Michael’s Awakening by Jaclyn Osborn

Title: Michael’s Awakening                    Word Count: 190 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:One moment…that’s all it takes for life as you once knew it to change irrevocably. For Michael Kingston, that moment was when he first laid eyes on Gabriel. In his life, Michael had only known darkness, leaving behind a broken shell of a man. Unspeakable memories of his childhood constantly plagued him, causing him to disconnect emotionally from the world. No one had ever shown him love; therefore, he believed that he was unworthy of it. And then everything changed.

Gabriel Greyson had always been different. Growing up in a small, Bible-thumping town, his preferences for men, makeup, and fashion made him an outcast. But, with the support and love of his family, he overcame obstacles that were thrown his way and rose above the intolerance. He danced to the beat of his own glammed-out drum and refused to believe that he was anything other than ultra-fabulous. Working as a beautician, he had a job he adored and felt that everything was perfect in his life. Everything except for true love.

When these two unlikely men meet, sparks fly. For the first time in Michael’s life, he feels like he can overcome the darkness inside him. Gabriel gives him hope and slowly brings him out of the shadows, showing him that even the darkest of souls can be redeemed. But there are secrets that Michael keeps locked away. Michael’s fear is that Gabriel will turn away from him when he discovers the truth. After all, who could ever love a beast?

My Review:  The juxtaposition of darkness versus light comes through clearly in our main characters. Gabriel is a flamboyant, vivacious, vibrant androgynous young man that exudes a light that can’t be suppressed or contained. He is someone who you can’t help but to love, because according to him he is so damn ‘fabulous’. It’s obvious that he is used to being sneered at and judged by the way he wears his sexuality proudly. He is unashamedly gay and he puts on a brave face daily to deal with the bigots of Texas. Gabriel loves all things fashion and takes pride in his appearance. He is very talented and has a passion for playing the Cello, something that he got from his deceased mother who loved him unconditionally. It is at one of his concerts where we are introduced to his counterpart Micheal. Michael’s very soul is wreathed in darkness. He has never known love and was abused constantly as a child by his own mother. He has scars , both physical and emotional. He is instantly attracted and drawn to Gabriel’s light, but he is afraid to overwhelm that purity with the darkness within him. They have a moment after Gabriel’s performance, where they have an intense staring match. Michael brushes off his attraction and decide to leave the angelic Gabriel alone.

Micheal is definitely surprised at his reaction to Gabriel when they meet again for the second time at a nightclub. He doesn’t understand the possessiveness he feels when another man tries to pick up Gabriel. He dominantly steps in and Gabriel is shocked and intrigued to see the handsome intense stranger who he saw briefly at his concert. Gabriel is certainly attracted to Michael and there is something vulnerable about this strong man that calls to him.

Thet both get along famously and it doesn’t take Michael long to stop fighting his developing feelings for his ‘princess’ Gabriel. Gabriel is amazed that this macho self- assured attorney accepts him in all his flamboyant girliness. Michael sees something special in  Gabriel that makes him want to step into the light. They quickly become close when Michael reveals the horrendous abusive childhood that he had to endure at his mother’s hands. Gabriel was halfway in love with Michael from their very first date and Michael’s openness pushes him  headlong into full blown love.

Michael pampers and spoils Gabriel at every opportunity and Gabriel is so happy that he is accepted so wholheartedly. They are compatible in every which way. Michael is definitely the knight in shining armour to Gabriel’s ‘princess’. It soon becomes clear to Gabriel’s family and friends that he has found the perfect protector and love of his life . They welcome Michael with open arms. Gabriel is truly a character and I can’t  express how much I  adored him in all his prissy fabulous glory.  However, not everyone is so accepting of Gabriel. A homophobic zealot decides to target Gabriel and succeded in hurting him. Michael got there in time to save his ‘princess’. And yes, they lived happily ever after with Michael proposing with a beautiful girly princess cut diamond for Gabriel. This was an exhilarating fun read with just the right amount of angst. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more from this author. I give this my rating of 5- bring out the vibrators .

The Firsts & Forever 9: Coming Home by Alexa Land

Title: Coming Home          Word Count: 432 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:For twenty-six-year-old rent boy Chance Matthews, surviving day-to-day in San Francisco is difficult enough. Then an ill-fated road trip to Wyoming to search for his biological father throws his life into a tailspin. When a string of catastrophes leaves him stranded and desperate, help comes from the last person he’d expect. His knight in shining armor is everything he could want and then some, but Chance is sure a man like that would never want someone like him. That’s the stuff of fairy tales, and he stopped believing in those a long time ago.

