Sex & Mayhem 4: No Matter What by K. A. Merikan

Title : No Matter What        Word Count : 99,000

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : — A gentle heart has no place in an outlaw’s chest —

Ghost. Not a member of the Coffin Nails MC. Not a doctor anymore. Not gay.

Luca. Bent, not broken. Will not let go of Ghost. No matter what.

Ghost finds out the hard way that people you meet online aren’t always who they seem to be. When he met ‘Zara’ five years ago, they became inseparable. She’s been with him through the rough and the smooth. He’s been there for her when her abusive boyfriend had her in tears.

She is The One, and despite all his friends considering him crazy, Ghost is about to propose.

But ‘Zara’ turns out to be Luca, and Luca is most definitely a guy. Yet Luca is the same person with big dark eyes, so desperate to be saved that Ghost can’t help but fall head first.

Luca’s so-called boyfriend is not just abusive. He is a Sicilian drug lord, a man dangerous and ruthless. If Ghost is to ever save the person who wreaked havoc on his heart, he has to make a deal with the Coffin Nails MC. But being a member is a destiny he’s always tried to avoid. And when a life of violence becomes too much to bear, he might be the one needing Luca to catch him when he falls.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS:

Themes: Outlaw motorcycle club, criminal activity, hurt/comfort, abuse, catfishing, independence, sexual orientation issues, mafia, PTSD

Genre: M/M erotic romance, suspense, drama

Length: ~100,000 words standalone novel

WARNING: Adult content. Explicit gay sex, strong language, violence, potentially triggering sexual abuse scenes. Reader discretion advised.

My Review :  Ghost, the Coffin Nails ‘doctor’ has just found out that Zara the woman who he has been corresponding with over the internet is actually a guy named  Luca. It is quite a conundrum. Ghost has fallen in love with ‘Zara’ and had plans to propose and take her away from her abusive druglord boyfriend. When Ghost  meets Luca he is very upset, but he can’t just leave him with Frederico. Ghost makes a snap decision to kidnap Luca and Luca is just happy that he gets the chance to explain himself to Ghost,  the man who he has fallen in love with . 

The plot thickens when they get to the Coffin Nails residence and realize that Luca’s ex is none other than Frederico Villani and belongs to one of the biggest mob families. Frederico and Ghost come to an agreement where Luca will be set free the next day. This doesn’t sit well with Ghost but he knows that he can’t afford to piss off Frederico, a man who is the MC biggest drug supplier. Ghost lets  Luca go, but worries all night long. Frederico inflicted unspeakable horrors upon Luca’s body and shares him with his henchman Antonio for their last night together. Luca holds it together and thinks of his return to Ghost rather than his  half broken spirit . 

Ghost is very conflicted about his feelings, because on one hand he is in love with this Internet persona ‘Zara’, while on the other hand he is not able to reconcile Luca’s masculinity with his intense feelings. However,  Ghost decides to let his love guide him through and he takes things very slowly with Luca. Ghost is forced to acknowledge his bisexuality when he starts feeling the pull toward Luca. Yet again he is caught between a rock and a hard place. He is stalwart in his decision to keep his sexual preferences secret from the club members, while exploring his bisexuality in private with Luca. This puts somewhat of a strain on the budding relationship that Luca and Ghost are fostering. Luca is a little clingy, because of his fear of Frederico and Antonio and this overwhelms Ghost who has to  constantly check in.

 Ghost seems to have bitten off more than he can chew. He has never aspired to patch into the MC club, but now with him being indebted to them , he’s come to an agreement with Tooth the VP and Priest the prez to be a Prospect. All his life , he has dreamed about being a doctor and after losing his medical license he is left floundering. Doing odds jobs as a prospect for the club is draining all the life from Ghost. Also, he is definitely not the rough rugged biker that we have been previously introduced to. Ghost hates guns and he is more refined seeing as he was a doctor before.He comes off a little bit wimpy and it is a little bit disappointing if you are looking to him to be a saviour for Luca.He is unhappy with his position in life and this is reflected in their relationship. Their relationship was a constant struggle and I didn’t always feel the chemistry between them. It always seemed like they were placating each other in one situation or another. This was my least favorite one of the series. I give this my ratings of 3 – it was ok, give it a try.

