Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 Set at the McMurdo station in Antarctica, this story is told through the first person POV of a janitor named Simon. It follows his crush on Asher, a new researcher. With them stuck there for four months to over winter, Simon is afraid of rejection and making it awkward […]
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5 I like my erotic romances with some depth and this fit the bill. There are many triggers in this book so please pay attention to the tags: past and present abuse, off page rape, self harm, flashbacks, alcohol, drugs, and suicide attempts. Of course, this all means the hurt/comfort […]
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5 Jesse is a firefighter with a huge lack of self-esteem. He seems to think the only thing he has to offer is sex. His first boyfriend is a teacher named Ezra. They’ve been together for 8 months and he is meeting Ezra’s conservative, Catholic family for the first time. […]
I would rate this whole collection 3.75 stars.
This is a charity anthology, so I tend to think of the stories as a thank you for donating money. All anthologies are a mixed bag and people will like different stories than I do, but here are a few of my favorites from this collection. There is a variety of combinations (M/M, F/F, M/M/F, M/F) with bisexual, trans, and ace represented. They are all contemporary except for the one historical, paranormal romance. The foreword by Roan Parrish is quite eloquent.
R.L. Merrill, Pinups and Puppies (F/F, 4 stars)
This is told from the first person POV of Marianne, who is struggling with grief and reintegration after her retirement from the Air Force. She owns a vintage plane and volunteers to transport dogs to help shelters who find them homes. That’s how she meets Dinah, who co-owns the shelter. They both seem to have great support systems filled with family and friends. With great chemistry, their lives and interests slot nicely together, making them a cute couple.
Susan Scott Shelley, Sugar Crush (Bliss Bakery Series) (M/M, 4.5 stars)
Jack, a horror novelist, gets to know a baker named Gabriel when he joins a softball team to help his friend Shane. This has an opposites attract trope with great sexual tension and friends as extended family. This is about fitting into someone’s life and making room for them to fit into yours–giving each other a safe space and carving out shared time, while still having their own interests. Also, not letting fear or the past get in the way of the future.
Xio Axelrod When Frankie Meets Johnny (M/M, 4.25 stars)
DJ meets contractor/teacher in this hurt/comfort tale with an age gap. This story is what you make it. I highly recommend listening to all the songs that he plays for a hell of a good time. If an artist is mentioned, but not a song, pick one that has a title that fits the scene. I would have rated this higher, but I couldn’t tell if this was Johnny’s first time with a man or he was demisexual? There is certainly a misunderstanding I think could have been handled better, but the story is charming.
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Rating: 5 stars out of 5 Paris is a successful artist who picks up Roy, a maintenance man, at his gallery showing. He’s trying to get away from his overbearing sister, Julia and the patrons who all want a piece of him. This one night stand doesn’t go like all his others. By the time […]
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 Lyncoln has had a night job working maintenance at Laurel Hill Mall for the past ten years. The James family owns the mall and Adam James, IV, is in charge of renovation. After a disaster, they are staying in the fallout shelter in the basement of the mall theater. […]
This is the third book in the Love You So series. I have not read the first two and didn’t feel like I missed anything at all so I would call this a standalone. I admit having a bias here as I went to school in and worked in Orange County, CA where this and a lot of her books are set. Tara Lain usually does the blue collar/wealthy trope well. She has reigned in the fabulousness for this one, although there is still a little OTT plot point.
Artie, a plumber working on a job in a concert hall gets to hear some of the music played for rehearsals. We know by his POV that it’s a unique experience for him. When we see the rest of his life–his work buddies, his family–we understand how he only superficially fits into his own life. His quirks as they are called, his interests, hobbies, what moves him, are what flesh him out as a person for the readers.
Francois is a rich, famous classical pianist who loves composing, but has anxiety performing because of the crowds. He lives with his overbearing mother in an exclusive gated community. They meet when Artie is hired to take over work on the guest house, being built in the back of the main house. Artie is enchanted by the music and then attracted by the man. Francois has been home schooled and is socially awkward, but he’s intrigued by Artie.
As Artie and Francois become friends, I found the interactions between them charming. Artie has spent so long pretending to be what everyone expects him to be, he is lonely. While Francois is out, Artie is not–not even to Francois. Of course, I’m happy when that changes. Some people just click when they meet and it just works. Francois having met Artie is the impetus for him to start trading security for some independence. Artie needs to stop living to accommodate everyone else in his life and start living for himself. Have you ever had someone say the right thing to you at the right time? Don, Artie’s landlord gives Artie something to think about that changes the way he looks at things. Francois’s epiphany comes during a much more traumatic experience.
At first I didn’t really like Francois’s mom, but then once we get to know her more she becomes more human and she does actually care for her son. Her idea of what’s best for him and his idea of what’s best for him don’t always gel. I could say the same for Artie’s family, but when they needed to step up and be supportive, they were so that’s all that matters. Right? So, yes, everything is resolved easily and there is some fan girl nodding to her favorite authors. Not everything has to be angsty. While I’m the first to say I like realistic stories, I like a good fantasy to cheer me up also. Sometimes the world is dark enough and I want to escape into a well written cheerful happy, sappy gay romance novel. This hit the spot.
I would rate this 4 stars.
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