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Duncan’s World by T. A. Chase

Blurb:

Kyle MacDonald keeps his head down and tries to avoid making his father angry while traveling on the professional bull riding circuit. He’s learned the hard way how his father deals with being upset. The only rebellion Kyle’s allowed himself is helping out with the bulls after the event. It’s on one such night that Kyle meets Duncan Hornsby.

Duncan’s the reigning world Champion, and has everything he could want. Yet the shy young man whose father is Duncan’s biggest rival catches his eye. Kyle makes Duncan feel protective and passionate. Even though he’s fourteen years older than Kyle, Duncan’s ready to risk rejection to see if Kyle’s lips taste as sweet as they look.

Could a relationship grow between them amidst the macho atmosphere of bull riding and the danger presented by Kyle’s father? Or will Kyle and Duncan prove that age doesn’t count in matters of the heart?

My thoughts: 

I like age gap stories and when I looked around on Elisa Rolle’s LJ among the age gap tagged ones I stumbled upon this one.

I like a Western theme once in a while, so I got it.

I am not sure T. A. Chase is for me. I reviewed a story by that writer once before (Bound by Love) and it seems I now am writing almost the same review again.

The two men were attracted to each other immediately after meeting for the first time and landed in bed within hours. Given the fact that Kyle had suffered a severe beating up just a bit before and risked quite a lot by following Duncan into his room and given the fact that there was an age issue to overcome I found this somewhat overhasty. 

At first I thought the conflict with Kyle’s abusive father would be overwhelming, but as it turned out this was not so. Yes, he physically abused his son, which I do not want to play down, but he is basically a bully who caves when being threatened himself. So that issue got resolved without much fuss. A verbal threat to expose him was enough to send him packing.

So, what have we got?

  • Age issue? Duncan got over that quickly; he was a bit worried, got reassured by Kyle. Check.
  • Abusive father? Threatened Kyle and Duncan, then caved. Check.
  • Duncan being outed? No big deal as far as it went. Check.
  • Kyle’s family? Apart from the father they were more than ok with Kyle new relationship. Check.
  • Duncan’s grandfather? More progressive than a lot of younger guys. Check.

We’re all good.

Another thing I had a problem with is Kyle’s mother. I did not understand why she would never step in and tried to protect her son. The reason that was given made no sense whatsoever. She might not have been able to divorce that jerk, but she could have still tried to protect Kyle from the constant abuse (call police, report her husband, I could think of some more unpleasant ways). No husband of mine would ever abuse my child without suffering consequences. The mother seemed to be caring enough, so why she let that happen was beyond me.

All in all, I found this a quick and uncomplicated read. I never had to worry about the outcome of the story. If you like straightforward stories with instant attraction and only little conflict this might be something for you.

Title Duncan’s World
Author T. A. Chase
Publisher Amber Allure
ISBN 978-1-60272-668-0
Buy link Buy Duncan’s World
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Satisfaction by M. L. Rhodes

Blurb: Although Jesse McIntyre slings drinks in a gay bar, up until recently, he kept to himself and stuck to his rule never to hook up with customers. He’d been down that road before and bore the physical and emotional scars from it. The last thing he’d wanted was to fall for Robert Bauer, the wealthy businessman with the sexy smile who started frequenting the bar. They were opposites in every way, so Jesse never dreamed Robert, the pressed and polished owner and CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation, might be interested in a tattooed, college drop-out bad boy like him. But when fate threw them together for a long weekend, they finally gave into the passion that had been brewing, and the resulting explosion rocked their worlds.

Now, five months later, though the fire’s still burning sinfully hot between them, the realities of their opposite lifestyles begin to take a toll. Robert’s constant business travel weighs heavily on Jesse. When he realizes they’re having more phone sex than real sex, and he’s sleeping alone the majority of the time despite the fact he and Robert are supposedly living together, he worries there’s more behind Robert’s trips than just business. Jesse’s sure Robert’s avoiding him, avoiding them, but through the years his lover has built so many thick, protective walls to guard his emotions, Jesse finds it tough to get past them and discover why. He loves the man like crazy, and doesn’t doubt Robert loves him, too, yet will love be enough to overcome whatever is haunting Robert and heal the rift that’s slowly tearing them apart?

 

My thoughts: I picked this up because I really liked the prequel „Passion“ and wanted to know how the story continued. From the first book we know already that Jesse easily jumps to conclusions and this was again proven here. But where then it was sort of understandable now I found it was just too much. 

If you don’t like SPOILERS, don’t continue reading!

