Troubled Waters (Pine Cove 2) by H.J.Welch

Title: Troubled Waters         Word Count:284 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Scout Duffy doesn’t know what’s worse. The fact that his scorching one-night-stand is his bratty new client, or the fact that he doesn’t even remember Scout. But beneath all the bravado, Scout can see Emery is terrified, and he’ll do anything to protect him from his attacker. If only he would lower his walls and let Scout into his heart as easily as he lets him dominate in the bedroom.

Being out and proud his whole life means Emery Klein has never been safe. But now his charity work and social media fame has put a target on his back from bigots, and his friends force him to hire a private bodyguard. Emery doesn’t need to be judged by some straight former-boxer , but his attraction to the gorgeous hunk is insatiable. When Emery finally recognizes Scout, they can’t keep their damn hands off one another, if only for as long as Scout’s in town.

There’s a reason Emery never looks too closely at the men he sleeps with, just like there’s a reason Scout lives out of a suitcase in motel rooms. Will two men hiding from hurt realize the love that could heal them both is right in front of them? Or will Emery’s attacker take everything before they have the chance?

Book Two of Pine Cove. Troubled Waters is a steamy, standalone MM romance novel with a guaranteed HEA and absolutely no cliffhanger.

My Review: Emery Klein is no stranger to having bathroom hookups at the gay hotspot ‘Aquarium’ in Pine Cove. His hometown may be small, but it’s very well rounded and has quite a few LGBTQ friendly establishments. Aquarium just happens to be one of his favourite places to blow off steam. He has his target locked and loaded once he spies the butch sexy looking marine type on the dance floor. Emery sashays his fabulous twinky Asian ass over and offers his proposition. ‘No means yes and yes means harder’ ,  when Scout Duffy hears these words from the magnificent cutie in front of him, he’s flabbergasted yet intrigued. Emery sees the spark of interest in the man’s eyes and pushes his game. He encourages Mr. Sexy to take him to the bathroom and have his kinky way with him. Before they get down and dirty, Emery gives him the safeword ‘guppy’ in case either of them want to stop their kinky fun. 

Scout realizes that they haven’t even exchanged names, but the little firecracker has him so hot and bothered he can’t think straight. Being an ex-boxer turned bodyguard is  a very demanding job for Scout. He decides to enjoy this gift that the beautiful sexy little twink has offered. They both come together in a fiery passion. For Scout , it’s his first time experiencing this exhilarating and fun side to sex. It is certainly a memorable moment for him. Emery is surprised that he’s found this specimen that exudes such dominance, but also handles his body with such care. Although this hookup proves to be orgasmic and all that he’s ever dreamed, Emery tries not to focus too much on the man or take in any details. He stares at the lone wolf tattooed on his partner’s arm , but that’s all he would possibly remember. As soon as their passion culminates, Emery gives his partner a kiss as a thank you and walks away. Scout is in orgasmic bliss and stupefied at their kinky encounter that he misses his chance to go after Emery.

After leaving the club, Emery goes home alone to find his door ajar. Emery is scared shitless and is ready to run, until he thinks of his poor defenseless little hedgehog being left behind. Emery is able to free the hedgehog, but he is left with a mild concussion when the stalker in his house gives chase. He ends up on his best friend’s Ava’s couch where she informs him she has hired him a bodyguard. Emery is left feeling vulnerable after his attack. There are rips in the armour that has always protected him. He is certainly not enthused to meet his bodyguard and refuses to curtail his lifestyle, no matter how many hate mail he receives.

Scout is ecstatic to be reunited with Emery, when he realized its the guy he can’t stop thinking about. All his protection instincts come to the fore when he thinks how scared Emery must be. This soon turns to devastation when Scout sees there is not even a flicker of recognition in Emery’s eyes. Scout is definitely hurt, but he knows it’s for the best since he needs to maintain a professional distance. Emery is such a brat, he takes out all his frustrations of the upheaval in his life on Scout. A man who Emery believes has lived an all American lifestyle and is the quintessential picture of machismo. He unfairly judges Scout on stereotypes and preconceived notions that he’s drawn based on his outward appearance. Scout sucks it all up until Emery pushes too far in his game of trying to seduce ‘the straight guy’.Scout has had enough and uses the safeword that Emery gave to him when they hooked up the first time. Emery is stunned silent as the pieces of random memories start to fall in place.

Emery has been primed by life to always enshroud himself in armour. His flamboyant ways proclaim him as loud and proud, but he uses it as a way to keep people at a distance. When he finds Scout, their encounter is not only passionate but meaningful.For the first time Emery is open and honest and letting someone in. He explains his insecurities that he’s always been plagued with concerning him being Asian and ‘fem’. He explains why he challenges gender binaries through non conforming. He embraces his ‘fem’ side and it sets his beautiful soul free.

