Hearts in Chaos (Phoenix Club 2) by CJ Bishop

Title: Hearts in Chaos        Word Count: 105 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Devastated after learning his abuser (and the man he killed in self-defense) was Dr. Devlin Grant’s much beloved brother, Abel feels he can no longer have anything to do with the man because of his secret.

Now locked into his agreement with Horatio Kaplan – and suffering heart break over Devlin – Abel finds no purpose in his life except taking care of Savannah. When Devlin refuses to be put off and insists Abel tell him the truth of why he is suddenly pushing him away, Abel must make the hard decision of whether or not to expose the hideous acts of Devlin’s brother – and shatter the man’s heart.

Warning: This book contains homosexual relations and language not suitable for readers below 17yo.

NOTE: For those coming across the ‘Phoenix Club’ series sporadically, they were written in this order, and if possible, should be read accordingly, due to story lines that run through all the books :

ABEL
CALEB
ANGEL
GABRIEL
MAXWELL

My Review: Abel tries to outrun his demons and finally ends up at home where Cole is waiting for him. Cole is perplexed by the state that his friend is in, he watches helplessly as Abel sobs brokenly. Devlin is left reeling from confusion. He is dejected not knowing how to pick up the pieces or why Abel ran away. This goes on for days without any explanations on what is going on. There is something niggling at Devlin, but he can’t put his finger on what.

When Abel returns to work, Devlin shows up and refuses to leave without an answer. Abel is devastated, because he knows the truth will wreck this sweet man whose declarations of love is so profound. Abel also acknowledges to himself that he is head over heels in love with Devlin. The passion that he feels for Devlin is overwhelming and he can’t resist one more chance at intimacy with his soul mate that he can never claim. However, this changes nothing and Abel closes the door with a finality when he tells Devlin he is no longer welcomed at the club. Abel leaves with his heart in pieces, on his way to commence his arrangement with Kaplan.

Abel is about to taint his soul with yet another man determined to exploit his body. His time with Kaplan isn’t horrible, but the parallels to his past abuse is too real in his mind. Kaplan forces him to open his eyes and be in the moment with him. The hardest part for Abel is when Kaplan arouses  him and pleasures him. For Abel it is just  a sensory reaction, but he feels worse for it because he doesn’t want to enjoy an act that he has no choice but to do.

Abel’s friends Cole and Gabe are very worried about him, but Abel pushes them away. An unusual sort of detachment comes over Abel’s persona, but that’s his way of coping.Cole and Gabe find comfort in each other and continue to navigate the complexities of their own budding relationship. When Devlin overhears Abel paying twenty thousand dollars on his sister’s hospital bill, he knows something is very wrong. Devlin approaches Abel at the club and demands answers. Abel knows the only way to get rid of Devlin and his declarations of love is to give him a part of the truth. He tells Devlin how he played some rich man’s whore. Devlin is shattered as he still doesn’t understand why Abel would rebuff his help to continue on this unsavoury path. Abel thought he would feel a sense of relief, but instead he feels wrecked.

Abel is surprised to see Devlin at his doorstep a few days later. It seems like Devlin just won’t give up, but Abel knows that will all change if he finds out the truth. Cole and Gabe come over and encourage  Abel that its time to lay it all on the table. Abel tells the horrific tale of the abuse he experienced for years at the hands of Devlin’s brother and how he eventually killed him in self defense. Devlin is appalled and disgusted, but most of all he doesn’t believe Abel. He can’t reconcile the upstanding brother he knew to the monster that Abel describes. Although Abel knew what the outcome would be , he is still crushed and defeated when Devlin calls him a whore and storms out. Luckily, Cole and Gabe are there to pick up the pieces of Abel’s fragmented soul. But even that won’t be enough to help him regain what he has lost, his innocence but most of all the love of Devlin Grant. To be continued….. this one was filled with heartache and pain , but such tender moments as well. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear.

It Can’t Be You ( Phoenix Club 1) by CJ Bishop

Title: It Can’t be You            Word Count: 175 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

ABEL

Blurb:19-year-old Abel Sims – hot, sexy stripper – is a favorite at the gay strip club The Phoenix. Having no family but his 16-year-old sister, Savannah, and coming from the streets – The Phoenix club has become his home, the other boys his close-knit family.

Abel doesn’t trust the outside world and is content to remain within his safe haven. But when an overzealous customer sends Abel to the ER, he meets young, handsome Dr. Devlin Grant. The instant attraction he feels for the man stirs up the nightmares of his past, causing him to resist his new feelings. But when Savannah gets sick and ends up in Devlin’s care, it becomes impossible to avoid the doctor.

And just when his heart is ready to trust this new found love – Abel is confronted with a disturbing fact about the doctor that reaches deep into the past he has been hiding and running away from.

ABEL is an emotionally charged, sexy, heart-wrenching love story that will break your heart, then put it back together again.

Warning: This book contains homosexual relations and crude language not suitable for readers below 17yo.

