The Teddy Bear Club (The Teddy Bear Club #1) – Sean Michael


“Dev laughed again, and Aiden decided he really liked the sound of it, bright and full of life.”


In a word: Maybe read the thing. This book probably won’t be for everyone. It’s very sweet and fluffy and very kid-centric. I was drawn to the story because of the summary, but the summary turned out to be a bit inaccurate. Most of the story is complete fluff and the minutia of daily baby care while Aiden and Dev’s romance kinda just falls into place. There is some drama with Dev’s mother, but that ultimately never comes to anything and more or less seemed like a waste of time. Though it was an entertaining break from all the child care fluff (seriously, if you don’t like reading about children in your romances you won’t like this book, like, at all). Really, everything of substance in this story doesn’t come to much since most of the focus remains on Aiden and Dev coming together and merging their families (probably a bit quick, but whatever, Dreamspun). Aiden and Dev getting together happened very easily, like there was pretty much no angst surrounding that. It was welcome, unnecessary relationship drama just for the sake of it can get pretty annoying, but also there wasn’t really anything in there to fill that gap. Aiden and Dev took care of their children together with very little fuss, they were always fairly upbeat and positive, and everything was just really overly cute. They had no obstacles, and when the closest things to obstacles did show up it ultimately came to nothing. It was a nice change to read a romance where the couple didn’t have to fight for every little aspect of their happiness, but it was also pretty boring to read a romance where every interaction was written out as a series of steps. There were whole sections of the story where one scene went on for pages because it was full of step-by-step actions and bland dialogue. Sometimes Aiden’s oldest daughter had some cute interactions, and Aiden and Dev’s friends could be pretty funny, but everything was mostly bland (even the sex scenes got a bit long). The thing with Dev’s mother was really a non-issue and a bit of a let-down considering how she was built up. Though I will say that it was a nice change to read a story like this (with an evil grandparent demanding custody of a child they don’t actually have rights to) where the current parent/guardian doesn’t just roll over and accept a ton of abuse in the name of keeping the peace (this seems to be a thing with Harlequin romances, of which the Dreamspun Desires books resemble). Also the fact that we never get much closure with Dev’s sister and her situation was a bit disappointing. Anyway, the biggest problem this book has is that it’s kinda boring and over-padded with minutia. Definitely avoid this if you aren’t a fan of children in romances.


The Summary: (from Goodreads) Two lonely men. One perfect family.

Aiden Lake adopted his institutionalized sister’s two daughters, and he’s a good dad. He works nights on websites and gets in his adult time twice a week at the Roasty Bean, where he meets with other single gay parents.

Devon Smithson wants to be a good dad now that his sixteen-year-old sister asked him to babysit her newborn… three months ago. But he’s overwhelmed with the colicky baby. An invitation to the daddy-and-kid gatherings at the café is a godsend. The pot is sweetened when his friendship with Aiden develops into more—maybe even something that can last.

But the mother who kicked Dev out for being gay wants to get her claws into the baby, and she doesn’t care if she tears Dev, Aiden, and everything they’re building apart in the process.


[available for purchase from Dreamspinner Press,, Book Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]



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A Heart for Robbie – J.P. Barnaby


“Daddy loves you so much, and I’m going to make it all better. I promise.”


