Review: “How I Hurt” by Bazan Kay

TITLE: How I Hurt
AUTHOR: Bazan Kay
SERIES: The Temuba Stories
PUBLISHER: Sugarbones
COVER ARTIST: Bazan Kay
GENRE: Abuse; Dark; Erotica
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 111 pages
RELEASE DATE: May 27, 2016
PRICE: $2.99 -e-book
  

BLURB:

Pirates off the coast of a dangerous tropical island have captured Riley Geller and his friends. There is no end to their cruelty — especially once they discover that Riley is an immortal. Riley’s pain becomes a journey, one that is artfully orchestrated by his warden: an infamous, stoic assassin with a few secrets of his own. It is up to Riley to master his own suffering and discover his greater purpose in life, even if it costs him everything he’s ever known.

“My colleagues believe that you like it when they hurt you,” Chavez said.

“Sick fucks,” Riley croaked, but he was breathing too hard with excitement and betrayed himself. He knew Chavez could pick out the light in his eyes. It was like a second wind. Riley tried to move again, so Chavez pressed the hand on his chest down harder, disturbing his fractured ribs.

“I’ve made a small fortune off addicts of all kinds,” Chavez continued. Once again, Riley was captured by his stare, pinned and motionless, unable to look away from his dark eyes. “I know one when I see one.”


Warning. I feel I must give readers a warning that this is not BDSM. This story is about human trafficking and the extreme abuse and beatings that go along with that. This is definitely a dark, paranormal, horror read with some erotica. I am not saying any of this to deter readers from reading this story, but as I am one that lives the BDSM lifestyle, I don’t want readers thinking that this is that kind of story.

With that being said, the author did an incredible job with the reality of human trafficking. An American group of friends were kidnapped by pirates and taken to the island Temuba. We meet Chavez, who is like the ringleader of the group and a true anarchist king. Chavez and his men are excited about the money they will get for this group of people they have.

One of the captives, the runt of the group, Riley, was the boogeyman’s brother. Chavez was very adamant that he not be marked up at all. The boogeyman is Gringo Loco, and everyone is afraid of him. Riley is set on escaping with his friend, Adam. The story that follows is gruesome. There is brutal beatings that Riley has to deal with that are so realistic and sent chills through me.

There’s a lot to the story, and I don’t want to give too much to away. My heart went out to Riley, and I found myself holding my breath on more than one occasion. If this is your kind of read, you will enjoy the reality this author brings.

***I would like to thank the author for the privilege and opportunity of reading this ARC.  My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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Review: “Ride Along” by Meghan Maslow

TITLE: Ride Along
AUTHOR: Meghan Maslow
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Garrett Leigh
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 122 Pages
RELEASE DATE: June 14, 2017
PRICE: $4.99 -e-book
  

BLURB:

Drew Nolan is a loud-and-proud mystery writer with a brutal case of writer’s block. He needs practical experience with the Baltimore police beat to get his latest manuscript to his publisher on time. When he wins a ride-along at a writer’s conference, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot… until he meets his partner.

Closeted cop Josh de Oliveira lost his family, his partner, and the respect of his unit—all for doing the right thing. Recently busted back down to patrol, he’s relieved to get a cushy assignment at the Author’s Police Institute where he’ll take one lucky writer on a ride-along. Unfortunately, his author looks like he belongs in the backseat of Josh’s squad car—long, ginger dreadlocks, piercings, and an “I would bottom you so hard” T-shirt. But there’s something about Drew Josh is having a hard time resisting.

It’s going to be a long night and one hell of a ride as opposites attract and realize they share a lot in common beneath the surface. As animosity becomes desire, they realize they can help each other out—in more ways than one.


Drew Nolan, a young writer, is at a convention in Baltimore trying to get answers for his
next book when he meets Officer Josh De Oliveira, a handsome but rude and probably
homophobe (as Drew thinks).

Josh has no choice but to be at the convention, answering questions after questions to author or
wannabe author. The last thing he expected is to meet the hot young author Drew Nolan.
Josh can’t help but be rude to him, and when he has a ride along with him, Josh prays to
survive the day.

