No Fear (No Shame 3)by Nora Phoenix

Title: No Fear Word Count:325 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb: Aaron is drowning. After coming out as gay, he lost his parents’ approval, his job, and his sense of identity. He feels like a freak who doesn’t fit in anywhere. His last hope was his brother Josh, but Josh can’t seem to forgive him for how Aaron treated him when they were teens. Not that Aaron can blame him, because he did treat Josh like crap.

All Aaron wants is for someone to accept him, guide him, because he doesn’t have a clue. When sexy jiujitsu teacher Blake takes him in and starts mentoring him, Aaron has hope for the first time, even though he can’t understand what Blake sees in him.

Blake doesn’t do relationships. At all. He’s more than willing to help Aaron find solid ground under his feet, but that’s it. Until insecure, vulnerable, and surprisingly sexy Aaron gets under his skin, triggering all kinds of protective instincts that make Blake long for more. He wants to take care of Aaron, give him what he needs, but how can he convince Aaron of that?

When Josh’s friend-with-benefits Indy’s past finally catches up with him, it endangers them all—and leads to heartbreaking decisions for everyone involved.

No Fear is a steamy M/M romance that ends with a HFN for Aaron and Blake, but has a continuing storyline as well. It’s the third book in the No Shame Series, and is not a stand alone novel, so make sure to read the first book (No Filter) and the second book (No Limits) first. It contains hot sex, a little kink, more hot sex, very mild puppy play, and a beautiful friendship-with-benefits that transcends labels. Also: trigger warning for mentions of sexual abuse.

My Review: We were introduced to Aaron Gordon in the previous installment of this series. We met him as Josh’s younger brother who turned his back on him when he came out. First impressions of him were that he was a spoiled brat who comes from an uber religious family. He comes off as being a self entitled kid who got everything handed to him. Now that he has come out himself, his parents kicked him out. Aaron is no longer the golden boy and he is rudely awakened to some of the horrors faced by many gay men around the world. On his first foray out to a club, he is beaten badly and gets a few bruised ribs for his troubles. Aaron shows up on Josh’s doorstep and even though they are not close, Josh lets him stay for a bit. Things are very tense for awhile and it soon becomes clear it’s not gonna work. Aaron is perceived to be very lazy and expects to be taken care of. He doesn’t have the wherewithal to clean up his own mess. It is Josh’s boyfriend Connor who steps in and gives him an ultimatum: pay his own way or he has to stay somewhere else. Josh finds him a safe space to stay with Indy’s juijitsu professor Blake Kent.

Blake seems to be a very rigid man , but he has a very kind heart and he looks out for others and champions the weak. He opens his home as a safe space to people who have been abused. Blake is empathetic to Aaron’s situation, but he soon loses patience with his slovenly ways. Blake takes Aaron to task, letting the arrogant young man know he needs to pull his own weight. After Aaron cleans the studio without complaining, Blake heart softens when he realizes that Aaron is trying. After a very candid conversation, Blake understands that what he saw as arrogance is actually Aaron’s vulnerable insecurities coming through. Aaron is a lost puppy, who has lost all his sense of self and identity.

Blake gives Aaron carte blanche to ask any question he wants. This leads to some sexual explorations when he finds out that Aaron is still a virgin. Blake decides to pay it forward and lead this innocent young man into a gay new world. First order of business is to get Aaron some sexy underwear and a new wardrobe. After careful scrutiny, Blake deduces that any form of sexual identity that Aaron might have formed while living with his parents would have been eradicated. Blake sees through the fear of rejection and perceives that Aaron may possibly want to identify with a more gentler, feminine side of himself. He knows he is spot on when he sees the joy on Aaron’s face when he tries on a more feminine wardrobe. This also brings out Aaron’s sexy side. Aaron is feeling a new sense of self and decides to have the sexy dominant Blake relieve him of his virginity. Blake decides to give him a taste of the gay nightlife first to see other options before he takes on the much coveted job of v-card defiler.

Aaron knows from the moment he steps in the club that there is no other man for him. He sways sensually to the music and Blake knows right away that he is willing to break all his rules for this sexy Aaron. Blake knows that there is definitely something building between them that defies his no relationship rule. He is certainly intrigued by this sweet cuddle puppy who has turned into a terrier. When they start getting too frisky for the dance floor, Blake makes the decision to take sexy Aaron home. He is on his way home when he noticed something weird at his studio. Someone’s trying to break in, he stealthily creeps in and overheard them talking about finding Indy. Blake knows he has to warn Indy.

