Overall A good exploration of the psychological and emotional elements of BDSM, this novel shows the beginning relationship of two men whoStars: 3.5/5
Overall A good exploration of the psychological and emotional elements of BDSM, this novel shows the beginning relationship of two men who are both familiar with the scene but are approaching each other carefully because of previous experiences. One of my biggest complaints is that due to it being part of a series exploring BDSM, there isn't that much character or relationship resolution, as obviously it needs to build over the rest of the novels as well. That being said, for what it is, this is a good story and I enjoyed the psychological elements that develop between the two men, even if I ultimately was left somewhat unsatisfied.
Review Tobias and Noah are an interesting pair that both bring something--good and hard--to the relationship. Despite both having some issues, it very much feels from their first interaction that these two men are meant to go together, whether just for the kinks or for love too. Because of this, and fighting against my overall mediocre feelings about the book, I do want to continue the series to see how they progress. Of course, with a backlog of books to read, it's hard to justify continuing a series that doesn't earn a higher rating from me.
On the other hand, the kink was well done, sexy without being porny, almost educational, and patient, if that makes sense. While sex is involved, the focus is on the psychological and emotional development of the characters--especially Noah--and how Tobias gives him what he needs as a Sub. They cover a variety of kinks (bondage, paddling, role play), but nothing is too hardcore, maybe because this is the first book, maybe because Tobias doesn't want a pain sl*t.
For how long this novel is, not much happens. Obviously part of it is the lengthy scenes that develop the relationship and character, but even that is a slow progression. It wasn't a hard read or a boring one, but it wasn't a page turner either, as there was no suspense as to what was going to happen--although it could be that the suspense is stretched more tamely over multiple books. The end doesn't feel like a huge resolution or end, again linked to the fact this is a series, and enough was left hanging that it raised a brow, but for readers already planning to read the entire series, this won't be an issue.
Overall A charmingly sweet, sometimes silly, exploration of serious topics such as divorce, sexuality, family, and growing up.
Review I'm notStars: 3.5/5
Overall A charmingly sweet, sometimes silly, exploration of serious topics such as divorce, sexuality, family, and growing up.
Review I'm not sure if it's the mood I was in or just the laidback storyline, but it took me two reads to really sink into this one. My first read, I enjoyed it, but it didn't grab me by the heartstring (or any other anatomical part) like Lane's books normally do. I gave it a second read because I didn't trust my post-accident brain to know what it likes.
This is a mellow story, despite a fair amount of drama happening all around. Even when events were occurring that would normally have me snotting up like a five-year-old, I didn’t cry. This may be because the story was just kind of...happy. Even when shit was going down I felt closer to happiness than in other stories. This isn’t a bad thing, but it makes for a less dramatic reading, at least for me.
It also made the story extremely accessible and comforting. It’s one I can imagine reading again and again, because it just put me in a content, happy place. It’s like the hoodie that doesn’t look like anything special, but I wear all the time.
The descriptions of the room and the house were gorgeous and made me insanely jealous. But even though money was obviously not an issue for Asa, this didn’t feel like a ‘kept boy’ story either. While Sebastian had lots of emotional growing he needed to do, he also was pivotal in helping Asa grow (in a very different way). There was balance in the relationship.
The Bryne family is amazing, and there is a powerful contrast between their presence in Sebastian’s life and Sebastian’s own family’s absence. It’s one of those things that just fits so well without having to be pointed out. (Except by annoying reviewers. :)
While this is a well-written story, I wouldn’t pin it as one of Lane’s finest, although it has a multitude of good qualities. As I said before, it’s comfortable, not fancy. I almost hate to score it so low just because it didn’t make me an emotional wreck. I loved it and I look forward to curling up with it again later. It just didn’t blow me out of the water.
Overall With my previous exposure to Andrew Grey (Love Means ... Freedom), I was looking forward to A Taste of Love, especially since it involved a cheOverall With my previous exposure to Andrew Grey (Love Means ... Freedom), I was looking forward to A Taste of Love, especially since it involved a chef, and I have a thing for chef stories. (Food is the way to the heart, after all.) My first read through left me wanting. The story itself is good and surprising, but the writing felt awkward and stiff at times and my initial reaction was to give the story 2 stars.
