The Rules – Jamie Fessenden

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“Sexually, both men pushed all his buttons, much more than any of the guys he’d dated. So, yes, he wanted to have sex with them. But it was more than that.”

 

In a word: Read the thing! So much emotion in this book, I love it. This is the story of two men opening up their marriage to include a third man they’ve both fallen in love with, written totally in the third man’s point of view, and how they all come together to form a strong romantic three-way relationship. Hans is a college student who has been hired as a housekeeper for Thomas and Boris. It’s clear from the start that Hans has an attraction to both men, especially Boris who is constantly naked. There isn’t much time wasted in all three men deciding that they’re all very open to the idea of being together in some capacity, but even coming to that decision doesn’t make things easy. Thomas and Boris have been married and exclusive for around ten years, suddenly adding another person into their dynamic will take time. And that’s not even accounting for all the other issues. What I really liked about this book is that not everything fell into place right away with no problems. The story is as much about reworking and developing relationships as it is about three men getting it on. Hans, Thomas, and Boris are three different men who all have different needs; coming together in one functional relationship is going to take work. It’s something that they all have to want and it isn’t something they can jump into lightly. I really liked the emotions in this story, and the characters, and the humour, and the dark themes that appear throughout. At first I thought it was maybe a bit odd that Thomas and Boris all of a sudden decided to include someone else into their marriage, but it soon became clear that all these men shared a bond that deserved to be explored. I definitely recommend this one.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) WHEN HANS BAUER, a college student in New Hampshire, accepts a job as a housekeeper for an older gay couple, he soon learns the reason they’ve hired someone with no experience is that professional agencies won’t work there. Thomas is a successful businessman whose biggest goal in life appears to be giving his husband anything he wants. Boris is a writer who immigrated to this country from Russia, and suffers from depression and PTSD because of the things he endured in his native country.

He also refuses to wear clothes—ever.

While Hans is working alone in the house with Naked Boris all day, things start getting a little weird. Boris gets flirtatious and Hans backs away, not wanting to come between him and his husband. So Boris calls Thomas at work and asks permission.

At that moment, The Rules are born—rules about touching and kissing and pet names that the three men use to keep jealousies at bay, as they explore the possibilities in a new type of relationship….

WARNING: This story deals with themes of sexual assault and past abuse.

 

[available for purchase at Amazon.ca]

 

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Of Love – Sean Michael

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“It’s okay, I don’t think you tried to trap me into something by getting your friend pregnant.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I was expecting a bit more angst when I started this, but it really is mostly just pure fluff. Sunshine and rainbows everywhere, truly. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it’s apparently not really my thing. I did like this book, but a lot of it was a bit too sweet for my liking. It’s a good feel-good story, if you’re looking for a fluff read. The first half of the story is mostly our two leads, Kent and Dex, meeting and getting to know each other and having a lot of sex. The first half of the book is mostly sex, which I found frustrating because it felt like it was just padding while waiting for the plot proper to start. Don’t get me wrong, Dex and Kent together are sweet and funny, and it’s fun to read, but it did all feel like filler. Then when Dex found out about the babies, when there would’ve been a chance for some angst and conflict, the tone didn’t change. If no-angst fluff is your thing, you’re gonna love this book. I, personally, prefer my reading with a bit less fluff but I still did enjoy reading this. Kent and Dex are a good match, and they really do love each other. Kent’s family is also pretty great, and Dex’s interactions with them are cute. The babies are also cute. Pretty much everything about this is cute, even the sex scenes sometimes. Summed up in one word: cute.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Free-spirited computer programmer Kent McMann loves life, candy, his family, and his job designing apps. With his go-getter attitude, he succeeds at anything he tackles. So having a child with a surrogate mother is the perfect start to the family he’s always wanted, even though he still hasn’t found his longed-for Mr. Right.

Then, into Kent’s life comes triathlete Dex Lochland, who also happens to be a successful app designer, and the two of them hit it off. They soon begin a relationship full of fun, sex, laughter, and love. But when Kent learns his attempt at fatherhood with the surrogate has succeeded, Dex is shocked. Unknown to Kent until that moment, Dex has never wanted children.

Kent’s decision before he met Dex might cost him the man of his dreams.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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An Intrepid Trip to Love (A Little Bite of Love #1) – Charlie Cochet

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“I wouldn’t want you any other way. The fact that you wear my shirts for comfort is the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard, and it just reminds me of how lucky I am to be in love with someone so amazing.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This story had a bit more fantasy and in-world mythos than I was expecting (the prologue really took me by surprise), though the main part of the story seems to take place in a contemporary setting. Trip and Boone are the two leads, a husky-shifter and a husky/wolf-shifter respectably (from what I understand). The two of them know that they are actually a pair of rare true mates, but Trip is part of the Alpha bloodline (basically clan royalty) and Boone is a member of the guard (essentially) so clan law forbids them to be bonded together (also the people in power of the clan also seem to be very homophobic, which is another reason they can’t be together). Trip and Boone have known that they were meant for each other ever since they were teenagers, and the two of them have had to jump through a lot of hoops to get to where they are currently, but their relationship is secret to most people, and they still aren’t able to be together the way they want. Having to keep their true relationship hidden causes them both a lot of pain and frustration, but they do have some very close friends and family to lean on to help keep their spirits up. While Trip, Boone, and their close circle are just trying to mind their own business and get by (it’s implied that they’re being sort of shunned by a lot of the clan higher-ups), there seems to be some worrying stuff going on behind the scenes. The clan leader has allied himself with another clan for seemingly unknown reasons, and it also looks like there are some attempted forced-marriages going on (kind of like what happened to Trip when he was younger). The story only starts getting really into clan politics and shadyness nearer to the end of the story, most of the beginning is dedicated to Trip and Boone’s tragic circumstances and their interactions with their close friends. There are a lot of lighthearted moments in the beginning, even if Trip and Boone’s circumstances throw a bit of a shadow over everything. This seems like a solid lead-in to what could be a serious and action-packed series, for all the fluff and humour that’s also here. (Note: this story has shifter characters and mates, but there’s no mpreg.)

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Tristan ‘Trip’ Hagan is a Husky shifter who was born to be the Hagan Clan’s next Alpha, a position of honor and nobility, a position he never wanted and was all too happy to pass onto his younger brother. But when they discovered his brother couldn’t have pups, the responsibility of continuing the Hagan Alpha line fell back to Trip. Under the weight of the Hagan Council’s demand to fulfill his duty, Trip settled down and produced an heir, but after years of struggling to uphold his family’s traditions, Trip found the courage to do what no other Hagan Alpha had done in the history of the clan: he came out.

Five years later, and Trip is living a happy life with his cheeky pup and their own little makeshift family. True mates within canine shifter clans are very rare, but Trip has had one since he can remember. Despite losing his heart to Boone twenty years ago, Trip holds little hope of ever getting to bond with the sexy Enforcer, as it’s against clan laws for pure-bloods to bond with half-breeds. With the call from their feral halves to seal the bond growing stronger by the day, can Trip and Boone find a way to be together without losing everything?

This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group’s “Love Has No Boundaries” event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.

 

[available for free from M/M Romance Group]

 

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Buchanan House (Buchanan House #1) – Charley Descoteaux

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“Was he trapped in a tiny prison of his own making, or had his life been saved by the happy accident of finding Buchanan House?”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing? The main feeling I had while reading this book was frustration, which doesn’t strike me as a good thing when one is reading a romance novel. I had a really hard time getting into this book and caring about the main relationship. I never did really come to like Eric, who is essentially our narrator. I found him annoying and aggravating, and sometimes inconsistent. The man he falls in love with, Tim Tate (not to be confused with Eric’s ex, also named Tim), is a bit bland and confusing. Also them falling in love kinda skirts the edge of insta-love territory, which I don’t think was done well here because I was definitely not invested, especially since I didn’t think they had any chemistry with each other. Though having said that, the passage of time in the story was never really made clear and I’m not entirely sure of the time frame. The story either takes place over the course of a few months or a few weeks, I was never entirely sure about that. There were too many side characters wandering around with nothing to do. Even Nathan, who is Eric’s best friend and easily the main side character, didn’t seem to have anything relevant to do half the time once Eric and Tim’s ‘relationship’ really kicked off. There’s also the issue of Eric’s family, which eventually became a non-issue at some point since the story mostly seemed to forget about them most of the time. The writing was also something I wasn’t fond of, mostly because I felt, bland characters and tepid romance aside, that we really weren’t getting enough information about the important things. We got bits and pieces of things, but never really enough to put major plot points together. Honestly I felt as if I was trying to read this through a brain-fog, which wasn’t fun.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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Overtime (Scoring Chances #3.5) – Avon Gale

