Genre: Gay

Guest Review: Steady Stroke by A.M. Arthur

Posted September 19, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Steady Stroke by A.M. ArthurReviewer: Tracy
Steady StrokeSeries: Off Beat series #2
Also in this series: Body Rocks
Published by Swerve, St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: September 6th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Gay, m/m
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

After a tragic accident, Lincoln West’s dreams of making it big as a guitarist fell apart. Unable to play music, he’s battling a hopeless downward spiral, and takes his friend’s offer to stay at their beach house for the summer. While at an open mike night at local bar Off Beat, he locks eyes with a busboy who doesn’t make Linc feel so broken anymore.

Emmett Westmore lives for the anonymity of busing tables in his aunt’s quirky bar where no one pities him for the fire that killed everyone he loved. He blames himself for the fire, and he doesn’t want anyone to see him—except for Linc. Emmett’s walls drop when he’s around the gorgeous blue-eyed guitarist, but he has a secret that could destroy his budding relationship with Linc.

Both Linc and Emmett are looking for a way to live again…will they let their fears control them or take a chance on something real?

Lincoln was in a horrible accident.  He almost died but managed to put himself back together and move on with his life.  Move on without music, that is.  He was a guitarist but can’t play because every time he strums a guitar the vibrations cause a migraine headache.  Music was his life and now he doesn’t have that, or anything else – according to him.

Lincoln is staying at Trey’s beach house for the summer and decides to go out to a local bar one night.  He meets a friend, Melody, and also sees a bar back who he’s attracted to.  Lincoln invites Emmett to lunch as friends and while Lincoln wants more Emmett just isn’t ready.

Emmett is living with his aunt Beatrice and working in her bar and has been since a fire killed his family.  His parents were very religious and he feels that he’s betraying them by admitting he’s gay and wanting to be with a man.  Linc, however, is making him want things more than ever and Linc finally makes him see that his parents would have wanted him to be happy, gay or straight.  The pair become lovers and much more but when Emmett tells Linc a secret about himself it may tear the two apart.

This was a cute but somewhat slow book.  I liked the premise and I liked Linc and Emmett together. I thought the pair of them worked so well together and their connection was pretty spot on.  It was nice seeing some characters from book one and seeing where they were in their lives, as well.

The story started off well but then slowed down significantly in the middle of the book.  That part was getting further into the relationship which was nice but didn’t make for great reading.  It also had Linc working on playing the QChord which is an instrument that apparently sounds like a guitar but has no vibrations.  It brought music back into Linc’s life which was fabulous but the practicing, etc. was sort of mundane.

Anyway, while I would consider this an ok book I didn’t feel it lived up to book one and that was a bit disappointing.

Rating: 2.5/3 out of 5


Guest Review: Body Rocks by A.M. Arthur

Posted July 22, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review:  Body Rocks by A.M. ArthurReviewer: Tracy
Body Rocks by A. M. Arthur
Series: Off Beat series #1
Also in this series: Steady Stroke
Published by Macmillan, Swerve
Publication Date: June 28th 2016
Genres: Romance, LGBT, Gay, m/m
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Everything is finally falling into place for Trey Cooper: his band has been accepted into one of the biggest music competitions in the country...too bad their drummer just quit to play with XYZ, their biggest rival. When Trey has a mind-blowingly hot hookup with a mysterious violinist, Trey definitely plans to see him again – just not on stage as a member of XYZ.

Dominic Bounds’ time to make his musical dreams come true is running out. If something doesn’t happen fast, he has to head home to find a real job. This competition is his last chance, and Dom needs to come out on top – but he never expected to fall for his rival. As Dom and Trey risk everything to begin a secret affair, there’s no denying their chemistry is off the charts – but could their band rivalry turn their romance into a one-hit wonder?

