Resilient Love: Unquiet by Melanie Hansen

​Title : Unquiet                         Word Count: 103,129

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance
Blurb: Loren Smith has been in love with Eliot Devlin almost his entire life. During their turbulent childhood and teen years, Loren didn’t always understand Eliot, and sometimes he could be a challenge, but Eliot was the only one to ever truly ease Loren’s deep loneliness and accept him. When Eliot’s increasingly erratic and self-destructive behavior culminates in a suicide attempt at seventeen, Loren is devastated.

Upon meeting again by chance nine years later, Loren is enjoying a successful career as a police officer while Eliot’s life has been a constant struggle for stability. In and out of mental hospitals, with a rap sheet a mile long, he continues to be buffeted by the twin storms of mania and depression. Loren’s love and protectiveness for Eliot are deeply ingrained in him, however, and their feelings for each other are quickly rekindled.

Loren has issues of his own he’s dealing with, and trying to understand and cope with Eliot’s bipolar disorder isn’t easy. They believe they’re meant to be, and Eliot brings a fulfillment to Loren’s life that no one else will ever match. But as they both come to realize, love by itself can’t cure all.
My Review: This is one of the most heartbreaking romances I’ve read in a long time. It was my first from this author and it definitely will not be my last. It was very well written and quite informative about a very sensitive subject, Mental Illness. From the very first moment Loren and Eliot meets at the age of 6, they’ve been inseparable.  According to Loren, Eliot is the one that took away his loneliness. Loren was a bit of a loner when he was a kid since he was chubby. Eliot always seemed very hyper always jumping from one subject to the next. They were both latch key kids and they often spent their time at each others house. Eliot was always there to support Loren as they were growing up. Loren was always there to hold Eliot and listen to him even when he acted weird. 

It was during their teenage years that they both became more than friends as they came out to each other. They professed their love for each other and talked about  their futures together. Throughout this all, Loren noticed that Eliot was acting more and more strange day by day. He suggested that Eliot get some help when he realized how depressed he was getting. Before he knew it Eliot seemed to be back to his normal self. 

One day at school Loren goes looking for Eliot and finds him on his knees pleasuring one of the football jocks. Loren is devastated and confronts Eliot with his accusations.  When Eliot tries to brush it off  Loren gets really upset and says some really hurtful things to Eliot and walks away. If isn’t until the next day that Loren finds out that Eliot attempted suicide and failed. After this their lives move in different directions without them speaking again.

It isn’t until 9 yrs later that Loren and Eliot meet up again. Loren is now an  undercover cop meeting an informant in a gay strip club when he sees ‘Angel’  dancing on stage and recognized him as none other than Eliot. Eliot doesn’t even seem to know who he is after giving him a lap dance. Loren is horrified to see Eliot in this way and decides to use his resources to get in touch with Eliot’s mother to get some answers.  The answers are definitely not what Loren expects. Eliot has since been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder 1 where he goes between manic episodes and depression. Eliot’s mom Rebecca has all but given up on him, she  is all burnt out and doesn’t know how to help him anymore. Eliot drinks way too much and does drugs in order to keep the demons away, but it’s obviously not working. Loren feels so much guilt and wants to try to help the boy he once loved.

When Loren knocks on Eliot’s door for the first time after so much time has passed, Eliot thinks he is in a dream.  They come together like they’ve never been apart.  Loren asks Eliot to date him, but he soon realizes that El is even more sick than he was before. It isn’t long before he truly sees what El looks like during a manic episode and it’s definitely not pretty. El is almost thrown in jail and has racked up quite a few charges. They are able to get him into a mental institution after his mother pays a hefty fee. Loren stands by El supporting him the whole way and El gets a little more stable and does his 3 mths. stint successfully.  

