Stay ( Working out the Kinks 1) by K.M. Neuhold

Title: Stay Word Count:205 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance/ Puppy play

Blurb:What happens to a couple when one of them discovers a new kink that he’s not sure his partner will be into?

Dear Art,
I’m sure you get messages like this all the time, but I feel like I don’t even know who I am anymore. I suppose I should start from the beginning… Three weeks ago, I saw puppy play for the first time, and now I can’t stop thinking about it. Wait, no, that’s not really the beginning… Ten years ago, my best friend who I’d been in love with my entire life told me he loved me too.
For ten years, I’ve been living in complete bliss with Lars, the man of my dreams. Don’t get me wrong, we have our fights and disagreements (mostly because I do irritating shit, and every once in a while, he reaches the end of his patience), but he is my other half in every way. I didn’t know I could love someone the way I love him.
Then, the puppy thing happened. It’s not so different from when I realized I was gay; there was a moment where everything sort of clicked into place, and my whole body was like “Yes, that’s what we’ve been trying to figure out all this time.” At first, I thought maybe I should just let it go because it’s not the kind of thing I can imagine my partner being into. But last week I went into a kink shop and ended up walking out with a puppy hood. I stashed it in our guest bedroom closet and haven’t even had the courage to take it out and try it on again, let alone show it to Lars. I don’t know what to do. How do I bring this up to him? And what if he isn’t into it? I feel like I don’t recognize myself anymore, and I don’t know where to turn. Please help.

Sincerely,
One Lost Puppy

My Review: Jonah and Lars have loved each other from the moment they could walk. First as friends and in the last ten years as lovers. They have the kind of relationship where even after ten years,the flame still burns bright and they are more in love now than ever. Nobody is perfect, but their love comes pretty close. The chemistry between the two men is off the charts and watching their love story unfold will leave you smiling from ear to ear.

Jonah and Lars know everything about each other, or at least that’s the thought. When they decide to venture to the pride parade for the first time, something pings Jonah’s curiosity. Watching a group of men dressed up as ‘puppies’ strangely illicits a sense of longing in Jonah. Jonah feels bereft when Lars mentions how weird the puppy kink seems. That is the very first time that Jonah hides his true feelings from Lars, because he disagrees. Jonah thinks the ‘puppies’ are cute and wonders what it would be like to be so carefree.

For the next few weeks, Jonah secretly delves into the world of puppies. He browses websites and reads all the articles he can get his hands on. He is guilty of soaking up all the info he can get and he is convinced that this is the path for him. There is just one problem, how does he explain that he wants to try puppy play to Lars? Lars have noticed the slight changes in Jonah, seeing how secretive and withdrawn he has become. He is at a loss and grasping to figure out what’s the problem.

Lars stumbles on the answer to his internal questions when he gets home unexpectedly early one day. He catches Jonah trying on his new puppy hood. Jonah is clearly embarrassed and extremely nervous about Lars’ reaction, waiting for his rejection. Seeing the vulnerability on his lover’s face, Lars calmly opens up the conversation. Lars doesn’t reject Jonah, he gives him the comfort that he needs. Lars is just so happy to have his lover back, instead of the secretive, distant man that Jonah was becoming. Jonah explains everything and why he feels so drawn to puppy play.

Lars being the ever supportive , loving partner that he is plunges right in. He vows to be the best master to his pup. Lars lets Jonah know that this journey will be one that they will take together. Jonah is overjoyed, but obviously he is still a little shy and uncertain in some aspects. There is now a new dynamic to their relationship that they are both willing to explore. Jonah lets Lars know he wants to play a more submissive role in their everyday life. Lars relishes being more dominant and cottons to the idea of being able to organise Jonah’s daily routines to alleviate some of his lover’s stress. Being a doctor Jonah already has a lot to deal with at work. He is ready to relinquish that control to Lars when he gets home. There is definitely a newfound freedom to Jonah’s personality.

Lars has loved Jonah through many different seasons. This is certainly a never-ending love. Jonah’s commitment to being the best master pushes them both to go to a trainer who helps them to navigate this new world. They both gain a lot of insight from their lessons. Lars learns commands and boundaries as a way of communicating with his new pup. Puppy play is definitely a freeing time for Jonah where he turns into this over-exuberant pup named Lucky. Seeing Jonah so ecstatic and at peace makes Lars falls even deeper in love with him. They are both gaining confidence in their respective roles and Lars is surprised at how well he has acclimated to being a master. This dominant and possessive side is one they have never explored, but Lars finds that he really enjoys it.

For their upcoming eleventh anniversary, Lars decides to ‘put a ring on it’. He presents Jonah with a ring and collar with a lock. Jonah is overjoyed and hands over his gift which turns out to be a cock cage. This takes their sex lives to new heights. The thought of truly being the master of Jonah’s erections and orgasms more than revs up Lars. Jonah loves seeing his man so dominant and possessive.

