Hearts in Chaos (Phoenix Club 2) by CJ Bishop

Title: Hearts in Chaos        Word Count: 105 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Devastated after learning his abuser (and the man he killed in self-defense) was Dr. Devlin Grant’s much beloved brother, Abel feels he can no longer have anything to do with the man because of his secret.

Now locked into his agreement with Horatio Kaplan – and suffering heart break over Devlin – Abel finds no purpose in his life except taking care of Savannah. When Devlin refuses to be put off and insists Abel tell him the truth of why he is suddenly pushing him away, Abel must make the hard decision of whether or not to expose the hideous acts of Devlin’s brother – and shatter the man’s heart.

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: Abel tries to outrun his demons and finally ends up at home where Cole is waiting for him. Cole is perplexed by the state that his friend is in, he watches helplessly as Abel sobs brokenly. Devlin is left reeling from confusion. He is dejected not knowing how to pick up the pieces or why Abel ran away. This goes on for days without any explanations on what is going on. There is something niggling at Devlin, but he can’t put his finger on what.

When Abel returns to work, Devlin shows up and refuses to leave without an answer. Abel is devastated, because he knows the truth will wreck this sweet man whose declarations of love is so profound. Abel also acknowledges to himself that he is head over heels in love with Devlin. The passion that he feels for Devlin is overwhelming and he can’t resist one more chance at intimacy with his soul mate that he can never claim. However, this changes nothing and Abel closes the door with a finality when he tells Devlin he is no longer welcomed at the club. Abel leaves with his heart in pieces, on his way to commence his arrangement with Kaplan.

Abel is about to taint his soul with yet another man determined to exploit his body. His time with Kaplan isn’t horrible, but the parallels to his past abuse is too real in his mind. Kaplan forces him to open his eyes and be in the moment with him. The hardest part for Abel is when Kaplan arouses  him and pleasures him. For Abel it is just  a sensory reaction, but he feels worse for it because he doesn’t want to enjoy an act that he has no choice but to do.

Abel’s friends Cole and Gabe are very worried about him, but Abel pushes them away. An unusual sort of detachment comes over Abel’s persona, but that’s his way of coping.Cole and Gabe find comfort in each other and continue to navigate the complexities of their own budding relationship. When Devlin overhears Abel paying twenty thousand dollars on his sister’s hospital bill, he knows something is very wrong. Devlin approaches Abel at the club and demands answers. Abel knows the only way to get rid of Devlin and his declarations of love is to give him a part of the truth. He tells Devlin how he played some rich man’s whore. Devlin is shattered as he still doesn’t understand why Abel would rebuff his help to continue on this unsavoury path. Abel thought he would feel a sense of relief, but instead he feels wrecked.

Abel is surprised to see Devlin at his doorstep a few days later. It seems like Devlin just won’t give up, but Abel knows that will all change if he finds out the truth. Cole and Gabe come over and encourage  Abel that its time to lay it all on the table. Abel tells the horrific tale of the abuse he experienced for years at the hands of Devlin’s brother and how he eventually killed him in self defense. Devlin is appalled and disgusted, but most of all he doesn’t believe Abel. He can’t reconcile the upstanding brother he knew to the monster that Abel describes. Although Abel knew what the outcome would be , he is still crushed and defeated when Devlin calls him a whore and storms out. Luckily, Cole and Gabe are there to pick up the pieces of Abel’s fragmented soul. But even that won’t be enough to help him regain what he has lost, his innocence but most of all the love of Devlin Grant. To be continued….. this one was filled with heartache and pain , but such tender moments as well. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear.

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Tutti Fruitti Rudi by Stephanie Franklin

Title :  Tutti Fruitti Rudi              Word Count : 61,950

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb :

My Review :  Rudi Costa has always felt that his life is going down Shit’s Creek and he is left without a paddle. He has no marketable skills and he had to drop out of high school to provide for the one person who loves him unconditionally. His sister Penguin is five, but she is at the level of a three year old because their mother is a heroin addict. Rudi steals and prostitutes himself in order to put food on the table. He has to lock Penguin in their room so that the men who his mother whores herself for, can’t touch his beloved sister . Their mother is a waste of space who only thinks of her next fix. When she gets behind in her payments to her drug dealers, she pimps out Rudi to pay for her debts by threatening to take Penguin away.

