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Midnight Dalliance by S.J. Frost

Midnight Dalliance provides a little glimpse into the world of competitive show horses and their riders wrapped around a cute m/m romance story. Even with limited character development and cliched plot points, this story delivers some of the endearing chemistry and character personality quirks (Kelvin) that I have come to love in SJ's longer works. Maybe SJ will choose to write more about this world in the future, because she clearly has a knack for it.

Blurb: "For as long as he can remember, Dalton Harrington has loved horses. He’s watched in awe of the horses and riders in the competition world, but no horse and rider team captured his heart more than Sweet Revolution and Kelvin Crofton. Years of hard work has put Dalton’s dream of becoming a great rider within reach when he purchases the black stallion, Midnight Dalliance. Though he knows the horse is a destined champion, poor treatment and bad training has left Dalliance with scars he’s not sure he can help the horse overcome. When he takes Dalliance to a show, he meets Kelvin for the first time, and under Kelvin’s gentle guidance, he realizes he and Midnight Dalliance may not be the only ones destined to be a great team."

Midnight Dalliance at Torquere Press

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Finding a Dream by S.J. Frost

I am addicted to the Conquest series. Like a good little addict I devoured this little morsel in no time. It was heaven to read more about Shunichi and Brandon's relationship. Having Jesse and Evan make a cameo appearance, that was just freaking cream cheese frosting on top.  Yum!

Dillon's story is angsty and incredibly timely given all the horrible teen suicides in the recent past. His despair is tangible and believable. Luckily he has one awesome best friend and some well connected new friends. With Brandon, Shunichi, Jesse and Evan around, how could the story have anything but a happy, uplifting ending? I am glad the author tackled this subject and extremely proud that both the author and editor donated their royalties to The Trevor Project. This story is a win-win.  Run out and buy it now. You'll get a fabulous story and The Trevor Project will get a much needed donation.

Blurb: "Bullied and harassed at school for his sexuality, Dillon Davis can’t see his life getting any better, but he can see it getting worse. Depressed, wounded in spirit and body, he’s nearing a point of hopelessness, until he sees a picture of his favorite stage actor, Brandon Alexander, with his partner, Shunichi Miyamoto. At learning Shunichi runs a karate dojo, a spark of hope comes to Dillon of learning to defend himself, and most of all, meeting Brandon.

Brandon Alexander is filled with compassion for Dillon the moment he meets him. He knows all too well what it’s like to be scorned for being gay. He and Shunichi want nothing more than to help him, but when Dillon never returns to the dojo, they fear what’s happened to him."

Finding A Dream at MLR Press

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Mean For Each Other by D.H. Starr

Meant For Each Other is a lovely story with coming of age and best friends turn lovers themes. On the one hand, the romance between Jeremy and Craig is very tender. A long separation at a young age makes their struggle quite poignant. On the other hand, because both Jeremy and Craig are in long term relationships when they meet again after the 15 year separation, a significant portion of the story focuses on Jeremy and Andrew's relationship, as well as Craig and Robert's relationship. It is this aspect of the story that didn't work well for me. I would have liked more focus on Jeremy and Craig. A tough request, because once you take Andrew and Robert out of the picture Craig and Jeremy's HEA is a given, leading to a very romantic but potentially boring story. Andrew and Robert are key to the conflict in the story.

My other slight frustration with the story was the characters moral code. To put it bluntly, their idea of right and wrong doesn't mesh with my own. I am not naive enough to believe that everyone goes through life doing the perfectly right thing every minute of every day, but I had a problem with Jeremy and Craig keeping their feelings for each other quiet for as long as they did. I also had a problem with Craig lying to his friends and business partners to take a sweet deal for himself. If his partners are good friends, couldn't he just tell the truth? Anyway, this is entirely a matter of opinion. (Isn't it always?)

Issues aside, I enjoyed this story and read it all in one sitting. That counts for quite a bit in my book!

Blurb: "Sometimes your first love is the one that was meant to be.

