Facing West: A Forever Wilde Novel by Lucy Lennox

Title: Facing West                   Word Count: 300 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Nico
I left my family and tiny Texas hometown fifteen years ago to escape small-town gossips and to give my mom and sister the chance at a better life. But when a phone call from an attorney back home informs me that my sister passed away, leaving me custody of her newborn baby, I’m shocked out of the steady life I’ve built for myself running a tattoo shop in San Francisco.

The thing is: I don’t do babies. And I don’t do small towns. Or commitment. And I especially don’t do family. My plan is to go back to Hobie just long enough to sign adoption papers, giving my niece the kind of stable, loving family I could never provide.

But the moment I meet my niece in the arms of Weston Wilde, my sister’s best friend and the town’s handsome doctor, my plans begin to change. Because suddenly, I see a different future. One with the very thing I thought I never deserved: a family. If only I can convince West that I’m not the same good-for-nothing kid ready to bolt when things get tough.

Weston
There’s one thing I know for sure about Nico Salerno: he was a good-for-nothing as a kid and judging by the purple-haired, tattoo’d punk who shows up at his sister’s funeral, he hasn’t changed. There’s no way I’m letting him take custody of my best friend’s baby.

But the more time I spend around him, the more I realize that his rough exterior is just a shell and that beneath all the tattoos is a scared, insecure man searching for a place to belong. And pretty soon I know exactly where he belongs: in my bed and by my side.

The problem is, he abandoned his family once before, how do I know that if we become a family he won’t do it again?

Facing West is the first in the new Forever Wilde series about the huge Wilde family from Hobie, Texas, whose patriarchs aren’t above a little meddling if that’s what it takes to help their grandkids find true love.

My Review: Nico Salerno has his own life far away from the small town of Hobie, Texas. He owns his tattoo shop and has been making his own way for the last 15 years without any contact from his family. Colour him shocked when he gets a phone call from a lawyer saying his sister has died and he needs to settle her affairs. He is heartbroken for a sister he believed hated him. There are a lot of feelings swirling around inside of him, at the very top being anger at the town and at the people he believed hated and resented him for being gay and abandoning his family.

Resentment is strongest coming from the esteemed Dr. Weston Wilde, his sister Adriana’s best friend. West sees a tattooed punk who only cares about himself and abandoned his family. He is worried that the same fate is about to happen to the precious 4 month old Pippa, Nico’s niece. Nico states clearly that he knows nothing about babies. From the very beginning, there is tension between Nico and West. West has his preconceived notions about Nico and Nico hates the fact that West judges him unfairly without knowing his story.

It soon becomes apparent that the two are attracted to each other. West doesn’t want to want this man who he knows is itching to leave everything and everybody from their small town. After witnessing Nico in confrontation with the closeted town sheriff Curt who is also his step brother , West goes to check on him. What he finds is a broken-hearted Nico who cries for his sister and his mother who he’s only learnt recently passed away years ago. Nico is faced with many regrets from his past. There is a tender moment between Nico and West when West offers him comfort and dulls his loneliness for just a moment.

Once West sees this side of Nico, all his protective instincts come to the surface and the attraction he held at bay can no longer be curtailed. When he decides to go after what he wants, Nico responds favorably to his dominance. Their night is filled with intense passion with moments of vulnerability on both their parts. They both realize that the journey they are about to embark on is not only about sex. With Pippa involved and both of them invested in her, things get real pretty fast.

They both realize that they make a good team and a familial bond is definitely being formed between them and Pippa. Nico starts reconciling the sister he knew with the one that West describes. He starts to realize that his sister apparently grew up and was respected by many in their small town. He regrets missing out on the relationship that could have been. This realization makes it even harder to think about leaving Pippa to be adopted by strangers. Their comfortable domesticity soon comes to a halt when disturbing information about Pippa’s father comes to light.

