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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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review 2014-07-16 23:42
Bait - J. Kent Messum

It’s been a lot of years since I missed my bus stop because I was so absorbed in a book. 

Now that I take the bus to work every day, I mostly use that time to read, except when I’m playing Words With Friends or observing my fellow passengers.

This book was on my radar for a while and I kept putting it off because I was afraid it would be derivative and predictable. Thanks to my Goodreads friends’ reviews, I thought I’d take a chance and dive in. I’m so glad I did!

It’s the author’s fault I missed my stop and had to walk to work in the pouring rain. I wasn’t grumpy for long, since I knew the remainder of the book awaited me as soon as I got home.

This is a very disturbing, action-packed tale that explores the effects of drug addiction and withdrawal on people’s lives and the motivations of a mysterious group of people who have their own bizarre ideas on how to address the drug problem. 

The author cleverly provides a backstory about each of the six addicts, including the events that led to their arrival on the island. They are troubled people and certainly not very likable, but I’ve always had a soft spot for addicts, and it bothered me a little that they were so desperate to get to that cache of heroin that they would risk becoming shark food.

“He spoke no more, heart twisting in his chest the same as the others. They were beyond fucked up, emotionally wrecked and chemically imbalanced to the point where they were toxic to the hearts and souls of others they came in contact with. Their personal demons had come to roost with the skeletons in their closets, resulting in a rape that produced a broken bastard love-child in each of them. This love-child, born of heroin and regret, needed constant feeding. Sacrifice was the only thing it would eat.”

Only, the story wasn’t so predictable as that. The bad guys and the sharks are not the only danger. There is much infighting among the six addicts, and I found myself trying to predict the order they would be killed and who would survive in the end. 

Read this for the action and gore, or read it to see how poor choices and lack of empathy and respect for others wreck human lives. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

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review 2014-07-16 23:38
Puckish - Wart Hill


I really enjoyed this wonderfully fun and quirky story.

One guy is quietly grading papers in a café and discreetly admires a man who walks in. All seems normal until the music starts to play.

“Moments later, a haunting, lyrical piece began to play, filling the small café with captivating, impossible music.”

His life completely changes when he decides not to vacate the table the unusual man is now sitting at, even though he is convinced the man is crazy.

I loved Minoru’s humorous inner thoughts, their conversations, and the magical mixed in with the ordinary. He is now in a world that isn’t supposed to exist and Charys has a very important mission. The story takes a dark turn and moves along at a faster pace as events escalate. 

The chapter headings and literary references are clever and very much suit this story.

Definitely read this if you want to learn a little-known fact about William Shakespeare!

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review 2014-06-09 00:57
The Demise of Bobby & Clyde
The Demise of Bobby & Clyde - Stephen del Mar

Bobby and Clyde are caught in a furious storm after robbing a bank. Once their car runs out of gas, they hide it behind a wall and seek refuge in an old house. While Clyde and Bobby explore, the house slowly reveals its ugly secrets.

This is a fast-paced, ominous, moody and romantic story. Even though Bobby and Clyde have screwed up multiple times in life, I loved that they get a second chance.

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