Trey and Dominic meet under unusual circumstances.  Dominic is at an open mic night in Trey’s hometown and he blows Trey away with his violin playing rock songs.  The crowd loves it too and asks for more but Dominic’s not prepared.  Trey, who is a band called Fading Daze is called up to play keyboards with him and the two make magical music together.  It helps that they’re incredibly attracted to each other as well and end up together in a car in the boondocks where it proves to be Trey’s first time. The two – who each normally only do hookups – decide that they really like the other and exchange phone numbers.

The next night Trey hears from his roommates and band members that the band XYZ is in town.  They were the band that stole Fading Daze’s drummer away and left them in a lurch for a huge music competition that they were part of.  The trio decides to check out XYZ and Trey’s shocked when he sees Dominic in the band on keyboard!  Luckily Trey and Dominic like each other enough to work it out between them but they keep the secret from all of their band mates except for Trey’s friend Danielle who just happens to find out about them.

Life isn’t easy trying to keep their relationship on the down low when their bands are rivals but they manage.  Dominic is out and proud but Trey, while he doesn’t exactly hide the fact he’s gay he doesn’t shout it from the mountain tops either.  He has a great rapport with Danielle on stage and while they’ve never said that they were a couple they never dissuaded anyone from believing that.  Trey’s not sure he’s ready to come out and lose fans right before the big competition, Unbound.  When XYZ gets a spot at Unbound as well Trey and Dom are happy that they’ll get to be together but they’re torn about winning.  They each want to win for their own reasons but they want the other to win as well.

When someone at the competition decides that Trey and Dom’s sex life would look good on camera and Trey denies any involvement with Dom things get rocky.  When a secret from Dom’s past comes out and Dom gets emotionally distraught, things get rocky, when a tragic accident stops one of the bands from performing in the national Unbound competition, things get rocky.  Fortunately for these two men their love is strong enough to see things through.

This was a sweet story that was pretty angst-filled. Dom had some serious issues because of something in his past, Trey had a horrible family he didn’t talk to, Dom’s friend Lincoln had been kicked out of his house for being gay, the drummer from Fading Daze was stolen away, there was an accident.  I mean, really, while it was a good m/m story, it was pretty dark as well.  I liked how the two men worked things out eventually but I wish they could have not been so quick with the anger and worked it out easier.  I guess that showed their age as they were just around 21 years old.

I have to say that I really loved the family love when it came to Dominic’s family.  They were the best.  They were kind, loving, understanding, supportive – just all around good people.  I loved that the boys had a safe place where they could be themselves and not worry about the outside world.

The issue I had with the relationship was that since it all happened so quickly there just wasn’t a lot of tension between the two and not a lot of buildup.  I liked them together but quite frankly the sexual tension wasn’t there for me.

Overall I thought it was a decent start to the series.  I am curious to see what happens next in the lives of these band members so I’ll be reading the next book when it comes out.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5


Guest Review: Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Posted March 28, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle KennedyReviewer: Tracy
Us by Sarina Bowen, Elle Kennedy
Series: Him series #2
Published by Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: March 8th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Gay, m/m
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He’s living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves—Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There’s just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice.

Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It’s not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn’t help that his new job isn’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves.

Or can they?

When Wes’s nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel. With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?

It was difficult and a long road before Wes and Jamie found their happiness together. Now Jamie is coaching teens and Wes is in the NHL and they’ve been living in Canada. Unfortunately, they’ve been living in secrecy and it’s beginning to wear on their relationship. Wes just wants to get through his rookie season before he comes out but Jamie starts to fear that there will be another reason, then another, then another and Wes will end up staying in the closet. This thinking pulls Jamie farther away from Wes and it puts a big strain on their relationship. On top of that, one of Wes’s teammates moves into the same building and starts to come over…a lot and that means that Wes and Jamie have to act like roommates, not lovers.

When Jamie becomes ill everything explodes and soon everything Wes and Jamie were planning falls to the wayside. Jamie starts to think that the relationship will never be what it once was and thinks that maybe that’s not such a bad idea.

