Saturday, September 1, 2012

Who We Are by TJ Klune

Title: Who We Are

Author: TJ Klune
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 9781613724613
Genre: {M/M}, Contemporary, Sequel
Rating: Golden Blush Award
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

Bear, Otter, and the Kid are ready for their lives to continue with a little less drama. Unfortunately for all three concerned, it’s going to be some time before their wishes are granted. As their lives continue to play out, will the events make their relationship stronger or will it tear them apart?

Who We Are is a great follow up to Bear, Otter, and the Kid. Readers may want to keep in mind that these are stories that need to be read in order, so if you have not read the first story yet, there may be spoilers below.

I was a big fan of Mr. Klune’s book Bear, Otter, and the Kid so when I saw the author had a follow-up story out, I could not help doing the happy dance. I love the characters, especially the Kid, and the way in which the author has written these two stories. Like the first book, Who We Are is written in the first person from Bear’s point of view. Normally, I am not a big fan of first person POV stories; however, Mr. Klune is one of the few authors whose stories in this style I just love. Bear pulls you right in as if you are sitting next to him on the couch while he tells you his life story. The prologue is sure to cause many of you to bust out laughing, especially by the time the ‘sixteen were-otter babies’ show up.

Only a couple of weeks have passed from the end of book one and the start of book two, and although the guys are still in the honeymoon stage, Bear can’t help stressing over the little things. Bear, Otter, and the Kid have many obstacles to overcome in this new story however, so some of Bear’s stressing is justified. While this small family continues to fight for custody of the Kid, they will also face numerous other challenges and by the end of the story, I found myself needing a tissue. The author really puts a lot into this story and one of the things I liked is that each situation the men find themselves in is true to life and comes across very realistically.

While the book is heavy in the angst department, there are some light hearted moments and this is generally where the Kid comes in. Some of the Kid’s poetry shows up and, of course, there are his over the top comments and questions. But while the Kid usually can be found behind the lighter moments in this story, he is can also be found at the center of some of the tougher moments as well. The Kid also wraps up the story so expect a couple of surprises.

On his blog the author hints at the possibility of a third story. While Mr. Klune claims that it could be some time before we see the next installment I hope it won’t be too far into the future.

Love the Sinner by Avril Ashton

Title: Love the Sinner

Author: Avril Ashton
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Publisher’s URL:
ISBN/BIN: 9781419939686
Genre: {M/M}, Contemporary, Suspense
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

Gabe Ashby has always been straight, yet for some reason the leader of one of New York’s worse gangs is setting off all his bells and whistles. When circumstances keep throwing the two together neither, Gabe or Angelo can help but fall in love.

Avril Ashton is a new author to me, but after reading Love the Sinner, I will be looking for more from this author. Love the Sinner is an excellent story, and while I was nervous about reading a new author, the blurb really grabbed my attention and I had to see how the story would end. The characters are wonderfully written and pulled me right into their story. From the beginning, the attraction between Gabe and Angelo is strong and I was curious how the author would be able to bring the men together since Gabe is a detective and Angelo a major gang leader, one who makes no excuses for what he has to do. The passion between the two is intense and the men really heat up the pages.

It is not only the men’s relationship that will hold your interest, but also the situations they find themselves in. The author does an excellent job making this world believable. The conflict Gabe faces as he struggles, with not only his feelings for Angelo but also Angelo’s ‘occupation’, is very realistic. As for Angelo, it is not hard to see him as the tough gang banger and the author doesn’t skimp on the violence. There are some tense moments in the story and I have to say I wondered when everything would blow up in the men’s faces and, truthfully, I could see no way the author could give these two a happily ever after.

I don’t want to give too much away so I will just say that the author does a great job wrapping this story up and more than once, I found myself close to tears. Love the Sinner is a great story and one I will be reading more than once.

Riding with Heaven by L. C. Chase

Title: Riding with Heaven

Author: L. C. Chase
Publisher: Loose Id
Publisher URL:
ISBN: 978-1-61118-866-0
Genre: {M/M} Suspense
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx

Evan McGrath did not expect to get so lucky when his quest for a rideshare was answered by the handsome stranger, Lucas Briscoe. However, halfway to South Carolina, Evan was starting to feel like his luck had just run out.

L. C. Chase's Riding with Heaven is a riveting stranger-danger tale with very convincing characters. The plot builds from nail biting anxiety to full blown terror. There is an immediate attraction between Evan and Lucas. Also, there is a resistance to act on their attraction. As the story unfolds, each man’s logic against having sex becomes evident. Evan is a graduate student, as well as a talented artist, who has the tendency to be oblivious to his surroundings when he is drawing. His future is in limbo only because his South Carolina home induces morbid nightmares of a past Evan would rather not think about. Lucas is an enigma; he reveals little and misses nothing. Lucas has sexy bad boy charisma, along with a quicksilver mood swing that goes from flirty good humor to cold-blooded dangerous in the blink of an eye. The mounting Domino Slasher clues, in addition to Lucas’ strange behavior,r has Evan convinced he is about to die at the hands of a serial killer.

Riding with Heaven is an outstanding and extremely enjoyable thriller. With each damming clue, the tale seems to get darker. But just when I thought Evan was doomed, the very clever L. C. Chase blends in a smoking hot intimacy scene that left me breathless. 

Second Time Lucky by Ethan Day

Title: Second Time Lucky

Author: Ethan Day
Publisher: MLR Press
Publisher URL:
ISBN: 978-1-60820-697-1
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx

Luke Landon has never been one to dwell in the past or spend a great deal of time thinking about his future. Luke lives in the here and now world, that is until Owen West, from Luke’s past, returns to Luke’s present and opens the doors to their future.

Second Time Lucky is a well-written, well-paced romantic comedy with realistic characters. The in-depth characters are especially engaging, even the secondary characters reminded me of someone I knew. The complexity of the personalities brought the characters to life. Luke and Owen are well matched, they share most of the same traits; it is only the methods they use to express these traits that are different. Luke is in-your-face-sarcastic, yet he privately manipulates people into being optimistic. Luke tries to hide his compassionate side, although most people who have long acquaintances with Luke can see it, as well as love him for it. While Luke is a private do-gooder, Owen is very public with his desire to help others. Owens’s mission is to mentor GLBT youth in the community. Educating families that sexuality is by birth, not the youth’s desire to commit social sins.

Ethan Day has created a laugh-out-loud hilarious story with illustrations of being who you truly are without shame. Exhibits of tender emotions that will melt your heart, as well as intimacy scenes require an increase in the cooling system. Second Time Lucky is an exceedingly enjoyable happy-for-now saga. Luke and Owen are so loveable, I was sad to say goodbye. Hopefully another visit with them is in the future. 

Frog by Mary Calmes

Title: Frog

Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 9781613724699
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary
Rating: Golden Blush
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx 

Nothing in Weber Yates’ life is going as he’d planned. His dream of being a champion bull rider never panned out and the one guy’s he’s involved with is totally out of his league…way out. He’s tired and beat up from his last rodeo and on the way to Alaska for a ranch job when he stops in San Francisco to see his lover, Cyrus, one last time.

Cyrus Benning is wealthy, gorgeous and a successful neurosurgeon. He can have any guy he wants and the only man he’s interested in is Weber. After having harsh words months before, Cyrus wasn’t certain he’d ever see his cowboy again. Now that Weber’s back, all he wants is to prove they’re perfect as a couple and can have a great life together. Can Cyrus convince Weber that staying gives him everything he wants and needs? Can Weber come to understand that he’s the most important thing in Cyrus’s life?

Frog is the newest release by Mary Calmes and it’s going right into my keeper pile. I don’t often gush about a book but I totally loved, from the first paragraph to the last word, this heart-warming character-driven romance. It’s funny, special and a real treat because it’s not just a romance but a story of redemption, recovery and moving on.

I say that in all seriousness. Ms. Calmes successfully wove in all the components of Cyrus and Weber’s relationship…the good and the bad…then added a ready-made family in Cyrus’s sister and her boys. It’s often difficult for an author to juggle so many secondary characters into the internal plot but she did it with flair and realism. I love the kids and how Weber helps them after their father takes off. But then Weber’s a pretty classy guy for a beat-up homeless cowboy…loving, protective, polite and caring. Cyrus loves him unconditionally, which might be a little simplistic in today’s world but that’s all right. He knows who he wants and needs and that’s Weber, nothing else matters.

The story is well-plotted, Cyrus and Weber have nicely developed personalities, the descriptions are vivid and there’s some great bantering conversation. Oh and I can’t forget to mention the passion and strong emotional bond between Cyrus and Weber. It’s a romance I intend to enjoy again in the future and I recommend that you give it a try. I think you’ll enjoy it. I know I did.

Hope by William Neale

Title: Hope

Author: William Neale
Publisher: MLR Press
Publisher URL:

ISBN: 978-1-60820-629-2

Genre: {M/M} Contemporary Series
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx

The theme of Hope illustrates how acceptance, compassion and Hope work together for the contentment we seek in life. The main characters exhibit these traits. Hope is the story of Spencer Hawkin’s journey to happiness with Hunter Harrison.

Spencer’s acceptance of who and what he is, was the source of his breakup with his now ex-boyfriend. Spencer is gay and he embraces what life presents to him with a good attitude illustrated by Spencer’s episode of unrequited love for Cade featured in the third book Always Faithful. Spencer has the ability to open his heart as well as connect with others in a positive way. Spencer is a gentleman whose compassion allows him to love easily whether it is a sick child, friends or a potential lover; Spencer’s perception allows him to recognize the good in most of the people he encounters. It is these qualities that inspired Lucas and Rogan, the main characters in the first book Home to help Spencer acquire a teaching job along with a fresh start in Cleveland, Ohio.

Hunter Harrison is a single dad caring for his adopted son whose heart defect has him desperately awaiting a heart transplant that may not come in time. Spencer is Hunter’s son Ethan’s idol. When Spencer moved to Cleveland and realized Ethan lived close by, Spencer made it a priority to visit the child he met through the Make-a-Wish Foundation. From their first meeting Hunter and Spencer knew there was an immediate attraction between them. However, dealing with the unfortunate circumstances of his child, Hunter rejected any relationship with Spencer other than friends. Yet fate along with the power of hope brings about a positive change leading to a happy ever after.

My impression of Hope is that William Neale has written a part of his life story. The extraordinarily enjoyable romance engages the reader, inspiring me for a while to reflect on a beneficial idealism rather than dwell in a negative reality.

The Luckiest by Piper Vaughn & M.J. O'Shea

Title: The Luckiest

Authors: Piper Vaughn & M.J. O'Shea
Publisher: Loose Id
Publisher URL:
ISBN/BIN: 9781611188035
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary Series
Rating: Golden Blush
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

After driving his sports car through a department store window, it’s apparent that rock star Nick Ventura is out of control. He doesn’t think he has a problem but since his brother’s marriage, his behavior’s getting progressively worse. Now the only chance Nick has of staying out of jail is if a judge agrees to a stint in rehab.

Luka Novak is a nutritionist at Glenwood rehab facility. He’s determined to provide the medical help that Nick needs but isn’t willing to let the over-privileged rock star walk all over him. Nick’s reputation should have him running in the opposite direction but Luka can’t deny the pull he feels for Nick either. Their rehab friendship soon turns into something more but it doesn’t take Luka long to realize that Nick is uncomfortable confessing they’re a couple and he might always be. Can Nick find the courage to acknowledge his love for Luka to the world or will he lose the man he loves forever?

The Luckiest is the second release in the Lucky Moon series. It takes up shortly after the first book left off and due to the continuing character relationships, the books should be read in order.

Nick wasn’t the nicest guy in Moonlight Becomes You. Truthfully he was a total mess then and hasn’t changed much in the first pages of The Luckiest. The opening scenes are big attention grabbers and show how his poor choices are destroying his life. He’s hit rock-bottom, won’t admit it and is angry at everyone but the person responsible. Himself. Of the two books, this one is definitely my favorite. Nicky starts off as a jerk and his path to change, even with Luka’s help, isn’t easy but the authors do a great job realistically turning him into a likable guy. Yes, he still has problems but he’s growing and becoming a better person.

In reality, this book’s a classic tale of recovery and redemption and we get all the volatile emotions that go along with it. The story flow is smooth, the character personalities well developed and the descriptions vivid. I really appreciate that the love between Luka and Nick develops slowly instead of happening instantly. It makes it so much more plausible. There’s plenty of sex and while it’s sizzling hot, it fits into the scene and isn’t overdone. I also loved the addition of the two legged friends to the story, and the scene where Luka gives Nick a puppy for a gift is perfectly done.

Okay. I’ll cut to the chase. I don’t gush often but I love this book and you should read it. Today. Really. I’m not kidding.

Sinders And Ash by Tara Lain

Title: Sinders And Ash

Author: Tara Lain
Publisher: Amber Allure
ISBN: 978-1-61124-270-6
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary Fairy Tale
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx

Eligible females descended on the New York resort like hungry predators in search of fresh prey. Word had spread through the social circles that Ashton Armitage is seeking a wife. Mark Sintorella, referred to as Sinders, the hard working weird guy, does his best to stay under the radar at work while secretly designing women’s clothes at night. However, big shake-ups happen when Carstairs Pennymaker decides to do a little matchmaker.

Sinders And Ash is a wonderfully amusing, well-written romance with creditable characters. On the surface, Ash appears to be a shallow wealthy man with no real purpose in life. This was the opinion Sinders had before they actually met. Yet there is a depth to Ash few people are allowed to see. Ash is in-the-closet gay because his public and family status demands being what is considered acceptable by society. He’s intelligent, as well as considerate of the needs of others. Ash has no wish to marry a female; nevertheless he feels compelled to honor his grandfather’s wishes. Sinder is openly gay, talented and outspoken. He wears a disguise to discourage unwanted attention from bullies. Carstairs is a master at plotting; he aligns all the key players, set the stage then watches as the scenes develops into his desired plan.

Tara Lain has created a splendid heartwarming saga with sizzling lovemaking. Sinders And Ash is an extremely enjoyable happy-ever-after modern day fairytale.