Review: The Rebuilding Year by Kaje Harper

Losing nearly everything leaves room for the one thing they can’t live without.

A few excruciating minutes pinned in a burning building cost Ryan Ward his job as a firefighter, the easy camaraderie of his coworkers, his girlfriend, and damn near cost him his left leg. Giving up, though, isn’t an option. Compared to the alternative, choosing a new profession, going back to school, and renting a room from the college groundskeeper are simple.

Until he realizes he’s falling in love with his housemate, and things take a turn for the complicated.

John Barrett knows about loss. After moving twice to stay in touch with his kids, he could only watch as his ex-wife whisked them away to California. Offering Ryan a room seems better than rattling around the empty house, but as casual friendship moves to something more, and a firestorm of emotions ignites, the big old house feels like tight quarters.

It’s nothing they can’t learn to navigate, though. But when dead bodies start turning up on campus—and one of the guys is a suspect—their first taste of real love could go up in smoke.

Product Warnings
Contains two hot men wrestling with a shift in their sexuality, as well as a few positions probably listed in the Gay Kama Sutra. But it’s not all about the hot and sweaty—especially when your previously straight life knocks on the door and comes back to visit.

Okay, so to continue the Kaje Harper fan girl day, here's my review of the amazing The Rebuilding Year. This review was previously posted on Goodreads.

** spoiler alert **

After reading the Life Lesson series I didn't think I would like any of Kaje Harper's books quite as much - I mean Mac and Tony. And Mac. Come on. Then I saw several people commenting on her blog saying that they wanted more of Ryan and John's story from The Rebuilding Year, so I thought I'd have a read myself. I was NOT disappointed.

Everything that I love about this author is in this book. Her real characters, the great research into the other story lines (fire fighting, medical student, landscaping), the way she writes hard and intense story lines without extra angst that is there just for show and melodrama.

Ryan and John were brilliant characters who become friends and then move into a relationship. I appreciated the fact that, though they were both unsure at first as neither had been with a man, this wasn't dragged into pages of doubt. They tried it, shied away, thought about and then let it happen - this made the story much easier to read.

Kaje Harper always manages a nice balance of drama and romance. The drama came from several angles (children and an ex-wife, an unexpected death, a fire, a shooting) and was well written, it felt like part of the plot and not just written to ramp up the book. The romance, well friends to lovers is my favourite kind of love story and this, wow, it was hot. I also loved the fact that it was a new thing for both of them, neither had been with another man before. Often this doesn't work as a storyline, in this case it totally did.

The fact that there is a new Life Lesson's book out soon has only been trumped (just) by the fact that Kaje Harper has said a follow up to Ryan and John's storyline is on the cards. Yay! This book is absolutely, 100% recommended by me.

Fangirl Moment: Breaking Cover (Life Lessons #2) by Kaje Harper

For homicide detective Mac, it's been a good year. Having Tony to go home to makes him a better cop and a better person. For Tony, it's been hard being in love with a man he can't touch in public. Evasions and outright lying to friends and family take a little of the shine off his relationship with Mac, but Tony is determined to make it work.

As the Minneapolis Police Department moves into a hot, humid summer, Mac is faced with a different challenge. A killer has murdered two blond women, and the police have no real clues. Mac hates to think that another murder may be the only way they'll make progress with the case. But when that murder happens, it hits close to home for Tony. And suddenly Mac faces an ultimatum: come out into the sunlight and stand beside Tony as his lover, or walk away and live without a piece of his heart.

 This review was originally posted on Goodreads.  I loved this book so much I just had to share it here as well.


This book. This book right here. This book is the most perfect example as to why Kaje Harper is one of my most favorite authors of all time. I was completely blown away by the emotions in this story. Kaje made me do the ugly cry! And the words! The beautiful, creative, descriptive words and phrases woven into the conversations and inner monologues elevate Ms. Harper into an elitist category all her own.

“No time for slow, no time for thought, just the urgent rhythm of two bodies straining together, trying to become one. Now, and now, and now, and holy fucking shit!”

Tell me that’s not hot! Tell me that isn’t beautiful poetry!

There wasn’t a thing wrong with this story. I was pulled in from the beginning and kept completely enthralled throughout. I would give it more than 5 hearts if I could.


Review: Life Lessons #1 by Kaje Harper

Tony Hart's life has been quiet lately. He has good friends and a rewarding teaching job. Then the murdered body of another teacher falls into the elevator at his feet, and Tony's life gets a little too exciting.

Jared MacLean is a homicide detective, a widowed father, and deeply in the closet. But from the moment he meets Tony's blue eyes in that high school hallway, Mac can't help wanting this man in his life. However Mac isn't the only one with his eyes on Tony. As the murderer tries to cover his tracks, Mac has to work fast or lose Tony, permanently.

Kaje Harper fan girl day.

Books I Love review. That's to say I've already reviewed this one on Goodreads, but it was such a great book, by such a great author, that I absolutely wanted to post the review here too, so here goes..

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I haven't read a crime novel in quite a while and this was brilliant. The crime and procedure scenes felt real to me (not that I'd know, I'm not involved in the police in any way), but sometimes it feels like authors manipulate situations to work for the storyline, this really wasn't the case here. Yeah I'd guessed who'd done it before the end, however it didn't spoil the story, in a way it added to the intensity as Tony hadn't realised and I knew he was putting himself in danger.

I adored the characters of Tony and Mac - their slow romance was believable and I was worried that it wouldn't be, seeing as Mac is the cop investigating a crime Tony may be involved in. And it was romance, not just sex, though of course there was sex. I also liked the fact that Tony was quickly cleared as a suspect, to me it would have just been boring to have all that doubt hanging there. I loved the tenderness of Mac looking after Tony and Tony's defiance at refusing to just be laid up in bed, that he needed to get back to work, to prove the buggers couldn't get him down.

The best thing about this book - there are sequels! I love discovering a book that already has the sequels written and not having to wait ages for them. I can't wait to read more about Mac and Tony.

