Sparkle ( Passions Book 2) by Jerry Cole

Title: Sparkle                          Word Count: 226 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Sparkle Jones is a rising star, with a cult following, and a closet full of great shoes. Life is good in the limelight. Now, all he needs is somebody to share it with. Despite the glamorous trappings of his life, Sparkle can’t escape his fear of living and dying alone. When the self-proclaimed diva agrees to accompany a friend to an upscale bathhouse, he never expects to run into the one man who will change his whole world and teach him what love is all about. 

Simon Burns learned early in life how to thrive as a good-looking gay man. His well-earned reputation as the ultimate one-night stand and his skills as a lover are legendary. The straight-acting player has lived a double life for decades, keeping his private sexual escapades casual and anonymous. When tragedy hits close to home, he finds himself wondering if it’s all worth it. Is the player finally ready for love? 

When these two worlds collide, sparks fly and neither man can deny their feelings. But the road ahead will not be easy. The bonds they build are put to the test, and they must decide if they are willing to sacrifice the lives they have built for themselves separately for the chance at something permanent together. 

Please Note: This book contains Adult Language & Steamy Adult Activities, it is intended for 18+ Adults Only. Novel, approx. 50,000 words+ in length. HEA (happy ever after ending). Does not end with a “cliffhanger”.

My Review: Sean ‘Sparkle’ Jones is definitely a diva. He is very sassy, likes to be pampered and lives to sparkle. When he meets Simon Burns in a bathhouse, he is certainly not expecting anything to come from it, even though he is impressed by Simon’s business acumen when he explains that he owns the bathhouse and some of the visions he has in store for the future. When they meet by chance for the second time later that day Simon knows he cannot let Sparkle get away from him again. Simon is the kind of guy who only does one night stands, but something about Sparkle intrigues him and leaves him wanting more. Simon gives Sparkle an indecent proposal he can’t resist ; be his exclusively for as long as it feels good and live in the lap of luxury. Sparkle decides to give Simon a try and he thinks he might have met his match.

Things are not smooth sailing between the two, but they have great chemistry in and out of the bedroom. Simon claims that Sparkle help him to forget and he relishes that after a hard day’s work  at his day job in the financial district. It turns out that Simon is actually Sparkle’s  best friend Jerrod’s boss. Sparkle doesn’t want to rock the boat since he knows Simon wants to keep his professional and private lives separate, so he keeps this tidbit secret. It soon becomes clear that Simon doesn’t trust easy, when he thinks that Sparkle might be poisoning him. Sparkle is outraged that Simon has come to all the wrong assumptions and conclusions when he finds his laxative. Sparkle is hurt that Simon doesn’t trust him and immediately thinks the worst, that he might be a gold-digger.

Sparkle leaves with a broken heart, but affirms to follow Jerrod’s advice to remember what makes Sean happy. For the first in a long time Sean takes out his art supplies to try to find the boy he once knew . He got down on his knees and prayed and cried. There were still remnants of Simon in his life and it came in the form of a package. Simon had paid for an expensive kitchen  appliance that Sparkle could use at ‘their’ house. Sparkle calls Jerrod to vent , but doesn’t get the chance when Jerrod is too busy to talk because his boss has taken a few weeks off to deal with a family crisis.

Sparkle sets his pride aside to go see his man and ascertain the nature of the crisis. Simon isn’t quite unwelcoming, but he is at his emotional breaking point. He breaks down and tells Sparkle how bereft he is that he is about to lose his mother.  Sparkle comforts Simon and lets him know that he missed him. He swallows his pride and suggest that they delve into their relationship together and stop pretending. Simon accepts as he is tired of being lonely and Sparkle is the only one that fills that void. Sparkle was able to meet Simon’s mother and get her stamp of approval before she died. He was able to find a little bit more of Sean when he sang a soulful song at Mrs. Burns graveside. It was definitely heartfelt and the perfect balm to soothe his lover’s soul.

