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review 2015-11-21 20:22
Bedtimes Stories Anthology
Bedtime Stories (Anthology) - Lena Austin;Shelby Morgen;Marteeka Karland;Renee George;B.J. McCall;Hunter Raines;Anne Kane

Reviewer: SheReadsAlot

Genre: M/M Anthology


Review: 3.5 Hearts (well 3.625 to be exact--excluding Frangipani Kisses with is a DNF) -- As with most anthologies, there are stronger stories and some that just don't make the cut. I actually had to DNF only one story (which I rarely do) but it was a chore to get through. Not the style for me at all. The other six stories, however were creative and had a lot of ginger hair love. (I thank you) From fantasy to contemporary, it had a little bit of everything. I think you can tell which were my favorite of the bunch. ;) All in all, I had a good time.


Whiskey Wishes by Anna Martin - 3.5 Hearts - There is something about Anna Martin's tone that is enchanting. I was swept away in this sweet romance between a whiskey distillery worker and an artist in "Whiskey Wishes". Set in modern day Ireland, the story is told by James, the not quite out whiskey worker who comes from a big family, has a disability but doesn't hold him back from achieving his dreams and didn't think any man would ever catch his eye in his small hometown. His sister raves about the hot artist newcomer staying about the pub, Aiden. And Aiden bumps into James and kismet steps in. James tries to ignore the lust he feels for Aiden but he can't. The two fall into sweet love and learn about each other. I think the mysterious Aiden's secret came a little late in the story. It wasn't a big surprise (I actually thought he was going to be something paranormal - might've been wishful thinking) but he charmed me. As he did James. I loved this little glimpse into both mens' lives. Sweet, soft story.


Flickers by Tia Fielding - 2.75 Hearts - WTF? I can't believe I liked this but I did. Ghost! Ack! I can't stand them in fiction. This is a weird ghost story with a mix of out/gay-for-you, mystery and paranormal? Set in modern day Kentucky, landscaper Ben is in "denial" of being gay (but seems to be a self-hating gay, IMO) He prefers "straight people over the gay ones", he has a gay ghost haunting him- staring at his naked ass, making him uncomfortable. The ghost ends up having a sad story and Ben has to get to the bottom of finding out why the ghost chose him. He solves the mystery on hunky, ginger bear artist, Adrian DuBois' doorstep, or in his case barn step. Ben was not a likeable character but there was something about him that kept me reading. The author took pretty cool elements and tried to create a story but it was too short to get the full effect. We go from Ben being deep in the closet and way in denial about being gay, solving the mystery and the epilogue where he's out and engaged to Adrian. Huh? Where are the other 75 pages detailing how Ben went from one extreme to the next? The ghost mystery was different and the way the ghost stayed true vegan even after death was funny. But the huge time jump and no explanation on how the men got there was too jarring not effect my enjoyment of the entire package.


Click Your Heels Three Times by Blaine D. Arden - 2.5 Hearts - I'm torn on how to rate this, so I'm going middle of the fence. Decent enough elements but the execution fell short. Set in a fantasy or magic using alternate universe, prince Theo is serving in his country's army as a soldier. His general wants him to marry his ginger mage sin, Munkin. But the prince is already taken by leather maker Wyvern. In the sexless short, Theo is cast in a spell that felt sort of Lost-esque. The spell traps Theo on a deserted island where things aren't as they seem. The story dives in weird and when animals and food baskets and replays of past conversations became involved. The bit of suspense with Theo getting off the island was odd. Not cohesive enough to pull the overall effect. I was interested in seeing what was great about Wyvern, why the prince chose to serve for his country and there was a crumb of snark that never developed. :(


Frangipani Kisses by Liam Livings - DNF Delight - It's not that this was gay fiction rather than romance. It's not that the story is more about an older gay man's reflection on self-realization after losing his career and volunteering at a charity store. It's the weird story-telling. It was very British but yet it was boring and dry. I gave up after the first chapter. I could feel a headache start so instead of suffering, I dnf-ed. It's a rarity (for me) but I had to. Not interesting enough.


Charmed by M.J. O'Shea - 3.5 Hearts - This was cute! It was a modern fairy tale...sort of. It was a little Coyote Uglymeets The Taming of the Shrew meets Cinderella's Glass Slipper. Set in NYC, it features a double redheaded pairing - Luke, the NYU photography student was a little dreamy and romantic & Kelly - the Southern strawberry blonde bartender that rules the bar as an ice prince. The beginning totally hooked me. I got lost in middle but the ending was sweet and I remained engaged. Kelly thinks he's on top of the little world he rules. He's untouchable, everyone wants him and he doesn't want anyone...unless its just to hit and quit. And despite all of his bluster, he takes on look at Luke and falls so deep. Luke takes him around the city and slows down Kelly's hectic, slam and bam ways. it's cute. This is sex free and it shows romance doesn't have to be all about sex. Kelly did make a jerk move though. I think Luke forgave him too quickly but it's fairytale-esque so...I guess it works for them. Overall, I liked.


Torch by Kit Muellender - 4.5 Hearts - Oh wow! I was pleasantly surprised with this one. This was a full out novella, enough depth given to the main character, a slow reveal of who would be the main character's love interest and an honest to goodness fairy tale feel kind of romantic story. Told in modern day...UK (it reads like the author is from there), Jem is a doctor who is openly gay and lonely. Well not that lonely because he has the jazz club next door to keep him company. He listens through the window, has done this for years and has somehow fallen for the Thursday night's performer. He hasn't step foot inside but that voice gets him off. It calms him down from a hectic day. It soothes him.He needs it from working in a hospital with 12 hour shifts and crabby coworkers. I'm trying not to give away who is the love interest because it's not readily obvious at first read. And everyone who tries this should have to the chance to experience this rose bloom (you know, a story that starts lightly furled until its ready to open its petals) But I will say the ambience and the mood written was one of the strongest in the bunch. And this is the author's only work? Please continue to write more words. Please and thank you.


Miles To Go by B. Snow - 5 Hearts Hands down favorite of the anthology!

“There's a reason straight men call us 'cocksuckers'. I've just never understood why it's considered an insult.”


This story is not without flaws but damn was it a breath of fresh air. The reactions, I think it was the reactions of the main character that got to me the most. The story is definitely one of the stronger of the bunch and not without a more closer to unique situation. And the undercurrent of humor that was laced throughout. When you read a story that fits like a glove, you just have to crow about it. Am I right?

Redheaded architect Joe is currently married with a wife and adorable son. But his wife and childhood sweetheart, has realized her husband is gay and set up 7 different dates for him to realize he was gay too. Joe wants to go back to regular life with his only love and is very sure he's straight. His wife hires a grad student babysitter, Danny, to watch her kid while Joe goes on his dates. Oh and Danny is gay. And snarky.

"You don't mind that I'm straight?"
"Joe, my boy, you're not straight."
"Why does everyone keep saying that? What the hell am I missing?"
"I don't know, but it will be so exciting when you figure it out."


Joe goes on dating disasters and Danny helps him unwind from the horrors with an anecdote or beer or sometimes both. It's great. The writing was fine, very fine. The characters had some depth and reading the deconstruction of Joe's marriage...it kinda touched me? I dunno. I really felt it for him. He really put in a valiant effort. But he finally discovers a part of himself he's never gave wings to fly. P.S. No sex and sooooooooo not necessary.


Totally reading more of this author.


Source: heartsonfirereviews.com/review-bedtimes-stories-anthology
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review 2014-04-03 04:46
Prince's Valentine - Hunter Raines

2.5 stars. Kinda pricey for a story I read in a half hour (which definitely took some of my enjoyment away).

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review 2014-02-21 17:42
Hunter Raines – The Groom Wore Nothing at All
The Groom Wore Nothing at All - Hunter Raines

Reviewed by: Diane


Summary: Hot-shot lawyer Matthew Owens has it all: a great job, a supportive family, and a fiancée who’s as professional and well respected as he is. Or at least, that’s what he’d like everyone to think. The truth is that Joe Khalousi may be an accountant, but he does the books for a strip club. It’s not exactly the kind of job Matt’s family had in mind for their future son-in-law.


Worse, Joe is covered in tattoos. They run up one arm and down the other, blanket his back, while some even mark other, more private, places. Matt loves to run his tongue along every one of those inky markings, but he’d be mortified if his friends and family ever found out what Joe hides beneath his pinstriped suits.


Yet when Joe’s desperate employer recruits him to provide the night’s entertainment at the Purple Pecker Club during their monthly Tattoo Madness event, all his secrets are revealed. Joe doesn’t know Matt’s friends have brought him to the club for his bachelor party, and Matt certainly has no idea Joe is going to be the main attraction.


When the stage lights come on, will Joe and Matt’s relationship vanish as quickly as Joe’s clothes? Or will this be the red-hot wake-up call Matt needs to decide whether his attraction to Joe is only skin deep?


Review:  Matt and Joe have been together for two years, they are getting married and neither could be happier.  Matt is a lawyer, working in a high end law firm, believing that he has to maintain a certain persona at work and even amongst his friends, who are all ivy league lawyers as well.  Joe is an Accountant, but he did not come from easy street or ivy league, he worked hard and he works for his childhood bestfriend at his bar, which happens to be a gay strip club.  A detail Matt has never shared with his friends or his family.  For his bachelor party, he thinks he and his friends are going to one of their usual bars for some drinks, but his friends show up in party gear because they are taking him to a strip club for his bachelor party – at the same time, Ben, Joe’s friend and boss has come down with chicken pox and cannot perform.  They need a tattooed performer for the theme night, none of the other dancers fit the bill, then Ben remembers Joe has tattoos, another detail Matt has not shared with his friends and talks Joe into dancing for the show and the bachelor party that booked a private dance. The story is told from alternating points of view of Matt and Joe.


I love it when I read a book that is my first of a certain author, but not their first book, and part way through I’m thinking “I need to look up their other books”!  That is exactly what happened with this book and author.


This was a short novella, but it certainly did not feel that way for how the detail you got on how the men met, how they are connected with their friends and got to where they are now getting married.  There really is no doubt about their feelings for each other and it was only a matter of time until the omissions Matt had left with everyone were going to come out, they just were not expecting it to be on the eve of their wedding!


I can’t say much more than the description without giving too much away, but there are some incredibly hot scenes in this book, and I will say that if you like a bit of voyeurism, you will really enjoy the scene at the club.  And I did enjoy reading those scenes, but what I liked most is that the relationship and the feelings were still primary for the story and the characters did take the time to talk, even if Matt initially wanted to run and hide.


A great story, I’d love to read a book about Ben at some point, but I will definitely be buying more Hunter Raines books!  I’d recommend this for romance and erotica readers, especially if they like sex in public places!  But the romance definitely comes in with the fact that most of the story happens the night before a wedding!

Source: heartsonfirereviews.com/?p=25342
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review 2014-01-17 22:46
Fun but could have been more
The Groom Wore Nothing at All - Hunter Raines

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Matthew Owens is as straight laced as they come, or so it would seem. He is a successful lawyer with a reputation to uphold. He is also deeply in love with his fiancé, Joe Khalousi and on the surface it would appear that Joe is as respectable as Matt is. Except that while Joe is an accountant he does the books for a strip club, a detail Matt prefers not to mention to his colleagues, friends and family. Just as Joe’s tattoos are kept well hidden unless the two men are on their own.


It is the evening before Matt and Joe’s wedding and much to Matt’s horror his friends decide to surprise him. Instead of a quiet dinner followed by a few drinks they are taking Matt to a strip club, where they have a very special surprise planned for him.


When Joe’s employer all but begs Joe to perform as a stripper for just one night, Joe finds it hard to refuse. His boss is also his lifelong friend and desperate. It is only just before he goes on stage that Joe finds out he’ll also have to perform a private dance for an unsuspecting member of a bachelor party.


Neither Joe nor Matt knows their worlds are about to collide. When the lights come on and all secrets are revealed it is make or break time for these two men. Is the love between them enough to overcome the differences or are Matt’s hang-ups about respectability going to end their marriage before they’ve even taken their vows?


Let me start by saying that this is a short and rather sex driven novella. While we do get to know Matt and Joe it is really only in the context of the 24 hours or so this story spans. So we discover that Joe is a bit of a bad boy; tattooed, working in a sex club and rather dominant. Yet, he isn’t completely one dimensional because it is perfectly clear that he cares deeply for Matt. He’s prepared to cover up when he meets his partner’s friends, family and colleagues and goes out of his way to get in touch with Matt before going on stage.


Matt was, for me, not as well established as Joe. For most of the story he seemed to be unsure of what he wanted, needed and should be doing. I couldn’t help wondering if he should be marrying at all if he wouldn’t allow his future husband to be himself around the other people in Matt’s life. Having said that, Matt’s ambivalence about Joe and their relationship did make the moment when he gives in to his feelings and shuts his mind up, all the more powerful.


I did have my doubts about the final scene in the book. I can’t and won’t describe it since I don’t believe in spoilers, but do need to say that I wasn’t convinced that what was described there is really possible, never mind advisable. Still, it was a beautiful way to end story.


There were other parts of the book I really enjoyed. The hot phone call between Matt and Joe was a wonderful way of throwing the reader straight into the action and I loved the way Joe discovers the delights of and the power derived from stripping while doing his friend and boss a favour. I was less convinced that Matt, being the rather stuck up person that he is, would really have reacted the way he did. But, again, it did make the story a hot delight.


I don’t want to sound negative about this book. It is a well written story; it captures the reader’s attention right from the start and the smooth writing and intriguing story make sure that attention never wavers.  

Overall I would say that this story is as at least as much about the act of lovemaking as it is about the actual love and relationship between these two men. There is nothing wrong with that of course, but I wouldn’t have minded reading a little bit more about the emotions that drive the characters. As a description of one man’s sexual liberation this story worked relatively well. I’m not convinced that anybody would make a complete turnaround as quickly as Matt does in this book, but I liked the idea and enjoyed all the heat between Joe and Matt. It is almost a shame this story was as short as it was. I can’t help feeling that more words would have turned this nice story into a fascinating book.

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review 2013-09-06 00:00
Sight Unseen
Sight Unseen - Hunter Raines I have mixed feelings about this book. If I had to use one sentence to describe it, I would say, "It fell short."

I can't say that I loved this book or that I hated it. There was an interesting concept and interesting theories that had to do with ghosts, poltergeists, energy strands, orbs, manifestations, possessions and ultimately, an exorcism. But still some of those issues were not fully explained or (for me) they did not make sense because some of it was inconsistent. Then you have the relationship between our heroes. I didn't buy into it. Daniel was a sweetheart. Logan was an ass or at least he was for the most part of the book. The only thing they had going for them was a bad case of insta-lust that continued throughout the book to the point that it seemed more a case of priapism than sensuality because these guys could get erect at the drop of a hat or if a breeze hit them. At one point, it got ridiculous or humorous, depending on how you look a it--and that includes the time they fled from the ghost naked, and created a kilt out of one newspaper they found in the car they took refuge in. I haven't mentioned Sophie, the Psycho-ex-wife, now ghost, that wanted revenge on Logan, and was quite a strong presence throughout the book. At least her motivation was clear. Logan and Daniel, not so much.

One thing that I didn't care too much was that this book had three POV's, and it could get confusing. At Sophie's last manifestation, we had her POV, then the next sentence it was Daniels, and the next paragraph, Logans.

The book held my attention, and I liked many things about it, but maybe it required more length and some edits to bring it up to a 3.5 or 4.
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