Bruised (Book 1) by T.T Kove

Title: Bruised                     Word Count:142 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance
Blurb:Everyone says he’s bad, but to me, he’s been nothing but good.

Everyone says Wynn is bad news, but from the moment he came upon me crying, he’s been nothing but good to me. He took me home, comforted me… and he took me to bed. Which I technically shouldn’t have done, but the kindness he showed me makes me wish for something I’ve never had before. 

I’m afraid to tell him the truth though like I’m afraid to tell everyone the truth. The whole stipulation of my abusive relationship is to keep it a secret, and no matter how much I want to get away, it’s hard to talk about something I’ve had to keep quiet about for so long. 

They say Wynn doesn’t have a heart, but I know it’s not true. I know Wynn has a big heart, he’s just protecting it well—and maybe, just maybe, he can help me out of my unbearable situation before it turns violent. 
My Review: Kasey is devastated when he finds out he didn’t get into the London Contemporary Dance School. He is heartbroken and breaks down at the end of his shift outside of the club he works. His boss finds him torn apart and to his surprise Wynn offers comfort. Kasey is shocked to see his big tattooed stoic boss in  this new light. Wynn offers him a shoulder to cry on and a place to dry off after they walk in the rain. Kasey is pleasantly surprised at the kindness Wynn shows him and it draws him in like a moth to a flame.

Wynn is one of the sexiest, most intimidating men that Kasey has ever known. Kasey lives with a ‘friend’ who demeans him constantly and slaps him around. To the outside world, Alistair is perfect, but only Kasey knows the monster that resides in the man. Wynn has watched Kasey for some time , but he doesn’t want to scare the skittish young man. Kasey brings out all of his protective instincts, even though he is not quite sure what makes Kasey so nervous.

Heat sparks between these two men and Kasey gives in to the attraction that he feels for the sexy ‘bad boy’. It’s the first time that anyone’s ever cared for all of his needs. Wynn cherishes Kasey and shows him what it means to make love. He appreciates Kasey like no other and Kasey feels safe in his strong arms. Kasey grabs this moment for himself, but he knows he needs to come up with a plan to leave Alistair so he can’t hurt him no more.

Reality starts to set in for Kasey when he is at work the next day. Just thinking about Alistair starts causing a panic attack. He is clearly having a breakdown when his friend Adam sends him for a break. This is how Wynn finds him, Kasey having a meltdown. Kasey is embarrassed, but he accepts Wynn’s warm shoulder to cry on yet again. Wynn gives him the keys to his place and sends Kasey home. Kasey is super comfortable in Wynn’s space and even though Wynn doesn’t know the full story he asks Kasey to move in. 

This is a lifeline for Kasey and he now feels free to conquer the demon with Wynn by his side. He opens up to Wynn and tell him the horrors and the emotional turmoil that he has experienced at Wynn’s hand. Wynn is furious on Kasey’s behalf and he vows to protect his new boyfriend. It is fast, but they both know that they have something great that is worth exploring. Kasey starts feeling a newfound confidence with Wynn.

When Alistair shows up at the club , he gets Kasey outside and hurt him before Wynn even knows anything is wrong . Wynn goes ballistic on Alistair when he sees the bruises on Kasey. It is Wynn’s best friend Chad who pulls him off. Kasey is shook up , but he knows now that Wynn, his sexy strong boyfriend will always treat him right and protect him. They know that they are not in love yet but they have a solid foundation  to build something really special. I really enjoyed this and give it my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

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Unbroken (Phoenix Club 6) by CJ Bishop

Title: Unbroken               Word Count: 191pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb: CALEB, Part 3

Can damaged hearts be unbroken? Betrayed love learn to trust again?

Samuel’s discovering of Caleb’s extra-curricular activities with Brock incites a confrontation that leaves Caleb broken and in despair.