This tragedy drew them closer and things heated up for them in the bedroom. Simon slowly starts to embrace being in a relationship with such an effeminate man. When he sees how proud Sparkle is to show him off, he realized that he needs to do the same. When Sparkle begs him to go out to a big shindig for the financial sector Simon agrees. Sparkle reveals his secret about knowing Jerrod and Aaron. Simon is a little bit surprised, but other than that the night is going great. 

That is until Simon ends up in the emergency room. It turns out that he has a perforated ulcer and that’s why he has been feeling sick and in pain. Sparkle is very supportive and the perfect boyfriend, while Simon turns into the worst patient. All of his insecurities about the age gap in their relationship comes to the surface. He sees Sparkle as someone who is far too vibrant to be wasted on an old man like him. Sparkle sees that Simon is a little bit down , but he just thinks its because he is in pain. He tries to over-compensate by being upbeat.

Simon starts pushing Sparkle away and he definitely notices the difference when their sex life plummets into the abyss. A misunderstanding further compromises their situation when Sparkle walks in on what he thinks is Simon receiving a blowjob. Sparkle is very upset , but he remains confused at the look of resignation he saw on his lover’s face. Jerrod is the one that steps in and has a chat with Simon. Simon confesses the truth and Jerrod explains that he has never seen Sparkle so in love with anyone. This gives Simon hope for their future. He shows up at Sparkle’s apartment ready to grovel and win back the affections of his sweet man. He is very open and vulnerable when he approaches Sparkle and tells him the truth. Sparkle wants to give him a hard time,but it is that vulnerability that convinces him to give him another chance. He sees a cinch in Simon’s armour and realize that he is not infallible. Simon   suffers from the same fear of loneliness and not being enough for his partner. Sparkle decides to forgive the big man , but lets him know he has a lot of groveling to do. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

Romancelandia 1: Too Stupid to Live by Anne Tenino

Title : Too Stupid to Live                         Word Count :80,500
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Sam’s a new man. Yes, he’s still too tall, too skinny, too dorky, too gay, and has that unfortunate addiction to romance novels, but he’s wised up. His One True Love is certainly still out there, but he knows now that real life is nothing like fiction. He’s cultivated the necessary fortitude to say “no” to the next Mr. Wrong, no matter how hot, exciting, and/or erotic-novel-worthy he may be.

Until he meets Ian.

Ian’s a new man. He’s pain-free, has escaped the job he hated and the family who stifled him, and is now—possibly—ready to dip his toe into the sea of relationships. He’s going to be cautious, though, maybe start with someone who knows the score and isn’t looking for anything too complicated. Someone with experience and simple needs that largely revolve around the bedroom.

Until he meets Sam.

Sam’s convinced that Ian is no one’s Mr. Right. Ian’s sure that Sam isn’t his type. They can’t both be wrong…can they?

My Review : Sam can be described as a dorky flaming gay guy. He is a little bit shy and far too insecure. He has his head in the clouds and his nose stuck in a romance novel most of the times. It is definitely not surprising when he gets run over by a horde of rugby players when he gets a little too close to their field. Sam looks up a little bit dazed, only to be confronted with the most beautiful blue eyes on the most brawny highlander. Welllll, that would definitely be the case if he was a character in a historical romance. He is jarred back to the present when the rugby player gives him a hand while smirking at him. Sam decides to take his chances and awkwardly asks the sexy rugby player out. He is brutally shot down when the guy lets him know that he is not his type.

When Sam’s best friend Nik has a party, he eagerly attends hoping that he can just forget his humiliation with the sexy guy. Sam is utterly shocked when he comes face to face with the same guy , only to realize that it’s Nik’s boyfriend’s cousin Ian. Ian can be described as the worldly fuck’em and leave’em type. He immediately notices Sam as the dorky guy he knocked over on the playfield. As the night goes on , he becomes more intrigued by Sam, especially since his cousin Jurgen warned him to keep his hands off. He is a bit like a kid in a candy store, he just can’t resist the chase. By the end of the night, he has decided that he has to get into Sam’s pants.

