Son of a Gun by A.M. Riley

10959928Title: Son of a Gun

Series: N/A

Author: A.M. Riley

Genre: Mystery & Suspense

Length: Novel

Publisher: Loose Id (May 21st, 2013) First published April 9th, 2010)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3.5 Hearts

Reviewer: Thommie

Blurb: Stefan Sanchez’s number one reason to flee Boerne, Texas twelve years ago, was closeted deputy Chet Blain. Since then he has lived in Los Angeles, become a successful author of children’s books and managed his sexual relationships with a certain cool cynicism.

When Stefan returns to Texas for the funeral of his best friend, Tommy, he is confronted by painful memories: His infamous father, shot as a traitor, his alcoholic mother, and Chet, who seems to want to start their old painful relationship all over again. Added to this is a missing widow, drugs in the trunk of his rental car, and a hunky Secret Service agent who seems determined to make Stefan’s business his business.

It all ends in a mad chase across the infamously haunted Devil’s backbone where ghosts from the past and personal demons in the present all conspire to give Stefan a chance to close the book on his childhood forever… or die trying.

Product Link: http://www.loose-id.com/son-of-a-gun.html

Review: You know what this story reminded me of? The Three Musketeers. Yeah it really did. There were the three guys here with Stef being the reckless one, the one who was sharp and witty and always the cynic. There was Tommy – the dead/murdered friend, who used to be the one to always pursuit justice, and there was Chet, the clean-up-the-mess guy. There was Tommy’s wife Sammy, the one to get em all together, the cool one, the one that never came between friends. And there was definitely the evil/smart villain, who of course is above suspicion and the obligatory conspiracy theory.

That was quite simple really. Stefan having left Texas for twelve years is forced back for his best friend’s funeral. It’s weird because all the way back he was hearing Tommy’s voice in his head, having quite a conversation, and at first I thought he was a bit crazy and had an imaginary friend you know. Only later on at the funeral did I realize that Stef is indeed a bit crazy and has whole conversations in his head.

Anyway, so there he is looking at his best friend’s dead body and it hits him that even as a corpse Tommy looks horrified. The cause of his death doesn’t satisfy Stefan – who always had some sort of an intuition – and he believes that his friend has been murdered. Of course, it helps a bit the fact that he discovers bits and pieces of information written in their secret code language that only he and Tommy perfectly knew and a small portion Tommy’s wife Sammy.

Speaking of Sammy, she’s gone missing in a hurry leaving nothing behind, no trail, no way to get in touch, at least for the simple mortal, because Stefan finds bits of clues from her too and like this starts a kind of a treasure hunt for a runaway bride and truth at the end of the game.

I liked it, a lot. The story was quite engaging, the plot laid in such a way that had you wanting to follow it, wanting to see what’s next and at time making you feel like you figured the bad guy, then doubting yourself and then going back to what you originally thought and then doubting that thought… again. It was quite fun the way it sent you back and forth. The characters involved were numerous and quite literally filled the book.

In the middle of all this was the very weird, very dysfunctional relationship between Stefan and Chet, that started out as friends when they were kids, morphed into secret hooking/lovers later on and ended quite badly causing Stefan to leave Texas to escape the pain. But oddly enough, there was no romance in their “thing,” for it wasn’t even a relationship. It was as if Stefan was a drug Chet couldn’t resist and you have one hell of a nightmare between them. As for Stefan, gosh what a character. His entire personality was so very complex that I don’t know how to feel about it. His life was literally stolen from him and he’d been in a loveless situation his entire life, or that how he felt. Quite the dark emotional drama there, but so skillfully written, so flawed and hurt and stuck in limbo for so long that you can’t help care for this character.

So, concluding my thought on this book, it was a very nice story, with a very nice conspiracy, well-developed characters and a good enough pace to keep you interested through the entire read. The romance was lacking there and the relationship between Stefan and Dale was hazy at best and left quite hanging, but overall a very decent read I don’t hesitate recommending those who like a good suspense/mystery story.

A Beautiful Lie by Tyler Robbins

17861613Title: A Beautiful Lie

Author: Tyler Robbins

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novella (178pgs)

Publisher: Evernight Publishing (30th April 2013)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating:

Blurb: Jesse Reagan has had more than his share of tragedy, and he may have been dealt another blow when, once again, cancer threatens the sister who raised him. Faced with the possibility of being left behind, Jesse vows to care for her young son, though he’s not convinced he can.

