What better a way to face the Monday blues? Well, by reading an amazing story from one of your favorite authors is one; having it be a freebie is just...moreWhat better a way to face the Monday blues? Well, by reading an amazing story from one of your favorite authors is one; having it be a freebie is just an added bonus!
TO FEEL THE SUN is an amazing vignette that takes place in 1918, and weaves a beautiful story of forbidden love. Benjamin and Teddy are childhood friends, but in 1917, they take that friendship another step further and explore each other as lovers. The time is not one that is conducive to the acceptance of homosexuality, however. Understanding that there is little chance of a future for these two men, Teddy enlists and goes to war. Sexton then tells a story of Benjamin's reflection and dreams about this tragic love.
Sexton did in 6 pages what many full length novels never achieve - she writes a story full of beautiful imagery, makes the reader feel for the main characters immediately, and pulls at your heartstrings enough to cause tears of both sadness and happiness in a matter of pages.
The imagery of Sexton's writing was so tangible, I could picture the setting perfectly. The cover truly captures that image as well. While the love scenes are not explicit, they don't need to be. They still invoke the strong feelings of passion, desire, and love. And although there is tragic sadness due to loss, there is also healing through spirituality and love.(less)
Good God Almighty – just when you think Witt and Voinov couldn’t write anything hotter than QUID PRO QUO, they prove you wrong with the ever-scorching TAKE IT OFF.
TAKE IT OFF picks up a little while after QUID, and we again find Tristan and Jared at the Market Garden waiting for some work to come their way. Since their insanely sexy-hot time together in QUID, they have become the guys that clients love to hire together to fulfill their fantasies. And that seems to suit these fellows just fine, especially Tristan. Tristan was the one with major experience under his belt (pun not intended) in QUID, and Jared both looked up to and had a crush on him. In this installment of the series, it seems that the reverse has happened. Jared is a lot more confident in himself now, he has an extra (and very sexy) strut in his step, and he doesn’t hesitate with calling some of the shots. Working with Tristan in QUID was a dream come true for Jared, but now, Tristan is the one we see who wants Jared. It may be just due to the change in perspective (in TAKE, everything is told from Tristan’s point-of-view), but I love the way that Witt and Voinov have done it, and changed it up for the reader.
Enter Rolex, the same john who hired them in QUID. He comes back and hires Jared and Tristan for what will hope to be another amazing night where Tristan gets Jared all to himself and doesn’t have to share. Rolex is a voyeur, after all. However, the john does change things up a bit, and holy crap, he changes it up so very, very well! The change puts a lot of power in Jared’s hands, and we get to see him tease Tristan and pay him back for the how he teased and drove Jared crazy previously. Jared’s skills and confidence ooze right off the page, as do the effects that they have on Tristan. And trust me when I say that all of that oozes right off the page and doubly effects the reader. *PHEW!*
TAKE IT OFF is an extremely and insanely sexy story. While it is a short story and fully erotic, Witt and Voinov are able to master telling the story so that the plot is as strong and well-developed as the scorching sex. Having things told from Tristan’s point of view also gave the reader insight into his sexy mind, and it was nice to see that he has a healthy dose of a crush on Jared, just like we saw from Jared in QUID. And without giving it away, I’ll just say that I am so thankful to Rolex for deciding to take advantage of Jared’s major skill set to seduce Tristan (and himself). Witt and Voinov wrote it so well, I could picture every moment beautifully in my mind. So, run – don’t walk – to your favorite e-book retailer and get this book. It is one not to be missed, and I cannot wait to read the next!
PLAN B is a wonderful story of attraction, friendship, secret love, heartbreak, and starting anew. Danny is a flamboyant gay 20-year old drama major who loves to wear gorgeous, smoky eye shadow and 6-inch stiletto boots, but as he says, he doesn’t “hide behind the flair.” He is out and very proud of who he is. While accompanying his best friend, Bo, to a frat party, he catches the eye of Lance, big buff football player, who is flat out rude to Danny. Nonetheless, Danny can’t stop thinking about Lance’s mesmerizing, gray-eyed piercing stare.
The same is true for Lance as well, who seeks Danny out on campus and tries to get to know him better, apologizing for his behavior at the party. To make matters worse (or better, depending on who you ask), Lance is the twin brother of Katie, the girl that Bo just started dating. Lance uses that as his excuse to get closer to Danny. With time, their initial attraction for each other only intensifies, but there’s an obstacle…Lance has barely come to grips with himself that he might be gay. He knows he’s attracted to Danny, but is it because Danny has feminine qualities? Danny is willing to be Lance’s closeted experiment, but he makes sure that Lance knows what he is – a man – and not what he thinks Lance pretends him to be – a chick.
Before long, their attraction to each other develops into some seriously hot sexy time, friendship, and admist all of that, more than just lustful feelings. The problem is Lance has only one plan for his life – to play in the NFL. There is no other option, no plan B, and because of that, coming out of the closet does not fit into his plan. Complicating matters further, Danny realizes this at the same time he realizes he has fallen hard for Lance. So what’s left for him to do? Guess you gotta read it to find out. ;)
I love the gay-for-you/out-for-you trope in my m/m romance, and Peterson definitely delivers that well in PLAN B. She also writes wonderful characters. Although he can be quite conceited, Danny is just fabulous. Even at such a young age, he is confident in who he is, embraces it, and makes no apologies for it. While Lance is not ready to out himself publicly, I give him props for making baby steps in acknowledging it. I really enjoyed watching their relationship grow as well. It was a great progression throughout the school year.
There were a few issues with this book that prevented me from giving it more stars. First, the editing (both content and grammatical) could have been better. It wasn’t completely distracting, but I did get caught up on some errors every here and there, and with a closer review and editing eye, that wouldn’t have been the case. Lastly, while I was very happy with how the book ended in general, I felt like there were some questions that were never answered, or that could have been developed further. I will try not to be to give away too much here, but be warned that these questions are somewhat spoilerish. I wanted to learn more about Lance’s life after college – Did he have any relationships other than his attempt with Morgan (specifically, did he ever have any trysts with any other men)? While his eventual Plan B involved Danny, what did he decide to do for a living? I felt like this type of information was just glossed over, and I would liked to have seen more.
Overall, though, I really did enjoy PLAN B, so much so that I was hooked and read it in the course of one day. It was full of great sexual tension, just the right amount of angst, and even a little heartbreak – all of which made the HEA that much sweeter.
Well, he did it. That manipulative bastard did exactly what he set out to do. Nikolai has been gearing up his psychological abusiveness to drive a wedge between Mat and Dougie, and he succeeded oh so well in his plan.
Again, as with all the previous episodes, Haimowitz and Belleau have just outdone themselves in episode #6 of the FLESH CARTEL. Their writing, plotting, and the aforethought that they put forth is simply brilliant. BROTHERHOOD is another heart wrenching episode, and like I say with practically every review, just when you don’t think the physical torture could get any worse, it actually does, along with the mental torture as well. It makes my stomach turn, but I.Just.Can’t.Stop! I am so truly committed to Mat and Dougie, and I have to continue reading to learn their eventual fate.
Mat starts this episode in a prideful mood and Nikolai teaches him a most difficult lesson. While Mat is down and feeling awful, and being tortured some more, Nikolai then really nourishes the seed he’s planted in his plans to drive the wedge between the brothers and sets everything in motion. Because Mat would do anything to make sure that no more harm comes to Dougie – anything – he finally becomes compliant.
Dougie, on the other hand, decides at the beginning of this episode, that enough is enough. He doesn’t care about his pride anymore. He just needs the pain and the torture to stop. And so Dougie becoming Nikolai’s pet truly begins.