ETA: I have actually read this entire series now - the final book came out in September and they are consistently good. In fact I developed a full on crush on Mac as the stories went on, he is my book boyfriend, so hands off! With each book Kaje Harper brings something new to the story, it didn't feel like the same stuff recycled in a different package, each book was brilliant in it as own right. The love between Tony and Mac develops, though plenty of hurdles are put in their way. For me this series represents one of the best love stories I have ever read, so if, like me, you're a sucker for love then this is a series I would absolutely recommend.

Author Visit: James Cox Q&A and Giveaway

To kick off BMBR last week, we did a Happy Hour Chat and review of James Cox's alien-themed m/m novella Handsome Hero Wanted.  Today, we're lucky enough to have James Cox hanging out with us unicorns, and he's brought along two ebooks to give away.  Read on for more details on how to enter this giveaway.

So pull up a chair, grab a cocktail, and join us for a Q&A with James Cox!

BMBR: You’re obviously a sci-fi fan. What is your favorite sci-fi book and movie?
James: My favorite book? That’s like picking out your favorite time to masturbate! Every new book (time) has the potential to be fantastic.
Movies, that’s another tough one. I’m going to have to go with...Serenity! I’m a Browncoat and I wanted to be on that spaceship with Nathan Fillion from the moment the series started! If you haven’t watched the TV series Firefly and the sequel movie, Serenity, I highly recommend it!  

BMBR: Of all your books, which is your favorite and why?
James: That is a tough question. In terms of a serious book, I think I’m actually going to go with Lay Me Down to Sleep. This is a favorite and the one that’s had the least sales. Completely understandable as it does have a bit of a religious edge to it. You see, growing up, I hid my sexuality. When I finally told my parents, I was kicked out. I’ve been on my own for years but, thankfully, I’ve survived, thrived, become the man that I want to be. Lay Me Down to Sleep really has elements of believing in a higher power which got me through some tough times. I like to think that there is someone or something up there looking down. Maybe saying, it doesn’t matter if I’m gay or straight, all that matters is that I am a good person.  There’s also reference to Glenton’s father who was based off my father when I was younger. He was always so strong and such a positive influence. When I came out that all crumbled. Lay Me Down to Sleep was a rather deep story for me and it really cut into the emotional aspect of my life.
As for my favorite book to write, that would be Handsome Hero Wanted. I had a title without any plot. So, I sat down (Naked if anyone is wondering, cause that’s the best way to write!) closed my eyes and said, ‘If I was in a spaceship where would I go? How about a planet with all men? How about a bunch of naked guys running around looking for good head? Maybe the best head? Oh, a king!’ The story trickled down from there and it was the most fun I’ve had writing to date. It was just creative, horny, entertainment.
BMBR: You mention having a crush on your boss, tell us about him. What makes him crush worthy?
James: My boss...(drifted off for a moment). Yeah, he’s fucking hot. Honestly. He has a great body, goes to the gym all the time. He’s handsome, all dark hair and intense eyes. Then there’s his smile, it gives him this wicked quality. I can see him smiling like that just before he wraps his mouth around...(Okay, drifting again). It’s not just his looks though. He’s generally a nice guy. My boss has class, holds the doors open for women, doesn’t curse in front of kids, etc. He handles every problem with a calm, respectful attitude. I had a birthday when I first started working for him. I was new, didn’t really know anyone, kind of on my own. He threw this office party for me. It was stupid and kind of lame, but it was sweet too. He went out of his way to make my birthday more than just another day. That meant a lot. Of course...he also has a tight ass...that looks delicious in suit pants. Damn, his suits...I want to come back as one of his suits!
BMBR: Collectively, we’re big fans of Jake Bass, who is your favorite porn star?
James: I’m rather partial to Tate Ryder! The light blue eyes, that ass and he’s got a dick to drool over, or rather on. Yeah, if I had to pick one porn star to be stranded on an island with, it’d be him.
BMBR: Our whole little group bonded over Handsome Hero Wanted and in a perfect world it would be made into a movie. We had our ideas about who would play each character but we want to know who you would pick?
James: A movie would be fantastic, the stuff of dreams. This is a great question!
Let’s see Drayton would have to be sexy, confident, the kind of guy that smiles and you harden...I’m thinking Charlie Hunnam with dark hair. That man! Have you ever seen Sons of Anarchy? That guy should run around naked all the time, it should be a law.
For Dusk I would have to pick one of my favorite actors of all time Manu Bennett! I could imagine him with two dicks. Oh, yes!
King Ranix is most definitely Alexander Skarsgård. They’re just a perfect fit.
I’m thinking Jensen Ackles for Lavender because he kind of has that graceful, sexy, quirky thing going on. At least, in the shows I’ve seen him in.

Layden...I’m thinking Hugh Jackman. Yeah, nice!
As for about Orlando Bloom. That’s the only man I can picture with long white hair and still be fuckable.
I'd like to hear who you think would fit the characters!

BMBR: Oh, there was a long discussion, and the names Ryan Reynolds and Joe Manganiello were tossed around. *grins* Where did you get the inspiration for your characters and all their fascinating and unusual attributes?
James: I have no idea. I wanted to give each guy an aspect that made him different and unique. Those alien men are the results of my warped mind!
BMBR: Lavender and Layden were pretty popular characters with us. Would you consider writing their story? Please?

James: You know I never thought about a sequel for this story. That’s a really interesting idea. I liked the world I created. There are many possibilities. I think I may have to plot a new book for these characters!
BMBR: We also discussed how hard it must be to write an orgy scene. One that isn’t written well can be hard to follow. Do you plan those scenes differently when you’re writing?
James: It is hard but possible. It just takes planning. I usually twist around as my characters would, to see if the position is possible. It also helps to have a fantastic editor, thank you Christine!
BMBR: You write some epic sentences, we all picked our favorites from HHW, do you recognize the moment you write a keeper? Which is your favorite?
James: Thank you! They just flow out onto the screen. Usually if the line makes me pause and smile, I know it’s a keeper. I like too many too count. The question is what’s your favorite?
BMBR: There were just too many to choose! :) Thank you so much for hanging out with us, James. 