My Review:  Chance Matthews has been chewed up and spit out by this thing we call life. He ran away from home when he was 14 after being abused. He has been earning his living as a prostitute on the mean streets of San Francisco since then. Although he doesnt have a good relationship with his mother, he has been diligently sending her a 1000 bucks for more than 10 yrs to help take care of his little brother.

One night after he finishes with a John, Chance’s path crosses the stoic Finn Nolan. Chance is not sure what to do since Finn is a cop and he fears being arrested. Finn is just as shocked to see Chance since he only knows him as the photographer and friend of his brother’s husband Christian. Chance tries to make a quick exit, but before he can go Finn propositions him and swears him to secrecy. Chance is still very wary , thinking that maybe he is being set up for entrapment. However, there is something in Finn’s eyes that call to him.

Although their arrangement should seem illicit and tawdry, Finn somehow makes it special. Chance tries to remain detached, but he is sucked in by the beautiful person Finn is. Finn is a virgin when it comes to man on man action, but he always makes Chance feel priceless. Chance is able to feel connected to a lover for the first time in his life. Their chemistry was out of this world.

When Chance decides to go visit his family and hunt down his biological father, he uses this as a way to cut the ties with Finn as well. He has become far too attached and fallen in love with Finn. Finn definitely doesn’t want to give up Chance and he wants to further the special connection they have between them. 

Everything turns upside down once Chance goes on his journey. He finds his sixteen yr old brother half starved and living on his own  with another  vulnerable looking sixteen yr old. He thinks he might have found his father , but the man practically threw him out. To top it all off, someone steals his beat up old car with all his possessions and money in it. He is at an all time low and feeling hopeless when Finn calls him. When Chance hears his familiar warm voice , he has a meltdown and stutters out the whole story.Finn would do anything for this beautiful man so he rushes to the rescue.

It was very emotional watching the progression between these two.  To see Chance finally opening up and trusting Finn. Also, watching Finn throwing caution to the wind and holding on to Chance and coming out to his parents and claiming who he truly is.

 Their ready made family was very interesting with two teenagers on the brink of manhood. It was lovely to watch them navigate through all the feelings of loneliness and coming to care and love each other while dealing with their trust issues. I really enjoyed this one . I give this my ratings of 5 – bring out the vibrators. 

Favorite Quotes: 1. He laid me on the floor again and spread my legs with a hand on the back of each thigh, exposing me as he pressed my knees to my chest. I moaned when he drove his tongue into me, opening me up before he slid it out again and licked my opening. He kept that up for a while as I reached down and stroked my cock, and then he sat up a bit and pulled a bottle of lube from his jacket pocket. ( Such a visceral reaction .)

2. I kept my legs right where he’d put them as he drizzled the lube over my hole and onto his hand. He pushed two fingers inside me and rotated his wrist, grazing my prostate and making me yell as a shockwave of pleasure pulsed through me. Then he slid his hand out and said, “I’m going to fuck you raw, baby .” I stopped stroking myself and raised my head to look at him. “We both got tested last week, just like you’ve been doing every six months. We know it’s safe.” ( There is nothing better than skin on skin. It definitely heightens the arousal.)

3.“Just so you know, I’m not going to hold back. We can make love some other time. Tonight, we’re going to fuck. I want you to feel so damn good and cum so hard that you forget everything but my name. I’m going to make you mine with every thrust into you, and then I’m going to cum inside you. I want you to know for an absolute fact that you belong to me. Only me. Do you have a problem with that?” (Sometimes you  just need a good hard fuck, no frills and gentle touches.)

4.He slammed into my prostate again and again, his big, thick cock filling me, stretching me, and I threw my head back and yelled as I arched up off the floor. I needed him closer. Deeper. I needed him to be a part of me. I clawed at his back, wildly, desperately, and when he yelled and came in me, I shoved his jacket out of my way and bit his shoulder, hard. All rational thought had completely fallen away. I was distilled down to sex and need and hunger, and he was, too. He fucked me like it might be our last time ever, urgently, almost frantically, pushing his seed into me with each thrust, yelling as he came in me. He dropped onto his elbows, his face inches from mine, his pupils so dilated that his eyes looked black, and told me, “You’re mine.” It was an absolute statement of fact. “Yes. Fuck yes. Yours.” The words tumbled from me. I was surprised I could talk. When he pulled out of me, his cock was barely deflated. “Fuck me, Chance.” His voice was pure gravel. ( Soooo hot.)

