Tag: Harper Fox

Guest Review: Men Under The Mistletoe by Ava March, Josh Lanyon, Harper Fox, and K.A. Mitchell

Posted February 5, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of Men Under the Mistletoe by Josh Lanyon, Harper Fox, Ava March, & K.A. Mitchell

Baby it’s Cold Outside

A man receives the gift of pleasure at the hands of two expert lovers. Boyhood sweethearts get a second chance at romance. Two very proper gentlemen indulge their forbidden desires. And a Christmas tree farmer has an epiphany. It may be cold outside but these four holiday novellas will warm you up.

Anthology includes:

My True Love Gave to Me by Ava March

Winter Knights by Harper Fox

Lone Star by Josh Lanyon

The Christmas Proposition by K.A. Mitchell

I don’t do anthologies, period! I don’t know why the format has never clicked with me but it just hasn’t. Now having said that, I turn right around and decide to read this one, mainly because I don’t read a lot of M/M romance and I am trying to read more of it, and because there are a couple of authors included in this line-up that I like because of stuff I have read in the past. These novellas are definitely holiday related, but they are all perfectly OK to be read any other time of the year. They are just plain good stories about good people and those that love them. As in all good stories they are built around a love relationship that is in crisis in one way or another. But all of us romance lovers know that going in, so it isn’t something that usually bothers us. The mark of a good story is how they resolve the crisis, as I see it.

My True Love Gave To Me by Ava March is a historical novella featuring two men of 19th century England when being openly gay put one’s reputation, one’s social position, and possibly one’s life in danger. Both men were young, had met in university, and while the older of the two was comfortable with his sexual preferences, the other man was not. He gave in to their attraction for one another with hidden groping and short quick encounters in hidden corners of the campus, but when it came down to spending some quality time with his lover, Thomas, the younger of the two, gave in to his fear and not only left his lover but also left the country. Four years later, Thomas returns to England from New York and is mature and accepting of his homosexuality and he knows that “Sasha” is his true love. But the man he encounters upon his return is cold, bitter, unforgiving. It is a very emotional story that will tug at the reader’s heart strings and is written so well that I had no difficulty feeling the stress and hurt between these two lovers.

Winter Knights by Harper Fox is set in Northern England and features two men who are at different stages of their personal journey toward accepting who they are. They had been in a relationship of sorts for three years when one of the men breaks off the relationship and declares that not only won’t he “come out” to his family but he is renewing his engagement to his ex-fiance. Now begins a bit of magical involvement with some well-know mythological characters who are also gay lovers and who bring healing and peace to the man whose lover has left him. This is a more difficult story to get one’s head around– not that it isn’t well-written, but it has the sense of fantasy and myth about it yet appears on the surface to be contemporary and real. The resolution of the crisis was surprising to me, and it is one of the really complicated stories of the four.

Lone Star by Josh Lanyon is set in modern-day Texas and features a man who left his hometown and his dad 12 years earlier after his dad refused to not only reject his choice of occupation but also his homosexuality, telling him to leave and never return. Add to this trauma the fact that the man he loved deeply and dearly not only refused to leave their hometown with him, but also refused to “come out” to his family. Now he has returned to settle his dad’s estate–an old, rundown ranch that has been left vacant for six months. It is Christmas time, the weather is terrible, and he has just lost the chance at a prime role as one of New York’s featured dancers. He has also happened upon his lover being serviced by one of the guest performer. You see, our guy is the principal male lead of the American Ballet Troup, a life and a occupation choice his dad never could accept. He wants to get his dad’s personal effects taken care of and the ranch put up for sale, but while he is considering this as he journey’s from the airport, he has a terrible accident which totals his car. As it so happens, the car that was driving behind him a ways back was a Texas Ranger and, of all things, the man who refused to come with him 12 years earlier. This is a story that starts out tense and stays that way for awhile yet almost from the first the reader perceives that the tension comes from feelings they both have buried and have now leaped to the surface when they are least expected. The resolution of their crisis was another surprise–one that I found inventive and one that had the smack of reality–real people dealing with life’s realities and working to preserve their love honestly.

