Something Shattered by Bailey Bradford

Title : Something Shattered                Word Count : 64,448
Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : When something inside him is shattered by an act of violence, Caleb Tomas doesn’t think he can ever be whole again.

Police Officer Jesse Martin has lived in the small town of El Jardin, New Mexico, for a decade, but he’s never seen anything like the mysterious man who moves in in the middle of the night. The house across the street from Jesse’s trailer is no longer empty. There’s a puzzle waiting to be solved there in the form of one sexy, but decidedly different, man.

Bruised and battered inside and out, Caleb Tomas flees to the town of El Jardin in the hopes of escaping the terror that haunts him. Instead, he becomes more of a recluse, scared of everything, unable to get more than a dozen feet past his porch before he panics. His head’s a mess, and he knows he needs help, but that’s a step he doesn’t want to take. It’s easier, safer to stay hidden away with only his adorable puppy, Loopy, and the bird-murdering cat, Mix, for companionship.

But Caleb can’t help but notice the sexy man across the street, and when Loopy escapes from the back yard, it’s Jesse Martin who comes to the rescue.

And he might save more than one bouncy little poodle, if Caleb and Jesse are willing to take the risk.

My Review : All the tongues are wagging in the small town of El Jardin, everyone is wondering about the new resident Caleb who moved there in the dead of night. Caleb is in a very fragile state of mind when he meets Jesse Martin. Jesse Martin is a police officer and also Caleb’s neighbour. He has heard the rumours and he has some speculations of his own. He has caught glimpses of Caleb and he knows right away that the young man has been through something very traumatic. Caleb is bruised and battered and seems to be afraid to come outside. Jesse is the only one that Caleb allows to get close to him. To Caleb, Jesse represents strength and safety, two things that he desperately needs.
Jesse slowly inserts himself into Caleb’s life by coaxing him out to the mailbox. Everyday, he walks him the few feet to the mailbox, just to help him get over his fear. As much as Jesse would like to know what happened to this beautiful young man, he tries not to pry and doesn’t prod beyond what Caleb is comfortable with. This somehow strengthens Caleb’s resolve to get back to the person he once was. Although he has that residual fear of the outside world which is a memento from the violent assault he recently experienced , Caleb does not fear Jesse. He eagerly awaits the minutes until he sees Jesse. The relationship doesn’t take long to be forged between these two lovers. Caleb is a bit sweet and shy but underneath that lies a sexy vixen which allows Jesse’s dominant side to come out and play. The chemistry between them is explosive and leads to some really hot scenes. Whether it is a quick romp on Jesse’s lunch break or a lengthy session in Caleb’s bedroom, they attack each other passionately and voraciously.
With the encouragement of his sister, Caleb decides to open up and tell Jesse what he’s been running and hiding from. Jesse wraps Caleb up in his strong arms and knows that he will protect him from any harm. Their wills are soon tested and they face adversity in the form of smallminded police officers. They all come together as a family and stand strong against the actions of a few. Caleb also appeals to his audience, since he’s a writer. He discloses all his hidden truths and exposes his life and all the problems and hurt that he has been through . This sheds light on the homophobic jackasses in their lives and they soon realize that they can’t win in the face of such strength. Jesse and Caleb work seemlessly as a couple and even though small town life will not be perfect, their love for each other will see them through . I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear.

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Kiss Me by Scarlet Blackwell

Title : Kiss Me                Word Count : 73,817

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : Dexter is a rent boy falling for his new client. Logan is a homicide cop falling for his rent boy. Now madly in love, Logan discovers Dexter is dangerously in thrall to a gangster whose clutches he can’t escape. When the gangster finds out about the two of them, he targets Dexter’s friend in revenge. The quickest answer is a safe house, but how long will it be safe?

My Review : There are some relationships that are just destined to fail from the very beginning. From the moment Dexter Anderson first met Logan Maden he knew he was in trouble. Dexter has made his living and become somewhat successful by being a high class prostitute. He has his own website and a nice clean hotel room he rents from his friend Michael. Logan is a cop, a detective in fact who seems to have intimacy issues. Dexter is very wary at first, having this illicit illegal arrangement with an officer of the law. 

