Sidewinder: Shock & Awe

Shock & Awe

Shock & Awe

After barely surviving a shootout in New Orleans, Sidewinder medic Kelly Abbott has to suffer through a month of recovery before he can return home to Colorado. He’s not surprised when fellow Sidewinder Nick O’Flaherty stays with him in New Orleans. Nor is he surprised when Nick travels home with him to help him get back on his feet–after all, years on the same Marine Force Recon team bonded the men in ways that only bleeding for a brother can. He’s very surprised, though, when Nick humors his curiosity and kisses him.

Nick knows all of Kelly’s quirks and caprices, so the kiss was a low-risk move on his part… or so he thought. But what should have been a simple moment unleashes a flood of emotions and urges that neither man is prepared to address. 

Now, Kelly and Nick must figure out what they mean to each other–friends and brothers in arms, or something even deeper?–before the past can come back to ruin their tenuous future.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Abigail Roux’s, so I was mega excited about Shock & Awe. Needless to say, Ms Roux did not disappoint. This novella was packed with steamy sex and some really heavy emotional scenes. This is an excellent start to the Sidewinder series.

Shock & Awe takes place just after the emotional trauma that was Touch & Geaux. Kelly is recovering from a gunshot wound that, had the bullet hit it’s target, would have killed Nick. Kelly is in fairly good spirits for a man with a bullet hole in him, but he still needs some help getting around. For a heart stopping minute, it looked like Kelly was going to have to ask his ex-wife to step in, but Nick offers to help him out instead. The guys have been through a lot together, so Nick’s offer is no big deal. While Nick and Ty were always close, Kelly and Nick are pretty tight too. They understand each other and there’s never been any weirdness between the two. Until Kelly, in a painkiller induced haze, asks Nick to kiss him. This comes as a bit of a surprise to both of them when Nick not only agrees to it, but that it turns out to be the kind of kiss that rocks their world. This opens up an avenue that neither man ever would have guessed existed. So the question is, do they go for it and possibly ruin their friendship; or do they ignore the attraction and run the risk of missing out on something amazing?

In addition to Shock & Awe, we got a teeny, tiny short story called Bait & Switch, featuring Zane. My poor baby. It just felt wrong to read anything with Zane that didn’t also directly involve Ty. It just made my heart hurt to see Zane so sad. I just wanted to get in the book and give him a hug. There was just enough angst in this short story to have me making these high pitched keening noises.

I really did enjoy this novella. Nick and Kelly were insanely hot. The chemistry between these two was absolutely explosive. I was just sitting there at one point fanning myself. I do not have enough words to adequately describe the bedroom scenes. Ms Roux has always had the ability to write some scorchers, but she pulled out all the stops for this one. And she also threw in some serious moments of heart-stopping angst. They didn’t last long, but they were enough to leave me feeling a little faint. But. But. There is one thing that niggled at me and kept me from giving Roux her usual five stars. It was Kelly. Now, this does not in any way mean that I didn’t like him, because I did. It’s just that we got to know Kelly–not very well, granted–as a straight guy. And now, suddenly, he’s decided that he likes cock. I know that this is just a novella so there wasn’t much time for soul searching and whatever, but I just think that the transition was too… easy. It just bothered me a little.

Definitely a good start to the Sidewinder series. I’m very excited to see more of the Sidewinder boys in the future. You can buy Shock & Awe over at Riptide.


Str8te Boys

Str8te Boys

Str8te Boys

How far would you dare to go… to win it all?

Maverick Holms and Duke Warren share almost everything-a college soccer team, an apartment and and the same extremely competitive nature. Thanks to that never-back-down spirit, they’re about to share more than they bargained for.

The game is “gay chicken”. The rule: get as close as possible without kissing, and the one that pulls away first is the loser. The problem: neither of them likes to lose. It isn’t long before the game becomes an excuse to touch and kiss in every possible forbidden way. And after they pose for a gay website to earn extra money, things really heat up.

Suddenly Duke is talking lifetime commitment, and Mav is backpedaling as hard as he can, not sure if he’s ready to accept all his best friend is offering him. Or the truth about what he is.

Warning: Hot M/M sex inside. Do not open this book if you don’t like the idea of two deliciously muscular best friends becoming lovers.

Str8te Boys is a reread for me. I first read it when I was just breaking in to the M/M genre, and it was a cute story. Definitely not the best written thing you’ll ever read, but it had a sweet friends-to-lovers theme. If you’re a stranger to gay romance, I’d recommend trying this book out for your first time. The sex is hot without being uber-explicit.