They can no longer wait to be married so they decide to elope to Niagara Falls. It is a beautiful ceremony where they become lifelong partners and husbands. They culminate their wedding night with the hottest sex ever after a week of Jonah being in a cock cage. He loves that feeling of being owned by his master. I really enjoyed the beauty of the love between Jonah and Lars. It is proof that true love can survive mostly anything. It shows an all encompassing love that allows for individuality. Most of all it allows for changes that come with growth when two people share their lives together and become one. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

PS: I must admit that I still don’t fully get the whole ‘puppy play’ aspect, but I certainly will not bash it. Love is love and everyone should feel free to be who they are and love who they want.

Brody & Nick ( Something About him 2) by A.D. Ellis

Title: Brody & Nick Word Count: 403 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Army specialist Brody King is a successful and respected soldier. With only a year left in his commitment, he devises a plan to help him save money—a plan that requires him to marry.

Nick Ferguson is working toward college graduation and his community services management career. With his lease about to expire, he’s more than willing to take Brody up on his crazy marriage scheme.

A solution that seems quick and easy turns into more than either of them ever anticipated. When Brody’s fears and insecurities surface, he makes a decision that may push Nick away forever.

Can a fake marriage built upon friendship withstand the obstacles of an uncertain future?

Brody & Nick is a story as old as time. Marriage of convenience, friends-to-lovers, and a guy who needs to pull his head from his ass.

**This is a male/male romance for ages 18+ due to adult language and themes.**

My Review: This has disaster written all over it or does it? Here we have two sexting buddies Brody King & Nick Ferguson who come up with this elaborate plan to get married as a way of saving money. Brody is in the army and he is allowed a housing credit only if he is married. Nick is going to school, working and he shares an apartment with Brody’s ex fuck buddy Dylan. Nick’s lease is almost up and he doesn’t really care to renew with his roommate. They both think a marriage of convenience will be mutually beneficial to them, plus they will avail themselves of the friend’s with benefit clause. Nick suggests that their foundation should be steeped in mutual respect, loyalty and friendship. These are all great premises, but is this really a great foundation for a marriage? I guess we will find out soon enough.

As soon as the ink dries on their marriage certificate, they feel a sense of accomplishment. They are both in high spirits, so they have a celebratory lunch and decide to start moving into their new apartment. Nick’s hopes are soon dashed when he overheard Brody explaining to his best friend Addie that she wasn’t invited because their marriage means nothing. Nick is hurt and so is Addie. They both commiserate by drinking White Russians. Brody sees the error of his ways and apologizes to the two people that means the most to him.

Having a homophobic commanding officer wasn’t too much of an issue for Brody, well up until now that is. Brody soon finds out how much of a problem it will be, when his CO accuses him of committing fraud with his marriage of convenience if he gets proof. His CO lets him know he will be watched. Brody knows he will have to up the ante and ensure that his marriage looks as real as possible to the outside world.

The lines become blurred a bit , because they both realize that it will be hard to be intimate while staying detached and sticking to their agreement and an inevitable separation. Things get shaken up in more ways than one, it brings out the role reversal when power bottom Brody starts thinking about topping Nick. One thing’s for sure, they are phenomenal in bed together, any which way possible. Their first date goes really well and Nick really enjoys himself. On the other hand Brody seems a little detached as he worries about being watched. When Nick calls him out on the emptiness he feels, Brody explains that he just hates that they have to fake things. Nick is slightly hurt at this assumption, but their full disclosure clause pushes him to be honest. Nick lays himself vulnerable, letting Brody know that he is truly enjoying being around him and their friends. Brody is certainly relieved to know that he isn’t the only one feeling the realness of their relationship. Their talk is enlightening as it allows them to freely talk about a future possibly together after their designated year.

A romantic getaway and a chance meeting with another gay couple who’s been together for decades forces Brody to become introspective. He thinks about the sham of a marriage that he’s cooked up and realize that what he really wants and can see in their future is something long term.They both leave their weekend feeling refreshed , while individually they both yearn for something more permanent under the quiet. They get back home to Brody’s mom waiting on the driveway. She demands the whole story as to why her son didn’t let her in on his marriage. She immediately falls in love with Nick as a son in-law. She calls Brody out on the burgeoning love she witness in his eyes. Things continue full speed ahead and each day they fall more and more in love with each other. The fireworks between them is amazing and each man holds each other in their heart as the ideal husband.

