Home Is Where You Are by Emjay Haze


Home Is Where You Are by Emjay Haze
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (95 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

For a chance at a future filled with love, he’ll have to face a painful past.

Eric, recently dumped by his boyfriend, is summoned home after his dad suffers a stroke. His family farm in rural Vermont holds memories he’d rather forget, but he—with his degree in agricultural business—is needed to clear up a predicament with the bank. In trying to forget the bad, Eric has also lost sight of the good: green meadows dotted with grass-fed dairy cows and the sugar maples that once produced the area’s finest maple syrup. With Eric’s help, they will again.

A captivating farmhand named Phil tempts Eric to give the countryside another chance, but before they can consider being together, Eric must move past more than his feelings for his ex-boyfriend—he’ll need to stand up to the ghosts that sent him running from the farm in the first place…

Eric had only stepped out to go to the gym. When he came back it was to a stranger helping Eric’s year-long lover finish packing up his gear. Finding out that Drew had been cheating on him with the twink and saw their relationship only as being fuck-buddies was bad enough, but while wallowing Eric gets a call from his mom. Eric’s dad has had a minor stroke and so he reluctantly heads back to the family farm to help out while his dad recovers. Eric doesn’t know it, but his life is about to undergo an enormous change.

I found this to be an interesting and almost old-fashioned small-town, farming style of romance. Full of interesting, vibrant and different characters I found this to be a lovely, if character-driven, story. Eric had nothing but bad memories of his school-life – and the constant bullying over his sexuality – and had avoided as many visits home as he possibly could. When his father has a stroke, however, Eric’s hand is pushed and he reluctantly finds himself returning home to confront old memories. While Eric and Phil had known each other as teens they hadn’t really been friends – the two-year age gap enough for them to not run in the same social circles at school. Even though Phil’s parents worked on Eric’s farm the two men didn’t really interact much. I loved the slow buildup of their chemistry as they each got to know each other as men and not boys.

Readers looking for thrills and fast-paced action scenes might not find what they’re looking for here. But personally I really enjoyed the slower pace of the story, the gradual building of chemistry. It’s clear from the beginning to me that Eric and Phil had an amazing connection and even though they each avoid it in their own way they really do live in a small town and there just isn’t the sort of huge gay-scene like there is in a larger city. The conflict in the story mostly comes from both Eric’s bad memories of growing up, but also the fact that Phil in some ways has taken over working the farm in the way that Eric’s parents had always hoped Eric would.

While it was a fair wait for Eric and Phil to finally get together physically, the sex scene was well worth the wait in my opinion. With only the one full-on sex scene readers looking for something heavily erotic and very spicy might be a little disappointed. Personally though I felt with the slower pace, strong chemistry and more “small town” type feel to the story that the longer wait and single consummation scene fitted the story as a whole perfectly.

With a deliciously happy ending and plenty of happy moments this was a great story and left me feeling all warm and wonderful. A great story I can happily recommend.

The Eager Boy by Sean Michael


The Eager Boy by Sean Michael
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (193 pages)
Other: M/M, BDSM, Toys, Spanking/Flogging
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

An Iron Eagle Gym Novel

Eight months ago Robin Secoya left his lover and master, Stack Lobond, because he didn’t believe Stack really cared about him. He was sure that for Stack, any warm body would do, and Robin wasn’t willing to be just a warm body anymore.

A chance meeting at the Iron Eagle Gym brings them back together, and old feelings aren’t far from the surface. They decide they can’t pass up a second chance at romance. But this time, it isn’t just Stack’s demanding career as a big-cat vet putting strain on their relationship. Robin also has a new job that takes up a lot of his time.

Will their kinky love affair crash and burn a second time, or can they find the balance that will allow the passion between them to flourish?

Robin and Stack had broken up because Robin felt Stack simply wanted a warm person to fuck and he was tired of that being all their relationship was built around. But when Robin joins the Iron Eagle Gym – a gym geared towards the BDSM community – he and Stack find each other again. Can this time be different for them both?

I really enjoyed this character-driven BDSM story. Both Robin and Stack have a serious history together, but have been broken up for a while. Poor communication between them and Stack’s demanding job drove their relationship to the point where Robin was lonely and feeling truly neglected, and after trying to talk about it a few times he decided to leave. So there is baggage and complications between them in trying to mend their relationship and find their way forward together.