The Christmas Proposition by K.A.Mitchell features two guys who are from vastly different “walks” of life. One is the unhappy and sort of unwilling proprietor of a Christmas tree ranch–an enterprise that barely broke even to the extent that he had to take a second job to pay the rest of the bills and keep a roof over his and his sister’s heads. After three silent years, Bryce returns–the owner of a major natural gas company and Mel’s lover in the past, and one who has just up and left–or at least that’s the way it felt. Now he has returned and they once again reunite, but the road to true love seldom is smooth, and while Bryce is certainly a part of the activities of the moment, there is every expectation that he will once again disappear. It’s a story of uneasy relationship, deep anxiety over the future, and a sense that life and love just kept passing him by. There is a ton of friendship and family connection here and even a wedding, but it is during that context Bryce did something that set Mel on his ear and he froze. Kudos for Mel’s sister who seems to be the family member with her head on straight (no pun intended) and even though she is in drug and alcohol recovery, she has a sense of what the mature response to the proposition should be.

All in all, each of these novellas are wonderful love stories and a great collection of tales that deal with the issues that all lovers probably face from time to time. These are real guys with big hearts who must deal with the pressures of a world that still feels very uneasy about their orientation, yet they forge onward in the search for authentic relationship as do all human beings. This anthology may be a holiday release, but it is well-worth reading any time of the year.

I give it a rating of 4 out of 5

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Carina Press. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

What I Read Last Week

Posted December 12, 2011 by Tracy in Reviews | 8 Comments

Well it’s a rainy Monday here in So. Cal and I’m home with a sick child.  She’s just a lump on the couch the poor thing (my youngest). So far I’ve gotten some much needed reviews written – thank heavens!

This past Saturday I was lucky enough to be able to attend a So Cal Blogger/Author gathering.  We met at Renee’s house for a potluck and it was Renee, KB Alan, Nico Rosso, Zoe Archer, Vivienne Westlake and me.  It was a small group but we had a great time talking and of course having our book swap.  It was a good time.

So on to what I read – it will be brief as the queen bee on the couch over there is calling for attention. 🙂

I started off the week with Any Given Christmas by Candis Terry.  This was a cute contemporary about a professional football player coming to terms with the possibility that he’ll never play again after an injury.  You can read my review here. 3.5 out of 5

Next up was Bicycle Built for Two by Jeff Adams.  This was a cute m/m about two men who meet at a charity bike event.  They hit it off but they live in two different cities.  Besides the location of their romancing the book but just sweet.  There was really no angst and I liked that about the story. 3 out of 5

Next was a very short story called Hollow by AC Ruttan that is a bit of a take off on Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. It was ok but just really short.  2 out of 5

Mate Test by Amber Kell was my Tracy’s TBR Challenge read for the week.  It was a novella about a man who thinks he’s being sent to a planet to make a mineral deal but he’s really been signed up for the Consort contest for the King.  He’s blind of a sorts but he’s bonded to a dragon so the dragon helps him see.  The romance was more of an instant attraction and besides feeling the attraction and doing the contests there just wasn’t a lot of “romance” per se.  3 out of 5

Next up was Men Under the Mistletoe by Josh Lanyon, Ava March, KA Mitchell & Harper Fox.  This was a 4 novella anthology about men, their loves and all had a Christmas theme.  You can read my review here.  4 out of 5

After that was Lady Northam’s Wicked Surrender by Vivienne Westlake.  This was the story of a woman who fell in love and then when the man went off to war she was never contacted again.  She was convinced the man never loved her by his best friend and she ended up marrying the friend.  Now years later the husband has died and the love has come back to try to win her love.  They find they still love each other as well as finding some deceptions in their pasts from people they trusted.  It was great little story at only 55 pages.  3.75 out of 5

Scandal of the Year by Laura Lee Guhrke is the second book in the Abandoned at the Altar series and it was a good one.  Two people who think they know what the other’s about but really they have no idea.  It was a good story and was well worth the read. 4 out of 5

Last for the week was Holiday Kisses by Jaci Burton, Shannon Stacey, HelenKay Dimon and Alison Kent,  another great anthology from Carina Press.  The stories are all sweet and again, all based around Christmas.  I posted this one on The Book Binge site so when it posts I’ll let you know. 4 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Lawe’s Justice by Lora Leigh
A Beginner’s Guide to Rakes by Suzanne Enoch
To Wed a Wild Lord by Sabrina Jeffries
Love, Come to Me by Lisa Kleypas

Happy Reading!

Review: Men Under the Mistletoe by Ava March, Harper Fox, Josh Lanyon & KA Mitchell

Posted December 9, 2011 by Tracy in Reviews | 5 Comments

My True Love Gave to Me by Ava March

Alexander Norton loathes the festive season. The revelry of the ton is a reminder of Christmas four years ago, when his first love, Thomas Bennett, broke his heart and fled to New York without a word. So when he encounters Thomas at a holiday ball, Alexander is determined not to let on how much he still hurts.

Thomas has returned for one reason only: Alexander. Having finally come to terms with his forbidden desires, he will do whatever he must to convince Alexander to give their love another chance. But instead of the happy, carefree man Thomas once knew, Alexander is now hard and cynical. Saddened to know he’s to blame for the man’s bitterness, Thomas resolves to reignite the passion he knows lies hidden behind the wall of disdain…

Historical m/m romance is always a bit difficult for me to read. I think because I want the men to be together so badly and they can never be out and proud. They can never walk down the streets holding hands or ever show their affection in public and it just breaks my heart. This story is about two men who meet at Oxford and fall for each other. But Thomas is having a hard time dealing with the fact that he wants to be with a man. On a snowy Christmas Eve both Thomas and Alexander, who Thomas calls Sasha, head to Sasha’s father’s hunting lodge. Unfortunately things don’t go the way Sasha would like, Thomas leaves and Sasha is heartbroken.

Now Thomas is back after four years of completely ignoring Sasha and he wants him back. He will do anything to get his true love to take him back and he’s not above begging. Sasha, however, has turned into a brusque, cynical man and he’s not sure he wants to open himself up to that kind of hurt again.

This was just a heartwrenching story. Sasha’s heartbreak from losing Thomas was so hard to read although I completely understood Thomas’s fears it was still hard for me to read about his actions. When Thomas finally comes to terms about who he really is and his feelings for Sasha it’s four years later. I could understand Sasha’s hesitance completely as I would have been leery as well. The story was well written and really good.

Winter Knights by Harper Fox

Historian Gavin Lowden is in Northumberland on Christmas Eve for two reasons: to find evidence of a romantic bond between Arthur and Lancelot, and to finally tell his partner Piers that he loves him. Piers has promised to come clean with his conservative family and join Gavin for their first holiday as a couple, but at the last minute, he bails. Devastated, Gavin heads out onto the moors alone, just as snow begins to fall…

Gavin stumbles into an underground chamber, where strange happenings cause him to question what is real and what is fantasy. He’s found by two mysterious men who offer him a bed for the night—and awaken him to nuances of erotic pleasure he didn’t know existed. Pleasure he hopes to share with Piers.

When Piers learns that Gavin has gone missing, he is desperate to find him. He knows now breaking up was a terrible mistake, and he’s ready to take the next step in their relationship—if it’s not already too late.

Gavin is so excited that his boyfriend Piers will be telling his parents about the fact that he is gay and then will then spend the holiday with him. After 3 years of spending it separately he wants nothing more than to be with Piers. But Piers, who is a devout Catholic, doesn’t hold up his end of the bargain. In fact not only does he not tell his family but he then calls Gavin and lets him know that he will be marrying Gwen a woman he had been engaged to prior.