There are unexplored depths to Scout, Emery soon finds out. When Scout talks about his father’s physical abuse against him as a child. How he was forced to become unnecessarily aggressive through boxing as a means to protect himself and his mother. He was never seen to be ‘manly’ enough for his father. Not ever really knowing his own self worth. This is one of the reasons he enjoys when Emery praises him as a Dom. Finally, he knows he’s doing a great job and it pleases him to know he’s taking care of Emery.

Emery and Scout have a fun loving, playful relationship with Emery usually being a brat. Scout loves this side of Emery and he truly embraces it wholeheartedly. They are a match made in heaven, turns out they are two halfs of a whole. Emery finally gets his fairytale ending with Scout spoiling his ‘princess’ with his bling bling. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

No Filter ( No Shame 1) by Nora Phoenix

Title: No Filter               Word Count: 290 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Indy will do anything to prevent his mobster ex from finding him. Their last encounter left Indy recovering for months in the hospital, and ever since he’s become an expert at hiding in plain sight. Determined to stay under the radar, he takes on a new identity and moves from place to place. His life has no room for friendships, let alone love, so he keeps his heart firmly closed. After all, he has nothing to offer but a damaged body and a broken soul. Plus, he’s so done with men. Until he meets the man who breaks through all his defenses.

Former Army Medic Noah came back damaged from his last tour—in more than one way. Between supporting his best friend-with-benefits Josh who’s struggling with PTSD, dealing with his own issues, and the stress of his job as a physician assistant, rebuilding his life seems impossible. There’s little time for what Noah needs, let alone for what he wants. When he meets Indy, Noah discovers what he wants more than anything: for Indy to stay. But how will a relationship with Indy work when Noah needs Josh as well?

Indy never expected the strong, confident Noah to be as damaged and broken as himself. But what will happen if he starts letting Noah in? Indy knows he should run to protect Noah and Josh. 

Noah needs Indy to stay more than anything. But will what little he has to offer be enough to make Indy trust him and stay? 

No Filter is a steamy M/M romance featuring an open relationship (no cheating!) that ends with a HFN, but with the promise of a HEA. It’s the first book in the No Shame Series, and is not a stand-alone novel. It contains hot sex, a hint of a ménage, lots of talk about hot sex, flashbacks of said hot sex, and…Oh well, you get the idea. Also: trigger warning for mentions of sexual abuse.

My Review: If anyone would have told Indy that being subjected to a convenient store robbery would have been a turning point in his life, he wouldn’t have believed it. This is how he met Josh, the young army veteran who suffers from severe PTSD. Josh has a flashback the moment he saw the robber’s gun. It is Indy’s quick thinking that saves his life. Indy tackles Josh to the ground with his superior jiu jitsu moves to snap him out of his flashback. It sucks for Indy who already has a broken arm in a cast. Indy is trying to breath through the pain and stay in character since he is on the run and pretending to be a southern belle. Not wanting to blow his cover and desperate to get Josh out of his flashback, Indy decides to ground him by kissing him. It finally works and Josh slowly comes out of his spell.

By the time the cops show up, Indy is in severe pain and in need of medical attention. This is where Noah comes in, he is Josh’s best friend who is a former army medic. He works in the ER now and when Josh calls him frantic telling him he needs to protect Indy’s female persona, he steps in to help. Noah doesn’t know what to think when he meets Indy, but there is an instant spark between the two. However, it is clear to see that Indy is very afraid and hiding something. Warning bells go off in Noah’s head when he feels scars on Indy’s body. He also sees signs of trauma in Indy’s reactions to being restrained.

When Noah and Josh offers Indy a place to stay and recover, he takes a leap of faith and puts his trust in these two men. Indy feels an attraction to Noah, something that hasn’t happened in quite some time. When Indy realizes that Josh and Noah shares a bedroom, he feels like a fool for lusting after somebody’s boyfriend. Noah explains that Josh and him have a very complexed relationship that may defy certain norms.

Watching these three men come together was exhilarating, sensual and a little bit confusing at times. It was the pure trust and honesty in their connections that pulls it all together for me. Here we have three broken men trying to piece together their wounded hearts and souls. We have Josh who suffers from PTSD and is very codependent on his best friend Noah. He is openly gay and navigating his sexually submissive side while also working through issues from his past. Then there is Noah who facilitates Josh’s codependency as a way of healing them both. Noah has lost his leg in the war and has some residual feelings of insecurity. He is only recently identifying and accepting himself as a gay man. Indy is the only other man that Noah has been attracted to sexually. Indy is on the run for his life. He feels like he is damaged goods and it is clear that he has suffered severe sexual trauma. Noah and Josh are the first two men he has been attracted to in awhile. It is Noah who makes him want to trust again. He feels unworthy and undeserving to be in a relationship with a strong man like Noah, because of his past. Indy is afraid to become too attached and wants to protect them from the dangers of his past.

The sexual tension in their house is combustible. They all paired up sexually with each other at different times without any resentment or hurt feelings amongst each other. Noah and Josh had sex all the time as a way of finding release and it helped Josh to understand his sexually submissive side. When Noah let Josh top him, it helped him accept himself as a gay man. Josh and Indy getting together was about healing each other from their past sexual trauma. Josh gave back Indy some of the power he lost when he offers to bottom for him. Indy regains a part of himself he thought was lost forever. After their fun filled activity they fall asleep blissfully.

When Noah comes home after a sixteen hour shift in pain from standing all day, he becomes jealous when he sees them cuddled up together. Tempers flare when he believes that Indy has given Josh something that he couldn’t get. Josh sets him straight and diffuses the situation by offering up himself to relieve some of the stress and pain that Noah feels. Noah goes at Josh hard with Indy watching the whole time. When Noah finds release a dam finally breaks and all the pain and sorrow for all he’s lost comes pouring out. 

This is cathartic for all of them. It is Josh’s way of saying goodbye and bringing Indy fully into Noah’s life. Indy makes the decision the next day to tell Noah his sordid past of being sold into sexual slavery by his mom at sixteen. The man she sold him to, Duncan Fitzpatrick belongs to the mob and treated him deplorably. Indy lived in hell for four years. He finally snapped when Duncan passed him off to his sadistic cousin who raped Indy. When he was done Indy stabbed him and waited for him to die before he called the cops , so he could claim self defense. Duncan found Indy and tortured him before he could testify. Indy knows he will always be a hunted man.

Indy finally sees that what he has found in Noah is worth fighting for. He gives himself freely to Noah without fear. He gets a taste of what a loving sexual relationship should be like. Noah is happy that Indy has finally let him in and is allowing him to love him. Josh will always be a part of their lives and they have a different kind of love for him. Noah is willing to protect Indy with all that he is . He will never allow Indy to be hurt again. This is only the beginning, but it is clear to see how deep their love runs for each other. Looking forward to Josh’s story and the continuation of Indy and Noah. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

Bully for You by Catt Ford

Title: Bully for You                           Word Count:22,732
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:What could be hunkier than a cowboy? Not much, according to Martin Du Bois. He convinces two friends that a visit to the rodeo is every gay man’s wet dream, and so the three of them gaily (and I do mean gaily) set off to watch cowboy asses in action.

A visit to a bar after the event gets Martin closer to the action than he ever thought possible, and he meets Jesse Cumberland, the man who caught his eye in the ring and made his rhinestones sparkle. Instant attraction leads to a one-night stand that gets under Martin’s insouciant skin and causes him to rethink his determination not to get involved emotionally. When Jesse invites Martin to his ranch, the visit is almost derailed by Martin’s realization that they lead very different lives. As a flaming city queer, he sees no way to fit with the solid, athletic Jesse. It’s up to Jesse to see if he can change Martin’s mind.

My Review: Martin Dubois is very excited to go to the rodeo with his two friends Dale and Curt. He is definitely going for the eye candy or should I say ‘ass candy’. He is enthralled by these sexy cowboys with asses to die for. Dale and Curt remind him to look but not touch, seeing as how rodeos tend to be dominated by homophobes and rednecks.Martin is pleasantly surprised when he goes to a bar after the event and a sexy cowboy immediately comes to his rescue.
Martin hits it off with Jesse Cumberland as soon as they meet. The chemistry between these two is off the chain. Marti is a bit shocked that Jesse finds him attractive. He describes Jesse as being extremely masculine versus his uber femme looks. Marti allows his insecurities to get in the way of him and Jesse moving forward as their little fling comes to a halt.

After staying away for a few weeks, he decides to go to another rodeo.Jesse is pleasantly surprised when he looks in the stands to see Marti. They pick up where they left off and they realize that they like spending time together in and out of the bedroom.
It seems that Marti’s insecurities were not all unfounded. When he goes to Jesse’s ranch for a weekend rendezvous, their differences become glaringly obvious. This casts some self doubts on their relationship for both men . Can they reconcile their differences and turn them into something cohesive ? They just can’t see how they will be able to fit into each other’s life seemlesly for something on a more permanent basis.
They have a big blowup when Marti feels useless and clumsy while riding his first horse. He feels a sense of defeat and makes the decision to return home to his city life. Jesse sees the challenges in their situation , but he believes that they can overcome them and build a strong foundation together. He convinces Marti to work with him and take things one step at a time. This was really a sweet short read and I hope there will be a sequel showing where these two end up. I give this my ratings of 4-lose the underwear.