However, I know that mood can affect how I read something, so I gave it some time and re-read it. I did enjoy it more the second time, perhaps because I knew what to expect. The writing isn't terrible, but it does have some weak points, and if this makes or breaks a story, you may want to avoid this one. It wasn't bad enough that I wanted to rewrite the story (overall plot and character development was okay), but I did want to edit it. Just be forewarned if you're a picky reader!
Strengths Resolution. I think the way he ended the story, while perhaps a little on the fairy tale side, was good. He found a happy ending without having to be ridiculous about it.
Children. The children felt realistically portrayed. They were cute and heart warming, a nice addition (though it could be argued they are really the center of the story!).
Emotion. The emotion, especially in the first climactic point, was very powerful and moving. Even though I knew there had to be a happy result to what was happening, I still got a little choked because of the desperation and defeat that Billy felt.
Weaknesses Writing. As I mentioned above, I think Grey's writing suffered in this novel. While I recall moments of him telling instead of describing in his previous novel that I've read, he seemed to fall harder onto this crutch.
Sadly, I think the writing did the most damage to the novel. It made the interaction between Darryl and Billy stiffer than it should have been once they hooked up, told the reader what to feel and think instead of welcoming the reader into the emotion, and didn't really engage me into the story as much as I think would have been appropriate. ...more
Overall I felt like this book didn't live up to its ultimate potential and that the last story especially was so sex heavy that the underlying story waOverall I felt like this book didn't live up to its ultimate potential and that the last story especially was so sex heavy that the underlying story was lost. Maybe I'm reading these for the wrong reason, but all the other stories satisfied my needs. (Um, you know, with plot.)
Three to Heal I was a little disappointed with this story. We're given Jean, who is scared, mostly blind, and still coping with the accident he survived. He's set up with an established pair, Noel and Richard, who are happy to accept this quiet man into their lives, even if none of them were really expecting it. I wanted more exploration of Jean's issues, I suppose, although that's my only complaint. I would love to see Noel and Richard's back story!
Rock Stars and Size Queens This was my favorite of the three, even though I wouldn't really consider Minuet a 'size queen'. Size Queen connotes prissy and spoiled to me, and Minuet is not that! He also never had a "That's not big enough" moment, which is classic Size Queen. Maybe I'm stereotyping, but I felt Minuet was unjustly named, even if that's what they call him--once--in the book.
I liked the dynamic of the two pairs and how all four interact as they try to find balance in their new lives.
Fits Like a Glove I liked the story here, the look into an uber top who has a secret that only Hercules can take care of, and the eventual resolution. However, the sheer amount of sex just ... well it kind of bored me. Maybe it was just my state of mind, because I know that some of the scenes were there to show the growth of the pair in their relationship and I know their time together was limited. So if you want hot and heavy sex, this is the story to turn to.
Overall The gloves come off and the mitts go on for volume four as Michael introduces Puppy play and more hardcore scenes. When a Pup is abStars: 4.5/5
Overall The gloves come off and the mitts go on for volume four as Michael introduces Puppy play and more hardcore scenes. When a Pup is abandoned by his master, dog trainer Dane is brought in without really knowing what he's getting into. But who could say no to those broken-hearted eyes? The idea that a dog trainer would be brought in is a bit far-fetched to me, but that angle isn't played up much as Michael gives a little bit of a look inside this particular kink.
In "Anything for a Byline," a journalist tries to infiltrate the club--only to find kink and love. Here we're shown more serious play as Nat's list of potential kinks is more expansive than previous stories in the series, and Richmond is willing to dish it out. These two really seem made for each other as Nat's need seems best satisfied by Richmond's command.
