A wonderful beginning to a new series, this book starts when Konu emerges from the sea. We basically follow him into a Hawaii that is new to him, becaA wonderful beginning to a new series, this book starts when Konu emerges from the sea. We basically follow him into a Hawaii that is new to him, because everything has changed since he's last been to the islands hundreds of years ago. I loved his reactions to things that have changed, like transportation by car and bus, as well as how different the culture is. His surprise at women and men eating together, and his relief at dog no longer being on the menu was brilliantly described and made me realize how different his world had really been.
Konu is an amazing character. More lonely than any of us can imagine, with everyone he knew long dead, and a lover left behind, he struggles to adapt to the new world he finds himself in. The mystery of the Wizard Stones and his task isn't completely lifted by the end of the first book, but that is, I am sure, as AJ intended since there are more books to come. Konu's compassion and willingness to help others, even when it exhausts him, was touching and made me like him even more.
The love interest only just starts being identified at the end of the book, but I can't wait to read more about Konu and his new lover. This volume kicks off the new series in style, and, as usual, I can't wait for the next installment.
Okay, I admit it. I'm a sucker for a cute guy needing to be rescued from a big brute. Even better if the rescuer is the usually quiet type who doesn’tOkay, I admit it. I'm a sucker for a cute guy needing to be rescued from a big brute. Even better if the rescuer is the usually quiet type who doesn’t strike anyone as a hero. This fun story has both. It’s about snowboarder Ecco – the one who could do with some help – and game designer Henry, who had no idea what he was getting in to when he started flirting with one of the athletes of the X-treme games. All he expected was – maybe – some fun, but once Henry and Ecco get to know each other, things change. I liked this illustration of what a little hope and love can do in terms of helping someone take back control of their life.
Ecco is a snowboarder who is desperate. He is in so much trouble that he doesn’t even know where to start. He just wants to snowboard and have some fun, but his manager, Blake, has different ideas. I think Ecco gave too much power to Blake before he realized the danger, then fell into a pattern of expecting abuse, and now has a very hard time figuring out how to get away. Without ID, money, or an idea where to go should he succeed, he doesn’t stand a chance. And anyway, he has tried to et away from Blake before – with disastrous results. When Henry comes along and seems happy to help him out, Ecco manages to pick himself up and starts effectively fighting Blake’s totally unprofessional and unwelcome possessiveness.
Henry is a quiet guy, a game designer, and a man with a big heart. He loves watching the X-treme games and flirting (or more) with the athletes, but he has never gotten more deeply involved. He also seems to think he is too old for them, but some of the athletes are not all that young themselves, so I suspect he is using it as an excuse. Meeting Ecco changes this for Henry. Not at first, when their interactions are purely lust-based. But when Henry begins to figure out that Ecco is in trouble, things change and Henry gets far more involved than he’d thought possible.
If you like athletes and the men they fall in love with, if you want to see a young man heal from years of mental and emotional abuse, and if you’re looking for an entertaining read with a lot of action between the sheets before it turns suspenseful and intense, then you will probably like this novel.
Shyness is hard to deal with, and particularly so for Brandon in this story. As an author he doesn’t necessarily have to be social or meet people on aShyness is hard to deal with, and particularly so for Brandon in this story. As an author he doesn’t necessarily have to be social or meet people on a regular basis, but when convention time comes around, that changes. This is the story of one such convention and what happens when Brandon’s Dom, Sean, decides to build Brandon’s confidence by pushing him a little. Brandon gets all stressed out because Sean’s “a little” feels like “a lot” to him, but there are some advantages to obeying his Dom that make Brandon realize, yet again, why he loves the man who knows him well enough to understand when to push and when to reward.
Brandon may be shy with other people and the idea of meeting his fans makes him break out in a cold sweat, but when his Sir demands a show, he sure knows how to give it. Not that it is easy, but Brandon manages quite well in a contained situation. Once they get to the convention, his nerves almost get the better of him several times, but Sean always comes up with just the right remedy for whatever ails Brandon.