Craig Harper and Jeremy Finn were best friends growing up. They attended the same school, spent all of their time together, and hung out with the same group of people. It wasn't until the day before Jeremy and his family moved across the country that they discovered their attraction to one another.

Fifteen years later, they reunite by chance in New York City. Both are in relationships and have established a routine in their lives. But routines and relationships are shaken as they begin to spend time together once again. Old feelings and connections are still strong.

As each deals with the issues in their own relationships, they begin to question whether the comfort of what they know is more powerful than the pull of what they could have been...and what they might become. Struggling to find the answer, only their hearts can reveal if they are meant for each other.

Meant For Each Other at Ai Press

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Acquainted with the Night by Tymber Dalton

This is an amazing story, but I have to be upfront and state that it is not for everyone.  Many if not all of themes addressed in this story are controversial (men as pets, male pregnancy, open relationships, menage of more than four...).  Also, the ending is NOT a traditional HEA.  I grabbed this book when I was down and looking for a pick me up and got the exact opposite. I cried and cried, but I could not put it down.  It is that good.

I am not much of a fan of sci-fi romance, mainly because most of the time the sci-fi world building gets in the way of my enjoyment.  That was not the case here.  Tymber masterfully provided enough detail to build a complex world without filling every page with made up words or convoluted descriptions.  The sci-fi theme is strong enough to make an impact, yet the focus of the story is on the people. The emotional impact is out of this world (pun intended).  The character development is fabulous.  It doesn't take long to fall in love with these guys, which makes it difficult to keep reading when the author puts them through the wringer. Angst fest doesn't even begin to describe it! 

In the tradition of great sci-fi writers, Tymber uses this book as a platform for social commentary.  It is almost impossible to read this book and not stop to ponder some of the implications.  It is also quite a challenge to read this book and not stop for other, more pleasant reasons.  Some parts of the story are perfect one handed reads. (la la la la la la)

This is an unforgettable story that will join other more traditional romances in my keeper shelf.  I don't know if I'll read it again, not sure my heart can take it.  Nevertheless, I am very glad I read it and had the opportunity to meet these fabulous characters.

Blurb:" Dale despised the Terran military. He was drafted, not a volunteer. He never expected to get captured by the Algonquans and sold as a breeder pet, either. He only prays his new owner is kind and doesn t eat him. Then he meets fellow pet, Mark, who informs him getting captured was the luckiest day of their lives. Mark also hated the military and now spends his days in a life of sexual leisure, enjoying poetry and totally at peace with his fate. Dale settles in and finds not only does he enjoy this life, he loves Mark, too. Despite tragedy striking too close to home in their protected world, they find room to love their Master s newest pets, Cooper and Nate. When the war ends and the Terran pets are granted their freedom, the men are faced with a choice: return, or stay with the owner they ve grown to love?"

Acquainted with the Night at Bookstrand.com

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Blind Desire by I.D. Locke

I just read this book for the second time and I loved it as much as the first. The characters are fantastic. Quinlin is a Gifted human, a superbly talented musician with the unique ability to see auras. This is quite handy since he is physically blind, so auras are all he can see. A chance encounter with Ryzel sends Quinlin stumbling into the life he is destined to live with the demon he is destined to love. Demon politics, meddling family, handsome best friends and hot, hot, hot sex make this story a highly entertaining read.

True that the main characters are well developed and the plot is engaging. Yet what made this book stand out from the rest in my mind were the fantastic secondary characters. Even Quinlin's dead grandmother is a fantastic character. I would love to read a story featuring Ryzel's father and Quinlin's Aunt. Given the way the author dealt with Quinlin's best friend Haskell, I am hoping he will have his own story some day.

M/M romance fans, particularly those who enjoy paranormals are likely to love this book. It certainly left me wanting to read more...again.

Blurb: "A chance encounter in an alleyway has Ryzel, an incubus, chasing after Quinlin, the Gifted human who almost interrupted his most recent meal. Quinlin’s prickly attitude doesn’t stop Ryzel from trying to find him because a Gifted human such as Quinlin is the richest possible food source for an incubus. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Ryzel also finds Quinlin beautiful.

