Arjun’s Pup by H. C. Brown


Arjun’s Pups by H. C. Brown
Publisher: Luminosity Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (82 pgs)
Other: M/M, Ménage, BDSM, Toys, Anal Play, M/M/M
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

Big Brother is watching every kinky move they make.

After Deon’s Artificial Intelligence module breaks down, Arjun must travel back to the future to collect the alloy he needs for the repair.

To gain access to a probe due to land on Amun 2 in the next few days, he must volunteer as a Dom in an experiment in multiple partner male-on-male sex run by the Klebs.

Arjun discovers the Klebs are using the “experiment” as an excuse to run a live feed BDSM porno channel around their world and gives them a performance they will never forget.

I was excited to see a second book in the STARMEN series from H. C. Brown. In Arjun’s Pups, the series continues with Arjun having to travel through time and space in order to save his good friend Deon, who’s in the first story. I quickly found myself immersed in Arjun’s story. He goes to a place that is using humans as cattle in their so called sexual experiments. The humans do not know and Arjun must make a choice to help them or let them remain unaware and hurting. As Arjun goes about his mission he meets two men that pull at him more than any others ever have and he cannot let them go. Will Arjun find a balance and be able to stop the aliens from experimenting on the humans and save Deon?

Arjun’s story moves along quickly and brings together three good men. Each character is strong on his own and when the three men work together there is no stopping them. Mason and Rhy are good matches for Arjun, both men add something different and special to their relationship. Rhy and Mason must also figure out just where they fit in with Arjun. Will they make the choice for love or go their separate ways? I enjoyed watching the three men find their way to a happy ending.

Their story is a nice mix of emotion and adventure. The author brings their world to life nicely. This was a nice peek at how these three men come to be together and I hope that we get to see more from them and this world in the future.

Falling Star Valentine by E. D. Parr


Falling Star Valentine by E. D. Parr
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (48 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Fashion photographer Dale Walker takes a train to his hometown, relocating there after nursing a broken heart for six months in another city. His train makes an unscheduled stop to take on a mysterious passenger.

For a long time, Valentine Steel has hoped to meet a man who will love him. When he sees Dale on the train, he’s overjoyed to find a vacant seat beside him.

Dale’s immediate attraction to Valentine has him on edge. He doesn’t want another broken heart, and yet Valentine is so magnetic that Dale’s frozen heart begins to thaw.

Valentine sets out to charm and capture Dale in his sparkling aura. He can’t let the chance to have Dale’s love slip away.

After a nasty break up, Dale is alone for Valentine’s day and has had enough. Determined to quit his moping and refusing to spend the lover’s holiday pining for his ex, Dale decides to leave the city. On the train, he meets a handsome stranger, Valentine Steel. Can these two men be exactly what the other needs?

This is an interesting short story to my mind. I was a little confused until right at the end about the mystery surrounding Valentine – his back-story is where the paranormal element comes into the plotline. Despite the fact most of the plot remains mysterious until the end of the story, I found it refreshingly unique – Valentine’s character and his “quest”. My confusion didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the story, though I would have liked to have understood the subtleties a little earlier on so I could enjoy the growing relationship between Dale and Valentine.

I felt the characters were well written. Dale is a fairly typical man and hero, unlucky in love and wanting to find his soul mate. Valentine, despite some of the mystery surrounding him was also interesting and I enjoyed reading about him trying to woo Dale and fall in love with each other. While there is plenty of steamy sex I didn’t find any aspect of the M/M relationship too envelope pushing. Readers who like a bit of spice with their romance should find this a fun and sexy read.

With a different plotline and two very interesting characters I found this to be a great read. While I would have liked the paranormal aspect of the plot to be a little less mysterious this is a fun and deliciously short read that has plenty of spice and romance.

Sticky Sweet by JJ Lore


Sticky Sweet by JJ Lore
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (39 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

From a race known for their hedonistic delight in life and emphasis on pleasure and amusement, Artem is a frustrated chef serving prepackaged meals to bored customers on the space station. His one true pleasure comes in the form of an end-of-shift dinner-visit from Constable Driver, once every third day. For months, Artem’s been dreaming about serving the Constable a more physical dessert. When he thinks Driver’s been reassigned, Artem grabs what might be his only chance and woos Driver by palate. If he’s lucky, it might just end up sticky sweet.

Two lonely souls, a diner and a chance to open up. Who wouldn’t want to take the chance?

I wasn’t sure what I was getting when I picked up this short book. I mean, Sticky Sweet. It’s an interesting title, but will the story be overly cutesy or will there be something more? I’m glad to say there was a lot more.