Drew is funny, smart and not afraid to say out loud what he wants.
Josh is more reserved, he struggles to express out loud his feelings or worries.
We follow them during the first months, how they meet together and how they evolve from
single to a couple.

They are adorable together, Drew especially, I love how he stays proud of himself when he
thought that Josh was a homophobe, how he doesn’t hesitate to fight for Josh when it’s
necessary and how he supported Josh when he struggled with his work and his life.

I love how Josh isn’t afraid to admit when he’s wrong with Drew, how he doesn’t hesitate to
try to be more affectionate with him in public even if he’s in the closet at work, how he
supported Drew with his writing or when his family makes him feel bad.

It was a sweet novella and a sweet love story between Drew and Josh.
The writing was good, and all my reading was enjoyable.

It’s the kind of book you can read on the beach or when you travel. It makes the time pass more pleasantly and quickly.
I spent a lazy Sunday afternoon with them, and I’ve no regrets at all.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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Review: “An Island in the Stars” by Susan Laine

TITLE: An Island in the Stars
AUTHOR: Susan Laine
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Anna Sikorska
GENRE: New adult; Sci-fi
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 210 PAGES
RELEASE DATE: June 12, 2017
PRICE: $6.99 -e-book / $14.99 –paperback
  

BLURB:

Sam, a geeky college freshman, has bigger problems than lusting after Marcus, sexy jock, college junior, and his big brother’s best friend. Chasing after a beanie caught in the winter wind turns into a tumble down the rabbit hole for them both—science fiction style.

Sam and Marcus find themselves trapped on a tropical island in the middle of a strange ocean on an alien moon. The sole structure is a ruined temple devoted to the art of love. Flustered, confused, and unable to return home, they need to figure out a means of escape from a hostile jungle teeming with dangerous life-forms.

In this tale where opposites attract and secret crushes are revealed, two very dissimilar young men discover they actually have a lot in common after all, but it will take their differences as much as their points of connection to survive on an island in the stars


One day, when they were heading home after college, Sam and Marcus fell in a rabbit hole which leads to an Island on a Moon.
Sam is a “geek” in love with Marcus, his brother’s best friend for years. Too shy, too unsure and too scared to confess his feelings, Sam, spends most of his time in defense mode or running away from Marcus.
Marcus tries his best to gain Sam’s attention but fails each time. He is crazy in love with the young geek but doesn’t know how to gain his trust and love.
When they end up on an Island on an alien moon, they don’t have other choices but to stick together in order to survive and find a way to come back to their home.
It was a sweet love story between Sam & Marcus. They are adorable together especially Marcus.
I like this big guy, he is sweet, brave and fights for what he wants. And he’s wanted Sam for years, when he has the opportunity, he takes it. I like his devotion for Sam too. I had a little crush for Marcus.

Sam is really smart, like super mega smart, and his brain sure helps them on this alien Island, but he has difficulty interacting with people, and especially with the guy he is in love with, Marcus. But this island will help him to face his fear, to surpass himself and fight for his life and that of Marcus.
The author mixes different genres, adventure, Sci-fi, Romance, the whole sprinkled with a dose of humor.

It’s a mix between Jules Verne, Daniel Defoe and Lewis Carroll. A fall in a rabbit hole that leads to an extraterrestrial room that leads to an island on an alien moon, populated with extraordinary alien creatures, add 2 gay men, horny and in love, and you have this sweet novel.

I recommend this book for younger people 14-18 years old.

****The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book****

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Review: “Two Natures” by Jendi Reiter

TITLE: Two Natures
AUTHOR: Jendi Reiter
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Saddle Road Press
COVER ARTIST: Don Mitchell
GENRE: Come To Age, Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: YES
PAPERBACK: YES
LENGTH: 376 pages
RELEASE DATE: September 15, 2016
PRICE: $4.99 -e-book / $22.00 -paperback
  

BLURB:

Jendi Reiter’s debut novel offers a backstage look at the glamour and tragedy of 1990s New York City through the eyes of Julian Selkirk, an aspiring fashion photographer. Coming of age during the height of the AIDS epidemic, Julian worships beauty and romance, however fleeting, as substitutes for the religion that rejected him. His spiritual crisis is one that too many gay youth still face today.

