Saturday, March 29, 2014

Review by Cam: See You in the Morning by A.T. Weaver

Title: See You in the Morning
Author: A.T. Weaver
Publisher: Self-Published
Rating: 5/5 Smooches


Jake and Dave lived and loved for over fifty years. During that time, they campaigned for gay rights. They married each other three times until, finally, in 2013, the United States Supreme Court declared DOMA to be unconstitutional and thus legalized their union. 

They made a family and raised four beautiful children together.

When he loses Dave to a massive stroke, Jake feels his world has ended. Join him as he relives a life well-lived through memories triggered by photos of his and Dave's years together.


Oh My Gosh. I fell in love with Jack and Dave and their children, and their lives. A.T. Weaver had me crying in the first 4 pages of her book, to the point that I put it down for a couple of days. You see, I got the review request in my inbox, and I hadn't even looked up the blurb before I started to read it. I didn't know Dave would die so soon into the book, and it took my breath away. 

The love etched in these pages is amazing. It's written in a unique style. In snapshots. At first, I wasn't sure that I liked it but as the book progressed I absolutely loved how it skipped forward to the important moments in Jake and Dave's lives. I also love how it started in the 1980's and ended up in the 2050's. There are so many important secondary characters in this book that absolutely MAKE the book. Our lives are intertwining circles, connected to so many important people, and this book shows that. It shows how one act can make a difference, and it shows how the love of partner and family can make a life. 

I'm so blown away by this story that I just really don't know what to say. It's not sexually explicit. It's more of a sweet story that isn't all about the romance between the couple. Yes, there is romance, but it's more a story about the endurance of love. I think this from the book sums it up almost perfectly: 

"What happened to 'Too many people start into a relationship with the idea that if it doesn't work out okay, they can move on to something better.' ?" 
Jake looked deep into Dave's brown eyes. "You're right. It's all or nothing."  

I cut off the rest of what Jake says, but this reflects how both men lived their lives. All in. I love that so much. 

After reading this book, which is a little bittersweet, as life most times is, I know that I'll be reading more by A.T. Weaver. 

Please support this indie author by purchasing the book at the following retailers: 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review by Niki: Glory Lands by Vastine Bondurant

Title: Glory Lands
Publisher: DreamspinnerPress  <--publisher buy link
Rating: 5 out of 5 Smooches 


A Texas Piney Woods Story

Rural East Texas, 1931. Preacher’s son Emory Joe Logan and a fiddler from Shreveport, Glory Lands, meet and form a tender bond. When they are caught and arrested for homosexual acts by Sheriff Elihu Bishop, the lawman’s sanctimonious bigotry threatens to rip the young men from their families.

Emory Joe’s father, Pastor Charles Logan, is brought to his knees in terror, confusion, and anger. He still regrets not standing up against Bishop when the lawman murdered a youth in cold blood nine years ago.

Now there’s no longer a choice for the preacher to stand up to the lawman. Cold-blooded justice, bigotry-disguised-as-religion, and hatred take on a whole new meaning when they’re standing on his doorstep, ready to take the son he loves.


(This review contains some heartfelt sighs, a gasp or two, and absolutely zero spoilers)

Now and again one stumbles upon a true wordsmith. The art and artistry inherent in Glory Lands makes an irrefutable case for Vastine Bondurant being one of those rare and precious beings. From the gut-clenching, edge of your seat, hair at the nape of your neck standing on end first page through the gentle spring breezes and winsome yet disconsolate strains of a fiddle player’s hapless yearning, right up to the shiver inducing moments when you, the reader, stand face to face with an indescribable evil and feel the indisputable, awe inducing touch of a higher power—yes, I do mean you, gentle reader. Vastine Bondurant’s words are so well crafted as to hook into the tender, secret flesh of your heart. She reels you, gasping and choking for air like a landed fish, right into the bone and marrow of her characters, and once there you can only journey through their interwoven stories from inside their trembling, beating hearts.

If you are in the mood for a light a fluffy read that stirs nothing of your soul… well, then Glory Lands is not the book for you.
You may have heard that Glory Lands is scary, or terrifying… and yes there is some truth to these suppositions. This story is not for the faint of heart. It is a stark, plainly beautiful story of the fragility of first loves, the endurance and valor that the great among us find in their darkest hours, and—oh, I’ve goosebumps rising between my shoulder blades still—the triumphs possible when one holds fast to the truths which pure hearts have always seen.

I will tell you though, do not be dismayed, nor should you give up before attempting this story. Yes, Glory Lands is filled with beauty, evil, love, and terror. Yet… easy and gentle as the ripples of a quiet creek against smooth stones, Glory Lands will hold a mirror to your soul and bid you look. No, no, this story is not for the faint of heart, but rather for those brave enough to at least stare into that speckled mirror, squinting one eye nearly shut and covering the other with a trembling hand… for those able to hold their breath and jump in, Glory Lands will allow you to... ah, William Blake said it best: To see a world in a grain of sand. And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour…
Oh, be brave, sweet reader. Find this story. Dive in headfirst. You will find not only that impossible soul mirror I’ve spoken of throughout this review… you will also find a map to becoming great. One of the ones able to stand fast in the face of evil, even while on your knees.

Go on. Do it. You may shed a tear or two along the way. But you’ll end by inspiring others around you to be just as brave as you… and all from a handful of flawlessly crafted words.

Buy Links: 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review by Jodi: Don't Trust the Cut by Kade Boehme

Title: Don't Trust the Cut
Author: Kade Boehme
Publisher: Loose Id <-- purchase link from publisher
Rating: 4.5/5 Smooches


            Tucker Gray is a BaltimoreMD waiter, hailing from the Deep South, whose mental health issues and past relationships have made it hard to trust more than the cut. After he hits what he thought was rock bottom Tucker decides to keep close to the ones who stood by him and keep his head down, until he finds something to prove it can get better.

Jesse Bauer is unsure what his future holds after an injury forces him to retire from the marines. With all of the decisions he has to make in his civilian life with all of its freedoms and possibilities, he feels staying closeted and keeping the people in his life happy will keep down the chaos.

Until the night he met Tucker Gray at a party he thought that’d be possible, but both of them are instantly and strongly in lust. As their relationship grows Jesse has to prove himself and Tucker has to learn to trust more than the cut.


Ernest Hemingway wrote, “If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows, and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.”

Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory of writing suggests that the reader has to look beyond what is showing on the surface. That is what Kade Boehme seems to be challenging the reader to do in his novel Don’t Trust the Cut.

This novel is an intense, rollercoaster of a story. These characters will cling to your psyche long after the last page is read. Boehme’s characters are well-developed, beautiful, troubled and credible. There is a sad note of realism that permeates this story. Don’t Trust the Cut is not a light hearted romance. This story teems with angst, turmoil and drama. The beautifully descriptive prose are well written. The tension in the story is alleviated with a large dose of humor.

Don’t Trust the Cut focuses on the inner turmoil of two characters, Tucker and Jesse, who are drawn together through an intense, electric connection. Electricity crackles when their eyes meet across a crowded room.

“The man [Tucker] slowly scanned the crowd, and when his honey-brown eyes landed on Jesse’s stare, Jesse couldn’t look away. Pow! Crack! Was all he could hear in his head as a flame started to ignite between them.”

Of course, this is very tip of the iceberg. This instant attraction, which threads its way through the book, starts an avalanche of an emotional rollercoaster for the characters and reader.

Tucker Gray is a dynamic, multifaceted character. Tucker is diagnosed as having bipolar disorder and his method of dealing with stress is drinking and cutting. His previous relationship was filled with domestic violence and ended with a violent attack and a suicide attempt. Tucker’s scars, from the mental illness and self-mutilation, embarrass him and make him feel weak.

On the surface, Jesse Bauer is the polar opposite of Tucker. Jesse appears to be strong and self-assured. He joined the marines at the age of 18 and planned to be a career military man. Jesse is forced to retire from the military after being injured in combat. His future is unclear. He has lived a life of following the rules and running away from his homosexuality. Between his mother’s deep religious views and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Jesse is an emotional mess. Just before Jesse thinks about telling his mother the truth, he is gutted by her words.

“She looked at him like he was foolish. “What’s a mother to think when her son has a woman like Miranda and keeps her dangling on a string for so long? She’s either raised an emotionless bastard or he’s gay. … I’d settle for emotionless bastard. Gay is such a jagged pill.’”

But Jesse is drawn to Tucker. The electricity between the two is palpable. Between Jesse’s mental anguish and Tucker’s self-depreciation, the rollercoaster continues to soar. Being in a relationship with a person who has a mental illness can be challenging. It is even more challenging to be in that relationship when you are unaware that the person has a mental illness. The inevitable crash is painful for everyone.

Tucker, Jessie and the female minor characters Allison and Miranda are all flawed and painfully realistic. Throughout the story Allison, Miranda and many of the other minor characters serve as catalysts for Tucker and Jesse’s relationship and mental states.

Boehme does a great job dragging the reader into the emotional turmoil of the characters. Boehme has an engaging writing style, although at times, the writing is a bit choppy. This style adds more realism to the story. If you are looking for a heart wrenching, contemporary m/m romance with lots of drama and angst, you need to read this book You may need to keep a box of tissues handy while reading.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review by Cam: Out of the Blackness by Carter Quinn

Title: Out of the Blackness
Author: Carter Quinn
Publisher: Carter Quinn Books
Rating: 5/5 Smooches 


A childhood of abuse has left Avery so physically and emotionally scarred he believes he shouldn’t be alive. His only sanctuary has been his relationship with his older foster brother Sam. Avery finally lets Sam convince him to start therapy to help overcome his crippling anxiety, but even that can’t prepare him for the upheaval caused by meeting Noah Yates.

Noah is everything Avery fears. He’s large and physically powerful—and undeniably capable of destroying Avery’s hard-earned progress. Although Noah seems to have a tender streak when it comes to him, Avery is terrified of being victimized again. But no matter how many times he tries to push him away, Noah never goes far.

Noah wants to save Avery, but can he be the catalyst Avery needs to begin the journey out of the blackness?


I read this book when it first released bay in July of 2013, and I absolutely loved it. I loved the broken-ness of Avery and the patience and perseverance of Noah. Noah never gave up or truly pushed Avery. 

I worked with abused children for a long time and I've seen the lasting effects that abuse can have on them. The absolute worthlessness that Avery feels is one of those effects, and changing that damaging way of thinking is incredibly difficult. 

I really liked that the characters in this book took their time. There was no "magical cure" or quick fix. I think maybe some of Noah's easy acceptance was a bit too good to be true, but I've been told there really are nice people like that. Noah took his time, and got to know Avery in as much of a non-threatening way as he could. I liked that he had a connection to Sam's girlfriend's family. I think I would have liked to have seen a little more of Noah's back story. 

I also loved the other supporting characters. Sam especially. He really stood by Avery when there was no one else, and he was willing to do everything in his power to ensure that Avery had the life he deserved to have. That is one amazing big brother. 

Throughout the book I really felt sad for Avery. So sad that he had been through so much and that he'd been stripped of his self-worth. 

All in all this was a great book, by an amazing author, and I very much look forward to seeing what Mr. Quinn will be putting out next. Not to mention that Carter is an amazingly nice guy, who I was happy to be able to speak with in Atlanta last October. I was also lucky enough to get to listen to him read an excerpt of the book, which reminded me that I needed to re-read it and review it.. finally. 

Buy Links:



Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review by Jodi: Screwups by Jamie Fessenden

Title: Screwups
Author: Jamie Fessenden
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4.5/5 Smooches 


In 1996, Jake Stewart is starting his third year at the University of New Hampshire. Even as a successful business major, he is absolutely miserable. Not only is Jake pursuing a field he hates when he’d rather study art, he is utterly terrified of what will happen if his father finds out he’s gay. When he finally gets up the courage to move into the creative arts dorm on campus, his new roommate, Danny, is openly gay—and there’s no denying the attraction between them.

Danny Sullivan has been out since high school, and he appears comfortable with his sexuality. But something happened in Danny’s past — something that gives him nightmares he refuses to talk about. Unknown to Jake, the way he mistreated his friend, Tom Langois, when Tom came out to him in high school, is mild compared to the way someone very much like Jake treated Danny.

It may be too late to fix the mess Jake made with Tom, but if Jake wants to be with Danny, he’s going to have to fix the mess made by another closeted jock he’s never even met.


For the record, I am a fan of Jamie Fessenden’s writing style. I was blown away by Billy’s Bones, and as a result, I was looking forward to reading this book. I was not disappointed. Although this book is much more light hearted than its predecessor, it does offer its share of angst and drama.

Fessenden has a great handle on combining solicitude and humor in his prose, which is not an easy task. He also has the wonderful ability to use dialogue to enhance a story without the dialogue sounding stilted or artificial. In addition to being a pro at character development, Fessenden is a master of description.

“His name was Danny, and he was beautiful. The moment Jake had walked into the dorm lounge, he’s been struck by Danny’s delicate features, smooth golden skin, and hazel eyes that seemed smoky and almost gray, smoldering beneath long, unkempt light-brown bangs.”

This is our first look at the enigma that is Danny told from the perspective of the straight-laced, uptight Jake. The electricity between the two characters is palpable when they first meet. Danny, the geeky music major is intrigued with Jake sketches. Beneath the appearance of a jock, business major is an artist, and that is why Danny votes to let Jake live in the artist dorm, and subsequently his room and heart. Danny and Jake become fast friends, but the romantic aspect of their relationship has a slow build, primarily because Jake is in the closet.

