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review 2014-07-18 03:26
Caged: Love and Treachery on the High Seas
Caged: Love and Treachery on the High Seas (Baal's Heart, #1) - Bey Deckard

The story begins with the sad life of Jon. His mom died of the weeping plague and his dad died in a fall. Jon is frail and sickly, suffering from migraines and persistent bad dreams. Unsuitable for hard physical labor, Jon’s indifferent stepfather felt his unusual empathic abilities would come in handy to help determine the guilt or innocence of the prisoners locked up in the castle’s dungeon. Jon’s next task is to help discover who is responsible for the brutal murder of a call girl at a local brothel. Suffering from ill health, Jon takes some rest after his investigation and promptly gets kidnapped by the pirate Baltsaros, and his first mate, Tom, who were made aware of Jon’s talents. Baltsaros nurses Jon back to health and asks him to join their crew. Reluctant at first, Jon then sees this as a fresh start.

The three men grow closer, but all are deeply flawed characters with enough negative experiences in their lifetime that cause their relationship to be complicated, turbulent, and downright sexy. 

Baltsaros and Tom are not quite what they seem, and Jon learns quickly that lies roll off the captain’s tongue just as easily as his knife shreds flesh. As Jon begins to spend more time with the captain, Tom’s anger and jealousy is aroused. 

I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with these three men as they fought, loved and hurt. Their many adventures, the steamy sex, and the memorable secondary characters made this story a joy to read. I especially loved the badass Katherine, whose relationship to Jon was almost sisterly and I even liked Baltsaros’ ex-wife, Abetha, who went through changes of her own. Jon’s growth throughout the story was very convincing and well portrayed. He’s a solid character with the right mix of strength and compassion that brings all three men together.

The story was very well paced with a minimum of errors, and was a satisfying length. The historical setting was vivid and realistic and the dialogue flowed naturally.

I hope the author is hard at work on the sequel, because I’m definitely on board for the next adventure!

*Book provided by author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2014-07-18 03:01
The Dark Collector
The Dark Collector - Vanessa North

Posted at Outlaw Reviews

So unexpectedly beautiful.

Oliver Conklin is grieving for his lover of 5 years, who died in a car crash a year ago.

Jeffrey Kuyper was an artist and a Dom inspired by his young, submissive lover.

Now Jeffrey’s estate is up for grabs and all Oliver wants is his last painting. With just a wave of the paddle, the Dark Collector, a big fan of Jeffrey’s work, is now its owner.

He agrees to sell Oliver the painting on the condition he spend the weekend with him and do whatever he asks. 

Oh, how I wanted to hate the Dark Collector. He took advantage of Oliver and disregarded his grief. It was his smile, his soft expressions and tenderness that warmed me up to him. Their sex is kinky, passionate, and so full of emotion. Oliver likes the feeling of being “owned”, but he remembers that this is nothing more than an arrangement they made. 

Gradually, the Dark Collector helps Oliver find himself and find peace.

“Is that what I’m doing? Making peace? I watch myself in the mirror as I lick the last few drops away. How long has it been since I’ve cared at all about the person I see in the mirror? Can the muse exist when the artist does not? How can this stranger, whose name I don’t even know, see me if I can’t?”

This is an exquisitely written story that explores a man’s grief, love, and healing. The ending is sweet and made me cry happy tears.

*Book provided by author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2014-07-16 23:54
Measured Doses
Measured Doses (Their Circumstances) - T.T. Kove

Posted at Outlaw Reviews

After a vicious beating, Chad leaves the home of his violent alcoholic father. Short on options, he drops in at the home of his former English teacher, Dion, and falls unconscious into the arms of Dion’s partner, Jeremy.

Even though Jeremy and Dion have been together a little over two years, the last four months have been difficult with the couple living like strangers and sleeping in separate beds because Dion admitted to having a fling with a former student.

Now that student is in their home, but Jeremy is no heartless man. He takes Chad in, helps heal his wounds and cooks him nourishing meals. In time, Jeremy discovers that Chad and Dion have strong feelings for each other and he himself is not immune to Chad’s vulnerability and youthful charm. 

Chad’s life has been extremely difficult. Other than a few stoner friends, he has no one he can really count on. His aunt seems kind enough, but is oblivious to Chad’s abuse at her brother’s hands. She believes instead that his mother’s death has sent him spiraling into drug and alcohol abuse, so she sends him to group therapy. 

Jeremy is still angry and hurt by Dion’s infidelity, and Chad blames himself for the tension in their relationship. Jeremy takes matters into his own hands to find a solution to make all three men happy. 

I love hurt/comfort stories, relationship conflicts and reconciliation, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to read this. Unfortunately, there were a number of things that didn’t work so well for me.

Dion felt guilty about the pain he caused Jeremy and though that was mentioned numerous times throughout the story, I never really got a sense of how Dion really felt. I would have liked to read more about his and Jeremy’s relationship before Chad and the events that led to the affair. Instead, we get everything from Jeremy’s perspective, which made Dion a dull and static character. I also would have liked more tension, serious conversations, and outpouring of feelings instead of Jeremy’s internal angst. 

Far too much time was spent with Chad’s stoner friends and his clueless aunt, none of whom added anything to the story. 

There were some inconsistencies with the characters’ ages and how they behaved. Early in the story, Chad was approaching 20. By the end, he was 18. This was something an editor should have caught. It was noticeable enough for me to go back to the beginning to verify his age. Dion was apparently a decade older than Chad, while Jeremy was 24. In many ways, Chad seemed a lot younger than his 18/19 years. It was hard for me to believe that Jeremy was just a few years older. The way he spoke to and treated Chad led me to believe he was considerably older. 

While I’m glad they reconciled in the end, I felt it was a bit rushed. There was too much emphasis on the sexual aspect of their relationship and not enough on the emotional. 

I enjoyed parts of this story, others not so much, but I would definitely be interested in a sequel, just to see if Chad can overcome the difficulties in his young life and to see whether these three men can remain happily together. 

*Book provided by author in exchange for an honest review.

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