Category Archives: M/M

Review: Tramps and Thieves by Rhys Ford

Title: Tramps and Thieves by Rhys Ford
Murder and Mayhem Series Book Two
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Erotic, Romance, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 210 pages/Word Count: 80,852
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author

Summary:

Murder and Mayhem: Book Two

Whoever said blood was thicker than water never stood in a pool of it.

Retiring from stealing priceless treasures seemed like a surefire way for Rook Stevens to stay on the right side of the law. The only cop in his life should have been his probably-boyfriend, Los Angeles Detective Dante Montoya, but that’s not how life—his life—is turning out. Instead, Rook ends up not only standing in a puddle of his cousin Harold’s blood but also being accused of Harold’s murder… and sleeping with Harold’s wife.

For Dante, loving the former thief means his once-normal life is now a sea of chaos, especially since Rook seems incapable of staying out of trouble—or keeping trouble from following him home. When Rook is tagged as a murder suspect by a narrow-focused West LA detective, Dante steps in to pull his lover out of the quagmire Rook’s landed in.

When the complicated investigation twists around on them, the dead begin to stack up, forcing the lovers to work together. Time isn’t on their side, and if they don’t find the killer before another murder, Dante will be visiting Rook in his prison cell—or at his grave.

Review:

Rhys Ford jumps right into the action in Tramps and Thieves, the second installment in the Murder and Mayhem series starring reformed cat burglar Rook Stevens and his cop boyfriend L.A. detective Dante Montoya.

Although Rook willingly walked away from his previous life, he cannot deny he misses a few of the thrills from his illicit past. So when the opportunity arises for him to take a brief walk on his former wild side, he is quick to agree. What he does not count on is winding up smack dab in the middle of another murder investigation after discovering his cousin Harold Martin’s corpse. Things go from bad to worse when homicide Detective Mark Vicks is convinced Rook killed Harold in order to assure his future inheritance from their wealthy grandfather, Archie. Since Dante is quick to realize Vicks is going to pin Harold’s murder on Rook, he and his partner, Detective Hank Camden get their boss’s official blessing to conduct an unofficial investigation of their own.  With the bodies piling up at an alarming rate and someone gunning for Rook, Dante and Hank are desperate for answers, but will they catch the killer(s) before it is too late?

Although they are rather comfortable in their new romance, Rook is still a work in progress as he tries to let down his defenses and completely trust Dante.  While Rook is not quite as uneasy with their emotional intimacy, he still finds it difficult to open up to Dante.  Rook is also making strides with his relationship with Archie, but his grandfather still has a habit of lashing out when he feels vulnerable. Rook’s reaction in the aftermath of Archie’s verbal assault is a testament to how much healing he has undergone since meeting Dante.

While they still avoid discussing Rook’s past, Dante has absolutely no doubt that Rook has nothing to do with Harold’s death.  He is very protective of his new boyfriend and his first instinct is to ensure Vicks does not pin Harold’s murder on him. Following a somewhat traumatic and dramatic discovery, Dante and Hank’s unofficial investigation becomes official but finding a motive for the murders remains elusive. When numerous attempts are made on Rook’s life, Dante is under even more pressure to wrap up the case sooner rather than later.

Although the investigation is fast-paced and intriguing, there are a few passages that are overly detailed and just a touch long winded. Some of the banter between the various characters (especially Hank) is irritating since it adds little to the storyline and these discussions occasionally occur at questionable times.