5. He got on his hands and knees as I fumbled for the lube and slicked my throbbing cock. I pushed a wet finger into his warm opening , fingering him roughly as I told him, “It’s going to hurt.” I was way too worked up to think clearly, let alone prep him properly. “Good.” I pulled my finger from him after just a minute and pushed my cock into his incredibly tight butt, grabbing his hips. We both moaned , and he mumbled, “Fuck yes, don’t stop.” I took him like he’d taken me, hard, fast, and rough. Our jagged yells shattered the stillness, along with the sound of my body slapping into his. My fingers dug into his flesh as I pulled him onto my cock, impaling him as he drove himself back in a steady rhythm. ( I love when it hurts sooo good, so raw , so in the moment. You can definitely feel that you’very been well and truly fucked days after.)

The Firsts & Forever 8 : Belonging by Alexa Land

Title :  Belonging                      Word Count : 98000

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : Can two damaged men build a future together from the shattered pieces of their lives?

Gianni Dombruso’s life was altered forever at the age of four, when his parents were murdered and he and his brothers went to live with their grandmother, the irrepressible Nana Dombruso. Now almost thirty, Gianni has spent his life bouncing from relationship to relationship, seeking but never finding the security and stability he so desperately craves.

Alexzander Tillane was one of the biggest pop stars in the world when he walked away from it all in the middle of a concert in 2002. Almost destroyed by the pressure of fame, Zan retreated to a life of quiet solitude in an effort to heal. But the cure backfired, leaving him with more issues than answers.

Zan knows he can’t give Gianni the stability he’s looking for, not with all his problems. He can’t even imagine why the beautiful younger man would want to get involved with someone so damaged, but the heat between them can’t be ignored. Giving in to it could be a huge mistake. Or maybe both men might end up right where they belong.

My Review :  It is very hard to believe that Gianni , the playboy of the  Dombruso family is this extremely vulnerable creature that we see in this novel. I had a hard time reconciling this young man who had such a low self esteem with the sexy Gianni we saw in the previous stories. I guess we all hide behind a facade sometimes and  things are not always what they appear to be. It soon becomes obvious that Gianni allowed himself to be used because he thought that was what he deserved.

Zan Tillane, the infamous pop star and Christian’s father is the first man that Gianni has truly opened up to. It was definitely not a love match at first, with Zan being a grumpy bipolar shut in. He definitely did everything to make Gianni’s life harder while he was bringing him groceries. It was only Gianni’s perseverance that kept their interactions afloat. Gianni constantly pushed  Zan’s buttons by getting him to try a different fruit on each of his visits. It was hilarious watching their foray into this newfound relationship.  However, they do not make any great strides, because Zan is too accustomed to his self imposed solitude and too scared to expose himself to the world at large. It is not until Gianni decides to move to New York to live with a man who he doesn’t love and to whom he is just a booty call, that Zan sees what he is about to lose.  

Zan braves the paparazzi and leave his self imposed solitude  to prove to  Gianni how much he means to him. Zan ends up hiding out at Nana’s house, the safest place he could ever be with Nana and her beretta and the ex mafia Dombrusos. Zan tries to shield Gianna from the paparazzi by running away from their newfound romance.  Gianni is devastated and worries about Zan, because not even Christian has been in contact with his father.  It doesn’t take long for Zan to come back to Gianni, when he realizes that his safe haven is in Gianni’s arms and that they can weather the storm of his fame together . Gianni gives Zan the strength to return to performing, something that he has always loved but with which he became so overwhelmed.

I really enjoyed this installment with these two main characters who totally complemented each other. I really liked the chemistry between them and even though there is an age gap , it did not seem that way which I liked. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear. 

The Firsts & Forever 7: Against the Wall by Alexa Land

Title : Against the Wall            Word Count : 448 pgs

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : Don’t start something you can’t finish.

