Friday, May 27, 2016

ARC #REVIEW North to Zombieville by Meg Bawden #RomHero #mmromance #scifi

Genre: M/M Romance, Science Fiction
Release Date: May 18, 2016
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Length: 200 pages

Description: The year is 2028, and Dallas and Raleigh Jenson are torn apart when a worldwide zombie apocalypse ravages their home of Townsville, Australia. After a year of searching, Dallas, a former Australian Army rifleman, finally reunites with Raleigh, but it’s not like old times. Not only do they have zombies to contend with, but they also have to deal with other humans changed by desperation and willing to do anything to survive.

Dallas and Raleigh have changed too. So much so that Dallas struggles with the idea that Raleigh no longer needs or wants his protection. But they will have to rely on each other and find strength in their love as they are forced to evade zombies and watch their friends die. As they fight for their lives in a brutal landscape where every supply and every step toward a potential cure is a battle to the death, only their trust in each other can keep them from perishing.

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North to Zombieville opens with a bit of normalcy. Dallas and Raleigh Jenson are celebrating a wedding anniversary in style. They exchange words of affection...
Dallas stared into Raleigh's pretty blue eyes, his chest tightening at the thought of how much he loved this man in front of him. Raleigh was his world. Did that sound corny? "I love you, Leigh."

Raleigh swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing. "I love you too."
And then their world is torn apart. The two are separated for six months. Dallas who has military training soon finds himself in a leadership position, responsible for a group of survivors. But he never forgets, Raleigh, never betrays him, and never gives up on finding him. Raleigh is rescued by a friend of Dallas' and together they team up with a few others, scavenging and surviving as they can. 

Then one day, a miracle occurs; Raleigh and Dallas find each other. Great right? Not so great. Although their love for each other is as strong as it was, the apocalypse has changed them, made them stronger, different. Their roles have changed. Their relationship must adapt to their new situation. Can they make through as husband and husband? Or will the pressures prove to be too much? 
Being strong wasn't helping anymore, and he fell to the ground beside the bed where someone had already put his bags of belongings. With his back pressed against the frame of the bed and mattress, he buried his face into his knees and cried. He couldn't help it. He cried because there was no tomorrow. It didn't matter how long they lasted, they were going to die. If not physically, then mentally. Their personalities would die. Jesus, he'd already begun to dwindle internally. Not even Dallas being around him could help that. Having his husband there felt like a dream. 
The author did a very good job of world building and of putting her own spin on the zombie lore. As a fan of The Walking Dead, I enjoyed this story a lot, especially because it got into the sexual relationship side of things a little more than the show. :) Dallas and Raleigh are a loyal, loving couple, but their challenges are far from over. North of Zombieville ends on a Happy-For-Now note, as expected, and I'm hoping that there will be a sequel to their story!

OUR RATING: 4 stars!


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

ARC #REVIEW Power Play by Avon Gale #RomHero #mmromance #hockey

Genre: M/M Romance, part of the Second Chances series
Release Date: May 9, 2016
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Length: 201 pages

Description: A freak accident during the Stanley Cup Playoffs put an end to Max Ashford’s hockey career. Despite everything, Max gets back into the game he loves—only this time behind the bench, as an assistant coach of the Spartanburg Spitfires, the worst team in the entire league. But nothing prepares him for the shock when he learns the new head coach is Misha Samarin, the man who caused Max’s accident.

After spending years guilt-ridden for his part in Max’s accident, Russian native Misha Samarin has no idea what to do when he’s confronted with Max’s presence. Max’s optimism plays havoc with Misha’s equilibrium—as does the fierce attraction that springs up between them.

Not only must they navigate Misha’s remorse and a past he’s spent a lifetime trying to forget, but also a sleazy GM who is determined to use their history as a marketing hook. But when an unwelcome visitor targets a player, Misha revisits his darkest days, and that might cost him and Max the beginning they’ve worked so hard to build.

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Determined to jump start ticket sales one way or another, the owner of the ECHL Spartanburg Spitfires hires Misha and Max as coach and assistant coach. Why is this a big deal? Because an accident during the NHL playoffs several years earlier ended both their careers. He's hoping that the inevitable hostility between the men will spark interest in his flagging team.
Max Ashford looked a lot different than Misha remembered.

Of course, the way Misha remembered Max was lying unmoving on the ice, still as a corpse. A sight he still saw sometimes, in the dark spaces where his dreams should be.
But while they don't give the owner the fire he wants, things aren't exactly relaxed between the two men. At least not until Max puts Misha at ease with his quiet ways and gentle humor, teasing him about his accent and occasional lack of knowledge of English slang. But Misha soon learns to turn the tables on Max.
"Fine. So we're keeping Drake?" Max put his head on the table and groaned. "He has a lip piercing."

"What was that? I can't hear you. Did you say he... has a hip replacement? He's so young."

Max lifted his head. Misha was calmly eating his dissected mozzarella stick and watching him with something that max was sure was amusement. "You have got to be kidding me."

Misha winked at him. Max's world tipped upside down and flipped sideways.
It was a real pleasure to see these two men working to overcome their pasts, the accident and its consequences, as they built up a winning team. Their relationship grows organically over the coarse of the season. Misha, having the most serious issues, is propped up lovingly by Max, who proves to be so much more than he lets on.

I loved both these men. Their story of triumph will make you smile and want to know more. Oh, and the sex scenes are hot and varied. The author did a great job of integrating them into the story line at just the right time and in the right way.

There are also some very interesting side characters in this story, some of whom will no doubt receive their own books. I can't wait to read them!

OUR RATING: 4.5 stars!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

ARC #REVIEW On The Outside by Louise Lyons #RomHero #mmromance

Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: April 30, 2016
Publisher:  Louise Lyons
Length: 112 pages

Description: When Craig Ferguson is released from prison after a year’s sentence for fighting, he returns home to his father and brother, and the family business. Throwing himself back into the life he left, with family, work, and women, Craig tries to forget his time on the inside, but there’s one thing he just can’t get out of his mind. 

Cell mate, Rocky Kirk, still has six months of his sentence to go, and after a year together in a tiny cell, Craig misses him more than he cares to admit. He does his best to forget, but when Rocky is released, and arrives on Craig’s doorstep, homeless and hurt, everything that happened between them comes flooding back. 

Craig’s family takes in Rocky, now known as Kirk, and gives him a home and a job, but he’s reluctant to join in with their partying, and never seems entirely comfortable in their home. A few months later Kirk announces he has to leave, and when Craig presses him for an explanation, Kirk blurts out that his unwanted feelings for his friend are hurting him too much to stay. His admission changes everything, but Craig’s uncertainty, and fears of his father discovering their secret, threatens to ruin anything that could develop between them. 

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The premise of this story is intriguing: two men who share a cell, also share their bodies. Of course, it's just for sexual release... right?

Craig and Kirk are in prison for minor drug crimes. They end up cellmates and friends, and their friendship keeps them safe from the other inmates. But at night, they are more than friends. When Craig is released, six months before Kirk, he returns home to his brother and father. Now these two are interesting. On weekends, father and sons prowl the bars for women that they bring back home for a night of fun. (It's a little weird, but I have discovered that men feel quite differently about this subject than women do.) Craig is determined to get back into the groove of things. A discussion with his good friend Ben makes him realize that he wants more than one-night stands. 
"When did you become Mr. Faithful?"

"I guess I'm bored with fucking around."

"Well, then, you need to do some different things and meet more people. Join a gym or something. The one I go to has plenty of hot women prancing around in leotards."

I considered what he said. It couldn't hurt to take up a new interest. all I did was work, hang out with Dad and Stuart, and occasionally Ben, and wish I was doing something else. I'd been satisfied before, but being locked up twenty-four seven for a year changed my outlook.
The problem is that Craig wants what he'd had with Kirk: the friendship, the easy connection, the fulfilling sex. When memories of his time with Kirk turn into fantasies, Craig is deeply troubled. He isn't gay. It was just sex. His struggle is real.
It wasn't the first time I'd thought about him like that in the past few months. Each time I forced the thoughts away and convinced myself I remembered it because there'd only been him for a year. It didn't matter that his mouth felt better than any woman's; that his rough hands and hard body fired me up like soft feminine curves didn't. It was all in my head.
Several months later, when Kirk is released, he shows up on Craig's doorstep in need of a job and a place to stay. Craig's father lets him move into their spare bedroom and gives him a job in their construction company. 

I enjoyed seeing Craig and Kirk's friendship deepen as they get to know each other outside of prison. His acceptance of his true sexuality is slow, but believable. And his reluctance to come out to his family is even more so. Each step of the way I felt for him and for Kirk, who comes with his own sad story. 

All in all, I liked On the Outside. It is short and could have been further developed, the characters fleshed out more. But it is a  touching story, and Craig and Kirk are sweet. So if you like short and sweet romance with tender-hearted heroes, this is the book for you!

OUR RATING: 4 stars

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

ARC #REVIEW The Heart As He Hears It by A. M. Arthur #mmromance #romhero #disability

Genre: M/M Romance, part of Perspectives series
Release Date: April 19, 2016
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Length: 253 pages

DescriptionLove can slip through the smallest crack in the door.

While most of his friends have moved on to “real” careers, Jon Buchanan is content skating through life as a part-time waiter and gay porn star. Firmly single thanks to a previous relationship disaster, he focuses his spare time on Henry, a dear friend dying of cancer.

And with Henry’s happiness paramount, Jon is on a mission to help Henry meet his recently discovered grandson.

Isaac Gregory hasn’t set foot outside for the past year. He has everything he needs delivered, and his remaining family knows better than to visit. When a complete stranger shows up claiming to be his grandfather—with a distractingly handsome younger man in tow—his carefully structured routines are shaken.

Despite his instant attraction, Jon senses Isaac is too fragile for a relationship. Yet tentative friendship grows into genuine companionship. And when Henry’s health begins to fail, they realize Fate brought them together for a reason.

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One of the things I love most about Arthur's stories is that she doesn't shy away from making heroes of the most unlikely characters, and with The Heart As He Hears It, she doesn't disappoint. 

Jon Buchanan is a porn star with body image issues brought on by a bad relationship with a controlling and cruel boyfriend. Issac is a man who's past traumas have left him hearing impaired and agoraphobic. What an unlikely pair! And one that pulled at my heartstrings. How could I not be moved by Jon's kindness and loyalty or by Isaac's sad story and his awakening desire for a better life?
The one task he hated most was the simplest and hardest to do--walking the trash and recycling bags to the curb the morning of pickup. The trip to the sidewalk was twenty feet, and the task took less than forty seconds, because he ran, but for those forty seconds he was exposed. Daylight or not, he had no protection from the outside world, and he always spend the next half hour sick and shaking.

Good thing he didn't have to do that until Thursday.
The world Isaac has built himself is rigid with routine, safe in its regularity. Every aspect of his day is regimented, scheduled, and in lock-step. But all that changes on the day Aunt Nerina shows up on his stoop accompanied by an older man, who claims to be his grandfather, and a gorgeous guy who has suddenly has Isaac thinking all kinds of new thoughts.  
The beautiful man who'd yet to speak or be introduced was even more beautiful up close. He was as tall as Isaac, with the muscle definition of someone who spent a lot of time exercising. Maybe he owned one of those machines Isaac frequently saw advertised during daytime television programs. He smelled like something spicy and warm, probably cologne.

Isaac enjoyed the scent very much.
It was fun to see Jon and Isaac's relationship evolve into something more, which is quite a challenge because Isaac is a virgin, very naive about sex and love, while Jon is a porn star. The way Jon handles Isaac's questions, with gravity and a touch of humor, is really endearing. 

Although I didn't feel as attached to Isaac and Jon as I did to Gabe and, especially, Tristan (The World As He Sees It), I did love their story, the way Jon slowly made a place for himself in Isaac's overly-structured world, how he became Isaac's "safe" place. I also loved how Isaac helped Jon to see himself as he really is and not how others have made him to feel. Their affection was sweet and genuine, and the sex when it comes is great!

If you love damaged heroes who make each other whole again, you'll love The Heart As He Hears It.

OUR RATING: 4 stars


Check out our 5-star review of The World As He Sees It here.

Friday, May 13, 2016

ARC #REVIEW Alien Conception by Max Walker #mmromance #scifi #romhero #mpreg

Genre: M/M Science Fiction Romance, part of The Traveler Series (can be read as a standalone)
Release Date: March 19, 2016
Publisher:  Max Walker
Length: 367 pages

Description: Ryan Diaz thought his life was on track. A boring track, but a track none-the-less. He expected to keep his mind-numbing job, find a girl to marry, and then settle down in a decent sized house with decently smart kids.

But, as we all know, life never follows the plans.

After a night out, Ryan finds himself face to face with a man that promises to change his life forever. And this man? He happens to be an alien who sports an incredible six pack and a massive... ship.

Their initial meeting not only shocks Ryan, but also awakens a part of him he never knew he had. Now, he has to come to terms with his explosive new feelings for the alien and submit to the plans fate has in store for them.

Will Ryan be able to handle this new life and the challenges it brings? Or will he find that being a boring paper pusher was what he was meant to do after all?

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After reading Alien Visitor, the first book in The Traveler Series, I was interested to read Ryan's story. Alien Conception is much in keeping with the style of the first book. However, this one goes a step beyond, into the fascinating world of mpreg (male pregnancy). Given that mpreg is a guilty pleasure of mine, I was curious to see how this author would explain the "science" behind a human male carrying a child to term. As it turns out, Max Walker did a very credible job, and I give him kudos for that. This book is longer than the first and much more developed.

When the story opens, Ryan has just found out that his best friend Jacob (the hero of Alien Visitor) is gay. Ryan accepts it easily, and Jacob acts as his wingman one last time, because Ryan has his eyes set on his lay-for-the-night and she has a friend. Back at Jacob's place, they are suddenly interrupted by a search and rescue team come to find Bena-drez (Jacob's alien boyfriend). The S&R team, Maxxam and Sarih-ja, arrive stark naked. Ryan finds himself drawn to Maxxam, not Sarih-ja, and he can't keep his eyes from taking Max in.
"Come," Maxxam extended a hand. "I'll explain it all."

Ryan looked at the hand, then back up at Maxxam. His chiseled face seemed warm all of a sudden. the power and dominance that had been there seconds ago gave way to a gentle smile that brightened his features and sent a shockwave through Ryan. 
Ryan has already seen everything Maxxam has to offer, but seeing himwearing clothes was almost as powerful. Suddenly, images of Ryan hooking a thumb under the waistband of those shorts and pulling them down to the floor was the only thing Ryan could think of doing.
What follows is a very heated self-discovery for Ryan, who must come to terms with his change in sexual orientation. He's never been attracted to men, much less tall, oddly-colored alien men.
"No, this doesn't make sense. I'm not gay. I've never been with a dude before, I never thought I'd..."

"Want one as badly as you do? I forgot humans seem to have not grown past the silly labels and boxes that have been so ingrained in your culture. consider yourself, in this moment, as a completely individual person, set apart from the rest of the world. You have your own wants, desires, rules, emotions, lust. Everything is individual. No one has a one-size fits all equation. Consider that maybe you never met the right man who had the power to awaken this side of you. Consider that man to be me." 
I won't go into detail about the sex in this story, other than to say that it is HOT. Pregnancy makes Ryan horny and Maxxam is nothing if not devoted to assuaging Ryan's every need. And I really wish Nistal worms existed. They seem like loads of fun!

The whole pregnancy itself is well done. The emotions the two character experience over the pending arrival of their child are very believable. And, thankfully, the author avoids dipping into gender-stereotypical behaviors and roles for these two, who are so not stereotypical.

If you enjoy a good romance with some hot sex and mpreg thrown in for additional fun, you'll enjoy Alien Conception.

OUR RATING:  4 stars!

Find our review of Alien Visitor, the first book in Max Walker's The Traveler Series, here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

ARC #REVIEW Full Strength by V.L. Locey #mmromance #romhero #sports

Genre: M/M Romance, Book 3 of the Point Shot series
Release Date: March 23, 2016
Publisher: Ellora's Cave Publishing Inc
Length: 129 pages

Description: What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago, Victor Kalinski was one of the best and most controversial ice hockey players in the pros. This year he’s playing in the minors, has a paternity case pending, and has just been vindictively outed to the world by one of his own teammates.

But he seems to find life in the tiny town of Cayuga to his liking. A large part of that is Dan Arou, the Cougars’ alternate captain and the man who now holds Victor’s heart. Surely venomous, viper-tongued Victor hasn’t been mellowed by love!

Well, perhaps a little. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t intend to get sweet revenge on those who’ve hurt the man he loves and the friends he’s somehow made along the way.

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To prepare for this review, I was graciously provided copies of Two Man Advantage and Game Misconduct, the first two books in the Point Shot series. Why? Because this series must definitely be read in order.

Victor Kalinski is a foul-mouthed, sarcastic redheaded Polish man who's angry at the world, and that anger gets him into serious trouble, over and over again. Victor is also one of the best things about this series. He is hilarious, and although he starts out as a royal asshole, his relationship with Dan Arou makes him a better man.

Daniel Arou is his teammate on the Cayuga Cougars. A short-statured Canadian Inuit, Dan is a gentle bear who shows his claws and dominance whenever Victor gets too uppity. But Dan has problems of his own--the most important being trying to forgive Victor for the mistake he made and learning to accept Victor's baby momma.
I stepped into my dress slacks and pulled them over my ass. "Italian-Scots talk as funny as you Canucks."

"I've got five Loonies that says you're wrong," Dan countered.

"Stop. Stop with the Loonie, Toonie, double-double with a box of Timbits shit. It makes my freaking eyes water trying to decipher what you're saying half the time."
As part of his agreement with the team owners, Victor is forced to attend counseling sessions with the team shrink to deal with his issues and learn to control his anger. Even his shrink, whom he calls Mrs. Weasley because she's matronly and has red hair, doesn't escape Victor's wit.
Damn shrink was sharp. I had to give her that. She was also persistent. She whittled away at your defenses, wiggling into any tiny hole she could make, then feasting on your pulpy goodness like a pine borer larva.
And despite the fact that he's a sharp-tongued hard ass, Victor is also pure jello when it comes to Dan.
Dan opened his eyes. Instantly I was lost in those brilliant blue pools. You know things are bad when Vic K. starts sounding like some goofy character in a gay romance, but there it is. I do get lost in his eyes, his voice, the way he skates, the touch of his hip against mine in bed and the smile that's meant for me and only me.
With its mix of humor, drama, and colorful cast of characters, Full Strength is the perfect culmination to this three-book series. Readers will be thrilled with where V.L. Locey takes the story, and like me, they'll want more Vic and Dan!

OUR RATING: 4.5 stars!