Ruined by Evelyn Drake

Title: Ruined            Word Count: 241 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Hungry for a glimpse at the man who destroyed his marriage, Gus Fletcher follows Travis to watch him party and flirt without a care for what he’s done. The man who slept with Gus’s wife is gorgeous and willowy, a model, the utter opposite of Gus’s muscled body and plumbing career. But the man needs help, and something about him tugs at Gus’s heart and mind. What the hell is going on?

The hits keep coming for fashion model Travis Adius, who has to let the right people use him if he’s to stay in the industry… and then some. He only walked away from one man: his abusive ex, who won’t let go that easily. Life has him on his knees until he sees Gus. He wants Gus before he finds out he slept with Gus’s wife… and, somehow, he doesn’t stop wanting him. Gus has hands and nerves of steel, and a deep desire for revenge. Isn’t it wrong to be this turned on by him?

Gus can’t stop thinking about Travis. He should hate him, so why does he want to save him? Travis needs the comfort and safety of a man whose loyalty will stretch to the end of the earth. Is this all just a favor to be repaid? Once they meet, there’s no turning back.

Are Gus and Travis ruined for anyone else?

My Review: Gus would love nothing more than to inflict the same amount of pain on the man who ruined his life. Travis Adius is the man who seduced Gus’ wife into an affair, the man who ruined 15 yrs of marriage. Gus’ wife Scarlett is a career driven fashion designer and Travis is the most beautiful male model that Gus has ever seen. Gus wants so bad to hate Travis , but he understands the pull that Scarlett must have felt towards the youthful Travis. Gus is mesmerized by Travis’ androgynous look and his beauty. Gus has  hunted down Travis  in the hopes of seeking some form of revenge, but that all goes awry when he sees him.

It is while at a party that Travis notices the sexy body builder hulk look -alike staring at him. Travis decides to flirt a little with Gus from afar by seducing another man, hopefully appealing to his voyeuristic nature. Travis’ little experiment starts out really hot, especially when he sees mister sexy is indeed watching. This soon fizzles and he starts feeling embarrassed and horribly used when his hook -up starts calling him derogatory names. Travis has many issues but this is where his vulnerability peeks through. Travis feels like a throw away on most days, but especially after hooking up with someone and have them tell him they have to go home to their girlfriend.

Travis is so embarrassed and is feeling at an all time low , when he gets a picture text from Scarlett telling him that her husband knows about their affair. Travis feels like he has been hit by a ton of bricks,when he sees the face of Mr. Sexy. When he thinks of the hulk and reconciles that image to Gus, Travis starts running like a bat out of hell. He ends up running right into his abusive ex boyfriend Brandon. Travis is paralyzed with fear when he remembered how many times Brandon put him in the hospital. When Brandon advances, Travis tries to stand up for himself , but he only ends up cowering in a corner. It’s Gus who saves the day.

When Gus sees Travis about to be hurt, he steps in and pushes the big bully away. There is just something about Travis that brings out all of Gus’ protective instincts. Gus and Brandon are definitely evenly matched. If anything Gus is bigger than Brandon and he treats him like a rag doll every time he tries to attack Travis. When Brandon flees, Gus takes Travis to a diner to warm up and questions him. Travis is wary of the big guy but he doesn’t have much of a choice.

Little by little, Gus lets go of the hurt and pain he feels. He acknowledges the fact that the marriage between him and Scarlett was broken before this kid came along.Gus decides to fix this fragile somewhat beautiful creature as much as he can. He takes Travis home and changes his locks and decides to stay with him to protect him from Brandon if he comes back.Gus is man enough to admit to himself that he feels a smidge of attraction to Travis even though he doesn’t swing that way.

 Before things can heat up between them , Travis has to go away on an assignment. Travis comes home from his modelling gig, only to run into the unexpected. This is when Brandon escalates things even further, by breaking into Travis’ apartment and writing disparaging words on the wall and destroying the living room. Brandon hurts Travis really bad and he knows he is about to die. Once again,  it’s Gus us who finds him and tries to protect his sweet man. Gus knows that he cannot hide his feelings any longer. The two get closer while Travis recovers and Gus practically moves in to protect him. Things get heated between the two and the sexual chemistry is definitely combustible.

Travis is scared and hesitant to be with a real man like Gus , because Gus makes him yearn for things he always dreamed of. Although Gus has never been with a man, he goes with his feelings and treasures Travis in the most special way. Travis finally starts feeling his worth through Gus’ adoration. Scarlett puts a crimp in their plans when she announces that she is pregnant and she is not sure which one is the father. Travis sees his future coming to a halt with Gus and he knows that he is about to be the throwaway guy yet again. However, Gus proves him wrong and comes up with a solution that shows him how invested he is in their relationship.

Gus suggests that they could co-parent their child with some involvement from Scarlett. Travis and Gus are ecstatic that they can share this beautiful experience and it is great to see the amicable relationship between these three adults. I think Gus has the most forgiving heart that there is and he was rewarded with the greatest love. Travis the man who always saw himself as expendable has finally become someone’s everything. I really enjoyed this beautiful love story and I give this my ratings of 5-bring out the vibrators. This was a definite unique spin on a  gay for you romance and I look forward to reading more from this new author.

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A Bit of You (Love in Xxchange 7) by Bailey Bradford

Title: A Bit if You             Word Count:200 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Billy’s been the bouncy, perky, somewhat slutty drink server at The Xxchange since it opened, and frankly, he’s tired of those labels, but it will take the love of FBI agent Liam Stone to give Billy the strength he needs to become the man he’s always wanted to be.

Billy’s used to everyone looking at him and seeing a perpetually perky, goofy twink.

Inside he knows he isn’t those things, or not only those things, at least. He isn’t sure how to get anyone to see past that. He isn’t sure if he can stop acting the part, either. It’s always been easier to let people see what they expect to see. But lately he’s been thinking, and he’s not at all sure the easy way is the right way.

Liam Stone came to The Xxchange to blow off a little steam.

An FBI agent working on the kidnapping case of one James Stratton, Liam figures he’ll head back to Dallas as soon as he can shake the dust off his heels. Then he sees Billy and Karma slaps Liam on the ass. How many times has he scoffed at the idea of love at first sight, thought people who said it happened to them were full of cow patties?

A lot, and now he’s been hit between the eyes with something he can’t quite explain, except it all has to do with Billy. Now if he can protect the man from a sadistic jerk and help Billy come to terms with his past, maybe they can have the happy ending they’ve both always wanted.

My Review:  From the first moment Agent Liam Stone laid eyes on Billy in club Xxchange, it was insta-lust. Billy has that androgynous, effeminate look that turns Liam’s crank. This is not always ideal, since this brawny FBI agent doesn’t advertise to the world that he is gay. Billy’s exuberance and sweet smile draws him in like a moth to a flame. Liam’s horniness is tempered by the scared, nervous vibes Billy is exuding. Before he knows it Billy disappears out back and when he hears the owner Xavier Talbot looking for Billy he gets concerned.

Liam follows Xavier and the bartender Troy outside and is shocked to see Billy laying on the ground hurt after being assaulted by Randy, Xavier’s brother.  Xavier is pounding the hell out of Randy since he sees Billy more like an adopted little brother than an employee. The guys are surprised at Liam’ s presence, but they let it go when Liam explains that there is just something special about Billy.

Liam stays by Billy’s hospital bed  for awhile just watching the sexy little blond. Liam is surprised at the depth of his feelings since he’s never even spoken to Billy. Xavier allows Liam to stay with Billy because he sees a longing in his eyes that can only mean he cares for Billy. When Billy awakes to find the sexy hunk of a man is not a figment of his imagination,  he is definitely excited and it’s  a bit hard to hide.

Liam is so tempted by Billy, but he would really like to show him how special and precious he is before having sex. Liam lets Billy know that he wants more than one night together. All of Liam’s good intentions fall to the wayside, when he gets Billy back to his hotel room and he begs to be touched. Billy loves the chivalrous side of Liam , but he desperately wants the horny beast he sees lurking behind his eyes.The pull between them is so strong and they enter into a whirlwind romance. Their first night together is filled with so much passion and intensity.

Shortly after, Liam has to go back  on the case of a missing man named James Stratton who happens to be Xavier’s boyfriend Chase’s best friend.Liam and his boss Agent Glenn Shearing go on a wild goose chase and after a few bum leads , they find James severely malnourished and beaten, but alive. Liam misses Billy fiercely, but he is hoping that the time apart will show Billy that they have a future together. They spend the time texting whenever they can and Billy realizes how much he misses his man. 

When the couple is reunited, Liam gets to see a more confident Billy. There is a role reversal where Billy aims to please Liam. Billy takes on a more dominant aggressive role and Liam is pleasantly surprised at how good it feels to bottom for his sexy little blond. Liam is definitely feeling sexually liberated. Their relationship continues to grow in leaps and bounds. Liam knows its too soon ,but he asks Billy to move in with him after professing his love for him. The only reason Billy is hesitant is because he has a few secrets that he thinks will make him unworthy of Liam’s love.

Billy is nervous to reveal secrets that he has never told another soul. With his newfound confidence comes bravery. He tells Liam how he was abused by his aunt’s lovers at an early age and when he couldn’t take it anymore he ran away and started hooking on the streets at 15 and that’s how Xavier found him. Liam makes a vow to  find those responsible for hurting his sweet Billy. With his resources at the FBI , it doesn’t take him long. Its small consolation when Liam confronts one of the men to find him withering away in a nursing home. Liam knows that justice will be served in the end.

Billy decides to take the plunge with the love of his life and move in together. He’s also decided to further his education at college with the support of his sexy lover Liam. Liam has a few insecurities that Billy will find someone younger, but he knows he needs to trust in their love. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

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 .