First Rodeo by Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga, The Cowboy And The Dom 1

first_rodeo
Cover illustration by AJ Corza http://www.seeingstatic.com/

I would rate this book 3.25 stars.

This is the first book in a trilogy and as such is the introduction to the romance of Sam and Thomas. It’s not a cliffhanger, so the reader can just read this and be content, or read the second book coming out soon for a continuation of their relationship. When Sam’s brother James gets murdered in New York, the family sends Sam to take care of his apartment and send back his things. Both his mother and older brother Bowie put a lot of unreasonable pressure on Sam to also find James’s killer. This is supposed to be a suspense element, but it’s not the focus and stays on the back burner. When Sam meets his brother’s lover, Thomas, neither of them are expecting to need each other. Thomas is missing James and feeling the pull to help Sam, but he’s smart enough to worry the grief could lead to something unhealthy.

Sam is floundering and needs direction; he’s also too busy trying to please everyone else, he can’t seem to get his own life together. They were getting to know each other, and then suddenly Thomas is using what he’s learned about human psychology as a dom, to help Sam. I felt the transition could have been smoother, especially the part about Thomas finding out Sam is also gay. The way Sam learns about his brother James being a sub was an easy way for Sam to understand who Thomas is, who James was. The book seemed to flounder with introducing some of James’s friends, coworkers, and neighbors. No one is fleshed out, and I assume these are meant to give the reader suspects to James’s murderer? There were more jarring moments like his job interview when all of the sudden Angel, someone he met at the BDSM club, is also at the biker bar and helps him home. This seems like too huge coincidence. The main point here seems to be BDSM is healthier than bar fights. This all happens a bit too fast for me, there is still an element of Thomas taking advantage of Sam, his naivete, or even them using each other to escape processing their shared grief.

James and Sam are somewhat alike, they were brothers, but they are also different enough and those differences are never forgotten. The writing here is deftly handled so James doesn’t feel forgotten, but they are not constantly compared–rather Thomas struggles to learn how to be what Sam needs. For the subject matter, there is surprisingly low angst and guilt which seems at odds with the way the book was set up. Sam has always felt he was was supposed to stay in Emory, help with the ranch, have babies, and die there. Yet he suddenly throws off the expectations of his family quite easily and dives into a relationship with his brother’s lover. It’s good that Tommy is not an all seeing, all knowing dom. I like that he makes mistakes and recognizes them. I like that he realizes that where James fit into what he wanted, his style, Sam is much for challenging, taking him out of his comfort zone. They build their relationship and trust scene by scene, yet this is a bit messy–not just the emotions of the characters, but the writing. The sex scenes are always hot, it’s moving the characters around to get them there that seems to not flow well.

I like both these characters, so I’m a bit frustrated that the whole book isn’t as smooth as the parts are or I would have rated it much higher. With more time and effort, this could have had so much more depth, but maybe that’s just what I wanted and not where the authors wanted to take it. I’d like to see more of Sam and James, but this was all too easy, so I’d like to see more about the conflict with Sam’s family. Also, there is nothing about Thomas’s family at all. There is a little intrigue about James having different characters or roles he fulfilled for different people; I definitely would like to see more about that. For right now, James doesn’t seem like a real person, so I don’t care who killed him. I hope the second book takes more time to draw the audience into that part of the plot.

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Review: Repeat Offense by Jackie Keswick

Repeat Offence
COVER ART © 2019 Pavelle Art

I would rate this 3.75 stars.

Some of the ideas in this novella seem similar to the Dornost series by the same author. This starts with Taz’s first person POV after his death when he learns of his penance for dying before his and Hiro’s assigned time. I am using he/him even though I am not sure of Taz’s gender. They have to live out their lives apart–one as Human, the other as Guardian–until they can figure out how to be together at the moment of death. This is told through a series of vignettes that describe many of their deaths in heart wrenching detail. They learn what they are allowed and not allowed to do through trial and error. Hundreds of years of life changes them, but they find ways to keep each other from falling into despair. Hiro becomes more involved with each life, while Taz finds he prefers when he is the Guardian. I am still not sure if theirs is a romantic or platonic love. Life, even afterlife, is what happens while they are making other plans. The entire story is entertaining, focused solely on the two men. The hiccup, for me, was at the end. While I enjoyed this…I saw nothing of the Judges to make me believe this ending was plausible.

Jackie Keswick’s Website

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Review: Waited So Long by J.M. Dabney

Waited so Long
Cover by: J.M. Dabney Cover Image by: Golden Czermak (FuriousFotog) Cover Model: Caylan Hughes

I would rate this 3.5 stars.

Devon’s secret is…he wants a Daddy, but has not ever told anyone–not even his husband. After their 30 year relationship, and 20 year marriage, has ended, Devon is beaten down by life. Who would want a boy who’s almost 50? Bern, the son of Devon’s best friend just returned from the service. Devon has no idea that Bern has always wanted him. What was once a crush, became caring nearing on obsession for Bern so that he went away to college and then joined the service. As soon as Bern learns of the divorce, he hands in his papers so he can come home and claim what he has always believed was his.

This starts in the past with Bern’s POV, which is a brilliant way to establish him as a character. His Dad Murray gets it because he had a similar dynamic with his wife. Father and son are honest with each other and he knows who his son is as a person. Bern’s upbringing and personality have resulted in him being a dominant caregiver, making him perfect for Devon. Of course, Devon has no idea. Devon’s POV lets us see his shock at Bern as a man. We get to see his sadness, his loneliness, his longing. He has never asked for what he wanted, and buried it in shame.

Bern has a plan, and takes charge…parts of this hit me as a little intense or creepy, him having studied every little thing about Devon’s likes/dislikes for YEARS. This is not just age gap, but age play. While Daddy/little is mentioned more than once, there is not too much detail–the reader is not immersed in this kink, but it has a little more than most novels out there that just use the words. Once they get together, this goes fast with explicit content. There is less dialogue, with large portions of the book happening in their heads. It is also slightly repetitive in their thoughts. I get annoyed when authors write older or younger characters unrealistically so I am happy to report that is not the case here. Devon is age appropriate when he is not a little. It’s great to see Devon embracing his submission, being less self conscious, less insecure, and unashamed about what he wants with Bern. This is a sweet, hot, wish fulfillment story.

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