Mav and Duke have been best friends pretty much since their first day of university. They both play on the soccer team and they’ve been roommates for years. Mav is the serious, studious one while Duke is the life of every party. He’s loud, happy and a little on the touchy-feely side. Mav doesn’t mind; it’s something he’s gotten used to over the years. Only lately, Duke has been getting extra touchy-feely. Like, beyond what’s normal for best friends. Their relationship is bordering on the *shudder, gasp* gay. The story starts when it’s revealed that Duke has spent their rent money on weed. Now Duke and Mav need to come up with the money or end up sleeping on the street. That’s when a friend recommends that they apply for a modelling gig. The catch? It will be for a gay website called “Str8te Boys”. Mav is less than enthusiastic but, as Duke points out, rather that than being homeless. Mav agrees and that’s when things start to escalate. Things had been a little… strange… between Mav and Duke for a while, but after the photo shoot things get hot. 

The thing with this book is that it’s really short, about eighty or so pages. There wasn’t enough time to go in-depth with the characters or their situation. Another thing that bugged me was the whole “gay chicken” concept. I had no idea people actually did that so it seemed a little contrived to me. In terms of the characters, I thought they were okay. The whole book was from Mav’s perspective so we only saw Duke as Mav saw him. I liked Duke. I thought he was really sweet, although I do question his judgement for springing the “Lets spend our lives together” on a guy who still considered himself straight. As for Mav… well, I thought he was a bit of an idiot. But a sweet idiot, so it was mostly okay.

Like I said, not the most wow-inspiring book out there. But it’s sweet. I know I keep using that word, but that was exactly what this was. So if you feel like a light, fluffy, quick read and if two hot guys making out revs your engine, give this book a go. You can get it over at Books A Million.

The Crossfire Series: Bared to You

Bared to You

Bared to You

Our journey began in fire…

Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness-beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white hot. I was drawn to him as I’d never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily…

Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other’s most private wounds… and desires.

The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn’t tear us apart…

I caved. I was adamant that I wouldn’t, simply based on principle. Because I have a major hate going on for the whole BDSM sub-genre. I mean, you can not turn around in a book shop without being confronted by something 50 Shades of Grey-ish. And, quite frankly, it pissed me off. And it continues to do so, because I still don’t get what all the fuss is about.

Firstly, and on a completely superficial level, I hate this cover. That shoe annoys the hell out of  me. It just doesn’t look right. On a more serious note, I actually enjoyed the writing. I think that Sylvia Day is quite brilliant in that regard, and it’s because of that that I didn’t give this book a lower rating. Also, in spite of myself, this book had me riveted. I hated Eva and Gideon, and their relationship gave me the heebie-jeebies, but I wanted to know how it would end. Which makes me think of Bared to You as an example of “when bad books happen to good authors”. This book reminded of Twilight, except the people are grown ups and the writing wasn’t horrendous. Eva and Gideon… these two were really something. I can’t figure which of them is more fucked in the head. I’m not saying I want perfect characters, because that makes it boring. I love the tortured hero as much as the next girl, and I generally root for the damaged chick who’s just beginning to learn to trust again. But everything about Gideon and Eva rubbed me up the wrong way. I think I could handle them individually, but then you throw them together and they form a seriously unhealthy cocktail. They had this whole “love the way you lie” thing going on, and it freaked me out in a big way.

Let me start with Gideon. The fact that he lives deep in the heart of Crazy Town is more obvious than it is for Eva. For some reason, when authors package their… ahem… “heroes” as beautiful, well-hung billionaires, it turns their insane behaviour into a series of grand romantic gestures. A dirty guy who lives in his parents’ basement and spends his days surfing for porn, and his nights following the object of his affections, is a stalker. A multimillionaire who owns most of New York, and hires other people to follow the girl he’s obsessed with, is romantic. I just do not understand this. Surely a crazy stalker is a crazy stalker is a crazy stalker? Gideon gets all obsesso on Eva within two or three times of meeting her, and seems to find nothing wrong with having people looking into her past. Where she went to school, who she lives with, everything is available to this man she barely knows. I suppose it gets rid of that pesky part of the relationship where you actually have to talk to each other and choose to trust your partner. That way you can move straight on to the sex. Swoon worthy? I don’t think so. Then, they hook up and they go out. He gets all crazy possessive when other men speak to her or, hell, even look at her. But it’s okay for him to lavish attention on his ex. She has to stay sitting obediently next to him when he’s all but ignoring her, and he gets pissy when she wants to find someone who will actually talk to her.

Moving on to Eva. She actually pissed me off worse than Gideon, if you’ll believe it. See, Gideon doesn’t seem to realise that he’s acting like a crazy person. Eva knows Gideon’s behaviour is creepy and she just lets him carry on! What the hell? Just a quick example of her brushing his stalkerish tendencies off as though they’re no big deal:

When I checked out the drawers he had set aside for me in his bathroom, I found all my usual cosmetics and toiletries in all my usual shades. I didn’t bother to ask how he knew, which might’ve led me to freaking out. Instead, I chose to look at it as more proof of his attentiveness. He thought of everything.