Nine months in and they are coasting through their relationship with their routines set in place. They make their differing shifts work and stay in contact through texts when they are away from each other. Truly a ‘couply’ thing to do. It is on a late night when Nick doesn’t check in as he should and Brody becomes worried. Instinct pushes him to check and what he finds leaves him weak, Brody laying in a pool of his own blood with two obvious head injuries. By the time Nick comes around , he tells the cops who were called that it was a homeless man from the shelter he works at who attacked him while looking for drugs. Brody is furious, but moreover he was scared out of his mind. He sees how close he came to losing the man he loves. Brody quietly professed his love for Nick, who returns the sentiment before he drifts off to sleep.

They are just so fixated on the imminent timeline of the end , they haven’t allowed things to progress and flourish as it naturally should. They are both afraid to trap the other. They both tiptoe around their confession of love, both too afraid to bring it up in the light of day. Nick finally brings it up and they both realize that they are on the same page and in it for the long haul. Life is sweet and they are both more confident in their future plans. This all comes crashing down when Brody receives an acceptance letter from Stanford, miles away from where Nick has his future plans set in stone.

It soon becomes clear that Brody has a misguided fear of not being good enough, not being able to measure up. He is his own worst critic. Brody is also a stubborn ass who will never admit he’s made a mistake. He has made a big mistake which he acknowledges deep down in his gut. His parents end up in California ,begging him to go back to his life and love he left behind in Texas. It is clear to his mother that his insecurities have him in it’s grips and he fears rejection most of all. His mother leaves him with words of wisdom and wishes him well. Brody knows what he needs to do before she even leaves.

In the meanwhile on the other side of the country, Nick is still trying to pick up the pieces of his shattered heart a month later. He drowns himself in his work and the many projects he had set up as lifelong goals, but he feels empty inside. He wishes he still had Brody by his side and he just knows that he will wait forever for him since he has imprinted on his soul. With the help of family and friends ,the pair is tearfully reunited. Brody grovels at Nick’s feet swooping in with grand gestures and heartfelt apologies. Nick forgives his wayward husband and welcomes him with open arms. This ends sweetly, years in their future with Nick and Brody welcoming beautiful twin boys through surrogacy carried by their best friend Addie who’s been a part of their love story from its very inception. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

The Music of the Spheres by Chase Potter

Title : The Music of the Spheres              Word Count : 216 pgs
Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb :An athlete and introvert from a family touched by loss, Ryan Mattson splits his life between reading and spending time with his dad and precocious younger sister. With the wounds of Ryan’s past almost healed, high school is simple, and so is everything else.

But that changes when he’s paired with Adam for a class project. Adam, the guy with birthmarks like flecks of mud and compost-brown eyes that hide behind dorky glasses. Grudgingly, the two young men work together, and as they do, an unlikely friendship is formed.

With the passing college years, their bond deepens and grows. Even Ryan’s sister and dad take a liking to Adam, and the family – always missing a voice – seems to gain another. But just as Ryan is forced to confront what Adam really means to him, his family is dragged toward crisis. And beneath the silent snows and starlit sky of a Minnesota winter, their friendship will be tested more than ever before.

My Review : Here we have the journey of two high school students, Ryan the Jock and Adam the geek. They are two polar opposites who are thrown together because of a high school project and form an unlikely friendship. Ryan is rich and has a familial bond that is beyond compare, whereas Adam is a foster kid after being taken away from his meth- addicted parents.
Over the years their friendship blossoms into something that is not quite defined, but Adam is definitely accepted as one of the family by Ryan’s dad and his sister. They spend most holidays together and after getting drunk and playing truth or dare, things get a little awkward between the two friends. They enjoy a circle jerk between friends and this changes their friendship subtly , especially when Adam admits that he is bisexual. After a few months of tension, they get back on track with a family trip to Adam’s university. This deepens their connection after a very earnest conversation between Ryan and Adam, where they admit to each other that their feelings might be more than platonic. Before that can even get off the ground tragedy strikes.
Ryan’s little sister who has such a prosperous future as an artist finds out she has leukemia. This is devastating for the family, but they all pull together and they fight it into remission. Things are beginning to look bright again when after a few months the cancer is back. They do a bone marrow transplant with Ryan being the donor, only to find out that it’s too late. The transplant is successful, but now the cancer has spread all through her body and is at a stage 4 category. It is not long before she dies. Ryan is destroyed into a million little pieces and Adam is right there to pick them all. This was very emotional and I cried buckets. Adam gives the eulogy and it shows the true testament of family, friendship and overall love. It shows that sometimes, very rarely our family is comprised of the people we choose and it is somehow better than the ones we were given.
Even from the grave , it is Ryan’s sister who finally brings them together. Their love is immemoralized through the pictures she has taken over the years. Looking at these photos shows their love with such clarity that Ryan calls Adam and ask if he can move in with him. Without hesitation Adam agrees. When they culminate their love , it is explosive, steadfast and comforting. It was something that was always meant to be, a fulfilling prophecy . It is not long before Adam proposes and Ryan accepts.  This was a slow build and I really enjoyed it  . I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear.