Louder Than Words( More Than Words 3) by T. T. Kove

Title: Louder Than Words              Word Count:210 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Life might be good now, but that’s all about to come to an end soon, and what then?

I’ve had a turbulent few months; surviving a gay bashing, dealing with my abusive parents, and getting used to my new life with my equally as new boyfriend. I could do without his best friend who doesn’t like me—or maybe he does? 

Life’s about to become even more turbulent though. The last term of our education is well underway, and it’s time to figure out what I’m supposed to do next. Only I don’t know what I want to do with my life. Andreas knows, and he’s got it all figured out, but I don’t. 

Can our new relationship survive what lies ahead? More importantly, can I survive it?

My Review: The story of Andreas and Alex continues. Alex has had a rough time in life starting with his neglectful abusive parents. He self-harms as a way of coping and was ready to end it all when he meets Andreas. Andreas means the world to him , he has given him a reason to live. This is almost taken away from him when he is gay-bashed by Andreas’ best friend’s brother Marcus. For awhile there Alex lived in fear,  but therapy has helped both him and Andreas to recover from this trauma.

Andreas and Alex are looking forward to finishing up school and embarking on college. They have a few trips planned before Andreas has to go to the army for a year. Alex is worried about what life will be like while Andreas is gone. He feels like he only just started living. Andreas tries to reassure him that they will be fine. It is fun to watch how these two have grown as a couple and especially Alex as an individual.

Alex has stopped cutting and even though he  hates his scars , he is being more open about his issues. There were lots of sexy times with Alex and Andreas when they start exploring their sexuality during their vacation. They visited a sex shop and bought some great toys and handcuffs. Alex explores his submissive side and Andreas was only too happy to indulge him. 

Alex definitely feels less socially awkward, he now feels a part of Andreas’ friends. He sees himself in a new light and this bolsters his self confidence. Andreas’ best friend Glenn opens up to Alex about his conflicted feelings towards him and Andreas. It seems that Glenn is a bit in love with both of them. This boggles Alex’s mind, but it certainly makes him happy to know that Glenn doesn’t hate him.

Their summer is filled with lots of sex and some truly passionate moments. Andreas gives Alex a night to remember before he goes off to the army. However, Alex is still sad when he wakes up to find Andreas already gone. He sobs uncontrollably and it’s Ben, Andreas’ cousin who picks up the pieces. In that moment, Alex realizes that he has friends to help him through their year apart. 

Alex only lasts three days before going back to his coping mechanism. He cuts thin lines into his wrists and it seems to hurt more since he is out of practice. He feels thoroughly ashamed and he cries at the hopelessness he feels. He befriends another of Andreas’ cousin Jorgen and this helps a little. Jorgen misses his boyfriend Geir who had to go away as well. They commiserate together and Alex knows he will be fine. He knows for sure that he has found another friend. 

Alex soon goes away to school where he shares an apartment with his brother Leo. He is overwhelmed his first day,but Andreas calls and reminds him how strong he is and this helps him a lot. Alex acknowledges that he is dependent on Andreas , but Andreas is his lifeline the one that showed him the true meaning of love. He gets stronger day by day. It is the passion they share together that helps Alex in the end. Andreas encourages Alex to use the toy he got him before leaving while thinking about him. Alex is a bit uncomfortable and embarrassed at first , but he relishes trying new things.

It is two months before Andreas comes home for a few days. It is clear to see the growth in Alex as he has made a new friend from school. He is happy to see Andreas and they make the most of the few days reconnecting and reinforcing their love. It is definitely not easy for Alex, but he lives day by day with a stronger support system than ever. He is counting down the days to embark on their forever love and life together. I really enjoyed this and I give it my ratings of 5- bring out the vibrators.

Finn: A Bully Novella 2 by Morgan Campbell

Title: Finn: A Bully Novella             Word Count: 157pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:It all started with a doll…

All I wanted was to be a kid,

to have fun with my friends and make mistakes.

But little did I know that my father had other plans.

A daily life lesson constantly spat in my face.
Every day, for years, I’ve been told that I’m wrong.

That I’m a mistake.

That I’m a sinner.

That no matter what, I’m an abomination.

A reminder that’s been drilled into my head;

beaten into my body and soul;

like a punch to the gut;

shoved in my face,

that what I am is a betrayal to my family.

Simply for being me. Simply for being gay.
Now, all I want is to be free from this nightmare that I’m trapped in.

To find the one that got away.

The one with the hazel eyes…

All I want is to find him

so he can save me from myself.

**This is not a standalone and is book two of the Bully Series. This book may contain certain triggers**
My Review: Here we have the other side of the story. We get to see the same journey of the characters through Finn’s eyes. For me, I wouldn’t say it was total redemption for Finn. The truth of the matter is that Finn is definitely a flawed character and you just have to accept him despite his shortcomings and foibles. Finn’s journey starts when he is a five year old boy, hero 

 worshipping his father. He is soon disillusioned with his perfect family life,when his father beats the hell out of him for asking for a doll for his birthday. 

The horrors of his childhood continued everyday until he was 15. Finn and his mother was beaten on numerous occasions especially when his father believed that he wasn’t being manly enough and showing gay tendencies. Finn obliterated his true self to the point where he was so deep in the closet and constantly lived in fear of being exposed. He hurt and bullied his high school crush Grayson so deeply that he pushed him to self harm. When Grayson disappeared from school, Finn feels guilty but pushes him to the back of his mind and continued on with his selfish teenage life.

Finn’s armour cracks a little bit when he gets to college and meets his confident gay roommate. He finds a bit of acceptance with Gunnar who reveals to him the joys of exploration through sex toys. Finn feels very liberated when he tries an anal plug and dildo Gunnar gifted him for the first time. Finn becomes more self aware and gains a new understanding of his sexuality. He relishes the idea of being a ‘bottom’ and wants to embrace it fully. These explorations go no further when Gunnar graduates and leaves him alone. Finn falls back into the destructive cycle of lying and pretending. He hooks up with Allison who soon turns into his wife, because of an unplanned pregnancy. He tries to suppress that part of himself still undeveloped and unexplored, but this facade can’t be sustained for very long under the pressures of real life.

Finn becomes very unhappy in his marriage and starts cheating on his wife with a man. For the first time in his life , he feels free to be who he was meant to be.After his first time with Gary, he makes a vow to stay away but he is reeled in by the forbidden feelings he was taught was wrong. He gets carried away by the newfound feelings he has for his beau. Finn is soon caught red handed with his pants down. There are some tears, but Allison has reconciled that her marriage is over. However, she cautions Finn to be totally honest the next time around and stop hiding. So far , Finn is definitely not painted in a great light. His resume consists of bullying, cheating and an all around self centered bastard.

The next chapter of his life begins with him finally  standing up and accepting who he is , a gay man. He is reunited with Grayson, his high school crush. It is a rough rocky road and they both have to find the strength to forgive each other for all the bad blood between  them. Finn especially will have to find the strength to forgive himself for all the pain he’s inflicted on his loved ones. He knows that even though Gray has forgiven him and proposed, he needs to get Gray’s families’ blessings.Finn bares his soul to them and at the end they have no doubt of his love and devotion for Grayson. There is definitely a fairytale ending with them getting married and two years down  the road still blissfully happy and welcoming their  baby girl. I give this my ratings of 3 – it was ok, it was nice to gain a different perspective of their journey together.

Diary of a Teenage Taxidermist by K.A. Merikan

Title : Diary of a Teenage Taxidermist      Word Count :90000

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : — Too cool for school. —

Ethan is a levelheaded, some might say ‘antisocial’, young artist-entrepreneur with a love for quirky taxidermy. He is close to graduating high school and at a crossroads. All he wants is to develop his business further, yet all his parents want is for him to go to law school. That is more than enough problems for Ethan, so any kind of love life is off his agenda. That is until Robert Hunter, the quarterback of the football team, comes crashing into him. Literally.

Robert drifts along in high school. He has good grades, he’s getting ready for med school, he’s even leaving potentially problematic dating until college. He’s gay, not ashamed of it, but he doesn’t want to stir up any trouble. His carefully laid plans might just go completely off the rails though, when he drinks too much at a party and causes irreversible damage to Ethan, the school’s weirdo.

Robert has to face the fact that maybe he isn’t the good guy he always considered himself to be. And maybe he doesn’t want to go to med school. And maybe, just maybe, he doesn’t actually want to wait with dating until college.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS:

Themes: First love, virginity, bullying, fitting in, entrepreneurship, disability, high school, jock/goth, taxidermy, artist, blackmail

Erotic content: explicit sex scenes, dub-con

Genre: New Adult homoerotic romance

Length: ~ 90,000 words (Standalone novel, no cliffhanger.)

My Review : There is proverb that says “What is a joke to you means death for another man” and this is so true. Robert learnt the meaning of this the hard way. He decides to have a little ‘harmless fun’ while drunk at a party, by chasing Ethan the anti social goth who is an outsider at school. This ‘harmless fun’ has a detrimental consequence when Rob shoves poor little Ethan and he happens to fall on a tree branch. The tree branch lodges in Ethan’s eye. By the time Rob gets Ethan to the hospital, there was not much to be done to save his eye. Rob feels horrible for his part in this mishap and stays by Ethan’s bedside until he wakes up. He feels really guilty and decides to be a better person from here on out. He tries to befriend Ethan and tells him he will do anything to right the wrong he has done, begging Ethan not to expose his misdeed.

Ethan has always had a bit of a crush on the star quarterback of the school Robert Hunter. He sees this as an opportunity  to have his cake and eat it. Ethan comes up with an arrangement for Robert to give him blowjobs for an extended period. He is a virgin and he can’t think of anything better than having the star quarterback on his knees. Their first time together is all that Ethan ever wanted and then some. He’s all blissed out after having the best sexual experience of his teenage life. Rob on the other hand, is a little bit disgusted, not because he gave Ethan a blowjob, but because he is gay as well and this is not how he imagined his first time would be. 

Things are still the same at school for Ethan, he is still shunned and and he is still seen as an  outcast. Not only is he ostracized for being a taxidermist, now everybody looks at him as even weirder for having lost his eye in such a freak accident.  Ethan earns no sympathy for his disability and no condolences for the state of his new reality with him being half blind. Ethan’s disability causes his center of gravity to be slightly off and he sometimes have lapses in his memory for short periods of time. Robert’s heart goes out to Ethan when he sees him stumbling around school, knowing that it’s because of him that Ethan is at a disadvantage. Rob starts talking with Ethan more and including him at his lunch table, he tries to be all around more friendly to him.

Their illicit arrangement continues and their second time together is much better.Ethan realizes that he would much rather do all the work than to blackmail Rob into doing something he finds disgusting. After all, its easier to receive a blowjob than to give one, especially when the giver is straight or is he😏? Rob warms up to Ethan and he even likes his quirkiness. He starts taking an interest in Ethan’s taxidermy.  Ethan is really good at creating jewellery and unique center pieces out of animal carcasses mainly rodents. Ethan has the eye of an artist and even though it is unorthodox for a teenager,  he has a good online business stuffing squirrels. Rob is the only one that believes in  his dream and doesn’t find his stuff wierd. His parents absolutely hate his taxidermy business and there is always the threat hanging over his head of his parents forcing him to go to law school, something he has no passion for. 

Although Rob and Ethan get a whole lot closer, Rob still will not identify as gay and his friends still doesn’t understand why he hangs around the anti social taxidermist. Rob is still playing straight, so when prom  night comes around, he takes one of the popular girls,  while Ethan goes with a male cheerleader who is very interested. Rob and Ethan are both jealous of their respective dates and they try to stay away from each other. When some of the jocks who really hate Ethan play a mean prank  causing Ethan to be showered from head to toe with glitter, Ethan is mortified and runs off.

Rob seeing the utter humiliation on Ethan’s face chases after him to see if he is okay.  This brings  out a new demension in their relationship.They both can’t deny the feelings that they have for each other anymore. Rob takes Ethan home and finally make sweet, passionate love to him all night long. Rob really opens up and decide to show Ethan  a part of himself that nobody else sees.  Ethan gets a five star breakfast in bed and soon discovers that Rob the jock is a secret foodie. He realizes how passionate Rob is about food and he is amazed at how professional his blog looks.Ethan  falls in love a little more with Rob’s sweet side. Rob finally comes out to Ethan who he now considers to be his boyfriend and he opens up about his feelings. 

Ethan’s world is turned upside down when he has a disagreement with his parents over his taxidermy business. Ethan calls Rob crying and upset and Rob feels so helpless. Rob who is overwhelmed with feelings of love for his boyfriend  decides that Ethan can live with him since his parents are not supportive of his dream. They both enjoy this adult , responsible side to their relationship.  This connection fosters unconditional love between the two despite everday disagreements every now then. They both disregard their prearranged educational future,  while deciding to pursue their love for each other and their respective passion in taxidermy and cooking. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear. 

Nail Polish and Feathers by Jo Ramsey

Title : Nail Polish and Feathers     Word Count :74,223      Genre : Young Adult/ Gay

Blurb : Sixteen-year-old Evan Granger has no problems with being gay. Despite his mother’s objections, he wears nail polish and makeup to school and pursues his goal of becoming a professional drag queen.

TV drag star Taffy Sweet gives encouragement and Evan’s cousin Holly tries to protect him, but school bullies abuse him so badly because of his sexuality and the girly way he dresses that he ends up at the hospital emergency room. After that, even his new crush, a closeted football jock named Moe Garcia, is unhappy about Evan’s choice to live his life openly gay. But even in girly clothes and nail polish, Evan is a force to be reckoned with, and he soon shows the bullies—and everyone else—that beating a drag queen up does not mean the queen is beaten down.

My Review : I must say I really ran the gamut of emotions reading this book. Evan is a sixteen year old that is gay and likes to wear some feminine apparel and nail polish. Needless to say he gets picked on constantly by some of the members of the football team. They take it a step further after one of their own gets detention for shoving Evan at school. They actually corner Evan on a crowded street and beat him to a bloody pulp.

It was really disconcerting and it made me really furious to see how most of the adults in this book dealt with the bullying Evan was faced with. From his mother right to the faculty of the school, it was a recurring theme where they told Evan that if he didn’t dress so girly he wouldn’t be picked on all the time. To me, this is the same as when a woman gets raped and the focus is on her clothes and how she was behaving prior to the incident. No one deserves to be abused,no matter how they look or what they wear.  Whenever there is bullying or a crime, we tend to blame the victim and I think this is one of the problems we need to fix  in our society. Let’s lay the blame at the feet of the perpetrators and stop blaming the victims.

 Everyone should be free to love who they want to love. I find that anti-bullying policies are not always enforced in schools properly by the  administration and it always takes someone getting seriously hurt before something is done. It’s a serious problem that our kids are faced with in our schools which should be safe zones but are not. STOP the BULLYING,  STOP the HATE.

 There was also some romance between Evan and the running back of the football team Moe Garcia. Moe was very different from all the other players, he actually stood up for Evan against the whole school.  Moe was ok with them having a relationship behind closed doors, he just wasn’t ready to come out of the closet.  Moe really respected Evan and admired him for being brave and withstanding all the shit that came his way. I really admired Evan for being true to himself and not trying to let anyone change him. I give this my ratings of 3 – it was ok, give it a try.