Note: The below mostly focuses on "Anything for a Byline." Strengths Nat. He's a great character who is approaching the Velvet Glove as a complete outsider who doesn't have any kinks (he thinks). Unlike previous stories of outsiders (Noticing a theme?), Nat isn't just a sub, he's a sub who likes it rough. He dives into the scene without knowing much of anything, but Richmond is there to catch him. Nat is freaked out by his own kinks and "sluttiness" but still cannot deny his Sir.
Intensity. There were some great intense scenes. And even a plot line later on!
Weaknesses So much sex. Who knew there could be too much? In these stories, I accept there's going to be a lot of sex, but this seemed a bit extreme. Some of it made the story drag a little, but reading it in smaller chunks (rather than one sitting) would dispel this problem.
Overall While probably my least favorite of the volumes, it isn't saying much (or else it says alot) since I still gave it 4 stars. This volume didn'tOverall While probably my least favorite of the volumes, it isn't saying much (or else it says alot) since I still gave it 4 stars. This volume didn't feel as fresh or creative as the first and fourth, although it has its moments (like when Jewel is tempted by his old life and when Daniel shatters the glasses). The stories are still good, although I recommend pacing yourself during the reading.
The Misadventures of Daniel and Zane While Daniel is not as spoiled as Love from Vol. 1, he does have an attitude, creating a nice struggle between him and Zane. His attitude is mostly due to his fear of not being seen, and as Zane begins to show Daniel how much he is seen, the bond between the two men grows. This is a hot start to the book, but doesn't forget to be tender and sweet too, as we are so often given.
A Bird in the Hand A unique story among the Velvet Glove bunch, A Bird in Hand follows Kestrel and Jim as they court. Unlike the other BDSM stories in the series, this is solely a romance between Kestrel, who helps Mal run The Velvet Glove, and Jim, a bartender. No whips, no paddles, no kink. It's a sweet break from the heavy emotions that normally get tied into Michael's stories.
Touch and Trust Sampson, who has saved up all his money for a year membership, meets Alain, long-time member and a sub who is looking for someone permanent, having lost his previous lover some time ago. Alain is still struggling to come to terms with being alone and Sampson is there to help him find a happy middle ground.
The one negative is that Sampson has a speech impediment, where he "um" and "ah" a lot. While I give props to Michael for having a character with this, it can be disruptive for the reader, although it depends on reading style.
Two Men for Two Twins Rivan and Kytan are twins who live together in an equal sexual relationship, but they both yearn to have their own subs. Rivan finds Jewel working the streets and brings him in, having to bread him of a drug habit and overcome his feelings of self-disgust and low self-esteem. Kytan is given Hinton, who witnessed his parents' horrific deaths and has fallen into a self mutilating habit that has escalated to dangerous proportions.
This is my favorite of the bunch, being longer and more thorough in the character developments. While BDSM shouldn't be in place of therapy, in Hinton's case it's hand-waved as being a last resort as medication (and assumedly therapy) haven't worked. It's thin ice, but this is a fantasy novel, so I give some leniency. I would have liked Hinton to have struggled a little more; he felt "cured" a little too easily in some ways.
Overall The subhead of this story should have been "Not Just Another Murder Mystery," in keeping with Lanyon's humor, which I appreciate. Our main charOverall The subhead of this story should have been "Not Just Another Murder Mystery," in keeping with Lanyon's humor, which I appreciate. Our main character is the classic bookstore owner (Ethan), who runs shop mostly so he can read the books he keeps stocked. He lives in a small town of under 500 residents and is gay...not a good combination for romance! However, there are some new arrivals to the town: a candy shop owner, a dojo owner, and a series of mysterious deaths.
When he's not embarrassing himself with Michael, the dojo owner, Ethan's dealing with Kyle, a member of his writer's circle whose serial killer series is a little too real for most residents. When Kyle starts seeking Ethan's attention, Ethan begins to wonder if the lurking man could be the murderer.