JJ Lore has written a fun, yes fun, story in a few pages. The characters are complex and the plot, while it maybe isn’t so complex, it drew me right in. The writing was tight and I enjoyed myself. This is a quick read, but I had to pay attention. I didn’t want to miss a moment…or a morsel. I like stories with mismatches and Artem and Driver are such characters. But the way they’re written, I could see them being together before they screwed up the courage to try to make it so. I loved how Artem finally opened up and his skills in the kitchen are…yeah, out of this world. Then there’s Driver. He’s in law enforcement. Lore totally got the loneliness and the questioning of a man in Driver’s position, but wrote him with a rich balance of questioning and concern for Artem. I liked these characters and will be on the look out for more featuring them.

If you want a hot, sweet book for a lunch hour read, then this might be the book for you. Recommended.

Talk Of The Town by Caitlin Ricci


Talk Of The Town by Caitlin Ricci
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (35 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

After ending an abusive relationship, Julian comes back home to live with his parents and his son in a small town. Life is simple, and he’s happy about that. When he delivers groceries to Garrett he finds a grumpy blind man who just wants to be left alone, but they form a fast friendship with the promise of more.

After finally leaving his abusive ex-husband, Julien is moving himself and his four year old son, Joey, for the last time. They’re settling in Colorado and Julien is determined for them both to finally set some roots down. Can this be the fresh start both Julien and Joey really need?

This is a lovely, sweet romance about starting again and the struggles of returning home when life hasn’t turned out the way you expected. I was a little disappointed that a whole lot of the romance plot was wound up just in the last couple of pages. After such a lovely, slow, long lead up to Julien and Garrett getting together it really felt as if the relationship, unburdening themselves of their past and everything happened far too quickly – all in a rush in a couple of pages.

Readers looking for an erotic story might find this lacking in that department. There is only one intimate scene and considering the current market for erotic romance it’s very chaste (a few kisses and a little oral sex). Indeed, most of the actual sex happens completely off screen and aside from that one very brief scene this could certainly be a sweet/traditional style of M/M romance (ie not erotic or explicit at all). While I was quite happy with this – sometimes it’s glorious to read a slower paced, sensual, character-driven romance story – readers looking for an erotic story might be quite disappointed.

Most of the story though was delightful. I found it to be really rich with the characters, complicated and interesting people I enjoyed getting to know. I loved the small town feel of the story and how Julien was determined to do his best by his son but also get their new life off on the right foot. Even though the story was short I didn’t feel as if anything (except the ending) was skimped over or rushed. The slow, easy pace felt perfect to me for a small-town, character-driven story.

Full of interesting and well-written characters, with a great plot and plenty of romantic build-up, I really enjoyed this short story.

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.

Broken, Collared, and Ready for Revenge by James Cox


Broken, Collared, and Ready for Revenge by James Cox
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (88 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex, Toys
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

The collar comes off and all that’s left is a broken man.

Alexander Gentlemen has spent fifteen years with the collar on, beaten into submission, tortured beyond anything a human mind can survive. He’s fractured around the edges when his brothers finally save him. With the help of ‘One Nut’ Nigel, the collar is removed. He’s starting to remember the faces of those he’s killed and fighting the urge to murder everyone around him. But the one who put that clockwork device on him is still on the loose. With the help of Nigel, he tries to be integrated into a society he no longer understands.

Can he control himself long enough to get his revenge? Will Nigel be his savior or will Alexander embrace his darker side?

Alexander and his brothers live in a harsh world where one must fight in order to survive. Alexander is taken from the only life that he knows by the evil queen. He clings to the hope that is brothers will come and rescue him but as the years go by that hope grows dimmer until it is all but snuffed out. One day the unexpected happens and Alexander awakens from the terrible hell that the Queen has made of his life to see that his brothers have finally come to rescue him. After all that he has endured can Alexander return to some kind of normal life or is it too late for him?

The world that used to be has been destroyed and the evil Queen is using young boys to do her bidding. Stealing them as children and turning them into mindless drones used for her enjoyment and protection. Alexander was one such boy, but his brothers never gave up and fought to rescue him. As he learns to live again we see Alexander wrestle with emotions and new and different feelings. He is an engaging character and it was nice to see the relationship build between Alexander and Nigel. The two men form a special bond that grows deeper as they spend more time together. Their story is an intriguing read. While I got to see Alexander try to fit in and his feelings for Nigel grow I didn’t really get a good understanding of what is going on with the other part of the story. I knew that they were fighting as well as looking for the evil queen but never more than that. There are many unanswered questions that come up about that part of the story. I would like to have known how the brothers rescued Alexander and who their friends were as well as how the King ended up fighting the queen.