Nikolia continues to be a character that I just love to hate. But he is also a character for which I find myself so torn! He “gifts” Dougie with tenderness and gentleness, and like Dougie, I want him to have as much of it as he can get because the abuse has been so bad, there needs to be some light in the darkness. But is Dougie starting to misinterpret that tenderness with love? He longs for it; he no longer wants to be alone. And it is amazing just how far Nikolai’s affections will go in both Dougie’s mind and heart.
So, all in all, even with all of the disdain and heartbreak one might feel while reading this series, this is another brilliant episode, and I hope there might be some more light in the next one. Well, one can hope, right?
In this 5th installment of THE FLESH CARTEL: WINS & LOSSES, the egotistical, maniacal, wicked sadist and mind-fuck extraordinaire, Nikolai, continues his torture of Dougie and Mat and really begins to work hard to divide the brothers. No, they still have not seen each other and only know the other to also be in Nikolai’s not-so-little house of torture because Nikolai has told them so. He knows that both Dougie and Mat – and Mat especially – continue to behave in ways because each puts the other at the forefront of his thoughts and actions.
Nikolai is sooooo damn good at what he does, torturing my beloved Mat and Dougie, both in very different ways. And he continues to make great strides in molding them to be exactly how he wants them. It’s not perfect yet, but he is getting there, and God, how I love to hate this man for the success that he is.
Dougie, although a straight man, has begun to begrudgingly enjoy the pleasures of the flesh that Nicolai has given him. And while he feels like Mat would think him a coward for his feelings and his reactions to Nikolai, it is hard to stop himself. His mind is breaking down in other ways as well: in some instances, he sees affection from Nikolai and begins to wonder if Nikolai is expressing love; in other instances, he is seeking it out. Similarly, Mat tries to continue to be strong and full of pride for both himself and Dougie, but admittedly, he knows that Nikolai has broken him in both mind and spirit as well.
Mat has a lot of introspection in this book. At Nikolai’s urging, he sits down and writes a list of all the joys for which he lives. Also, as part of Nikolai’s plan to strengthen him back up to being “fighting fit,” Mat receives from him exercise equipment to help him get back in shape.
As in prior episodes, Nikolai keeps reminding the brothers of their choices…that they have a choice in everything that happens, except that supposed freedom of choice is wrapped in layer upon layer of electrified barbed wire fencing so that there really is no choice at all. Especially when the consequences of those choices is the equivalent of being thrown upon that electrified barbed wire fencing while soaking wet.
A couple of interesting insights to Nikolai’s way of thinking come through in this episode. As Mat notes, when he calls him a derogatory name, Nikolai reacts in a way that shows a “chink in his armor.” I find it interesting as well that Nikolai is a hypocrite of infinite proportions. He blasts Mat for noting that “winning” is a joy of his, when in fact, Nikolai lives to win. And in order to do so, he has to torture his slaves to achieve his goals. But hypocrisy, sadist-loving asshole aside, he does his job, and he does it well.
Like the last episode, WINS & LOSSES truly further demonstrates Nikolai’s A-game in a mind-fuck of epic proportions. His torturous methods provide him the results he wants, and just his words (and lies) alone are the impetus in helping to divide the brothers as he needs them to be. Once again, Belleau and Haimowitz knock this episode out of the park while further developing a profound psychosexual thriller that this series truly is.
Well, here we are with episode #4 of the Flesh Cartel, the psychosexual serial, and this episode, CONSEQUENCES, truly enveloped the “psychosexual” aspect of the series. In the previous episodes, we have seen so many dark aspects of human trafficking at play – kidnapping, rape, torture, brutality, and mind games. But I think this episode truly embraced the mind games part so very, very well.
In this episode, Mat and Dougie are still at Nikolai’s house, as he has begun training them for his clients. In the previous episode, Nikolai begins to “teach” them that they have choices (ha!), but that their choices also have consequences. We see a little bit of Mat in this episode, and he continues to be head strong, fighting still for both his pride and for Dougie. After the tortuous consequences he received in CHOICES, though, he seems better inclined to make the “right” choice, but his mouth still gets him in trouble.
Nikolai is very focused on Dougie in this episode. He wants to teach him that if he submits appropriately, he can be rewarded greatly. But right now, this reward only appears as in the form of great sexual pleasure. While Nikolai believes that the rewards of submitting appropriately are so much more than that, I just cannot agree. And as much as it is comforting (for lack of a better word) to see Dougie receive pleasure for the first time in a long time, it is equally horrific, for he is still being raped, just not with the brutality as before. And of course, he is at such odds with it all since he loathes what it happening to him, but is still able to experience tremendous physical pleasure. It is a mind game – a mind fuck, if you will – of such epic proportions, and my heart just continues to break for him. I almost don’t know what it worse – the brutality he received in earlier episodes, or the fucked up “caring” he is receiving now. It truly is a toss up. Yet, I find myself rooting for him to make the “right” decision so that he doesn’t have to suffer the seemingly worst consequences for making the “wrong” choice. *sigh* Yes, it is a mind fuck for Mat, Dougie, and the reader as well. Kudos to Haimowitz and Belleau for being so damn good at their craft!
Another part of this episode that is bothersome is watching Nikolai repeatedly use words to break Dougie down, and not just with threats. But twisting events of his life in such a way that maybe one day, with enough repetition, and enough positive consequences delivered by his own hand, that Dougie just might start to believe him. And of course, it is all self-serving lies, and while Dougie as a psych major understands this, there will come a point I think, that he will start to doubt himself and believe Nikolai instead. Nikolai really gets to the heart of it (in his mind) with this quote:
“We are all creatures of our circumstances, Douglas. When those circumstances change, so too must we. Or be crushed by them. Don’t you want to be happy, Douglas? Don’t you want to live free of pain, free of fear?”
So, as I said at the outset, this episode truly plays on the psychosexual aspect of this series so very much. Eerily so – to the point where I feel like I really do have my own mind game going on. With each release, I loathe to read more of the abuse that Dougie and Mat have to endure, yet I am so engrained and fixated on the series and these characters, that I devour each episode the moment I get my hot little hands on it, and can’t wait until the next one. Haimowitz and Belleau clearly know their stuff if they can keep drawing in the reader for more torture. But like Mat and Dougie, I continue to have hope. Nikolai, though, has this to say about that:
“Hope,” Nikolai told him. “You hope for things. Hope is a fool’s game. Hope will only break your heart.”
Yet, I will continue to keep my hope alive, for the boys, and for me as a reader, because if I lose all my hope, then what’s the point, right?
Next episode up is called WINS AND LOSSES. Bring it!!
Aw, this was such an awesome novella – I just loved it! Bryan and Aaron have been best friends since middle school, and they have been there for each other through thick and thin. Bryan’s brother-in-law has passed away; his sister, Chloe, was diagnosed with Lupus; and Bryan and Aaron have both been integral in helping raise Chloe’s son, Wyatt, who loves both his Uncle Bryan and his honorary Uncle Aaron. And throughout all of this time, Bryan, a surgical tech student, has been in love with Aaron, a Staff Sergeant in the Army National Guard. Bryan has yet to come out to anyone, however. His best friend included. Even with everything they’ve been through together, Bryan has not confided in Aaron because he doesn’t want to risk screwing up their friendship.
Fate has different plans, though; it steps in, takes over, and yanks Bryan out of the closet hard and fast. But the repercussions are nothing he expected; instead, he is rewarded with the divulging of his secret by finding out that Aaron feels the exact same way. And once their secrets are revealed, watch out – the sparks immediately fly!
This novella is a super sweet story of friendship, love, family, and commitment. Bryan and Aaron are so cute together, but also fun to read as they like to give each other a hard time in a cute and playful way, and usually with regard to the other being a sap (which they actually both are). The peripheral characters are great as well, especially Wyatt, who is a adorable, and Chloe, who is loving, accepting, and full of snark (just my kind of gal). I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a very sweet, angst-free story with a few sizzling love scenes.