With scorching hot love scenes, a beguiling mystery and an eclectic cast of likable characters, Tramps and Thieves is a pulse-pounding addition to the Murder and Mayhem series.  Dante and Rook are appealing protagonists who perfectly complement one another despite the vast differences between them.  Their relationship is heartwarming yet filled with plenty of heat and sexual tension. The murder investigation keeps the novel moving at a brisk pace and Rhys Ford brilliantly obscures the perpetrator’s identity and motive for the murders until the novel’s exciting conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dreamspinner Press, Erotic, Gay, M/M, Murder and Mayhem Series, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Rhys Ford, Romance, Suspense, Tramps and Thieves

Review: Making Home by Dev Bentham

Title: Making Home by Dev Bentham
Bay Valley U Series Book One
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, Gay, Romance
Length: Novella/Word Count: 30,000 (approx)
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author

Summary:

In his real life, Manu Contrares makes a decent living as a videographer in New York. But when his mother goes into hospice, he heads home to Bay Valley to help take care of her and ends up back at his first job on the janitorial staff of the local college. It feels like a long step down for a proud Hispanic man.

Chris Hall loves teaching but hates research. That’s becoming a big problem because his third-year faculty review is coming up and if he doesn’t make something happen soon, he’ll be out. He’s spending his nights working in the lab on a Hail Mary attempt to save his job.

When the two men meet, it’s explosive. And complicated. Chris is lily-white and culturally tone-deaf and Manu’s only in town for a short stay. It’s a recipe for heartbreak. Still, the pull between them is too strong for either to ignore. Can they overcome their different backgrounds and somehow surmount the geographical problems, or is this a fling that will leave them both more exhausted and lonely than before?

Review:

With a poignant storyline, an appealing cast of characters and sizzling hot love scenes, Making Home by Dev Bentham is a captivating romance between two unlikely partners.

Manu Contrares is back in Bay Valley for a heartbreaking reason and he has enough on his plate without a romantic entanglement complicating his life. He is also not a relationship kind of guy so he is disconcerted by his strong attraction to Professor Chris Hall whose cultural insensitivity is particularly irritating. So why is Manu suddenly eager to catch a glimpse of the biology professor during his nightly rounds cleaning the college?

Chris loves teaching but he is struggling to produce the research he needs for tenure. Despite his efforts to concentrate on his current project, he finds himself too easily distracted as he waits for the nightly appearance of too sexy for words Manu.  With his professional future riding on making significant progress on his research project, the last thing Chris needs is to give in to his unexpected attraction to Manu.

While their initial meetings get off on the wrong foot, Manu and Chris cannot deny the sexual chemistry that simmers beneath the surface every time they see one another. Both men have compelling reasons to ignore their mutual attraction, but they find it surprisingly easy to eventually agree to a no strings fling.  After indulging in several explosive encounters, neither Manu nor Chris can deny their feelings go deeper than casual sex. But with Manu planning to return to New York and Chris chasing tenure at Bay Valley U, will they find  way to overcome the obstacles that are preventing them making their relationship permanent?

Making Home by Dev Bentham is a scorching hot romance that fans of the genre are sure to love. Manu and Chris are endearing characters with all too realistic flaws and imperfections. The storyline is quite emotional and both protagonists undergo significant growth.  An absolutely outstanding beginning to the Bay Valley U series that will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next installment.

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Filed under Bay Valley U Series, Contemporary, Dev Bentham, Erotic, Loose Id, M/M, Making Home, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: Vodka & Handcuffs by Brandon Witt

Title: Vodka & Handcuffs by Brandon Witt
Mary’s Boys Series Book Two
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance
Length: 112 pages/Word Count: 36,047
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author

Summary:

A Mary’s Boys Novella

Vahin Arora, Hamburger Mary’s sexy bartender, plays the flirtatious role so well even his closest friends—his chosen family at Mary’s—don’t realize Vahin hasn’t had a hookup in months. Then Tall, Dark, and Handsome steps through the door, and Vahin’s libido races back to life.

Being a black cop on the Denver police force is no easy job—Marlon Barton can’t imagine adding being gay to the equation. And while Marlon loves his work as an officer, his life has taken a turn for the hellish because of his new partner, the nephew of a senator.

