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review 2017-01-10 00:38
ARC Review: Do Not Disturb by Chris Scully
Do Not Disturb: 3 Short Stories of Erotic Romance - Chris Scully

I snagged an ARC of this when it was offered on FB (thanks, Chris) and got to reading. Three erotic short stories with a bit of romance? Sign me right up!

I love Chris Scully's stories. Until September still ranks high on my list of excellent books, and while Do Not Disturb isn't so much about the romance as it is about the erotic bedroom exploits, it delivered what it promised - a great fun time! All three stories take place at the same small hotel.

In Watch Me, we meet Win, a night audit clerk who works the overnight shift, and Lucas, his colleague, who works the shift before him. Win is also dealing with his father's Alzheimer's and the realization that he'll have to put him in a home sooner rather than later. Lucas is a bit younger than Win and flirts shamelessly with almost everyone he meets.

The author introduces her characters easily and gives the reader information about them by weaving it effortlessly into narrative and dialogue. And quickly sets up the plot - Win spilled coffee on his suit jacket which necessitates borrowing Lucas' jacket which leads him to find a handwritten note in the jacket pocket which leads him to a website which lets him see something he never expected. Win is also a jealous ass and a bit stupid and a bit closeted, so not only did I get some erotic scenes, but also some real plot. I adored Lucas, who seemed steadfast and not a pushover, and I liked Win well enough to forgive him his stupid jealousy. Written in the first person, past tense, this was a lovely little amuse-bouche.

In Wedded, we meet Dave, married for 25 years, who's sitting in the hotel's bar and just took his wedding band off his finger. He's thinking about Pat, his spouse, and how things with Pat have gotten a bit boring in the sheets after so many years of marriage. He loves Pat, there's no doubt, but he's also in need of a bit of excitement. And the tall and broad-shouldered guy Dave is ogling in the mirror above the bar looks like he might fit the bill to bring back some spice into Dave's life.

While this little ditty is written in the 3rd person, present tense, which fits the mood of the story perfectly, the author again effortlessly weaves in sufficient information about Dave (and Pat) to make him seem like a real person with real desires and needs. Dave is about to embark on a clandestine meeting in one of the hotel's rooms. There's a twist to the story at the end, one which I saw coming, but I didn't mind that at all. What I enjoyed especially was how well the author brought across her characters' almost breathless excitement - super hawt too!

In Wanted, we are introduced to Evan who nearly died in a mall shooting and is now determined to check one huge thing of his bucket list - having sex with a man. See, Evan realizes he's at least bi-curious. Sex with girls is fine, but there's something about a hot, sweaty man. One Craigslist ad later, and Evan is at the hotel bar hoping to meet up with Graham, who answered his ad.

Except Graham is expecting to meet his sister, not another guy, and things are a bit awkward for a little while, and seem to derail before that train has even left the station. Eventually, they do end up in the room Evan has reserved and bi-curious is curious no longer - he's all in.

What I really liked about this story is that throughout their encounter, the two men share more than just bodily fluids. They talk. They confess. They're open and honest, and their connection grows by leaps and bounds. I would LOVE to see more of them, even if it's just a novella. I think there's potential here. Lots of it. How they meet is unconventional, sure, but their story has only just begun. This short is written in the 3rd person, past tense.

Three very different stories, with three very different couplings, all connected by a common thread. In each, the author gave me something to like about her characters and a reason to take a cold shower. What's not to love?

** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2016-12-24 00:40
ARC Review: Popcorn Garlands (Bah Humbug Dreamspinner Advent Calendar) by Ariel Tachna
Popcorn Garlands (2016 Advent Calendar - Bah Humbug) - Ariel Tachna

This short story from the 2016 Dreamspinner Press Advent Calendar serves as a reminder that even when things appear bleak, there are still good people out there, who will lend a helping hand. And really, that's what the Holidays are all about, right?

Carlos Mendez owns a landscaping business and sends every extra penny he earns to his family in Mexico. He has a good crew, and he takes care of them as best as he can, which is evident when he spends a day visiting them all to give them their Christmas bonus. His men all like him a lot, which is also evident when they all step in to... well, you should read this for yourself.

Carlos is fed up with the greed and consumerism he sees all around him, noticing how most people spend and spend but care nothing for their fellow humans.

Ned Williams lives in the same apartment building as Carlos, with his daughter who has cancer. He is at wit's end, and at the end of their means, and he doesn't quite know how he'll manage to give his daughter what may be her last Christmas.

A popcorn garland Ned has made with his daughter for decoration bring Carlos to their door. And then the true meaning of Christmas visits them both.

While we don't really see the two men interact a whole lot, and while there are but romantic undertones instead of an actual romance (which makes this book feel to some extent like a prequel, like the author is planning a whole book for them, and is whetting our appetite with this short novella), the characters feel realistic enough. I would like to know more about them, for sure.

What I loved most about this novella is that it conveys the true meaning of Christmas - helping your fellow man, rallying around those who are in need, and celebrating love, friendship, and family.

A sweet, somewhat fluffy story, one with which to curl up by the fire, with a blanket and your favorite hot beverage.