With only the hope of freeing Nick to cling to and give him a purpose to live, Caleb is devastated when his brother suddenly tells him to stop trying to get him released. Angry, hurt and confused – and feeling as if all he’s endured was for nothing – Caleb feels abandoned by those he loves most and is willing to do whatever it takes to make the pain inside go away.

Warning: This book contains homosexual relations and language not suitable for readers below 17yo.

NOTE: For those coming across the ‘Phoenix Club’ series sporadically, they were written in this order, and if possible, should be read accordingly, due to story lines that run through all the books :

ABEL
CALEB
ANGEL
GABRIEL
MAXWELL

My Review: Caleb acknowledges that his life has now turned into hell. It is not until Samuel confronts him with so much rage and pain in his heart,that he wants to just die. Samuel is so disgusted and feels so betrayed that he hurts Caleb by saying horrible things. Caleb thinks about suicide, but its the thought of his brother that keeps him going. Caleb feels so bereft and all alone, but Dane proves him otherwise. Dane checks on him and tries to get him to talk, but Caleb just sobs uncontrollably until he falls asleep.

Dane meets up with Samuel to figure out what’s going on with his friend. He is shocked at what Samuel reveals. Dane is the one that watches the video with an objective eye and points out certain idiosyncrasies that he sees. He puts the puzzle all together and realize that Caleb is doing all of this under duress as a way to help his brother. Samuel sees how despicable he acted to the man that he said he loved. Dane comes up with a plan to get the two lovers back together.

In the meantime, Caleb suffers emotionally and physically. Brock abuses Caleb and shows how reprehensible he is by raping him repeatedly without conscience. Brock slaps him around and he is angry that Samuel seems to know something. Caleb can hardly walk when Brock is done with him. Once again, its Dane who finds him curled up in his bed. He can see that Caleb is in pain , but he says it’s just the flu. Shortly thereafter , Caleb gets a call from his brother Nick wanting to talk to him urgently. Before he can even finalize plans to go to the prison, Brock calls him saying that he has a few questions for Nick so they should fly there together. Caleb is very tensed around his abuser, but he would do anything for his brother. Nick notices Caleb’s despondency, but Caleb plays it off and they try to work through the case.

It turns out that Nick has a few secrets he is ready to reveal to Caleb. When the two brothers are alone, Nick suggests that Caleb just drop his case. Nick has a new boyfriend Chrisian in prison and he is loathe to leave him unprotected. This pushes Caleb over the edge when he believes that all the atrocities he has endured is all for naught. He believes that this kid’s life takes precedence over his. Caleb leaves the prison feeling angry and like his brother threw him away.

Samuel calls Dane in tears when he stumbles upon the newest video of Caleb being raped and brutalized by Brock. Dane calls in reinforcements in the form of Gabe, Cole, Max and Horatio. They are all enraged and ready to kill for sweet Caleb. They realize they have to be tactical in how they deal with this situation as Brock has a lot of pull in the legal world. Their plans include Nick , since this is the only person who Caleb loves and trust unconditionally. Nick is incensed about what has happened to Caleb, and when he finds out his own boyfriend has been taken by another inmate ,he unleashes his fury.

It is Samuel who sets things in motion, enlisting the help of a seasoned lawyer at the same firm as Brock. To Brock, reputation means everything. Samuel exposes him for the monster he is and gets him arrested. He knows Brock will make bail soon enough, so there is a back up plan in effect. The dangerous air surrounding Gabe is put to the test when he promises Caleb that the boys of the Phoenix Club takes care of their own. Brock is introducedto the ‘cowboy’ and ‘Indian’ who mete out punishment befitting the crime. No man will ever be raped by Brock again.

Finally, Caleb understands how much he is loved by his friends. Dane finds him in the nick of time to pump his stomach after he has attempted suicide. He takes him to the hospital where Devlin takes care of him. Samuel apologizes to Caleb and tells him how much he still loves him. The fear soon starts to recede for Caleb once he realize that his hell has come to an end. Caleb and Nick have a tearful reunion where they each meet their respective boyfriends. Samuel is in charge of dealing with both Nick’s and Christian’s appeals. Horatio and Max are in turmoil as Max keeps pushing away his love. We are introduced to a new boy Angel who will continue the saga. I give this my ratings of 3-it was ok. For some reason I just couldn’t feel connected to Caleb, maybe because he was cold and standoffish for so long.

Torn in Two (Phoenix Club 5) by CJ Bishop

Title: Torn in Two                     Word Count: 120 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb: CALEB, Part 2

Torn by the discovery that Attorney Brock Coulson is also Samuel’s stepdad, Caleb is forced to choose between retribution for his brother and his new found love for Samuel. 

But when Coulson makes the choice for him, insisting he stop seeing Samuel or the deal is off, Caleb doesn’t resist the man’s stipulations. He refuses to allow his own wants and desires to hinder his quest to free his brother – even if it means sacrificing everything else, including his own dignity. 

Torn between love of a brother and love of his heart, Caleb must choose who he will sacrifice.

Warning: This book contains homosexual relations and language not suitable for readers below 17yo.

NOTE: For those coming across the ‘Phoenix Club’ series sporadically, they were written in this order, and if possible, should be read accordingly, due to story lines that run through all the books :

ABEL

CALEB

ANGEL

GABRIEL

MAXWELL

My Review: The tension between Brock Coulson and his step son Samuel are unmistakable. Harsh words are thrown around when Brock tells him to get his whore out of his house. Caleb is decimated by this title, but he has no choice if he wants Brock to work on his brother’s case.  When Samuel drops home Caleb , he apologizes profusely, but Caleb asks him to leave because he is not feeling well. Samuel knows there is more to it, but he decides to give Caleb some time.

Caleb is certainly not shocked when Brock shows up at his apartment. It chills him to have Brock in his private space , but he knows he can’t renege on his arrangement no matter how vile it is. Brock takes pleasure in belittling Caleb and making him feel every  bit the whore. Caleb fully understands the kind of deal he made and he knows that it will  corrode his soul.When Samuel sees Caleb, he knows something is horribly wrong and he can feel Caleb pulling away emotionally, but he tries to give him space.

Caleb’s boss Max always tries to help his boys through their emotional turmoil, now it’s his turn. Horatio Kaplan proved  himself to not be a villain after all with Abel. We had an inkling that  Kaplan had experienced loss in his life and that’s why he encouraged Abel to get back together with his sexy doctor. Now we see that there is history between Max and Horatio. These two men are both pining for each other and  Horatio reminds Max of the love they once shared. Max is hesistant, but he wants to remember the passion that only Horatio offers.

When Samuel visits Caleb again, it is to find his mood downtrodden. Samuel had a feeling this was coming, but is still destroyed when Caleb tells him their relationship is over without giving a reason. Samuel leaves ,but he is not giving up. Caleb and Brock are on their way to visit Nick. Nick is ecstatic, but he is suspicious about how Caleb can afford an attorney like Brock. There is just something about Brock that rubs him the wrong way, but for Caleb’s peace of mind, he tries to believe in Brock.

Caleb tastes the true monster that is Brock when they get back to the hotel room. Brock is cold and ruthless and has no care for Caleb’s pleasure. He tries to dominate Caleb’s spirit and erase every ounce of Samuel’s loving touch. Even though it was consensual, what Brock did to Caleb was rape in the most visceral sense. Caleb soon finds out that his degradation is just beginning. He realized that Brock has filmed the act of depravity and he forces Caleb to pretend he likes it.

Don’t go snooping if you don’t want the answers. Samuel finds this out first hand  and is devastated by what he finds. He is beyond horrified when he finds video files on Brock’s  computer of himself in the nude. Samuel is disgusted at the huge invasion of his privacy, but he is sick to the stomach to realize that his step father is perverted and looks at him in a sexual way. However, nothing rips him to shreds until he sees Caleb in the act with Brock saying how much he likes it. To be continued….. I give this my ratings of 3- it was ok.