It’s a cliché, but 22-year-old graffiti artist Christian lives by those words. He’s going away when he graduates from art school in just six short months. With so little time left, getting involved with gorgeous Shea Nolan has to be a mistake. If only he could make himself stay away from the sweet, sexy police officer.

Christian has a decision to make. Are a few months of happiness worth the inevitable heartbreak when it’s time to walk away?

My Review : From the very first moment we meet Christian,  the graffiti artist and Skye’s best friend, there has always been an air of mystique surrounding him. All the areas of Christian’s life is cloaked in secrecy that not even Skye is privy to. He comes off as a playboy who doesn’t really care about much but his craft.We’ve always known that he is hugely talented as a graffiti artist and is making a stamp on the world through his spray paint. He seems to be this thrill junkie who loves living life on the edge and always being chased by cops from building to building. It is after one of these escapades that he meets Chance, a prostitute who is also trying to hide his activities from the cops. Chance concocts a huge cover story of them being boyfriends in order to get Christian from under the suspicion of the cops looking for the graffiti artist Zane. The two become fast friends and end up at a club where Chance can pick up some tricks.

It is here that Chance points out the sexy guy who is staring at Christian.  That sexy guy happens to be Shea Nolan, the sexy Irish cop who we’ve come across in previous books. Shea is very shy and a little  bit of a klutz,  but Christian finds him to be very endearing.  Christian takes Shea home with the intention of having a one night stand. Their night together turns out to be magical and leaves them both wanting for more. It soon becomes clear that they will be seeing a lot more of each other since they have a lot of the same friends and run in the same circles.

Nana is up to her usual shenanigans and she definitely sets the stage for their romance to blossom albeit quite unintentional. Nana plans a wedding for her grandson Vincent and the love of his life Trevor on a cruise ship where all our favorite boys are invited. It was great to catch up with  all these characters. We also got a glimpse of Hunter and Brian whose wedding was also planned by Nana on the cruise ship. Vincent and Trevor have adopted a son since we last saw them and Christopher and Kieran has a baby on the way through a surrogate. Throughout this week long cruise,  Shea and Christian were able to foster their relationship and build a bond that neither expected.

Some of Christian’s secrets start leaking out the closer he gets to Shea. We are introduced to Finn, Shea’s brother who definitely doesn’t approve of their relationship because he thinks Christian is just a two timing user. When Finn corners Christian,  he has a huge panic attack fueled by flashbacks from a horrible experience in his life. It is after this, Christian shares his secret with Shea about being raped in his first weeks at college. He has tried to take back his sexuality in some small way by only topping his lovers and only being intimate with his clothes on. Shea doesn’t push him and he tries to take care of this beautiful vulnerable man. 

We’ve always suspected that Christian is a rich kid and this is proven when the secret comes out that his father is a famous rock star named Alexander Tillane. Another facet of Christian’s personality comes out when we see him taking care of his dad who is a bipolar OCD recluse who experiences lots of highs and debilitating lows. Although  Christian holds so much in , he is a great person who loves hard and tries to shield the ones he loves from heartache.

Christian soon reveals his biggest secret ever to Shea. He is dying from a malignant brain tumor. This was really gut wrenching and I cried buckets right alongside these characters.

As Christian’s illness becomes more pronounced, he learns the true meaning of love from all his friends and especially Shea who stays by his side throughout clinical trials. Christian has to learn to set his pride aside so that his friends and soon to be husband can help him through this devastating period in his life. The book ends on a high note with Christian experiencing some improvement from the clinical trial  drugs. Shea is positive and has hopes that Christian will make a full recovery and that they can enjoy a long and healthy life. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear. 

Favorite Quotes : 1. As his cock started rubbing that spot deep inside me, pleasure took over. My body relaxed and I exhaled slowly. I began to stroke my cock, rocking my hips in time with his thrusts, and begged, “Harder , baby. Please.” Shea got up on his knees , his hands grasping my waist, and watched as his cock slid in and out of me. He moaned and began thrusting harder and faster, his orgasm building. When we were both close I sat up and hugged him to me, bouncing on his thick shaft as I cried out. As soon as I felt his cock twitch and the first blast of cum fill me, I began cumming, too, my cock pressed between us. He held on to me, thrusting wildly, yelling as he came. ( I really enjoyed the passion between these two. They took the greatest pleasure in each day through hot lovemaking and lots of public  sex😉.)