Review: Unveiled (Master Chronicles #2) by Jamie Craig

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Gideon and Jesse work together as private investigators and after years of friendship, become an established couple in book one. This isn’t difficult to follow if you haven’t read the first book, but your understanding of the characters will be very different. The case investigated here revolves around a missing young woman found killed after an exclusive party. Right after leaving a hideous crime scene where Jesse is emotionally devastated, Jesse and Gideon go to the vampire club Sangre where they participate in a gang bang that involves other vampires and a lot of blood. Why this isn’t traumatic for Jesse after the way the woman was killed, is a mystery to me. While there they rescue an empath named Emma who can sense and transmit the feelings of others.

The world building never had a hint of anything else paranormal except vampires, so it felt abrupt to have an empath thrown in to this world. The vampires must know Gideon works with the police. Why would they do anything illegal like sell him a human slave? They were able to rescue Emma because no one already “owned” her, so if she had already been bought, they wouldn’t have helped her? The author seems to skirt the line, maybe not wanting to go into non consensual territory, but that’s too little too late with these characters. Clearly there are limits and rules as to when they are the good guys. In book one, Gideon is not always shown in the best light so it felt like here, Emma was used to reassure the audience (and Michelle and Jesse) that he really is a good guy. I’m not sure why this is actually necessary since the audience can have more of Gideon’s POV any time the author chooses to write more of it. Both main characters seem pansexual so adding Emma into their mix wouldn’t be too unexpected if it were just sex, but laying the groundwork to add her to their relationship was unexpected. In this book, she is just used for titillation–a will they, won’t they–that could be expanded upon in later books.

Emma is also utilized to give them a lead on the case; she was taken while trying to find her sister, who went missing after dating a vampire. I didn’t like when a scene suddenly switched to Emma’s point of view for a very short time. The usual POV is Jesse’s. However, once Gideon and Jesse go undercover, Emma goes to help Michelle and there needed to be another point of view as action happens in different places. As the only other established character, I am unclear why this couldn’t have been Michelle’s POV. My concern is that because she’s a lesbian, and therefore will not be having sex with Jesse or Gideon, her POV is considered unimportant. For me, this seemed like a lost opportunity.

The interaction between law enforcement and the private investigators is really lacking. The world is built with humans knowing about vampires, but this is another situation where the author seems to hedge and not commit to that. Why are the police not asking Gideon for help on vampire cases? Why do the police only raid the party when Gideon says so? This is written as Gideon being the only vampire who actually cares about humans, but then the author has Rina, who was friends with the murdered woman, and promptly dismisses her of being capable of being a complex person.

While the use of humans, alive or dead, to entertain the wealthy is not an original idea, the “art” created by Jesse and Gideon with Emma’s help sounded interesting. Sadly, it wasn’t described in a way that came alive as scenery, it was used as a means to an end. The other artists and their creations weren’t shown, even though the story was Gideon’s POV at that point. Then, the final confrontation with the killer(s) fizzled out. In the end, I felt like I was left with many sex scenes, some more successful than others, without an intriguing enough plot or emotional connection to the characters to hold them all together.

The cover design is by Written Ink Designs (written-ink.com) with image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License. It shows Jesse and elements of the art exhibits mentioned in the book.

Sales Link:  JMS Books LLC |   Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 176 pages, JMS Books LLC
Published: (first published August 1st 2007)
Original Title: Unveiled (Book II of The Master Chronicles)
ASINB001JMFBPW

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Unveiled (Master Chronicles #2) by Jamie Craig — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review : The Story of Us By Logan Meredith

TheStoryofUs1500X2400

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This is told in the first person POV of Kyle, a 40-year-old construction worker and part-time student. This is meant to be a standard, realistic man meets man romance without cliches, except he falls in love a gay porn star, Lucas, better known to fans as Tommy. Kyle tells the story looking back on how they met, the way people tell something when others ask them at a dinner party, through the lens of entertainment and nostalgia that turns into first person flashbacks so the author can add in all the world-building details for the reader to picture. Their meet cute is almost ruined by a misunderstanding, but Lucas persists. Yet, the porn star issue throws Kyle for a loop and it doesn’t look like this thing is going to sprout wings.

With the 17 year age difference Kyle is worried that he’s at a different place in his life; he wants marriage, kids, pets, and a home that he’s built. This is Kyle’s POV, so the reader sees his journey to become more open minded, to overcome his doubts, learn to compromise better, and not to care so much about what other people think. Many times when I only have one point of view, I feel like I missed things or that I don’t know the other characters as well–not so here! These characters come alive and feel real. Kyle and Lucas suffer from the same insecurities many of us do. As Kyle and Lucas fall into a relationship, it’s in a bubble, so I was waiting for it to pop which the author acknowledges. This doesn’t feel cliched or full of tropes. It can be difficult to integrate two lives together with work, family, friends, schedules, belongings, hobbies, etc. This doesn’t have manufacturered crises, real life gives all of them plenty; much of the drama in our lives comes from family and friends and trying to navigate to find our own path.

Here’s the thing: porn is a job and actors are people. I have met plenty of people who chose porn as a career. I think this was mostly realistic, if romanticized and less jaded. I have gone to AEE (Adult Entertainment Expo) in Vegas, although I didn’t get to go to the AVN Award Show. At one point Kyle thinks he knows why Lucas does porn and thinks he can fix him. Thankfully he gets over himself, because he’s wrong. Lucas loves his career and he’s not ashamed of what he does for a living. The sex scenes between Kyle and Lucas are not just smoking hot, but intimate. Top, bottom, dominant, submissive, Daddy, vers–these are all just words but Lucas and Kyle make them real by roleplaying and having fun. That’s what trust is. The difference between the porn scenes and the real sex is very clear. The moment when Kyle is all in, is perfect: “I would love him like I’d learned to ride a bike—scared, but reckless, without pads or training wheels. If I crashed, my scars would tell our story.” I smiled so much, my face hurt. I don’t think I’ve read this author before, but I definitely will again. If you support choice and want a story where sex workers are positively depicted with heartwarming, real characters, give this a chance.

The cover art is by Cherith Vaughan and shows a romantic scene from one of their dates.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details: Kindle Edition, 233 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by Pride Publishing
ASINB07W57MLFC

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review : The Story of Us By Logan Meredith — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

***There is a great book by the same name by Barbara Elsborg so don’t get confused. Or, read them both!

Review: Master Of Obsidian (Master Chronicles #1) by Jamie Craig

Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

This is a dark erotic romance, with urban fantasy elements, set in Chicago. Jesse is a human who works for a vampire named Gideon doing private investigations. They’ve been hired to solve a murder that may tie to a dangerous new demon drug. This shows alternating points of view, but I still feel like I got to know Jesse better than Gideon, which may be a good thing.

One issue is the plot is obviously just to move them from one sex scene to another, which is a shame because there could have been something more interesting done with what is here. For instance, seeing more of their actual relationship before being thrown into their sexual relationship would have given this a more solid basis. More UST before they got together as well as any indication at all that Jesse was into pain before they have sex, would have made it less jarring. Seeing Jesse’s fantasies and revelling in Gideon’s angst to control himself would have added more depth. For me, the distressing part was no aftercare, even when Jesse had open wounds. Gideon doesn’t really treat Jesse with the care, the respect, the reader is told he has for him; not just in their personal interactions, but with the case they are working, where he doesn’t give Jesse vital information. At least that is acknowledged after the fact, it’s just that so much of this really should have been talked about before all the events that happen.

Between sex scenes, most of the information is told to the reader as a statement right before they need it, rather than being seen in flashbacks. I’m going to mention something that is not related to the plot, so it’s not a spoiler, but would turn many people off: I want readers to be aware there is a scene where Jesse gets off to Gideon’s snuff porn. This caused an issue for me: why is Jesse expecting better behavior from John, the blackest of mages, but then turns around and has no issue with Gideon’s past? I guess for those raised on a TV show with Angel and Spike, maybe this isn’t a big deal? But the reader doesn’t get to know enough of this supposedly good Gideon that is trying to save humans before being introduced to who he used to be. Then, there is the torture scene which really points out the problems with the world-building. One assumes, if the suspect were human, they would have involved the police, but since the suspect is a vampire (demon), they can do whatever they want to her? Obviously humans, mages, and vampires know about each other and coexist, but that is all the reader really knows about this world. In the end, I was left with a few steamy sex scenes and characters that are a bit twisted and not necessarily likeable. Even Jesse seemed more dangerously obsessed with Gideon rather than in love with him, enough to blur ethical lines and basically do whatever he wants as long as Jesse gets what he wants from Gideon.

I think for maximum enjoyment, this should be read as a series of sexual fantasies without a lot of expectations. Since it’s about vampires, expect a lot a blood. Also be aware this has a m/m/f scene, violence, torture, and Gideon sharing Jesse, so they are not monogamous in the traditional sense.

The cover art for my version was done by Cover Design: Written Ink Designs (written-ink.com) with image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License. It does communicate the BDSM elements, but not really the paranormal or investigative elements.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC | Amazon | Kobo

Book Details: Kindle Edition, 192 pages
Published September 25th 2019 by JMS Books LLC
ASINB07XWNT85S

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Master Of Obsidian (Master Chronicles #1) by Jamie Craig — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Fairground Attractions Series by L.M. Somerton

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

I read and liked the Investigating Love series by this author years ago, so I thought I would try these. This trilogy has one overarching storyline, so although each novella focuses on one couple, they have to be read in order and together for maximum enjoyment. Garth, Stevie, Adam, and Zach are friends from university who work at the local amusement park during the summer breaks. The conversation in the diner at the start of summer lets the reader know what they are in for as each character is described and labeled. The plot focuses on criminals using the park as a cover for their activities: something to further tie together these three stories of couples exploring their different kinks with a hurt/comfort trope for all. I didn’t rate the individual stories because the plot is the same and each reader will have their own preference on what type of sex scene and dynamic appeals to them. The BDSM scenes are all pretty steamy, even though I think they are only there for titillation rather than being truly moving. I also don’t think these are realistic representations of loving D/s relationships, just erotic romances with a bit of fun plot. There is a nudge nudge, wink wink quality since Criminal Minds and the Scooby gang are mentioned.

GHOST TRAIN

This one focuses on the goth of the group, Garth. He is assigned to work on the ghost train ride for the summer. Most of the details are not believable: Clem works as an investigator that helps the police so they just let Garth leave without questioning him after he discovers a dead body. This is rectified somewhat in book two and three. Clem and Garth drive straight into BDSM the next day, with bondage, when he has very little experience and it’s technically their first date. I appreciate that information is gleaned from actual conversations between the characters rather than info dumps. There are little details, like Garth getting hurt, that just don’t disappear–they stay consistently acknowledged. Garth is the bratty type of submissive for Clem, who likes the challenge and play.

Buy Links

Pride Publishing  |  Amazon UK  |  Amazon US

MERRY GO ROUND

Stevie is the sweet and shy one in this group of friends, but still no pushover. He has been assigned to the carousel. His best friend, and crush, Adam, is working security at the park. Although one assumes they have been dancing around their attraction for quite awhile, they are virgins who jump into more without talking about it. Whereas the first couple were much more serious about the BDSM, this couple seem more like they are playing at it. This matches them both being inexperienced and is generally cute. Although they are the same age and the dynamics are not all there, Adam is more like a Daddy with no age play.

Buy Links

Pride Publishing  |  Amazon UK  |  Amazon US

 

HELTER SKELTER

Zach has a crush on his former math professor Daniel, who has been dragged into the investigation since he is an expert on mathematical ciphers. He works with the police to decipher the codes the criminals are using. Now that Zach is no longer his student, he is ready to make his move. He is the strictest dom, needing a compliant sub. Again, they rush headlong into a masochistic relationship without any indication Zach would be into that until the first sex scene. There is some scary equipment use here with no discussion about anything. Zach’s father, who owns the park, has not been doing well with all the stress. It is the perfect handing over of the reins for Zach’s care as the police close in on the drug runners and the assassin Harlequin. When Clem and Daniel go to help the police, the three subs can’t resist going to see the conclusion of the investigation.

Buy Links

Pride Publishing  |  Amazon UK  | Amazon US

 

The epilogue ties up any loose plot strings and gives one more scene between Daniel and Zach. Even though there are several traumatic events in these books, (murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, threats of sexual assault, shooting, and stabbing), they all seem to be there as a reason to excuse the insta-love/lust. The BDSM is used to take everyone’s mind off the criminal investigation and fear. There is amazingly low angst in all three of these. All three couples are looking to the future as the four guys head back to college for their final year.

The cover art is by Erin Dameron-Hill. I love the covers, but they seem quite dark. While there are dark plot points, this is all a bit of fun, so I think some more amusement park colors could have signaled that. Each one highlights the submissive in that story; I think the models used match the characters well.

Book Details: ebook, 86 pages
Published February 26th 2019 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781786517234
Series: Fairground Attractions

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review:Fairground Attractions Series by L M Somerton — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Just Say the Word by Elizabeth L. Brooks & Lynn Townsend

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

This book made me destroy my process. When I’m going to review a book, I open up a notepad so while I’m reading I can put down all the important names, things I like and don’t like, and my feelings regarding what I read. Usually, by the time I’m done reading the book, the review just needs to come together with connector sentences. I had that happening until the last 25 percent of the book when I realized I was going to have to trash the whole thing and start over. The review was not looking good up until that time and then, I got the point (I hope); however, there are things I still think might have been better executed.

The story is about an established couple, who after a year together start on a journey of adding kink to their love life. Tom is a prosecutor who met his boyfriend Gage, a police detective, at work. Much is made of Tom being an experienced dom and switch. Gabe is the bisexual, widowed vanilla guy in this scenario. I like how a few pages in, I knew everything I need to know about everyone involved, just from a natural sounding conversation instead of an info dump. Having said that, it does seem strange that Tom hasn’t really shared anything about his sexual history with Gage until one of his colleagues says something.

This is erotica, so don’t expect a lot of plot. Most of the book just moves them from one scene to another. The scenes focus on the actual descriptions of the various positions or tools so they aren’t even as erotic as they could be. In fact, many of them are upsetting as one thing after another goes wrong with each scene. Gabe is excited but unsure and yet when given complete control, sinks into it, at odds with the blushing novice of the previous scene. This really wouldn’t have worked without them trusting each other so well already. That is why it doesn’t make sense how Tom gets injured, especially when much is made of his previous experience later. Also, since we are getting Gabe’s POV, I’m not sure how he knows how to use the equipment and what to expect about how Tom’s reactions to bondage are going to go. Their second scene is shibari, in multiple patterns, with Gabe using instructions on his phone with no prior indication of Gabe practicing. No, that is just not believable even if there is a nod to acknowledging it isn’t.

Apparently, we missed Gabe’s first time submitting to Tom altogether, which could have been quite interesting psychologically and was a missed opportunity for some emotional depth. That might be optimistic, since the depth at that point seems to just be them calling each other baby, angel, gorgeous, babydoll, and saying I love you often. I was not feeling it. The author skips all of Gabe’s training as a sub, so it’s difficult to gauge the time frame of this book.

Since Tom is into exhibitionism, Gabe secures an invitation to an exclusive BDSM club, because Tom was well known in the scene at one time. After an intense scene, they wander the club instead of going home afterwards and Gabe is thrown into a situation that triggers him, then he has sub drop. So far, I was not impressed with Tom as either a sub, nor as a dom, who didn’t take care of Gabe properly after his first intense public scene. Then, in the next scene Gabe gets injured so I am really frustrated by now. The scene after that Gabe talks about gagging Tom, putting a vibrator in him while he is in bondage and going to sleep. That is also a no for me, especially when he is not in the proper mindset to do a scene at all after a traumatic day at work. At least he realizes it, but that is another scene gone really wrong. At this point, I am wondering if the authors are writing a what not to do manual.

Yet, it also doesn’t really work as a study of a couple exploring their kinky side together because we miss so much of their journey, it’s difficult to be emotionally invested. Having the POV be all over the place, contributed to that. By the time I actually feel the connection between the two of them, the book is almost over. The most erotic scene in the book at that point is when they are not kinky at all.

The scenes actually work better when Gabe is the dom for some reason. I’m not always a fan of accents in books, so it would be fine without the phonetics. I think there should have been more about them as people, or as a couple, other than sex scenes. If the goal was to show all the mistakes they make and how they grow over time, that could have been shown with practicing with equipment, taking classes, or other ways that were less stressful for the reader than having all the scenes end with one of them distressed, injured, or showing bad judgment. In the end, it is quite an effective reminder that most of what you read, where the dom is seemingly perfect at everything and a mind reader…that’s crap. It takes a long time, trial and error, and commitment from both parties, especially when there is experimentation, to get good at doing scenes. All doms and subs are different, will react differently, and just learning one person really well is a challenge.

The final scene is the one that goes as planned, is erotic, and shows the love they have for each other where it is written so it’s easier to connect to it. I just wish it hadn’t been quite as upsetting to get there, but then imagine being the one these things happen to, or the one who did them to the person they love. Everyone makes mistakes, but when it involves unintentionally hurting someone, or being hurt, imagine the trust and love it takes to keep coming back again and again. So, I hope that was what the book was trying to show and I have rated it accordingly.

The cover art is done by Written Ink Designs. The picture lets you know that the content of the book involves kink. I think the title is layered with meaning for the story.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC  | Amazon
Book Details: ebook, 137 pages
Published September 21st 2018 by JMS Books LLC
ISBN139781634867344

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Just Say the Word by Elizabeth L. Brooks & Lynn Townsend — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Straight To Hell By Kim Dare

Kim Dare Cover
Cover artwork by Kris Norris.

Michael is gay, out, and proud…and wants Simon pretty badly. He’s been very good–no flirting, no staring, no inappropriately touching Simon, his straight colleague. Sharing a hotel room on a business trip, Michael is expecting the talk where he has to ease his mind about that. Instead, Simon suggests a slightly different scenario, leaving Michael feeling like he is being taken advantage of, yet not willing to say no. He doesn’t want to be an experiment, and he suppresses any need to make things easier for Simon. Once Simon admits what he really wants without any wiggle room for recriminations, Michael takes control of the situation.

We start out in Michael’s POV, but as the super hot sex scene starts we switch to Simon’s POV. Then in the aftermath, we switch back to Michael’s POV so we understand what he does when he protects himself, but that doesn’t keep me from wanting to smack him upside the head. He is so focused on himself, he doesn’t provide any care for Simon and disregards everything he knows about the man he works with. One of the reoccurring themes in Kim’s books is that doms aren’t psychic and communication is key in building trust. There is a spectacular failure of communication here and since Michael caused it, Michael has to flay himself open to fix it.

The next time they come together everyone is on the same page. This is about Michael and Simon learning about each other, building trust, and Simon exploring his boundaries. It is also seriously hot. This is kink for newbies, so nothing hardcore.

I like that this is really a bisexual coming out story. With this author we always get a romantic happily ever after. Most of this author’s bibliography is short kinky stories, the majority of which are M/M, but there are a few M/F. Expect British slang in these. For anyone familiar with her work this is will fit right in, although the growth in her craft is visible. Enjoy this 20,000 word story and if you like it, like shifters, and want something longer, you can try Duck! or Axel’s Pup, both of which I highly recommend.

I would rate this 4.0 stars.

Author’s Website

Buy From Payhip

Buy From Smashwords

Buy From Amazon

Buy From Kobo

Buy From iTunes