Quinlin is frustrated and annoyed that he can’t get Ryzel out of his mind after only one stolen kiss. A second encounter with Ryzel in a bar leads Quinlin to make the life-altering decision to sleep with the object of his obsession to purge Ryzel from his mind once and for all. One night of pleasure reveals details neither intended to tell the other about themselves. The wheels of destiny are set into motion."

Blind Desire at Torquere Press


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Life Changes Everything by T.C. Blue

I love Ben. I loved him in "Life or Something Scary Like That" and even more in "Life Changes Everything". In typical T.C. Blue fashion, "Life Changes Everything" explores Ben's life in meaningful detail and provides awesome character development woven tightly with an interesting plot and some very hot sex. (Our boy Ben sure likes his showers! LOL) At first, I was a little skeptical about Ben and Aaron's HEA. It seemed so sudden and ill timed. Yet, I found myself falling for Ben and Aaron and wanting them to be happy. How could I not? The only problem in solidifying Ben and Aaron's relationship was the ghost of Jack and Cliff (Figuratively, Jack and Cliff are NOT dead and this is not a spoiler!). In order to bring full closure, the author gives us a scene that goes where I know many other authors wouldn't. It shocked me, it made me think, and unfortunately it also left me a little bit confused. I applaud T.C.'s daring to go there. I just wish there had been a little bit more explanation than was ultimately provided. Dare I hope for a third book in the series? Or maybe a short story that would let us see Ben and Aaron again? ;P

All in all, "Life Changes Everything" is a wonderful m/m erotic romance full of characters we know and love mixed with a dash of angsty drama. It is a must read for T.C. Blue fans and those who enjoyed "Life or Something Scary Like That". Also highly recommended for m/m erotic romance fans in general, particularly those who love a bit of angst. Like me!

Blurb: "Ben might be young and only recently out, but he knows what he wants, and the hot blond on the dance floor definitely fits the bill. The last thing he expects is to discover that he's not only met Aaron before, but that he likes the guy as well. That's something he's never encountered before.

Aaron's no player, but when the universe throws a tall, built slab of gorgeous beefcake in his path, Aaron knows better than to question his luck. Ben unexpectedly turns out to be smart, funny, and a really good fit, which is definitely a bonus. Ben might be young, but he's mature enough to keep Aaron interested, and happy.

They both have pasts and regrets, but everyone does. They're determined to work through their issues, though, and just when they’ve started to move on together, life happens, throwing complications in their path. Can their fledgling relationship survive when everything changes?"

Life Changes Everything at Torquere Press

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Reindeer Games by Jet Mykles

The entire concept underlying Reindeer Games is unique and very creative.  The magic, the time travel, the shape-shifting, the detailed descriptions of the village...Jet did an outstanding job of building this world. I have not read her Dark Elves series, but sensed Wod had some ties to a pre-established race of elves. So perhaps there was some additional richness of detail for those who have read Dark Elves.

The dynamic between Wod and Lon is quintessential Jet Mykles. Both heroes are beautiful.  Wod is big, strong and dominant.  Lon is small, pretty and very willing to give himself to an elf that will love him.  Yaoi fans will particularly enjoy this dynamic! Given the length of the book, relationship development was somewhat limited. Along those lines, my only problem with the story was having the "L" word come up between two elves who have been together as a couple for a very brief time. Then again, it's Christmas, so why not?

Reindeer Games is a very whimsical story.  Think of it as a sexy, hot, often funny Christmas "fantasy". It is a must read for Jet Mykles fans. Also highly recommended for m/m fans in general, particularly those who desperately need a good dose of Christmas spirit!

Blurb: "Rom is Dasher, the leader of Santa’s shape-shifting team of reindeer. He is the quintessential elf -- smart, handsome, charming -- and everyone in Santa’s Village wants him. Lon is no exception. He’s hopelessly in love with Rom, but how can he hope to get Rom’s attention? Even if he is now one of the reindeer handlers, he’s still just a plain, ordinary elf, and painfully shy to boot.

Then there’s Wod. As Dancer, he’s both Rom’s second in command and Rom’s best friend. He, too, is devilishly handsome but in a darker and -- truth be told -- slightly frightening way. At least, he makes Lon’s heart race and his tongue tie in knots.

When Wod unexpectedly offers to help Lon gain Rom’s attention, Lon is completely confused. To make matters worse, Wod is clear that he’d love to play with Lon himself.

Lon is used to the sexual freedom in Santa’s Village but he craves something more meaningful. He wants a real relationship. So what does he do? Keep pining for Rom or play Wod's special brand of reindeer games?"

Reindeer Games at Loose ID


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Sagittarius Blues by Katrina Strauss

Another gem by the talented Ms. Strauss! Usually I connect primarily with one of the two main characters in a story.  Yet as I was reading this story, I found myself switching sides between Ryan and Greg.  I completely related to Greg's need to help others in an effort to repay the good Karma he received when he was a troubled young man. His need counsel and tendency to be more serious than the situation calls for is something I have been guilty of many times!  At the same time, I found myself in Ryan's head, deeply feeling his need to let go of the weight of responsibility a little bit by publishing his video blog. My heart went out to him when his world started to crumble and he had own up to his actions and face the consequences.  Been there, done that.  It's a bitter pill to swallow.

I dare say this is the most realistic contemporary Katrina has penned to date.  Ryan and Greg could be any two of the dozens of neighborhood people we interact with in our everyday lives. They are two regular guys, living their lives the best way they know how, while desperately looking for someone to love.  The amazing thing is that Katrina created two memorable characters out of these two "ordinary" men by weaving in small details and nuances that made them unique and added layers to their personalities.

When Greg and Ryan first meet, Ryan is still heart broken over the lack of a romantic relationship with his best friend Chad, who is now dating their long-time friend Brooke.  Having "experimented" with Chad when they were growing up, Ryan can not understand why Chad is now in love with a woman. Greg is very attracted to Ryan, but he is concerned about the impact coming out of the closet and having a relationship with Ryan might have on his job as a Youth Center Director.  All of these emotions and relationship dynamics combine to make this story quite angsty.  Not angsty in the "will they won't they" kind of way that we all know ends with a HEA, but angsty at a deeper level.  The characters are so real that it seems entirely plausible that things may not work out well.  After all, It happens quite often in real life.  I didn't realize how emotionally invested I was in their happiness until I read The End and relaxed in the knowledge that Ryan and Greg were indeed happy. Sneaky angst in this one! Then again, Ryan's trademark humor is often LOL worthy and does a great job of breaking the tension when needed.

M/M fans who enjoy contemporary m/m are likely to love this story.  Fans of the author will recognize her trademark "gotcha" scenes, where a naughty sounding scene opening turns out to be a unique take on a very ordinary situation.  I love these little openings and have come to anticipate them in Katrina's stories.  Sagittarius Blues delivered! This is a great story with just enough holiday magic and winter atmosphere to raise your spirits during the coming weeks. Burn some cinnamon candles, prepare some luscious hot cocoa and seat down to enjoy this wonderful m/m treat. 

Blurb: "With a birthday near Christmas, Ryan Foster’s learned to compromise. He loves a straight friend who won’t reciprocate his feelings, and holds a boring job to afford college. At the end of the week, he vents his frustrations through his webcast, "Alone Time with Ryan.” He’s careful not to name names -- particularly since each webisode ends with a mock masturbation session.

Greg Beaumont seeks a fresh start in a new home, but wasn't counting on the holidays being lonely. When gorgeous, young Ryan shows up on Greg’s doorstep, it's a warm ray of light on a cold winter’s day. Greg's attracted, and tempted, but as youth director at the local recreation center, he must conduct his private life carefully. Seducing a college student seven years his junior isn’t the wisest choice, no matter how hot Greg's fantasies are growing by the day -- or night.

When Ryan's ode to December birthdays goes viral, his show becomes an overnight sensation, but with exposure comes consequence, and Ryan’s Sagittarian wits won’t get him out of this one. When he turns to Greg in a moment of need, both men must face the consequence of their passion, making for one steamy winter."