Dexter soon realized that Logan is everything that he could have wanted and then some. There is a certain innocence and naiveté surrounding Logan and this is endearing to Dexter. Dexter is very attracted to Logan, more than he’s ever been to any of his customers. He finds himself wanting things from Logan, that someone in his profession has no hope at attaining. Logan is very hesitant and distant in their interactions,  but after a few months he starts to open up. Dexter is weak and always so turned on with Logan that he ends up breaking one of his cardinal rules, no kissing. The first time they kiss , Dexter feels himself plunging into the unknown. He tries to keep himself aloof and jaded, but Logan’s kisses rejuvenates a part of him  that has been dormant.

Logan starts pushing for a relationship  and Dexter keeps on pulling back. He is afraid that his life of prostitution will sully Logan’s innocence. Also, there are unsavoury characters in his life that promises to hurt the people who Dexter loves the most. Dexter’s friends beg him to seek help from Logan when Ivan a known hit man continuously hurts him physically. He doesn’t heed the warnings and then it becomes too late.

A tragic story unfolds when Ivan goes to Dexter’s house in a jealous rage and Ivan kills Ennis, his best friend’s fiancé. It is such a heartwrenching set of events and  Dexter shoulders the blame, as well as he should after so many repeated warnings. His best friend Daron who is out of his mind with grief blames him. Logan does some finger pointing of his own, while tampering with evidence so that Ivan can be put away for life. Logan knows that a person’s lifestyle plays a big part in how they are seen by the jury. He is trying to make sure that Dexter’s prostitution doesn’t cause any further repercussions. 

After a hit is put out on Dexter and Daron, they are moved to a safe house. Logan becomes embroiled in the case after he kills a dirty cop to protect  Dexter. His innocence is under the microscope and everybody’s life is turned upside down with no hope of a happy ending. The evidence is looking very dismal for Logan’s  plight when the trial starts. He becomes very bitter when he is left standing by himself with harsh accusations being thrown at his character. Logan starts doubting their love and outright blames Dexter for the whole mess.

Some relationships are too toxic to survive. So many lives have been irrevocably changed and there is no coming back from certain actions. Logan ended up killing Ivan , because of his love for Dexter. Is it really love though, when it destroys someone so completely? Logan ended up in prison and Dexter did a stint  in a mental institution. 

 It’s twelve years after the fact and everyone is still standing like stagnant putrid water. Daron is still grieving Ennis, Dexter hasn’t had the will to move on with his life or become attached to anyone. He is a shell of his former self. When Daron reveals to Dexter that Logan is getting out, he has a bit of a downward spiral. So much loneliness,  desolation and regrets make for a bittersweet reunion for the two men. They have a lot of soul deep purging of anguish and broken dreams that they need to get out. They have a happily ever after. 

I’m not sure how to feel about this one, because I don’t believe that love can conquer all. As bad as I feel for Dexter, I really do believe that he was at the root of all this chaos which ensued and reigned over so many lives.  I think that the others payed a far higher price for his mistakes and to me that is not forgivable. I give this my ratings of 4 – because there are truly flawed characters in real life and even though I don’t believe in their everlasting love,  it’s enough that they believe. 

When Harry met Jason by Sean Micheal

Title : When Harry met Jason         Word Count :50,483

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : The world met Harry, Jason and Sammy in Between Friends, Sean Michael’s popular novel about a pair of couples and the troubles they face. When Harry Met Jason goes back in time to when cop Harry met just-graduated Jason, who’s living with his college roommate Sammy and worrying about trying to find a job.

When a frat party goes bad, Jason ends up more than just drunk, but Harry shows up just in time, policing the party and taking Jason home. That’s the start of something neither one of them can deny, a relationship that Harry wants to take slow, while Jason would like to go in fast forward.

The party starts something for Jason’s best friend Sammy, too, something not so great. He’s been hurt, and is being stalked to boot, which makes Jason hesitant to leave Sammy alone to pursue Harry.

As Harry and Jason become closer and closer, Sammy’s stalkers get more and more violent, until finally something has to break. Can Harry and Jason keep Sammy safe and fall in love all at the same time? Read this wonderful love story today and find out!

My Review : What can I say , you just can’t go wrong with Sean Micheal. I really loved this one,  it was just a really sweet romance with a hint of drama. Jason is a sweet little twink who Officer Harry rescues at a graduation celebration after someone drugs the beer. Jason is so out of it and so incoherent.  Instead of putting him in the drunk tank, Harry takes him home and lets Jase sleep it off in his bed. When Jase wakes up in a strange bed,  he realize he didn’t dream officer Harry.  He thinks of Harry as his hero and he is proven correct as time and time again Harry helps him out in his drama filled life. 

 Jase’s roommate and bestie Sammy was also hurt at the party. He was badly beaten by a few guys who he claims not to remember. Jase encourages Sammy to file a report but Sammy’s fear causes him to clam up.  Sammy’s tormentors are watching their house and they get really bold with their threatening phone calls. Jase is really worried for Sammy’s state of mind and well-being. 

Officer Harry decides to get his makeshift family out of harms way by offering them a place to stay until the perpetrators are caught.Jase and Harry’s relationship grows stronger and stronger the more time they spend with each other. The sex was really hot between these two. They had so much chemistry and they both couldn’t keep their hands off each other. Their relationship grows into an equal partnership in every way possible.   Harry asks Jase to move in permanently after everything is resolved with Sammy’s situation. After the guys are caught Sammy moves back to their old apartment.  We see Sammy being fragile , but trying to get stronger on his own. I  can’t wait to read about Sammy’s journey. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear. 

Box of Nails : Making Repairs by Sean Michael

Title : Box of Nails : Making Repairs                     Word Count :33,500

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : Something terrible happened to Mike, and he’s been living in the attic of Devin and Barney’s house ever since. He’s shy, he’s scared and he cuts. Paul and Jeff do what they can to make sure his razors stay clean and that he’s fed, but they’re both worried that it’s not enough.

When Barney’s friend, police officer Angus, attends a summer party at the house, he catches sight of Mike in the shadows and is immediately drawn to the young man. Mike is clearly in need of help and that’s what Angus does best.

Will Mike let Angus in? And if he does, is there anything Angus can do to help Mike out of the nightmares of his past?

My Review : Mike is this very fragile, beautiful soul that we’ve been introduced to at Devvie’s house of twinks. He has been damaged and traumatized by the harsh cruelties of life. He manages to barely survive each day a little at a time by cutting to help to ease the pain. He can’t work or leave his apartment. It falls to Paulie and Jeff to bring him non-perishable food items such as peanut butter and jelly  to keep him alive. Every now and then Paulie coaxes him to come out of his apartment for a meal and this is such a huge step for him. This was such a heartbreaking and heartwarming story to watch all these friends help to nurse Mike back to health, putting him back a piece at a time. In walks Angus,  he is drawn to Mike’s fragility from the very first moment and his cop’s instincts come out making him want to protect him from harm. Angus is the most gentle , caring person you could ever meet. He helps Mike by being consistent and offering friendship and pulling him out into the light. He is non-judgmental and offers Mike the ultimate gift of blood play, he controls cutting Mike and this provides a safe environment where he doles out specific amount of cuts at a time as reward. This goes a far way in allowing Mike to trust him and fosters a relationship between the two that grows into something really special. Angus is there for Mike through his good days and his bad days, forever being patient, gentle and loving. The sexual part of their relationship took awhile to build up because of all the fear and anguish that this act brought to Mike’s pysche. It was oh so beautiful and special when Mike’s sexuality was awakened  and brought back to life. It was precious to watch Mike embracing this side of himself wholeheartedly with Angus.This is one of the best stories I have read from this author. It really touched me to the core , it was all about conquering  and embracing vulnerability and fragility and turning into something positive. When Angus suffers an injury at work,  we see Mike the brave boy coming out of his shell and he decides to do everything possible to protect his master, even braving the big bad world. I loved this book. It deserves my ratings of 5 – not because of the hot sex but for the raw vulnerability, fragility, reawakening and repairing of these two lovely men.