Relearning The Ropes by DC Juris

Relearning The Ropes by DC Juris
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (42 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M, Anal Play, Toys, Spanking
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When his good friend Julius dies unexpectedly, Marcus finds himself saddled with a new submissive–Charlie. But Charlie comes with a history, and a whole host of issues and problems that Marcus has never really dealt with. Marcus knows he loves Charlie, and Charlie loves him, but he’ll have to set aside his old theories about BDSM and relearn the ropes, so to speak, if he wants to be the Dom Charlie needs him to be.

It’s been a month since Marcus’ good friend Julius has died. While Marcus still grieves for the loss of his friend, his life has become incredibly complicated. Julius left the care of his submissive, Charlie, to Marcus. Marcus loves Charlie, but his life is busy and complicated and he never wanted a live-in sub, particular as Marcus is quite set in his own ways and Charlie is delicate. Charlie had come a long way forward from where Julius had found him and Marcus didn’t want to mess any of that up. Can Marcus and Charlie make this work?

I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed this story. In my opinion, the author did an amazing job with it. Charlie had been rescued by Julius from slavery and so Charlie’s past was incredibly checkered and I found Charlie to be a deeply interesting and complex character. I really liked how Marcus knew and understood so much about Charlie’s past – so the pace of the story could be kept at a good clip, without massive amounts of info-dumpling to explain everything to the reader. This history, however, understandably made Marcus reluctant, not certain of how to handle Charlie best while still loving him and wanting do to what was right. I found this gave the whole story a bit of a darker tone than I had originally expected. Charlie craves the pain, needs his limits seriously pushed and this is a very fine line to walk, between what is too much and how much Charlie needs in his submission.

While I personally really really enjoyed this story, there’s quite a few hot buttons that might not appeal to other readers. Charlie’s sex slave history – though it’s not gone into in detail and as much as possible is laid out in a positive manner, it’s present and very integral to Charlie and his needs. Also the level of pain and submission Charlie needs probably won’t appeal to lighter readers, or those new/unknowing to M/M BDSM style stories. All that said, I thought it was tastefully written and strongly emotional. I enjoyed how the author progressed Charlie and Marcus’ relationship without glorying anything from the negative past but also showing me as the reader why Marcus pushed Charlie. I felt the love and need from both characters and this helped me enjoy the slightly harder, darker sex the two men enjoyed together.

Not a short story that will appeal to everyone’s tastes, I however loved this and would strongly recommend it to those who like the envelope pushed just a little. While I didn’t think there was anything outrageous in the storyline, this isn’t a light, fluffy tale and I think sometimes that’s exactly what I want to read. A brilliant short story and an author I will certainly be checking out again.

A Taste of Honey by Ari McKay

A Taste of Honey by Ari McKay
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (105 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Boone Phillips needs a girlfriend and fast! His family reunion is approaching, and if he shows up alone, his mother will throw every woman in sight at him. But the only “woman” Boone trusts enough to ask is Honey, the alter ego of his gay, cross-dressing best friend Rob. Desperate, he begs for Rob’s help.

Rob has doubts about the wisdom of agreeing to help because he’s had a crush on his straight friend for years. After a practice date, however, he decides to go along with the charade, despite the chance that Boone might discover his secret infatuation.

Between nosey relatives, illegal moonshine, and the sight of Rob in white lace panties, Boone starts to wonder if he’s as straight as he’d thought. When an earth-shattering kiss sends Rob running to protect his heart, however, Boone learns some surprising things about both his family and himself. Now he needs to convince Rob to give him another chance, or else his first taste of Honey might also be his last.

What do you do when the annual family reunion has you scrambling for a date? For most single people, they’d find their closest, best friend and con them into coming along for the weekend. But when your closest, dearest friend happens to be a gay man who dresses in drag a few times a week, well, then things are bound to get interesting.