When Ian corners Sam in his room, Sam is torn because he knows he is not Ian’s type, but he greedily accepts the attention showered upon him by this sexy stud. Ian pushes all of Sam’s hot buttons and he has the right commanding presence to make Sam fall to his knees and worship him. Sam is a little bit ashamed by how eager he is, but he has never had a hotter night than he did with Ian. Ian’s foundation is altered as well, because something felt different about his experience with Sam. There is just something about the geeky guy that he can’t forget.

Ian comes up with a proposition that he thinks they can both benefit from, but he has certain ‘parameters’ set in place. He makes it very clear that they are not boyfriends, they are just guys hanging out who occasionally have sex. Sam would really like to tell him where to shove it, but he is also excited by Ian’s dominance and he can’t resist exploring the glimmer of hope in the back of his mind.
Sam lives his life by the mandates of the romance novels he likes so much and the more he gets to know about Ian is the more he realizes that Ian is far from that ideal …..or is he?

Ian is a tortured soul who has some issues he is working through with a therapist. He is still navigating fully coming out of the closet to some of his coworkers, friends and family. Ian knows he will lose some along the way, but he is ready to take that chance to be with Sam.He is soon able to acknowledge that the parameters that he set for their ‘relationship’ is not able to confine the ever growing feelings he is having for Sam. On the other hand, there is Sam who is very insecure and definitely not sure of his own footing in whatever it is that they are doing. He is trying to shield his heart as best as he can , so that whenever the inevitable heartbreak happens, he will survive.

A turning point comes in their relationship when they come across one of Sam’s ex boyfriend one afternoon. Ian feels a sense of jealousy, but moreover he wants to protect Sam when he gets a glimpse of how the guy treated Sam. He sees where Sam’s insecurities stem from and makes it his point of duty to help him see his self worth. Their bond becomes stronger when Ian teaches Sam to trust him when they explore Sam’s submissive tendencies. He takes a scene out of Sam’s romance novel where he role-plays the part of a highland laird. As corny as it sounds , this solidified their relationship in a way that nothing else could. This was the means to show Sam how perfect he is, just the way he is in all his awkward dorkiness.

Like most romance novels, there is a big misunderstanding in the plot where Sam thinks Ian is trying to break up with him. It takes Sam being almost gay bashed for them to reconcile and admit to each other how much they love each other. I really enjoyed this one, there were funny moments and hot and steamy sessions between these main characters. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

Blue Collar by Sean Micheal

Title: Blue Collar                                      Word Count :42,500
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Kendall Webber is deep in the closet. Between working in a garage, having been in the army and a fundamentalist preacher step-father who sent him to summer camps to make him straight, he’s learned to hide his sexuality from absolutely everyone.

Still, when Barton Willis the Third roars into the garage with his Mustang, Kendall can’t help but look, just a little. When Barton not only looks back but invites him in, Kendall’s whole world is turned upside down.

Can Barton help Kendall let go of the past and the attitudes he had literally beaten into him?