Sean clearly knows his sub very well and loves Brandon to distraction. Sean genuinely wants to help, and I liked how creative he gets. The idea of adding a third to their play is just perfect for making sure Brandon focuses on something other than his panic.
If you like stories about men who need some help to come out of their shell, if a loving D/s relationship with a temporary third player is your thing, and if you’re looking for a read that is as hot as it is entertaining, then you will probably like this short story.
‘A Night at the Ariston Baths’ is not just a novel based on actual events in the history of gay men in the US, it is a fascinating personal perspectiv‘A Night at the Ariston Baths’ is not just a novel based on actual events in the history of gay men in the US, it is a fascinating personal perspective on what those events meant for one gay man in particular. Theodore MacCall may be a fictional character, but his living through two major police raids targeted at gay men in this novel gave the meaning of those raids a very personal flavor. It brought them to life for me, as well as making clear what the consequences were for a much wider group of people than Theodore in this story.
As the author points out in his informative “Author’s Note on Historical Events” at the end of the book, the very first acknowledged police raid on a business establishment in NYC took place in 1903 in the Ariston Baths - and the reaction was mostly shock. The turning point in the way gay people reacted to being ostracized and harassed for their sexuality came sixty-six years later, in the summer of 1969, with the Stonewall Inn riots. Theodore was present at the first event and witnesses the second in this novel. His reaction to the first news about Stonewall as a ninety-year-old man, with his partner at his side, was one of the most beautiful moments I have witnessed in my reading. My sense of satisfaction that justice might finally stand a chance that I felt on Theodore’s behalf was deep. And even though Stonewall was just the beginning of a new phase of a fight that won’t be finished until the rights of those with different sexualities from the heterosexual majority are no longer questioned by that same majority, for Theodore it was a tremendous signal of hope - one that he had spent most of his life waiting for.
Theodore’s life in rural Pennsylvania in 1902 is very different from what we are used to today, and that becomes obvious within the first few pages of the novel. He lives on his parents’ farm and walks several miles each way to and from the general store in town, where he works. Nothing ever seems to change, but when his employer makes significant changes, Theodore decides on a very bold course of action. Despite the fact that he has never been farther than eight miles from his home, he follows his best friend, Martin, to NYC in the hopes of a better life.
The time in NYC, although only two months in length, is filled with new experiences for Theodore. He discovers other gay men, is amazed at how bold they are compared to what he is used to, and finds out how freeing, yet still dangerous, that can be. The raids at the Ariston Baths, on the one night that Martin drags him there, shock and scare Theodore to the point that he ends up returning to his hometown. Yet they leave a lasting impression, one that comes full circle sixty-six years later. And even though Theodore still lives a quiet, hidden life when he returns, those two months in the big city gave him the courage to accept love when he finds it once he meets Jasper. Things aren’t easy for the two men, but they make it work.
If you like stories that are based on true events, if you want to find out more about the history of gay men in the US, and if you’re looking for a touching read that brings to life a period in the past, then you will probably like this novel as much as I do. I think that it is well worth reading!
Buchanan House is a great venture – a fictional B&B on the Oregon Coast, set up for the LGTBQ+ crowd, and run by best friends Eric and Nathan. I lBuchanan House is a great venture – a fictional B&B on the Oregon Coast, set up for the LGTBQ+ crowd, and run by best friends Eric and Nathan. I loved the first book and all its characters, so what could be better than returning to these guys to see what they’re up to? Not only that, but ‘Pride Weekend’ is about two men who visit the beachfront hotel expecting a great weekend, but never having met in real life. The idea of sharing a room for cost reasons, no strings attached, sounds like a great excuse, right? Except for these two, both focused on their careers and somewhat lacking in the social skills area, it is possibly the only way they will ever be able/willing to do a hookup. Fun and games are bound to follow!
Adam and Silas are probably equally attracted to each other, but Silas is the one who decides to “go on the hunt”. With Adam being as shy as he is that is probably a good thing, or else nothing might have happened. Instead, they go from hot to hotter. They pretty much forget about all of the Pride events and parties taking place, and spend the weekend mostly in their room in an almost drunken state as they explore each other’s bodies. As fun (and exhausting) as their physical encounters are, and as much as they both secretly want more – never mind the no strings agreement – they end up going their separate ways on Sunday. At which point I went “What?!?” and, to my relief, noticed there was still a good half of the story left. And what a half it turned out to be!
