Review: Behind the Stick


Behind the Stick by K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
 AmazonApple | Kobo
Length: Novel (370 pages)

Luka is a hot, bulky, sweet guy who saves people’s lives for a living. He’s a bit of a mamma’s boy, but his respect for his mother his part of his charm. He doesn’t want to disappoint her, but feels horribly disappointed in the fact that his mother has issues with her son dating a white man.

Kyle is a bartender who has an on again off again booty call with his business partner/ex and his boyfriend. He’s got a bother he’s really close to, is very proud of his business, and is well put together.

Both of these guys are confident, and they know what they want. They are equals. I loved that about them. (Equal partners are very important to me.)

This is a character driven romance about these two guys coming together, finding ways to include each other in their busy lives, dealing with frustratingly prejudiced family members, and dealing with being attacked by gay bashers. If you’re looking for a story with a lot of external plot, this is probably not your story.

But if you’re looking for heart, this story has mountains of it.

First, I did not read the previous books to this series, and I think that was a detriment. There are a lot of characters, so many, in fact, that I lost track of who was who. I’m sure if I’d read the previous novels, I would have been more grounded. So, I focused on Kyle and Luka and their families.

Second, when I agreed to read and review this book, though the blurb did say MMMM menage, I did not think ‘oh this meant open relationships’. Smack myself in the head—that’s exactly what it meant. So… that was a sideswipe for me, because, I don’t like open relationship romances, and I would not have picked up this book if I had put two and two together. (so, I am surgically removing this part from my rating, but I wanted other readers to be aware of it in case that wasn’t their cup of tea.)

I like my love between romantic partners to be about the romance, not just the sex. So, one of the sex scenes felt very impersonal (the mmmm hook up) and didn’t really work for me. I found myself skimming them. Others, however, were spot on spicy!

The book really dove into the life of the characters, settling into the every day elements that define them. The emotional attachment the two men developed for each other and how they banded together against the adversarial world was the strength of this book.

I felt the book really gripped me once the characters were attacked (is that horrible, I want to say that’s kinda horrible). It was a faster paced read as they dealt with their own reactions and how such violence effected them personally and their relationship. My heart went out to these guys, because I just wanted them to be happy.

So, if you’re keen on character driven almost slice of life stories, with some emotional hurt/comfort and recovery, this is your book. If you dig open relationships and want to sink your teeth into an mmmm sex scene, this is most definitely your book.

Check out my interview with the authors on why they chose to write interracial romance! Author Interview with K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

Series Review : A Series of Fates by C.C. Dado

A Series of Fates by C.C. Dado

This entire series  was a fun, light-hearted romp through a shifter community, from one gay pairing to the next.  If you are looking for heavy angst, truly evil bad guys, layered plot, hot sex, or deep meaning from your books, move on.  This is not your series.  If you want warmth, romance, laughter, interesting characters, deep friendships, and a happy ending, these are perfect for you.  These are like the cozy of paranormal romance.  Perfect for when you’ve had a rough day and you just want to see somebody happy.

So, on that topic, being novellas they are also a great length to finish in a night, however, I feel like they could have benefited from some length and heftier plot lines.  But you sit down, read one, and it’s all sunshine and happiness, so it gives you what it offers.

I actually read these books backwards, so the first one was the last one I read.  By Denying Fate I knew the world and the characters.  Really, each can easily be read as a standalone (but reading them in order is probably better).  I had no problem understanding the world Dado had developed.

These are not steamy, and it fits the sweet, innocent nature of the series.  These stories are ‘finding mates’ stories and have to do more with love and connection than passion and sex.

 

 

Denying Fate

Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
 Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella (83 pages)

Max knows that Christian is his destined mate, which is a big thing, to find your mate.  But Christian denies him.  Max shines with a very large personality, and he’s a man who goes after what he wants, damn the consequences.  He isn’t some ‘fall by the wayside and wait for the world to hand him what he wants’ sad little waif.  Oh no, he works for his desires, and I appreciated that about him.

To me, Christian wasn’t as fleshed out as Max and his best friend Seth, and felt distant.  I didn’t quite warm to him like I did the others.  But Christian totally pulls through once he’s accepted his place in the world, as Max’s mate.

We don’t get to see the claiming, and even if the sex was fade to black (no sex in these stories, and I’m totally fine with that) I would have liked to see them commit to each other with the claim scene.  That’s one of those sweet/dynamic/important scenes I like to have fleshed out in a story.


 

 

Embracing Fate

Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
 Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella (91 pages)

Seth and Max are best friends, but since Max found his mate, Seth has been living on his own.  Then a new neighbor, Jack, moves in, and Seth’s wolf does interesting things when he hears Jack’s voice.

It’s a delightfully cute story.  Seth is a kind, shy guy with a self-esteem issue and never expects to find his mate.  He’s a master chef, too, with a good business, so why the low self-esteem, I’m not sure.  His best friend is boisterous and outgoing and the two balance each other very well.

One of the delights of Embracing is the banter between Seth and Max and the humor tied to their deep appreciation and affection for each other.  It’s all ribbing all the time, and Max doesn’t really seem to have an off button, but it’s fun to read and had me laughing out loud several times.  So, Seth decides to pretend to be Max’s unruly pet and the hijinks unfolding from that were fun and light-hearted.  There’s the pregnancy lie that keeps on giving (poor Zeus) and Seth’s rotating dog name.

The work is short, so there are certainly scenes I wish I could have read, like seeing Jack’s reaction when Seth willingly shifts for him.  I wanted to see that!!


 

 

Fearing Fate

Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
 Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella (71 pages)

A very sweet paranormal romance that delivers a wonderful HEA and warm feelings.  Toren gave my heart a squeeze, and I just wanted to comfort the guy.  And Zeus was solid and kind and dedicated, all my favorite things!

Zeus has watched his closest family and friends all find mates.  He’s big and strong and the beta of the pack and seems fine to just protect everyone.  Then a stranger shows up and his instincts kick in.

Zeus is wonderful.  It’s nice to see him fleshed out in this story, especially after how he reacted to the pregnancy lie in book 2.  He’s a well-developed character that fans of paranormal romance will adore.  He’s a huge and kind man, that soothes babies and fosters orphaned dogs.  He looks out for his people and puts up with his friends.  Toren, even though his back is to the wall, still wants to do the right thing.  These two are perfect for each other.

The mystery with Toren and being a shifter was great, and I wanted to sink into it.  It’s a shame this is a novella because I feel there were a lot of ‘missing’ scenes and moments that could be fleshed out.  I really wanted to be there when Toren shifted for the first time (!!!) and see them work through that.  And the story suffered from a bit of repetition and I couldn’t help but wonder why Zeus didn’t just confront Toren the minute he found him instead of drawing out the stalking-plot that seemed unnecessary.

But even with these slight flaws I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the humor, the world, and the romance.   There’re enough loose threads to suggest a sequel (like who is looking for the kids!) so I’ll be keeping my eyes open for those.

 

Gay Fantasy Book Reviews


On a wild hair, I’ve opened myself up to book reviews! Of the gay fantasy kind (though, I’ll take horror, scifi and detective stories as well.)

I’m not a super fast reader so I’m going to start with one a month and see where I go from there. I totally take on the rule that if I am not engaged in the first three or so chapters, I’m skipping it. Sorry! But life is short and there are a lot of books out there.

And I have another rule, I can’t know you. Sorry about that, too, but I feel friendships are more important that reviews.

Review Policy

So, send your gay genre fiction my way and see if we’re a match.