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Even if dealing with fairies and demons, The Care and Feeding of Sex Demons wasn't a typical paranormal romance, but a classic urban fantasy: the "menages" between human Cy, fae Patrick and sex demon August was a whirlwind of events, sometime so crazy packed that was almost difficult to understand what was happening; an example? when Cy is "feeding" August, for what I know of sex demon, that means they are having sex, but I had to read two times that scene and still am not sure they were having sex... it was more an impression that a detailed description, so if you are expecting to buy this novel for the hot sex... well maybe you have to change your expectation. But if you are searching for a crazy urban fantasy, with IKEA and McDonalds throw in the middle of it, humor and satira, well, then, this is your book.

I'm pretty sure this is part of a series, and indeed the whole book was like "viewing" an episode of a modern television fiction, those snarcky, but clever series that are the hit of the moment. I'm not really a fan of fantasy, or urban fantasy, but I'm a fan of complex characters, and all three of them, Cy, Patrick and August are the best example of multilayered characters.

Publisher: Loose Id LLC (January 13, 2014)
Amazon Kindle: The Care and Feeding of Sex Demons

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And now for something completely different... but only on the surface: truth, steampunk novels maybe be a novelty for the readers of Amy Lane, but even if the setting is fantasy, and the time is a tale, the troubled heroes are always there, the struggling to achieve an inner happiness when everything outside is crushing is there, the subtle humor that makes you smile even amidst the drama is again always there.

The author recreates a world that is a mix of pre-industrial era, when machines didn't rule the world, and yet, machines are already part of her fantasy world, but they aren't "moving" the world; if anything else, they are making it worse, used in the wrong way but powerful men... the irony of today critique moved in a fantasy world. Technology should help people, not destroy them.

The pain of the post-war heroes like Dorjan and Areau is that of a today soldier having to deal with the reality he killed civilians instead of enemies. How many today boys, just out teenagedhood, join the army with big ideas of doing the right thing and come back with nightmares that will never leave them, it they come back at all. A common theme in Amy Lane's works, so much that I did wonder how much near home she is hitting. Anyway, nothing was fantasy in Dorjan and Areau's pain, and Taern is the only medicine Dorjan's broken soul needs. It's not only about sex, even if that will be part of it, like one of the prescriptions, it was more about closeness, and filling the emptiness.

It wasn't a "comfort" read, and so it's not the ending, if you will arrive to care for all the characters, even the apparently "bad" ones, you will hurt a little in the end; in a romance all the good ones are happily living after, but well, that will not be in this story. Nevertheless, you will know they did the right thing, and that is what make them heroes.

Paperback: 340 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (December 21, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 162380244X
ISBN-13: 978-1623802448
Amazon: Under the Rushes
Amazon Kindle: Under the Rushes

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Even if I was never a huge fan of fantasy, this one was a pleasure to read. While I know the author isn't young by birth, the style was young, so that it well adapt to the purpose of the book, i.e. being a novel for young adult readers. I would have no problem to recommend this book to a young person, moreover I would probably recommend it to students, to entice them reading more. This novel will also allow them to digress with their mind, into an imaginary world that was masterfully recreated by James Elrich. And as in the best fantasy tradition, if the reader enjoyed this one, they already have 2 more books to prolong their full immersion in this world.

The recreated world is complex, but the author also managed to make it consistent, it was easy to imagine it, and again, I think that was aimed to the young adult reader, to help them focus their minds. It was also engaging, in that helped by the plot: complex like the setting, it was nevertheless speedy, not leaving dead periods with the risk of the reader being distracted.

Perhaps the reason why I enjoyed it, while I'm not a fantasy fan, is that, like the youngsters, my mind tends to wander if it's not harnessed with the story, and that didn't happened with Dreams... good job indeed.

Paperback: 252 pages
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press (December 15, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1623809169
ISBN-13: 978-1623809164
Amazon: Dreams of Fire and Gods, Dreams
Amazon Kindle: Dreams of Fire and Gods, Dreams

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The first (Toni Griffin - Archie's Accidental Kidnapping) and the second story (Angel Martinez - Hell For The Company), while different in setting, had similarities in the mood and the theme: Toni Griffin imagines shapeshifter hounds from Hell on the hunt for half-Angels going wild; during one of these quests, Adze finds his mate, not it's only a question of convincing the cute boy he isn't as bad as he looks. Archie may be only a human, but he is clever and funny, and with a wicked streak that well fit with Adze. Angel Martinez chooses a sci-fi setting, imagining a far away future in the aftermath of a war between Angels and Demons. Shax is a demon, but he is not evil, as Ness will discover: a lost Angels, Ness will be nurtured back to health by Shax, and for that Ness will be forever grateful, but that is not the reason why he falls for Shax, Shax is the life and the love Ness has always desired. In both stories there is the connections with Demons and Angels, but other than that, there is also the approach to Demons, considering them more like overgrown kids who like to play more than make war. Funny and light, both stories were right to have you smile.

Totally different mood for Freddy Mackay - Internment, a bittersweet tale about love lost, found, lost and found again; Tadashi is a kitsune, a Japanese demon with the gift to change into a fox. The gift is also a burden, when Tadashi, still grieving the loss of his lover, will search his vengeance. Berg is the local vet, used to visit the shrine of Tadashi's family on the mountain when he was a kid; he had also a crush on Tadashi at the time, but as a little kid he didn't understand his feelings, and when he meets Tadashi again as an adult, he is married and with a child coming soon. Theirs seems to be a doomed love. Being this a romance, there will be a uplifting ending, but not without the two men deeply suffering for it.

Internment stood aside from the other two stories both for the length than the mood. But in any case, longer or shorter, all three stories are good, and I enjoyed this anthology quite a lot.

Series: Mischief Corner Anthologies
Paperback: 290 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; First edition (August 29, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1495282376
ISBN-13: 978-1495282379
Amazon: The Horns & Halos Collection (Mischief Corner Anthologies) (Volume 2)
Amazon Kindle: The Horns & Halos Collection (Mischief Corner Anthologies) (Volume 2)

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The story of Brute and Gray was so sweet that I'm not ashamed to say in more than one occasion my eyes were brimming with tears. It was an out and loud crying, but more a lump in the throat, something that I managed to contain but nonetheless emotional. I was able to rein my emotions only cause, as I said, the story was sweet, even cute sometime.

Brute is not an ogre, but he is not far from it; very tall, and truth be told, quite ugly, he hadn't many chances at happiness; that he prefers men isn't apparently a problem, the problem is that male or female, no one is really attracted to him, cause before knowing him, and the good man he is, they see the ugliness, and no one has cared to go beyond that. Than a chance brings him to the court and he is apprenticed as guardian of a very special prisoner, a blind man and a witch to both. Brute didn't know Gray from before, he doesn't know what the man did, what he knows is that Gray was mistreated, and that he is hurting, and Brute doesn't like to see anyone hurt. Kindness will give space to friendship, comfort to desire, and soon enough, Brute and Gray are in love with each other, but Gray is still a captive.

I had the feeling the novel was more dramatic, I was expecting a tragedy to happen, and instead, while they have to face oddities and difficulties, the author managed to stay on a light tone, so much that, while commonly I don't like very much Fantasy novel, I truly enjoy this one, so much to list it as one of my favorites of this year.

Paperback: 270 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (December 3, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1623802261
ISBN-13: 978-1623802264
Amazon: Brute
Amazon Kindle: Brute

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Pretty nice "contemporary" fantasy romance, about a dual (meaning a born fox shapeshifter, dual cause he has two born shape, human and animal) and a male witch (actually a red witch, which, apparently, is keen on sex, but it's also monogamous) falling in love in the Sin City, Las Vegas, while investigating the strange deaths of other otherworldly creatures.

It was a good mix of humor and paranormal, that right touch of romantic comedy, with a push on romantic. Tag, the fox, is from a breed who basically approves not only menages a trois (he is a trickster, usually paired with a lord and a lady), but also polyamory in various deployment versions. Tag is bisexual, he has not really preference for men or women, probably he would be more comfortable with a pairing including both of them. But instead Paul, the witch, is bisexual as well, but he has always been more inclined to women. To both disconcerting, they are not only attracted to each other, their inner side are also considering exclusivity, something that, for the fox side of Tag has always been inconceivable.