James: Thanks for the questions. I’m honored to be your author of the month and happy to hear you lovely ladies and sexy gents enjoy my books! 

After the unicorns finished squee-ing over the idea of Hugh Jackman, Jensen Ackles, and Alexander Skarsgård in a movie together, James was kind enough to let us know that he has two copies of his stories (winner's choice!) to give away. Woohoo!

To enter the contest to receive a copy of any one ebook from James Cox's backlist, please leave a comment on this thread! The contest is open until 11:59PM (Pacific time) on November 15th, and two winners will be posted on this site shortly thereafter.

Many uniporn thanks to James for stopping by and bringing goodies!

Handsome Hero Wanted is available now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance eBooks, and Evernight Publishing. You can find out more about James online at

P.S. When James wasn't looking, we also took a peek at his unicorn name.  He does seem like a pretty good Champion Fair Head, doesn't he? ;)

Review: Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan

Love doesn’t come with a syllabus. Kelly Davidson has waited what seems like forever to graduate high school and get out of his small-minded, small town. But when he arrives at Hope University, he quickly realizes finding his Prince Charming isn’t so easy. Everyone here is already out. In fact, Kelly could be the only virgin on campus. Worst of all, he’s landed the charming, handsome, gay campus Casanova as a roommate, whose bed might as well be equipped with a revolving door. Walter Lucas doesn’t believe in storybook love. Everyone is better off having as much fun as possible with as many people as possible…except his shy, sad little sack of a roommate is seriously screwing up his world view. As Walter sets out to lure Kelly out of his shell, staying just friends is harder than he anticipated. He discovers love is a crash course in determination. To make the grade, he’ll have to finally show up for class…and overcome his own private fear that love was never meant to last.
Warning: This story contains lingering glances, milder than usual sexual content for this author, and a steamy dance-floor kiss. Story has no dairy or egg content, but may contain almonds.
 A version of this review has previously been posted on GoodReads.
I read this book on my birthday and have you ever had that moment where you really believe that the universe is your friend and the whole time you are in that moment you keep thinking "how perfect is this?" That was Love Lessons for me.  I honestly believe that Heidi Cullinan wrote this book specifically for me. She put in everything I love in a book, all of my favorite idiosyncrasies represented in the pages of one book.

Kelly is the sweet naïve boy from a small town who  is away from home for the first time. 
I love the fact that he is unapologetically Pollyanna.... he wants the whole Disney HEA and is not ashamed to demand something special for his first time or his first relationship . Why does his innocence and sweetness make the story dirtier for me?
 For all of his sweetness Kelly is really smart about life and some of the wisest comments come out of his mouth. ( out of the mouths of babes, right, hee-hee)
His unexpected college roommate is Walter; the college Casanova- of course.  Oh how I love the college bad boy with the hidden heart of gold in books. Walter is described as a Flynn Ryder lookalike and Ms. Cullinan introduces us to Flynn as we have never seen him before.

If you don't look up David Kawena while reading this book then really just stop reading my review because it is a perfect representation of who I am and what I read. Disney for Adults... ahh paradise.

I just love the geek/bad boy romance, it sings to me. It is sweet innocence that will then throw you up against the wall behind closed doors and leave you screaming for more.
There is hot dirty talk and wonderful family and friends, there are Jane Austen, Princess Bride,  and yes Taylor Swift shout outs; which for anyone who knows me will understand why currently Heidi is my Goddess.

I love the fact that the book does not drag out the relationship angst. You, along with all of Walter and Kelly's friends and family see exactly where this is going. There is no big misunderstanding that frustrates you along with these characters. Not that there is no drama and heartbreak, but that comes from outside forces. I love how strong Kelly and Walter are for each other even when they are only friends.

There is a quote though that touched me the most:
sometimes the ones we love are like butterflies, flitting all over, and we have to sit and wait patiently for them to land
My husband has always let me flitter wherever I needed to in a thousand different ways making sure he is a solid rock foundation for me to touch home.
Those are the books I love the best, the ones that remind me how important that is for those of us whose heads are always in the clouds or I guess, in a book.  

Review: Wallflower (Rear Entrance Video, Book #2)

Wallflower (Rear Entrance Video, #2)
"This gamer geek has a lacy little secret."

Art student and MMORPG addict Robert Ng has always been a loner, but he's recently made it his goal to make more (IRL) friends. Which is how he winds up working nights at Rear Entrance Video, shilling sketchy porn and blowup dolls as a favor to his roommate. The longer he works there, though, the more he realizes he'll never be truly happy until he becomes the person he is online: his female persona, Bobby.

 Bobby is cuter and funnier than Rob is, and a thousand times more popular with boys. Becoming Bobby IRL presents its own set of challenges, though . . . especially when you're sitting on the fence between two genders, only one of which has caught the attention of your seriously cute customer/classmate.

 Dylan Ford is a six-foot Inuit comic book artist who always says what's on his mind, and screw anyone who doesn't like it. As rough as he appears, though, Dylan has a soft spot for Rob. But will out-and-proud Dylan still want Rob if he's not all man?

Quick! Can you find me 5 published MM books featuring both a Chinese and Inuit romance lead? I'll wait...

*starts filing nails*

Couldn't find any? Maybe one closer to none? I KNOW. The popular MM romances tend to lean towards the less diverse main characters - white, hunky males with monster packages. You'd think in this diverse world we live in that there would be a better representation of all different cultures and ethnicities that are out there. There are authors that have tried, some fail epically in a stereotypical way (not going to name any names but there's a certain one that comes to mind) and sometimes, you can hit paydirt with an author who knows how write characters as real life people, with normal flaws and issues and not make it about their culture.

I have found this with Heidi Belleau.

She writes characters realistically with different backgrounds (actually researched about her characters' ethnicity), three dimensional feel and diversity. Thank you. She gives good...characterization. ;D

Now getting my kudos for her having two minority romantic leads out of the way, I'll get to my thoughts of "Wallflower", book #2 of the Rear Entrance Video series.

It's quirky. If I had to give a one word description, that would be it.

The series could be read as standalone but trust me, you're going to want to read book #1, Christian and Max's story was an interesting one. Happy we get to see them as secondary characters in "Wallflower". Book #2 is Christian and Max's housemate's story, Robert Ng. Here's a little introduction about Mr. Ng:

"I'm Rob Ng. That's N-G pronounced like I-N-G. Ng. I'm nineteen--"crushing on my straight male roommate who won't so much as glance at me "--in first year, just graduated high school." And I wish I was a girl.
Robert is first generation Chinese-Canadian, an art major freshman, hasn't fully come out of the closet and extremely shy. He internalizes...a lot, he is the wallflower you might ignore or not quite remember if you meet him. Which is fine for Rob because in his downtime, he plays video games and gets to pretend with his alter ego, the extrovert to his eternal introvert, his feminine side...the fun Bobby.
And besides, Rob wasn't a girl. Wasn't born one, not physically and not even on the inside. He just liked...playing one. Dressing up as one.
At nineteen, Robert is still exploring and learning about himself. He has more fun as Bobby, makes some mistakes but his still young right? Plus he works at a porn/sex toy store, Rear Entrance Video which as Rob was intimidating but for Bobby...well just imagine. And Rob happens to meet six foot tall Inuit, fellow art major, Dylan Ford. He's adopted, out and proud, has white parents, a major chip on his shoulder for being a Sixties Scoop kid (don't know what a Sixties Scoop kid is? I didn't either but it's an interesting yet disheartening fact) and the owner of one very smart mouth. But he's charismatic and draws both Rob and Bobby's attention. Rob...he struggles throughout the book to try to find himself, a balance into the mixed up world he's in. Sometimes I wanted to hug him...other times give him a (light) boot in the arse. He did take the coward's way most of the time.

I like being a guy. I just like being a girl sometimes too. And not just as a sex thing, which I think is an important distinction? Or feels like it should be? I guess I'm both. Guy and girl. But more guy.
Dylan and Robert meet at Rear Entrance and share a class together. The sparks...I guess they flew. Their match was definitely an insta-love feel. The sex was hot, the dirty talk and alley sex scene definitely gets my vote for the hotness factor. But I have to comment on the suddenness of their feelings and some of the actions Rob takes. This kid has a lot of social issues and quirks so some of his choices seemed so out of the box for him. Maybe he could say it was a Bobby fueled behavior but at the end of the day Bobby and Rob are still one person. And I have to compare Dylan/Rob to Max/Christian. The couple from the first book is much more believable when comparing this book's couple. At the end of Wallflower, it was nice...the men say the right words I just had a harder time fully believing the longevity of their relationship.

This book gave a lot of focus to Robert/Bobby soul searching, the Dylan pairing felt rushed at times. I wanted to know more about the mouthy comic book artist. He was really good for Robert, very understanding, patient. I just wished I could have read some of his POV. The story is a good one, I enjoyed the secondary characters and storyline. I learned a bit about Canadian culture too. There was a nice twist at the end, a HEA with insta-love. A difficult topic (gender identity) handled with expert care that it was secondary to the rushed  "love you".

Check this book out. The writing is pretty good. Not as good as book #1, in my opinion...but damn close.

Am I checking more from the author? Affirmative.

Reading more of the series? (Please, pretty please let there be more) Definitely.

A copy provided for an honest review.

Find on Goodreads!

Review: Here's To You, Zeb Pike by Johanna Parkhurst

Fact: When Zebulon Pike attempted to climb what is now known as Pikes Peak, he got stuck in waist-deep snow and had to turn back.

That's the last thing Dusty Porter learns in his Colorado history class before appendicitis ruins his life. It isn't long before social services figures out that Dusty's parents are more myth than reality, and he and his siblings are shipped off to live in Vermont with an uncle and aunt they've never met.

Dusty's new life is a struggle. His brother and sister don't seem to need him anymore, and he can't stand his aunt and uncle. At school, one hockey player develops a personal vendetta against him, while Emmitt, another hockey player, is making it hard for Dusty to keep pretending he's straight. Problem is, he's pretty sure Emmitt’s not gay. Then, just when Dusty thinks things can't get any worse, his mother reappears, looking for a second chance to be a part of his life.

Somehow Zebulon Pike still got the mountain named after him, so Dusty's determined to persevere—but at what point in life do you keep climbing, and when do you give up and turn back?

I have to state right away that I loved this book and read it straight off, in one sitting, I also have to say that it is more YA than M/M. It is a YA story whose main character happens to be gay rather than an M/M book that happens to be YA - and I would recommend it to everyone but most specially those readers that are actually Young Adults.

This story was both sad and hopeful, and right from the beginning I was on Dusty's side. Life has been hard for Dusty, his parents are more absent than there and Dusty steps into the role of mum and dad to his two younger siblings. It is obvious from the start that Dusty adores his siblings and he thinks nothing of looking after them. Never sure whether his mum will be at home when he gets in at the end of the day, Dusty manages to feed them all as well as ensuring the laundry is done, homework is done, housework is done, that Matt and Julia get to go out to the park, that they get a bedtime story each night - the list is endless, parents could take lessons from Dusty - all the while managing to keep adults, particularly authority figures, in the dark.

It is near the beginning of the book that things start to unravel, yet we see Dusty holding on so tightly to the world he has created, the world he is in charge of. While part of me longed for him to forgo the responsibility, part of me could completely understand him not wanting to give any of it up. He knew he could look after the three of them, he knew his brother and sister were safe in his care and it doesn't matter how kind the adults were who took over that care, he could feel control slipping from his grasp. I really, really felt for him.