Usually I don’t enjoy the style of stories revolved around patching up a broken relationship – normally the reasons for the relationship failing are either too weak and leave me feeling like they were simply a plot device, or they are genuine and serious enough I don’t always feel the reconciliation is believable. I was really happy, therefore, when the author made this story both believable and serious enough that I found the story both gripping and realistic. Also, there wasn’t some “easy fix” where Robin and Stack just had a long, serious conversation and their relationship magically worked perfectly. They both had to continuously work at it and put in some serious effort – which made the whole plot even more believable to me.

Also, there was plenty of deliciously hot and kinky sex. Both men had a strong history together, and clearly still loved each other deeply – so the sex between them was both hot and intense. Neither of them had any issues in the bedroom and that wasn’t where their relationship problems lay, so the fact there was oodles of sex throughout the story didn’t feel like padding but more the easiest medium for Stack and Robin to connect together. I feel the author did a great job of balancing the “loads of sex” aspect of the story along with the trickier and more emotional “patching up the relationship” aspects of the plot. I appreciated that neither Robin nor Stack were 100% to blame for the break up, both had been somewhat at fault and both needed to learn certain things and work on their romance together. I was really pleased this wasn’t a case where one party was at fault and their issues were unbalanced, there were problems on both sides and they each had to keep up the effort and that kept things evenly balanced to my mind.

I really enjoyed this story and found it full of interesting sex, a strong romantic/relationship based plot and with two interesting and vibrant characters. There were a few familiar faces from previous stories – though this can absolutely be read as a stand-alone – and a few new faces that will hopefully be showcased in upcoming stories. A great read and one I will enjoy again in the future.

At First Bite by Caitlin Ricci


At First Bite by Caitlin Ricci
Publisher: eXstasy Books
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (37 pgs)
Other: M/M, Masturbation
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

On his way home from work, Castor, a werewolf, is grabbed by a group of young vampires. Thinking quickly, he tells the vampires that he will only submit to their elder first, which means that they can’t bite him until that elder gives them permission. But Alexi isn’t interested in sharing his new wolf with anyone, and after they realize that they’re mates everything starts going to hell.

Not what I expected and it’s a good thing.

I like the work of Caitlin Ricci. Her books are always interesting and pack a punch. This book was no exception. Instead of the usual, vampires using humans, the vampires run the show. They can bite whom them want, but don’t always kill. I liked how Alexi wasn’t out for vengeance or anything. He was rather reluctant. He’s a solid vampire, don’t get me wrong, but he’s still got a human side. I wish I could’ve been able to see him more, but I did like him.

Castor took a little time to get to know. I liked him because he didn’t back down, but he was so tense. I didn’t get right away why he was tense, but once I did, it made perfect sense.

The two character didn’t seem to be compatible at first. I liked how they had to work themselves out. The ending was a tad abrupt and I would’ve liked more–but that’s because I enjoyed the story. I wanted to see them flesh out the relationship. What made them change their mind?

There isn’t a ton of sex in this novella, so if you’re looking for a stepping stone into paranormal or vampire romance, this might be the one to start with. If you’re looking for a quick book for a lunch hour read, then this is the one you want.

Partners In Love by Rebecca Brochu


Partners In Love by Rebecca Brochu
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (31 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When an unplanned and unwanted remodel of his apartment leaves Detective Dylan Vancarr homeless, the natural thing for him to do is turn up on the doorstep of his best friend and partner, Tyler Wilky.

An arrangement meant to last only for a night quickly turns into a surprisingly comfortable new life for the both of them.

While living with Tyler and realizing just how easily their lives mesh, Dylan quickly begins to realize that he may have found a partner for more than just the job.

He may have found a partner in love.

When Dylan’s apartment is wrecked who else could he possibly crash with except his colleague and partner, Tyler? Can they each take this chance to act on the simmering attraction boiling between them and build a relationship together outside of their work?

I found this to be a funny and rather macho M/M romance. Written in the first-person perspective I would have personally preferred to get to know Tyler’s character a little better, but can understand how difficult this task would have been for the author given the very short page-count. I was also left a little puzzled by the manner in which Dylan and Tyler’s relationship grew. For two men whom I found to both be rather macho to have almost the entire relationship seem to almost accidently flourish it just felt odd to me. Neither man made overt moves and while a part of me absolutely loved this incredibly different and fresh tactic in an M/M romance, a larger part of my brain just couldn’t find it at all believable. Two macho, alpha men and neither made the first move? Neither wanted to rock the boat or stake a claim? Neither man even hinted at the deeper undercurrents in their relationship? It just didn’t jibe with anything remotely logical or believable to my mind.

That said, I truly enjoyed this book. I laughed a lot, I really liked both men’s characters and felt attached and invested in their relationship – I just struggled to find the growth of their relationship realistic. Once I disconnected my brain and simply sat back and enjoyed the ride though, I really did find myself enjoying the story far more. The story seems to be told very tongue-in-cheek and while completely from Dylan’s perspective (and I really did miss hearing at least a little from Tyler’s) the jovial, macho story really was a fun ride to be a part of.

With just the one short – but very steamy – sex scene readers looking for a hard-core, sex-laden M/M might not find this the right story for them. But readers who relish the build up and chemistry between their heroes should find this a great, short read.

New Vocations by TA Chase


New Vocations by TA Chase
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (52 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Two men who believe in second chances meet and their lives are never the same again.

Layne Daly comes to participate in the American Royal. He’s there to show off the abilities of the retired thoroughbreds he adopts straight off the track. He wants people to know these animals can do so much more than race. He has three horses there to do exhibitions in reining, barrel racing and cutting. When his usual groom gets sick, he has to hire someone fast.

Carl Stewartson used to love coming to Kansas City for the rodeo. He’d ride broncs and hang out with his friends. But since his career-ending injury early in the year, Carl has been spinning his wheels, trying to find something to do with his life now that he can’t rodeo anymore. He runs into Layne and offers to help him with his horses.

Together, they have to deal with not only the stress of the event, but also starting a new relationship. Second chances are what Layne does best and he’s more than willing to give Carl the opportunity.

A nice, hot short story.

I know the work of TA Chase will be fantastic, so I was excited to read this. I’ve read others by this author and haven’t been let down. This story is no different.

Two men, hot for each other, but unsure the attraction is mutual. Great trope. I liked Carl being a little wary of Layne. He knows he attracted, but hey, things might not work out. Throw in the need to work together with the horses and there’s great tension. Layne isn’t looking for anyone, but when opportunity strikes, he won’t shirk his duty.

This is a good story for anyone wanting to dip their toes into reading the M/M genre. It’s a hot, quick lunchtime read you won’t want to miss.

Coywolf by Gale Stanley


Coywolf by Gale Stanley
Published by Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (34 pgs)
Other: M/M, Masturbation, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

In a world where reproduction is the number one priority, a gay wolf shifter could never be an alpha. So Logan hides his secret from the pack and resigns himself to a life without love.

Then one night, he finds his true mate and he’s forced to make a choice that will change his life forever.

Action-packed and quick, this story satisfies.

I’ve read other books by Gale Stanley and haven’t been steered wrong yet. This book was no exception. The writing flowed well and drew me in from the first page. I had to know what would happen. It’s a short story, but the characters are well-rounded. I rooted for them to get together.

Rory is a coywolf – part coyote, part wolf. Interesting. I hadn’t read a coywolf story, so this was new and good for me. He’s shy, rough around the edges and a little beaten down. I liked his determination and growth through the story.

Logan, the alpha, hasn’t come out. He loves being the alpha, but has reservations. I understood him. He’s been thrust into a job he’s not sure he can handle. His growth was nice, too. ort

There is an instalove component to the story, but it worked. The steamy scenes are just that, steamy. The chemistry was great, too.

If you’re looking for a short read that will singe the screen, then this is the story you’ve been looking for.

Summer Ride by Susan Laine


Summer Ride by Susan Laine
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (112 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

High school best friends Toby Billings and Jim Maverick went their separate ways after graduation. Five years later, they meet by chance. Toby needs a ride, and Jim offers to give him one.

During a journey across several states, with stops at roadside diners, state parks, and cheap motels, small talk turns to serious discussions of lives that didn’t turn out the way either of them dreamed. Their choices are catching up to them, and neither is on an innocent summer vacation. Renewing their friendship will mean painful admissions and secrets coming to light. Yet they discover they have more in common now than they ever guessed, and going their separate ways at the trip’s end won’t be easy.

After aimlessly wandering the country, all roads lead back home. But first they must decide what home means.

Toby and Jim haven’t seen each other since High School graduation and happen to meet by chance at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere. Toby is at a loose end, wanting to head west but with no real destination in mind, whereas Jim is happy to take Toby along for the ride, for the company and reconnection at the very least. Will this summer ride change both men’s lives?

I found this to be a really interesting and character-driven story. While I loved the deep conversations between Toby and Jim this story really is based around a bunch of very long talks between the men. Personally, I liked this character-driven style of story but I can well understand if the lack of action or adventure might not appeal to a lot of other readers.

The two men spent the majority of the book sharing with each other the course their lives had taken once they’d left high school – how things had turned out the same, and differently, to how they planned and expected. While not angsty or depressing, I found it interesting how they both had wended their way through the ups and downs of growing up and living their lives. I found both men really interesting – rather similar despite their different families and different situations. I loved how this – and their childhood friendship – created an emotional tie and link between them.

I wasn’t quite sold on how neither man knew the other was gay and they didn’t know they were interested in each other. While as small children I could certainly understand them remaining oblivious, as experimenting teenagers (and good friends) I just found that a bit hard to believe. That said, in general I found the story to be otherwise realistic and believable. I thoroughly enjoyed how neither man simply jumped into bed with the other – they both were cognizant of the fact their future potential friendship could be muddied with sex, but they agreed they were willing to give it a try. When Toby and Jim became intimate I found the scenes well written, steamy and full of emotional connection which I really enjoyed.

With a happy ending and a bright future ahead I enjoyed this story, finding it well-rounded and the character-driven plot interesting and engrossing to me. A great read and one I’ll happily re-read again in the future.

One Last Hit by Maia Dylan


One Last Hit by Maia Dylan
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (49 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Aaron George thought he’d lost the love of his life seven years ago. Right up until he pulled back the curtain of a hospital examination room and found Marshall Armstrong tending to a bullet wound on the other side. Then the night got really strange. They found themselves getting shot at and running for their lives.

Marshall Armstrong had finally come for Aaron. He’d been working toward it from the moment he’d had to fake his own death. Now, just when he had enough money and resources to take Aaron back, Aaron’s father, Franklin George knew his son was alive and that Marshall had a few secrets of his own.

Can Marshall and Aaron get back together as they work to make this one last hit before they disappear forever, or will their shot go wide and leave them with nothing?

Marshall lived in a dangerous world, and when he came a little too close to death he was left with no choice but to leave everything – including Aaron, who he loved more than anything – behind. Finally ready to set things right, Marshall comes back to collect Aaron only to find the danger is even greater now. Can the two men mend their bridges and finally start the life they both really want?

Despite the heavy plot of the story – assassins, corruption and a father trying desperately hard to kill his only son – I actually found this to be a light, loving and wonderful story full of reconciliation. Marshall and Aaron truly do love each other and there’s plenty of conflict and tension between them. Marshall had faked his death and the two men had so much history – and so much of their love still simmered below the surface – that I was pleased they could both move past their hurt. Marshall and Aaron’s characters were deep and intense and I really enjoyed them. Franklin – Aaron’s father – was a bit more of a mystery, an insidious Godfather type of bad guy who was determined to forge his path and kill (literally) everyone who got in the way. Franklin’s character felt a little more cartoon-ish and overdrawn to me, but that didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the story as Franklin was merely the “in the shadows” bad guy. The plot and most of the story really revolved around Marshall and Aaron and their reconnecting.

I found the sex scene to be intense and well-timed – Aaron and Marshall had built up to it and the scene didn’t feel to me like sex just for the sake of it, but a genuine reconnection. Readers looking for a lot of arguments or a deeply intricate plot might be a little disappointed. Aaron and Marshall and their reunion and building up again of their intense relationship is prominent to the storyline, along with the two men escaping various contract killers and assassins. I found the resolution of this storyline to be deeply satisfying and well written.

Overall this is a great short story and one I enjoyed. I really loved both Aaron and Marshall’s characters and was so glad they got back together. This left me happy and feeling satisfied and was a great read I know I’ll enjoy again in the future.

Going Off Grid by SJD Peterson


Going Off Grid by SJD Peterson
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short length (78 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play, Rimming
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Clay and Elliott are working toward a dream—working sixty-hour weeks for one of the oil companies that recently sprung up in North Dakota. The pay is good, but is it a fair trade for never seeing each other? The point becomes moot when the company folds, like so many others, and the couple is left with a difficult choice.

Should they find comparable work somewhere else, or is it time to throw caution to the wind and go after their goal—years earlier than they intended?

What they’ve always wanted is to be together and have time to enjoy it, so they follow their hearts. They’re going off the grid and fixing up an old cabin so they can be self-sufficient. But when they go from all the conveniences of the modern world to outhouses, solar power, a shoestring budget, and more mosquitos than they ever thought possible, will they find there’s such a thing as too much time together?

Clay and Elliott had been together for seven years and both working themselves extremely hard. Saving every penny, their dream was to do up their cabin and retire in style while they were young enough to still enjoy it. When the oil business went downhill fast their decision was forced onto Clay and Elliott a little early. But by going off grid – no power or cable bills – they could possibly make it work. Can they both survive going off grid and making their dream a reality?

This is an interesting and character-driven story. I really liked the concept of two six-figure-earning men upping their roots and going off grid into a cabin in the woods. Clay and Elliott were both completely normal men in a solid and stable long-term relationship, but I still found the direction they wanted their life to go in quite interesting. Nowadays I’ve noticed there are a lot of people interested in sustainable living and taking care of their own needs, so seeing these two high-powered men ready to do the same thing was quite interesting to me.

I also really appreciated how while there’s certainly a bit of polish to the story (Clay and Elliott managed to fix up the old log cabin fairly quickly and easily and the bigger-ticket items such as solar panels, connecting water lines etc all went rather smoothly and with minimal fuss) at no stage did I feel like there was an unrealistic sense to the story. While it all went smoothly, the gents *did* have to do upkeep and renovations, make preparations and outlay a fair chunk of their hard earned money. They didn’t simply wander out there into the middle of the woods with a car-load of gear and jump right in; they thought about it and planned it out. So while not gritty or in any way difficult, neither did it feel like the whole move was simply glossed over. I found this a good balance and I have to admit, I would have absolutely liked the story less had there been disaster after disaster – I enjoyed watching Clay and Elliott make their dream a reality and I loved to watch them both get to live and relish it.

Readers who like a plot-heavy or conflict-driven story might not find this as good a story as I did. While there’s some smoking hot sex scenes – the plot really does revolve around Clay and Elliott updating and upgrading their small cabin and making it liveable and the work they put into building and deepening their relationship. Having worked opposing shifts for many years and barely spending more than a handful of days together at a time they each knew they needed to invest plenty of time and energy into their relationship and this change of life pace was exactly what they both wanted deep down.

Personally, I loved watching the cabin and their relationship flourish under their time and care and found this a great book I will happily reread many times in the future.

American Road Trip by Sarah Black


American Road Trip by Sarah Black
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (86 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A single moment—or a single mistake—can change everything.

When Captain James Lee Hooker and his lover, Sergeant Easy Jacobs, were in the Army, they made a mistake that got a young soldier hurt. Three years later, they’re civilians again, living far apart, haunted by what they lost. Now that young soldier needs their help.

With his grandmother’s one-eyed Chihuahua riding shotgun, James Lee climbs into Easy’s pickup for a trip across the American Southwest. They set out to rescue a friend, but their journey transforms them with the power of forgiveness.

Easy and James were together in Afghanistan and while nothing turned out the way either one liked, they both moved on with their lives in their own ways. But when Easy’s brother, Austin, needs help Easy comes to collect the debt Jamie owes and the two set off on a bizarre road trip with Jamie’s half-blind tiny dog, Tino. Can they forge something new from the ashes of their past hurts?

Written in the first person I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. While I really would have enjoyed seeing some of the story from Easy’s perspective I do feel that James’ descriptions gave me a decent understanding of the other man. With a lot of water under the bridge, the two men initially only came together for the joint goal of finding Austin – wounded on a mission with Easy and James in Afghanistan – and returning him home. It’s clear there is tension and some chemistry between Easy and James from the moment they meet again, but it takes a while for them to be open about their desire for each other.

I was pleased with the pacing of Easy and James dipping a toe back into their relationship. In that sense the whole road-trip plot was gold – giving them time and space to talk, to hash out both where they were mentally and emotionally, but also to explore where they’d gone wrong in the past and what they’d leant and taken away from it. I’ve not read many stories like this and I found the whole set-up refreshing and interesting – two men with a stormy past travelling on a mission, road-tripping across America in both an adventure and communication experience where they had no distractions, only each other to rely on and talk to.

Readers looking for an intensely erotic or complexly plotted storyline might not feel very satisfied with this book. Personally, I enjoyed the slower pace and conversation-heavy style of story. Easy and James were multi-layered characters with a lot of history and plenty of twists and turns in their characters. Their joint mission – to find Austin and assure themselves of his well-being – was a great goal and kept the story moving at a decent, if slow, pace. I liked watching Easy and James reconnecting and discovering themselves in their new post-Army lives and trying to work out how they could rekindle their romance and build something permanent between them. A good and well-written story I enjoyed reading.