Lanyon once again weaves an amusing and enjoyable tale, mixing humor and mystery, which seems an unlikely duo. Although the ending felt abrupt, we weren't left with any unresolved ends, even if it does leave me wanting for more....more
Overall The first of two books telling Ayden and Freyrik's story, I'd recommend readers diving in to the story be prepared to have Crescendo on hand afOverall The first of two books telling Ayden and Freyrik's story, I'd recommend readers diving in to the story be prepared to have Crescendo on hand after finishing Counterpoint. The novel is lengthy, a slow build from enemies to lovers, but the emotions on both end are eloquently executed as the pair learns to trust and care for one another while navigating the landmines their races' history has thrown in the way.
While this story is definitely a romance, it is just as equally an epic fantasy, where mankind is battling against supernatural monsters in order to survive and elves wield nature's magic. The fight for survival and victory is just as central to the story as the battle for their relationship. This is an amazing adventure of the heart and the mind that drives the reader to the cusp, clinging on by the tips of the fingers.
Strengths Although I'd love to list every positive attribute of this novel, I'll refrain and only pick those points that jumped out at me. However, this book really encompasses the definition of epic fantasy romance and is epic-ly fantastic (see what I did there?).
The first thing I noticed when I started reading was the strength and natural flow of the writing, followed by the incredible world development. Although Haimowitz's world takes from some general mythos (elves have magical powers, humans are bitchy angry), she also makes this world her own, building up unique enemies and social mores. The world is painted beautifully--in the case of the elves--and darkly--in the case of the human world--bringing to life the characters that inhabit it.
Ayden and Freyrik are interesting, unique characters who clash wonderfully and meld together just as hotly. But they aren't the only characters who bring life to this story. Along with various bullies (the lead of which is the First Wife), Freyrik's right-hand man (Lord Lini) is a shining example of a good friend. I think because he has so little to gain by being so loyal, his loyalty is all the more precious. The various characters add a level of depth, and although the cast is expansive, the flow of actors is expertly handled to avoid confusion and clutter.
Finally, the plot. Oh the plot. A mix of master trying to win a slave's heart, two warriors clashing, a fight for survival of the human race, and a ribbon of political intrigue that taints it all. There is so much in this story to feast on that you will finish it sated--and hungry for more. Thankfully, the next book promises to be just as hearty. While this plot isn't fast faced, it's detailed and thorough, leaving the reader guessing while vibrating with anxiety to see what becomes of the heroes.
Weaknesses Not a weakness, but something to be warned going in: This is part one of two parts. Just like Lord of the Rings, the book ends without complete resolution of important matters that are to be resolved in the second book.
Another word of warning, while this isn't a slow or sedate novel, it does take time to build in order for everything to fall into place. It is not a short little romance, but that is also what makes it so amazing. There is a fair amount of politics involved, and I imagine there will be more in the second novel, but it's balanced by the character development and danger--from external and internal factors.
Note: I linked to the Riptide Publishing version above, but I read the first printing from Guiltless Pleasure Publishing. Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog....more
Overall I was under the impression that this book was a romance, which it really isn't as the romantic elements take a back seat to a lot of other dramOverall I was under the impression that this book was a romance, which it really isn't as the romantic elements take a back seat to a lot of other dramas and the traditional story of a romance (two people struggling to be together) is lacking, although there is discord among the couples. That aside, I think some people may be able to (and obviously have) enjoy this book more than me. While the writing was good and the story itself was rather interesting, I never became attached to most of the characters, and as this was a third-person, limited omniscient point of view, that made my job reading difficult--and it did feel like a job. At 60% of the way I started skimming, especially when less desirable characters were narrating. I only started really reading again toward the end. If I was giving this an enjoyability score, it would be a 1. The writing pulls it up to a 2 for me, and knowing that this story just wasn't my cup of tea but recognizing its strengths brings it to a 3.
Warning: Contains homosexual and heterosexual couples and scenes. Also, people sensitive to rape should be warned.
Strengths The writing was good, definitely smooth, well constructed and enjoyable. I think if the writing style had been weaker, I would have given up on the book much sooner.
The characters are all very realistic with faults and good points. None of them are black and white but instead fall in a wide spectrum of gray, often questioning their behaviors but still making choices, even when they are conflicted about them. I recognize this as a good thing, even if I didn't particularly enjoy it in this circumstance. The plot, overall, was realistic as well, aside from one point made below.