El and Loren realize that sticking to a regimen will definitely aid in El’s recovery. El tries to stay on the straight and narrow path and he does well , but it’s not long before he becomes manic again. All of his worries over Loren’s dangerous job as a cop culminates into him having a severe break with reality. This time his manic episodes affect Loren’s professional life when  El outs him at work and causes him embarrassment. This takes a little bit longer to get  over for Loren but  he finally acknowledges in the end that he has to change his thought process about El’s illness. Loren comes to the realization that El’s illness can’t fit into the expectations and dreams that he always had for his future.  He decides to change his dreams to be all encompassing by taking joy from Eliot being a part of his life. This was definitely not the last time that Eliot would hurt Loren.

Three years into their future, El once again tries to  commit suicide and almost succeeds. Loren becomes very bitter and it almost cost them their relationship,  but somehow they persevered. I can only imagine how exhausting it must be to love someone with a mental illness, but what comes through in Loren and Eliot’s journey is unconditional love.  I really enjoyed these characters despite all the adversities that they will face, most of which will be beyond their control. They make me want to believe in a love that is resilient,  one that will stand against the tests of time. I give this my ratings of 4- the sexual chemistry was definitely amazing between these two, but I fell in love with them because of their all encompassing resilient love story. 

Guns N’ Boys 5: Chokehold  by K. A. Merikan

​Title: Guns N’ Boys 5: Chokehold       Word Count:336 pgs

Genre: Dark Gay Romance

Blurb:The ugliest truths blossom into the prettiest lies. —

A year into the relationship with Domenico, Seth still wants him as desperately as ever. Nothing is better than being intoxicated with lust for his deadly man and feeling his steady hands all over. 

No matter the misunderstandings, the fights… The crash. The burn. 

Crossing the Mexican border has been a goal for Seth and Domenico for a few months, but the trip couldn’t have ended in more of a disaster. While Domenico is stuck at home, for Seth each passing day becomes more difficult. Desperate to keep his family afloat, he accepts a job offer from Los Sepultureros. The Gravediggers. 

When Domenico’s need for control starts eroding their trust, Seth is sure their love can conquer all. But when Domenico rips open the wound left after the violence at the beginning of their relationship, it gushes blood all over their cozy lies and this time, there may be no way to seal it. 

POSSIBLE SPOILERS: 

Themes: mafia, cartel, assassin, organized crime, trust issues, religion, love 

Genre: Dark, twisted romance / crime thriller 

Erotic content: Explicit scenes 

Length: ~110,000 words 

WARNING: Adult content. If you are easily offended, this book is not for you. 

‘Guns n’ Boys’ is a gritty story of extreme violence, offensive language, abuse, and morally ambiguous protagonists. Behind the morbid facade, there is a splash of inappropriate dark humor, and a love story that will crawl under your skin.
My Review :  It is always great to get in the lives of Seth and Domenico and see what they are up to. When we catch up with these two lovers, they are still on the run from their mafia family. Dom is waiting for his connections to set up things so they can have safe passage to Mexico.   The chemistry between these two virile men is oh so hot and nothing really changes now that they are faux- parents. Dom continues to show is softer, more caring side by adding someone new to their little family. Mark is a teenager who has had a rough start in life. They rescued him from their jaunt in Louisana and it’s Dom’s aim to turn Mark into a great man.

Dom’s connections are finally granted and they are led to the sewers where they escape to Mexico. There is a fissure of fear when Domenico realizes that they will be locked in from the American  side of the tunnel and have to make their way  in the dark. An unexpected trap is set for them, but Dom being the former hit man is ready for mostly anything. He kills the three men who were about to hurt his family but not before a grenade is detonated. A part of the ceiling caves in which causes Dom to be hurt. Seth is panicked but he knows he has to find a way to get Dom and Mark to safety. Seth as usual steps up to the plate and gets Dom to a hospital. They are in an unknown territory with hardly any money . Luckily, Mark knows a little Spanish and finds them a place to stay with an old lady in the little rundown town.