In a fog from his heartbreak, Gavin heads off to check out a location near his hotel that supposedly has a connection with King Arthur. What he finds is a deep chamber and gets stuck. He’s hurt, not thinking clearly and isn’t dressed warmly enough. Luckily two rescue workers come to help. Artie and Lance not only eventually help Gavin out of the hole, they take him home and help him see some insights into himself – some he just didn’t want to hear. They also initiate him in sexual acts he had never before discovered.

When the morning comes Gavin finds Piers in front of Artie and Lance’s house ready to talk to him. The pair finally communicate everything that has been a problem for the past 3 years and become closer for it. But how does Gavin deal with his guilt over his liaison with Artie and Lance? And would Piers understand if he tells him.

This was a very well written story that had me guessing exactly what was going to happen until the end. I had some issue with Gavin falling into bed with Lance and Artie so soon after his break with Piers but eventually saw exactly what was happening and why. There was a strange twist in this novella that was unexpected but I really liked how it all ended up.

Lone Star by Josh Lanyon

Growing up in rural Texas, Mitchell Evans’s ambition to be a dancer made him a target. Though he found success in New York City, Mitch is at a crossroads, and heads home for the first time in twelve years to figure things out. When what appears to be a reindeer jumps out in front of his car, he drives off the road and into the path of the one man he hoped to avoid.

The last person Texas Ranger Web Eisley expects to see four days before Christmas is his first love. He hasn’t seen Mitch since they quarreled over coming out to their friends and family years ago. Though he’s not in the closet now, Web has worked hard for the respect of his fellow officers, but he still regrets the loss of Mitch in his life. And his bed.

The attraction between them is as strong as ever, and it doesn’t take long for the men to pick up where they left off. But is love enough to keep Mitch in town in the New Year?

Mitch Evans is a famous ballet dancer who once was just a kid in small town rural Texas. When he lived in Texas he fell in love with Web Eisley but their thoughts about how their relationship should commence were not on the same wavelength. After a horrible argument with Web, Mitch went home and told his rancher father that he was gay. His father then punched him and kicked him out of the house. Mitch left and never looked back. Now his father has died and he’s gone back to his hometown to take care of legal details. While driving to his home he has an accident and who is there to help him pick up the pieces? Web Eisley.

Mitch is in a vulnerable place in his life with his work and his recent relationship but he knows that his feelings for Web are not just something he can ignore. Web finally came out to his family and friends and is more than happy to have Mitch back and is willing to take what he can from the man with the hope that their relationship can continue.

This was a very sweet story. I loved Mitch and Web both separately and apart. My complaint about this story was that it just wasn’t long enough! lol I wanted to read more about the two men and of course what happens after they finally get together (and no that’s not a spoiler because come on, you know there’s gonna be a HEA!)

The Christmas Proposition by K.A. Mitchell

It’s Christmas in Epiphany, Pennsylvania—the busiest time of year for Mel Halner. But running the family Christmas tree farm has worn down his love for the happiest season of all, and lately Mel’s been wondering what if he’d said yes to a ticket out of town with millionaire Bryce Campion three years ago.

Bryce isn’t used to people saying no to him, and he can’t forget Mel or their brief but sizzling affair. He might not have been offering forever, but Bryce can’t understand a guy as sexy and smart as Mel choosing to stay rooted on the family farm over enjoying the high life with him. He’s determined to make Mel see what he’s missed out on the first chance he gets.

Mel Halner hasn’t ever been anywhere. He grew up in Epiphany, Pennsylvania and has worked at his parents Christmas Tree farm since he could remember. Two years ago he hooked up with Bryce Campion and thought that it might be something special. Back then Bryce asked, off handedly, if Mel was willing to leave town with him since he was the owner of a huge corporation. Both the misunderstanding of the sincerity of Bryce’s request as well as fear of the unknown had Mel staying put. Bryce left without a word and Mel hadn’t heard from him since.