This genre-bending novel couples the ambitious political analysis of literary fiction with the pleasures of an unconventional love story. Vivid social realism, enriched by unforgettable characters, eroticism, and wit, make Two Natures a satisfying read of the highest sort.

Perry Brass, Amazon bestselling author of The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love and the novel King of Angels, says of Two Natures: “If you want to know what life is like in Nineties New York, when Style has become God, sex has become a contact sport, and jobs, money, and survival are always around the corner someplace else, then this late coming-of-age novel is a good place to start.”


This was one of the most difficult books I’ve read. I’m not a religious person, so I found it hard to empathize with Julian’s struggle with the religious faith of his childhood but the description of the LGBT scene in New York City in the mid-1990’s is spot on. Set against the early days of AIDS. Julian’s story takes us from his college days through his struggle to make it as a fashion photographer, with all the shame and glamour of that world. He’s already escaped his narrow-minded and abusive father and his family crop up regularly in his life. We witness a hilarious scene when they come to visit, and he throws an impromptu dinner party with some friends. He engages in an open relationship with Phil, a gym monkey who he falls for, who turns to…well, an alternative career. I’m not going to give the plot away.

Julian’s career slowly builds as his personal life descends into a nightmare. He indulges in a drug-fueled night which ends up with him deciding whether to take an AIDS test or not. He’s persuaded by Peter a ‘friend’ with an alter ego, who comes to mean a lot to Julian. But it’s not Julian who succumbs to AIDs, and he ends up as a carer for someone he loves. I wasn’t keen on the open attitude to unsafe sex and drug taking but I recognize it was honest and reflective of the culture and time in which the story is set, it’s integral to the story and not at all gratuitous. It also gives the story a gritty realism that I found compelling.

This is a very detailed orientated and wordy book. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a deep look into the spiritual, political and sexual impacts of that era.

***I would like to thank the author for the privilege and opportunity of reading this ARC.  My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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Review: “And After Death” by Nero Seal

TITLE: And After Death
AUTHOR: Nero Seal
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Self
COVER ARTIST: Nero Seal
GENRE: Dark, Paranormal
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: NO
LENGTH: 42 pages
RELEASE DATE: October 21, 2016
PRICE: $0.99 -e-book
   

BLURB:

The world has died in 2025. The armies of zombies are tracing streets in the urge to satisfy the blood thirst. The probably last survivor in the whole world enters the abandoned house where finds the diary. The diary that reveals the horrible story of love and death, the last kindness in the world.

This story may contain content that is disagreeable or distressing to some readers.


I had a really hard time writing this review, and I had an even harder time after reading the other reviews that are about it. So, I will try to articulate what I did and didn’t like about And After Death.

The book was beautifully written and edited and even though it’s only 42 pages, the author has a way of drawing you in and making you feel like you are there experiencing what’s happening with the characters. The beginning of the story has our main character (sorry, I don’t know his name, and I guess, it really doesn’t matter, since this book is told in first person point of view) the last remaining survivor of the zombie apocalypse, trying to find food, water, and shelter for the night. He finds an abandoned house that has potential and checks it for zombies. The house seems to be empty, and although it has some food, it doesn’t have any running water. He does see a well out in the middle of the backyard and braves it to get some water. While checking out the house, he finds a diary and decides to pass the time by reading it.

I absolutely loved the diary entries, and they were told in a way that you couldn’t identify whether the person writing the diary was a male or a female. And I have to admit that I thought the writer was female which I had no problem with because the love that you could feel between the two people in the diary is what everybody is looking for. They were soul mates, and I loved it. I felt their love, and their heartache and I cried at least three times reading it. I loved the writer’s last request to put their loved one out of his misery because the writer wasn’t able to kill his zombie husband.

I even liked the main character up until this part. But when he went to fulfill the last request because he was moved by the story also, I just couldn’t handle the way that he reacted. I am sorry but his reaction to finding out that the couple was gay ruined the book for me. It made me feel like the love that the two people had for each other was invalidated because they were gay. Because you know that if the couple had been straight, he would have honored the last request. If it had been a paperback, I would have torn out the pages and rewritten the book in my mind. The book could have had a beautiful ending to the story, and so I can’t figure out why the author went the route that he did unless he was just going for a shocked reaction. Well, he got it. But now I am not sure if I am even willing to try and read any more of his work for fear that they will affect me as strongly.

