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review 2017-03-30 06:36
Sweet daddy kink. It's a thing. ;D
Exposed - Bey Deckard

It's a Unicorn Bang Review! Chelsea, Sara and I get into the sweet daddy kink that is Exposed.



4.5 Hearts--Seduction by photo shoot.



A sweet love story with a side of daddy kink. Not what I expected prior to going in...


"It's like I want to crush him up into a little ball and tuck him directly into my heart..."


...but it works.

Exposed is foremost a romance between two damaged souls who happen to meet by chance one rainy night in London, of all places. Emyr is a Welsh twenty year old rising rock star. His innocent looks and provocative lyrics have a following. Greg, forty two year old Canadian web designer and photographer, couldn't imagine his luck bucking into the crying man. Emyr's face begs to be captured on camera, Greg's camera. But even more so Greg notices someone who is cracking at the seams, he's been there, is still there. So he invites a stranger to his hotel room, just to talk. And Emyr accepts.

Thus begins their connection and their path to more.

"I am, you know," he said after a moment.
"Are what?"
"Yours. Completely."
"Ha... When did I ask you that?"
"You didn't have to."



Greg is a dominant who is still reeling from his last sub and the aftermath of what he thought was a scene. It's been five years and his self imposed celibacy has never been tested as it is with Emyr. There's an innocence that is alluring. But once he sees how obedient Emyr is, well it just calls to him. From the moment these two men meet, their connection is palpable. I kept reading along, saying to myself, this couldn't really happen, could it? Meeting a rock star and tumbling into their world?




But it's Greg and Emyr's connection, their ease with one another, the way they exposed their inner workings to each other. (Not without hesitation from one of the men) That's what I bought. It's what sold me anytime I questioned an initial response.

Greg tries to back away from the celebrity. Emyr is too young, probably straight. The impromptu photo shoot/ session didn't break his celibacy. But Greg's subconscious and feelings won't be denied. The boy got under his skin.


You get sort of numb after a while when you cut off human contact, and you end up telling yourself all sorts of bullshit--like, that you don't actually need it, that it's not so bad going without--and then you carry on building a shell around yourself with these lies. But, what you don't realize is that shell is brittle and thin and made of denial, barely containing the visceral need growing in your guts like some formless, ravenous, single-minded creature.

 




Though the story is told from Greg's POV, we get a good sense of Emyr. He might be young and inexperienced, but he was mature in a lot aspects. He was persistent and willing to try new things. I loved that as the daddy kink was presented on the table, he researched! And discovered a part of himself he didn't knew existed. Greg is his first real relationship, and in a way, it's Greg's first real relationship too.


"Trust me, Daddy."
Daddy. I smiled, and he gave me a coy grin in return. "You're determined to wear me down."
"I am that."
"You're incorrigible."
"That too."


I'm a fan of age gaps, damaged protagonists with internal baggage, heroes who aren't the best at communicating their emotions. Exposed definitely has that. The angst is more internal struggles than external. Greg and Emyr have to trust, communicate. And I think it was my most favorite thing about this novel, (besides the daddy kink, duh). It was that the two communicated, even when it hurt. It was equal footing where it counted.

Now let's get to the daddy kink shall we?




Daddy kink is fairly tamer on the BDSM scale. And this story is not necessarily a formalized, contract bound pairing. It read more natural. And if you're a reader who clutches their pearl at the mention of daddy kink, this is a romance first. The daddy kink if I had to rate it on a 1 to 5 of extremes, 5 being the most hardcore, it's a 1. There was role playing, a few spankings, D/s. Bonus for the bare backing, (semi)public sex, size difference and big guy bottoming scene. I like it when daddies get breached too. ;D

If you're going in expecting hardcore scenes, you might not enjoy this as much. The sex is melting hot (hello it's a Deckard), there are definitely re-read worthy chapters. What I enjoyed about it is that it wasn't overly long drawn out scenes. Every sexual encounter read organic and fit the main characters. I did slowly grow to love the main characters, separately and as a pair. I think they're perfect for each other.

It's no surprise I enjoy this author's work and his back list varies in taste. This was the most romantic, most sweet I've ever read from him.


"You've nothing to worry about, silly--I'm yours... And you're mine, and I'll take care of that poor, neglected heart of yours just as well as I take care of that poor, neglected cock."
"Well, it's not so neglected anymore," I said, making as if to mull it over what he had said. "You do take good care of it--that bodes well for my heart, I suppose."



I'm not surprised he wrote it, the tell tale signs of his writing are all there. Vivid settings, it's a road trip for a large chunk of Exposed, I felt like I was there with the pair and the cast of side characters at each location, an interesting cast of characters (Owain, Barrie, Rose and the nain dominatrix!) that you can't help to enjoy. His side characters have a tendency to enrich his stories without overtaking the shine from the main characters. There was a little suspense-ful twist, that wasn't over dramatic. It ended a little tamer than introduced.

Overall, a great read that I'm happy to add to my favorites of 2017 list.



This is sweet for this author, not necessarily your run of the mill schmoop. So if you're looking to finally delve into this author's work, Exposed is a great place to start. (His Actor's Circle series is also on the tamer side of the Deckard spectrum)

I don't know if the author will ever return to this couple. I think their HEA is pretty solid. But maybe a possible dabble into one of their scenes? I think I'm going to miss Daddy and his boy.

Who knew photo shoots could be so seductive?

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review 2017-02-15 00:41
Slow start, fiery finish!
The Education of Sebastian - Jane Harvey-Berrick

 

You ever played the Sims and saw one of them react to a fire?

Something akin to this maybe:



Why do I bring this up?

Because the last chapter of The Education of Sebastian actually had me react like a Sims character in a panic state. I flailed, screamed, cursed and repeated all three some more.

This novel had such an unassuming beginning but finished explosively.

I can't believe how invested I was with the characters, the plot, the everything of this novel.

I already have Part 2 singing on my Kindle to me to read it like YESTERDAY!

Thirty year old Caroline is stuck in a loveless & childless marriage to an asshole Naval doctor. He treats her like a servant he has rights to fuck, emotionally belittles her at every opportunity he gets and doesn't see the prize he has laying next to him every night. See Caroline has been married for 11 years already and her husband has made her into a shell. She's weak, she knows she's weak and she hates herself.

She's moved back to California to a naval base and resumes friendship with her ex-neighbors' son, Sebastian. It's been 9 years since she saw him last and the kid has grown. Now seventeen, Sebastian is starting the framework of the man he will be. It's summer, he just graduated from high school and instead of having a last hurrah before college, he has to worry about his drunk and abusive parents. The one bright spot is Caroline, his friend and crush.

Now the premise of the book is well known, 30 year old woman and 17 year old teen start a relationship. What this book does a good job of showing is why it's plausible in Caroline and Sebastian's cases. 30 and 17? What could they have to talk about other than genital boogey?

Yes, there's a metric ton of sex--not stellar, realistic and sometimes even gross

I should say gross aftermath

(spoiler show)

were on even footing despite their ages. Mentally, they were the same. The naivete and exploration especially,

Though my major gripe with the book is the language used. Caroline was thirty. It wasn't like she was Mother Gothel. The retirement home wasn't on the horizon. Her phrasing and thoughts read way older than her age a lot of the times. I understand the author wanted to drive home the fact Caroline is older but damn did she act even more mature than her age.

Sebastian was seventeen going on twenty. But the way at times, he'd act a little older, I can equate to having to virtually raise himself, living in such a house full of hate. The story is told from Caroline's POV, so we don't get the full scope of Sebastian's abuse, only second hand telling from characters.

Speaking of characters, I liked them. It was a lot of characters to keep track of but it added to the story. Even the asshole parents and shit stain of a husband. Ches was a great friend as was Donna. I was proud of them especially in the WTF chapter (I dubbed the last chapter this)

I believed the connection Sebastian and Caroline had. It wasn't just sex. They were both very emotional...crying, whining, declaring love at a drop of a hat.

Tempestuous.

That is this book.

And I only wanted to take a peek, ended up devouring it.

And now am the proud owner of the entire series.

And I've been told the second book is better?



This one sneakily grasped my attention. Can't wait to see what #2 does.

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review 2017-02-08 05:50
Gearing up for my fave author's first MM!
Shadow's Claim - Kresley Cole

I think my love for this author's words are well documented. She's definitely one of my faves.

How? I'm still reading a series after how many years now? A decade? Little over, under?

I just open up the wallet and send over my ducats to anything remotely IAD related. I own the series, or the series owns me? Hmm...



So the Dacians...borne from one the best frigging vampires EVER, Lothaire. I will forever <3 this evil, diabolical creature. And the Dacians, his royal family are intriguing.

I finally got to this story so I can be prepared for Shadow's Seduction, Cole's first MM!


(I'm so ready)

So how was book #1? The Dacians, Salem and Lothaire saved this story.

Princess Bettina of demon realm Abbondae, half demon/half Soceri, pines for the unattainable, her childhood best friend, the demon man whore, Caspion the Tracker. They've just become immortal (that's how young these two are which helps explain why they acted so...young for lack of a better word). But Bettina's crush/love for Caspion is not returned nor will it ever be. And you can read between the lines from the start he was not attracted to her. He's the star of book #2 which answered the vibes I got from him. (The hints Cole wrote as well helped. ;P) Bettina is ravaged by a bunch of Vrekners and nearly dies.

Does she avenge her attack? No. She suffers from anxiety and PTSD. (This I had no issue with)

Prince Trehan of Dacia, is a cold blooded assassin that is the 'sword of Dacia'. Due to Caspion's meetup with a royal Dacian cousin, Trehan leaves to hunt the young demon down and finds his Bride who bloods him...Bettina.

Out of the entire Lore, the Soceri are one of my least favorites. Witches aren't normally my fave but my intro to the Soceri was Sabine, who is hands down my least fave heroine from the entire series.

Bettina is a close second.

Two heroines whose mates are too good for them, IMO. The only Soceri female who is worth rereads is Melanthe. I <3 her to pieces. Bettina was a doormat. She whines, rolls over for her guardians and lets everyone else rule her life. She is the next in line to rule the kingdom but she doesn't act like it. So soft.

Cole uses another 'immortal to the death tournament' plot device with virgin Bettina and her kingdom as prize. So it was like reading reused tea bag tea. Because you can read the same kind of tournament in the first bunch of books from Immortals After Dark with stronger female characters.

Granted, the tournament was entertaining with Bettina's guardians/ godparents as side characters. There is something about Morgana, the Queen of Sorceri that is funny to read.

And Salem, the foul-mouthed, cockney speaking, invisible phantom? I could read him all by himself, he was so entertaining. What a crass pervert! Loved him

We do get more of the vampire realm, Dacia. Their history is interesting. Trehan was a great hero - patient, calculating, confident and in love with an obstinate woman who thinks a crush with her uninterested friend is the best thing since sliced bread.

And Caspion was a dick and not worth the infatuation. I understand why Bettina was infatuated in the beginning, first crush, etc But c'mon...

he's sleeping with other people --they never made any promises

(spoiler show)



So the impossible becomes possible, hot near sex (and actual sex happens), Nix shows makes a cameo--doesn't say a thing but my Valkyrie loving heart was ecstatic for the bit role she played, and LOTHAIRE shows why he's KANG for like 5 minutes.

The story ends with a HEA, an obvious send off as to who will be the players in book #2.

I'm wavering between a 3 and 4, so I'll rate 3.5 stars

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review 2017-02-06 07:25
Refreshing New Adult MM romance...
Andre in Flight - Laura Lascarso

FOUR HEARTS--


'I've watched you sleep a thousand times.'





New-to-me Laura Lascarso is fairly new in the MM romance department. And she made an impression after reading novella, Andre in Flight.

I'm not sure how exactly to categorize it, probably contemporary new adult with a twist. The twist is everything that makes this story move. I'll try my hardest not give it away.

Set in Miami, twenty-something artist Martin works as a waiter in a Cuban fusion restaurant. His circle of friends is small, his love life is nonexistent. Other than a closeted co-worker who takes out his frustration on Martin since Martin refused him, he has no action. One day, he sees the new dishwasher, eighteen year old Andre who is full of youth and beauty. Martin's muse is captures. and there is something about the boy that captivates him. Is it his muse only? Or is it more?

The story is told in Martin's 1st POV but the reader definitely gets an equal sense of both main characters. Andre is essentially homeless, living in the worst neighborhood by exchanging sexual favors. Triggers: Past abuse, mentions of homophobic bashing. Martin takes the teen in his studio apartment...as a friend. It trips both of them out.

This is a period that I enjoy in reading budding romances, that getting to know the other person period. Hell I enjoy it in real life. Andre is a character and embodies eighteen. He's legally an adult, but sadly he's been through some rough things in his life. Sometimes he acted older than his years and then in the next page, he does something so damn eighteen!

Reading Andre and Martin move from roommates to more was great. I enjoyed the author's tone a lot. And even with the serious topics introduced, the story didn't read angst heavy. It was closer to realistic...for the most part.

Things I enjoyed:

Main Characters : both were men of color, Andre - African American and Martin - Cuban-American. And both men described a view of their world with a sense of their self. Andre, more so than Martin, he was young, black and gay in small town Alabama, where homophobia drove him away from home. Both men were characters and not caricatures with pretty skin tone.

The Twist : was not expecting it in the least though there were hints in the blurb. There's a point when it comes to ahead and I was shocked. That doesn't happen too often.

Things that weren't as strong for me:

Melissa : I'm unsure what side of the coin she's supposed to fall on. She's too ambiguous for me. (also, if Martin and Andre are subjects in this...game(?) What exactly is her story? How? I can see the why, though I think it could've went deeper.

Last 20-25% : The story gets the job done. It slowly unfurls with giving enough crumbs to move the pace along. But the last 20-25%, seemed like it could have been pushed further. Finding out the motive behind the story's villain(?) Why the main players? Will it happen again? Is there some mission? Ulterior motive? And the way one character just went away for a few weeks with no contact when they really seemed to be the puppet mater, just struck me as a  little odd. I think I quibble because I wish this story was slightly longer.

Overall, the story is certainly different. It sort of has paranormal elements but ...not quite. Is there sex? Yes, but it's overly detailed and doesn't need to be. It's more about Andre and Martin's connections. There are miscommunication issues, so if you're a reader who gets easily frustrated with that plot device, it doesn't overtake the entire book. Keep in mind it's New Adult, so expect the characters to act as such.

I think Andre in Flight read like a current snapshot of working class new adults who become friends into something more. It felt as close to real life as it could get.




Recommended? Yes. A sort of sweet, low angst glimpse at relationship that seems to stand the test of time. It has a HFN ending, which I think works for this age range.

But it's up for interpretation, sort of like Martin's artwork.

I'll be keeping my eye open for more MM from Ms. Lascarso in the future. I want to read what other ideas she has brewing.

P.S. This cover? Nom nom nom!



A copy provided for an honest review.

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review 2017-02-03 05:24
Ambitious...but the pay off didn't work for me.
Five-Sided Heart - Max MacGowan

A Hearts On Fire Review

3.5 HEARTS--Five Sided Heart by Max MacGowan is a polyamorous romance set in the Outer Banks. Told from multiple POV, the novel starts off with a funeral of one of the five men's father, Noah Trevelyan. Noah was kicked out his house for being gay at eighteen, and returned back to his hometown for the first time in years. He is an outcast to a majority of the islanders who view him as the prodigal son (in a way) but just way too late. One local who has no problem telling Noah how he feels about him is Ian, an out gay man and conservationist. He's been Noah's father's neighbor for the last 5 years. Another local doesn't share Ian's view due to having more than enough on his plate is young Ty. Ty and Ian get offered a ride on Noah's boat while trying to escape and Noah just so happens to invite two stranded strangers, Joshua and Gabriel.

What starts a good deed ends in a bit of a disaster. But the disaster is also the foundation of all the troubled men to start a relationship.

Five men in a relationship? You're probably thinking this was a fantab erotica.

Not so.

This is more of a romance, I think a little ambitious. But kudos for tackling a poly romance and trying to capture all of the mens' feelings. The story relies heavily on characters to get the story moving and, for me, it did not scratch enough of the surface for all men equally.

I have the honor of reading all of MacGowan's work, all of two. And with both books, the author has a way of piecing together the plot: with MacGowan's debut, the plot was told by different states visited. In this book, it was a different POV.

I would really like to read a simple plot from this author, that just follows the romantic leads (however many make up the partnership) where the characters get a deeper connection and further characterization. I rated both books by this author the same, but character wise, the debut was better. What did Noah do for a living? How could he stay for all those weeks with no cash flow? Gabriel and Joshua, the most damaged of the five, barely touched the surface onto their background. The crux of Ty's situation gets cutoff and somehow it left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

There were a number of times where that feeling happened- cut off scenes mostly - albeit sex scenes, the insta-connection, the kink of one of the guys. I'll stretch the rubber band of reality with five men who all just so happen to be gay on dock at the right time, who were open to be in a relationship.

And the last 15-20% was a soft finish. What's up with Ian's ex? If there was ever a guy to wish ill on, it's Ian's ex. He's a douche canoe and oddly needed to make the plot move. But the way he entered the book and the way he left, didn't match to how he was originally portrayed for me.

The men are a good group together - they all have their roles in the group: Noah is the paternal one, Ian is like a hen gathering his chicks and feeding them, Ty is happy-go-lucky and still a young pup, Gabriel is scarred, artistic and listens to what is said and unsaid and Joshua who had a rough patch is very intuitive and lives for the moment.

Good guys, I do think they'll last.

The sex takes a backseat to the romance, so if you've come for erotica, look somewhere else. It's an interesting read, but not something I'd re-read.

I think this would work best for fans of the Outer Banks and poly romances where the characters are developed just enough to keep the plot moving.

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