Jake is described as being gorgeous and athletic. In addition to pretending to be straight, he is socially and sexually repressed, and has a bit of a temper. Jake’s violent and homophobic family is the catalyst for Jake’s repression. It is not surprising that he is living in self-imposed isolation. The guilt he feels over rejecting his childhood best friend’s admission of love seems to eat away at him.

“Every since he’s fucked up his friendship with Tom, his life had been completely normal and boring and lonely as hell.”

Danny is brilliantly developed. He is a fun-loving young man who is haunted by the past. Not only does he blame himself for being the victim of an assault, but he also blames himself for the bullying he endured subsequent to the attack. Like many victims in real life, Danny’s actions after the attack hinge on his somewhat desperate desire to be loved and accepted. Although he has a great relationship with his mother, he has major trust issues because he does not think he is worthy of happiness.

There are a lot of minor characters that help round out this book and add humor and depth to the main characters. Supplementing the concept of screwups are Danny and Jake’s friends. “They were the geeks among the geeks.” Without them, this story would not be as dynamic, humorous or heart warming.

Fessenden does a great job unfolding this story. Although the story is light-hearted, there are parts that are heart wrenching. If you are looking for a contemporary m/m romance with lots of geekiness, college humor and angst, this book fits the bill.

As a side note, Jake’s childhood friend and first crush, Tom Langois, is the main character in Billy’s Bones. You don’t need to know that to read this book, but it is a powerful connection if you have read Billy’s Bones, which is an outstanding book.


*Note: if you click the Dreamspinner link at the top of the review, it will take you to buy the book directly from the publisher.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Transgression by Theo Fenraven ~Reviewed by Jodi


Title: Transgression
Author: Theo Fenraven
Publisher: Voodoo Lily Press
Rated:  4.5/5 Hearts (rounded up to 5) 

The Blurb:

Zachary Fox can’t sleep. 

His acting career is taking off. Public recognition is picking up. Now more than ever, he understands how key reputation is to his success. But his relationship with his co-star, Kris—arranged around publicity rather than genuine feelings—is suffocating him. She once understood his needs, but her demands are beginning to grate with every shrill order she gives. 

Zach has a secret. The breakout star of a new medical series, he’s been hiding his orientation from co-stars, friends and family, the studio, and his fans. 

On the recommendation of a friend, Zach seeks out Sky Kelly, a well-connected herbalist whose concoctions are natural magic, as is her stunning beauty. On the surface, she has it all: her own house, a thriving business, and good friends, but the things she had to do to get there are a time bomb ticking away, and when it goes off, she'll be teetering on the edge of a chasm that can put her right back where she started. 

Sky has secrets. Like, she’s got a Y chromosome and the original equipment to go with it. Like being a highly paid escort. Like, if Zach is seen with her in public, it could ruin his career. Like someone becoming so obsessed with Sky, that obsession threatens them both. 

Secrets... everyone is hiding something, and instead of finding The One, it could be The End. 


To violate a law. To violate a command. To violate a moral code. To offend. To sin. To transgress.

After reading the blurb for Transgression, I was intrigued by the premise of the book, although it is not a genre of romance that typically interests me. However, once I started reading, thinking about categories and genres was no longer important. Theo Fenraven is a masterful wordsmith and storyteller. He had me hooked in the first chapter of the book.

To say Transgression is a love story would be remiss. Ultimately this is a tale of love, courage and acceptance. Although it is a HEA romance, the book is wrought with fear, hate, loneliness and tragedy. To the public, the characters in this book seem self-assured and confident, but behind the facades, they are scared, lonely, distrustful and self-loathing. Within the pages of Transgression, Fenraven takes on a rather lofty goal of depicting transphobia, homophobia and egomania and their deleterious consequences.

Fenraven’s ability to draw the reader into this tale teeming with deceptions and self-loathing is impressive. Both Sky and Zach are endearing characters, and although not all of the minor characters in the book are fully developed, it is the appearance of those characters that gives depth to Sky and Zach. When Zach’s best friend, Ricky declares “I can keep secrets … Everyone has secrets, right,” it is obvious that the minor characters will be vital in the story.

Sky is an awesome character. There are several passages that embed the reader in Sky’s world. Without giving too much of her character away, there are two passages that stand out:

“The penis: it was the symbol for everything wrong in her life, every door closed in her face, every job she didn’t get, every man who thought her an abomination and every woman who spurned her friendship.”

“It was ridiculous to think she could live anything like a normal life with someone. But she didn’t want to let go of the dream. Without it, what did she have?”

            The weakest point of this book would be that some of the points and minor characters need more development. There are a lot of themes and characters for such a short book. Although I loved Zach and his easy acceptance of Sky, some areas of the story would be stronger with more development. That being said, Fenraven does not stray from realism in this novel.  Zach has spent a lifetime hiding who he is, and when the truth comes out, the results are not pretty.

As a devout fan of m/m romance, reading about trans* people is not my usually book of choice. After all, Sky, although physically and genetically male, is indeed a woman. But the complexity of the character roles and their inner turmoil is what makes this a great read. Fenraven had me smiling as well as crying at points in this book. I highly recommend it.

Buy Links:

Barnes & Noble

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Allison Cassatta and Tracey Michael Celebrate Beast and our Grand Re-Opening

I want to say a HUGE thank you to Allison and Tracey for coming to the blog to kick off our Re-opening and to Celebrate the release of their new book, Beast. It released from Dreamspinner yesterday, March 14th.

For a chance to win an e-book copy, make sure you leave your email address in the comments. 

Tracey: Okay. So. Why did we decide on B&B [Beauty and the Beast]?

Allison: I always loved that story. It was one of my favorites. I think it's because a shy bookworm finds a happily ever after in someone who isn't physically perfect, which the majority of the human race isn't anyway, so everyone can relate.

Allison: What made you decide to write MM?

Tracey: I don't know that I decided anything. LOL I got a story in my head and I could see the main characters very clearly. Neither of them were female.

Tracey: So... What color underwear do you have on today?

Allison: Black. It’s always black.

Allison: Okay.... Question. What's your fascination with my underwear?

Tracey: dies It’s just a fun question and I almost always get either the stinky eye or a facepalm.

Tracey: Are you enjoying your diet?

Allison: Fuck no. I want pizza and cheesecake and ice cream and....

Allison: From one of your own books, which character would you most like to be and why?

Tracey: Hmmm...None of them, I think. They already have little pieces of me in them. And I like me. Today. That could change tomorrow, though. LOL

Tracey: Same question to you, Ms Alli.

Allison: OMG... Yeah, I don't know how to answer that. I'm cruel to my characters. I make them earn their HEAs. I make them face such hard stuff before they're allowed to be happy. I guess, thus is life though. No pain. No gain.

Allison: Who/Where/What do you get your best inspiration from?

Tracey: My best inspiration comes from my dreams. They are vivid and tell interesting stories and I almost always remember them.

Tracey: Do you have a go-to song when you're writing?

Allison: Yes, I do actually. There are three of them "You're the one" and "To Get By" by Black Berry Wednesday or “Try” by Pink

Allison: What's your favorite fairy tale and why?

Tracey: My favorite fairy tale is probably Cinderella, because no matter how mean people were to her, she kept being who she was. She was responsible and worked hard. And in the end, she got her heart's desire. I'm a believer of fate and things happening for a reason.

Excerpt from our new release, Beast:
“Mr. Adams, you are my employee, not my friend. Our relationship will never grow beyond that, and if you’re not careful, it could cease to exist entirely.” The anger in his voice grew more and more present with every word he spoke. “I do not wish to sit with you. I do not wish to share fond stories with you. I do not wish to be your friend. Am I understood?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Good. Now, if you wish to remain employed here, you will do exactly as I ask. No more. No less.”
“I understand, sir. I apologize for overstepping.”
Ilias kept his face blank, not letting Mr. Costas see that he’d hurt his feelings, and stood up. He moved back to the table and sat down, but his appetite was gone. Sighing quietly, he woke up his tablet again.
Stick to your book friends, Ilias. You should have known better.
Day one—nowhere near close to being over and so far, an epic fail. At this rate, Ilias wouldn’t last a week, and he needed this job. Needed it almost as badly as he needed air, but would he allow himself to continue to be humiliated? They say everyone has a price, but would Costas keep paying it to have the privilege of abusing someone the way he did?
“Shall we get started?” Costas asked.
The sudden sound of his voice made Ilias gasp back the sip of coffee he had in his mouth. He nearly choked and briefly wondered if Costas would save him or let him drown in java.

Links to Allison:

Links to Tracey:

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Grand ReOpening

Obviously we haven't posted in a while and there are changes in progress.

We've added two more reviewers. And will be re-opening on March 15th.  Please bear with us as we are under construction!