Seth being the only able-bodied provider of their family tries to find work.His insecurities rise up when he feels utterly clueless after  his futile search. He stumbles on a bar and realized that he might be in trouble when he meets the owner Miguel. Seth plays the clueless tourist and Miguel gives him a job working close to the tunnel that caved in on them. It’s his hope that he can recover Dom’s suitcase filled with all their money and get them out of the mess they are in.

Dom hates being laid up and feels very neglected when Seth goes to work. He feels guilty for not being able to provide for his family and not being able to pamper the man he loves. We see a different side of Dom when he gets in touch with his Catholic religion.  His close brush with death leaves him thinking what would have happened to their love if they had died in that tunnel. Dom thinks that they would have been torn apart to forever be alone in the afterlife since they are not married. He tries to push for them to get married but Seth rejects him on the basis of him being still married in his former life. Seth argues that he would rather not be a bigamist since he believes that his former wife is still alive. 

Domenico is on the mend  and he acquires some money for them from his old acquaintance Santo. He becomes aware that Seth might be hiding something from him , but he is not sure if it’s just his insecurity talking. Dom doesn’t realize that Seth has become embroiled in a very dangerous situation at his ‘job’ working for Miguel who seems to be a cartel boss.They have a big fight when Seth refuses to quit his job. This deteriorates into a shouting match where Dom says some really hurtful things to Seth making him feel inadequate.Dom does irreparable damage to their beautiful relationship  when he cuffs Seth to their bed to keep him from going to work for his dangerous boss.As usual , Dom’s heart is in the right place but his methods are way off base. It doesn’t take long for Dom to acknowledge the error of his ways and he understands that maybe he has pushed Seth too far. Seth is humiliated , furious and feels utterly betrayed by the man he thought he loved above all else. Seth throws back Dom’s signet ring , the main object of their commitment to each other.

They are each devastated and wrecked in their own way, but they have vipers surrounding them that they have to deal with first. They have to work together to protect each other , but there is a great divide and disconnect that was never there before. This goes on for weeks and the distance seems greater day by day. Dom reforms some connections with Santo and try to set things in motion for their uncertain future. Also, things are revealed to them when they find out that Seth’s ‘wife’ Lucrezia is actually married to Santo after getting an annulment. This is one less thing hanging over their head. However, it’s hard to rejoice in this news when their own relationship is in shambles.No matter how hard they try , they can’t seem to get beyond  their fight this time.  The truth finally comes out when Dom discerns that Seth’s anger is steeped in memories of fear when Domenico onced raped him at the beginning of their relationship . Their dirty laundry is aired in front of Mark who unbeknownst to them has been secretly learning Italian. Seth is extremely ashamed and Dom sees how his past actions will haunt him forever. The one thing he regrets the most is the one thing he cannot fix in their relationship. 

Seth recognizes that the  only way to move forward with their relationship is to leave the past where it belongs. It is a step in the right direction and it goes a long way in repairing the rift between these volatile men. Dom appears very vulnerable during this time and it’s that vulnerability that gets through to Seth. After facing  some more dangerous situations together in Mexico, they start moving in sync once again. Finally , Seth asks Domenico to marry him and Dom is only too happy to accept. It’s definitely what he wants to feel more complete and secure in their relationship. I really enjoyed this new addition to the series. It is best to read from book 1 to understand fully the intricacies of the characters. I just can’t get enough of Seth and Dom, I’m eagerly awaiting Book 6. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear.

Rainbow Connection  by Alexa Milne

​Title : Rainbow Connection                   Word Count:39,000

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Two men, one with a past, and one determined to give them a future, together.

Mick Flanagan has kept himself hidden since his only lover died three years ago. He works at night, keeps to his routine, has impressive facial hair, and avoids contact with other people. Enter Ceri Llewellyn, with his constantly changing rainbow-coloured hair, who seems determined to talk to him. Gradually, Mick tells his story and begins to trust Ceri, but Mick has a past that contains more than just a dead lover. Can Ceri show him that he deserves to be loved and, above all else, help him find his true self?
My Review: When we are first introduced to Mick Flanagan, a picture is painted of a lonely, desolate man. Mick is a man who has experienced the loss of his partner Alfie and has totally shut down. It is clear to see that he has OCD issues and he follows strict routines as a coping mechanism. He has allowed his grief to block him off from humanity. He lives in an almost silent world with very few friends, his books and his dvds. He works as a security guard  where he observes everything on the complex. That’s where he first sees the delivery guy with the rainbow coloured hair.

 When Ceri Llewellyn first meets Mick  he  is very intrigued by the quiet man and invites him out. Ceri is very attracted to Mick who looks like a mini ‘bear’ with his beard and his hairy arms. Ceri is very outspoken and he is determined to coax Mick out of his shell. He finally gains a toe hold with Mick when he finds out he is passionate about the Doctor Who series. A connection is sparked and Ceri uses this to his advantage.  He invites Mick to go away with him so that they can go to a museum of sorts filled with Doctor Who memorabilia.  

There is just something about Ceri that gets Mick to open up and finally be himself. Mick gains new insights about himself,  things he couldn’t pursue while he was with Alfie. Ceri exposes Mick’s dominant possessive alpha side and  for the first time Mick really wants to explore and embrace this new part of himself. They get along great the few days they are away and their sexual chemistry is super hot and something neither has ever experienced with anyone else.

Their budding relationship comes to a screeching halt when Ceri pushes Mick to put away some of Alfie’s things and inject pieces of himself in his own home. Ceri is definitely not wrong, because he is on the outside looking in and sees that Mick’s house is almost a shrine to his dead lover Alfie.Mick tosses Ceri out of his home and possibly his life. It is when he meets up with his old friend Sally that she gives him the same perspective as Ceri. Mick knows he overreacted and he knows he needs some help to come to terms with his grief and his OCD tendencies.

Mick and Ceri make up and their lovemaking is as hot as ever.  Even though they are taking things slowly , they decide to be committed to each other  and get married eventually . They become the rock they both need and encourage each other in all aspects of their lives. Their love is relatively new,  but  it is clear to see that it will be longstanding.  I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear.

Consent by Bruce Rose

​Title: Consent                         Word Count : 40,510

Genre: Dark Gay Romance/ BDSM

Blurb:Only desperation could drive him to commit such a crime…

Lonely survivalist Travis Winslet has everything in his underground bunker, everything but a companion. Determined to get his needs met at any cost, Travis decides to hunt for a man the same way he does for food. When he spots a blond-haired, blue-eyed cutie who matches his requirements, he acts. Only to find his target wants to be tied up and abducted.

Kinkster Skye Randall paid his Dom for a kidnap scenario, never expecting he’d come through with a captor who was just the right combination of scary and sexy. But there’s more to his abductor than just a man willing to fulfill all of Skye’s darkest fantasies. When Travis asks for Skye’s consent, Skye realizes the true power of giving himself to his master and what it really means to be submissive.

But what will happen when Skye discovers Travis isn’t the man his Dom hired?

My Review:  Skye has been searching for most of his adult life for the perfect Dom. He yearns to have his kinky fantasies fulfilled. He goes on a camping trip with his friends, hoping that his part- time Dom who he pays will finally step up and do something intriguing.  Skye has suggested a role play where he gets kidnapped and used hard by his kidnapper.

Travis has been searching for something as well. He is overwhelmed by his need to kidnap someone without getting caught. His motive and plans for his victim are far from sinister. He just wants to push the boundaries of fear, knowing that his victims are his to control without hurting them. When he stumbles upon Skye camping, he has no idea that he has hit the jackpot  with this victim. Travis bides his time.