Now Bryce is back in town and they’ve taken up where they left off but Mel still has issues and he’s not sure exactly where Bryce wants the relationship to go. On top of that Mel’s trying to plan a wedding at the last minute for his best friend. Will the stress never end?

This was a very hot story with lots of man lovin. I love Mitchell’s work and this was no different. As with all the stories in this anthology I wished for more with this story. More in depth thought from both Mel and Bryce would have been wonderful. Mel had such issues – some understandable, some ridiculous, imho, and knowing more about those would have been great. Bryce moved the relationship quickly and wasn’t very forthcoming about his thoughts and feelings but he thought he was relaying those in action and deed – which is great but sometime you just need to have it said out loud! Men! lol

Overall all the stories in this Christmas anthology were very good and not to be missed.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Ava March
Harper Fox
Josh Lanyon
KA Mitchell
Carina Press

What I Read Last Week

Posted September 5, 2011 by Tracy in Features | 5 Comments

Happy Labor Day!

I hope you all had a great weekend and for those of you in the US I hope you’re having a nice extra day off today.  I know I am!

Saturday my mom Judith and I traveled to Holly’s house for a special blogger get together.  You see Ames was visiting from Canada and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see her while she was here.  Rosie, Holly, Renee, Wendy, Judith, Lori, Rowena and Ames and I had a great time having lunch together (Nikki had to bow out at the last minute due to work – boo hoo) and then all of us but Rosie went over to Holly’s house to talk for hours and invade her books! lol  I know that we took a group picture but I don’t know who’s camera it was on so I’ll post it when I track them down.

Then Sunday after church we had a little fiesta and had a waterslide (at the church).  It was great fun and my little one was just going nuts on it.  Here she is practically falling out of the darned thing. lol (sorry it’s a little fuzzy since I took it with my phone)

Today we don’t have much planned.  I know I plan to do the laundry that I avoided yesterday. 🙂

On to what I read last week:

I started the week with The Salisbury Key by Harper Fox.  This was a book that I really liked but had some issues with.  I did love the writing though so I had some problems rating it at first.  You can read my review here for further thoughts. 4 out of 5

Next was A Midnight Dance by Lila DiPasqua.  This is a French historical romance based on the Cinderella fairy tale but it wasn’t like any Cinderella story I’d ever read.  It was pretty dark yet a really great romance.  The story is about a girl who was born to wealth but then lost everything.  She’s trying to keep her family from starving and decides to steal silver from a band of privateers.  The privateers are lead by the man she has been in love with for years but that doesn’t stop her.  The story turns in a different direction than what I expected but it was really good and definitely worth the read. 4.25 out of 5 (read for The Book Binge)

Elizabeth, the Enchantress by Lavinia Kent was next and this novella was just as good as the previous 3 novella’s in the series. This story had Elizabeth’s husband William returning home after 4 years.  William is clueless as to what happened after he left on his travels just a month after he married Elizabeth.  Can William make up for his mistakes and can Elizabeth forgive him?  You can read my mini review here. 4 out of 5

Good Girls Don’t by Victoria Dahl was my next read.  This is book one in the Donovan Brewery series about the 3 Donovan children.  This was Tessa’s story.  Tessa has issues but she’s not afraid to go after what she wants…which is to play with Luke Asher. But Tessa has some really huge problems to work through, inner problems with herself and those with her brothers.  Can a romance survive it?  You can read my review here for more info. 4 out of 5

Last on the list was Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong.  This book takes up a day after the last book, Waking the Witch, left off.  Savannah has just investigated murders and being poisoned and now her powers are gone.  She’s trying to find out what happened as well and trying to figure what’s up with a group of supernaturals who want to come out and rule the world.  There’s a whole lot going on and the book was left without a conclusion but it was an enjoyable book that was well written, as usual.  4 out of 5 (read for The Book Binge)

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Changeling Moon by Dani Harper
Changeling Dream by Dani Harper

Happy Reading!