My Review : From the moment that Kendall meets Barton Ellis the third at the mechanic shop where he works, he knows he’s in trouble. Barton is just as flashy as the cherry red mustang that he wants to be serviced. It soon becomes clear that’s not all he wants serviced. Kendall is a bit uncomfortable around Barton and this feeling intensifies when his boss suggests that he should drop the flirty Barton home. Barton invites him to dinner as a thank you and Kendall tentatively accepts not wanting to offend a customer .
Kendall is very nervous around this man who exudes class and money. Barton pushes Kendall to open up to his desires. He sees something in Kendall that he can’t wait to tap into. Ken is very resistant to his advances at first, but clearly he is attracted. Barton stirs something that has been long held dormant inside him. Barton pushes him to explore their passion for each other and even though it feels really good it is tainted by shame. Through their conversations Barton realize that someone has had a hand in making Ken feel that his homosexual desires are wrong and needs to be repressed.
Kendall reveals that he was sent to conversion therapy when he was younger and this makes Barton want to hurt the people responsible. Barton makes it his mission to make Ken feel good about himself and he offers his home as a safe space to be free. Their explorations become less one-sided and Ken revels in these new feelings that Barton brings out. It takes awhile for Ken’s shyness to disappear, but there is a whole new world that Barton would like to gift him on a silver platter. Barton loves his toys and he has a wide array that he wants to introduce to Ken. The first toy he tries on Ken is the sound which he inserts in his penis. Barton explains that this will give him a more intense orgasm without the ejaculation. Ken is a bit unsure, but he gives in to Barton and truly let go. The feeling is exhilarating and so overwhelming that he breaks apart in Barton’s arms.
The more time they spend together is the closer they become to each other. Ken starts opening up about his horrific experiences as a kid at the conversion camp. Barton heart goes out to the little boy who was abused , but surprisingly not broken . He is amazed at how remarkable of a man Ken has turned out to be. He continues to show Ken just how much he adores him by inviting him to come live with him.
They get really comfortable with each other and start to live a blissfully idyllic life. All this changes slightly when they go on a shopping trip to the mall. Kendall is brought back to the real world and all his fears of discovery. While he is shopping he comes across his sister who he had not seen in months. It brought home how much he missed his sisters. He introduces Barton as his friend and leaves a card with her to contact Barton if ever she cant reach Ken. Its when they run into one of Ken’s homophobic coworkers where things get dicey. Ken knows he is going to face a lot of questions on his return to work.
The atmosphere definitely changes for him at work and puts a little distance between the young couple. It isn’t until Ken gets pushed at work causing him to break his wrist and leg that Barton knows the severity of Ken’s troubles. Barton is furious that someone would hurt his sweet young lover. He corals some of his high powered friends to help and convinces Ken to sue the garage and everyone involved. Ken realizes how in love he is with his sexy man. Barton has only ever encouraged him and Ken truly feels a sense of purpose in life now. In the end, he opens his own garage where he can use his skills as a mechanic and be his own boss. I really enjoyed this book, but I believe that the ending was too abrupt. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

Men in the Shadows 4: The Porn Star by Rain Carrington

Title : The Porn Star              Word Count : 382 pgs
Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : Sammy is looking for the man who could make him feel the way Neil had, and finding it impossible. A secret admirer starts to leave him roses and notes, stalking him. Sammy is intrigued, but with college, his job at his father’s garage and his new tutoring gig, he doesn’t have a lot of time to guess who it could be. Secretly, though, he hopes that it is Neil, who he couldn’t stop wanting.
He finds out and soon begins to explore his kink, to be watched. A video is uploaded to a website and attracts the attention of a porn producer. IS this Sammy’s big break, or will it end in heartbreak?
The student Sammy starts to tutor is a rich and difficult man named Andrew. Andrew disregards and berates anyone who crosses him, including the new personal assistant his father hired to “babysit” him.
Tom is a former Marine with a secret agenda, keeping him in the job with the privileged man he doesn’t know if he’d rather slap or kiss. Once Andrew’s parents announce their impending divorce, Andrew goes off the rails, only to find Tom there to catch him.
Through the last two years, Malcolm and Kirk have lived and loved, but when Sammy asks Malcolm to keep a secret from his big lover and his biker brothers, including Road Dog, Sammy’s father, Malcolm agrees, only to be found out and losing everyone who mattered the most to him. Can he and Kirk find their way back to one another, possibly with the help of the big Marine they met through Sammy?
Secrets, intrigue, murder and unspeakable acts abound in this final installment of the series. Three couples unite and are put to the test by family, friends and new jobs. Can three men come out stronger or end up another casually of their Men in the Shadows?