If you like stories about men who think they want no attachments only to discover that, with the right guy, it might not be such a bad thing, if two office workers deciding their careers may not be their only priority any longer sound intriguing, and if you’re looking for a read that is fun, very hot, and has a beautiful happy ending, then you will probably like this free short story....more
There is something comforting about a B&B. I think part of it is the feeling of staying in someone’s home, the personal touch, that is especiallyThere is something comforting about a B&B. I think part of it is the feeling of staying in someone’s home, the personal touch, that is especially valuable in times of chain hotels and mass tourism. Part of it may be the usually idyllic locations these places can be found in. The B&B in this novella has both of those, plus it’s a historic building that may be in need of a few repairs at the beginning of the story, but its core is sound. Getting it up and running also happens to be exactly what Eric needs after his grandmother dies and leaves him bereft. Eric is a line cook, Nathan has the flair to be a host, and together they embark on the adventure of making their dream come true. ‘Buchanan House’ is a story of loss and finding a new purpose, a tale about the true meaning of family, and a look at the power of love and new beginnings.
Eric lost most of his so-called liberal biological family when he was thirteen and came out to them. He was lucky to have his grandmother take him in and raise him as her son, but when she dies years later, he comes close to losing himself in one drink too many. She was his only “real” family, and if it weren’t for his best friend, Nathan, Eric might not have recovered. Instead, Nathan gives him something to focus on by reviving an idea they had in middle school: run a B&B together. Eric isn’t too sure he can do it, but he wants it enough that, despite all the obstacles, he keeps trying.
Tim is one of the local handymen, the first one who picks up the phone when Eric starts making calls, and looks more like a superhero than a talented handyman. He has a few issues of his own, but a family who rejected him is not one of them. He doesn’t open up quickly or easily, but when he does – he turns out to be one of the nicest guys Eric has ever met. Their romance develops slowly, and oved to see them take their time.
Nathan is flamboyant, a great best friend, and not issueless himself. I am relieved to see he will be getting his own story, ‘Tiny House’, because I suspect he has even more hidden depths than the ones emerging in this book. There is a whole slew of fantastic secondary characters who stole my heart, and because they are all so real, they helped make the whole story come even more alive. I hope to see all of them again in further installments in this series.
If you like stories about somewhat risky business ventures undertaken by men who don’t quite know what they’re getting themselves into, if you want to see a grieving man with self-confidence issues grow and change as he deals with a somewhat risky venture, and if you’re looking for a read that is full of charming details, touching emotions, and wonderful characters, then you will probably like this novella....more
The idea of a “mere human” trying to make it through culinary school without the most important ability in this story’s world – magic – made me curiouThe idea of a “mere human” trying to make it through culinary school without the most important ability in this story’s world – magic – made me curious to read this novella. Mainly because anyone who tries to achieve things without having all the necessary tools, whatever they are, fascinates me. It’s like the underdog trying to win the race, and I am all about supporting the underdog. So Aimes, with his need to prove that he is a good chef even without being able to enhance his dishes magically, had my support before the story even started. Then I found out there are other factors that work against him, and I was glued to the pages.
Aimes lives in a world that admires the fae, and where most people have at least some fae blood running in their veins. Aimes doesn’t. He is a pure-blooded human and his peers despise him. But when they attack his older brother’s honor by saying that Markl wasn’t as successful as Aimes says, that he never made it to the palace, Aimes gets angry and determined to prove them wrong. It makes him desperate enough to attempt the retrieval of fae mushrooms for a particular dish – instead he ends up in a fae hollow, prisoner of Lord Keanewyeth Ordioral.
Lord Keane has been a prisoner in his hollow for centuries. There are certain rules he cannot break, but he is determined to protect Aimes anyway. Contrary to what Aimes and his cohorts believe, pure-blooded humans are rare and precious. Lord Keane is immediately attracted to Aimes’s beauty – but fights his feelings because he doesn’t want to get too closely involved and endanger Aimes. Lord Keane has very powerful enemies and when they come looking, it will take everything he has plus everything Aimes has plus their working together for them to survive. All while not breaking several fae rules that make it almost impossible for them to succeed. Very suspenseful!