This story revolves around Alexander and how he strives to fit in now that he has been rescued. At times, it grabbed my attention while at others it felt as if it skipped important details for me. I enjoyed watching Alexander and Nigel come together but would have liked a bit more world building. Love is a strong emotion and it keeps Alexander alive through so much. Whether it is his love for his family or for Nigel, Alexander fights hard to keep it, it is what keeps him going. I enjoyed seeing that love help Alexander find his way back from the brink and give him something to fight for.

Kiss Me, Cowboy by Carol Lynne


Kiss Me, Cowboy by Carol Lynne
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (59 pgs)
Other: M/M Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

It isn’t easy to cling to teenage promises when you become one of the forgotten.

For Eli Barron, Jesse Clooney has always been the one. From their first day of kindergarten through their high school graduation, the pair were inseparable.
So, when a situation arises that splits the two men apart, it’s up to Eli to keep the home fires burning as Jesse sets off to follow his dreams on the rodeo circuit.
But how long can a man continue to stoke the fire before the flames die out?

They say love is forever, but when you find your soulmate as a teen, it’s much harder to believe. Just ask Eli Barron who found the love of his life in kindergarten. When life happens and Eli is forced to say goodbye the only man he’s ever loved, will he be able to hold on? Or will he be forced to move on and give up on his dreams?

Eli is quite a catch. Although he’s loved Jesse since they were kids, he’s still able to allow his boyfriend the freedom to ride the circuit and try to make a living away from his abusive father. He’s so confident in Jesse’s love that no matter how difficult things get, he keeps hold of his faith and continues on. Jesse has no idea how lucky he is.

Jesse Clooney needs to get the heck out of town. Having spent his life under the scrutiny of everyone in their small town, as soon as graduation hits, he feels the need to flee. It’s not a choice he wants to make, but it’s one he feels like he has to make in order to break free of the stigma of being ‘that abused child’. Since the entire story is told through Eli’s point of view, it’s hard to know what’s really going on in Jesse’s head, although I want to believe that he thinks he’s doing the right thing, even if he really pushes Eli’s love to the limit.

Kiss Me, Cowboy is a short and intense story spanning many years. You really get to know Eli, his life, and his heartache over Jesse. That was the only thing that really bothered me about this story. Eli suffered so much waiting for Jesse to return and dealing with the disappointment as the narrative wore on. You want things to work out for him, but sometimes you also wish he said ‘enough’ and moved on to someone else. In the end, I’m happy that they managed to work it out and get their happily ever after. Jesse should be thankful, too, after the emotional roller coaster Eli took us on. All in all, a very emotional and passionate story.

Dragon King’s Prize by Angelique Voisen


Dragon King’s Prize by Angelique Voisen
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Paranormal Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (73 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

Leon is an anomaly, born to a family of hunters who believe all shifters need to die. When his family goes too far and uses a young dragon shifter as bait, Leon is forced to make the greatest mistake…or best decision of his life. Saved by an Alpha dragon, Leon wonders if Rashik is his captor or the one man he’s been searching for all his life.

Dragon King Rashik has been on the search for a stolen hatchling. He never expected to find a tasty and defiant human with steel in his spine. Humans hunt his kind for sport, yet Rashik can’t deny his attraction. Leon might be different but claiming the human could shift the balance in his clan.

Regardless of the consequences, Rashik is king for a reason. Once he sets his sights on Leon, Rashik will do anything to claim him.

All his life Leon just tried to survive. Living in the shadow of his father, the mighty paranormal hunter, was not always a good thing especially when he did not believe in his father’s ideals. Leon always believed that the shifters had just as much right to be in this world as the humans did. When Leon goes against his father and the other hunters by saving a baby dragon he finds himself under the protection of the dragon king. Just what will happen to Leon now that he is among the dragons. Is he safe or has he just traded one prison for another one?

Leon’s story grabs you right from the start. He leads a hard life living amongst the hunters and believing that the shifters have a right to live. Being beaten and ostracized, Leon takes one last chance to do one thing right in his life and that decision leads him to Rashik and his dragons. From the very beginning the two feel something going on between them and they must figure out just where they each stand. I enjoyed watching the two find their way to each other and their happy ever after. They live in a world that is divided yet the two men find a way to come together and fight for what is right. Not only do we get to see Rashik and Leon’s relationship build but we also get to see Leon grow and find himself as he fights to protect the baby dragon. There are those that are full of hate in every race and Leon finds that he must be on guard at all times. Love and trust are key to Leon and Rashik’s relationship and the two must realize when to let their guard down and let that love and trust in.

The author weaves and intriguing story full of adventure and emotions. I quickly found myself engrossed in their story and as with any good book it left me wanting to return and see more from this world and its characters.

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.