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“As the game progressed, Isaac found his attention focused almost exclusively on the Ravens’ goalie, Laurent St. Savoy.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This is a short story – only a little over 4000 words – that takes place between Book 3 (Power Play) and Book 4 (Empty Net) of the Scoring Chances series. It’s mainly a slice-of-life short from Isaac Drake’s point of view, though it does reference events that were mentioned in passing in Empty Net. It also explores a bit of the relationship between Isaac and Misha. It’s not really necessary to read this to understand the next book; it’s just some extra fun. The extra insight was interesting: we get some moments with Isaac and Misha, and we also get a bit of background on Isaac’s brief relationship with Xavier Matthews (who plays on the Asheville Ravens). There’s also a lot of foreshadowing for the impending romance between Isaac and Laurent St. Savoy. This isn’t really a romantic short (even with the focus on Laurent), I feel it’s more to do with the father/son type relationship between Isaac and Misha, which was very sweet. There were also some moments with some of the other hockey players, and it’s always good to see the boys interacting and having fun. Even Belsey wasn’t as much of a dick as he usually is. So this isn’t really required reading to understand the main story going forward, but it really is a fun read and the extra time spent on some of the relationships certainly doesn’t hurt. (Also it’s free to read.)

 

[available for free from Instafreebie]

 

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Why Love Matters – Jay Northcote

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“The warm scent of Martin lingered in his nostrils, reminding him that he craved so much more than non-sexual touch from the man sitting next to him.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This one was a quick read, and the story and romance were really sweet. Alistair’s lonely childhood has turned him into an adult that fears/is repulsed by touch. It usually isn’t a huge issue in the grand scheme of things, but the success of a new business venture at his company relies on his ability to give and received physical contact (mostly hugs). His PA (and secret crush), Martin, offers his mother’s cuddle therapy as a solution for Alistair’s aversion. The set up is a bit forced and kinda nonsensical, but the emotions are real. Alistair and Martin are both sweet and awkward, and I wish we’d gotten to see more from Martin’s point of view. It’s not a long story, and it doesn’t really go very deep into the characters’ backgrounds or motivations (this could be, in part, because this story was originally fanfiction, where a lot of the finer details are left out because they were already covered in the source material), but it’s still a good read.

 

[available for free at Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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The Forgotten Man – Ryan Loveless

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“As he wrapped his arm around Will’s chest, that sense of connection came back, the one that made him feel like his emptiness was filled.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This one is a pretty interesting story about two men finding love during the Great Depression, while also dealing with a homophobic society. Joshua is an ex-army Captain; escalating money problems have seen him move back into his childhood-home-cum-boarding-house with his mother, brother, and various tenants. Will is a widowed, homeless, single father, playing his guitar on a street corner for small change to survive. It’s not love at first sight when they meet, but there is a connection of some sort between them by the time Joshua rescues a sick Will and brings him and his infant daughter home. Their romance is not destined to be in any way easy. They both live and love in a time where being gay is a crime and just generally unsafe. It’s clear that Joshua and Will are very much into each other, but they’re terrified (and rightfully so) about what could happen to them and their families if they decide to act on their feelings. It’s not exactly a downer, but the fact that Joshua and Will have to live with these secrets that might have their loved ones turn on them at a moment’s notice doesn’t exactly make for a fluff fest. The story isn’t as dark as it could’ve been but at the same time it doesn’t really sugar-coat anything.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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