Skye realizes the futility of his hope of a kinky role play when his Dom Warren doesn’t show up.  Feeling rather dejected, Skye decides to relieve himself in the woods and then head off to bed. Skye is definitely  shocked and a bit nervous when Travis nabs him. His nerves come into play when he realize that the man behind him is not Warren. Skye is turned on by the grittiness and hint of danger he hears in his captor’s voice. When he is allowed to see the man’s face , he is surprised at the kind eyes that stare back at him. At this point Skye is definitely excited and elated, believing that all his dreams  are about to come true with this sexy mountain man.

Travis finds it strange that Skye is not putting up much of a resistance,  but the truth is revealed after talking to him. He realizes that Skye has mistaken his intentions as a part of his role play fantasy with Warren. Travis does not correct him. He can’t believe his luck on finding someone like Skye who is willing to play right into his fantasy. The more he talks to Skye is the more he sees how perfect he is for him.Travis shows Skye new perspective on  pleasure. He uses orgasm denial and this heightens their explosive chemistry. They talk about their wants and needs and Travis encourages Skye to live the life he’s  always wanted to live. Their connection is out of this world and they both fulfill each others fantasies. Travis feels so close to Skye , but he knows it can’t last because of his lie of omission. 

After 3 days of bliss,  Travis let’s Skye go. Skye is hurt and confused as he thought they had something that they could build on. Travis gives Skye a warning to value himself more and to be more careful. Everything is finally  revealed when Skye’s friends tell him that they thought he had died at a fire that broke out at the campsite. He realizes what a true snake Warren really is when he goes home and finds most of his stuff stolen by Warren. Skye puts all the pieces in his mind together  and acknowledges that the kidnapping was actually real. He combs through his time spent with his sexy mountain man and he doesn’t blame Travis for his actions. Skye understands the lonesome life that Travis must  lead living at his hidden bunker away from civilization. 

Skye tries to acclimate himself back to his old life, but all his routines feel tiresome. He decides to take Travis’ advice  and do things that make him happy. It takes 3 months for him to decide to try to find  Travis. He  misses him desperately . Skye experienced so much happiness , peace and contentment in 3 days than he ever did in his whole life. He sets out to find Travis’ hideaway. When Skye finds him , he offers himself up wholeheartedly to Travis. Travis knows that how he met Skye was very wrong, but it was also the most perfect unique circumstance for them. They both accept each other’s faults and foibles and love each other despite them. I really enjoyed these two characters and I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

Stealing Innocents by Cari Waites, Lisa Henry

​Title: Stealing Innocents                        Word Count:70,700

 Genre: Gay Romance

Blurb:Those who dare to scratch the surface of ordinary, everyday life may be horrified to find a sick underbelly beneath—a nightmare world populated by villains and victims, predators and prey, where the rules of society no longer apply.

Where you’ll find people like Danny, the boy who sells himself to pay for his father’s gambling debts and ends up in a situation more twisted than he ever imagined. Or Troy, the cop whose obsession with saving a brutalized human trafficking victim turns deadly. Or Drew, the mental patient who begins to suspect his nightly delusions of abuse by his doctor are actually real. Or David, the cuckolded husband who decides the best way to get revenge is to seduce his wife’s barely legal son.

Stealing Innocents is an exploration of our darkest human impulses, where sex is power, love is horror, and there’s no such thing as a happy ending.

READER DISCRETION ADVISED.

This collection contains three edited second editions stories that were previously individually published, plus one all-new story, by Lisa Henry writing as Cari Waites.
 My Review: When Danny is sold to the man who his father owes insurmountable gambling debts, he learns how irrevocably his life has changed. From the very first moment he meets Archer, he understands the true meaning of ownership. The first thing Archer does is to place Danny in a cock cage  and demand that he be addressed as ‘ Sir’. Danny who is a 18 yr old virgin has never been  exposed to the world of BDSM. He is extremely confused when he is placed in a childlike room. He is further confounded when  Archer explains that it is for his own benefit since he had a horrible role model for a father. From night one Danny is made to understand that he won’t be eased into the lifestyle gently. Danny is forced to learn how to pleasure his master and is breached with an  anal plug without any gratification for himself. This is just a prelude for things to come.