In a word: Read the thing. This was a heavy read. Holy shit. I knew going in that this book involved a very sick child and a lot of serious medical situations, but I had no idea that Robbie was only a newborn. Like, sick children in general is depressing, but just the image of a teeny tiny newborn having to go through all the pain Robbie has to go through is especially hard to read about. This book really has two distinct aspects to it: the first, and major, one is baby Robbie’s fight for survival and how his single father Julian deals with it all; the second is Julian’s romantic relationship with insurance coordinator Simon. Although Julian and Simon’s relationship is important in the grand scheme of things, and also involves Simon’s journey in coming out of the closet for the first time ever, Robbie’s care and illness definitely comes across as the more involved part of the story. The stakes certainly seem higher for it, anyway. The romantic aspect of the story starts out very slowly. The story starts with Robbie’s traumatic birth and the focus mostly stays on Robbie and Julian for a while. There are some chapters from Simon’s point of view but they mostly focus on his strained relationship with his mother and his fears over coming out, because Julian and Simon don’t really cross paths at first. Once Julian and Simon really start connecting, though, their relationship becomes more prominent in the story and the two plotlines start meshing together. This book can be a bit of a heavy read, but pretty much all of that comes from Robbie’s medical issues and how Julian and his family deal with them. Simon has some drama on his end with his fear of coming out and the homophobia he deals with, and the threat to his job if it comes out that he’s dating a patient’s father, but the relationship itself actually is surprisingly without much conflict (there isn’t even a third-act breakup). This read was very emotional and suspenseful, but I really enjoyed it. Maybe don’t read it if you need a pick-me-up, but it’s still good. Julian and Simon are great, Robbie is sweet, and the ending didn’t ruin anything for me.


The Summary: (from Goodreads) Waiting for someone else’s child to die so yours can live is the worst kind of Hell

Celebrated Young Adult author Julian Holmes pits the heroic characters in his Black Heart series against all different kinds of monsters. But when a critical heart defect threatens his son’s life, he finds he has no champion. No amount of books, classes, or practice can prepare Julian for the fight to save his beautiful son’s life.

Suddenly there are hospitals, transplant lists, and the nightmare of insurance red tape to navigate. In the midst of his trouble, Julian meets Simon Phelps, the insurance coordinator for Robbie’s case. Simon lives so deep in the closet he might never find his way out, but he dreams of exactly what Julian has. Then one night, drunken need and desperation brings them together, and a new fight begins.


[available for purchase from Dreamspinner Press,, Book Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]



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Don’t Try This at Home (Anthology) – First Five Stories


  • Basil’s Luck – Read the thing
  • Midnight Caller – Read the thing
  • Boy Next Door – Read the thing
  • Gremlins in the Works – Read the thing
  • Attack of the Hedgehogs – Maybe read the thing

(going forward anthology short stories will be getting their own posts as a quick review)


The Summary: (from Goodreads) Bonked heads. Rough carpet. Burned dinner. Awkward silence. Bitten lips. Startling length. Spilled wax. Pinched fingers. Shattered wineglass. Closet quickie. Flat souffle. Broken bedframe. Shower sex. Overzealous spanking. Embarrassing ex. Lost wallet. Terrible taste. Sore shoulders. Noxious odor. Absent date. Unbelievable girth. Kitchen canoodling. New toy. Stained sheets. Backward compliment. Stifling pillow. Locked handcuffs. Aching ass. Missing keys. Torn seams. Wrenched back. Angry cat. Overeager pass. Uncooperative zipper.

Something always goes wrong in real life. Fortunately, in these stories love blunts the edges so that romance always triumphs over adversity.

Stories included are:

Midnight Caller by Anna Birmingham
Snapshots by Rena Butler
Basil’s Luck by Henrietta Clarke
Boys, Toys, and Carpet Fitters by Taylin Clavelli
Outbursts by Bell Ellis
Tyler Wang Has a Ball by Kim Fielding
Boy Next Door by Ellee Hill
Gremlins in the Works by Kiernan Kelly
Good Food Gone Bad by Venona Keyes
Attack of the Hedgehogs by Kate Pavelle
It’s Not What You Think by Teegan Loy
Slippery When Wet by K. Lynn
Desperate Measures by E.T. Malinowski
Gordon’s Cat by Aundrea Singer
Photo Finish by AC Valentine


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The Boy Next Door – Kate McMurray


“Jase looked at Lowell then, straight in the eye, and Lowell felt something crackle between them. That surprised him.”