Review: The Salisbury Key by Harper Fox

Posted August 31, 2011 by Tracy in Reviews | 9 Comments

Can love repair a shattered life in time to save the world?

Daniel Logan is on a lonely quest to find out what drove his lover, a wealthy, respected archaeologist, to take his own life. The answer—the elusive “key” for which Jason was desperately searching—lies somewhere on a dangerous and deadly section of Salisbury Plain.

The only way to gain access, though, is to allow an army explosives expert to help him navigate the bomb-riddled military zone. A man he met once more than three years ago, who is even more serious and enigmatic than before.

Lieutenant Rayne has better things to do than risk his life protecting a scientist on an apparent suicide mission. Like get back to Iraq and prove he will never again miss another roadside bomb. Yet as he helps Dan uncover the truth, an attraction neither man is in the mood for springs up against their will. And stirs up the nervous attention of powerfully placed people—military and academic alike.

First in conflict, then in passion, Rayne and Dan are drawn together in a relationship as rocky and complicated as the ancient land they search. Where every step leads them closer to a terrible legacy written in death…

Daniel is a post grad in love with his tutor. His tutor, Jason, is thirty years older than he but he doesn’t care he wants him no matter what. Daniel gets his wish and not only do they make love but they become partners for the next three years…until Jason kills himself.

Daniel is devastated at the loss and doesn’t deal with it well; at first believing that Jason is just away on a trip and then by ignoring the situation. A helper from an unlikely source finally gets Daniels butt in gear and makes him face facts and plan Jason’s funeral.

You see one thing that Jason had always longed for was to be able to dig (as he was an archaeologist) on the Salisbury Plain. He believed that it held “the key” to a discovery that would change thoughts about past civilizations in the past. Not long after Jason dies Daniel gets access to this Plain. Knowing how much it meant to his lover Daniel goes ahead with what Jason would have wanted. He is assigned Lt. Rayne who is a demolition expert to help him in the Plain because there are mines that have not been set off. After some time together and a near death explosion, Rayne is the one that shows at Daniels house and forces him to face facts. But while he’s there the two end up having sex.

Daniel is disgusted with himself and with Rayne. It certainly doesn’t stop him from seeing Rayne again, despite the disgust and disappointment that is pointed his way from his co-workers. With a map that Daniel receives from Jason’s solicitor he and Rayne try to discover what Jason was hiding from his past and what he was now trying to tell him from the grave.

I gotta admit that as much as I liked this book I really had a hard time with it. First of all I really didn’t care for Jason all that much. I think he truly loved Daniel but was controlling in a way that very much bothered me. The fact that Daniel allowed himself to be somewhat molded really didn’t endear him to me much either. I fully understood Daniel’s devastation at Jason’s death but yet…he let Rayne into his life so quickly that it really threw me. Of course Rayne was so good for Daniel and their relationship so sweet that I had a hard time keeping up my ire.

The mystery portion of the book was a bit too easily solved but it was definitely interesting to read. The fact that the mystery brought Rayne and his brother closer together made me happy was done quite well. I loved see the family reunion.

So how do I rate this? I don’t have a clue! I didn’t doubt that Daniel loved Jason but I didn’t see them together for forever. I think I would have liked to have seen the sexual part of Daniel and Rayne’s relationship wait a bit longer but then the story wouldn’t have worked quite the same way, would it have?

IDK – I’m torn.

Though I didn’t care for all parts or characters in the story it made me think about it long after I finished the book…and that’s always a good thing. I really liked Fox’s writing (both in this book and in the one other novella I’ve read of hers) and that amps up the rating as well. I think I’m going to have to go with a “very good” on this one and call it a day. I think you should read it and make your own decisions – let me know what you think after you finish. 

Rating: 4 out of 5