I like the fact that this book offered a glimpse into the life of a teenager whose world didn't revolve around his social life. He had real problems and was coping admirably with them. The interactions between Dusty and the other characters felt so real. His brother and sister adored him and this didn't go away when they were put into a stable home background, but it was so easy to feel the jealousy that Dusty experienced when someone else was doing what he thought of as his job. With his friends, first with Race his childhood friend, then with Casey and Emmitt was easy to see the teenage boy inside. In fact, one of the lines that gives most insight into Dusty's mind is about Race. Dusty says,

'Race keeps my secrets well. He's the kind of friend you can make farting noises with during lunch and still trust to never tell anyone that you almost set his mother's couch on fire in the fourth grade. I'm never sure which quality I appreciate more.'

I think this is so telling  - most 14 year olds would definitely appreciate the farting the most. Casey and Emmitt were great friends for him to find when he moved, even though it was his uncle who set that ball rolling. They let Dusty be, they didn't pry, and, as we found out, they had some understanding of how he felt - particularly Emmitt and his relationship with younger brother Casey.

I also really loved the tentative starting of his relationship. The fact that he'd accepted he was gay, but really it was so far down on his list of priorities he didn't really have time to wonder or worry about it. I personally would love another story about Dusty, one that did focus on his burgeoning relationship, especially as some of his other responsibilities have diminished. I would also like the chance to read more about his mum and how she ended up being the person she was. It's touched on, but it isn't her story so not extensively written.

The only thing that I was a bleurgh about with this book was the flashbacks to times when Dusty was let down by his parents. Personally I think it was unnecessary. I can see why these moments were added, to give us flavours of the times he coped when his parents weren't around, but honestly I think this came across well enough in the story anyway. Johanna Parkhurst had such a good way of writing that Dusty's situation was perfectly well explained without the flashbacks. Though, while I felt they didn't add to the story, they didn't take away from it either.

One last thing - the title. Zeb Pike was the mountaineer/explorer who Dusty was learning about when his world got turned on its head. I loved the comparisons all the way through to this, how Dusty related his experiences to that of Pike's and especially the question how do you know when to turn back? It was a great analogy for his life and the mountain he was trying to climb.

I really hope that lots of people read this book - especially young adults. It is a great story, beautifully written and I for one would love to hear more about Dusty and his life.

Review: Apple Polisher (Rear Entrance Video, Book #1)

Apple Polisher (Rear Entrance Video #1)
Christian Blake dreams of being a kindergarten teacher, but making the grade means maintaining a squeaky clean image: no drinking, no drugs, no swearing, no sex. And definitely no falling for his new roommate-tattooed bad-boy Max, who may or may not be a drug dealer.

Most of all, it means no working at a porn store. But Christian's aunt has cancer, and her beloved Rear Entrance Video will go bankrupt if Christian doesn't take over managerial duties. Soon enough, Christian finds himself juggling sticky twenty-five cent peep show booths, a blackmailing employee, and a demanding professor who likes to make an example of him.

And then there's Max, who doesn't know anything about the store, but hates Christian's preppy sweater vests and the closet Christian forces him into when they're together. Max just wants Christian to be himself-even though Max is keeping secrets of his own. Christian struggles to find the impossible balance between his real life and the ideal one he thinks a teacher needs to live . . . all while trying to keep his aunt's dream alive without losing his own.

(Please note: This review was posted on GR. For those new to the series, or wanting to know my thoughts on book #1- Enjoy!)

"Apple Polisher" the first book in the Rear Entrance Video series (awesome series name BTW) featuring romantic-comedic approach to MM romance while featuring some real life shit. The romance is simple and comforting featuring twenty-somethings.

Christian Blake is gay (but he re-entered the closet), Jamaican-Canadian (yay!), enrolled into a difficult teaching program (where he has to dress in preppy business casual clothes turning him into a perpetual square - boo!) and broke. (Hello, he's a graduate student!) Poor Blake is so broke he answers a roommate request to live a "heritage house" (questionable) with four other male roommates.

Mmm...sounds like it could be a fantastic setup for an orgy, but (regrettably) it is not. The hose is swarming with different personalities, backgrounds and cultures. It was such a delight to read. One of my favorite things about this story is the difference between the five roommates and the multicultural approach. (Major kudos to Heidi - well that and the Jake Bass references because I have a supercrush!)

But Christian does end up falling for one of his roommates, Max, a secretive, snarky, tattooed, tongue-pierced, sexy ,little, lithe bit of yum who has a penchant for wearing superhero themed underwear. Christian has to remained buttoned up and boring but he can't help but lust after Max who he suspects to be a bad boy involved in illegal activities. Christian can't do anything about that, no matter how tempted he is.


Especially since his favorite aunt who is battling cancer and owner of a small porn store (Rear Entrance Videos) which is tanking, needs Christian's attention and help. Christian has no time for relationships, fuck buddies or whatnot. Besides he doesn't even like Max...that much. Maybe? No.

Max and Christian's bicker-flirting made me smile. A favorite of mine:

"It's totally hot, you being such a square. Don't know why, but I see you with that shirt buttoned up all the way and I know I need to fuck you."
"What you got some Urkel fetish?"
"Don't flatter yourself."

All of the problems laid on Christian's feet are relatable and made me enjoy him the more for them - his family struggles, his sort of laid back approach to handling them, etc. I think Max described Christian perfectly:

"When, in fact, you're an absolutely normal person who takes a bit of time and encouragement to make a hard decision, but gets to the right choice in the end."

In the end, he comes through. He's not perfect and I don't expect him to be. Max was a great foil to Christian's stuffiness. And when he enticed Christian to take a walk on the wild side, I loved it. Also the story is not one long literary porn scene. There's much more than just sex even with Christian working in a porn store(though there was at least one accidental exhibition scene- I loved it).

The narration of the story (from Christian's POV) was humorous, sad and hopeful at times. It went up and down but never hitting extreme peaks with the emotional angle. There's no unwarranted drama thrown in for drama's sake. It read so normal it felt like wrapping in your most comfiest blanket on a cold day. It was a comfort read for me, sometimes those are the best.

All secrets are revealed (Max's I did not expect but it was not a deal breaker for me). The ending was great and realistic. I look forward to reading more from this series in the future. And book #2, Wallflower, looks like it's going to be a doozy (in a good way).