In a word: Maybe read the thing. I really wanted to like this one. I did like the premise of two childhood friends reconnecting as adults and falling in love, but I feel like this particular story had a bit too much conflict for my liking. A lot of conflict that didn’t have much in the way of resolutions, which didn’t help any. I’m always a fan of some angst with a happy ending, and I did like that aspect of the story, but I did find myself getting annoyed at the two leads. Well, I shouldn’t say both leads, I was more annoyed with Jase than I ever was with Lowell. My main problem with Lowell was that I thought that he tortured himself too much over Jase. Jase is a very scared man. The community he lives in seems to be fairly homophobic, and his ex-wife is both homophobic and bitter so she’s an extra stressor for him. All Jase seems to want to do is to do his job, raise his daughter, and make as few waves as possible. He’s only really starting to come to terms with the fact that he’s gay, but he’s spent so long hiding it because of fear and self-loathing that he’s having a hard time with it. Pretty much all the relationship conflict between him and Lowell comes from this, and it gets really annoying when Jase runs hot and cold with Lowell and Lowell seems to just take it. Outside of all that drama there were also a few subplots going on, and none of them really got any concrete resolutions. That was a real disappointment because time was devoted to those but they ultimately didn’t go very far. I don’t know if there’s a sequel that continues the story, but if there isn’t the ending to this book is just a bit disappointing. Really, I spent a lot of the story annoyed with Jase and feeling bad for Lowell, which didn’t really make for an enjoyable read. It was fine to start with, with the angst and whatnot, but I think it all just dragged out for too long and I was tired of it all by the end.


The Summary: (from Goodreads) Life is full of surprises and, with luck, second chances.

After his father’s death, Lowell leaves the big city to help his sick mother in the conservative small town where he grew up. He’s shocked to find himself living next to none other than his childhood friend Jase. Lowell always had a crush on Jase, and the man has only gotten more attractive with age. Unfortunately Jase is straight, now divorced, and raising his six-year-old daughter. It’s nice to reconnect, but Lowell doesn’t see a chance for anything beyond friendship.

Until a night out together changes everything.

Jase can’t fight his growing feelings for Lowell, and he doesn’t want to give up the happy future they could have. But his ex-wife issues an ultimatum: he must keep his homosexuality secret or she’ll revoke his custody of their daughter, Layla. Now Jase faces an impossible choice: Lowell and the love he’s always wanted, or his daughter.


[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press,, Book Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]



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Monthly Round-Up: February 2018

Read the thing (2):


Maybe read the thing (2):


Added to TBR List:

Three’s a Crowd – Van Cole


“No doubt about it, I was the luckiest man in the world; there was nothing else I needed to be happy. Nothing at all.”


In a word: Maybe read the thing. It’s not so much that I didn’t enjoy this book, but more that it was pretty underwhelming when compared to the first book. Three’s A Crowd is a sequel to A Second Chance, though it can also be read as a standalone since the basic premise of the first book is often explained. This book was okay. It takes place two years after the events of A Second Chance; Dane and James are very happy together and Sam is no longer any concern of Dane’s. In fact, Dane is waiting for the right moment to propose to James. So, of course, this would be the moment when someone from James’ past shows up to shake things up. It’s not really as big a thing as the book’s summary makes it out to be, but it definitely becomes a thing in Dane and James’ lives. James’ Sam, as Dane refers to him, is named Adam. He and James were a thing in high school and then parted ways before going off to college; though their separation, while hard on James, wasn’t anywhere near as traumatic as Dane’s situation with Sam. James is very much shaken up by Adam’s reappearance (excessively so, I thought), so I really didn’t expect the threesome arrangement to play out like it did. At one point I thought I was mistaken about this book being M/M/M because it really didn’t look like that’s where things were headed (also I was a bit put off by Adam). But then the story took another turn and a threesome arrangement was back on the table. This book is written the same way as the first one, so that contributed to some of the issues I had. This one really feels like the bare bones of a story, more so than the other one because there’s less angst and emotional suffering in this one. It’s not a bad story, and I did enjoy reading it, but I wasn’t totally crazy about it. I probably wouldn’t’ve bothered reading it if it hadn’t come free in a bundle with A Second Chance. My overall impression of this story is ‘meh’, especially when compared to the prequel.