It is the middle of the night and its clear to see that Blake has woken up my favorite quartet. Blake is a little bit shocked to see the openness and sexual familiarity displayed by these four men. It makes him curious about their relationship. When he explains what’s happening,it is Josh who comforts Indy by kissing him. Looking at Noah, it is obvious that he isn’t upset at Josh kissing his boyfriend Indy. The same goes for Connor when he walks in. The easy camaraderie amongst these four is clear. They use sexual banter and nuance to comfort each other. What Blake is envious of is the love he feels radiating from all of them. However, it is very tense between the two brothers Josh and Aaron. The pot finally boils over when Josh lashes out at Aaron for not standing up for him when they were younger. Aaron is brought to tears and he apologizes for hurting Josh. It is Indy who appeals to Josh, showing him that Aaron was only a scared 15 yr old boy then. Blake cuddles his ‘puppy’, letting him know he is no longer alone. Blake sees deep inside his boy, knowing the pain he carries inside is keeping him from embracing his true sense of self.

Blake knows that with all the pain Aaron has endured, he just needs someone to take care of him. Blake takes Aaron on a date and he loves the connection that he feels with this needy young man. Something in Aaron calls to Blake and he explains the BDSM lifestyle, especially the daddy/boy dynamics. It doesn’t quite fit though;when Blake explains about puppy play, all the pieces snap into place for Aaron. Puppy play definitely resonates with Aaron and accounts for all the weird, clingy, needy feelings he is prone to feeling.Blake decides to step up to the plate and fulfill this need in his boy, which surprisingly calls out to the dominant nature within himself. Before they can go home to explore the new dynamics in their relationship, Aaron asks to stop by to check in with Indy and his men.

They aren’t there for too long before chaos ensues. The men who are hunting Indy show up. Blake jumps into the fray and disarmed two of them, but gets shot in the process. Connor kills 3 of the men. Indy knows he can no longer put his men in danger. He decides to go into witness protection. Blake is seriously hurt and flatlines twice. Luckily, Noah is there to pull him back. They are all in their own world of hurt. Aaron is constant and just like the ‘puppy’ he is, he never leaves Blake’s side. Everyone starts noticing how ‘clingy’ he is. Blake’s brothers Burke and Brad make derogatory remarks about Aaron. This brings up all of Aaron’s insecurities causing him to flee from the only home he has ever known. Blake is furious and takes his brothers to task for their judgement. Blake expresses his love for Aaron and continues to text his ‘puppy’. Aaron is so far gone in his loneliness, he drives quite a few states away and find a job at a motel.

Everybody’s world seems to be imploding.Connor comes up with a plan for him and Josh to free Indy, but it involves being separated. Connor has quit his job and gone back to the criminal elements of his past life in Boston.Indy has gone into witness protection and is in an unknown location fending for himself. Noah feels like he is losing himself, especially when he finds out that Josh has to be booked in a psychiatric ward for his PTSD. Blake is recovering slowly and missing his ‘puppy’, but he diligently sends text messages on an hourly basis letting him know how much he is missed.

It only takes Aaron a month to figure out what the sentiment behind Blake’s messages mean. Even though Blake hasn’t said it outright, Aaron knows he is loved. As soon as Blake opens the door, Aaron knows he is home. A sense of peace flows over him as soon as he is back in Blake’s arms. Blake presents him with a gift of a perfect pink collar and matching leash to welcome home his puppy. Aaron is at peace with himself and his unique needs and he is definitely ready to embrace his true identity. The sexual energy between these two is very palpable and showcases the full extent of their trust and love for each other. I really enjoyed how naturally the puppy play aspect was introduced by the author. It was not overly salacious, just two men being in love and freely expressing that love ,as it should be.

Indy once again proves to be a superhero trapped in his little ‘twinkie’ body when he ends up saving himself as well as a federal agent Miles who will star in the next upcoming book of this series. The plan Connor has set in place is perfectly executed without any of the key players falling under suspicion. At last, Indy is free, all the men of the Fitzpatrick clan who has hurt and hunted him are dead. I can’t wait to see the fabulous quartet that is made up of Indy , Noah, Josh and Connor reclaim their lives. Another amazing addition, the next one will be a threesome, can’t wait. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

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Bryan & Jase ( Something About Him 1) by A.D. Ellis

Title:Bryan & Jase               Word Count:364 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb: Jase Rafferty grew up hiding his sexual curiosities—until he meets Bryan Keating. Bryan’s sexuality is no secret, and being deployed overseas together allows the two men to forge a solid friendship. The sexual attraction is undeniable, but after one lust-filled week, they must go their separate ways.

A year later, a chance meeting gives them one more weekend together, even though they know Jase can’t risk his military career or his family obligations to be with Bryan. 

Several years pass before Jase finally accepts the desperate longing in his heart and body. But when fear and hatred threaten to tear them apart, Jase must make a tough decision, one that he isn’t sure he and Bryan can overcome. Together, they must choose to weather the storm or say goodbye forever.

Bryan & Jase is a military, gay-for-you romance with a single daddy doing the best he can.

**This is a male/male romance meant for ages 18+ due to adult language and adult situations.**

My Review: Bryan Keating and Jase Rafferty first met during their stint in the army. Bryan always knew he was gay and had a little bit of a crush on Jase. There is only one problem, Jase is definitely straight and has a wife back home, albeit a skanky cheating one. He is certainly not happy and plans to get a divorce as soon as he gets back on American soil. During their final months, Bryan’s feelings grow deeper and deeper for Jase. Bryan is perplexed at his interactions with Jase, sometimes he is overtly flirtatious yet he maintains that he’s straight.

Drunken confessions lead to Bryan admitting to experimenting with other guys. Jase’ interest is piqued, but Bryan is still waffling with indecision. When they are almost discovered during a make-out session, Jase freaks out and pushes Bryan away. Jase’ s feelings are hurt and he decides to cut his losses and avoid the closet case. It isn’t until their last week in the army that Jase approaches Bryan to apologize. There is just something about Bryan that draws him in, he can no longer resist. The flames between them ignite and turns into a raging inferno. They have a beautiful blissful time together. It is with tearful goodbyes that they go their separate ways, knowing that It is unlikely that they will see each other again.

It isn’t until a year later that these star crossed lovers would meet again. They reconnect at the airport on their way to an army buddy’s wedding. Bryan is pleasantly surprised to see Jase, but slightly shocked to see him still with his wife and a 4 mth old son Gray in tow. Bryan immediately falls in love with the sweet little boy and the picture of fatherhood that Jase presents. It is clear to see Jase’s love for his son, but it is not lost on Bryan that Jase is still not happy with Sierra. They end up staying in the same hotel and the story unfolds. Jase tells Bryan about the hellish life he leads. Sierra is threatening to expose Jase’s secret since she somehow found out he is gay. She is devious and uses his son as a blackmail tool to get Jase’s money. Bryan consoles his lover and they are able to spend some precious moments with Gray. Jase starts to see a future with Bryan, he just doesn’t know how to make it happen. Jase is still in the army and he knows he won’t be able to cut off his son’s support system that he has with his family. Jase’s father is a career minded homophobic army man. For the time being they go their separate ways and continue their long distance relationship through phone calls and text. 

Everything comes to a halt and soon the text and phonecalls stop on Jase’s end. Once again Bryan decides to set him free and try to move on with his life without Jase. Bryan tries to date other men. He is a very successful investment banker now and decides he wants something more meaningful than one night stands. He meets a nice guy named Braeton and they hit it off. However, there is still something missing , he is just not Jase. Bryan tells Braeton about Jase and he totally understands. They are able to maintain their friendship.

Fast forward five years, at the gaming convention. A lot has happened in Jase’s life, he is now a single dad and ready to truly embrace life. His unfit ex-wife has signed away her maternal rights to run off with her sugar daddy. Jase decides to move to Bryan’s city to try to find him. This part seems a bit farfetched to me, but hey what’s romance without a bit of whimsy. Bryan has always talked about going to the biggest gaming convention and that’s where Jase is headed. It’s Gray who reunites these two men when he bumps into Bryan. They are both ecstatic to have found each other and right away Bryan offers up his home. They fall into each others’ life without too many problems.

Jase is ready to embrace being a gay man and allows things to happen naturally without confusing Gray. Gray has a few problems with bullies at school, but Bryan falls right into his role as step dad with some positive insights on how to deal with homophobic bullies. Jase and Bryan’s relationship flourishes and becomes stronger day by day. This is soon ripped asunder when Jase’s parents makes a surprise visit and discovers Jase’s secret. Jase’s homophobic dad threatens to take away Gray from him. Both men are torn apart and Jase’s fear of losing his son takes over. 

After seeking legal counsel Jase goes back home to Bryan where he belongs, ready to fight to keep his little family together. They had a lot of obstacles in their way but they finally prevailed. I give this my ratings of 3- it was ok give it a try.