Sagittarius Blues at Loose ID

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The Mark of an Alpha by Kim Dare

I absolutely adored this story.  The initial scene presents Alpha wolf Marsdon dominating an unknown wolf.  The wolf's face hooded.  His scent masked by perfume.  The scene is a beautifully crafted, utterly sensual example of bondage and submission. Emotions are strong and bittersweet as the two wolves struggle to enjoy their time together in what is to be their last encounter. Yet, life's twists and turns bring them together again.  They are given the opportunity to be happily ever after if they can only reconcile their responsibilities and obligations to the wolf pack with their inherent D/s nature.

While Bennett behaved in frustrating ways for a good part of the story, I could understand his thought process and forgive his stubborness.  In fact, his stubbornness led to an awesome final scene that I wouldn't have wanted to miss.  So just for that I forgive him.  ;P

Not only are the two main characters surprisingly well developed given the length of the story, but the supporting cast of characters is also developed enough to provide enticing insights into future stories and leave the reader wanting more. I found this story to be much richer in detail and emotions than other Dare novella's I have read to date.  I look forward to other installments in the series.

Blurb: "Dominance and submission mean different things to werewolves than to humans. Once Marsdon and Bennett try things the human way – nothing can ever be the same for them again.

Werewolf tradition is very clear. The alpha pair is the corner stone of the pack. Equality between the alphas is everything. Alphas mate with alphas.

Human leather clubs work to different rules. Dominants mate with submissives. Power is exchanged freely and for the ultimate pleasure of all. Sometimes the most alpha men in the club find happiness with the most omega men. And sometimes the omegas are more than they first appear to be.

A wolf might be able to hide his identity and play anonymously in those clubs for a little while, but he can't ignore reality forever. Marsdon and Bennett have lives to get back to, they have packs to return to...they have wolfen traditions to follow.

They have just one more night together before they have to lose each other forever. All they can do now, is make the most of it."

The Mark of an Alpha by Kim Dare

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Sahara Blue by Jan Irving

I very much enjoyed this story. In retrospect, I think I liked it so much, because I could completely relate to Seth. Seth may appear to be two people, but he's just two sides of the same coin. While some people may not think of this as a BDSM story, it has a very strong D/s component and Seth's needs and desires are at the core of it.

Sahara is a lovely character. Very limited background is provided, but then again, I have not read Mastering Toby. Who knows what awaits me there? Even with the limited background, I couldn't help but like Sahara. Any man who can embrace the name Sahara Blue and still go through life as an uber protective Alpha Male, gets my attention.

Truth be told the plot rambled a bit, but I was very focused on the relationship between Sahara and Seth, everything else was just part of the ride. I loved the descriptions of Sahara's floating home and Seth's fabulous shop. The author created a sense of place and space that resonated with me. The motion, the colors, the fabrics, it all fed a very sensual experience. My favorite setting was Mr. Chang's estate. I was so entranced by the description, that I found myself wanting to go there for a weekend escapade. (Hot and horny gay men included please!)

Those who enjoy D/s, Master/slave dynamics are likely to enjoy this story very much. Those looking for a realistic contemporary perhaps won't like it as much. For what it is worth, it worked for me.

Blurb: "Seth Hollis lives his passions online under the pseudonym “Lotus” and attracts ex-Navy SEAL Sahara Blue, who avidly follows the erotic tales of passionate submission Seth posts. While they forge a powerful connection, it’s increasingly frustrating, because both men yearn for something real. Seth’s writings have also attracted an unwanted and dangerous admirer, and when the glass window of Seth’s shop is shattered one night, fate sends Sahara Blue to his rescue.

Unaware he has actually met Lotus, Sahara takes Seth under his wing, and that same mysterious and deep attraction flares to life. But Seth’s deranged stalker won’t let up, and Seth and Sahara will have to give up their secrets and learn to trust if they’re going to keep each other safe."

Sahara Blue at Dreamspinner Press

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