West is the father, at least that’s what the birth certificate states. Nico is shattered when he hears the news and doesn’t even allow West to plead his case. West is clueless as to why he is listed as Pippa’s father. He can only speculate as to why his best friend Adrianna would do that. He just wants to make it clear to the man he’s falling for that he never slept with his sister.

Nico does what he does best, he runs. It becomes hard for Nico to acclimate to his past life. He has been back for weeks , but his whole life feels so empty until West shows up at his tattoo shop. West claims his man in front of his friends. He expresses his love for Nico and for the first time Nico feels like he belongs. Nico goes back home to his small town Hobie, a place he now realize has always been in his blood. They know they will face challenges, but with the help of the Wildes, they will make it. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear.

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Terms of Service (The Heretic Dom’s Club 2) by Marie Sexton

Title: Terms of Service Word Count:398 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Dr. River McKay moved to Denver with his husband, Terrence, hoping to give their failing marriage a new start. A year later, Terrence is gone and River’s left brokenhearted. Now, he’s decided it’s time to get back in the game. A chance encounter at the hospital introduces him to Phil, a strong-willed pharmacist who isn’t impressed by River’s degree.

Phil can’t deny his attraction to River, but dating is out of the question. Phil only does one kind of relationship — domestic servitude, where he gives the orders and his partner obeys. To his surprise, River agrees — not because he likes the idea, but because anything’s better than being alone.

They know the arrangement won’t last. Phil’s set in his ways and incapable of showing affection outside the bedroom. River’s unused to obedience and still in love with his ex. But their time together will change them, making them question everything they thought they knew about love, control, and relationships. When the unexpected threatens to tear them apart, they’ll have to choose between the comforts of the past and a future they can only find together.

My Review: After his marriage ends in a most disastrous way, Doctor River is left floundering. Although his husband cheated on him and is now dating a surgeon at the hospital where they all work, River still misses and loves his cheating ex Terrence. To alleviate some of the awkwardness, River works the graveyard shifts in the emergency room. River’s life is at a standstill and he feels like a pathetic human being without a purpose outside of work. That is until he meets Phil.

Phil is a pharmacist at the hospital where River works. After an extremely stressful night in the ER, Phil refuses to fill a prescription for one of River’s patients. Needless to say, their first meeting doesn’t go so well as River sees Phil as a challenge to his authority. River pulls out all his cockiness, deciding to show Phil who is boss. That is until Phil points out very calmly and slightly mocking that the prescription conflicts with the patient and could have eventually resulted in a heart attack with prolonged use. River is penitent and apologizes to Phil when he sees that his slip up could have caused harm.

The next time River sees Phil, he goes out of his way to mend fences. He starts up a conversation and one thing leads to another leading them to talk about the debacle that is now River’s life.Phil suggests hook up sites such as Growlr to River. River decides to check it out, but he chickens out on his first two dates. When he comes across Phil’s profile, he sets up a date thinking that familiarity will work in his favor. Phil is definitely surprised to see River at his door. Right away Phil lets the bigger man know what he is into. Phil is a Dom who subscribes to the BDSM principle of domestic servitude. River is slightly unsure, but intrigued nonetheless. Soon their unlikely arrangement begins.

Phil eases River into the lifestyle gently. He is very militant in his practices and he has 2 very important rules. First rule is that River has to obey all his orders explicitly and secondly River should never touch him. Phil is very clear about their arrangement, it is not to be considered a relationship, because that is something he cannot provide. There will be sex, intimacy and certainly pleasure, but that will be all.As a Dom Phil is as cold as ice and he is borderline OCD. However, his rules are in place due to his past experiences. It soon becomes clear that Phil has a lot of baggage, something that has caused him to become emotionally stunted.

As the weeks go on, Phil pushes some of River’s limits. River finds freedom in being chained and collared. He relishes serving his ‘Teacher’ and his inner exhibitionist is set free. River is introduced to Phil’s friends at their poker night. He is turned on when he sees Dom Gray getting a blowjob from Dom Warren’s submissive Taylor. He realises that he would love switching places with Taylor. When Phil sees River’s interest, he suggests setting up a scene where River will be used by his friends when its his turn to host poker night.

Things are going great for them, when River has a run in with Terrence who wants him to sign their divorce papers. River is at an all time low and indulges in too much Scotch. He forgets one of the main rules and touches Phil as a way of seeking validation. Phil pushes him away and warns him about their agreement. Resentment starts building for River as he realizes that this arrangement is almost one sided. He sees Phil as a cold fish in his time of need and the domestic servitude doesn’t seem as intriguing anymore. Even though he is ready to give up, he begs Phil for a drop of reassurance. Phil remains stoic and gives River ‘recess’. This leaves River alone to question if this is something he can really live with. He knows deep down that Phil will forever hold back a part of himself.

Before he can continue, he seeks advice from one of Phil’s friends, Dom Charlie. Charlie explains that Phil is a complicated character, but he can see that he values River by the fact that he has been introduced to his friends. Charlie emphasizes that River needs to be patient and reshape his thinking if he wants to be with Phil for the long haul. Charlie explains that River has to look for the underlying nuances to gain insight into Phil’s true feelings. Phil is definitely not unperturbed by River’s absence. It soon becomes clear that he just doesn’t know how to express what he feels. River goes back willingly and is fervent in his dedication to continue his domestic servitude.

River comes with his own set of baggage. He has hang-ups about bottoming which usually results in the embodiment of impotence. They have gotten hot and sweaty many times, but never as far as penetration. Phil decides to make that happen after allowing his friends to have many orgasmic rounds with River on poker night. River is super blissful and exhausted by the time they are alone. It’s closest he’s ever felt to anyone and it is truly a memorable moment.

To the outside world their increased closeness would not be apparent, but this is definitely true in the days following ‘recess’. They go camping and River sees a different more caring side to Phil when his impotence rears its ugly head again. River gets the best part of Phil when he switches up the dynamics and gives him the trust of bottoming for River. Phil is laid bare in all his vulnerability. His austere facade disappears as he opens up emotionally, blooming with passion. Their weeklong camping trip brings about a sense of peace and River has never seen ‘Teacher’ so relaxed. River loves this version of what they have and embraces belonging to Phil.They are definitely closer than they were, but rather than leaving with a renewed resolve. It leaves a whole bunch of unanswered questions for Phil to sort through his head. River sees that Phil needs space so he heads home. That’s where he finds his ex Terrence ensconced in their home waiting for him.

Things have gone south for Terrence after his lover gets charged for stealing pills from the hospital. He is now home for good with apologies rolling off his tongue and his smug attitude. River is faced with all he ever wanted from the moment Terrence walked out, but It leaves him confused and needing to talk to Phil. As soon as he explains to Phil, Phil sets him free . In his own way Phil is devastated, but he knows this is a choice that River has to willingly make. River wanted Phil to fight for him, but that’s not Phil’s style. River goes home and Phil turns to the comfort of his friends.

River tries to move on with Terrence who wants to know details about his relationship with Phil. River just glosses over the surface, saying that Phil likes control in bed. Even that is too much, it feels disloyal to talk about Phil and expose his lifestyle to Terrence’s possible ridicule. After about a week River sees the truth, the fact that Terrence has not changed and he is still the same conniving, selfish person he has always been. He finds out that Terrence intercepted a letter sent by Phil. When he reads the letter, he sees through Phil’s soul and he realized that maybe he doesn’t need Phil to fight for him, maybe he needs to be the one to fight for Phil. Phil lays himself bare and finally River understands the nuances that points to love. Phil has always been patient, giving and allowing River to be himself without ridicule or recriminations. Without hesitation River packs his stuff and goes home to kneel before his ‘teacher’. Phil is overcome with love and even though he is the teacher, he knows finally what it means to belong. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear. It is a very unorthodox relationship, certainly not for everyone, but the love ,trust and vulnerability that shines through is embedded on my heart.