QR: The Storm’s Gift – A. D. Ellis

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“My brain stuttered and tried to make sense of what was going on. Rory Blackwell was naked on the floor of Cromwell Hall – with me, James Austin.”

 

In a word: Read the thing.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Snowed in together in their college dorm, two men share a quick connection that creates enough heat to spar with the blizzard outside.

Rory Blackwell plans to rejuvenate his mind and repair his battered heart after his world is shaken by an unexpected breakup. James Austin’s freshman-year plans of improving his social life crashed and burned, leaving him feeling as alone and outcast as he did back home.

One man is hurting while the other is eager to provide comfort. One is a virgin, the other experienced with other men. Both are looking forward to Winter Break, but can they take full advantage of their situation—or will the passion ignited between them fizzle out with the storm?

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble; also available as part of the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar set]

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My Roommate’s a Jock? Well, Crap! (Jock #1) – Wade Kelly

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“But this was Ellis. Ellis! The guy who kissed me. Ellis! The sexy soccer player who invaded my dreams every night.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing? I’m thinking that this book just wasn’t for me. There really wasn’t all that much I really liked about it. At most it was a ‘meh’ read for me. The two leads are Cole and Ellis; Cole grates on my nerves most of the time (which really sucks because the majority of the story is told in his first-person point of view), and Ellis doesn’t seem to have much personality beyond ‘walking sexuality crisis’. A lot of Cole and Ellis’ problems getting together could’ve been prevented by them just communicating like the adults they are supposed to be (they’re both a few years into college), but they don’t, naturally, because drama. There are also a few friends of Ellis’ that show up quite often, but I still can’t really decide what to feel about them. On the one hand, they’re nice guys, but on the other they also kinda rub me the wrong way (a part of that is due to the large-ish focus on religion I wasn’t expecting). Also the story just trucks along with misunderstandings and low-key drama until suddenly there’s some major hate that shows up near the end. That felt kinda weird and out of place. On the whole I’m thinking that the story just wasn’t the right fit for me; the humour fell flat, the narration got on my nerves, and I couldn’t really make myself feel much for the two leads.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) It’s easy to become cynical when life never goes your way.

Cole Reid has been a social recluse since he was fifteen, when he was outed by his high school baseball team. Since then, his obsessive-compulsive behavior and sarcastic nature have driven away most of the population, and everyone else hates him because he’s gay. As he sees it, he’s bound to repulse any prospective friends, let alone boyfriends, so why bother?

By the time Cole enters college, he’s become an anal-retentive loner—but it’s not a problem until his roommate graduates and the housing department assigns Ellis Montgomery to move in with Cole. Ellis is messy, gorgeous, straight, and worst of all, a “jock”!

During a school year filled with frat buddies, camping expeditions, and meddling parents, Cole and Ellis develop a friendship that turns Cole’s glass-half-empty outlook on its head. There must be more to Ellis than a fun-loving jock—and maybe Cole’s reawakening libido has rekindled his hope for more than camaraderie.

 

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

 

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Sweetwater – Lisa Henry

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“You and me – men like you and me – we don’t always fit with other people. So we make our own lives.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. Looks like I’ve finally come across a Lisa Henry book that I’m not completely in love with. I know a lot of people gave this good reviews, but I thought it was a bit too bleak for me. The story kept me fully engaged and I basically couldn’t put it down, the writing is great (as usual), but after I finished reading I couldn’t really say that I liked it much. The story isn’t necessarily dark, but Elijah’s story from beginning to end is kind of a downer. His partial deafness gives the townspeople an excuse to look down on him and mistreat him, and his attraction to men is something he feels that he needs to keep secret (this story takes place in 1870 Wyoming, so he really does) and causes him to alienate himself from his adoptive father. He thinks some of those issues may be solved when he catches the eye of saloon owner Harlan Crane, but all that really brings him is a different set of problems. He also gets the attention of cattle rustler Grady Mullins, who gives him affection Elijah doesn’t really know what to do with. I think my biggest problem with this book is that I went into it looking for a story where Elijah gets in over his head with Crane and then Grady saves him and they ride off together into the sunset happily in love. That wasn’t what this story was ever going to be, so I ended up disappointed. Though if you are interested in a bit of a downer story about tortured souls, love, murder, revenge, and morally ambiguous characters in the old west, you’re probably gonna have a good time with this one.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Wyoming Territory, 1870.

Elijah Carter is afflicted. Most of the townsfolk of South Pass City treat him as a simpleton because he’s deaf, but that’s not his only problem. Something in Elijah runs contrary to nature and to God. Something that Elijah desperately tries to keep hidden.