Boone Phillips is the proverbial boy-next-door. A good southern boy who’d do anything to make his mama happy, even if it means putting his dearest friendship at risk. Despite his belief that he’s happily hetero, his love life is flailing and gasping for life. Generally, when the crushing best friend falls for a guy like Boone, I have to roll my eyes a little. But, in this case, I could see exactly why Rob fell so hard so fast. Sure, he’s handsome, but he’s also sweet, charming, and loyal to a fault. All the things a guy like Rob needs in his life.

Rob Coombs is one of those guys that you hear about. The one that got completely disowned by his family for being something other than what they expected him to be. In Rob’s case, he’s not only gay but also a drag queen. A pretty darn good drag queen at that. His drag persona, Honey, is a total extention of himself and, in many ways, she’s the man he wants to be. Honey’s forthright, determined and unafraid. She’s also an incurable flirt and all around great gal. I loved the way she helped Rob cope with his feelings for Boone as well as bring them together in the end.

I’m going to come right out and say it – I’m a sucker for a guy in drag. The level of confidence it takes to put on a dress and heels – something I don’t even do as a woman – takes more courage than I’ll ever possess. Both Rob and his alter ego, Honey, are portrayed so well that they both come off as complete, separate characters bound by a common thread. It was refreshing to see that although Boone struggled with a lot of things once he and Honey arrived at his mother’s house, he didn’t let any of it get him down while he figured out exactly what he wanted. Although some of his family’s big reveal seemed a bit out of place, I respected the fact there was a little substance to Big Mama’s easy acceptance of all the crazy Boone and Honey brought into her home. Overall, this was an extremely cute and funny story that makes me want to know where they go from here.

Laid by A.J Llewellyn

Laid by A.J Llewellyn
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (81 pgs)
Other: M/M, Multiple Partners, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Jack Cannon is an elite member of LAPD’s new Violent Crimes Unit. He’s tough, he’s smart…he’s also gay. Jack’s a guy who deals with pressure and stress by cruising. When he has a fling with a hot guy, one even hotter night in Los Angeles, it’s no casual coupling. This guy is great. Jack wouldn’t mind seeing him again except he’s discovered he’ll be seeing a lot of him. This is the guy he’s supposed to tail–Lucio Natale, the most violent mob boss ever to land in the city of angels.

Jack Cannon is a cop, still in the closet at work despite the fact his precinct is supposedly gay-friendly. After a massive bust – the biggest of his career – he is desperate to get laid. Then Cannon meets Lucky in the showers at his gym. The attraction is instantaneous and explodes between them. Are they both interested in more than getting laid?

I really enjoyed this story. I found the author wrote a good balance between seriously hot, descriptive M/M sex and an equally interesting, complex police-based plot. Personally, I found myself enjoying both aspects of the story just as much as each other. Lucky and Cannon were clearly instantly in lust with each other. Despite Cannon not really being out at work, he loves to fuck and has a very healthy sexual life. Readers should be aware that – at least initially – Cannon and Lucky are not monogamous. Cannon has a few no-strings hook ups. I adored how regardless of that, Cannon reluctantly admits to himself that he knows his attraction to Lucky goes more deeply than just getting laid in a mind-blowing manner. And Lucky might have wanted more from Cannon immediately, but his patience really appealed to me. Instead of trying to corner Cannon or manipulate him into a deeper connection, he was willing to tempt his lover instead. This really appealed to me and made for an excellent story. I was satisfied with the Happy For Now ending and a part of me hopes there might even be a sequel or more stories to come with these two interesting and complicated characters.

Similarly, the plot of the book was captivating and well-woven to my mind. I loved the intricacy – the double-plays and sneakiness of how nothing is ever as easy as it seems when it comes to police work. I really commend the author on an amazing job of balancing the intrigue and suspense of Cannon’s work with his anticipation and slow fall from lust into love with his romantic life. These two aspects of the book blend really well and made it a pleasure for me to read.

I found this to be a well-woven, interesting and complicated story with some really steamy sex. I loved both Cannon and Lucky’s characters and would eagerly read more of them both. Recommended.