The whole story alternated between the two men sleeping with each other and Jesse either complaining about Robert’s absence or Jesse analyzing Robert’s every move and tone in order to find out whether Robert really loves him or not. I found that extremely annoying.

In “Satisfaction” Jesse has become a needy whiner who constantly begs Robert to not leave again or to come back home soon. Geeze, he’s a grown man who has spent most of his life without a partner and all of a sudden he becomes clingy to the extreme. Even though he did correctly suspect there was an ulterior reason for Robert’s frequent absence (I’m coming to that in a minute), it still is feasible that a successful businessman has to travel a lot and his partner has to either put up with it or draw the consequences.

Robert, on the other hand, has his reason to be absent all the time which is equally irritating. You either want to be with someone or you don’t. To get together and long to be with your partner and at the same time leave him continuously just doesn’t make sense to me. The reason for this contradictory behaviour was basically that he was afraid of getting dumped out of the blue again and took precautionary measures not to get attached too much. For crying out loud! Robert is not the first person in the world to get dumped and won’t be the last one either. Even given his childhood situation (which, by the way, I couldn’t remember from the first book; so I have to go by what was mentioned briefly here) I just found this hard to believe. Get over it already!

I can’t say I was too happy with this story. It was a quick read, even more so as I only skimmed through the sex scenes. All that whining and moaning so got on my nerves that I just couldn’t get into it.

Available at Amber Allure

Here you will find my thoughts on Passion.

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Forbidden Desire by Carolina Valdez

Blurb: Stan Gordon, M.D., is well aware of the unwritten code forbidding sexual liaisons between a physician and those in his charge, but when he provides intimate care for Brian Storm, a seriously injured police detective, he comes dangerously close to crossing the line. When he does, he’s shocked to find desire is forbidden, not by the code, but by the emotional demons with which Brian wrestles.

Tortured while working undercover before they met, Brian knows police policy prevents him from sharing the full story with Stan, yet not revealing the trauma in order to heal his emotional scars threatens to destroy their new and deepening love. If Brian can’t overcome what’s been done to him, will Stan leave him to look for a more responsive man? And will Brian be able to resolve his secret fears that he’ll be unable to function as a cop again?

Review: This is only a novella, I knew this, but somehow I think this would have been much better had it been another format, maybe an extended novella or short novel. A lot of stuff is packed into this, but is not really developed properly. We get a glimpse into the past of Brian when he was working undercover. We were told a lot about how he dealt with it during his sessions with the therapist, but this all was rather vague. When Stan and Brian were together we were told a lot, but not shown. I don’t know, somehow I couldn’t connect to those two men. Not that they were unlovable or anything, not in the least, they were both likeable characters, but the short format reduced the whole story to a description of the story instead of delivering the full thing.

Amber Allure indicates the heat level is 2, which means “Love scenes are explicit, frequent, and often contain graphic language.” Not sure about this one either. There are a few sex scenes, but they are either interrupted (like in the excerpt) or not very explicit – at least not according to what I’m used to. So, no, heat level 2 is slightly exaggerated in my opinion.

Available at Amber Allure

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Letting in the light by Fae Sutherland

Blurb: When Rowan Lee arrived in the small, liberal Provincetown, he heard tales of the eccentric, brilliant, possibly insane Finnegan Clark. A world-famous mystery writer, Finnegan’s been to the top of the bestseller list more times than anyone can count. It’s about the only place he goes, sequestered away in his mansion by the sea.

Enter Rowan. The free-spirited lovechild of aging hippies, Rowan believes all anyone needs is love, and when he makes a delivery to Finn’s mansion and meets the man himself, it’s infatuation at first sight. Not to mention lust. Never mind that Finn’s twice his age and snarls at him more than he speaks to him.

All Rowan wants is to make the world a better place, one person at a time, but all Finn wants is to be left alone. Sparks fly, and if Rowan can’t break Finn’s walls down, he’ll burn them down…one sizzling encounter at a time…

Review:  If I hear the term May/December romance one more time I’m going into rant mode. Really. Why May/December? I don’t get it. Rowan is 24, Finnegan is 49. So what is May and December about them? I prefer the term “age gap” by far.

Right, so Rowan meets Finnegan and from that point on he basically keeps him company, whether Finnegan wants it or not. And, at first, Finnegan doesn’t. However, he changes his mind rather quickly. Too quickly for me. After a second meeting he calls Rowan and asks him over, because “he wants him”. I don’t know, but what we know about Finnegan up to here doesn’t match up with that behaviour. I would have thought (and hoped) he’d put up a bit more resistance. Anyway, he doesn’t, and from then on, it all goes, well, not smoothly – there are a few bumps in the road, but not too many – but quite pleasantly along its way. The sex scenes are pretty hot, Rowan and Finnegan are two heroes you just have to like. Towards the end, to make the whole story not too sweet, and also to give Finnegan a chance to finally leave his house and go into the outside world, along comes Jake, Rowan’s so far best friend, who turns out to be some kind of creep who wants Rowan to himself. That whole incident was resolved rather quickly and without too many problems, and the story ended on a really positive note.

As far as the age-gap is concerned, there were some hints that Finnegan had misgivings about the whole thing between him and Rowan, but they didn’t seem to stop him to pursue what he wanted. So, the angst level here was kept within a limit.

If you like age-gap stories this story is a must read.

Available at Amber Allure

Article

The Squire by Shawn Lane

A rather short historical. However, I thought the time in between Duncan’s leaving and Sir William finding him was way too rushed. Duncan left furtively and disappeared. The next scene is set a few weeks later and Sir William turns up to look for Duncan at the place Duncan is working at. Even though I’m not into prolonged separation of lovers, this was too short and cut off even for me. The blurb is here slightly exaggerated.

Available at Amber Allure

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The Professor’s secret passion by M. L. Rhodes

I found Aidan’s qualms about starting a relationship with Nate somewhat exaggerated. The situation was totally different from the one that made him keep his distance. But I don’t know enough about life at US universities, so I might be totally wrong about this. Other than that I liked the story a lot. Nate’s declaration of love that came somewhere in the middle of the book is about the sweetest one ever. I absolutely loved that part!

Available at Amber Allure

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The gallery on Main Street by Christiane France

Synopsis: Martyn inherits one half of an antiques shop from his uncle. Because of certain stipulations he cannot sell it on as planned but is forced to work together with the owner of the other half, Simon. Martyn and Simon, the son of the former partner of Martyn’s uncle, have known each other for a number of years, but never got along. In spite of the obvious dislike they have for each other, there was always a sexual attraction between them.

Review: I’ve stopped reading excerpts, so it came unexpected that the story is told from Martyn’s point of view in first person and in present tense. I am not a great fan of first person storytelling and the present tense  is something I really had to get used to at first. Once I got into the story, however, it didn’t bother me at all anymore.

The reason Martyn doesn’t like Simon is Simon’s stand-offish, superior attitude, but there is a reason for it. Once it gets evident that they are on the same level, things become easy. But Martyn is still left in the dark about the nature of his and Simon’s "relationship". Simon could have been a bit more forthcoming with his feelings, but then the story would have been shorter than it was already. Martyn is rather insecure, and since we only know what he knows, we are being left hanging in midair as well. This was quite realistic. You know, you’re in love, have a sexual encounter and afterwards you are forced to wonder about whether this was a one-night-stand, whether it will turn into some sort of fling, a steady relationship, what?

Once Martyn and Simon have cleared up everything they have such a nice thing going on, it’s too cute. I can picture them so vividly, working together in their antiques shop, living in their perfect cottage, happily ever after. It was enough to make my heart melt.

Highly recommended to everybody who likes it sweet.

Available at Amber Allure

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Warm Rush I – Chasing Winter by Rowan McBride

Synopsis: Jesse Winter goes to Europe for business reasons and leaves Keith, a fifteen year old neighbourhood boy, behind. The trip lasts a lot longer than planned because he’s involved in a very bad accident and takes years to even be able to get back home. Keith, who is now eighteen, has changed a lot and makes it clear that he’s in love with Jesse and always has been. Jesse, however, has changed as well and has qualms. He believes, Keith is too young and deserves better than a man eleven years his senior and who’s a wreck to boot.

Review: This was my first story by Rowan McBride and I was extremely impressed with it. I more or less stumbled across it by accident when I browsed around at Amber Allure to look for some new stuff and the cover and title appealed to me. The blurb sounded interesting for various reasons and I had a look around on the net to find out more. On Rowan McBride’s website I found more information about Warm Rush and re-considered. I’m so not into muscles,  the whole Hulk concept doesn’t do it for me at all. But then again, I just couldn’t let go, I wanted to read it no matter what for the other aspects of it. And I am glad I did. What a treat this was! I loved every bit of it.

Keith was a determined man if I ever saw one. His “crush” for Jesse survived years of separation, years of not knowing what the hell has happened to Jesse and quite some rejection (or at least attempts at rejection) from Jesse’s side. Still, he never faltered, was always there. Admirable.

Jesse, on the other hand, tried to do his best to do the right thing for Keith – or at least what he though was the right thing for him –, but just couldn’t resist the temptation. And who could blame him? The way he found back into his life and recognized that he is still loved, even though he considered himself unworthy and a burden was beautifully told.

Those guys were absolutely perfect in every way. And they were perfect for each other. I so enjoyed reading this and can’t recommend this enough.

Slight spoiler ahead!

Two points had me thinking, though. Why was nobody surprised about Keith’s growth? And why were people so rude and inconsiderate to Jesse? You would think that people who are so thoughtless and insensitive as to send someone who had a death experience their condolences (does that make any sense at all?), also won’t refrain from impolitely staring at a gigantic muscle bound Keith as if he was a freak.

If you like an angst-y guy with issues, a self-assured, protective young man who doesn’t mind a bit of violence if someone threatens his mate, a magical story in a contemporary setting and a story that focuses very much on the couple, you will enjoy this a lot.

A little side note: this story seemed extremely well-edited to me. I don’t really keep track of these things (I suppose I’m already jaded, since a lot of stories need serious editing) but here I don’t remember ever seeing a typo or other errors etc. What a pleasant change!

Since this is the first book in a series there is hope to see a sequel, but according to Rowan McBride’s blog it doesn’t look as if this was happening anytime soon. Too bad! I would have loved to read on right now.

Available at Amber Allure

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Pulling away by Shawn Lane

Synopsis: After his parents’ death Charlie shut everybody out of his life and lived like a hermit. His only casual friend that remained with him was Noah who was in love with Charlie all along. It seems that their friendship has reached a point now where it will either become more or will break completely.

Review: This short story deals with much more than just a romance. It’s about friendship and that it needs maintenance, about depression and how it can ruin your life if you let it, about rejection and how you deal with it. For such a short story it was packed with topics and they were all handled extremely well.

After a sexual encounter, which had already happened when the story begins, Noah reads more into it than Charlie will allow. Noah would like to see Charlie as his boyfriend now, but Charlie won’t have any of that. In fact he’s pulling away quicker than you can imagine. He has been depressed since his parents’ death and has lost all his friends over his inaccessibility.

The only person he confesses his problems and feelings to is a fellow gamer on the internet. What he doesn’t know is that the real person behind that guy is Noah. Noah is hurt that Charlie would talk about his innermost thoughts with a guy he doesn’t even know, but not with him. When he learns that to Charlie he’s only a neighbour he has sex with on occasion he decides to pull away himself.

I liked that a lot. Way too often the person with unrequited feelings get clingy and start begging, not so Noah. He withdraws from Charlie, doesn’t call or visit him and goes out with other friends. Charlie slowly realizes that he misses Noah and that it’s his turn to actually work for their friendship.

I loved Noah’s friend Kevin. He gave the story, which was a bit sombre with all the unreturned  and depressive feelings, a light tone. And I admired Noah for his determination and how he managed to go on with his life without getting in touch with Charlie.  Even after meeting him once more he doesn’t just get back to his usual behaviour but keeps on living his life without Charlie. Only then Charlie realizes that he has to come and acknowledge his feelings, not only to Noah, but also to himself.

For a short story, a format that often deals with just a short encounter and some minor issue or other, it was a marvellous and full-fledged read. After "Perfect Man" and "Trust" this established Shawn Lane as another favourite author for me.

Available at Amber Allure

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Passion by M. L. Rhodes

Synopsis: Robert, a successful businessman, has been ogling Jesse, the bartender in the local GLBT run bar for some time now. Jesse has noticed Robert as well, but never let on to any customers that he’s gay. He wants to leave his past behind and is not interested in any sort of relationship or even a short interlude. One evening the two men are thrown together by bad weather and spend a passionate night. However, Jesse doesn’t seem to be ready for being with Robert, because he left the morning after with a short, impersonal note.

Review:  We met Robert already in the story about "The elf and Shoemaker". There we saw him in a short scene in Logan’s shop, a scene that is re-played here from Robert’s point of view. I liked how Robert and Jesse were attracted to each other, but never made a move. Robert because he thought Jesse was straight and Jesse because he didn’t want to get involved with anybody, even though he was dying to get to know Robert. The way they watched each other in the bar and noticed every little bit about the other was just like in real life.

The situation that forced them to spend the night together was credible. OK, blizzard and snow rifts are not the most original way of achieving that, but at least they are feasible. I could also relate to Jesse’s issues and his suspicions towards Robert later on. They both were complex, realistic characters and I just had to know how everything was going to be resolved. Once more a well meaning room mate gave a helping hand. It’s always good to see friends or family actually help instead of throwing constant spanners into the works – a device that is being used way too often in straight romance,  at least for my taste.

"Passion" was a pleasurable read – perfect to cuddle up with on a cold evening, preferably with lots of snow outside.

 

Available at Amber Allure

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VGL male seeks same by Rick R. Reed

Synopsis: Ethan has given up hope to find a partner by going out and looking around in real life, so he decides to give it a go in the cyberworld. Not a bad idea, however, with his user picture, nobody seems to have interest in him. He finds a quick remedy for this by just uploading an attractive man’s image up as his own – and oh wonder – responses to his post start flooding in. One of them is from Brian, who seems to be the perfect partner for him, age, interests, it all fits. However, Ethan sooner or later will have to own up to his little subterfuge.

Review: So far I have never read any erotic story that was paired with lots of humour. So I was very surprised to find myself laughing so hard the tears were streaming down my face. All the little scenes when Ethan was thinking about how to get out of the mess he created, his thoughts about the receptionist in his company, his feelings about Brian’s mail that sounded "stalkeresque" (I have no idea whether this is a word or not, but it sure looks extremely elegant, especially for such an unpleasant action), I just kept laughing.

The way Ethan was hoping for answers, waiting or when the next reply from Brian would arrive, the agonizing over why no reply came in only minutes after sending a mail to him and whether he had said something to put Brian off, it all was very realistic. Everybody who has ever tried to start (or keep up) an online friendship can relate to that.

This was a delightful novella. If you want to take up online dating, read this first!

Available at Amber Allure

[rating: 4]

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The Elf and Shoemaker by M. L. Rhodes

Synopsis: Logan Shoemaker runs an unsuccessful magick shoppe. No customers, no money for the energy bill, no food but instant ramen noodles. All in all, he’s pretty down. Along comes Hallan, an elf from a parallel world, who has been watching Logan through a mirror for nine months now (or rather longer in elf-time) and who finally had the chance to cross over into Logan’s world. Not only provides Hallan Logan with a powerful potion that sells like hot cakes in his shop, but also he turns Logan’s love life – so far non-existent- upside down. However, Hallan lives in a dangerous world he can’t just leave behind.

Review: M. L. Rhodes is starting to become one of my favourite erotica writers. Her characters are so endearing, you can’t help rooting for them constantly. That goes for this story as well. It is classified as a fairy tale and this fits perfectly. A good to the core human, struggling to make a living, elves, an evil usurper king, magical objects, wondrous potions, it’s all there, woven into a great tale (unfortunately way too short for my taste). The love scenes are sizzling hot and leave nothing to be desired; those two guys are just made for each other. One thing I particularly like about the story here is the fact that an issue, that always leaves me wondering, is being resolved in the end. The pairing of an immortal and a mortal person is somewhat dissatisfying in the long run (at least for the immortal one). Thank God, the HEA here leaves Hallan and Logan on equal terms in that respect.

After reading this novella M. L. Rhodes goes on my autobuy list. Do I need to say any more?

Available at Amber Allure

[rating:5]

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Souls Deep by M. L. Rhodes

Synopsis: While trying to escape a few killers hired by his family Griffin is shot and rescued by a stranger who saves his life. The stranger, Jarrah, turns out to be a vampire  to whom he feels extremely drawn.  Jarrah, in turn, develops feelings for Griffin and is determined to help him face and overcome his past.

Review: I chose this story for the erotica challenge and I didn’t go wrong here. My synopsis really doesn’t do this novella justice. Jarrah and Griffin are compelling characters who both have a need to find someone to love and who loves them. Both have been betrayed in their past and are very unhappy with their current lives. The way they find each other and after a short interlude find each other again is so heartwarming, you can’t help feeling warm and fuzzy yourself.

The love scenes are hot and sensual, yet at the same time loving. A word about the spanking scene. I usually hate them. To me they always feel stilted and forced, never fit into the context and seem as if just put in the book because the writer felt they had to have one. This is not so in this story. It fits right in and is fun to read. I never thought I’d say that about a spanking but I really enjoyed it, :-).

This won’t be the last story by M. L. Rhodes for me. If you enjoy novellas with a decent plot, hot scenes and deep emotions, "Souls Deep" is a good place to start.

Available at Amber Allure

[rating:5]