Fleeing his partner’s company one night, Marlon stumbles into Mary’s for the first time… and wakes up with a hangover in the bartender’s bed. The one-night stand heats up into a budding romance, but not without stress as Marlon’s partner’s actions threaten Vahin’s livelihood and Marlon’s future on the force. Can Vahin and Marlon face the challenges and hold on to the love, friendship, and family they’ve found?

Review:

Vodka & Handcuffs by Brandon Witt is a charming romance that is also quite thought-provoking. This latest addition to the delightful Mary’s Boys series can easily be read as a standalone, but I also recommend the previous installment as well.

Denver police officer Marlon Barton’s legendary patience is tested to the limit by his new partner, Andrew Morris.  After barely diffusing what could have been a volatile situation, Marlon’s plans to relax with a beer at his usual hangout are thwarted when he discovers Andrew is there.  He instead stops in at Mary’s where his plans quickly take a very uncharacteristic turn after meeting bartender Vahin Arora.  Marlon’s previously uncomplicated life is turned upside down by his vengeful partner and his fledgling relationship with Vahin is soon put to the test.

Vahin and Marlon are mature characters who have both experienced prejudice based on their appearance.  Vahin came to terms with his sexuality a long time ago but he lost his family’s support in the process.  His job at Mary’s provides him with more than an income; his co-workers have become his family.  Vahin is tired of meaningless hook-ups but before he and Marlon have the chance to see where their relationship is headed, Marlon pulls a disappearing act and his partner sets his sights on Vahin.

Marlon has enough to deal with on the job due to the fact he is a person of color, so he keeps his sexuality a closely guarded secret from his fellow officers.  Before he really has the chance to figure out if he has a future with Vahin, he has to deal with the fallout from his loathsome partner’s vengeful actions. Will Vahin still be waiting for him once Marlon sorts through his complicated feelings about the effect their relationship might have on both his personal and professional lives?

With a cast of wonderful characters and a substantive plot, Vodka & Handcuffs is an engrossing romance that is realistic and quite moving.  Touching on some very topical issues with sensitivity, Brandon Witt’s newest installment in the Mary’s Boys series is an angst free love story that has plenty of depth and substance.  An absolutely outstanding read that old and new fans do not want to miss!

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Filed under Brandon Witt, Contemporary, Dreamspinner Press, M/M, Mary's Boys Series, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Vodka & Handcuffs

Review: There’s This Guy by Rhys Ford

Title: There’s This Guy by Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance
Length: 200 pages/Word Count: 71,030
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author

Summary:

How do you save a drowning man when that drowning man is you?

Jake Moore’s world fits too tightly around him. Every penny he makes as a welder goes to care for his dying father, an abusive, controlling man who’s the only family Jake has left. Because of a promise to his dead mother, Jake resists his desire for other men, but it leaves him consumed by darkness.

It takes all of Dallas Yates’s imagination to see the possibilities in the fatigued art deco building on WeHo’s outskirts, but what seals the deal is a shy smile from the handsome metal worker across the street. Their friendship deepens while Dallas peels back the hardened layers strangling Jake’s soul. It’s easy to love the sweet, artistic man hidden behind Jake’s shattered exterior, but Dallas knows Jake needs to first learn to love himself.

When Jake’s world crumbles, he reaches for Dallas, the man he’s learned to lean on. It’s only a matter of time before he’s left to drift in a life he never wanted to lead and while he wants more, Jake’s past haunts him, making him doubt he’s worth the love Dallas is so desperate to give him.

Review:

There’s This Guy by Rhys Ford is an incredibly uplifting and extremely emotional journey of healing.

Jake Moore is an exceptionally gifted metal worker but his highly dysfunctional and abusive childhood leaves him feeling utterly hopeless and unable to accept every aspect of himself. He is heavily guilt-laden over his perceived role in his mother’s death and despite the horror inflicted upon him by his father, Jake cannot turn his back on the man now that he is dying.  His life is at an incredibly dark place and when Jake meets Dallas Yates and his delightful friend Celeste, he does not feel worthy of love let alone friendship or comfort.