Harlan Crane, owner of the Empire saloon, knows Elijah for what he is—and for all the ungodly things he wants. But Crane isn’t the only one. Grady Mullins desires Elijah too, but unlike Crane, he refuses to push the kid.

When violence shatters Elijah’s world, he is caught between two very different men and two devastating urges: revenge, and despair. In a boomtown teetering on the edge of a bust, Elijah must face what it means to be a man in control of his own destiny, and choose a course that might end his life . . . or truly begin it for the very first time.

 

[available for purchase at Riptide Publishing, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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Peter Darling – Austin Chant

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“’That’s right,’ Peter spat. ‘I’m here to fight. I’m a boy.’”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I really didn’t know what to expect going into this but boy was I ever not disappointed. This story was beautiful and heartbreaking with more adventure and drama than you can shake a stick at. It’s a retelling of Peter Pan that takes place 10 years after the original story. Peter Pan and Captain Hook are the main characters and, to my surprise, the romantic leads. Unlike the original story, this Peter Pan is not the immortal forever-child from a magical land, he’s the alter-ego of Wendy Darling who escaped to Neverland for a chance at being his true self. Family obligation eventually had him returning home, hoping for acceptance, but 10 years later he’s going back to the only place he ever felt he could truly be himself. He soon realizes that Neverland is a bit of a different place now that he’s a grown man. His boyhood games no longer hold the same appeal, or the same stakes, as they once did, and he soon learns that his actions have grave consequences. He also discovers new sides to his old nemesis, Captain Hook, who is maybe not completely the villain that Peter always made him out to be. This story is a very interesting take on an old classic, and was a very emotional ride from beginning to end. At first I wasn’t sure how Peter and Hook would go from warring to romance, but as I read it I definitely came to see it. The original story had some disturbing elements, but this book could get a bit dark at times, especially as Peter was learning that childish games could sometimes take on more serious meanings when the players are all adults. The ideas this book had about Neverland itself were also pretty interesting, and not something I’d ever considered before. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who’d enjoy an interesting and emotional twist on an old story.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

 

[available for purchase from Less Than Three Press, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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His Right Choice (Men of Falcon Pointe #4) – Thianna Durston

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“His plan had been to meet some gay guys and realize that wasn’t who he was. Instead Nick had found more life in the last few weeks than he had in his total twenty-one years.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This one I liked a lot better than the previous two books. This was the sequel I’d been waiting for (though I did like Books 2 and 3, don’t get me wrong). I liked everything about this book (even the really ridiculous parts). Anyone who’s been reading the whole series knows the score by now (gay Mormon boy goes to university and meets a group of men who make him realize that he’s a person that deserves love and respect, and then he gets a hot older boyfriend and spanking is involved), and this book follows the same pattern while still managing to be a bit of a different story. Nick is struggling with his sexuality worse than the others ever did. He’s convinced himself that what he needs to do is work past his attraction to men and then settle down with his long-time girlfriend and start a family. It’s a sure recipe for disaster, but it’s all Nick knows to do. Luckily, he catches the attention of the gang from the other books, and they’re able to help him work through some things. He also catches the attention of Ethan, an older man and an old friend of Cory and Levlin’s, who would definitely like to get to know Nick better. There’s a lot of angst in this book because Nick has to come to terms with both the fact that he’s gay and nothing’s going to change that, and that everything he believed in up until this point might be built on lies. He’s in a very different place than the others were, and he has a lot more to work through. One thing I really liked about this book (and my favourite aspect of this whole series) is how everyone really came together to support Nick and help him on his journey. All the characters from past books are back and just as great as ever, and the new characters in this one make the story that much richer (I will forever love Nick’s friend Deke). This book was also very emotional and I had a hard time putting it down (a lot like my feelings for the first book in the series, actually). This is currently the last book in the series, but I really hope there are more coming, I’d really like to see what all these guys will get up to in the future.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Nicholas Layton, fresh off his mission for the Mormon church, attends Falcon Pointe University with plans to enjoy his final year of freedom before he gives in and marries his long-term girlfriend. But when he meets a group of gay men, some of whom are ex-Mormons and some who practice loving physical discipline, he finds he is more comfortable with them than anywhere else. Suddenly, he’s straddling the line between good Mormon and gay man.

As an added bonus—or problem, depending—he meets Ethan Kierk, who is good-looking, fun to be around, and who wants to be with him. Nick tries not to think about dating a man, but he can’t help it. He wants Ethan, and that terrifies him.

To avoid his feelings, Nick steels himself to propose to his girlfriend but breaks things off at the last moment. Instead, he jumps headlong into a relationship with Ethan, and it feels so right—until he has to tell his family. When they reject him, he shares his darkest secret with Ethan, hoping Ethan won’t reject him too.