If you like stories about humans struggling in a world filled with magic, if two men who might have never met but for the stubbornness of one of them to prove his worth, and if you’re looking for a read that is suspenseful, set in an imaginary world, and full of surprises, then you will probably like this novella.
One of my favorite types of stories is reunions and/or second chances. And with Quinn returning to his hometown in Colorado as the new sheriff, only tOne of my favorite types of stories is reunions and/or second chances. And with Quinn returning to his hometown in Colorado as the new sheriff, only to find out that his best friend from high school from eighteen years ago, Danny, is a teacher and his new neighbor, the scene is set for an entertaining read. There was more to it than that though: even though ‘Old Town New’ takes place only about ten years ago – before high-speed Internet and smartphones – the lack of all the technology we take for granted now makes it feel like a historical. The realization how much the world has changed since then was both scary and funny. The other element that surprised me, in a good way, was the mystery around Quinn and why he has really returned. I won’t give any details about that in this review, so as not to spoil the surprise, but it added some great suspense and depth to the story.
Danny may be a respectable history teacher now, but he’s led a wild life. He was the only one of his friends who survived a serious car accident a few years after high school graduation, and it has changed his life. Not just because he still has a few physical twinges to deal with, but also because the guilt has shaped his outlook on life. The only reason he has returned to the small town is that his father became sick and needed his help. All Danny can do is take it one day at a time.
Quinn used to be a bad boy, but has turned into an exemplary cop and now sheriff. Honest, determined to catch the bad guys, and unwilling to “let things lie” just because everyone else has accepted the status quo. There are a few who don’t like him being back and representing the law, but Quinn is determined to make it work. He is like a breath of fresh air for the town, but especially for Danny. Quinn won’t let Danny hide or fade away, and he will do whatever it takes to make Danny happy.
If you like second chances, if stories set in small towns are your thing, and if you’re looking for a read full of charming little details, quirky characters, and lots of hot loving, then you will probably like this novella.
While pirates in real life are dangerous and scary, their fictional counterparts can be startlingly attractive. Whether it’s the excitement of playingWhile pirates in real life are dangerous and scary, their fictional counterparts can be startlingly attractive. Whether it’s the excitement of playing with fire or the idea of giving in to “uncivilized” behavior I am not sure, but I have to admit that fictional pirates have some fascination for me. And the gorgeous specimen in this story, set somewhere in the eighteenth or maybe early nineteenth century, is no exception. To see him paired with a young, entirely innocent doctor who thinks of himself as a civilized man was not just fun but very hot.
Stephen is a doctor, a man of refined taste, professional and personal ambition, and he is convinced that rational thought and arguments, if not good manners, will win the day every time. When he finds himself taken prisoner by pirates, with the captain demanding his medical services, Stephen is outraged. But he is a doctor first, so he does as he is bidden, only to find out that the captain, or “beast” as Stephen calls him in his anger, has other plans. Stephen resists the man’s advances with everything in him, knowing that the feelings the pirate raises in him are illicit and sinful. And anyway, he is a prisoner and being held against his will!
John is a fiercely independent man. Not unrefined or incapable of civilized behavior, he prefers to be in charge of his own fate, beholden to none, and free as a bird. The doctor fascinates him, and he is determined to seduce “the butcher” into his bed. While there is a little force involved in the beginning, this quickly morphs into manipulation – not much better from Stephen’s point of view, but it does set the tone as something less brutal and violent than noncon. John’s goal is to convert Stephen to see things in a new light, to get rid of the silly moral views of the society of their time, and to listen to his body’s needs rather than his brain’s directives.
If you like stories with lots of physical activity that goes from somewhat forced kisses to full-out bedplay, if two men from different worlds discovering they are not so different after all sound interesting, and if you’re looking for a read that is closer to fantasy than reality, entertaining, and very hot, then you will probably like this novella.