Dallas is Jake’s complete opposite in every way.  He has a loving, supportive family who accept every facet of his personality and his life.  He is quick to welcome people into his life and his heart and he is extremely upbeat and outgoing.  His optimism is refreshing and despite his sunny outlook on life, Dallas knows not everyone can be fixed and he is well aware his relationship with Jake might not ever progress beyond friendship.

Although Jake is not ready to embrace his sexuality,  his fledgling friendship with  Dallas is a glimmer of light in his somewhat grim and rather hopeless life.  Dallas respects Jake’s boundaries and his inability to talk about his past, but when he inadvertently stumbles onto one of his new friend’s most shameful secrets, he finally begins to breach his defenses. Quickly realizing the depth of Jake’s problems, he encourages him to seek professional assistance to help him deal with the trauma from his childhood.  The changes in both Jake and the men’s relationship are gradual and realistic as Jake finally begins to come to terms with his haunting past.

There’s This Guy is an absolutely heartwarming romance but it is Jake’s recovery from his emotional wounds that makes the novel such an outstanding read.  Rhys Ford handles difficult subject matter with a great deal of sensitivity.  The storyline has an amazing amount of depth and there are no quick or easy fixes for Jake’s issues and his subsequent recovery from his traumatic past. The characters are richly developed and multi-faceted with realistic backstories and experiences.  While there is plenty of chemistry between Dallas and Jake, it is their emotional connection that makes their relationship so believable.  A heartfelt and moving novel that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dreamspinner Press, M/M, Rated B, Review, Rhys Ford, Romance

Review: Buyout-A Love Story by Dev Bentham

Title: Buyout-A Love Story by Dev Bentham
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Erotic, Romance
Length: 69 pages/Word Count: 24,111
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author

Summary:

Everyone deserves a second chance. Or do they? Sean and Martim fell in love at Harvard. Things broke apart when Martim fell into a downward spiral of addiction after his father died. Sean kicked him out but has regretted it ever since. He’s never gotten over losing Martim. But then, not many aspects of his life have lived up to his collegiate dreams.

When he’s sent to evaluate Martim’s family hotel for foreclosure, Sean is once again in the position to put Martim out on the street. In the time since they parted, Martim has pulled himself together, although both health and financial problems linger as a result of his years as an addict. Can the two men bridge the gap of distance and time to rekindle their relationship, or will they fall apart again under the burdens of guilt and disease?

Set in Lisbon, Portugal, this is the story of lovers reunited after more than a decade apart, and their second chance at romance.

Review:

Buyout-A Love Story by Dev Bentham is a beautifully written second chance at love romance.

Sean Williams has never quite recovered from losing Martim Sabido. Ten years after their romance came to a regrettable end, he has a successful career but no one to share his life with. When his job brings him face to face with Martim, he quickly realizes that he has never quite gotten over him and Sean dreads the task his boss has given him: begin foreclosure proceedings on Martim’s family business. Over the next days, the men reconnect and begin the process of healing the wounds from their long ago past, but can Sean destroy the business that means so much to Martim and his beloved aunt?

The timing could not be more perfect for Sean and Martim to meet again.  Martim has finally conquered his addictions and he has no problem expressing his regret for the sorrow and pain that he brought to Sean. Sean has just realized that he is still trying to atone for what he did to Martim all those years ago. Deciding to temporarily ignore the looming foreclosure, Sean and Martim’s first attempt to connect on a more personal level is fraught with tension.  However, their lingering feelings and intense attraction give them the impetus they need to try to heal the rift between them.  Will Martim’s final revelation destroy the progress they have made in repairing their fractured relationship? And will Sean follow through with his boss’s instructions to foreclose on Martim’s property?

Buyout-A Love Story by Dev Bentham is a heartwarming romance than fans of the genre do not want to miss.  The characters are endearing with true to life flaws and imperfections.  Sean and Martim’s reunion is free from angst and their attempts to resolve their issues are realistically portrayed.  A sweet yet sensual second chance at love romance that is fast-paced and engaging with an absolutely heartfelt conclusion that will melt readers’ hearts.

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Filed under Buyout-A Love Story, Contemporary, Dev Bentham, Dreamspinner Press, Erotic, M/M, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: Nachos & Hash by Brandon Witt

Title: Nachos & Hash by Brandon Witt
Mary’s Boys Series Book One
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Erotic, Romance
Length: 105 pages/Word Count:33,908
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author

Summary:

A Mary’s Boys Novella

Darwin Michaels is living his dreams in the Mile High City. While Denver offers the perfect job, scrumptious dining, and whirlwind dating options, Darwin is losing hope he’ll find the right man to spark his interest for more than a one-night stand—until he sets eyes on Cody Russell.

Cody has just accomplished his life’s goal—get the hell out of Kansas. In one fell swoop, he lands a job at Hamburger Mary’s and gets a newfound family and the chance to be with other gay people! All that’s missing is someone special. But when Darwin shows his interest, Cody is sure it’s too good to be true. After all, what can Darwin possibly see in the high school dropout serving him nachos?

As Darwin falls in love, Cody struggles to realize his worth. When his past threatens the fragile life he is building, Cody spirals into a moment of dark desperation. But Darwin is determined to show Cody that love and family and home are there for him… will Cody accept what is offered?

Review:

Nachos & Hash is an emotional yet sensual beginning to Brandon Witt’s Mary’s Boys series.  This first outing pairs up Darwin Michaels with Cody Russell and the resulting love story is guaranteed to warm readers’ hearts.

Although he is only in his mid twenties, Darwin Michaels is at the point in his life where he is ready to settle down.  His latest date is another in a long line of disappointments and he has decided to temporarily stop dating when Cody Russell catches his eye.  Darwin is rather smitten with Cody, but when Cody disappears after they spend a very hot night together, he is not quite certain what his next move should be.  Luckily for him, he has two good friends who push him out of his comfort zone just long enough for him to arrange another date with Cody.  Although their sweet romance has a bit of a rocky start, things are going well until someone from Cody’s past reappears and threatens to destroy the happy life he has begun to piece together.

Darwin is at a good place in his life.  He knows what he wants and although a relationship seems to be just beyond his reach, he is willing to wait until the right person comes along.  He has a good relationship with his parents and they are quite supportive of him.  However, Darwin has not always be as self-assured as he is now so it does not take long for him to realize that Cody is struggling with the same insecurities that once plagued him.

Cody has achieved his dream of leaving his family and small town behind and he is quite happy with the new life he is building.  While he has plenty of sexual experience,  Cody is a total stranger to emotional intimacy so he initially does not understand that Darwin wants a real relationship with him.   He has low self-esteem which leads to a few misunderstandings between him and Darwin. His low self-worth makes him particularly vulnerable to his family’s disapproval so it is not too surprising that his reaction to his father’s vitriol is so extreme.

Nachos & Hash is a novella so a lot of Cody and Darwin’s relationship takes place off scene. Readers see a nice compilation of moments from their romance including some of their sexy times, cute dates and miscommunications. The chapters alternate between the two men’s perspectives which provides an in-depth view of their thoughts, expectations and insecurities. The story moves at a fast pace and while this does not have a negative impact on Darwin and Cody’s romance, some elements late in the story do feel a little glossed over.

Nachos & Hash by Brandon Witt is a quick read with lovable characters and a sweet but steamy romance.  A very enjoyable first installment in the Mary’s Boys series which will leave readers eagerly awaiting the release of the next book in the series.

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Filed under Brandon Witt, Contemporary, Dreamspinner Press, Erotic, M/M, Mary's Boys Series, Nachos & Hash, Rated B, Review, Romance