Hoping he made the right choice.

 

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

 

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Becoming Rafe (Men of Falcon Pointe #3) – Thianna Durston

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“As long as you are proud of yourself and have a support team, you can face anything and anyone. So let’s build up Rafe Norton and let the rest find its place.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. There were some things I really liked about this book, and some things I kinda didn’t. This was a bit of a mixed bag, I feel. The story about Rafe (formerly known as Nephi) going away to university and trying to find himself was a good one. It was similar enough to the others to fit the pattern, but still different enough so as to not be repetitive. There was also a lot of focus on Rafe hanging out with his friends, which was good because I found a lot of the things about his boyfriend Levlin a bit lacking. I liked Levlin, don’t get me wrong, but I mostly just didn’t get him. Through all of his and Rafe’s interactions, I kept finding myself wondering what a (assumed) successful psychologist in his mid-thirties would want with an 18-year-old college freshman struggling to find himself? I never had this problem with the other relationships (maybe because Rafe was younger than Trent and Bastien? I dunno), but it kept picking at me here. Outside of that, though, Rafe and Levlin’s relationship was stable and loving and engaging. Though, having said that, I thought that it moved a bit too fast for my liking. There were a lot of throwbacks to past books, with past characters showing up and interacting with the new characters. David and Bastien even got married, which managed to both be sentimental for the reader and a poignant moment for Rafe. There’s still discipline in this story, but this is the first time that Cory is not the one doling it out, Levlin is. Also Rafe’s family was a lot more involved in the story than any other character’s ever was, which made for great scenes and great angst (his siblings are awesome and I love them).

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Eighteen-year-old Nephi Rafe Norton goes to Falcon Pointe University to find himself. Away from his conservative family, he hopes to discover if his attraction to men is the real deal. Encouraged to be someone a little different, he starts using his middle name. “Rafe” quickly makes friends, some of whom practice loving physical discipline, and lives it up—until midterms hit and he realizes he’s flunking statistics class.

When Scotland native Éigneachán Jackson Levlin offers to help, Rafe is eager to accept—not only because Levlin is a psychologist, but also because he’s out and proud and hot as hell.

As their relationship heats up, Rafe decides to spend one last Christmas with his family before he tells them. When his little sister outs him to his siblings, they turn out to be fully supportive, and he takes heart—until he introduces Levlin to his father, who brutally dismisses both of them. Now Rafe must come to peace with his father’s rejection or risk losing Levlin—and all that he has become at Falcon Pointe—forever.

 

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

 

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Finding His Home (Men of Falcon Pointe #2) – Thianna Durston

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“It was sweet, and Bastien couldn’t tear his eyes away. Sure, he’d hoped gay men could be loving, but that was the first time he’d ever seen it.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I will admit, I didn’t like this one as much as I did the first book (this one was a bit slow in places), but I did really enjoy reading it. It’s similar to the first book in some ways, but it’s still a different story. Like Trent from Book 1, Sebastien Cather is trying to break away from Mormonism because he knows that he’ll never be able to be happy in that lifestyle. Also like Trent, Sebastien makes his way to 959 Brenton Street and finds a new home, a new family, and a new love. Sebastien is in a different part of his journey than Trent was, though. He’d come to terms with the fact that he’s gay back when he was 14, and by the time he makes it to Falcon Pointe he’s already decided that he’s going to leave the Mormon church. His dilemmas are less about his religion and more about his relationships. David, from Book 1, is back in a main role, so we get a bit more insight into him. Trent, Cory, and Alan are also back, and it was great to see them again. Also Trent’s father tries to make some more trouble and is put back in his place, which is always fun. This is a good sequel to a book I enjoyed, and I’m looking forward to the next one.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) A Men of Falcon Pointe Novel

Sebastien Cather moves to Falcon Pointe with a dream to live life his way. Offered a room at 959 Brenton Street, he discovers how liberating it can feel to live among accepting people, especially in a household where they practice loving physical discipline. And he quickly gains a boyfriend in Avery, a fellow student. Unfortunately Avery isn’t his first choice. His roommate David is fascinating and good-looking, and Bastien would do anything to have him—but he doesn’t think the attraction is returned.

Tensions rise as his roommates’ wedding is threatened and his present and past lives clash. Outed by the national media, Bastien knows he will never be able to return home again. Just as he’s sure he can’t handle any more stress, David shows his interest. Bastien slowly makes his way forward, trying to find firm footing in the minefield that is his life. But when his landlord makes an announcement about the future of the house, it may change all of his dreams.

 

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

 

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