My Review : This book really showed how to bring the two halves of our ‘selves’ together and how to reconcile the disparity between the two. First of all, we meet Sammy who is a sweet young man who seems to be lost. Sammy has been hurt by a former lover and has decided to cure his pain by sleeping around. This helps him for a time, but lately he has realized that these encounters are leaving him unfulfilled. When Sammy starts getting notes from a secret admirer, he has to admit that he is somewhat intrigued. He tells his best friend Malcolm who seems to be worried for Sammy. He suggests that it could be the work of Sammy’s former lover Neil. Sammy agrees with Mal, but even though he still feels hurt over Neil’s betrayal, deep down he hopes the notes are from him. Sammy goes through his everday life as usual, going to college, working at his father’s garage and doing some tutoring to a spoiled brat named Andrew.
Things come to a head when Neil reveals himself as Sammy’s secret admirer. Sammy’s immediate reaction is to walk away from Neil as he knows no good can come from it. Neil persuades him and begs him for a chance to apologize. Neil is sorry for the way he betrayed Sammy. He knows that he messed up before and got Sammy’s friend Malcolm hurt, but he was also the one who helped find Malcolm when he was kidnapped. Sammy wants to forgive Neil and he realizes that he is still very much in love with him. He is in a quandary, because he knows that his family would definitely not appreciate him getting back together with Neil. Sammy’s father Road Dog, belongs to a biker gang, and he has forbidden his son to ever speak to Neil again after all the problems he caused the family .
Against his better judgement, Sammy decides to give Neil another chance and take things slowly . Neil is ecstatic that he gets to be with his sweet Sammy again. They agree to keep their relationship a secret for the time being. Things are going great with them and within no time they have totally reconnected. Neil is the only man that has been able to bring out Sammy’s kinky side, he is a bit of an exhibitionist. Neil caters to Sammy’s exhibitionism by filming their passionate lovemaking and uploading it to a porn site with Sammy’s approval. Sammy is beyond excited to see the thousands of views that their video has gotten. This sparks a flame within Sammy which can no longer be tamed.
In the meantime, another relationship is being formed between Sammy’s spoiled brat student Andrew and his live in bodyguard Tom. Andrew comes from a family of wealth and he is rude and disrespectful to everyone. He is over priveledged and his father has paid his way through life. He is failing his classes and Sammy realises that the true problem lays in the fact that he can’t read. Andrew goes through life ,covering his failings by being rude and not letting anyone get close to him. He pushes everyone to their breaking point, so that they will eventually leave him. This did not work with Tom, who he thoroughly pissed off with his attitude. Tom is a former marine and a Dom and he is absolutely fed up with Andrew’s disrespect. He is outraged and resorts to his natural inclination to discipline. It isn’t until he starts spanking Andrew and hears him screaming and sees the tears roll down his face , that he realize he does not have the right to discipline him. He starts to apologize, but he sees something in Andrew’s eyes and demeanor that appeals to him. Andrew thrives on punishment and their is a sparkle in his eyes that was never there before. Tom decides to hone Andrew’s submissive nature and turn him into the perfect slave . Tom wants to be his master so bad and soon sees the reality coming through.

It was truly an awakening for both of them to see the rich snobbish attitude taken over by the true mindset of what it means to be a perfect slave to his master. Andrew knows that his true purpose in life is to service Tom in all aspects of his life. Tom initiates Andrew to the life of a slave surrounded by like minded friends. Andrew endures a lot of pain with all the devices used by master Tom and his mentor, but he relishes it and receives pleasure as well. Andrew’s lessons in submission is definitely not for the feint of heart. Tom is a hardcore Dom and there is a lot of pain play , hot wax play amongst other things that I couldn’t fathom. However , the one thing that resonates with me is the open love that these two men experienced once both of their dreams are fulfilled.
Sammy’s feelings for Neil are becoming overpowering and he feels he can no longer hide his relationship from his family. To say his father was upset is a true understatement. Road Dog walks away without speaking to his son. His confession also opens a can of worms when it is revealed that Malcolm kept his secrets. Malcolm’s husband Kirk who is a member of the same biker gang as Road Dog believes that keeping secrets from his biker brothers is a true breach of trust. This causes a rift in their marriage and Malcolm walks out on Kirk. I was really sad to see this as they are my favorite characters.
They have been through a lot and they are really a solid couple.
They all have to pull together when trouble comes in the form of Andrew’s rich daddy. He is the head of a pharmaceutical company that developed a drug that can ‘cure the gay away’. Finding out that his son is gay would definitely cast a shadow on his wonder drug causing him to lose money, so he decides to have his son killed. This is where Malcolm comes up with the brilliant idea that the members of the biker gang could protect Andrew for a fee. It was very interesting to see the different kinds of friendships that were formed amongst these three couples. They all faced the dangerous ordeals with the support of their friends. They endured and came out victorious as three devoted couples. Tom was able to find his perfect slave in Andrew. Neil was able to cater to Sammy’s kinky side and this allowed Sammy to appreciate the man he knows and loves. Kirk was able to reaffirm the strength of the bond that he has with Malcolm.I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear.

