me guessing and eagerly turning pages – did mean the romance unraveled a little more slowly than I’m used to in an erotic romance. Also, while I appreciated Gideon’s humorous inner thoughts, it made this feel more like a lighthearted romantic comedy – rather than the erotic M/M I was expecting to read. While I loved the voice and tone of the story, it took me a chapter or two to change my preconceived expectations on the story itself, relax and really start to laugh and enjoy the story for what it was.

I really feel it’s important to note that there isn’t any explicit sex at all in this story. There are a few kisses and a little hand-holding – but as I was expecting this to be an erotic romance it was fairly surprising to me that there was no sexual intimacy and nothing that I found at all explicit in the whole story. I personally don’t feel the story is lacking for this – there’s plenty of chemistry between Silas and Gideon – but readers expecting or wanting a spicy/erotic story might not find this satisfies them. That said, I loved the author’s voice and readers happy with a fun, light and humorous small-town M/M story should find this lovely. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the story, as well as the strong cast of secondary characters from the small town. This helped give the book a vibrant feeling to me and also made the whole story feel homey and warm.

A romantic and happy short story, this is a fun book with great characters and plenty of laughs.

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.

To Claim a Mate by Jennifer Denys


To Claim a Mate by Jennifer Denys
Publisher: Luminosity Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (60 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M, Toys, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

Cross the threshold of Balls & Chains, into a world where humans and shifters dominate and submit alike.

Cole Linley is a gay wolf-shifter. In order to appease the Alpha within, he has taken up the BDSM lifestyle and become very experienced. This placates his wolf to a certain extent, but his dearest wish is to find a mate—male, of course. Except, the question is, how to find one in a city surrounded by humans where other wolf-shifters are rare.

Then, one night, he enters Balls & Chains, a BDSM club he frequents, and immediately senses another of his kind. And not only that, it is the scent of a potential mate, Jared Gray. There is only one problem—Jared is collared by another Master.

Jared’s relationship shows all the signs of an abusive relationship. Can Cole get him away from the other Dom and show Jared the delights of BDSM when done properly and what it means to be a beta wolf to Cole’s Alpha?

Living in the city can take its toll on a shifter, especially an alpha like Cole. He enjoys his work and has a home where he can run free but most of all he keeps his beast at bay by going to the club, Balls and Chains. There Cole can let his alpha be appeased by playing with the subs that scene with him. Just like most shifters he longs to find his mate but he has lost hope. Then one night he finds just that at the club but the man that is his mate is already attached to another. Can Cole find a way to get Jared away from the abusive man playing at being a Dom?

To Claim a Mate grabbed my attention right from the start and continued to suck me in as the story continued. Cole is a good man and a well liked Dom. When he finds out Jared is attached, he does what he can and respects that the man is already in a relationship. I enjoyed seeing how Cole goes about wooing and getting Jared away from the abusive man. Because they are mates, their attraction is instant, yet Cole gives Jared time and space before he claims him forever.

Their story is nicely paced and I was quickly immersed in their adventure. The author does a good job of bringing these characters to life. Life seldom gives you what you want but can give you what you need. Cole and Jared learn this the hard way. I loved seeing the two fight for that love. I cannot wait to see more from this world and its inhabitants in the future.

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.