There are many things that made this story great:(people with multicultural backgrounds [I'm partial to the Jamaican references]), real life situations and awesome narration - maybe because I talk and think like that.

Heidi Belleau, it seems you have a fan in me. I'm anxiously awaiting more.

ARC was provided for an honest review.

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Review: Diva and the Frat Boy by Daisy Harris

Nathaniel Reece is savvy and fierce and wouldn’t give boring-ass Greg Sanders the time of day, except Greg is the president of a fraternity Nathaniel wants to join. But once Nathaniel gets a taste of the ferocity under Greg’s cool exterior, he can’t stop himself from trying to lure the uptight frat brother out of his shell.

The face of gay life on campus and a crusader heading off to law school, Greg doesn’t see any problem with seducing the flamboyant and exciting Nathaniel. But that’s before he finds out his fraternity brothers are refusing Nathaniel's pledge bid. Greg’s athletic and masculine and has never had to deal with the censure of his friends or the odd looks of strangers, but if he’s going to be what Nathaniel needs, he’ll have to be comfortable not just being out, but also standing out.

“’C’mon. You look amazing. And if you’re a good boy and stay hard for me, I’ll fuck you behind a dorm halfway through the party.’

‘Yes, Daddy.’”

Flirty, hot, fun with a bit of kinky dirty sex. Yeah, this is so my kind of book.

Nathaniel isn’t going to give lame-o Greg the time of day if Greg’s not going to pay attention to him. Yeah, he thinks Greg is hot, but if he’s not going to give Nathaniel the attention he needs then that’s just too bad for Greg. He’s missing out all Nathaniel’s fabulousness. Little did he know… Greg was just waiting for the right time to pounce. And, oh boy, did he pounce. Rawr.

These two were so effing hot together with their rough sex, their diiiiiiiiiirty dirty talk and the daddy kink. Daddy kink is a hit and miss for me, here it’s a total hit.  It was just every once in a while and just during the sexy times. Just how I like it. But back to the rough stuff, Mr. Conservative Greg turned into Mr. Bossy Toppy Topperson in the bedroom  -erhm, and outside and in the alleyway and basically anywhere they decided to bang the hell out of each other.  They held nothing back in this department and were able to have some kinky new experiences together.  Experiences that I very much appreciated.

There was just enough drama and angst to keep this novella light and fluffy.  There were some serious issues that arose, especially with hate and gay-bashing, but it didn’t take over the story and were dealt with realistically.  There were some hints as to struggles Nathanial had to deal with during high school and a little about his current situation with his mom. We got a glimpse and that was it, I would have liked to know a little bit more and to have Nathaniel share his troubles with Greg. But, that might have bogged down this light and fun read with too much angst.

The epilogue! Oh, the epilogue. I’m such a sap, so I live for epilogues.  I loved that it was later down the road since these guys had some struggles to overcome and it looked like just a HFN for them. But with the epilogue they got their well-deserved, solid HEA that I was dying to see.

I’ve said it once, but it’s worth repeating: flirty, hot, fun with a bit of kinky dirty sex. What more could you want with a couple of college boys? Not much.

Review: Witness by L.A. Gilbert

Ben Jenkins is a down-to-earth cop leading a quiet life in a big, empty house. Visits to the gay bars scratch an itch, but they don't really satisfy, and though he's used to the quiet, he recognizes that the empty feeling plaguing him of late is loneliness. It takes a police cruiser and a ten-speed to bring him together with Reece Withers, a bike messenger and photographer who's still waiting for his big break to arrive. Ben's pretty sure what he's feeling is love, but they both have old hurts that need to heal before they can live and live well... together.


I have been given a gift.  I was given the opportunity to witness what happens when two lonely souls find the other half to their heart.  I got to witness them meet.  To become friends.  To share their lives with each other.  To fall in love.

These men don’t have superpowers.  They don’t shift into animals or have super human strength or speed.  They don’t kick ass.  They aren’t rich or powerful.  They are just simple, every day normal folk doing simple, every day normal things.

And I was witness to it.

Reece had told him once that taking pictures was a small window into another person’s life, his way of witnessing just a small part of it.  A completely bare and honest glimpse into that someone’s heart.
This is what I was given.

There is no major buildup to a grand climax here.  There’s no message.  There’s no angst.  There’s not even a moral to this story.  This is simply a snapshot of their life together.  A window into their world.  It’s just a story.  But it is a beautiful tale that I feel fortunate to have been made privy to.

I cried while reading this story.  A lot.  But they were joyful tears.  I don’t know if I have ever witnessed such intense love as I have seen between these two.  It’s breathtaking.  It’s real.


Review: Stung by K.A. Merikan

October 1907, Honeyhill Twenty years into the zombie Plague Victor is a man of delicate sensibilities, not fit to do backbreaking labour on a farm ran by the mob. Upon arrival in Honeyhill, he decides he needs an anchor, an alliance with one of the guards, if he wants to survive. That anchor comes in the form of Crunch, a hunky ex-sailor with a pair of tight leather trousers and a ruggedly handsome face. But from day one, Victor knows he won’t last long with the hard physical work assigned to him and the torment he suffers at the hands of a sadistic guard. He needs to run, and his new alliance might prove to be a burden instead of solace. If Crunch wants Honeyhill liberated, he needs to focus on his job, not on protecting Victor, one of many new arrivals on the farm. Distraction is the last thing he needs after months of undercover work. But it’s hard not to get seduced by Victor's big brown eyes and fingertips that don’t know work. Hundreds of people depend on Crunch keeping his identity a secret, revealing it could be fatal for both him and Victor, and a failure of his mission. Thankfully, Victor would never be dumb enough to try and escape through a forest that's swarming with zombies. Would he?

This review has previously been posted on GoodReads.
To spice it up and give you beautiful readers a closer look into the minds that created this awesome book, I asked K.A. Merikan to write a blurb about writing the book. Here it is.