Rent Me 2: Own Me by Brina Brady

Title : Own Me                Word Count : 344 pgs
Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : Russian mobster Dmitri Dubrovsky married ex-rent boy Bren. Jealousy is still a big issue for both of them. They fear that the other will find someone better and leave. Dmitri’s ex-boyfriend Viktor is still in love with him and hates Bren. Viktor sets out to cause problems and make Dmitri and Bren question their love and commitment to each other. Bren tries to be the best sub, but feels Dmitri doesn’t take him seriously. Some BDSM elements.

Dmitri gets even more possessive when Bren works with his favorite ex-client from Forbidden Desires Escort Agency. To complicate matters, Russian mobsters threaten the Dubrovsky family.
New Cover on this book.

My Review : It would seem that Brennen and Dmitri still have a lot of kinks to iron out , even though they are newly married. Their kink level is extremely high and Brennen spends most of his time enduring some form of corporal punishment or another. Dmitri is even more controlling and possessive than ever. When he finds out that Bren will be associating with his former favorite client from his rentboy days, Dmitri is uncontrollably jealous. He places Bren in a cock cage and a locked anal plug.
Bren becomes infuriated when he thinks that Dmitri might me cheating on him with his ex boyfriend Viktor. They have a long standing rivalry over the sexy Dmitri. Brennen goes after Viktor with guns blazing, literally. Bren goes all crazy on Viktor, and it takes the two brothers Mischa and Dmitri to calm Bren down. Mischa is as confused as ever about Dmitri and Bren’s relationship, he doesn’t understand the BDSM element to their love and he doesn’t condone it especially when Bren is being punished.
Bren’s past comes raring it’s ugly head in the form of his former abuser who happens to be Dmitri’s older brother Adrik. All their lives seem to be entangled and Dmitri is forced to have a relationship with Adrik as danger threatens to strike close to home. Bren is also forced to reconnect with Adrik in order to help out a newfound friend.
The master / slave dynamic becomes more pronounced in Dmitri and Bren’s relationship . It produced some very intense, very hot sexual situations. Also, it brought them closer in a way that nothing else did. It is clear that Bren not only needs discipline, he thrives on it and it solidifies their union causing bonds that are unbreakable. However, Bren’s quicksilver temper and Dmitri’s overbearing possessiveness soon leads them into another fight.

There is absolutely no doubt about it that Dmitri and Bren are oh so hot together, but it gets a bit exhausting watching them fight and make up so many times. Their makeup is almost instantaneous when Bren gets in trouble and has to ask Dmitri to bail him out. Dmitri does that without even blinking an eye , because at the end of the day he loves Bren like no other. Things really start heating up and after a kidnapping attempt on Bren, Dmitri makes the decision to move all of his family members to Germany for awhile. Bren and Dmitri have a lot of issues, but they stand strong in the face of adversity and their love seems truly invincible. I give this my ratings of 3 – it was ok, give it a try.

Favorite Quotes : 1. “That’s it, boy,” Dmitri said. “Stick that cute little ass in the air. I’m going to smack my big balls against those tight round cheeks. I could fuck you till you pass out and I’d still be shoving my big dick into your wet hole.” ( Nothing like a bit of dirty talk to get Bren’s engine revving.)

2.“Good boy. Now come on, open up more for me. I want to get in deeper. Swallow my cock with your wet boy lips. I’m going to come deeper inside your ass.” Dmitri wrapped his arm around Brennen, stroking his cock faster. Dmitri twisted Brennen’s nip rings with his other hand, bringing moans of pleasure from him. He shifted hands, holding his hairless balls while pulling his foreskin back as far as possible. The pain and pleasure caused Brennen to moan in delight. He spread his legs wider, allowing Dmitri fuller access. “Ahh—I’m coming,” Dmitri shouted. Dmitri flooded him with his cum, igniting Brennen to spill his load in five quick spurts. Brennen made animal grunting sounds as his cum landed in Dmitri’s hand. He milked Dmitri until he pulled out. Both rolled into each other’s arms. ( These two were meant for each other, they are soooo hot together.)