When Trip Cantrell returns to town, he’s blindsided the instant he’s reunited with his kid brother’s lifelong friend, Jesse. His inability to find happiness in the years he’s been gone, suddenly makes sense. Love’s been waiting at home all along.

Life begins to look promising, except for the fact that neither have come out of the closet publicly, and that’s not even their biggest problem. Someone has a secret so shocking they may never find a way past it.

Will they be accepted in their small Texas town, or will secrets, lies, and the threat of tragedy destroy everything?

Purchase Link: http://www.evernightpublishing.com/a-beautiful-lie-by-tyler-robbins/

Pixie’s Review: ♥♥♥♥3 ½ – 4 Hearts

Jesse has had a lot thrown at him in his young life, losing both parents, his sisters’ fight with cancer, keeping the business going and helping to raise his nephew and staying hidden deep in the closet. When faced with the cancer attacking again, Jesse vows to his sister to look after his nephew while she fights it. Trip returns to town after discovering that the life he thought he wanted just makes him unhappy. Discovering his newfound attraction to Jesse, the two embark on a secret relationship. But jealousy, lies, and secrecy threaten to tear them apart.

This is quite a good story with the secrets of the past being discovered and threatening to blow a family apart. Jesse has hidden his sexuality from everyone but his sister, Joslyn. Living in a small town, he can’t even tell his best friend, Eric. But, when Trip (Ethan), Eric’s brother, comes back to town, Jesse has a temptation that he just can’t resist. Trip has always hidden his sexuality in the small town, so returning home to his resentful brother he knows that he is going back into the closet again. But, meeting Jesse as a grown-up shakes his resolve. Joslyn has a secret she dare not tell, she has kept it hidden for years, but now it is on the verge of eruption. Eric resents his brother coming home and slotting himself into Eric’s makeshift family, but Eric also knows something he shouldn’t.

I really have mixed feelings about this story because while I thought it was well written and a great storyline, I found it hard to connect to the characters or understand how they could dole out forgiveness so easily. Trip and Jesse dive into a secret relationship headfirst. They are hot together and eventually they settle everything between them. Joslyn was a great sister and a great mother, but not a very nice person at all.

The secret she had would have been taken to the grave if it hadn’t have been discovered by another, and I can’t like a character like that at all. Eric was wrong in his hate and jealousy, but you could understand why he acted the way he did. He felt abandoned by his brother and hoarded the family he created.

Trip never deserved anything that happened and was completely innocent and was so forgiving. you can’t help but love him. Jesse pointed his anger in the wrong places. Just because his sister was ill didn’t justify her actions in any way, shape or form or the fact that Jesse should have been angry with her. I don’t like when someone gets automatic forgiveness, just because they are family or dying.

I recommend this to those who love complicated family drama, finding love close to home, secrets, lies, forgiveness, hot sex, and a happy ending.  

Prime’s Review: ♥♥♥3 Hearts

Two small town Texan boys, both have had difficult lives and difficult parents. One has recently returned home. And they’re both buried in the closet, fearful of what could happen to them if they indeed admitted their sexuality. It’s a good story and although I felt empathy, particularly for Jesse, I can’t say that the story immediately dragged me in and had me hooked.

We encounter four main characters, Jesse, who has sacrificed a lot including a social life, for his older sister, Joslyn. Joslyn was seven when their mother left and had since helped their overworked father raise Jesse before their father had a stroke and subsequently died. On the heels of that, Joslyn, who was in her senior year of high school, later became pregnant. A couple of years after that, she got cancer.

The story picks up four years after that diagnosis with the possibility that it had returned and besides Jesse, she only has her son, Jeremy. Then there is Eric Cantrell, he’s Jesse’s best friend despite the fact he has kind of left Jesse behind since Jesse has responsibilities. Eric is a ne’er do well type of character, always sleeping with a different woman and always on a bender on either drinks or smokes.

Although, through all this, he has dependable Jesse and Jesse seems to have to hots for his very straight friend. His older brother, Ethan (aka Trip), has been away for about five years. He went off the college and has returned to his small town home after realising, that he hated the profession he had chosen to enter.

So Ethan’s back and he sets his sights directly on Jesse. However, between the four of them, there are a number of secrets and lies whizzing about, the biggest one of course being that Ethan and Jesse are gay and together.
I know there’s a lot going on and that was just the introduction.

The story ran flat to me, though well paced. I really don’t hate it and I don’t find it boring, it just seems to lack that particular bit of spark that draws me into romance stories. I think the problem is that there is too much drama, secrecy and lies going on and there wasn’t enough time for everything to evolve. It sounds contradictory to what we expect as readers in terms of entertainment value, and while Jesse and Ethan’s love story seems more realistic to those of us in the real world,

I’m pretty sure all the intrigue was giving me a migraine. There was some level of sweetness to the story and lots of sadness, as well as seeing the chain of repercussions from stupid decisions made in the heat of the moment by immature teens. At times, it was even thought-provoking.
Still I find it hard to go beyond liking it.

Another problem, while I like Jesse and his sister, Joslyn, I wasn’t too impressed with Ethan and his little brother/Jesse’s BFF, Eric. Meanwhile, at the same time, Joslyn was the most judgmental character and contradicted herself with a whopping secret of her own.

Eric was really a questionable character to me, he seems a little unhinged at times and in serious need of an intervention. He seems angry for all the wrong reasons and I’m not sure if he likes Joslyn or Jesse. At first, I found it difficult to like Ethan, but he eventually came into his own and ended out to be a very likable guy.

Then again, half the time it seems that Ethan is the one being screwed over by everyone else and I feel really sorry for the guy. While it’s Jesse that’s angry when everything goes down a certain creek, I think that Ethan had rights to feeling more anger. Thankfully, despite the sadness and secrets and lies, there is a happily ever after.

I get the feeling that this book more than most is a bit hit and miss as to whether people love it or hate it. It’s going to appeal to those that like the small town, closet storyline – there’s even a touch of coming of age in it. It’s also good for people who love over the top drama, almost like a soap opera. In the end, it’s a web of the four interconnected lives and complex in places.

 

Vaulting by Megan Slayer

17832920Title: Vaulting

Series: N/A

Author: Megan Slayer

Genre: MM / Contemporary

Length: Novella

Publisher: Total E-Bound (May 13th, 2013)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥1.5 Hearts

Reviewer: Thommie

Blurb: Vault for the gold or fall in love? What about both?

Dylan Parker wants nothing more than to win the gold. He’s worked on his vaults long and hard to be the best. And he is…until the best, Aiden Conrad, shows up at his gym. What’s a guy to do when the object of his affection also happens to be his stiffest competition?

Aiden’s no slouch when it comes to competition. He’s got more than a couple of medals under his belt, but finding love? That’s his one weakness. When he meets Dylan, all bets are off. Dylan might be damn good on the vault, but is he just as good in bed? Aiden’s next goal? Dylan.

Can these two hard-headed men find common ground and passion in each other’s arms or are they destined to fail in the biggest competition of all—the game of love?

Reader Advisory: This book contains lots of gymnastics fun, voyeurism, and hot sex in the locker room.

Product Link: http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?P_ID=2105

Review: I didn’t like this book for too many reasons. First of the blurb is in white contrast from the story itself. There is no competition between Dylan and Aiden at all. As a matter of fact, the story starts with Aiden approaching Dylan and telling him he’s thinking of joining their gym because he wants to be Dylan’s teammate. And Dylan always had admiration for Aiden because he is one of the best out there. Again no competition there at all, only instant lust and in the span of a month – that we didn’t witness- both of them have reached the point of deep feelings for each other even if no move has been made yet.

And that takes me to the pace and time frame for this book. The pace seems too frantic, the events between the pair happened in lighting speed, the time frame was hazy at best. There was no depth to the story; you couldn’t see the built of their friendship, partnership, and relationship. Thus, you couldn’t connect with either character that by the way was completely flat. Beside some “hurtful” past events in Dylan’s past we didn’t get much on their personality, who were they and so on.

Moving on, there was the issue of chemistry and the old classic telling that made it hard to feel them two. Both characters shared similar emotions. Both wanted each other, both were scared of their feelings, and both shared the same thoughts even. Between that and their intimate scenes that were as bland as they come, it felt as if I was reading a bad copy/paste over and over again. A big, big thing I disliked was the comparison of a certain sexual stance with submission and since the story had no kinky side in there, I couldn’t quite understand it why would that even be mentioned. And really, when too people like to have rough sex it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are possessive, I don’t get what one has to do with the other.

The plot was also a big reason I didn’t like this book. It was irrational in so many ways. At times, I felt like there had been more there, but was crudely cropped, chopped, and deleted so I was left with a text that jumped and leaped and the meaning didn’t fit. The dialogues made no sense and were often a contradiction of previous dialogues between the guys, adding to the feeling that there was a story behind the line that I’d somehow missed.

Speaking of irrational, the villain of this story (because every story needs a psychopath) made no sense at all to me. He wanted Aiden so he harassed Dylan – so far so good- but later on, he wanted Aiden so he beats the heck out of him sending him in the hospital… I suppose the author needed Aiden in the hospital so badly so that Dylan would have that kind of déjà vu, that the rationale behind it didn’t really matter. And dear me, a guy is in the ER badly injured, his mother and friend (because no one knew Dylan was the boyfriend in that damn hospital) go to check on him and visit, and the nurse said “Ten minutes then you’ll switch. Once we get him in a room, you’ll be able to stay longer. No monkey business.” I’m still rolling this over and over in my head to try to make some sense from it. The guy is barely conscious, badly hurt, friends and family are distressed and in agony to see he’ll be all right, what monkey business would there be for crying out loud?

So no, I didn’t like this one and I can’t recommend it.

A Sticky Wicket in Bollywood by T.A. Chase and Devon Rhodes

51xrKxiKxNLTitle: A Sticky Wicket in Bollywood

Series: International Men of Sport 01

Author: T.A. Chase & Devon Rhodes

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novella (155pgs)

Publisher: Total E-Bound (8th April 2013)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥2 ½ – 3 Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: A handsome Bollywood actor must choose between his career and a rugged cricket player from his past, who he’s fallen in love with…again.

Rajan Malik has the world of Bollywood in the palm of his hand…a beautiful girlfriend, starring roles, adoring fans…He should be happy, but behind the façade lies a man conflicted and exhausted by the pressure placed on him by his ill mother, his agent and society. His life is not his own, and all he wants to do is escape.

Indian Premier League cricketer Ajay Singh can’t believe how bad his university roommate Rajan looks when he spots his picture in the paper. They had parted on bad terms. Still, he’s moved to offer Rajan his support by renewing their friendship.

But friendship was not all they shared back then. Though Ajay is out, Rajan isn’t willing to give up his carefully cultivated Bollywood image to be with him publicly. And with very little privacy, it won’t take long for someone to find out they are more than friends.

Their renewed secret affair is fraught with difficulties as they deal with the death of Rajan’s mother, the secret of Rajan’s till-now absent father, a jealous friend, intrusive social media, and threatening notes from someone who seems to know all about their private lives.

It’s a bit of a sticky wicket they find themselves in. Will it be too late when both men finally realise that they’ll need to compromise, or stand to lose everything?

Purchase Link: http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?strParents=&CAT_ID=&P_ID=2101

Review: Rajan is a Bollywood star living the life that his mother created for him, starring roles, beautiful girlfriend, and fame. But the life is starting to tear him apart, having to suppress his natural desires to please all those around him. Getting a surprise phone call from his old concerned friend Rajan remembers a time when he was happy and in love. Ajay doesn’t know what Raja’s reaction will be to his offer of a place of sanctuary, they didn’t part on the best of terms and now Ajay is an openly gay cricketer and has no plans to go back in the closet. Rekindling their romance is risky but neither man can resist, Rajan begins to get anonymous phone calls and notes, his mother is dying and trying to force him into an engagement. Ajay feels like he has been shoved back into closet having to hide his relationship with Rajan, while Rajan parades around the girlfriend. Can the men find a compromise before it’s too late?

This was quite a good Bollywood dilemma story that is an easy read. Rajan is very easily pressured, he did want to be a teacher, but when his mother heard how close he was to a friend he was quickly whisked home to be molded into the perfect Bollywood star, since then his mother, agent and girlfriend have control of his life and it is wearing him down. Ajay has stood on his own and made his own decisions, he is openly gay and a star cricketer. Offering Rajan a retreat from the high-pressure world might be a mistake but even after all these years he still cares deeply for the actor.

Ajay has a confidence in himself that is impressive and having Rajan again is all he wants, but accepting the restrictions are hard when all he wants is to love Rajan. Rajan is easily controlled by other people, especially his mother, but soon he will have to make his own choices if he wants to hold onto his love. I liked both Ajay and Rajan and enjoyed watching as they maneuvered into a relationship that they could both work with. the hot sex that is never a problem. The conflict that Rajan faces and the patience that Ajay has to dig deep for, and finally a compromise that works for both of them.

I was also surprised that the story was more focused on Rajan rather than Ajay and that was because of the series name, it was quite disappointing because I was looking forward to seeing what the authors could come up with for a cricketer but it was all about the Bollywood stars problems. I was very disappointed with the storyline. Especially seeing as it reminded me very strongly of another Bollywood story released over a year ago. Change the cricketers for bodyguards and yeah, very similar storyline.

I will recommend this to those who love closeted actors, hot cricketers, tension, forgiveness, hot sex and a great happy ending.