Kat: As K.A. Merikan, we write our stories in complete symbiosis, but we do split the characters between us, for better flow, surprising each other, and just for the fun of it. We share a sense of humour, so roleplaying the characters and dialogue, keeps it sparkly fresh and realistic. And then we share the side characters depending on whose MC they interact with more in a particular moment. On top of that, we both add descriptions and edit each other as we go so the style is smooth. In the second round of edits, if someone has extra ideas for other characters, better dialogue choices or anything to be honest, we both have input, but always negotiate about things we don't agree on. Sometimes, you just can't think of a descriptive metaphor or something, and it's nice to have your co-writer spark your imagination. I love it when Agnes comes up with something completely new or funny, it feeds my energy for writing. We work with an outline to write faster and 'with a purpose', but we don't mind if characters take us off track. We just change the outline as we go, though having one when you start gives the story a strong spine. We try to at least know where it's going at a particular moment, and what the ending is supposed to be.

In “Stung”,I wrote Crunch and most of Sharpe, while Agnes wrote Victor. Their language is very different so it’s a lot easier when you only have to focus on one character’s mindset when writing dialogue. You don’t have to jump back and forth between points of view in your head. I think Agnes secretly (or not-so-secretly!) enjoyed the trauma Sharpe inflicted on Victor ha ha!

Agnes: I did! I love it when my characters find themselves in a situation without a way out. Which is one of the reasons I loved the punishment scene so much. Kat knows I’m a sucker for a hearty slice of angst, so she keeps teasing me with scenes we haven’t written yet. But what I like about Victor is that he doesn’t give up. He’s not victimizing himself. Instead, he makes use of the assets he has and does all he can to make the best of the situation. I never understood the appeal of a ‘damsel’ in distress, a passive character whose only role is to angst and cry waiting for a savior.

Kat: What we also wanted to do in “Stung” was create a hot, tension filled story with a prison setup, but without BDSM/rape/kink. So “Stung” is more of a story where characters explore and struggle with the power imbalance instead of being turned on by it. It’s about non-BDSM power play, showing that you don’t need to be the one holding the machete to have power over someone else.

Agnes: That is what the expression ‘power play’ really means to me. None of the sides holds all the assets. What makes Crunch so interesting in this whole setting is that he’s a decent human being. Having all this power, the strength, being tempted, he doesn’t cross the lines of what he thinks is right. Yet his behavior still remains questionable, since he technically holds the power of a guard. I enjoy writing about people, who are morally grey and don’t always make the most logical, or right decisions. This way, the reader can never be certain what to expect.

Kat: When it comes to what was hard to write in “Stung”, I definitely have to say that it was the bees and the apiary. We usually write opposite each other with Agnes, in the same room, so we get to see each other’s facial expressions. I have to admit that as much as I cringed myself writing about the insects, seeing the terror on her face was worth every sentence.

Agnes: I’d say the world building is always the trickiest part. If the plot is set in a world that is not familiar to the reader, be it a fantasy, or historical setting, it’s vital that the descriptions are striking enough to give the reader a good picture of what the character sees. And the way we see it, it’s not that much about giving as many details as possible, but painting the picture with bold strokes. Same with character descriptions: one focused sentence often works better than a detailed record of how they look like.

Kat: Oh! And twists, we love twists, so be ready for a bumpy ride with “Stung”! :D

Thank you Kat and Agnes, for taking the time to answer some questions and give us readers a look at the backstory behind Stung!

Original Review:

THIS BOOK IS SWEET! No pun intended. Okay, some pun intended.


Generally spoiler free because you gotta read this.
This book was generously given to me as an ARc by Kat who comprises 50% of the tag team duo, K.A. Kerikan. I was really looking forward to this book because, well, I this kinda book is right up my alley. M/M, thriller/horror, and weird. All three elements that I love in books, but you don't see too often. If you like those kinds of books, pick this badboy up.
I really enjoyed the writing. I like the style of writing that treats me like I'm smart, because it's smart, without completely losing me. It was engaging and IMO very well done. It was on the edge of my seat quite frequently. Sweet.

The world? Man. So cool. So basically it's 20 years post plague. Zombay plague and set in 1907 outside of London. There's this kind of camp where people are pretty much enslaved for some pretty rude dudes, if I do say so myself. The place is called Honeyhill and it's pretty much a honey harvesting camp. But there's more going on. *makes spooky noises* Have you ever read a book about some man love in a zombie-infested world set in a honey farm? No. And that in itself is totally cool. There's some gross shit going on, FYI. Don't read this next sentence to avoid a mini-spoiler: The zombies. In the hive area. And the plants around the decaying bodies. EWWWWWWWW!
Man, Vic was such a little tart. Can I say that? Too bad, I did. What a little baby. I liked him, but god, sometimes I was like "You're such a little bratface!". He's like the annoying, cute little brother that gets everything he wants but he can't help that he's adorable Crunch was totally, by far, the coolest. I love books where the characters have memorable nicknames (it's a weird thing I like, whatever), and I'm also a sucker for characters that are portrayed as gentle giants, and god, he was the king of gentle giants. But secretly smart and also totally badass. Favorite scene: Where little brat Vic is running out da farm and Crunch comes after him and is yelling at him. I had a lot of terror that poor Vic would be eaten, but I love how Crunch wasn't just like "Awww, poor baby". It was scary AND funny. Crunch is so totally awesome.
Covered with mud, with muscles hurting from the long run, he couldn’t stop crying. “Will I die?” “Yes, ya fucker! I’m gonna fuckin’ skin ya when we get back!” Crunch spat on the ground and without a second warning, he dropped to one knee and knotted up Victor’s ankles.
“Don’t say a fuckin’ word, ya dumb fuck. Got it?”
The ending? UH. MORE. PLS? I didn't see it ending like that. I saw it ending in a way that lead to insta-rainbows and sunshine and boners. Alas, it didn't end the way I saw it going, and that's AWESOME because now I need more. Need. Still a HEA, but not the way I thought.

Final thoughts. This book wasn't nearly as weird as I thought it would be, or as gross, which will allow lots more of you friends of mine read this. Don't be scared. *pets* It was still totally awesome, a really fun, e xciting read that caused me a my fair share of anxiety.
Zombies, manlove, really hot sex, scary shit, gross things, and a completely unique world. Need I say more?


P.S. My bf made a PB and honey sandwich today and the thought of eating honey contorted my face in the least attractive way.

ARC provided by the publisher via author in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Long Time Gone (Hell or High Water, Book #2) by SE Jakes

Long Time Gone (Hell or High Water #2)
When a tornado meets a volcano, nothing is safe.

Soldier of fortune Prophet Drews always worked alone—until Tom Boudreaux became his partner. But when Tom walked away three months ago, ostensibly to keep Prophet safe, Prophet learned the true meaning of being alone. Everyone knows that Prophet, a Navy SEAL turned CIA spook turned mercenary, can look after himself. Which means he must’ve driven his lover away.

 Even with half a world between them, Prophet can’t get the man out of his head. Maybe that’s why he’s in New Orleans in the middle of a hurricane, protecting Tom’s aunt. But the only looter around is Tom, bursting back into Prophet’s life. It turns out that Prophet’s been stuck in Tom’s head—and heart—too.

 Their explosive reunion gets even hotter when Tom is arrested for murder. As they fight to clear his name, they delve deep into his past, finding enemies among everyone they meet. Staying alive in such a dangerous world is hard enough, but they soon discover that fighting to stay together is the most difficult thing they've ever done.

*fans self*
What you will need while reading "Long Time Gone", Book #2 of the Hell or High Water series. Probably afterwards too.
Hot! Damn! Back again for round two! S.E. Jakes delivers a solid punch with "Long Time Gone". We catch up four months after the cliffhanger from book #1. I won't spoil what happens at the end of "Catch a Ghost" in case you haven't read this series yet. (Meaning: Start this series. Like now-ish)

However, you will be pretty happy with how "Long Time Gone" proceeds. Tom and Prophet are back in business, kicking asses and taking names! Don't think it's rainbows and butterflies because for these two, that is just not the case. Tom still has his "Voodoo" premonitions (thankfully it doesn't overshadow the story) and Prophet has that ghost situation. Does it read like a paranormal? *shakes head* No, not really. It's so subtle and I am grateful for this. Because if you have read my review for the previous book, you know where I stand with ghosts and psychics.

S.E. Jakes is known for having rugged, hot men action in scenes and in the bedroom. Rowr! She does not disappoint. At. All. *coughs*hurricane sex/ washing machine sex score*coughs* Nothing hotter than two big, strong brawny men trying to figure what a partnership can truly mean.
“You are so fucking good for me and so fucking bad for me at the same time." 
"It's not good if you don't have the mix of both. ”
Do these men figure it out? Sort of. (I mean hello this is book #2 out of 4, people!) There still is room to grow.

What we do get in this latest installment is more background on Tom's past, deep down in the Louisiana bayou. A category 4 hurricane is brewing and Prophet and Tom weather it together with a snarky as hell aunt Della and her two renters, older gay couple Dave and Roger. You will love these three.

Here's a sample of my favorite quotes from these characters:

“You're doing it wrong."
"Son, I've got a gun to your chest and you're telling me that I'm doing it wrong?"
"Closer isn't better." He disarmed her with a swift motion, then offered the weapon back to her. "Further away you are, the less unpredictable I can be."
Della's eyes had opened wide with surprise, but she recovered fast. Took the shotgun back and said, "Okay. Knock again so we can start over.”

I love Aunt Della, wished there was more scenes with her and more interaction between her and Prophet.

Roger and Dave:

In the dark, Dave reached for Roger's hand as they watched the shadowed lovemaking. "Were we ever that beautiful?" 
"You still are," Roger told him. 
"Maybe we should make the most of the hurricane." 
"This is definitely foreplay." 
"It's like Tumblr, the live version.”

This couple was a hoot. And they got to live a dream of mine, being a voyeur to Tom/Prophet loving.

Do not confuse this story for being a drawn out PWP, that is farther from the case. There is a backwoods murder/mystery going on and Tom, unfortunately, is in the middle of it. We get to see where Tom comes from (bayou), how he grew up (it wasn't pretty), secret talents he has (hint: alligator) and how he is most deservedly the perfect partner for Prophet.

I love Tom...I think a smidge more than Prophet (alright a little more than a smidge). I'm a sucker for damaged heroes, what can I say?

Prophet is still as snarky and wisecracking as ever. He has a tendency to leave one in a state of frustration (from his smart mouth) and lust (from the rest of him)...lustration, if you will. I was happy Tom got to shine a little more in this book.

Oh, it sounds like I was in alpha love with this book, why not 5 stars? I was in total alpha lustration. Believe me. But...the niggles, they were present. The pacing was not as smooth as the book prior. It was a little braking here and there. Plus, at times, I questioned what exactly was going on, who's doing what, the characters seemed to know more than the reader and I want an invite to the party. Maybe if book #1 and #2 were combined, I'd rate higher, but since it wasn't...I'm going with 4 hearts. The murder/mystery gets solved with some muss and less fuss. We learn a few answers to some questions like Prophet's real name. Totally fitting, BTW

I liked how the book ended. Yes, it is a cliffhanger but it seems like a good spot for Tom and Prophet's partnership. They are finally realizing how to balance and share...well for Prophet and Tom, anyway.

A great combination of hot sex in hot places, memorable secondary characters, a bayou whodunit, snark and hotter kick ass action with mercenaries, spies and ex soldiers, oh my! Just another slice of S.E. Jakes' wonderful imagination.

Do I want to read book #3? Hell yes. Need to feed my Tom/Prophet addiction.

Would I recommend? See above. But please read the series in order, otherwise you will be lost.

Do not expect: immediate resolution. If you need instant gratification, you might suffer from lustration.
Do expect: an entertaining ride. ;D

A copy provided by author for an honest review.