Rent Me 1: Rent Me by Brina Brady

Title : Rent Me           Word Count : 436 pgs
Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : Russian mobster spanks his rent boy. Ouch!

Rent Boy Brennen wants to belong to his lover Dmitri Dubrovsky. The Russian mobster controls every inch of his life in and out of bed. Brennen works for Dmitri’s escort service. His only desire is to please his lover. When Dmitri marries Nika, his lover moves him out of their home to an apartment in Beverly Hills and tells him nothing has changed.

What is Brennen going to do now?

Brennen does not understand his lover’s Russian culture not allowing homosexuality. Two different cultures and age difference clash.
My Review : Brennen and Dmitri engage in a very combative relationship. Brennen is an escort at the agency owned by the Russian mobster Dmitri. This is just the tip of the iceberg of their connection. Dmitri has saved Brennen from a horrible past, he has been taking care of him since he was twelve and their relationship moved into the sexual realm once Bren became of age. Even though it is obvious that Dmitri loves and cares for Bren deeply, there are certain strictures in the way he lives his life. Within his very strict Russian upbringing, he is expected to marry a Russian beauty and have children. That is exactly what Dmitri has done to please his father; he has recently married the beautiful Nika. This has put a strain on his relationship with Brennen and the hurt and pain has caused Bren to lash out by creating havoc. Mischa, Dmitri’s brother and Bren’s protector try to keep him in line as best as possible.
Another bone of contention between these two volatile lovers is Brennen’s job, Dmitri hates the fact that his lover is an rentboy. Dmitri sets Bren up financially so that he doesn’t need to work but Bren keeps his job out of defiance. He uses it to hurt Dmitri as much as he is hurt by Dmitri taking a wife. It is no secret that Bren is jealous of Nika and wants her out of his lover’s life. It is also no secret that Dmitri wants all of Bren’s clients gone . He finally gets his wish after Bren starts to see the ugly side of being a rentboy. He is humiliated and abused when he caters to a party of rowdy Russians who don’t take no for an answer. Mischa is furious when he picks up Bren and sees the dismal state he is in. He calls in reinforcements in the form of Dmitri. Dmitri is devastated and sick to see his beautiful Bren in pain. He forbids him to work as an escort again.
Their problems intensify even more when Brennen decides to try dating a girl in his class. Mischa encourages him as he is tired of seeing the hurt his brother is causing this sweet young man. Dmitri goes ballistic when he interrupts Brennen’s compromising position with the young lady. Underlying Dmitri’s rage is a sense of acute hurt and betrayal. A lot is said between the two lovers out of anger and hurt. Brennen decides to cut all ties with the two brothers and ends up staying in a motel room to lick his wounds.
For the first time , he is independent of the two Russians or so he believes. Brennen decides to pick up guys for money when he starts running low on cash. However, his luck runs out when he is picked up for solicitation by the police.
When the two brothers post his bail ,he realizes that they have been keeping tabs on him all along and that he was never really alone. They form a truce since Bren has to live with Dmitri and his wife while on house arrest. It is uncomfortable for both of them , but Dmitri is so happy to have his Malysh, his little one back in his life. Dmitri has begun to reassess his life choices and he knows that he made a terrible mistake by getting married, especially when he had all he ever needed in Bren. Bren has also matured and he acknowledges that he didn’t make Dmitri’s life any easier by becoming an escort and acting up.
Things come to a head between Brennen and Nika and they end up in a shoving match. Dmitri is displeased by both of their actions , but it solidified everything in his mind about the changes he knew he had to make for their future. It doesn’t take him long and before he knows it Dmitri is a free man and ready to make the ultimate commitment to his boy. He proposes to Brennen who gladly accepts. I enjoyed this book, but there were times when it had a disjointed feel to it. The right premise was there for a background story , but I feel like it didn’t flow very well. I will definitely give the second book in the series a chance and see if I feel any better. I give this my ratings of 3 – it was ok, give it a try.