Nicely done.

** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2016-07-03 01:50
Book Review: Puppy Love by J.R. Barten
Puppy Love - J.R. Barten

Jack hasn't had much luck with relationships, so he's recently adopted a dog named Angus, whom he adores. He's a bit taken aback when someone at the dog park accuses Angus of getting her dog pregnant. Jack's a good guy and thus offers to help with any cost and such.

This brings him to Sean who's fostering the female dog that Angus impregnated.

Jack has some self-confidence issues, likely brought on by the ex-boyfriend, but Sean has no such trouble and starts pursuing Jack.

I liked the characters, and the plot, in this novella. The writing was fine for the most part, even though the dialogue felt a bit stilted on occasion. The romance happens rather quickly, which is expected for how short the story is, but what bothered me is that Jack threw out his convictions too quickly for my taste. The "when you know, you know" didn't really work for me here.

The dogs were fun, and seeing both Jack and Sean be good doggie parents was also a positive.

I didn't like Sean's sister (the one who accuses Angus). The other sister was nice enough, I suppose, though we don't find out much about them in the book due to its shortness.

Overall a sweet story that didn't take me long to read. Enjoyable, for sure.

** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2016-05-19 01:53
Book Review: Boys Who Go Bump In The Night by JL Merrow and Josephine Myles
Boys Who Go Bump in the Night (Mad About the Brit Boys Book 2) - JL Merrow,Josephine Myles

This book is a collection of 5 stories, written by JL Merrow (3) and Josephine Myles (2). All of these were previously published in various forms.

I'll review each one separately:

1. Leeches And Layabouts - JL Merrow:
Super cute and super fun story about a garlic farmer who is suddenly a vampire and therefore allergic to garlic, seeking an employee to help with the garlic farming who's not a vampire. In this alternate universe story, humans are aware of vampires and other supernatural creatures, so no drama here about that. The layabout in the title refers to the human, who's a bit of a bum, lazy, and doesn't want to have a job, but then sees the advantage of working for and sexing up a hot vamp. Amusing and clever.

2. Something Queer - Josephine Myles:
A young man enters the cellar at the pub where he works and is molested sexed up by a ghost. All while fully dressed. Disappearing spunk included. Not my favorite of the bunch.

3. Sacrifice - JL Merrow:
I didn't get this story at all. I liked the beginning and what I thought was the middle, which turned out to be the end. Hot virginal sexing (the sacrifice) in a field surrounded by stones and supernatural powers notwithstanding, I just didn't get it.

4. Et In Orcadia - JL Merrow:
Man who lost his lover to the sea meets another man in a wetsuit, who also knew his dead lover. They seek comfort in each other, and that part was really well done. I had an inkling that the wetsuit wasn't a wetsuit, but that the man was a Selkie, when he wouldn't allow it to be touched. A nice hurt/comfort story that I would have liked to be longer and a bit more exploratory of their relationship.

5. One Last Wish - Josephine Myles:
This was probably my favorite of them, with the 1st one a close second. Stoner rubs a brass lamp, and out pops a genie. A Djinn. Who has to grant him three wishes. As this story is told entirely in the Djinn's POV, it's not only hilarious fun, but also super sweet. Djinn realizes that his new master is nothing like the others, and that by granting the wishes, he gets what he's wanted as well. Also, sexy times. With a Djinn!

Overall, I'd give this collection 3 stars, with some rating higher than others. It was a fun way to spend a few hours.

** I received a free copy of this book from its authors. A positive review was not promise in return. **

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review 2016-01-04 01:59
ARC Review: The Boys Of Banana Court: Mitch And Austin by Alex Carreras
The Boys Of Banana Court: Mitch And Austin - Alex Carreras

Young, gay college students living it up on Florida's west coast, while working part-time and having all the fun. A little too much naughty times, self-inflicted and/or coupled, for how short this book is.

Young and hot Mitch Montgomery has just moved into an apartment with his best friend Josh and landed a job at the most fabulous gay gym around, while also attending community college part-time. He's still nursing some disappointment after blowing out his knee during a football game which ruined his chances at playing college ball.

Right across the hall is Austin Grey, also young and hot, who is still hung up on his fat past.

Since this is a small world, Austin used to be in the same high school as Mitch and Josh, but didn't look the way he does now, which explains why neither Mitch nor Josh initially recognize him.

Mitch just sees a hot piece of ass and wants to get his hands on that.

Austin still sees his former fat self whenever he looks in the mirror.

There's a bit too much drama in this novella for my taste, especially since it raises some big conflicts - Mitch's divorced parents and his almost non-existent relationship with dear old dad, Austin's hang-ups with his self-image and the trouble with his mother, plus his reaction once Mitch realizes who he is - but doesn't delve deeply enough into the issues it tries to cover.

Kudos to Mitch though for taking his head out of his ass and fixing what he and Josh broke.

Therefore, this isn't a bad way to spend your lunch hour (bring a towel), but it's also not anything to be taken seriously. This appears to be a series, as this is billed as book 1. I may have to check out the next one when available.

** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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