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I remember the first book in this series, and it was a little darker, a little heavier on drama; Strengthened by Fire, while having a moment of two of "tension" between Lee and Dirk (but nothing huge, just the adjustment movements of a newly formed couple), it is way lighter, actually it remembered me those "seasonal" romances where a well-known author writes a novella for their fans using a beloved pair from a previous series.

The By Fire Series is a spin-off of a series Andrew Grey is setting in Carlisle, a small historical town, so the mood of the story isn't "huge", meaning that, everything seems nearer, both from an emotional than physical point of view.

It's probably wise to read Strengthened By Fire in order, in here, Lee and Dirk are already a couple and the whys and whens of their relationship is all in the previous book. Nice note is that, while I'm reading a lot, and I read the previous book long ago, those two characters where still fresh on my mind, proof enough they were good characters.

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (August 7, 2012)
Amazon Kindle: Strengthened By Fire (By Fire Series Book 2)

Series: By Fire
1) Redemption By Fire: reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/3552118.html
2) Strengthened By Fire

More Reviews by Author at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Reviews

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A really nice and sweet&sexy romance, a delightful surprise cause I was maybe expecting the usually hot firefighter plot, with the ordinary man falling for the unattainable hunky man, but that is not what you get with this story. Braden, while open with his desires and able to express them without hesitation, is not a simply one nightstand; yes, he has never had an important relationship in his life, but cause he hasn't really found the right person. Wes may be that right person but he has to give Braden a chance.

Braden comes from a supporting and big family, he has a lot of love to share and more important, he knows what responsability means; not that he wants to be with Wes out of duty, but he is not one to step back when the chance of something important comes to the horizon. Wes has commitment issues, probably due to his past, both family than love. Everyone he has loved left him, willingly or not. And now for him it is difficulty to accept that Braden, whom he met for a one night stand, is there to stay. Moving him from casual to permanent is a huge step, but once taken, it is not possible to back down.

Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 25, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1499147449
ISBN-13: 978-1499147445
Amazon: Stay (Blackcreek 2)
Amazon Kindle: Stay (Blackcreek 2)

Series: Blackcreek
1) Collide: reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/3977019.html
2) Stay

More Reviews by Author at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Reviews
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This installment in the Assassin/Shifter series by Sandrine Gasq-Dion is like a glue piece in the series, in a way, most of Tucker Storm & Austin Jacobson and Kurt Maguire & Wesley Foster's story is already told in the previous book, and with their book, Reflash, the author is simply giving them the time to consolidate their relationships. Tucker and Wesley seem to be joined at the hips, they were changed together, they found shelter in Wayne's home and they both became cops. They are not twin but it's like they were, and it was fitting that, not only they find their soul mate at the same time, but also that Austin and Kurt are friends and with very similar upbringing.

Austin and Kurt are from very conservative families, Kurt's family even arriving to host a anti-gay camp for "troubled" kids. No wonder that, even if they are probably both gays, they weren't able to live their sexual orientation freely while living at home. Austin and Kurt moved from different places to Seattle, to work at the local fire department, and it was logical they became roommate. Like there isn't a sexual relationship between Tucker and Wesley, so is for Austin and Kurt, they are all really good friends with each other. And so, when both find their pairing, there isn't jealousy but actually support, a support that is also emotional, helping each other to come to term with their feelings, feelings they were taught are wrong, but that to them, didn't feel wrong at all.

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Skull Blaster Publishing LLC (September 30, 2013); 10 edition (October 20, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1480156744
ISBN-13: 978-1480156746
Amazon: Reflash (Assassin/Shifter)
Amazon Kindle: Reflash (Assassin/Shifter)

Series: Assassin/Shifter
1) A Marked Man: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1866493.html
2) Alaska, with Love: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1878006.html
3) By the Light of the Moon
4) Half Moon Rising
5) Best Laid Plans
6) For the Love of Caden
7) The General’s Lover
8) Russian Prey: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1737908.html
9) An Ignited Passion: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1777760.html
10) Reflash

More Reviews by Author at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Reviews
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This wasn’t at all your ordinary hot hunky firemen plot; oh, don’t get me wrong, Eric, the fire chief of Mesa, Arizona, is hunky enough, but truth be told, he isn’t exactly an hero. A closeted man until the age of 42 years old, he did come out only cause his marriage counselor told him he had to be open honest with his wife if he wanted to safe the relationship, and instead his wife filed for divorce. Well, discovering your husband is gay, and has always been, even before they married, isn’t an easy news to digest. Doesn’t matter Eric was always faithful in body, he wasn’t in feelings, and in a way, I understand his wife. To a point, cause how she behaves after that is a little too much, even for my sympathetic understanding. If that wasn’t enough, Eric got involved with his own son’s friend, a twink that now is basically molesting him, threatening to reveal their affair. And to add a cherry on the top, Eric begins an office affair with the new recruit the very first day he is in the office. Well, let talk about problematic heroes… in a way, Eric is a so wrecked hero that I wanted to pat him on the shoulder and comfort him, that something good had to happen sooner or later, cause worse than that was really difficult to achieve.

Maybe that was also what Tom, the new recruit, saw, other than the hot hunky exterior, that was in any case a good sight. It’s obvious that Tom has a problematic relationship with his own father, so I don’t exclude he is projecting a little on Eric, seeing him like a protective fatherly figure; sure, Eric is attractive enough, that is also a factor to take into account, but the immediate attraction, and the deep connection they have is well beyond the good looks of Eric. At the same time, I don’t exclude that Eric is searching in Tom his lost family, the feeling of being welcomed back at home, someone with whom he can relax and enjoy the second youth he is experimenting right now, cause he did pretty much screwed the first one he had.

Series: Uniform Encounters
Paperback: 188 pages
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing (May 24, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1781846030
ISBN-13: 978-1781846032
Amazon: Set Ablaze (Uniform Encounters) (Volume 1)
Amazon Kindle: Set Ablaze (Uniform Encounters) (Volume 1)

More Reviews by Author at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Reviews
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While reading this book I was often remembered of the Kinsey scale; “The Kinsey scale ranges from 0, for those who would identify themselves as exclusively heterosexual with no experience with or desire for sexual activity with their same sex, to 6, for those who would identify themselves as exclusively homosexual with no experience with or desire for sexual activity with those of the opposite sex, and 1-5 for those who would identify themselves with varying levels of desire for sexual activity with either sex, including "incidental" or "occasional" desire for sexual activity with the same sex.” That is, if someone wondered about the credibility of a character like Cooper, who was heterosexual for all his life until the moment he finds himself in love with his best friend Noah, I suppose it’s not impossible, it simply means that Cooper is somewhere between 2 and 4 of the Kinsey scale. Another conclusion I reached is that, more than likely, if Noah wasn’t taken away from Cooper when they were just teenagers, and they had the chance to grow up together into adults, this development towards love of their relationship would have happened before. Like this, they met again at the brink of thirties, with their sexual experiences as adults done, but there is a but for Cooper, he hasn’t had really the chance to see the world, and there aren’t many gay people around in Blackcreek, or better no many openly gay people. And considering that Cooper likes women too, it was easier for him to develop his heterosexual side.

I did like the slow development of their sexual relationship, and even the bump in it; it’s not like a switch you can click on and off, for Cooper to accept he is attracted by his best friend, a man, is not easy and he needs time to adjust. I also liked that they had some interferences from the outside world, and some obstacles to overcome, but nothing really huge, cause, in the end, the major obstacle was the private one, admitting their feeling, arriving to pact with their own desires, and they really didn’t need anything else. A certain level of angst was good, too much drama would have been futile. This was more a small town sort of novel, it didn’t need a big drama to make it good.

Maybe Cooper isn’t the stereotypical firefighter hero, big, strong and always stony sure in what he does or decides, but he is realistic, a good man, a good civil worker, with safe and strong values, and a positive attitude towards life, despite the drama in his past.

Series: Blackcreek
Paperback: 332 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 8, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1493755544
ISBN-13: 978-1493755547
Amazon: Collide (Blackcreek) (Volume 1)
Amazon Kindle: Collide (Blackcreek) (Volume 1)

Updates: http://www.goodreads.com/user/updates_rss/2156728?key=011e4dd0a1ff993d8c2322e691d6229ed9bbf74b
reviews_and_ramblings: (Default)
Nice and easy romance, went down smoothly like a drink of fresh water in summer; yes, that was the feeling, something good, not exotic, but nevertheless satisfying; Justin is a cop, but just an ordinary one, not an hero, even if, most of the things he does are hero stuff, like saving a school bus full of children, or assisting people injured in a car accident: those acts can make the first page of the local paper, but they are soon forgotten to the bigger audience, but not to whom those acts saved the life.

Anyway, out of work Justin is painfully shy, so much that he was never able to talk to the guy he likes, Rock, the local firefighter, near to him Justin isn’t able to speech a word, giving Rock all the wrong impression. Until the day Justin finds a way to communicate not involving words…

There isn’t really much to say on the plot, but as I said, is not much the story but more the feeling that makes this romance so good; it’s romantic, sweet, sometime even cute. It’s about living in a small community, with the goods and the bads. It’s about two ordinary guys sharing beers and pizzas, and then sharing kisses and sex, more or less with the same easiness.

I have to say, ordinary sometime is good, it’s good to read about the next door guy, it warms your heart and it comforts and cuddles you in a lazy Sunday afternoon.

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3675

Amazon Kindle: Heat Under Fire
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press; 1 edition (March 26, 2013)

Series: By Fire
1) Redemption by Fire: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/2018139.html
2) Strengthened by Fire
3) Burnished by Fire
4) Heat Under Fire

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading+list&view=elisa.rolle
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I was quite surprise to find out that, even if this is a novella length story, it was well developed and I quite enjoyed the evolution of both main characters. Dirk is a good fireman but he is also a troubled man, with a difficult relationship with his father and a clear example of closet case. Dirk is so full of complexity that his whole life is in the closet, not only his sexuality: he has no friends, no close relative, no one. When he is injured on the job, he finds that in the worst way, all alone with no one coming to visit, if not his father and Lee, the new guy on the job. But even Lee is not welcomed, on the contrary, their first encounter is more a clash than a pleasant visit to a colleague.

Lee is able to see beyond Dirk’s fears, and his sullenness, and manages to crash all his barriers. Now Dirk is open to find happiness or being badly hurt.

Truth be told, even if Dirk has a very bad relationship with his father, and on the other hand, the father is a uber-conservative, stuck on fake “Christian” principles, I thought their relationship was not entirely lost. Dirk’s father is for sure a difficult man to deal with, but I think he loves his son, and maybe it will not be easy, but I have the feeling that, on the chance to really loose the son, he would reconsider his principles.

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2921

Amazon Kindle: Redemption by Fire (By Fire Series)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (May 1, 2012)

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading+list&view=elisa.rolle
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Fire Balls put together two men that are at the opposite, hot firefighter Hunter and flamboyant artist Rodney. But their being at the opposite is only appearance and that is the main theme of the novel, to not let you being fooled by the looks.

Hunter has a troubled relationship with his father who is accepting of his son being gay only since he is a “straight” gay, i.e. he doesn’t look like one. Plus Hunter’s dream was to be a literature teacher, but that was not manly enough for his father who instead dreamed for his son to be a firefighter, something he was not able to become due to his disability. Hunter is behaving like a straight guy, even arriving to pose as a top in his relationship, when instead he would prefer to bottom, only to please his father, to be as much as straight he can be even if he is indeed gay. The false reason that he would be harassed at his workplace is only something more he add to his justification, but it’s not really the most important, as instead Hunter repeat and repeat to himself when trying to avoid Rodney.

Rodney on the other hand would be more “man” than Hunter, if not for his diminutive body. Rodney is small and pretty, even if he is a karate black belt. Since the world is already assuming he is gay, and a pipsqueak, than he will display to the world he can be even more gay and even more flamboyant. It’s Rodney’s way to say to the world he doesn’t care, that he has not to prove to them that he is a better man then they think.

I like this play of contraposition between Hunter and Rodney, and their characters were good and original. What maybe I didn’t like 100% was how often, and how harsh, both Hunter and Rodney were on regard of being gay, like both of them were ashamed of it, even if there was no way for them to be anything else. Even Rodney, flaunting his gayness in the face of everyone, when was alone was almost complaining, like if he wanted to be someone else, someone not gay. Maybe that was only my feeling, maybe it was generated by the harsh words both Rodney than Hunter were using, derogatory words, but it’s also true that I have heard more than once the position that, if you are gay, you are allow to use that words, if you are not, then it’s an offense.

Fire Balls was a first good experience with this author, and I think I will read more by her.

Amazon Kindle: Fire Balls
Publisher: Etopia Press (January 31, 2012)

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
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This book is different from the usual novels I was used to read by this author. First, it's shorter, a novella instead of a long novel; and second it has a bittersweet undertone that runs throughout from beginning to end, something that makes the novella less lighter, not sad, on the contrary there is even sometime when a smile spontaneously blossom on your face, but it's not a full laughter, it's more a warm slight rise up of the corner of the mouth. The main theme of the book is the research of the perfect blue, the same blue you can see in the inside of the flames, something you don't expect to see among all those reds; it's the same perfect blue of a mountain lake, and like the mountain lake, the book transpire peace and comfort, more than thrill and chaos, like the mountain streams that suddenly die in the peaceful water of the lake. The story is like that, a sudden moment of peace among the chaos that is the life of both characters.

Adam is a firefighter and he saves Jared from the fire that destroys his house. He is not able to save also the house, he is impotent since a big fire is roaring around and they are out of water. In a way, the impotence Adam is feeling is not heightened by Jared's reaction to the loss of his house: Jared is like fallen into a trance, in few words he explains to Adam that the house was the last project of his husband, a famous architecture, and losing the house is like losing once again his husband, died few months ago of cancer.

As easily as the water flows, the story moves up of some weeks, and we find Adam visiting Jared in a private clinic; Jared is depressed and he has not found a reason to come out of his trance. Adam understands that Jared needs a shock, and practically forces the man to come with him in Colorado, in the mountain cabin his family own there. The main reason is to show Jared the mountain lake with the perfect blue water the same color apparently Jared is searching. The real reason is that Adam is fallen in love with the man and wants to shake him off from the prison of his memories.

Even if Adam has all the good intentions of this life, unfortunately he is not doing the right thing. Jared fell in love with his very much older husband when he was still a teenager, and from that moment on he lived in the shadow of the bigger than life man beside him. Even if Jared was talented, his light was obscured by his husband's genius and little by little, Jared disappeared. When his husband died, apparently also Jared died. The fire was not a trauma, probably instead was a way to freedom. Inside the fire and in the eyes of the man who saved him, Jared finds something that pushed him a little more out from his self-imposed prison. The journey in Colorado helped some more, but if Jared accepts the love offered by Adam, it would be only like falling in another prison: where his husband was older and genius, Adam is younger and full of life, but both of them are men that can obscure Jared if he first doesn't find his way in the world. To be happy with Adam, Jared has to finish his growing process, the one that was interrupted by his husband when he took Jared with him. Even if Jared is 37 years old, he is still more or less a teenager if compared to Adam.

http://www.loose-id.com/prod-Blue_Fire-980.aspx

Amazon Kindle: Blue Fire

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle


Cover Art by Anne Cain
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I like both authors in this anthology, so it's not a surprise that I liked the anthology too. It's a good example of hot wo pair two authors to make happy the reader with both of them.

Ignite by Bonnie Dee: Bonnie Dee is one of the few author I read also when she is writing het romance, but, as you can imagine, I prefer her when she writes M/M. Pete Santori is a firefighter and he should hate everything, or everyone causes a fire, but he seems unable to hate Alan. Alan is a firestarter, a man able to ignite fire through his emotions, but he is not able to control them. More he is in distress, more fires he causes. After spending five years in a government facility as a guinea pig, and one years on the street, at 23 years old he is tired and would only put a stop to his life. What he does, instead, is causing another fire and this time Pete is his rescuer. The 30 years old openly gay firefighter is immediately attracted by this young man and he is compelled to help him.

The story is not bad, on the contrary, I really like the idea of a all too normal guy who finds out to have some special powers he doesn't know from what or where. He was a foster child, so he didn't know his real parents. And when finally he finds a man he can be near to... guess what? he is a firefighter! But even if I like the story, I believe it suffered from the lack of space to fully develop: for a story like this one, 80 pages are really to short. Alan has enough space to enthrall the reader, but in the end we haven't answers on his past and on his future. Poor Pete, other than come out like a knight in shining armor, has not way to shine: I only know that he is very good at sex and that he knows that. Now don't get me wrong, this is not a bad story, in 80 pages I read stories that said a lot less than this one, I'm saying that with some pages more, it could be a very good one, instead of a nice one.

Where the Devil Dances by T.A. Chase: and here instead an example of a story of the same lenght, 80 pages, that it's complete and right as it's. With only few words, and with the help of two really cute dogs, I have all the details I need to enjoy both characters. Eric is a rather sophisticated man, an architect who lives in a Victorian house and works on "cultural" project; he has also a trendy dog, a Papillion, a dog cute as his owner... small the dog and small the owner, but both with temperament. Despite his diminutive body, Eric has a strong will, something he needed after escaping a nearly fatal fire, that didn't save his lover: even if, thanks to surgery, Eric has still a beautiful face, he is scarred in the body and cautious to let people see him in the nude.

Maybe since he is a firefighter, David is not so much impressed by Eric's body scars, and he is more interested in him as a possible partner. David is the classical good boy next door, big and strong, but with a tender heart; his good match is his dog, a big greyhound who has no problem to be lead around by the small Papillion... like his owner has no problem to be lead by Eric. David is, like his role as firefighter let imagine, a knight in shining armor and he will have his chance to save the damsel in distress, but all in all, he is not the stronger in the couple. For past experience and for attitude, the upper hand in the relationship, and also the role of caretaker, are more likely to Eric.

In a way both stories are similar, since they respect the hero image of the firefighters, but in the end, both men are more like supporting characters to the real man represented by their lovers; and nothing if not the attitude would lead to this conclusion, since the physique du role for both is right: big and strong the firefighters, lithe and pretty the damsel in distress they rescue.

http://www.king-cart.com/cgi-bin/cart.cgi?store=linda018&product_name=Hearts+Afire+January&return_page=&user-id=&password=&exchange=&exact_match=exact

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading+list&view=elisa.rolle


Cover Art by April Martinez

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