Michael’s Awakening by Jaclyn Osborn

Title: Michael’s Awakening                    Word Count: 190 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:One moment…that’s all it takes for life as you once knew it to change irrevocably. For Michael Kingston, that moment was when he first laid eyes on Gabriel. In his life, Michael had only known darkness, leaving behind a broken shell of a man. Unspeakable memories of his childhood constantly plagued him, causing him to disconnect emotionally from the world. No one had ever shown him love; therefore, he believed that he was unworthy of it. And then everything changed.

Gabriel Greyson had always been different. Growing up in a small, Bible-thumping town, his preferences for men, makeup, and fashion made him an outcast. But, with the support and love of his family, he overcame obstacles that were thrown his way and rose above the intolerance. He danced to the beat of his own glammed-out drum and refused to believe that he was anything other than ultra-fabulous. Working as a beautician, he had a job he adored and felt that everything was perfect in his life. Everything except for true love.

When these two unlikely men meet, sparks fly. For the first time in Michael’s life, he feels like he can overcome the darkness inside him. Gabriel gives him hope and slowly brings him out of the shadows, showing him that even the darkest of souls can be redeemed. But there are secrets that Michael keeps locked away. Michael’s fear is that Gabriel will turn away from him when he discovers the truth. After all, who could ever love a beast?

My Review:  The juxtaposition of darkness versus light comes through clearly in our main characters. Gabriel is a flamboyant, vivacious, vibrant androgynous young man that exudes a light that can’t be suppressed or contained. He is someone who you can’t help but to love, because according to him he is so damn ‘fabulous’. It’s obvious that he is used to being sneered at and judged by the way he wears his sexuality proudly. He is unashamedly gay and he puts on a brave face daily to deal with the bigots of Texas. Gabriel loves all things fashion and takes pride in his appearance. He is very talented and has a passion for playing the Cello, something that he got from his deceased mother who loved him unconditionally. It is at one of his concerts where we are introduced to his counterpart Micheal. Michael’s very soul is wreathed in darkness. He has never known love and was abused constantly as a child by his own mother. He has scars , both physical and emotional. He is instantly attracted and drawn to Gabriel’s light, but he is afraid to overwhelm that purity with the darkness within him. They have a moment after Gabriel’s performance, where they have an intense staring match. Michael brushes off his attraction and decide to leave the angelic Gabriel alone.

Micheal is definitely surprised at his reaction to Gabriel when they meet again for the second time at a nightclub. He doesn’t understand the possessiveness he feels when another man tries to pick up Gabriel. He dominantly steps in and Gabriel is shocked and intrigued to see the handsome intense stranger who he saw briefly at his concert. Gabriel is certainly attracted to Michael and there is something vulnerable about this strong man that calls to him.

Thet both get along famously and it doesn’t take Michael long to stop fighting his developing feelings for his ‘princess’ Gabriel. Gabriel is amazed that this macho self- assured attorney accepts him in all his flamboyant girliness. Michael sees something special in  Gabriel that makes him want to step into the light. They quickly become close when Michael reveals the horrendous abusive childhood that he had to endure at his mother’s hands. Gabriel was halfway in love with Michael from their very first date and Michael’s openness pushes him  headlong into full blown love.

Michael pampers and spoils Gabriel at every opportunity and Gabriel is so happy that he is accepted so wholheartedly. They are compatible in every which way. Michael is definitely the knight in shining armour to Gabriel’s ‘princess’. It soon becomes clear to Gabriel’s family and friends that he has found the perfect protector and love of his life . They welcome Michael with open arms. Gabriel is truly a character and I can’t  express how much I  adored him in all his prissy fabulous glory.  However, not everyone is so accepting of Gabriel. A homophobic zealot decides to target Gabriel and succeded in hurting him. Michael got there in time to save his ‘princess’. And yes, they lived happily ever after with Michael proposing with a beautiful girly princess cut diamond for Gabriel. This was an exhilarating fun read with just the right amount of angst. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more from this author. I give this my rating of 5- bring out the vibrators .