Advertisements

Werewolves & Dragons 1: Axel’s Pup by Kim Dare

Title :  Axel’s Pup                    Word Count : 176,000

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : As the landlord of The Dragon’s Lair and leader of The Black Dragons Motorcycle Club, Axel Carmichael has seen it all and done it all. He’s a respected and experienced dom. Nothing shocks him any more, and nobody catches him off guard.

When Bayden rides up to The Dragon’s Lair on a bike worth more than most men earn in a year, and immediately demonstrates that he has far more attitude than sense, it’s easy for Axel to write him off as a silly little rich boy who’s about to get himself killed.

But, there’s more to Bayden than meets the eye. He’s no silly little boy, rich or otherwise, and werewolves aren’t easy to kill.

My Review :  Bayden is a wolf shifter, living in a world where humans despise his kind, only being tolerant enough to coexist with them. There are many rules that govern the new world in the favor of humans. No more than two wolves can ever cohabit in the same residence, leaving most  wolves without the support and strength  of a pack. Wolves are stronger than humans and as usual the fear of the unknown and humans’ ignorance encourages  the horrible treatment faced by wolf shifters. Many wolves are denied entrance into business places and services, because they are regarded as animals. Wolves are often stereotyped as troublemakers, whores and dirty. They are often jeered and tested in order for humans to prove their dominance over them.

From the moment Bayden walks into the Dragons motorcycle club, Axel the  leader takes notice.  Bayden is hesitant at first thinking that Axel would deny him service being that he is a wolf shifter. Axel treats everyone as equals and allows Bayden to prove his worth.  Bayden is soon challenged by a few members of the club whether it is for a fight, whipping or for sex. Axel allows all the bets to be carried out on his property and he safeguards Bayden’s winnings and ensure that things don’t get out of control. Bayden is very quiet and he doesn’t reveal too much about himself for fear that people will use it against him. Soon he learns to trust Axel, not only as a friend and protector, but there is something else. 

It is obvious that there is chemistry between Bayden and Axel. Axel has an air of dominance that he wears like a second skin. It should be hard for Bayden to acknowledge Axel’s dominance,  but that is far from the truth. Even though he is not a wolf, Bayden accepts Axel as the alpha in their pairing. Wolves trust in their instincts and rely heavily on body language. They teach each other how to be what the other needs. Bayden needs to pleasure Axel, but Axel desires for Bayden to embrace full submission for them to be master/sub . They have different ideas of what if means to submit. Axel shows Bayden what he expects as his Dom and that his greatest pleasure would be true submission from Bayden. Bayden tries to control his reactions thinking that it is his duty as a sub. Axel teaches him how to be free to allow his feelings and body to react naturally to stimulus. Axel teases him in delicious ways on his journey to submission. He tutored Bayden on the finer  points of kissing, teasing  and orgasm denial which he uses as tools of pleasure. 

There is a lot of nuances surrounding the topic of wolves versus humans and it becomes clear that Bayden’s reality has been shaped by this. When the Dragons go riding and Bayden gets pulled over by a vindictive cop who abuses his power, another piece of the puzzle is revealed.  Axel gains insight in the life of a wolf from the interaction between Bayden and Officer Granger. Axel and other members of the club stand up for Bayden  against the injustice of the cops. It would seem that their are certain connotations to being a wolf, one of which is being abused  and having your rights downtrodden by people in power.

Their relationship is a long hard road because of the tensions underlying their different species. They both have to look beyond the prejudices that have both been ingrained in them about humans and wolves. Accepting their role of master versus sub and trusting in their dominance and submission is the true key and the main foundation of their relationship.  Bayden’s submission is the highest form of trust. Bayden finally sees that unlike other humans in his past, Axel’s sole purpose in life is to protect and treasure him. Their master/sub union blossomed into true love. I give this my ratings of 3 – it was ok, give it a try. 