Danny learns a fine lesson in humiliation and degradation on his second day in Archer’s household. He certainly can’t reconcile the changes he sees in himself in such a short space  of time. He yearns for the torture that his body undergoes when he is caned and simultaneously stimulated by the anal plug. Archer shows him that there is a thin line between pain and pleasure. Daniel submits to Archer and quickly fall into subspace where everything feels like an  out of body experience. Danny continues to learn harsh truths about his body and his tolerance. He is exposed to many unknown tools and practices such as enemas, sounds , fisting and orgasm denial that  causes humiliation but titillate his senses as well.

At first, Danny sets out to please his master only to avoid punishment. However, he soon realizes that in the nether recesses of his mind, he is embracing this part of himself that he has only just acknowledged. Danny meanders between feeling ashamed and dirty while reveling in the ‘special’ relationship he has with ‘daddy’ Archer. That is until he remembers this situation is not of his own free will. When Archer decides to share his new slave with his business associates, Danny becomes a little bit combatant.

Archer shows Danny how well and truly he is owned. Archer proves to him that he has no agency in their relationship and the more resistant he is, the harder it will be for Danny. Daniel experiences all forms of debauchery at the hands of his ‘daddy’ and he is denied all gratification. This is where he understands that the only pleasure  he will gain is by living vicariously through his master.

There is a juxtaposition between the old Danny and the new Daniel.Danny realizes that he is losing the will to fight. Self preservation kicks in and he decides to hide away that part of himself that makes him Danny. He cloaks Danny under the skin of Daniel, the one who thrives on being a good Daddy’ s boy. However, there are times when the spitfire Danny pushes through and this always leads to punishment. He shows resistance when Archer takes him to a tattoo parlour. Without knowing the plans that his daddy has for him, Danny defies him. This proves to Archer that Danny still has not learnt how to trust him wholeheartedly. Archer is very disappointed that his boy still does not believe that daddy knows what’s best for him. At that very moment, Danny glimpsed his biological father going into a well known gambling den. Danny is truly broken by this sight, because it means that all his sacrifice was for naught. He now has to reevaluate his arrangement with Archer and figure  out what is the true purpose of his debauched life. That night, Danny cries for a father that still has not learnt his lesson, but things are now clearer in his mind.

Everything comes to a head the next night when Danny is put on his knees to service Archer and his associates. The last guest arrives while Danny is taking care of his ‘daddy’s needs and it’s none other than his father Clyde. Clyde is disgusted by seeing Danny this way, but what is even more disgusting is when he suggests that he should have gotten more money for  basically selling Danny into this lifestyle. The true monster reveals himself and any love that Danny felt for his father in that moment was extinguished.

Danny’ s eyes have truly opened up and he now gains insight into the life he has been living with Archer. Archer treating Danny like a child was his way of giving Danny a rebirth for the childhood he knew Danny had lost at the hands of his father. Danny always had the responsibility of dealing with an addict for a father, rather than embracing a carefree childhood. Archer gave Danny a chance to be a child again in order to be the man he was always meant to be. Danny realized that he got a new identity by being  ‘daddy’s’ baby boy Daniel. For the first time, he thinks he is really ready to embrace Daniel and every nuance that comes with this persona.

Daniel regains his agency in the most unexpected way. He kills the man that he now sees was the poison in his life. Clyde is dead and Daniel is freed of all charges. He is also free to make the decision to be his daddy’s boy. Archer will allow him to be the man that will be his partner in everyone’s eyes, but at home Daniel will be the perfect daddy’s boy.

 I am still not sure how I feel about this book. It  was so horrific that it was good. This was very well written.It was nitely a page turner and not for the feint of heart. It is really heavy on the BDSM elements, violence and abuse. It was weirdly good and I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.  

P.S. This review was only for the first story. I found that the other short stories were too inhumane. I was not able to review them as they made me a little bit sick to my stomach.