Weaknesses I am in no way involved in the justice system, so I could be wrong here (most my education comes from Law & Order: SVU). But when they had a DNA sample from Jason, wouldn't they automatically take DNA samples from all the men he encounters on a daily basis who could have been suspects, thus cutting down on who could have done it? Obviously this is a small town, so things could be different, but that bugged me a little (especially since it was so important to the story).
Characters. I never really connected with any of the characters, and those I did didn't take the role of narrator very often. Austin and Jason were two of my favorites, but they only had snippets of focus. The one detective (Alan) annoyed me in the beginning, but I grew to understand his torn perspective and desire to escape the town. However, the majority of the book is spent in the heads of characters I don't care about (Paul, Shelley and Shelley's mom) or Sean, who I feel conflicted about. I think having a child may help the reader associate with more characters, although it shouldn't necessarily be the reader's job to bring the emotions to the table.
Pace. As I was reading, I wanted to know how everything worked out, which is why I kept going, even as I started skimming. However, so much of the story felt overburdened by description and all the thoughts behind an individual's actions that it slowed to a drudging pace. As I wasn't emotionally involved with most of the characters I was reading, I didn't care what they were thinking/feeling. However, I also understand that if the reader is emotionally involved, then they will feel the same struggles that the characters feel and will probably enjoy this drawn out struggle as the different characters try to figure out everything. It just didn't work for me. At all.
Overall After the first book I read by Sexton (Between Sinners and Saints), I was hesitant to read another Sexton book, for fear it couldStars: 4-4.5/5
Overall After the first book I read by Sexton (Between Sinners and Saints), I was hesitant to read another Sexton book, for fear it couldn't live up to the previous. However, now that I've read another excellent book by Sexton, I feel like I should tentatively add her to a favorite author's list.
I was not too impressed by the first few chapters; the writing wasn't grabbing me and not much was happening with the characters. But all at once I fell in love with Lizzy (after she says something teasingly to Jared) and everything in the story started to come together and I began to settle into the wonderful journey that Sexton provided. My initial lackluster response was probably due to the style of writing, which I fell is more casual and, while not quite stream-of-conscious, it has a more personality to it. This isn't a negative, and it definitely works as the story progresses, but it kept me from really sinking into the story at the beginning (although I'm not sure why). By the end I was in love with the characters and the storyline.
This is an excellent story, and definitely worth checking out, especially if you're looking for something that is light and romantic without being too over the top, angsty, or dramatic. This is deliciously sweet without causing cavities.
Strengths As they say, “It's the journey, not the destination.” The exploration of characters, setting, and the development of Matt and Jared's relationship from friends to lovers is a journey worth taking, since when you reach the destination—the end of the book—you want to be back on the road, experiencing the journey once again.
While obviously the romance takes center stage in this story, it's not the sole focus as the characters struggle against bias, their own hang-ups, and outside forces. The balance between what the world throws at them and their own fears of what the world is going to throw at them, is artistically handled. This is a realistic romance that gives us a long glancing look at Jared's life. It reads true and honest.
In addition to the main two men, there is a cast of other characters who add wonderful dimension to the story. Most of them are lovable, or amusing, although Lizzy is my favorite side character. She's funny, sweet, and really cares about Jared's happiness in a way that made me want to yank her from the book to have as a friend. Plus Jared is kind, if not a little scared, and Matt is strong and stubborn (and a touch manipulative, in a good way).
Weaknesses The beginning of this story didn't really grab me. Although the characters seemed somewhat interesting and I trusted Sexton would get me somewhere worthwhile, it definitely wouldn't have caught my interest if I were just reading the first chapter. However, this could just very much be me, as the second time I read it, I had no problems with the writing or the opening chapters.
What really kept this story from getting a 5 star rating, and probably the only thing, is that I didn't feel emotionally flabbergasted by the anything. It was a good, strong story with good, strong characters and when I'm in the mood for something light and sweet and real feeling, I'll definitely come back to this again and again. But it did nothing to amaze me and nudge it up to 5 stars. Still, an excellent read!
Requested this book for review. Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog....more
A quick story that is supposed to be stand-alone, but really works best in connection with the rest of the series, I'm guessing. Mediocre on it, but iA quick story that is supposed to be stand-alone, but really works best in connection with the rest of the series, I'm guessing. Mediocre on it, but interested enough that I was considering reading the first book of the series. The description turned me off though....more
Overall While "Ghost" is not his strongest work, Michael takes a slightly different angle than I've seen in his other works (so, it's new at least forOverall While "Ghost" is not his strongest work, Michael takes a slightly different angle than I've seen in his other works (so, it's new at least for me). Trip, the curious doctor, and Ghost, a boy who's a puzzle, make a nice combination as Michael's characters once again find their happy endings with one another.
While the story's concept and completion are all well done, there are chunks of dialogue that felt stilted and forced, like daytime dramas. However, even though this counts against the work as a whole, I still enjoyed the majority of the story. Also, this seems to be one of the few stories that doesn't involve more "hard core" BDSM. The only references we get are in discussion or inner thoughts....more
Overall Our story opens in clutter as Jonathan sorts through the things in his office that he hasn't gotten around to putting away, even aStars: 3.5/5
Overall Our story opens in clutter as Jonathan sorts through the things in his office that he hasn't gotten around to putting away, even a year after being in his position at the university. With it, Danse shows the reader the life Jonathan is living, disorganized mentally as he struggles to overcome the shadows of his past while dealing with his new limitations, mainly that of a mangled arm that has a clockwork replacement. Although this is a first person perspective, we are not overwhelmed with angst or emotion, as our narrator is stoically Victorian British and a scientist, which is a refreshing difference from the emotional rides that some stories focus on.
Instead, Island of Icarus is a study of man, of determination, and of creating one's own fate. Although initiated through someone else's will, Jonathan's growth through the novel gives him a spine to make his own decisions and the confidence to follow through.
Strengths Steampunk. Danse did a very nice job of creating a lightly steampunk atmosphere without short-changing the reader. She included steampunk elements (clockwork, mechanics, Victorian era), without making it a true steampunk piece of writing (aka, heavy with mechanics/steam engineering). True enthusiasts of this genre may feel it doesn't fit the style, but it's present enough to pass.
Characters. We have our classic Victorian educated man, Jonathan, who has suffered injury and heart break and has been marooned on an island with Marcus, a dashing American who is ambitious, crafty and a genius. Even though he is a genius, he's not socially inept, and yet he has isolated himself on this island. Of course the reader knows it's about more than wanting time to work on his project.
Writing. It was enjoyable, and led me to discover that "wow" is not a modern term (I initially thought it was an anachronism within the novel), but dates back to the 1500s. The novel seemed fairly well researched, both of the time period and the mechanics of clockwork gears and flight.
Weaknesses Beach Sex. There are at least two places you don't want to be naked and rolling around. The beach and in hay. Thankfully the sex didn't involve penetration, but sex on the beach is just a bad idea generally. But I guess when it's all very instantaneous, you don't want your lover to run off because he's changed his mind.
Title. Icarus is the son of a craftsman who, along with his father, used wax and feather wings to escape the island they were imprisoned on. Ignoring his father's warning, Icarus flies too close to the sun, melting the wax and falling to his death. Perhaps it should have been titled Island of Daedalus, since Marcus is the craftsman. There is also some issues that Marcus doesn't really want to leave the island as Daedalus and Icarus did, although he does show some reckless behaviors like that of a young boy (Icarus) which requires Jon to rescue him. I like the basic concept of the novel being called Island of Icarus since there are wings involved, but I'm not sure it's appropriate.
While I enjoyed the story overall, I was never enthralled with the characters or the plot, never motivated to keep reading to see what happened next. If you're looking for something mellow to read, this would be a good choice. If you're in the mood for something a bit more adventurous or emotional, I wouldn't start here....more