Surf Bay 3: Saving Michael : A Gay Romance by Ashley John

Title :  Saving  Michael: A Gay Romance

Word Count : 281pgs      Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance 

Blurb : The Deputy Sheriff of Surf Bay has hit rock bottom. After pushing his boyfriend away with his drunken, violent behavior, Michael doesn’t have any reason to live anymore. Sleeping in his car and on his father’s couch, Michael is spiraling further and further into a dark pit as he drinks himself to death.

The local vet, Caleb, is young, attractive and full of life. His passion is saving the animals that pass through his surgery, but when the very place he loves is engulfed in flames, it’s up to the local, drunk police officer to save him from the fire. After being saved, Caleb invites Michael to his mother’s annual Christmas party to make his ex, Ace, jealous, but as Michael and Caleb get closer, Caleb knows there’s more to the dark void of sadness that fills Michael, than first meets the eye.

He makes it his mission to save Michael, but is Michael beyond saving? Michael witnessed something horrific as a child that changed the course of his life forever, but will he be able to bring justice to the memories of his past so he can have a future?

My Review :  Deputy Sheriff Michael  is a self destructive mess in the little town of Surf Bay. He is a very complex character who we would all love to hate. But there is just something about him,  glimpses of a scared tortured little boy peaks through. It makes us want to find out the reasoning behind the destruction that he has become.

Michael has been carrying an open wound in his soul since he was a little boy and  watched from his hiding place while his father strangled his mother.  For years this secret has tainted a part of him and it has turned him into  almost a mirror image of his father. Michael is hurting deep down inside and he self-medicates with alcohol. It is definitely not helping though because his intake of alcohol fuels his demons and has turned him into this unrecognizable violent person. He has a lot of self hatred and he has no idea how to pull himself out of the pit of hell that his life has become.  Michael has been living in his car since his ex Porter dumped him after Michael tried to shoot him. There is no doubt about it that Michael deserves the leper status which he gets from most of the townspeople.  He is a hot mess!

When Michael saves the town vet Caleb Frost, he gains himself a lifelong friend much to his consternation. He would rather just be left alone to drink himself into oblivion. Caleb is Michael’s exact opposite. He has a warm, loving,  friendly exuberance that is almost palpable.  He comes from a quirky loving family and luckily for Michael he sees the positive side in almost everyone. Caleb seeks out Michael at every turn.  It is slow going, but Michael finds a tiny bit of himself opening up and reaching towards Caleb’s warmth. Caleb propositions Michael to go with him  to his mother’s  Christmas party in order to make his superficial ex Ace jealous. Michael unwillingly accepts  just to get Caleb off his back. Caleb decides to make it his mission to save Michael,  even if it is from himself.

When Caleb finds out that Michael has been living in his car, he convinces him to stay with him for a few days. After a wonderful home cooked meal,  Caleb pushes Michael to talk about his mother. All the bottled up pain and loneliness comes out. It is purged from his body, but rather  than cleansing his soul, talking causes all the memories to become omnipresent in his mind. Caleb realized that he has opened a wound within Michael. He suggests a walk to distract Michael and while they are out they run into Porter. Their chance meeting becomes explosive when Michael tried to apologize to his ex. It is obvious  to Caleb that when Michael feels vulnerable or cornered, he turns into a vicious animal inside his head.

For the first time, Caleb sees that Michael has a serious drinking problem and he makes it his vow to save him. They start an intensive detox program where Caleb locks himself in his room with Michael. It’s a long hard road, but at the end of a two week period Michael is clean and sober  and much better to face the demons of his past. He tries apologizing to Porter again and they actually talk this time. All is not forgotten,  but he has been forgiven. His biggest hurdle  is confronting his father for the murderer that he is. Caleb helps him to understand that he is blameless for his mother’s death. Michael does a lot of soul searching and decides that the time has come for his father to pay for his crimes. He records his father’s confession which gets him put away behind bars. This was definitely my favorite of the series. Michael has a depth to his character that none of the others did. Ashley John turned a completely unforgivable character into a hero. This goes to show that there is a hero lurking inside of most of us. Given the right circumstances,  the best part of ourselves can conquer the bad parts. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear. 

Surf Bay 2: Full Circle by Ashley John

Title :  Full Circle          Word Count : 268 pgs

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : The year is 1997 and 18 year old Porter has been left devastated after his first love, Kane, chose a life in the army over a life with him in Surf Bay. With his broken heart, he had to find a way to rebuild his life.

17 years later and Porter has it all. He has the handsome deputy Sheriff boyfriend, the adorable daughter and he runs the surf club, but Porter’s life is far from perfect. His relationship is filled with abuse and his surf club is failing.

Kane can’t stop thinking about the decision he made on that dark night when he was 18 and finds himself back at his mother’s little pink house, ready to face his past. When Kane comes face to face with his old flame, deep and buried feelings start flooding back and Kane is faced with the same difficult decision once again. Porter, or the army?

Can Porter resist the first love who shattered his heart? Can Kane find a life of his own without ruining someone else’s? Can Porter juggle his heart, his family and his business, without losing everything?

My Review :  Recently,  Porter has had to face the harsh realities of his life. All aspects of his life seem to be crumbling right before his eyes. His Surf business is failing,  he is not even able to break even anymore. He has lots of past due bills at home hidden under the sofa and his relationship with Deputy Sheriff  Michael is bordering on abusive. Michael is drinking heavily and seeming not to care about Porter’s feelings anymore. The only light in Porter’s life is his daughter Emily. That is until a blast from the past shows up.

When the love of his life walks back into Porter’s life, it raises his inner turmoil.  Porter is faced with  unresolved feelings that  he has tried to bury since Kane left him to join the army. This is another sad tale of two men in love torn asunder by parents who thought their love was deviant. Kane has many regrets, especially when it comes to Porter and how he  threw away their love 17 yrs before. Porter demands answers for Kane’s past  mistakes. A lot is revealed by both these star crossed lovers ,but nothing is resolved. 

Kane’s renewed presence  in Porter’s life  is cause for a lot of turbulence. Michael becomes even more violent and enraged with jealousy. Porter becomes even more afraid and thinks how different his life would be if he went somewhere free from the men in his life. The more things that are revealed about Michael’s behavior is the more Porter’s friend Oliver, convinces him it’s time to make a change. Porter feels as if he can’t just up and leave Michael. It’s his fear of the unknown that is keeping him, but it will probably be fear for his life and Emily’s that will give him the push to leave. 

It’s funny how two people can learn to live again  just  by being in each others presence. Kane is helping Porter to put the pieces of his life back together and he starts by helping him relaunch his business. The more time they spend together is the more reinvigorated their personalities have become. Kane brings out the fun Porter by teasing and horsing around. They are both figuring out what it means to live again. They try to deny their sexual feelings , but it is becoming a losing battle. Once they spend sometime in their special spot where they lost their virginity 17 yrs ago, they cave complete. They reignite when they come together passionately and they are both coming to realize that the love they once shared is still alive and well.

In the light of the morning , their beautiful lovemaking is reduced to being called a mistake and this casts a pall on what could have been a new beginning. Things between Porter and Michael has deteriorated to the point of no return. Michael goes off the deep end and attack Porter and Porter realized that things are different this time. Michael beats up Porter and his life flashes before his eyes. It’s Oliver’s timely intrusion that saves Porter’s life and causes Michael to flee. Michael remains elusive until Porter’s relaunch party, where he comes back to finish the job by trying to shoot Porter in front of everyone.  His plans are foiled by Kane this time who knocks Michael out and handcuffs him. 

Kane is still hiding from himself, he uses the army as a shield. It is almost time for him to re-enlist  and he is afraid  to tell Porter out of fear of breaking his heart again. Porter is heartbroken when he realizes that Kane had no intention of fighting for their love yet again. Once again Porter is left picking up the pieces of his shattered heart.  It takes  a month away from Surf Bay for Kane to truly understand that he misses Porter desperately.  He leaves the army and goes  charging back to fight for the love of his life. Porter is angry and rightfully so. He is very wary and tells  Kane that they need to take it slow. I really enjoyed this book and I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear.