Personal Best by Sean Michael

Personal Best by Sean Michael
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (192 pgs)
Other: M/M, BDSM, Toys, Anal Play, Breath Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Mike Gauliet could be a world-class swimmer if he took better care of himself. He’s too good to let go, so his team coach calls in a private trainer, up-and-coming hardass Jessy Turner. Jessy locks Mike down, putting him on a strict regimen of diet and exercise that Mike resents until he realizes the changes are making him a better swimmer.

Jessy finds Mike irresistible but keeps his distance and remains professional, focusing all his attention on what’s best for Mike and his career. The two of them resist their attraction to each other for as long as they can, but eventually they have to give in to the heat between them.
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When things go wrong, though, can they—and their sports careers—survive the strain?

Jessy can’t say no when he’s offered the chance to coach one-on-one with Mike, 24/7. The kid is a natural with a huge amount of raw talent and Jessy is eager to both coach and shape the awesome amount of potential Mike has. Mike’s pretty easy going, all he wants to do is swim and win. But with Jessy spending every moment watching him – really watching Mike – soon their feelings both begin to run deeper than either of them expected.

I really enjoyed this longer length story. I loved how the author managed to slowly, slowly build the characters up and paint such a vibrant, interesting picture. Sure, the story revolved around Mike’s swimming and Jessy coaching him, but with such a slow progress through the story I really felt a part of it and loved seeing it all unfold at an intricate pace. I loved getting to know Mike and see where Jessy’s coaching tactics and thoughts came from. I enjoyed watching the two men build up a schedule and start to really work together and learn deeply about each other.

And as they spent more time together and became more emotionally attached it was easy logic that their feelings would deepen and become more romantic. The slow, gradual progress was delightful and I really enjoyed the pacing for all the small nuances that the author allowed for. It helped really sell not just the relationship but also made the whole situation feel so much more emotional to me. In my eyes, this wasn’t two men falling in lust and having some delicious sex – this was two smart, committed men learning how to share their lives, reach for their joined goals and dreams and mesh their whole world together. It was interesting, gripping and deeply emotional. Hot as hell, too. The sex had some tones of BDSM (cuffs, cock rings, plugs etc) and while there was some breath play it was completely consensual and (in my opinion) very well written.

Obviously sport – swimming and coaching – was front and centre for a lot of the story, but I was really pleased it never felt like it was taking over the plot. Jessy and Mike and their relationship was definitely central to the whole story, but swimming was the entire world for both men, so I felt the author did a really good job balancing these two aspects. I feel romance readers who aren’t necessarily keen on sports will still really enjoy this story. Sure, some of the races and sport-speak might get skimmed over when read, but I was pleased and grateful that this wasn’t a story where the sport overtook the characters and relationship.

An emotional, happy and wonderfully sexy story – I’d happily recommend this book to any M/M readers.

Three Wishes by Sean Michael

Three Wishes by Sean Michael
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length : Full Length (181 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M, Ménage, M/M/M, Anal Play, Forced Seduction, Fetish, Toys, Fisting, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Come to Rainbow Island, where all your sexual fantasies will come true.

In Three Wishes, James, Guard and Damien, bring in three different couples for their special fantasy granting services. Handsome model Benji is tired of being perfect, and he wants to make his body his own. Thor, tattoo artist and piercer, as well as Dom, is just the man to do it. Will Benji find what he’s looking for?

Meanwhile, Alan and Roman are a long-time sub/Dom couple looking to have a few outside Masters give Alan all the things that Roman can’t. Will their relationship survive Alan’s strong reaction to one of the Masters?
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The last couple to visit the island are Quinn and Pierce. Quinn has medical fetishes he’s embarrassed to tell his lover Pierce about even though Pierce is a doctor. So he’s going to get it out of his system in this safe environment. At least that’s the plan…

Don’t miss out on these fantasies come true.

Wow. I really loved this book! With four main plots threading delicately together this has plenty going on. It’s a testament to Mr. Michael’s writing skills though that no couple/group gets either overlooked or dwelled on too long. I found the pacing of both the story and the relationships between the couples/groups to be amazing.

Guard, Damien and James run a small island resort for a very select clientele – they allow their clients a safe and welcoming environment where their deepest sexual fantasies can come true. The three men have also been in a ménage relationship until James was hurt. I loved how even though they, themselves aren’t their own clients – their fantasy of getting back together and starting fresh was also clearly one of the longer-term plot arcs. Guard and James are the first characters we’re introduced to – setting up the various fantasies that are about to take place – and I was immediately drawn into their story, curious at the threesome breaking up but also eager for their reunion since it’s so obvious their love is still strong.

There is effectively three proper short stories going on in this book – as well as Guard, Damien and James as a peripheral storyline. Thor and Benji explore a fantasy of body modifications (piercings and tattoos) as well as aspects of the BDSM lifestyle, then Alan and Roman explore voyeurism – Alan submitting while Roman watches – and finally Quinn and Pierce explore Quinn’s medical fantasies together.

While I don’t personally feel there was any “forced seduction” in these fantasties, in a few places the story was being told from the Dom’s perspective. In two instances the Dom/sub pairings were brand new – only having known each other for their time on the island/resort – so the reluctance shown by the subs could potentially be construed as “forced seduction”. There was always safewords though, and never any play rough enough that I felt bordered on abuse – but there is a very fine line between being truly forcing someone and one partner being reluctant in a safe scene. Personally – I feel with the safewords and genuine care shown between all the partners this shouldn’t be on the wrong side of that line, but some of the scenes are quite heavy/emotional and without knowing for a fact the sub is loving every second (ie being told from their point of view) I felt this was worth mentioning. Readers should also know that there is a knife play scene (sensations from the knife – not playing with the blood or full-on harm occurring), and a few medical examination style scenes (sounds, enemas and the like).

All up while there is plenty of fantasy-come-to-life scenes that might push various buttons, I found everything was written in good taste and as sensually as any more regular kinky, erotic story. I particularly enjoyed the characters and loved the different dynamics between couples both brand new and more established. While there might be triggers or parts of scenes that some readers might not find too erotic, I feel this is an excellent book to showcase some of the rarer kinks in a tasteful and safe environment. And just as the icing on the cake – all the fantasy plotlines were resolved with very happy and satisfied endings. There’s also clear hooks for both the next story and for the continuing relationship between Damien, James and Guard. I really enjoyed this and would strongly recommend it if readers are curious about “non-standard” types of kink. A lovely read.