Devoted Alpha by DC Juris

Devoted Alpha by DC Juris
Publisher: Torquere Press LLC
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (47 pgs)
Other: M/M, Fetish (Breastfeeding, Daddy Play)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

Sokel and Sebastian from “Broken Alpha” are back. Sokel has long known his Human mate has harbored certain hidden fantasies and desires, but he’s not the kind of Alpha to demand anything of his omega. One night, a whispered word slips past Sebastian’s lips — daddy. Ever the devoted Alpha, Sokel sets out to help his mate understand that these cravings don’t make him a deviant. But when Sokel visits a fellow healer in an attempt to please his mate, has he gone too far? And will their best friends and housemates, Korden and Rennett, be able to accept this new twist to their lifestyle?

As a couple Sokel and Sebastian could not be more devoted to each other. Yet Sebastian hides a secret, a kink that he thinks will make others see him as dirty and no longer wish to be friends with him. What if it costs him Sokel’s love? Sometimes secrets cannot stay hidden especially from your Alpha mate. When Sokel figures out what may be the cause of Sebastian’s worries he decides to tackle them head on and give his mate what he truly wants and needs. Could he have gone to far? What will Sebastian’s reaction be? He loves him no matter what but is he pushing to hard? Should he just let it remain a fantasy?

This is a beautiful story that shows just how far someone will go for the person that they love. Sokel goes to lengths to fulfill Sebastian’s needs. Even going as far as figuring out how to breastfeed the man. As Sokel goes about finding a way to give Sebastian his needs we see the deep love and the connection that the two men have. The two begin to be connected even more as they indulge themselves. Sebastian learns that trusting and loving his Alpha is the right thing to do. Sokel goes above and beyond to help the man that he loves.

This new part of their adventure moves at a good pace and had me more than intrigued and cheering for the love that is between them. Readers are treated to a wonderful story that centers around Sebastian’s Daddy kink which does involve male breast feeding but gives you so much more. You never doubt the love and devotion from this couple and I am glad to see the bond and love grow deeper as the men explore.

Screaming Down Splitsville by Kayla Bashe

Screaming Down Splitsville by Kayla Bashe
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror, Contemporary, LGBTQ
Length: Short Story (41 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet, F/F
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Screaming Down Splitsville takes place in an alternate 1950s where two groups of people with magical powers fight for dominance. Flip, a young lesbian, thinks her healing powers are completely useless. After her escape from a lab, she’s been grounded to a safe base, and while everyone else is on important missions, she keeps the fridge stocked and fixes the plumbing. However, when a chance coincidence sends her on a solo rescue mission, Flip has a surprising reunion with a woman from her past.

Unable to speak after a botched cleft palate surgery, Emma-Rose grew up half-wild in the Southern backwoods- until strangers discovered her magical powers and imprisoned her in a laboratory of torture. Her one salvation was the woman in the next cell, Flip. Now Flip’s returned, and according to her, they’ll both make it to safety. But Emma’s plans have failed so many times that she has no hope left to lose.

As the two women seek to evade their pursuers, their friendship rekindles, and they are forced to confront both enemies and insecurities.

Rescue comes in many forms.

Wow, what an intense story. Everything from the torture chamber to the big chase later on made it impossible for me to stop reading. The fast pacing worked well how energetically the plot was written. I simply had to know what would happen next and if Emma-Rose would get away from her captors. This is the kind of world I deeply enjoy discovering when I crack open a new book because of how much fun it is to explore.

The romantic elements of this tale didn’t work so well for me. They didn’t show up until very late in the plot, and there wasn’t much foreshadowing going on for them before then. I absolutely loved both the characters involved in this part of the storyline, and I was excited to see what would happen to them next. With that being said, I would have liked to see much more time spent building up the romantic tension between them before anything flirtatious happened.