I have to admit that more than the mystery plot involving the killer, I was more interested in the relationship between Tag and Paul, and I think the author was too, cause, while the mystery ends more or less 3/4 into the novel, the last 1/4 of the story is focused on the aftermath for Tag and Paul, and a nice too as well.

Fox's Folly is naughty and romantic, a mix that, if working, is really good experience.

Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (July 17, 2012)
Amazon Kindle: Fox's Folly (Duals and Donovans: The Different)

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Considering I love cats and that I'm pretty much of the idea that cats don't have owners, but that they chose the human who is best suited to take care of them, like a king paying a favor to a peasant, I was in line with the plot of Aloysius, the witch's familiar who is turned into the angelic beauty Alain, or maybe he is turned back? In Alain's form he falls in love with Luke, a young vet who doesn't know Alain's true form, and who doesn't question Alain's feline "quirks", on the contrary, he finds them endearing.

This was a "cute" fantasy romance, meaning that, it wasn't really pushing on the dangerous factor, but more in highlighting how pretty and flamboyant Alain was, how beautiful all supernatural creatures are, from male witches to elves to familiars who change shape. It had a some sort of yaoi flavor, maybe also due to the cover, but it was also something else, more subdued, I clearly remember that the cat-boy is indeed a recurrent theme in the yaoi novels.

Cataclysmic Shift was a light romance, a very pleasant read, especially if you are a cat lover; I don't think the reader had to dig and forcefully find a deeper meaning, if not the pleasure to spend some hours in a fantasy world. It was also naughty here and there, and truth be told, there were times when I didn't need it to be, I was happy enough with the innuendos, but that is entirely me, and instead, if you like some naughty sexy scene, you will find it here.

Publisher: Loose Id LLC (July 23, 2013)
Amazon Kindle: Cataclysmic Shift (The Aloysius Tales)

Series: The Aloysius Tales
1) Spell Cat
2) Brush with Catastrophe
3) Cataclysmic Shift

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I admit, I was ready to dislike this novella as soon as I started it: a young man in prison for a nefarious crime (killing children) has to pay his debt becoming a whore, first raped by the prison guards, and then sold to the relatives of the children he killed. I wasn’t sure what was worst, the crime he committed or the punishment he was enduring. Because the young man was basically stupid, used by others as a mean for the crime, a crime he committed not understanding the implications.

But one of those relatives, a young lord whose brother was one of the children, the older of the children to be killed, the one who was trying to save them all and died in doing so, decides to “buy” the prisoner’s debt: now the young man is living on the lord’s estate, not understanding what the lord wants from him, how he is supposed to repay him. Living on the estate, the young man has the chance to see the true from the other side, to recollect who was the young lord’s brother, how unselfish and kind he was, what great crime he committed in killing him, basically killing the whole joy of the estate and its inhabitants. For a simple boy like him, a commoner, worse than a commoner now, a slave, it seems impossible to be able to replace such loss.

I arrive to deeply care for both the young man and the young lord; towards the end, it seemed almost a fairy tale, a tragedy turned in romance… but that wasn’t surprising, cause, for what I remember, the best fairy tales are indeed tragic love stories.

Publisher: Love in Dark Settings Press (June 21, 2012)
Amazon Kindle: Debt Price (Master/Other)

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I was really enthralled by this Young Adult novel cause, aside from being fast paced and full of turn of events, it was also really funny, not a “light” funny, but more a subtle irony which was probably the author’s voice, clever and loud.

Alex is an Haffling, half-human, half-fairy (no pun intended), but of course at the beginning he doesn’t know it. What he knows is that he has to protect is little sister Alice from the Social Services on account of the fact their mother, Marilyn, is a schizophrenic. Better they don’t know that Alex is seeing a little fairy, Nimby, all the time flying around him and telling him things. And to complicate his life, Alex has also a crush on Jerod, the best looking guy at school, the sport champion, who happens to be also a very nice guy who suddenly is very interested in being Alex’s friend…

Haffling is a novel right for many ages, as an old medieval romance lover, I enjoyed the part regarding Lance and Katherine, whose love, even in tragedy, preserved an almost comedy tune; as a current gay romance lover, the young love between Alex and Jerod was sweet, but nevertheless love, and actually, I found Jerod, the apparently straight boy, to be “gayer” (a little pun intended) than half-fairy Alex (again, pun intended). An adult reader will find innuendos, but a young adult reader will simply appreciate this quest towards happiness, like a videogame with hints and enigmas, with scores and spare lives: pick the characters you want to be, and follow them into their run.

Paperback: 274 pages
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press (October 11, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1623809304
ISBN-13: 978-1623809300
Amazon: Haffling
Amazon Kindle: Haffling

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I’m not really a fantasy lover, but Nor Iron Bars a Cage bore nothing of what usually makes me stay away from these novels: even if the setting was complex and original, it wasn’t overwhelming so much it eat the story: I don’t like when I spend too much time trying to follow all the details the authors is showing off to prove they have done homework. That of Lyon and Tobin is a rendering of a Medieval kingdom, so some of it was familiar, but it was a place and time where sorcerers and ghosts not only exist, they are even common occurrences; moreover, to threw the reader a little more off the current time and into the fantasy world, time and space and how to measure it was different, there wasn’t the concept of weeks or years or miles, but similar concepts (the week is actually 6 days and not 7, the length is measure in horse feet or arrows’ arch, and so on).

But what was the most beautiful thing was the sweet love story between Lyon and Tobin: they were kids together, and young, but yes, already probably in love. Tobin, second son of a nobleman, was destined to the army, Lyon, from the middle-class, was the apprentice of a sorcerer. Tobin thought they had time, that he could go in the Army do his deed, and come back to Lyon, but when he did come back, in the end, Lyon was believed to be dead. Lyon wasn’t dead, but for him, he wasn’t far from it. He is living like an hermit, in a small cottage far from the city and he is trying to not let his tragedy kill him for good. There is no space for Tobin’s memories, or maybe, he has forced himself to forget. But when Tobin knocks at his door, everything comes back in a rush, with the only difference that he is no more the boy to whom Tobin was hoping to go back home.

Tobin is a really good man, nor before or now he lets jealousy, or passion, eating his love; he loved Lyon before and he loves him more now. Even if he is one of the more trusted men of the king, he will put Lyon before his sire. Lucky for them, homosexuality doesn’t seem to be a trouble, they are fays, and being fay isn’t a condemnation. Tobin easily admits he was fay when they were young, and with that, admitting also that he was in love with Lyon. This love will give a reason to Lyon to try to overcome his tragedy, and be ready to face life again.

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Amazon Kindle: Nor Iron Bars a Cage (Free Download)

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More than one year ago, a friend of mine told me to check out an online series cause it was really good. At the time I did read an episode, but I have so little time to read that following a serial online was almost impossible. I did like it though. Then I forgot about it. When I saw this series on Amazon, Captive Prince, the first thing that caught my eyes was the simplicity of the cover, it reminded me of, I think, Coco Chanel’s motto: there is something you can remove, the less, the better. These two volumes of a Fantasy series were climbing the bestsellers list, and it was even more amazing considering they were self-published by the author. But again, I wasn’t so convinced, Fantasy is not really my cup of tea, and moreover, I’m not really a big fan of Master/slave plots. But, oh boy, was that cover so good, and the response from the readers so widely positive, that I decided to try test the first volume (bless Kindle and the easiness to buy a book, but I have to warn you, I have three devices, Kindle, Ipad and Laptop, and the Kindle app for Laptop doesn’t work for this file, I had to read it on my Ipad).

Anyway, I was immediately reminded of that online series, and I checked with my friend, and indeed it was the same. The author published it in two volumes and the third will come soon. I was really glad cause, where personally I wouldn’t have read it online, I’m more than willing to buy it as a three volumes series.

I was also immediately contradicted on my preconceptions on Master/slave plot: sure Damen is a former prince and warrior, who for the betrayal of his own brother, is now a slave in an enemy kingdom; not only, he is supposed to serve the prince, heir to the throne, who is, to Damen, a lazy and cruel man, not worthy of his respect. Damen wants only to find a way to escape, but in a few days he will realize that there are better way than running, and that an uneasy alliance can be the solution.

I appreciate a lot that violence, non-consensual sex, and all the similar “titillations” of a common Master/slave plot weren’t part of the deal here. So much that, at the end of the first volume, I’m not even sure there will be a relationship at all between Damen and Laurent, actually I think Damen doesn’t like much Laurent, and Laurent is probably interested to someone else and not Damen. Or maybe I’m wrong, and I would be glad of that, cause Damen and Laurent together would be a powerful pairing.

Also the care for details, good but not overwhelming was of my taste. I don’t really like those heave fantasy setting, where the reader is too much distracted from the characters due to all those lengthy descriptions. Here there was the essential, and then you had the plot, that was the center piece of the story.

Series: Captive Prince
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Gatto; 2 edition (February 4, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0987507397
ISBN-13: 978-0987507396
Amazon: Captive Prince: Volume One (Volume 1)
Amazon Kindle: Captive Prince: Volume One (Volume 1)

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This is really a gay fairy tale (no pun intended) cause it’s sweet and romantic, to an innocence level that only very young mind still have, but that also an adult could appreciate, if they wanted to dream.

The story is Cinderella, from beginning to the end. The author didn’t try to divert too much from the original, and the only major change she did is to have Cinderella becoming Cinder, the young cousin of the two twin sisters from hell, Penelope and Jessalyn. Cinder will fall in love with his Prince Charming, Xavier, but Xavier is the heir to the crown, and he needs to marry to a certain age, to meet the requirement to be eligible to the throne, and his birthday is upcoming. How Xavier and Cinder will manage to achieve their happily ever after is part of the reason why you will have to read the story, cause that wasn’t in the original Cinderella fairy tale.

I liked the author maintained the story to an “ingénue” level, just some chaste kisses; I’m not sure if the two even consummate their love, cause, well, like in the old tradition, the author says and doesn’t say, leaving to the imagination of the reader to fill the dots.

Another point that I liked is how the author approached the homosexuality; first of all this is a fantasy story, so well, isn’t like there a right or wrong way, but the author simply had Cinder admit to himself he prefers men, but in a way like he was admitting he prefer fish over meat. Of course there were troubles involved, Xavier needs to marry a woman, but well, Cinder being a man wasn’t really the main issue, in a way it was more problematic that Cinder was a servant and Xavier a prince.

Publisher: Silver Publishing (February 3, 2012)
Amazon Kindle: Cinder

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This is not the first time I have the pleasure to read a Young Adult novel by Hayden Thorne, and the tastefully setting is always confirmed, story after story, novel after novel. The fantasy elements can be more or less marked, but in any case, the alternative-historical universe is always an asset.

In the main story, The Winter Garden, the story reminded me the Secret Garden, one of my favorite young adult novel when I was young. The setting is a Victorian undefined city, perhaps even London, the time is beginning of XIX century. The plot develops around two boys, to a modern concept teenagers, but for the time, practically adult; and indeed one of them, is already working with his father, behaving like a young man, drinking and talking of girls; the other instead is sheltered by his own parents due to his weak constitution and mostly spends his time in their walled garden, the same wall that the other boy climbs to meet with him and turn upside down that sheltered life.

While to an adult eyes, you can see it’s a romance between the two boys, to a reader of the same age it can be the story of a friendship lasting forever, cause no sex, not even a kiss is shared between the two boys. But that doesn’t mean the feelings are less stronger, or not real; they are so strong and real that will overcome even the realm of possible to become fantastical. That is another asset of this author, the ability to mix reality with fantasy and still maintain the story touching and moving, near to the heart of the reader. I personally was really moved by the story of these two boys, and even if they have their happily ever after, it’s bittersweet.

Amazon: The Winter Garden and Other Stories
Amazon Kindle: The Winter Garden
Paperback: 194 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 147505727X
ISBN-13: 978-1475057270

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This wasn’t really a time travel story, but the feeling was like reading one. Phil is travelling on a country road near Bath and he has an accident; alone and trapped in the car, he goes into a semi-coma that basically transport him back to the Roman Empire age and in the body of Caius, a younger man who was in an accident in the same point, only, more or less, 2000 years before. While Caius wasn’t really an expert in deception, Phil is and he is able to recognize that Caius’s accident wasn’t casual, but a plot to kill him. Problem is that, among the people around him, and possible suspect, there is also Rianorix, a barbarian who resembles strongly Ryan, Phil’s partner in the XXI century, and a man Phil was starting to find quite attractive.

If I have to be sincere, I enjoyed a lot the XXI century plot, and wasn’t really drawn into the Roman Empire one; and that is probably a good thing, cause the real romance is the modern one. Phil and Ryan are both bisexual, but they are also coming from a past where it was better to not being open on their sexual preferences; and so they haven’t confessed to each other, and when they start to feel a sexual interest stirring between them, they try to deny it.

While the story is pretty much a friends with benefits plot, or maybe even an office affair, sex isn’t really on the front stage; actually, when they really have a sexual encounter, it happens in blackness, both literally than practically. Despite that, the story is very sensual, and I had the physical perception of both characters, and the attraction between them, even without the graphic detailed sex.

Amazon: Paradox
Amazon Kindle: Paradox
Paperback: 316 pages
Publisher: Silver Publishing (May 21, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1614956766
ISBN-13: 978-1614956761


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I remember a Japanese tale from my youth about a father who managed to trick Death in a chess game, his son was supposed to die at 19 and in the end he managed to let it become 91 (the reverse number). This tale had the same mood, but young Gregory, who was supposed to die at 14, managed to gain only 7 years, and at 21 he is yet again at Death’s door, and the one who is supposed to bring him through it is Thanatos. When Gregory saw Thanatos the first time, he wasn’t scared, on the contrary, a guy who was just then starting to understand he liked boys, thought Thanatos was a very attractive man, and for the following 7 years, marked by frequent brushes with death, he always dreamed about the handsome Angel of Death. And now that is finally the time, he has only one other request for Thanatos, for him to teach him how to love and be loved.

It wasn’t easy to write a romance around a story about a boy dying at 21 years old, but the author managed it perfectly; there is no indulging in the wordly life of Gregory, and she focused instead on what happened after, how Thanatos recreates a private Paradise for the two of them, where Gregory can finally enjoy all the happiness of life without the pain of living in a body that was unable to allow him all of that.

The story is mostly sweet, even when they have sex, it’s more dream-like than erotic. If you were worried this story to be sad, or bittersweet, forget it, no sadness in it.

Amazon Kindle: Kissed by Death (Kissed by an Immortal)
Publisher: Silver Publishing (February 25, 2012)

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Considering I’m not a huge fan of heavy fantasy setting, I have to admit with a little surprise that I enjoyed this story, probably since it has something that I really love, an evil character that will you will end to cheer for, hoping not that he will redeem, but that he will be able to find love.

The setting is pure steampunk, a Victorian London society (reference to the Rose theatre and to other London landmarks), the addition of mechanical machines and some other fantasy details are the only thing that bring this novel out from the historical borders. From what I understood, a good steampunk has to be, first of all, a good historical novel, and so Mars on the Rise completely centers the target.

As I said, Erus Veetu, the dark and dangerous war lord, is my favorite character, even if I really hate as he treats Cedo; the easiest way would be for the author to let Erus be the bad villain and Cedo finding love with the more likable and friendly Billy, but Erus is a tortured soul, and of course there is a little of “nurse” syndrome in Cedo, who believes he is the one who can understand Erus and love him despite everything and everyone.

You can see sparks of goodness in Erus, like for example when he allows Cedo to take his cat Misty; he clearly says that he is doing so since it will make Cedo happy, and he wants for Cedo to be happy. And then, after all, he is not taking him captive, he more than once has given him the chance to run away, but Cedo has always came back, willingly, like willingly he followed Erus the first time.

Amazon: Mars on the Rise
Amazon Kindle: Mars on the Rise
Paperback: 340 pages
Publisher: Torquere Press (April 25, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1610403053
ISBN-13: 978-1610403054

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

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Considering I’m not a huge fan of heavy fantasy setting, I have to admit with a little surprise that I enjoyed this story, probably since it has something that I really love, an evil character that will you will end to cheer for, hoping not that he will redeem, but that he will be able to find love.

The setting is pure steampunk, a Victorian London society (reference to the Rose theatre and to other London landmarks), the addition of mechanical machines and some other fantasy details are the only thing that bring this novel out from the historical borders. From what I understood, a good steampunk has to be, first of all, a good historical novel, and so Mars on the Rise completely centers the target.

As I said, Erus Veetu, the dark and dangerous war lord, is my favorite character, even if I really hate as he treats Cedo; the easiest way would be for the author to let Erus be the bad villain and Cedo finding love with the more likable and friendly Billy, but Erus is a tortured soul, and of course there is a little of “nurse” syndrome in Cedo, who believes he is the one who can understand Erus and love him despite everything and everyone.

You can see sparks of goodness in Erus, like for example when he allows Cedo to take his cat Misty; he clearly says that he is doing so since it will make Cedo happy, and he wants for Cedo to be happy. And then, after all, he is not taking him captive, he more than once has given him the chance to run away, but Cedo has always came back, willingly, like willingly he followed Erus the first time.

Amazon: Mars on the Rise
Amazon Kindle: Mars on the Rise
Paperback: 340 pages
Publisher: Torquere Press (April 25, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1610403053
ISBN-13: 978-1610403054

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The BDSM fantasy novel with an Angels/Demons setting is quite common, I think there is probably some fandom out there I’m not aware of, but it’s producing quite a few of these romances. Here the author tried to be more original, and instead of reusing the ordinary characters of Lucifer and his companions, she basically created a parallel universe, mixing I believe Christian myths with those of the Ancient Greece, Zeus and co.

So here we have Legion, the Dark Prince, who reigns over 9 realms, he occupied after fighting over the evil ruler Magda (they seem to be linked to the Hell or the realm of Hade); he is second son of Dante, the Celestial King, who upon dying left the real to Adoni, Legion’s older brother who is now reigning over 20 realms. Legion and Adoni don’t really go well along but they barely tolerate each other for the love of their mother Inanna. Dante’s former, and true love, was Nico, who was banished to the realm of the human beings, even if he is immortal, and he is now living as a sexual slave to a warlock. Nico summons Legion, not knowing he is the son of his former lover.

Another nice aspect of the story was the dark humor, the author managed a mood in the story that was a mix of dark fantasy and comedy, not easy to balance together, but I think she did a good job. Even if most of the events were quite dramatic and bloody, there was always the light mood that dissolved the whole.

What was probably a little too much for me, but that is my personal taste, is when the BDSM play bordered almost into torture, I still don’t understand the appeal of pain mixed with pleasure, especially when it’s detached from love, like in the case of Nico with his master.

Amazon Kindle: Legion
Publisher: MLR Press

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Lost Sky is almost an eco-adventure novel, very visual in its development; the strength of the story is in the description of the subterranean island that Matthew discovers once he accepts the inheritance of his great-uncle Alexander; but with the island arrives also Salal, a supernatural being who was Alexander’s lover and who is still quite upset that his chosen companion decided to go back to the human world, leaving him. It seems almost natural that Matthew substitutes Alexander in Salal’s life, even if Matthew’s sudden attachment to Salal is quite strange, especially for someone as shy as he is.

The odd thing is that, I didn’t particularly like Salal, I find him quite brusque, and not really a good matching for a gentle, and sometime meek soul like Matthew. Their relationship seemed unbalanced, but for sure I didn’t wish to Salal what will happen in the end. Maybe there is an hint of non consensual relationship, meaning that I’m not really sure Matthew was aware, or fully willing, to engage with Salal, at first it seemed to me that Salal pretended from Matthew to replace Alexander, willing or unwilling.

The story starts a little slow, and actually Salal enters the scene more or less at midnovel. That is maybe the reason why I didn’t manage to connect with him. Anyway he is for sure an interesting character and he will redeem.

It’s a bittersweet story, and while the ending is good for one of them, it’s not so for the other. That is the reason why, more than a romance, I consider this the story of Matthew’s evolution and of the time when, leaving the safe shelter of his secure life, he will find the answers to who he is, what he wants and whom he wants to love.

Amazon: Lost Sky
Amazon Kindle: Lost Sky
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Queered Fiction (February 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 192044114X
ISBN-13: 978-1920441142

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The Hawk and the Rabbit is almost “innocent” in its development; the first impression I have of this story is that it has completely removed the concept of homosexuality as a sin. In this fantasy world, being gay, lesbian, bisexual or straight is like being a brunette or a blond, having brown or blue eyes, you are born with. If someone is complaining about something is, first that prince consort Henri is from a breed that is still using magic, while instead in Gaia’s kingdom magic was banned, and that Henri’s personal sorcerer, and advisor, Leal, is really too young, more a boy than a man (we will learn later that actually Leal is under a wrong spell and so his boyish looks don’t match his real age).

When Gaia falls under a dark blood spell, Leal isn’t capable alone to remove it and he has to ask help to the Dragon Knights’s Master, Hawk. Leal has a secret crush on Hawk, but the man despises magic and, in connection, he doesn’t trust Leal. Going together in a quest to retrieve some magic elementals that will help queen Gaia will allow to Hawk to understand that Leal is not a mean sorcerer, and that magic can be good (and even funny sometime).

As I said, this is quite the innocent tale, while Hawk and Leal will arrive to be intimate, it’s almost done in a “secretive” way, the reader will not take part to their intimacy. I had almost the feeling I was reading a young adult novel, or a fairy tale, it was more important the quest, and giving the change to Hawk and Leal to be alone and to know each other, other than “consuming” their love. Even the level of danger they encounter is mild, nothing cruel or really dark, and the worst it happens is to sprain a calf.

This one was a cute, light read, pleasant and smooth, and the fantasy setting wasn’t too heavy, so that I could actually enjoy the story without being distracted by the “surroundings”.

Amazon Kindle: The Hawk and the Rabbit (The Bestiary)
Publisher: Less Than Three Press; 1 edition (November 20, 2012)

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This is a Bittersweet Dreams title, so I knew that a not traditional happy ending was to be expected, plus the blurb was easy to decipher. So I concentrated more on the development of the story than on the ending, and I found myself enjoying very much the relationship of Alen with his mother, so much that, in the end, I was almost in tears.

The life of Alen is not easy or idyllic, but he does everything he has to do since he deeply loves his mother; but Alen has never felt as he belongs to the village he was born or among the people who always looked at him like a strange creature. Maybe that is the reason why he searched for solace in something else, and the only thing he has in his poor life is the fire in the heart of the cottage. Alen more than once convinced himself someone is in it, he saw a face, and that burning eyes were calling him.

That is the reason why, when he is condemned to the pyre, he doesn’t fear it, on the contrary, he sees it like a way to his freedom.

In the end, Burnt Offerings has an happy ending, only that it’s not traditional, the bittersweet is more for Alen’s mother, but she is like all mothers should be, glad for the happiness her son found.

Amazon Kindle: Burnt Offerings
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (October 25, 2011)

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Cover Art by Anne Cain

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It was difficult to find a label for this novel, it’s a Fantasy (I tend to classify as Fantasy every novel with an angel in it, moreover when the story is set in the Afterlife) but it’s also Gay Romance, since the main purpose of Allan is to finally conquer his friend Warwick, even if that will happen after they are both dead. Probably the best label is Satire, because I think the author is playing with the stereotype of the gay novels to make them his own and craft his personal genre.

If I have to be sincere, more than for Allan to conquer Warwick, I was cheering for Guy, the Angel, to learn how to fly: in my mind, I had this idea that, if he learned to fly, he was also more likely to conquer Allan. Yes, I think Allan was better suited with Guy then Warwick, and maybe there was a reason why they didn’t end together during their life. Anyway I’m digressing, but that gives you the idea that I really liked Guy and I hope the author will consider to give us his story.

I want to highlight that I did have some trouble in “entering” the story, sure it was clear that Allan and Warwick were dead and that they were in a some sort of limbo between life and Heaven, but we were thrown into it without much warning, and I had to grasp details like Allan was doing… maybe that was the purpose of the author, Allan has just died and it’s not like you know what will happen after death.

The ending was quite a surprise, and I’m not yet sure if it left me eager to read more (nice insight on the life in the suburbs of a long-term couple, right what I like) or shocked. Sure the author prepared us and so we know it’s not that tragic as it could seem, but still… I was a little shocked.

Lasting not on the title, that is perfect for the story: the characters are a little over the top, so yes, this was really a story about Drama Queens with Love Scenes. Oh, and the cover? I loved the cover!

Amazon: Drama Queens With Love Scenes
Amazon Kindle: Drama Queens With Love Scenes
Publisher Charles River Press (December 21, 2012)
Language English
ISBN-10 1936185903
ISBN-13 978-1936185900

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Almost a comics in written format, I have the feeling that Pawn Takes Rook, first episode in the Checkmate series is part of something bigger in the author’s mind, something she has already developed and that is now feeding us little piece by little piece. A lot has already happened when the story starts and I struggled a little to fit all the details, but in the end I had a good idea: the time is the same as today, 2013, but it’s an alternative universe; the poly vaccine caused a genetic variation in the newborn who acquired special powers, and now almost everyone is a superhero. If you are really a good one, you are part of the Alliance, fighting the villains in the name of the law. Things you consider as given, televisions, laptops, are luxury items people save a life to buy.

Hogarth, the nephew of the Google’s algorithm creator, want to be part of the Alliance, but he is actually more a nerd than a hero. When he is rescued by Rook, a former Alliance hero, he sees him as his chance to meet the Alliance standards: if he cannot make it alone, why not try with a dynamic duo? But Rook is like a loose cannon, not really trustworthy, plus he is defective, like a pot that, when reaching the boiling point, instead of going in off mode, explode. Doesn't hurt that Rook is also an hunky viking, with startling icy eyes and long, blond locks.

You can say the author had a lot of fun writing this novella, I had the feeling like she planned it with friends, like a videogame she was playing and trying all the special effects. Yes, the mood was of fun, light entertainment, winking the eye probably to some favorite cartoon or comic character I’m not able to point out (not really a comic fan here). But even if I cannot pinpoint the origin, it was a funny little piece.

Amazon Kindle: Pawn Takes Rook
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press; 1 edition (March 12, 2013)

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Cover Art by Paul Richmond

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Considering the theme of the novel with the known impeding tragedy, I was surprised to find out this novel was almost “cute”, and probably the first clue was on the prologue, with God and Lucifer plotting on how to change the course of Jesus Christ yet another’s reincarnation.

The time is modern day, and Jesus is now an evangelist singer travelling the US along with a troupe of 12 friends and his mother. Jesus’s preferred among them is Judas, the same man who all the others like to hate, especially Mary Magdalene, the “harlot” pop singer who likes to make trouble among them.

Jesus, Judas, Mary Magdalene, Mother Mary, Thomas, Peter, Matthew, all of them know what is happening, and what will be Jesus’s fate, and they are waiting for the moment when the local protesters will move from words to actions, ending yet another time Jesus’s life, and giving him the chance to sacrifice himself to a better purpose. But this time Judas doesn’t want to play the same plot, he loves Jesus and he wants for him to have the chance to live a long life, possible together with him. On the other hand, innocent Jesus, almost naïve and too tempting for his own good, doesn’t want to give up to Lucifer’s lure, but for once he is wondering if, at least, he cannot enjoy what Judas is offering.

The plot is not really complicated, but the originality is given by the development: each chapter is told by a different player, mainly Jesus and Judas, but also Mary Magdalene, the apostles and Mother Mary, and of course God and Lucifer. There are other characters in the story, but since they are not “aware” of the truth, they don’t have the chance, like others, to tell their version of the story. It’s like a reenactment of the Gospels, indeed the apostles told their own version of the same story, same as they do in this novel.

Considering I’m not a practicing catholic, maybe I’m without preconceptions, and I don’t see much scandal in this retelling of the Jesus’s story. For me it was a good exercise in romancing the myth.

Amazon Kindle: Revelations
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing (February 6, 2013)

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I did wonder why the author chose to set her story in an alternative world, since, as far as historical details go, this novel is 100% an accurate early XIX century America setting. At first, knowing it was a fantasy, I was expecting for some steampunk element to make its appearance, but nope, the setting remained true to its chosen period. Nevertheless, this is a fantasy/horror romance, and so there are paranormal elements, but the feeling was more of some gothic horror novel of the same period of the chosen setting, like the author wanted to maintain “coherence” even when introducing the paranormal twist.

I liked both characters, they seemed destined from the beginning to become one of those notorious pairs, like Sherlock and Holmes to give you the idea. Professor Percival Whyborne, who knows 13 language and is an expert of Ancient Egypt, but has never left his New England small town of Widdershins, is for sure the perfect epitome of someone who will become the skilled detective; on the other hand ex-Pinkerton Griffin Flaherty would be perfect on the role of the cynic man of world, who has seen too much and too soon, but instead the author managed to make him a brooding character, with shadows in his past, but still able to feel and love, to be tender and to almost vow Percival out of his shell.

Aside from the characters what makes this novel good was also the setting, the fantastical city of Widdershins, perfect gothic setting for the novel, but also alive in a way that made me want to do some research to understand if it was really all from the imagination of the author; it felt so true and well planned that I did wonder if the author took inspiration from an existing New England town.

Just this month, the second installment in the series is out, and I’m sure this will become a favorite appointment with the historical/paranormal romance lovers.

Amazon: Widdershins (Whyborne & Griffin) (Volume 1)
Amazon Kindle: Widdershins (Whyborne & Griffin) (Volume 1)
Paperback: 226 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 15, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1482528150
ISBN-13: 978-1482528152

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Vampires, Demons, Angels, Fae people, same old same old you would say, and instead nothing was as expected. The author took the usual characters of paranormal/fantasy romance and intertwined it in a story that was a mix of romance and horror, gothic in a modern setting. The strange mix was also aided by the choice of location, a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean, that helped the gothic feeling due to the “being trapped” situation but at the same time was big and modern enough to dispel the haunting and dark. BTW I have the feeling the author did know about cruises since the little details she used were quite right, at least according to my experience.

Silas is a fae with a mission; he is using a glamour to mix among the other passengers, but Rhys seems able to see beyond it; to Rhys, Silas appears with an otherworldly beauty, that is actually his real looks. But also to Silas, Rhys appears “different”, and not only since he is young and cute. There is a mystery in Rhys’s past and apparently Silas has the right answers.

The novel was starting in an “ordinary” way, two men meeting by chance, passions flaring between them, good sex and all; the fact one was a fae, wasn’t particularly exceptional, considering this is a fantasy romance. So yes, I was thinking, good story, nothing out of ordinary. And then the real danger arrives, and more than paranormal is horror, vampires eating human flesh, not only drinking blood; and Silas, the fae, wasn’t cute and pretty, he was dangerous, armed with a sword, and when wounded, he was almost pathetic, gaunt and feral. The author took elements that usually convey beautiful imaginary, and turned them into horrific details, with a mastery that is almost unsettling.

Close Quarter was a surprise and a very good debut novel.

Amazon Kindle: Close Quarter
Publisher: Loose Id LLC (November 13, 2012)

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I have contrasting feeling on this novel, basically I liked the idea, and the setting, but it’s clear the authors are newbie and their skills are not yet refined. Often the same detail is repeated in different sentences, like when Jax was “telling” why he decided to move to Salem, the same theme “I don’t know why I liked Salem, but I did” was developed in different ways. I thought about it and I found two explanations: one maybe that this is a co-authored book, and probably the two authors, instead of parting the scenes, each one developing a different scene, “shared” the same scene, joining their sentences; the second motivation could be that they are newbie authors, and maybe they didn’t cut the plot after the first drafting… I tend to think/prefer more the first explanation, but maybe it’s a mix of the two.

In any case the incipit is good, a 3000 years old nephilim living in the basement of a church under the protection of the priest; for the last 300 years Faelon has never left the protection of the church, after having experienced captivity at the hand of a demon. Faelon is a submissive, he was born a slave and raised to be a submissive by another angel, Delgorio. But, from what I understood, Delgorio doesn’t consider Faelon as his exclusive propriety, and so he basically dumped him in the hand of the church to be guarded by the dangers that are outside. The current priest, fearing is aging will prevent him to continue the task, decides Faelon needs a partner, and he handpicks Jax, a history researcher recently moved to Salem.

Jax is a strange character, not your usually “Master”. He is not at all strong or self-assured, on the contrary, he is often tentative and in need or reassurance; Jax is interested in BDSM, but he has never tried it, and Faelon is basically guiding him through the rope. While Faelon considers BDSM his way of life, for Jax is more a play, his own words, he doesn’t want a 24/7 slave, but he wouldn’t mind to try something different here and there. This and some other events gave me the idea that Jax has still a lot of growing to do, and that he has basically to decide what he wants in life, and what is really important: for example, when he finds out Faelon is a nephilim, he is not really worried that Faelon is an immortal creature, or that he has lived 3000 years, he is worried that Faelon has wings! Well, yes, that can be odd, but really, is it the most disconcerting thing?

In the end there is a great potential in these authors, and I’m sure they will develop into a great pair; Faelon was a nice debut novel, not perfect, but good.

Amazon: Faelon
Amazon Kindle: Faelon
Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: MLR Press (April 5, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1608208605
ISBN-13: 978-1608208609

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Dangerous Beauty is the second in the A Pride of Uttor series; I haven’t read the first, an het romance involving the sister of Endre, a destitute prince, and Gaspar, the emperor who conquered their kingdom. Endre is now living as a privileged captive, more a guest than a prisoner, but nevertheless his father instilled into him the dislike for everything related to Gaspar; moreover, Endre is fighting an attraction for men, something that in his culture is punished by death and that instead in Uttor is not only accepted, but even legal, so much that man can take male consort. Instead of being a consolation for Endre, that is even a worst damnation, since he is fighting the attraction for Arshad, prince of Tabar, ally to the emperor, and for connection, his own enemy.

The novel is so explicit when concerning the sex, that if not for the uplifting ending, and more or less, the exclusivity of the main characters, this could be easily classified as erotica. Like it is, it’s for sure Erotic Romance, and I say it like a warning, because there is a lot of sex; oddly, it’s very basic, no kinky undertones, even if sometime there is the use of the words Master, submissive, slave… but they are just that, words, and mostly the two men enjoy quite ordinary, if not intensive, sex sessions.

There is also a lot of play around the concept of virgin, and Savage Romance/breeches rippers theme, but again, it’s more a play than the real thing: Arshad thinks about conquering the virgin Endre, to debauch the innocent princeling, but when it comes the time, not only it’s more Endre seducing Arshad, also Arshad will display a side of him that is almost kind, and for sure young. That is what I noticed also in another event, when Arshad needs to take the army against his enemies, realizing he has never really gone into a real fight… it was like a boy who until that moment has only posed as an adult who is suddenly asked to behave like one. After that, I had some difficult to see Arshad like a real domineering lover.

For sure Endre is a submissive, but that doesn’t mean he is not a man; Endre loves to be told to do thing, first by his father and then by Arshad. Once he admits with himself that he likes Arshad, he has no trouble at all considering him the ruler on their relationship, but I see it more like Endre admitting his submissive nature, not like renouncing to his masculinity.

Amazon Kindle: Dangerous Beauty (Pride of Uttor Series, Book Two)
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing, LLC (February 13, 2013)

Series: Pride of Uttor
1) Captive Heart
2) Dangerous Beauty

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Aside from being among the Bestsellers in Gay Romance for last year, I was drawn by this series for the m-preg theme. I think someone suggested this to me, and being the first one a novella, I thought, why not? The commitment is not too much if I don’t like it, and if I like, there is always book 2. I read it in one night and bought the second novella the same night.

Valentina Heart doesn’t shy away from the chosen theme, and actually, it’s the main reason why Prince Rinin is able to barter a marriage instead of being a sex slave to King Merinej. Rin is now alone, his kingdom lost the war against Merin’s one, and now the council has decided for him: he will be the pawn to beg mercy. Since he was born, Rin wasn’t fated to be a warrior, too fragile and precious; he was special, a man able to give birth, but that is also coming with the almost certainty of death if he tries. And now he is supposed to be a sex slave to Merin, him that doesn’t have any idea of what sex or even the simple contact with a man means. But for once Rin decides to rebel, and proposes to Merin a marriage: he will bear Merin’s child, a child of two kings, someone destined to be powerful and of perfect lineage. If death will come, for Rin it will be better than a life as a slave.

This is for sure a story that appeals to many, but at the same that is not suitable to all. This is a gay version of the Savage Romance, with many of the clichés of that genre, but also with all its attractiveness. It’s not realistic, it’s not about equality in a relationship, it’s about a strong character in relationship with a more fragile one, but fragility doesn’t mean stupidity. Rin is not stupid, he is naïve; he is the first to admit he was not raised to be a leader, and he doesn’t want to be. But at the same time, he is proud of his ancestry, and wants the respect he deserves.

I strongly suggest to approach these two novellas as a whole, and to read both of them close to each other.

Amazon Kindle: King's Conquest (Mending the Rift)
Publisher: Silver Publishing (January 21, 2012)
Amazon Kindle: Owner of My Heart (Mending the Rift)
Publisher: Silver Publishing (July 14, 2012)

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This is the first book I read by this author, but even if I’m not sure, I suppose this is not a debut novel. The story is too polished, and the hand too expert for this to be a tryout, I really had the feeling I was reading the product of a skilled author. I have to be true, ghosts and zombies are not really my thing, and I was not really sure I wanted to continue reading it when I realized where the story was going, but the characters got me, and I couldn’t leave without knowing what was of them.

Goth-beauty Leif and farm-boy Dan were apparently a stereotype, and I was already imagining them playing by the “rules”, emo-style and all; but that is not what happened, and actually the author spent a great deal of time to build their relationship, giving time to them and to the reader to be really sure what was happening wasn’t something fading away in few hours of passions. The romance part of the story was well plotted as it was the paranormal-horror.

It’s not the first time I read about this type of horror, but I tend to not like it too much for the gruesome details; in Hainted, the author managed to have all the horror and tension with less “splatter”. I don’t know, it’s not easy to explain, but it was like she was more contained, less searching for the exploitation, but maintaining all the scariness anyway. Sure Hainted is not for the fainting reader, but nevertheless it can be within the range of who doesn’t mind a little bit of horror if the romance is good.

My compliments to Jordan L. Hawk to manage a self-published book which had all the feeling of a consummate author’s novel.

Amazon Kindle: Hainted
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

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Divisions is another little step into the life of tiger Dev and fox Lee. They are now a couple, together in front of their respective families and the public. Dev’s football team is backing him, new friends are helping them settle into the life of a committed couple and some old friends are creating troubles. This new installment in a series that I loved since book 1 is confirming my idea that this is a very ordinary love story, a nice romance, with that just touch of sexy to make it good, about anthropomorphic characters, but that is like saying the guy had black hair and blue eyes, or the girl had long hair and brown eyes, only that here you have a guy with long stripes and big paws or the other guy with a fluffy tail…

It’s also about football, and for me who is not an expert, the feeling is that Kyell Gold knows about the stuff, and so, if you are a fan of that sport, I suppose this is definitely a book you wanted to read; from my external point of view, I suppose there are more men fan of the sport than women, so I would say this is quite a manly romance, but hands up, I’m pretty sure there are also women who love the sport (and the players!).

Other than football the main theme is Lee’s struggle with his mother, who has joined an ultra-conservative group that is supposedly helping the families remained united when a kid comes out. Unfortunately the group is moistly trying to “pray out” the gayness from the kid, often with tragic outcomes. Even if in an anthropomorphic setting, unfortunately this side of the story rang very true, and it’s saddening to think that this is really happening somewhere, especially in small town where the abused kid (because this is abusing) has no one else helping him out of that trap.

Kyell Gold started the book advising the readers that, once he finished the first draft of the story, it was too long to fit only 1 book, and so he split it into two separate novels. So you will reach the end knowing that not everything will be wrapped up here, but also with the good news that soon enough you will have the chance to spend another pleasant day reading about Dev and Lee.

Amazon: Divisions
Paperback: 388 pages
Publisher: Sofawolf Press (January 18, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1936689278
ISBN-13: 978-1936689279

1) Out of Position:
2) Isolation Play:
3) Divisions

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Cover Art by Blotch

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Reading this book, sometime I had the feeling the author would have liked to write a full historical novel, but she opted for a fantasy to allow her characters to “live”. This is because, aside for a paranormal element, as big as it’s, the presence of dragons, the rest of the novel is pretty much a classical medieval novel, with intrigues and adventures, to a level that, if not for the sex, I had almost the impression this was a young adult novel. Much to this point was the young age of the two main character, just 19 years old and struggling with the duty of being adult but still with the innocence and naiveté of young men.

Tomas is the heir to a throne, Griffin is his best man and knight in shining armor; sometime it was endearing to see these blossoms of men trying to behave as adults, since, truth be told, they have not yet experimented enough to be considered as such. Moreover, they have just found the courage to admit to each other their love, and suddenly that love has become something bigger, more important, almost too important for such young men.

As I said there is sex, and that is perhaps the only reason why this is not a young adult novel; if you remove the sex, and after all it’s not so much in the story, the rest of the novel is really like the old fashioned fantasy novels, with a quest for the young men and many occasions to display courage and noble feelings. Truth be told I didn’t feel as the sex was really important in the story, it worked well even without it. Or better, I appreciate the fact they did have the chance to express their love, but to me it was enough to know even without reading it; I had the strong feeling that was not the main target of the author that instead wanted to write about Tomas and Griffin’s journey towards adulthood. And as for all young men, that is an important journey, and so the story felt as a metaphor of that, didn’t matter they were two young men in a fantasy medieval setting, they could well relate to two teenagers of the XXI century.

Amazon: The Prince of Galerir
Amazon Kindle: The Prince of Galerir
Paperback: 238 pages
Publisher: MLR Press (October 25, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1608207668
ISBN-13: 978-1608207664

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I think I need to start this with the table of content: Highland Sleeper by Jeff Mann, No Mincing Words by Rob Rosen, Elsewhen by ’Nathan Burgoine, Mount Olympus by Jeffrey Ricker, Reunion on the Rails by Hank Edwards, The Blue Train by Erastes, The Train Home by Rick R. Reed, Royal Service by Dale Chase, Resist Me, Please! By Daniel M. Jaffe, Engine of Repression by Gavin Atlas, One Night on the Twentieth Century by Jay Neal, Shadow Mapping by J.D. Barton, Geronimo’s Laughter by Joseph Baneth Allen, The Roundhouse Men by Dusty Taylor, The Last Train by William Holden. Why? Because aside for very few names I didn’t know about, this is a collection of la crème de la crème in Gay Fiction. All these authors are bestsellers on their own, and having them all together in one anthology is a treat that make me forget for a moment that anthologies are usually not my cup of tea. It’s also a compliment to the editor, Jerry L. Wheeler, because I think it hadn’t to be simple to put them all together, maintaining by the way the feeling of uniqueness of the collection, all the stories work together for the same target.

Like the majority of these anthologies, Riding the Rails falls into the Erotica category, but I was quite surprise to find out that indeed this is also a Romance collection; some of the stories in it are not even about sex ( see ’Nathan Burgoine’s one), and almost all of them are about love story with an happy ending. Sure there is a bittersweet aftertaste all along the anthology, something that, truth be told, I have always found when reading stories related to trains… there has to be some deep connection between the two things, or maybe the train itself is a metaphor for something you wish but cannot catch. In any case, aside for maybe one or two exceptions (Rick R. Reed and Jay Neal probably), the romance reader will have plenty of happily ever after to enjoy, some of them a little kinky (Jeff Mann), some of them sweet (’Nathan Burgoine) and some of them funny (Daniel M. Jaffe)… to everyone their own.

A collective compliment to all authors go for the high quality of the stories, more little novel than short stories; different in genre, from historical, to sci-fi, to steampunk, but all of them way more than the average you usually are expecting to find in a collection; here the authors sent their best production, not what they had laying around in a forgotten folder.

Amazon: Riding the Rails: Locomotive Lust and Carnal Cabooses
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (December 20, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602825866
ISBN-13: 978-1602825864

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle
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Set in the same universe of other R. Cooper’s novels, a world were beings like fairies, werewolves and dragons are living together with humans, A Boy and His Dragon was a surprisingly sweet romance. On the contrary of Some Kind of Magic, were the being was a fairy, a known being to be very sensual, here the story center on Arthur, a young post-graduate man in desperate need of a job to maintain himself and his sister; Arthur, gay, has had only one other love experience, with a fairy, but that was like a flirt, funny and light, even if to Arthur it meant first love.

When Arthur meets professor Jones, a dragon and an historian, he is immediately attracted to the other man, but he is also scared by these strong feelings. And Philbert “Bertie” Jones is disconcerting in many ways, above all in the sweet and tender courtship that he undertakes to conquer skittish Arthur. Bertie is not pushing, he vows Arthur with little things, and above all, taking care of him, being sure the other man is well-fed and comfortable; he treasured Arthur like the most precious thing, and is always generous with praises for him. Of course this means that Arthur will fall in love with Bertie without him even realizing it, one day he is scared and the day after he is in love.

The sexy side of the story is good, but not overwhelming, Arthur and Bertie will enjoy their love, but that is not the main focus of the novel. The reader will arrive to realize that Bertie replayed the old legends of the dragon conquering the virgin sent by the peasants as an offer to the beast; Arthur will discover that Bertie is not a beast at all, that he is actually a bit of a nerd, very generous and sweet. It will be interesting to see how Arthur will deal with the hatchlings that Bertie is supposed to deliver to posterity…

Amazon: A Boy and His Dragon
Amazon Kindle: A Boy and His Dragon
Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (January 4, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1623802695
ISBN-13: 978-1623802691

Series: Being(s) in Love
1) Some Kind of Magic:
2) A Boy and His Dragon

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by Paul Richmond

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Steampunk is a popular genre in fantasy and I have to say that the cover artist did a fantastic job with this cover, enticing but also subtlety sexy. If I have to be sincere, I’m not a big fan of fantasy in general, but this particular subgenre, Victorian/futuristic setting, appeals to me; most of the time, like in this case, the author introduces some fantastic element (in this case an airship) maintaining the historical accuracy. Aside from flying instead of sailing, our heroes don’t have anything else of modern.

Henry is a simple hand on a luxury airship, he is no fancy officer, he comes from a poor background and learned a job that is allowing him to live but probably not to comfortably retire when it will be time. He for sure has no money to marry, even if he was incline to this option; but Henry prefers the company of men, a secret he hasn’t shared aboard, something he satisfies on the brief time he is allowed ashore. When his airship is hijacked by pirates and he lands in the hands of handsome pirate captain Volentine, he is not really happy, not until he doesn’t see that being the pet of an handsome captain can have its advantages.

Alone in the captain cabin, Henry can free his hidden desires, he can satisfy all of them, plus he can quill his sense of guilty thinking he is forced by Volentine. But actually Henry doesn’t put up much resistance, and he is soon a willing partner to Volentine.

If I have to be sincere, while Volentine plays the role of the sadistic captain, I really didn’t perceive him like that; he is quite kind and sensitive, always worrying of Henry’s needs, sometime even having them in mind before his owns. He always tries to find the solution that will bring less danger to Henry, and even when he finds Henry in a compromising situation, he is ready to believe his words, without questioning too much. To me, Volentine was everything other than ruthless, and the ending, while funny, was actually quite in line with the idea I had of this man.

Amazon Kindle: Sky Rat
Publisher: Pink Petal Books (October 7, 2010)

Reading List:

Cover Art by Christine M. Griffin

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In the first book of this series, I didn’t realize, or maybe I don’t remember, how tight, and sexual, was the relationship between the three fellow travellers, Darrow Bardoon Miznevet, Hosis Bar Sun and Lady Dee. 2 men and 1 woman sharing not only a travel, but also a bed, makes this novel a full bisexual fantasy adventure, but with a clear intent. For instinct I think that Dare and Hosis are more inclined to prefer their own sex, but in both their culture homosexuality doesn’t exist, or if exist, it’s consider perversion. Lady Dee, with intent or no, plays the bridge between them: Dare and Hosis share Lady Dee’s bed, and with or without her, sexual intimacy. Lady Dee seems to be the missing link in the chain, she makes everything “normal”, but that is a completely wrong conclusion.

From the beginning the author highlights how different men are from women:

“The handsome young Kemnoan regarded her bleakly, a distracted glint in his brown eyes. “How did you get to be so much wiser and more allknowing than we are, my Lady?” “I’ve had a few more years of experience. Plus I am female!” “Without your help, I wouldn’t have a clue of how to deal with this situation, being a mere male as I am.”

and his purpose is not to highlight how man and woman complete each other, but how difficult their bond can be, giving all their diversity. What I think the author is trying to achieve is to prove how relationship between men is easier, giving that they are no different breed like men from women. While society condemn homosexuality, Mother Nature almost encourages it, as an obvious conclusion of a bond between men.

Like in book 1, the adventures of these heroes is not complete in this novel; there are 5 books in total, and I have the idea we will reach the end of the story, and the full comprehension of it, only in the last book. What is important is that I’m starting to understand how the author’s mind is working, and so I’m worrying a little less for the characters in the story. One of my major complaint in book 1 was the tragic death of Maumet, Dare’s feline friend; with my great relief, Maumet is not dead, and he has probably 7 lives like a real cat.

Amazon: Moontusk: Orchid of Awakening
Amazon Kindle: Moontusk: Orchid of Awakening
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Lethe Press (August 20, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590213629
ISBN-13: 978-1590213629

Series: Moontusk
1) Rendezvous in a Ruined City:
2) Orchid of Awakening

Reading List:

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A sweet fantasy romance, to a level that it could have been a young adult story, it tells the adventures of Guylian, a boy who is apprenticing with Macati, a young mage. Guylian is already 20 years old, but he looks and behaves like a younger man, whereelse Macati has still the joyfulness of being young, even if he is an experienced mage.

This is a full 100% fantasy tale, set in a like-medieval setting, but all in all, it’s a simple environment, so simple that let the reader concentrate on the characters. It’s also very sweet, and even if there is a romance in it, with quite a kinky development, all the sexual interactions between the main characters are limited to some kisses and love words.

Macati is living at the border of a small village, and even if there is magic in this fantasy world, the life is pretty ordinary, a baker, a tavern, a blacksmith, a vinery, all the possible medieval trades you can imagine, only that their business is assisted by Macati’s magic, a magic that is not dangerous, but useful. This magic is not used for evil purposes, but to make life simplier; it’s a magic which takes inspiration by natural processes, and as such, it creates but doesn’t destroy.

I’m really enjoying the production of Less Than Three Press, I’m surprise this small press doesn’t have a bigger following, since from what I can see, their novels are really high in quality, and very, very romantic.

Amazon: Living Words
Amazon Kindle: Living Words
Paperback: 254 pages
Publisher: Less Than Three Press (October 11, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1936202042
ISBN-13: 978-1936202041

Reading List:
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This is basically three books in one; it starts like a coming of age / young adult novel, with our teenager hero, Mayport Titus, living the boarding school where he spent most of his youth in search of adventures, or better, trying to regain power onto his late father’s business, the Titus Chocolate Company. To do so he enrols the help of his nemesis/lover of the past, Joseph Thiervy, an older boy who was in boarding school with Mayport and who was Mayport’s first love. This part of the story is really like a kid adventures, with both Mayport and Thiervy running away from their supposed tasks to try to path the way to their own future. Mayport and Thiervy also reignited their past relationship, like time wasn’t gone through. It’s not an open relationship, Thiervy more than Mayport, wants to be discreet, and while in bed he is open and welcoming, during the day he treats Mayport like he is nothing else than a business man with money with a spaceship and a captaion to hire and Thiervy is that captain.

As soon as the story is set, it becomes like a pirate’s adventures novel, with Thiervy and Mayport moving from, supposedly, Asia to Europe to America (even if the places have different names and the distances are shortened due to the use of spaceship instead of airplane). Mayport want to regain the control over his father’s company, but I think he wants also to find a place where he and Joseph can be who they want without restriction, and that it means both family expectations than society customs. This Utopia is May Port, a harbour city that is a mix of New England style and Medieval feud; in May Port the ruling officer has full authority on the city, and that means he can legislate and approve whatever law he likes, even allowing same-sex marriage…

And so here it comes the third part of the novel, that Victorian drawing-room drama suggested by the author; Mayport and Thiervy have collected relatives and friends all around the world and they are now settle in May Port, but there is still a piece missing to the puzzle… Mayport wants to marry Thiervy, but he has to find the courage to ask, and will Thiervy overcome his reluctance to public display of affection? Will society be able to accept the love between two men, if recognize by the law?

Chocolatiers of the High Winds is a long and high paced run along with Mayport and Thiervy, apparently a run to success, but actually the oldest of the quests, that for true love.

Amazon Kindle: Chocolatiers of the High Winds
Publisher: Circlet Press, INC (May 2, 2012)

Reading List:
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This story was sweet and pretty. It could have been way more dramatic, the quest of Eros to find true love could have been long and unfulfilling, but instead the author choses to make him fall in love at first attempt, for Keith, who is, let us be sincere, very ordinary. 40 years old and on the nerd side, Keith has never had a long-term relationship because, a) he has never really fallen in love and b) because I think no one notice the good and kind guy who is behind the cold exterior. Said that, Keith has an ordinary job as accountant, ordinary hobby, ordinary life, but maybe this is what Eros needs, ordinariness. He is tired of the perfect life his mother bestowed upon him, perfect body, perfect beauty, all this perfect exterior is cold; even if he is not alone, one mother, two brothers, one ex-wife, Eros has never has someone who choses him for who he is, a guy, and not for what he is, a god.

As I said, the author decided not to play the drama card, Eros being a god is a nice addendum, but actually this could have been the story of a too pretty boy who wanted to find true love. Eros and Keith’s relationship evolves in a smooth and sweet way, with some bumps, but nothing major. Even the sexual side of their relationship is sweet, sexual but not explicit.

Amazon Kindle: No Greater Love (Sons of Aphrodite)
Publisher: Silver Publishing (January 28, 2012)

Reading List:
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A nice novella playing on the old theme of the Master/slave bond in a fantasy setting; the village where Daniel lives is bound by an ancient pact with the Kin lords to offer, or better sacrifice, one youth every year. When the chosen is Daniel’s sister, he cannot let it happen: while his sister is loved by everyone, and engaged, Daniel knows he has no better future ahead of him, he prefers the company of men and that is the worst sin according to the priest. So Daniel volunteers to be the sacrificial lamb to the Kin lords, and he is not expecting anything better than becoming like an animal: the Kin lords drink human blood and the offerings are to become their life substance providers.

Vale is the trainer of the Kin, he is the one who has to take Daniel in the first days and explain him what will be his dues. What Vale is not expecting is to bond with Daniel in a way that goes beyond the training. Daniel is a kind and gentle soul that well suit the similar behaviour of Vale. Vale is not used to train with forceful imposition, he is more like a whisperers, letting his teachings sip into the offerings.

The feeling of the story is more or less that of a fairy tale, maybe a little sexier than an old fashioned one, but still, it was like in those tales, where the godmother fairy will arrive to make everything right and grant the happily ever after to the couple.

Amazon Kindle: Bound by Blood
Publisher: Changeling Press, LLC (September 10, 2010)

Reading List:


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