Like I said I loved the book up until the last 10%, but that last bit just killed me. I sincerely hope that the main character ends up getting eaten by a zombie gay pride parade. That would be a fitting end for such a bigoted man.

***I would like to thank the author for the privilege and opportunity of reading this ARC. My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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Review: “Gone by the Board” by August Li

TITLE: Gone by the Board
AUTHOR: August Li
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Anne Cain
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: NO
LENGTH: 98 pages
RELEASE DATE: May 24, 2017
PRICE: $4.99 -e-book
   

BLURB:

The sea is full of jealously guarded secrets, but everything washes up eventually….

Betrayed by a trusted partner, Nathan figures he might as well be lost and heartbroken in the sunshine, and he heads to the coast of South Carolina, to stay with a friend and find a new direction for his life. But despite his efforts, he is lost in the fog, unable to find a guiding light and sometimes unable to find a reason to go on. His only respite from depression and anxiety is the soothing rhythm of the tides and the comfort he draws from proximity to the water.

When the sea sends a lifeline in the form of a strange and beautiful man, it’s easy for Nathan to ignore all the things that don’t add up about his new friend. But the tides can turn without notice, and it’s those mystical traits that will either finally lead Nathan safely to shore or drown him in confusion and despair.


Gone by the Board by August Li was a book that made me feel but not always in a happy way. It has two scenes of attempted suicide so if this is a trigger for you as it is for me then I would probably pass on this book. I wish I had known about it because having lost a brother to suicide I would have passed on it also.

Nathan and Brume go through a lot of pain and heartache, feelings of despair, worthlessness, and loneliness both together and separately. It had me crying on more than one occasion. The book was well written, but it was a little heavy on the purple prose at the beginning for my taste, but it tapered off toward the middle, so that was good, either that or I finally got invested enough in the characters not to notice it anymore. The story was nicely edited and had a good flow to it. There wasn’t a lot of passion in this book. It was more like a PG movie. There was some hand holding and kissing but nothing graphic or lewd. However, the author did do a good job conveying the feelings that the main characters felt for each other. I do tend to judge a book by its cover and then the blurb, and so I was pleasantly surprised that the book wasn’t about mermen as I had figured it would be. I had never heard of the In-between People before, but I found them to be intriguing.

Nathan’s going on 40 and has been married to Brian for 15 years. However, Nathan’s been having problems that he doesn’t want to acknowledge or get help for. He’s afraid that people will judge him for his problems, so he does his best to hide them. And yes, I can understand that feeling. But it also ultimately costs him his marriage as Nathan’s social anxieties and bouts of depression make him want to stay home all of the time instead of going out with his extrovert husband. After finally taking a stand, Nathan packs all of his stuff and moves to be with his college friend Rachelle. Rachelle lives in the small village town of Garden City Beach about 20 minutes away from South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach. Nathan’s still not doing any better with his problems and continues to hide them. And I hate that Nathan’s silently crying for help and nobody notices or tries to help. Nathan’s first attempt wasn’t a planned decision. He just kept wandering out further and further into the ocean and liked how peaceful he felt and decided just to let go. He’s saved by Brume, an In-between Person whose job is to help guide lost people back to shore.

The In-between People only have a solid form after the sun goes down. When the sun is up, they’re drops of water and are part of the ocean, and all of their thoughts and feelings are one big consciousness. Brume has just lost his best friend that has been his companion for over a couple of hundred years. She has made the decision to no longer have a body after dark, so they will still have a connection during the day, but he will no longer have a companion after dark. And Brume’s feeling lost and alone, and it is perfect timing for him when he races to help Nathan who he can feel is lost. He manages to save Nathan and get him home, but he’s been told by his elders that humans can’t handle finding out what they are and so they generally observe from afar.

But Brume and Nathan fill a hole in each other and end up spending a lot of time together over the next couple of months. And Nathan finally starts getting the help he needs by going to a therapist. But a misunderstanding while at dinner will damage their relationship and send them both spinning back to feelings of depression and worthlessness. Will they be able to work out their misunderstanding or will it be too much for both of them?

I did like the ending of the story, but I wasn’t a fan of how they got there. This book unfortunately just kept triggering me, and so it just wasn’t for me.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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Review: “Royal Service” by LJ Collins

TITLE: Royal Service
AUTHOR: LJ Collins
SERIES: Men in Love and at War
PUBLISHER: eXtasy Books
COVER ARTIST: Carmen Waters
GENRE: Contemporary Romance; Mystery/Suspense; Erotica
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 178 pages
RELEASE DATE: February 3, 2017
PRICE: : $4.99 -e-book
  

BLURB:

Wherever Berkeley goes, or whatever he does, drama follows. Having recovered from the ordeal of being the victim of an internet scam, his life returns to normal working at a five-star hotel selling VIP vacation club memberships to wealthy clients, and being with the love of his life, Captain Rick. That is until he finds Rick cheating on him with a woman. Feeling sad and lonely, Berkeley is enticed by the prospects of high earnings and a jet setter lifestyle when he’s approached by one of his clients to be a high-class escort.

Whilst he revels in being treated like a prince, he has to accommodate some strange and unusual sexual requests, and before long he’s caught up in a web of espionage between a transport conglomerate and a client who is developing a futuristic technology that will change the future of transport forever. Only Berkeley knows how he’s going to weave his way out of his new-found problem.


This book, is book 5 of the Men in Love and at War series. It may be beneficial to read the other books in the series first to get to know the characters and setting a little better because we’re not given much information at the outset of the story as to who they are or where they’ve come from. I went into this story blind not knowing it was a continuation of a series and although I got through it without any real issues, I feel it would have enhanced my reading experience by knowing what happened to the characters before we got to this point in their lives.

Set in a town called El Sauzal on the island of Tenerife, we meet the main character of the story, Berkeley. After breaking up with his boyfriend Rick, Berkeley, through his job selling memberships to a private vacation club, meets Peter Moore. Peter owns Royal Service which is a high-class escort agency and with some hands-on persuasion, he convinces Berkeley to come work for him. Berkeley’s first client is Sebastian who’s a multimillionaire living in the south of France. Sebastian doesn’t do relationships and whenever he needs some company he enlists the services of Peter’s agency. When Sebastian and Berkeley meet, they find that they actually get on really well and enjoy their time together. Sebastian later requests that Berkeley accompanies him on a trip to South America. During this trip Berkeley discovers that Sebastian has developed a new technology for travel which is similar to teleportation. Sebastian sees this as the future of travel, where someone can be anywhere in the world within seconds. A few weeks later, Berkeley’s asked to go to London to meet a new client who has asked for him. Here, he meets Frederick and straight away there’s a connection between them that is completely different to what he had with Sebastian. With Frederick, he feels more comfortable and relaxed and like he could actually fit in Frederick’s life and be happy. Frederick tells Berkeley that he’s the spokesperson for a group of people in the travel industry and that they know about Sebastian’s technology and want to stop it going further than the stage that it’s at as millions of jobs are at risk. He has been told by his bosses to convince Berkeley to steal the data from Sebastian and pass it on to them so as the research can be discredited.

As a character, Berkeley comes across as quite arrogant and materialistic, he only really thinks of himself and the money. Even though he enjoys being with Sebastian and Frederick and they are paying for his services, he always wants to do things on his terms. The story did flow well, but it was written almost like two halves, the first part where Berkeley becomes an escort and takes us through his experience of meeting new clients and dealing with their often strange requests and then the second part where he becomes an industrial spy and business guru. This had me slightly conflicted about the story because I didn’t know where it was trying to go. There were some twists which added excitement, but there were also some parts that were so cheesy I wanted to cringe. Although everything in this story is wrapped up and finalized, it’s left open for more books in the series to follow, the ending felt right for the story, and I’m happy with how the author completed this little adventure in Berkeley’s life.

In the end, I can’t say I loved the book, but I also didn’t hate it. Maybe if I had read the previous books in the series, I would have been able to connect to this story more, but I was left feeling indifferent. Will I read the other books in the series? The answer is maybe, I wouldn’t rule it out and it certainly hasn’t put me off reading other work by this author because it actually was a good story concept.

***The ARC was provided by eXtasy Books. My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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