Sigh Such a good book. It was good but sad as well and my heart hurt for everything that Wes and Jamie were going through. Wes was really trying his damndest to make everyone, including himself, happy but it just wasn’t working out like he thought it would. He just wanted to be with Jamie and make his home and life with him but things kept happening that would pull them away from each other. I really felt bad for both of the men as I was with Wes and just wanted them to be happy together.

The writing sucked me in and I didn’t put the book down, once I started reading, until I was done – it ws that good. I don’t know if there are more stories in the future for Wes and Jamie but if not full length novels I’d love to see some novellas about them – maybe just slices of life stories. I love them too much to never read about them again. 🙂

Rating: 4 out of 5


Guest Review: Trailer Trash by Marie Sexton

Posted March 25, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Trailer Trash by Marie SextonReviewer: Tracy
Trailer Trash by Marie Sexton
Published by Riptide Publishing
Publication Date: March 21st 2016
Genres: Gay, m/m, Young Adult
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

It’s 1986, and what should have been the greatest summer of Nate Bradford’s life goes sour when his parents suddenly divorce. Now, instead of spending his senior year in his hometown of Austin, Texas, he’s living with his father in Warren, Wyoming, population 2,833 (and Nate thinks that might be a generous estimate). There’s no swimming pool, no tennis team, no mall—not even any MTV. The entire school’s smaller than his graduating class back home, and in a town where the top teen pastimes are sex and drugs, Nate just doesn’t fit in.

Then Nate meets Cody Lawrence. Cody’s dirt-poor, from a broken family, and definitely lives on the wrong side of the tracks. Nate’s dad says Cody’s bad news. The other kids say he’s trash. But Nate knows Cody’s a good kid who’s been dealt a lousy hand. In fact, he’s beginning to think his feelings for Cody go beyond friendship.

Admitting he might be gay is hard enough, but between small-town prejudices and the growing AIDS epidemic dominating the headlines, a town like Warren, Wyoming, is no place for two young men to fall in love.

Due to his parents divorcing Nate has been uprooted from his home in Austin, Texas and moved to a little town called Warren, Wyoming that’s dying a slow and painful death. He meets Cody not long after moving and they hang out together for a few weeks before their senior year starts. Cody tells Nate that he won’t want to hang out with him after school starts but Nate assures him he will.

When school starts Cody makes himself scarce even though Nate looks for him constantly. Nate lives in an area of town that is upper middle class called Orange Grove and Cody lives in a trailer in an area they call The Hole (short for shit hole). The kids from the Orange Grove are preppy, petty and snobby and Nate really doesn’t like them all that much – especially when they talk trash about Cody. Of course now that Cody avoids him he really has no true friends.

Eventually Nate finds out that Cody is gay and in Wyoming that might as well have been the plague. No one wants to be around Cody, especially with AIDS big in the news for the past few years. Of course small town thinking means that Cody possibly has AIDS just because he’s gay – doesn’t matter that he’s a virgin. When Nate starts to analyze his feelings about Cody he finds that he’s attracted to him and soon admits that he’s gay as well. It’s not something he’s comfortable with at first but if it means he can be with Cody then he’s all for it. Of course once Nate’s father finds out all bets are off and soon the boys are being torn apart in more ways than one.

This was a very powerful YA story that really touched me. I can so easily see all of this happening in a small Podunk town in Wyoming and the prejudices that Cody had faced his whole life – from being trailer trash to being gay. It was assumed that he was a bad kid just because of his parents and where he lived and that broke my heart as in this case he was just minding his own business. Even Nate’s dad, a local cop, had his own prejudices against Cody and he’d talked to the boy only once.

Nate and Cody together were a great couple. It was hard for Cody to see the light at the end of the tunnel but Nate gave him the hope that he needed to do what needed to be done so that they could be together. I loved the two of them to pieces, both separately and together. They each brought distinct personalities to the relationship that were so different in so many ways but blended perfectly together.

The story was very sad in a lot of places but had a theme of hope running through it that kept me reading. I really liked the flash back in time to the late 80’s and that was a fun aspect of the story with all the fashion that is mentioned. This young adult, coming of age story is so good and one that you won’t want to pass up.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Guest Review: November Rain by Daisy Harris

Posted October 5, 2014 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: November Rain by Daisy HarrisReviewer: Tracy
November Rain by Daisy Harris
Series: Fire & Rain #4

Publication Date: September 2nd 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Gay, m/m
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Detective Joe Klamath is used to guys falling on their backs at the arch of his commanding eyebrow. Yet he can’t seem to get a read on a cute, department-store sales guy. The vagrant who just walked in, though? He’s easy to read. He’s dangerous.

Joe’s training kicks in, but as he wrestles the gun-wielding man, he gets shot.

Raised in a conservative Ethiopian community, Elias Abraham keeps his natural attraction to men under wraps. But Joe’s heroism moves him to care for the man who saved his life. After all, Joe is hurt. Chances are slim he’ll demand the types of things boys in college always wanted. Sex acts Elias wasn’t—and possibly never will be—ready for.

Gradually, Joe’s easy confidence softens Elias’s resistance. But as Joe’s healing progresses too slowly for a man of action, and trouble brews in Elias’s family, Elias begins to wonder if he can handle the pressure. Because though he hasn’t given all of his body, he’s already given all of his heart.


Tracy’s review of November Rain (Fire and Rain #4) by Daisy Harris

Joe, who is a detective, is shopping for a sweater in Nordstrom. He wants to look good for his ex’s wedding so decides to see if he can find anything to wear. He likes a few sweaters but he REALLY likes the clerk who is helping him. Joe finishes paying for his purchase and is going to ask Elias out when a man who looks homeless tries to return something to men’s department. Joe senses that there’s something not right about the man and when the guy pulls out a gun he’s proven correct. Joe is shot during the scuffle but other than that no one is hurt.

Joe isn’t thrilled to be in the hospital as the bullet wound is just a graze and he makes a huge fuss until they let him go. As he’s leaving he meets up with Elias who has come to the hospital to make sure that Joe is alright. Elias ends up taking Joe home and taking care of him. They can each tell that there’s an attraction brewing but Elias is quite shy so Joe’s not sure how to handle things.

Elias is a man who has lived his entire life in America but he’s Ethiopian. His culture dislikes homosexuality intensely and while his parents no longer live in the states he does live with his brother and sister-in-law. He loves them to pieces and doesn’t want to alienate them. He wants to live his life as a gay man and he can’t do that without telling them the truth. He wants to go after Joe but he’s not sure he can live two lives. He takes care of Joe who is grumpy and caustic but they seem to do ok in bed.

Joe was hurt from his previous relationship. He was with his ex for years but they had an open relationship which eventually had his partner meeting someone else and now getting married. I think it makes Joe pissed off but also wondering what was wrong with him. He starts to really like Elias but his people skills suck something fierce. He knows he needs help with his wound and getting around but it rubs him the wrong way to ask for help – even when Elias is offering. When the police department won’t let him back to work until he gets physical therapy he grudgingly agrees. By finally going he finds some strength within himself that he had lost.

Elias is dealing with not only Joe’s issues but his own as well. He wants to come clean about his sexuality with his brother but then his sister-in-laws depression gets to a point where it’s almost fatal. Elias isn’t sure what to do and it almost breaks him and Joe apart.

The story in this book was a good one. I liked both Joe, despite his crankiness, and Elias. I thought the growth that each of them showed was important to their relationship and I was happy that they were each willing to make the effort it took to stay together.

My issue with the story was that I didn’t feel the emotion between the two. I saw the lust and the friendship and yes, their sex bouts were hot but I missed the deep emotional pull that I felt with the first book in this series, From the Ashes. While I liked I didn’t connect with either men the way I would have liked. While this story wasn’t quite as dark as the previous story in the series it had its moments. Hopefully the next book will be slightly lighter on the angst.

Rating: 3 out of 5

This title is available from Samhain Publishing. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.