See? She acknowledges that this is not exactly normal behaviour, and then she shrugs it off! I found myself wondering, if they ever break up and he pulls the whole, “I’d rather see you dead than with another man”, would this be perceived as a sign of his love and devotion? And Eva is completely out of her mind. After telling him about her history of sexual abuse, she’s somewhat distressed by the fact that he doesn’t want to leap on her and ravage her. It’s like, hello? You just told him you were raped! If he did want to have sex with her after that sort of revelation, she’d have been better off calling the police than having a relationship with the man. Fear not, though. They did end this little episode with a bout of hard fucking. Which also annoyed me. They never talked their issues out. It’s all “please don’t leave me” and “No, I’ll never leave, I promise”, and then they proceed to screw like bunnies. The first time they did it, I let it go. The second time was a little bit harder to ignore, but I figured that they’d actually have a proper conversation soon. But they didn’t.

Now, I know some may argue that this is a work of fiction, it’s just a story, etc. I know that. I also don’t care. What grates my cheese, beyond even their unhealthy relationship, is what it does to romance as genre. I still get funny looks from people who happen to see me reading a romance novel or browsing in the romance section. I mean, first romance was seen as this really shallow, brain numbing genre for bored housewives. Then the whole idea of “mommy porn” (who the hell came up with that?) thing started floating about. Now, people are trying to pass unhealthy, borderline abusive relationships off as romance.

Sorry for the rant guys. It’s just been bugging me for a while. And, in all fairness, Day isn’t the first author to have done this; she was just the catalyst for me spilling my guts. I’d actually like to read something else by Day, because she really is a good writer. I can’t honestly recommend this book for reading. Other things that I would normally never do to a book, maybe. But not to read.

Market Garden Series: Quid Pro Quo

Quid Pro Quo

Quid Pro Quo

For the past six months, Jared’s been selling sex at Market Garden, a London club that caters to the better off. But business is slow in the run-up to Christmas, when businessmen and bankers are too busy bickering over bonuses to rent themselves a little high-class action.

Though Jared’s wallet finds the downtime unnerving, the rest of him rather enjoys the opportunity to admire Tristan, an old hand in the club whose reputation usually sees him well-booked. Jared has been crushing on Tristan for months-he’s no more immune to Tristan’s cockiness and confidence than the johns, and those are just Tristan’s inner qualities.

Just as Jared’s about to chat Tristan up, a businessman asks for something a little different: he wants to book them both. They agree-and Jared finds himself going from crush to mind-bending lust as he’s made the pawn in a sexual power game. Tristan shows him how a pro handles a john while delivering the top-shelf sex for which the Market Garden is so rightly renowned.

First thing I want to say about this book is… wow. Just… wow. It was honestly one of the hottest things I’ve read in a really long time. I had read reviews where people had said that this book was basically one really long sex scene, but I thought maybe they were exaggerating a little. I mean, even if it is a short story, you can’t extend a sex scene for the whole duration of it. Right?

Wrong. It was exactly that. A really long, uber-hot sex scene. The set up is that Tristan and Jared are rent boys who cater to wealthy guys looking for some action. The Market Garden, where the guys work, it essentially a high class brothel and it caters to all sorts of tastes. Whatever you want, these guys have got it. Jared is a newbie, and Tristan’s been doing this for so long that it’s old hat. However, irrespective of  their experience, both of the boys are bored out of their minds. It’s Christmas season and the Market Garden is dead. Neither of them have gotten any business in three weeks, and Jared is getting worried that he may not be able to make this month’s rent. The story is told from Jared’s perspective, so we can tell that although he’s feeling the pinch, he’s not really as worried as he’d normally be. And that is all thanks to the fine piece of something that is Tristan. Here’s a quick description of Tristan lounging about in the opening scene:

“Feast or famine in this place, isn’t it?” Tristan sighed heavily. He wore his boredom as if he wondered how dare the universe not entertain him, and lounged as much as anyone could on a barstool. He was like a cat in that respect. He could stretch and bend to get comfortable-at least, Jared assumed he was comfortable-anywhere he damn well pleased. Right now, his arm seemed like the only solid piece of his body, his elbow on the bar and his hand against his face, holding up his head as the rest of him poured over the edge of the bar, onto the seat, and down the stool leg to where the toe of his boot touched the floor. 

How good is this description? When you read it, you can just picture this guy being all hot and bored and stuff. Hot as their boredom is though, it doesn’t last long. Because in walks a ridiculously loaded john, mostly refered to as “Rolex”, and he wants them both. After a little negotiating, the boys agree to go with him, and then things start to heat up. See, Rolex isn’t interested in actively participating in any of the kinky happenings. He just wants to watch.

I think that the only possible way this book could have been any hotter would have been for us to have gotten something from Tristan’s perspective. Other than that? Sheer kinky perfection. Just bear in mind when you read this book that there is next to nothing in terms of story line. You know Jared and Tristan are prostitutes, you know Rolex has lots of money to spend, and that’s it. Maybe we’ll learn more about the Market Garden and the gents who work there later in the series, but you don’t learn much about them in Quid Pro Quo. So don’t go looking for some detailed story. It’s not there. But if you’re looking for a little something to keep you warm (it’s bloody cold in Pretoria right now), then you should definitely give this book a try. You will not regret it!