 When Giovanni,  the biggest drug dealer collects from Rudi, it is always painful. Giovanni is a pig of a man, who loves rough sex. He brutalized Rudi’s most sensitive areas for hours without any lubrication at all. Poor Rudi can barely  walk when he is done. He is walking through the park from one such arrangement when he finds a young man who has been gay bashed. It is obvious to see that Jay doesn’t belong in this part of the neighborhood.

Jay’s family invites Rudi over for dinner as a thank you. Jay’s father David  doesn’t seem to like Rudi right off the bat. After a lavish dinner where Rudi sits uncomfortably wondering about his table manners, he bolts as it becomes clearer that they are from two separate worlds. Rudi starts ignoring all of Jay’s texts. It isn’t until Rudi’s mom kicks him out with his little sister, that he sees Jay again. Jay swoops in like an avenging Angel and gets his family to care for  sweet little Penguin temporarily.  Rudi makes a more pronounced effort to sort his life out so he can take care of his sister on his own. 

Giovanni and Rudi’s mom get there just desserts when Rudi steals their drug money. It is not an ideal plan , but he decides to make the most of a bad situation. Rudi rents an apartment and set it up so that Penguin has her own space. Jay and Rudi decide to celebrate and take their relationship to the next level after a night of teasing and touching at a dance club.

It is at this point that I felt like I  was dropped off a cliff unexpectedly.The novel just left off at this point and I felt that there were a whole lot of  unresolved issues.  I was left feeling very unfulfilled. I think it could have been fleshed out by a few more chapters and it would have blossomed into a great novel. Rudi is that tortured character  who is very lovable and you  can empathize with him. I give this my ratings of 3 –  it was ok , give it a try. 

The Truth About Riley by Henrietta Clarke

Title: The Truth About Riley     Word Count: 790000   Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance Blurb :Riley Aylworth’s life has been completely devoid of intimate contact since a fire three years ago left him with horrific facial scarring, so when he finds an ad for a phone sex service, he decides to give it a call. Except that the number is not a phone sex service—it’s the revenge Cameron Kirkwood’s ex-boyfriend took on the uptight advertising executive after Cam forgot their anniversary and accidentally put him in the hospital. Needless to say, after thirty-nine disturbing calls seeking phone sex, Cameron is at the end of his tether and yells at his fortieth caller. What he doesn’t expect is for Riley to hit redial and yell right back. The argument helps both Cameron and Riley vent about their issues, and when they’ve calmed down, they decide to exchange numbers and talk again. From this decision springs a friendship that, over time, grows into a gentle romance—all over the phone, because Riley is too scared to meet Cam in person. Showing a potential boyfriend his disfigured face is the fastest way to get rejected, right? Even a month of scorching hot phone sex can’t change his mind, no matter how hard Cam tries to persuade him that with their phone chemistry, the sex would be so much better in person. Meanwhile, Cam is haunted by the scarred blond he seems to be seeing everywhere, and Riley can’t get the handsome brunet who always seems happy to see him out of his mind. It’s a shock to both men to realise that the guy they’re falling for over the phone is also the man who brightens their day with just a smile; but it’s one thing to let a stranger smile at you and quite another to let him close enough to see into your soul. If Riley can’t break down the walls in his mind and believe that Cameron loves him in spite of his scars, their relationship may be doomed before they’ve even had a chance to kiss. Review:

This was a truly awesome story about love and conquering our fears and our insecurities about our self worth and our outward appearances.There were certain moments when I thought Riley was being far too pessimistic about his looks, but I had to dig deep and understand that it is realistic to feel that way after having to undergo such a tragic event that has left a person so scarred whether it is emotional or physical. Cameron is the most beautiful, patient lead that I have come across in a long time. This story was simply breathtaking. It reminded me of how I met my husband on the internet and how we had these ‘blind’ interactions over the phone and through webcam without actually seeing the other person’s face. It is the most wonderful way of getting to know someone without relying on superficial cues of facial features.Can’t wait to hear more about Riley and Cameron.Bellisimo!!!
 
My Rating: 4- Lose the underwear