The Summary: (from Goodreads) Dane And James Are Back… But Another Old Flame Heats Things Up

It has been two years since Dane Walters’ high school reunion – two years since he finally saw the boy that broke his heart for what he was, and saw the perfection in the man that stood right beside him.

James Doherty is still by his side now, and life is absolutely perfect. Gone are the days of mooning over a man that he couldn’t have; now, Dane commutes home from his big-city marketing job to the perfect partner and dreams about having the courage to put a ring on James’s finger. He knows that nothing could disrupt their happiness.

But Dane isn’t the only one who’s ever been haunted by the ghost of high school love. All this time, James has been holding in a secret – holding back his memories of the one that got away. As such, when Adam DeFranco walks back into his life, it threatens to shake the foundations of the entire adult life he has built.

At first, Dane thinks it’s deja vu. It’ll be difficult, but all he has to do is show James that Adam is an asshole, just like he learned about Sam. Trouble is that he soon learns that Adam DeFranco is not an asshole. He’s genuine competition – and if Dane isn’t careful, the fabric of the perfect life he’s built could be torn out from underneath him.

This Romance Short Story Was Formerly Titled Close Encounters.

This Is Book 2 Of A Second Chance Which Can Also Be Read As A Standalone.


[available for purchase from as part of the Surprise Baby: Gay MPREG Romance Collection]



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A Second Chance – Van Cole


“It was childish to cling to the idea of this boy that had built me up and ruined me, especially ten years later – but there was nothing I could do. I was a slave to the lack of closure. I couldn’t move on.”


In a word: Read the thing. Not exactly what it says on the tin, though. The summary gives the impression that what we’re about to read will be a more complete novel than what we actually end up with. It’s not entirely inaccurate, but it’s making promises that it doesn’t really deliver. Having said that, this is still a good read and I did enjoy it, there just wasn’t a whole lot to it. The whole story, which is fairly short and only took me about an hour to read, is told from Dane’s first-person point of view. The way it’s written is less like reading events as they take place and is more like Dane is summarizing the events for us and telling his story from some nebulous future point. Some of the story takes place in the past, when Dane was in high school, but the parts that take place in the present read the same way. Even without much focus on Sam’s thoughts and motivations, and the somewhat stilted delivery, I still felt that this was a solid story. I do wish we could’ve gotten more focus on some aspects, there were a lot of points (mostly having to do with Dane’s family) that could’ve been expanded on, but as it is it’s still pretty decent. The main point of the story is Dane trying to get closure over the disaster that was his first love, and I really liked the read. The emotions in the story were great, though not as explored as I would’ve liked in some places, and I thought the outcome was great. The writing isn’t the best, but the story was really good and I would definitely recommend it for the experience of reading it.


The Summary: (from Goodreads) Will A High School Reunion Bring These Lovers Back Together?

Sam and Dane were two young men on the brink of their futures. Sharing high school adventures together, these two young men were both figuring out how to deal with their homosexuality when they found solace in the sexual expression of each other. Confused and concerned, Sam and Dane live in a world of mixed emotions, fighting their desires while finding each other undeniably linked.

When Dane shares with his family the fact that he is gay, his world is turned upside down and he turns to Sam for comfort. But, family pressures and a societal fear push the lovers to the breaking point, life and prejudice seeming to separate them forever. Life goes on and two worlds are built…two very different worlds. Then, an invitation threatens to turn their worlds upside down.

Ten years after a graduation, will the reunion of their two souls bring them back together for good?

Or, will time and fate tear them apart forever?

This Romance Short Story Was Formerly Title The Reunion


[available for purchase at as part of the Surprise Baby: Gay MPREG Romance Collection]



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