Ms. Bashe did some interesting things with her flashbacks that made me smile. I barely knew anything about the two main characters in the beginning, and she didn’t reveal very much about them until several scenes had flown by. It was fascinating to get to know them so well before learning anything about their previous lives. I also liked seeing how the author tied even the smallest and simplest memories to what was currently going on in the characters’ lives. This isn’t something I’ve seen done very often in this genre.

I’d recommend Screaming Down Splitsville to anyone who enjoys a little romance in their science fiction.

Sexual Frankenstein by TC Blue

Sexual Frankenstein by TC Blue
Publisher: Torquere Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (45 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Tony & Darian have been friends and playing together in their band, Sexual Frankenstein, for a few years, and while they really are friends, they’ve never crossed that line — no matter how much they may want to — because of their band and friendship, as well as not thinking the other is interested.

The apparent interest in one of them, from their hot and very glam new singer, brings things to a head as long-buried jealousies push to the fore, leading both Tony and Darian to reevaluate what they already have and what they so desperately want.

I love a good friends to lovers story and this one didn’t disappoint.

TC Blue writes hot stories. Sexual Frankenstein is certainly hot. The writing flows well and I didn’t want to put the book down. I needed to know what would happen next.

Initially I wasn’t thrilled by either Darian or Tony. Both came across as a tad too tentative and I thought they’d be more dominant. Now, that said, I loved the book. I really did. I got emotionally involved with them and needed to see what would happen. Kudos to TC Blue for doing that.

The sex was hot and the tension thick. I’m glad I read this book and can’t wait to get back to Darian and Tony’s world. I would really love to see what’s in the future for these two.

Great reading.

Pale Light by L J Hamlin

Pale Light by L J Hamlin
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (144 pages)
Other: M/M/M, Menage, Anal Sex
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

Elijah and his father Joshua find a young werewolf, Jayden, when his entire pack and family were murdered. They take in and train Jayden to hunt the supernatural with them. Elijah has a secret; he’s fallen in love with Jayden, but he dares not tell a soul.

Elijah’s sometimes lover, Chogan, is working a case with them. Chogan’s unexpected attraction to Jayden forces Elijah to confront his feelings. What does it mean for the three men’s lives? And just what is lurking in the woods?

One moment in time, one decision to show mercy, it set in motion the chance at a love none of them ever expected.

This was a different kind of shifter paranormal than what I’ve read before. It’s gritty in that there’s a faction of wolves who hunt people and then there are the hunters who hunt those wolves. Then there’s Jayden. He’s a different kind of wolf. If it hadn’t been for the kindness of Joshua and Elijah he could have been a killer. I liked that the author allowed Joshua to maintain his humanity (in spite of history with wolves) and have mercy on the wolf cub they found. It made the difference in who Jayden becomes.

Elijah could have resented Jayden or even hated him considering how Elijah lost his mother but it was pretty clear that Joshua had raised him well. The author paints a respectful and loving relationship between Joshua and Elijah. I like that she didn’t make Elijah, or Jayden’s, choice in loving other men be the focus of the tension in this book.

Instead, in comes in the form of Cho, well mostly, but only until they realize that three isn’t a crowd. It’s the final piece that allows them all to be together. These men are very candid. A lot more so than most male leads are, in fact. That part felt a little unrealistic but at the same time, it drives me crazy when the main characters don’t talk openly. Maybe because these men are part of a world that’s so full of secrets, they choose to put their feelings out there. One less secret to be kept. Either way, it moved this story along.

The story is told in a present progressive tense. Meaning, the action is happening as we read it. It’s a little odd to read because I never felt like I was there with the characters, like I was always just a step behind him them watching the action. For example: “He is running” “He is fighting”. It’s similar to a first person POV type story except that I wasn’t seeing the action from the eyes of one the characters, it simply played out and I was on the outside rather than feeling like I was part of the story. Not a story killer, just different.

There are some editing issues. Not so many that I was constantly drawn out of the story, more like speed bumps. Slowed the pace for a second but then it picks back up.

The premise of the story is good. It didn’t take long to figure out the mystery but I was vested enough in the relationship between Elijah, Jayden and Cho by that point, I wanted to see how it played out. Cho has a secret that would be beneficial to the case but could possibly be detrimental to the relationship. At least he thinks so. The constant sexual tension that vibrates off the men was pretty hot. Everyone is a little unsure so, when they finally get past the “what if’s” they burned up the sheets.

Though I wasn’t expecting the odd tense the story is told in, I’m glad I took the time to read it and give it a chance. Readers who enjoy a good paranormal should give this one a try.

Snowed In, a F/F Anthology by Aiden McKenna, Cassandra McMurphy, Shira Glassman, Jessica Payseur, and Sheri Velarde

Snowed In, a F/F Anthology by Aiden McKenna, Cassandra McMurphy, Shira Glassman, Jessica Payseur, and Sheri Velarde
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Short Story (109 pages)
Other: F/F, Toys, mild BDSM
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Snowed In is a blend of frost, snow, and wintery lesbian romances from five Torquere Press authors.

A snowed-in band mom falls for a music teacher in Fearless by Shira Glassman. In To Melt a Frozen Heart, Heather finds herself stranded in a blizzard, by Sheri Velarde. Jessica Payseur delivers an icy little fantasy in Frost and Ice. Because of a snowstorm, Rebekah’s not so lonely when Lily can’t make it home in At the Bottom of the Mountain by Aiden McKenna. In Cold Chemistry by Cassandra McMurphy, Alyssa doesn’t want to want Jayne, but she can’t seem to help herself.

Sometimes all you need to feel sexy is a little snow and ice.

The chemistry between Lana and her daughter’s music teacher, Melanie, was strong in “Fearless.” I really enjoyed watching it slowly heat up as they got to know each other better at the competition they were chaperoning. They were so compatible that I couldn’t wait for them to realize just how much they had in common and do something about their feelings. While I don’t know if Ms. Glassman is planning to write a sequel, there sure seems to be room for one here.

Heather’s chilly predicament in “To Melt a Frozen Heart” made me shiver in sympathy. Her relationship with Ana, the woman who took her in for the night, moved too fast for my tastes, but I can’t deny that there were sparks between them. Had their connection been given more time to develop, this would have been my favorite tale in the collection as the dialogue was handled well and the sex scene was pretty hot.

“Frost and Ice” started off with Isolde and Jaq using magic to battle over where the boundaries between their territories should be drawn. While I was fascinated by the idea of a magical duel, the transition from fighting to passion never quite made sense to me. I would have preferred to see more time spent showing why two people who seem to dislike each other as much as they do would want to end up in bed together.

What I liked the most about “At the Bottom of the Mountain” was how descriptive it was. Everything from the sound of wind rattling a padlock outdoors to the sight of the old, cozy farmhouse Rebekah lived in was described in great detail. I could picture everything that happened in great detail. It made me feel as though I was waiting out the snowstorm with the characters, and that’s exactly what I like finding in a story.

“Cold Chemistry” was deliciously flirtatious from the beginning. The playful dialogue brought many of Alyssa and Jayne’s hidden desires to the surface in ways that felt completely natural. It was fun to see them slowly grow closer to each other as their flirting gave way to more serious advances.

Snowed In, a F/F Anthology should be read by anyone who needs an excuse to warm up.

Christmas Jinx by Natalie-Nicole Bates

Christmas Jinx by Natalie-Nicole Bates
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (39 pages)
Other: F/F
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Marnie desperately needs an assistant. As the proprietress of For the Love of Fruitcake, her successful little home bakery, her Christmas orders are piling up. She’s had bad luck in the past with assistants, and vows this year will be different, especially now that she will be entering a Christmas Bakeoff competition.

Jinx needs a job and a home for the holidays. She’s young, sweet, and eager to please. But she’s also a jinx, just like her name.

Marnie is smitten, and hires her on the spot, but soon realizes that everything Jinx touches goes wrong, and threatens not only Marnie’s business, but the Christmas Bakeoff as well.

There must be something Jinx is good at, and that is for Jinx to know and Marnie to soon figure out

Sometimes good things can happen when you’re in the right place at the right time.

Jinx’s uncanny ability to cause accidents everywhere she went made me grin. It might have caused her a lot of embarrassment, but the scrapes she got into were so comical. I never would have guessed that anyone would find as many ways to get into trouble in an ordinary kitchen as she did. She brought a lot of laughter to the plot, though, and that was a very good thing.

I would have liked to see more attention paid to the chemistry between Jinx and Marnie. It would have been especially helpful to show more flirtation between them before anything sexual or romantic happened. Their relationship moved incredibly quickly in this story despite the fact that neither one of them came across to me as the kind of person who would jump into this sort of thing without thinking it through first. They seemed otherwise cautious about life. While I liked them both a lot as individuals, I was never quite sold on the idea of them being a great couple because of how out of character they acted when they were together. If not for this issue, I would have give this book a much higher rating.

One the things I like the most about Ms. Bates writing style how much attention she pays to everything that’s going on in her tales. Everything from the food to the settings to tender moments between the two main characters were described in great detail. All of these elements are important to me. The fact that this author pays close attention to both the erotic and the non-erotic parts of a story is a big part of the reason why I’m such a fan of her work.

Give Christmas Jinx a try if you’re in the mood for something decadent.

Combine by Sean Michael

Combine by Sean Michael
A Hammer Novel
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (188 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M, Menage, Anal Play, Toys, Spanking, M/M/M/M
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Dom and sub couples Peter and Devon, and Max and Swan, are joining their lives together. After a week at The Briar Rose, they know there’s a lot of work to do, and they’re all committed to making sure what they have together succeeds.

Peter is the easygoing sub, while Max needs discipline and rules to keep from falling back into bad habits, so both Masters worry about making sure that each boy gets what he needs without making either sub feel neglected. It’s a balancing act that winds up taking some fancy footwork and the stress takes its toll.

As they learn to live and bond together, they discover things about each other that makes them fall more deeply in love, helping to cement their relationships.

Then an unexpected attack on Peter and Max threatens to upset the balance they’ve created, and Swan and Devon must join forces to give their subs what they need to push through and thrive. Will this stumbling block break apart their hard-won new family, or will it forge a stronger foursome?

After a week merging their two couples at a B&B, Peter, Max, Devon and Swan are finally moving in all together as a blended group. But as with any new relationship there can be bumps and it takes time to get comfortable with each other. Can these two couples combine their lives, love and create something new?

I really enjoyed this sensual story. It’s a progression from Sean Michael’s book “Blended Family” but can easily be read as a stand alone. Mr Michael has done an excellent job of laying out the backstory without massive info-dumps or making it feel like a rehash of old stuff. I was pleasantly impressed by the seamlessness of having Max, Peter, Devon and Swan’s story and relationship progress while still explaining how far they’d already come on this journey. I also really loved how all four characters had their own style and quirks. With four main characters it would be easy to have one or more appear too similar – or perhaps be somewhat overlooked in the narrative, but I found them to be all unique and interesting and take equal shares of the spotlight. The author is to be commended in my view for meshing the various threads of story perfectly to make an excellent foursome.

This is a highly erotic tale, and while there’s plenty of BDSM play and toys, I found it sweet, charming and extremely tasteful. I could also strongly appreciate how the plot and storyline basically *is* the foursome coming together. I loved reading about the small hiccups of couples moving in together, finding their new pace and settling in with each other. There of course was some outside conflict about half way through – and while I found the problem the four men faced sad, it was also a strong reminder of how some pockets of the world is today. Bittersweet. Most of all though, I loved seeing these characters I enjoy coming together, sharing their bodies and home and finding their new rhythm together.

I felt Combine is a strongly romantic story with excellent characters, a realistic plot and interactions and more than a hint of laughter. This is a wonderful story and one I happily found myself engrossed by. I can’t wait to crack it open and start reading it again for pure pleasure. A vibrant, wonderful tale.