NOTE: For those coming across the ‘Phoenix Club’ series sporadically, they were written in this order, and if possible, should be read accordingly, due to story lines that run through all the books :

ABEL
CALEB
ANGEL
GABRIEL
MAXWELL

My Review: Abel is one of the sexy young strippers at the Phoenix Club. He is only 19 yrs old , but he has lived a very rough life from an early age. He does his best for the only person that’s ever loved him, his sister Savannah. Savannah is 16 and very sickly. Abel has spent all his life protecting the very fragile young girl, but he wouldn’t trade it for anything. Abel was repeatedly rape by one of the counselors at the shelter they stayed at. Abel stayed quiet and endured his abuse, so that the counselor wouldn’t start on Savannah.

When he is hurt at work by an overzealous client who tried to rape him, his friend Cole takes him to the hospital. This is where his path crosses Dr. Devlin Grant. Devlin is very interested in the sexy young man, but he tries to maintain his professionalism. Devlin causes Abel’s heart rate to kick up a notch. Abel feels a frisson of fear, because for the first time he is attracted to someone and would like to pursue it. Abel knows he has too much baggage and he feels like his life is too tainted for a man like Devlin. He makes an effort to keep his disinterested facade in place. After all, Abel won’t have to see Devlin  once he leaves the hospital.  
                                                                                     

 Little does Abel know that their lives will be even more intertwined. When Abel’s beloved sister falls sick in the middle of the night, Abel calls his friend Cole who helps them to the hospital. Devlin happens to be the doctor on call. He is very surprised to see Abel so soon, the young man who has dominated his thoughts. After running a battery of tests, Devlin gives Abel the most devastating shocking news, Savannah is HIV positive. Abel feels gutted and his world starts imploding around him. Abel blames himself and scrambles to find an explanation for this diagnosis. He thinks back to one of the nights when they lived on the streets and went dumpster diving for food. Abel remembered  something pricked Savannah and she said it felt like a needle. Everything is clear to Abel now and he just knows he has to do whatever it takes to keep Savannah alive.  

A solution falls into Abel’s lap via an indecent proposal. His boss Max tells Abel about a proposition he has received on his behalf. Horatio Kaplan a wealthy client of the club wants to pay Abel handsomely to spend time with him sexually. Abel feels disgusted and dirty , but he knows there is no other way to pay for the care Savannah will need. Abel visits Savannah everyday in the hospital and he is always tortured by his ever growing feelings for the handsome doctor. Devlin starts developing serious feelings for Abel, but he soon realizes Abel has been hurt deeply and is very skittish.

Their first attempt at a coffee date goes horribly wrong when Devlin encourages Abel to have faith that his sister will be alright. This touches a nerve in Abel , because of all the memories it brings up of the horrendous injustice of the rapes that he endured when he was no more than a child. Devlin realizes that Abel’s outburst stems from a far deeper pain than him saying the wrong thing. His suspicions are tentatively confirmed by Savannah when she breaks down and tell him the life they have lived thus far. Devlin cries for these two beautiful souls who have sustained so much pain.   

Abel tries to keep his distance and pushes Devlin away as he knows its for the best. He is in no position to start any kind of relationship, when he is burdened with so many issues. Abel goes ahead and set up the parameters for the ‘arrangement’ he will be entering with Kaplan. Abel’s friends Cole and Gabe help him  in a most pleasurable way to get used to intimacy so that he won’t get a panic attack when he has consensual sex. It is Cole’s and Gabe’s  loving friendship that keeps his demons away. The only place Abel really feels safe is in the controlled environment of the strip club.

Abel is shocked and nervous when Devlin shows up in one of the private rooms in the club saying he wants to talk. Abel is so afraid of the hopes and dreams he sees reflected in Devlin’s eyes, but he is weakened by his desires to taste something good and wholesome for a change. Abel gives into his desires to take something just for himself. The spark between the two soon turns into an inferno and they both give into their carnal desires. Devlin leaves after with hopes and the promise of a lunch date. Abel doesn’t want to give Devlin false hope or hurt him, but he wants this.

Devlin proposes a way to help Abel take care of Savannah financially through a fund set up with insurance from his brother’s death. Abel feels a glimmer of hope to have an alternate plan. Devlin tells Abel the story of how his brother Craig was a counselor who was killed by one of the teenagers he tried to help. Immediately Abel’s hopes are dashed when he realizes that Devlin’s dead brother Craig and his former abuser is one and the same. It turns out that Abel is the teenager who killed him. To be continued…..I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

 

 

 

Men in the Shadows 4: The Porn Star by Rain Carrington

Title : The Porn Star              Word Count : 382 pgs
Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : Sammy is looking for the man who could make him feel the way Neil had, and finding it impossible. A secret admirer starts to leave him roses and notes, stalking him. Sammy is intrigued, but with college, his job at his father’s garage and his new tutoring gig, he doesn’t have a lot of time to guess who it could be. Secretly, though, he hopes that it is Neil, who he couldn’t stop wanting.
He finds out and soon begins to explore his kink, to be watched. A video is uploaded to a website and attracts the attention of a porn producer. IS this Sammy’s big break, or will it end in heartbreak?
The student Sammy starts to tutor is a rich and difficult man named Andrew. Andrew disregards and berates anyone who crosses him, including the new personal assistant his father hired to “babysit” him.
Tom is a former Marine with a secret agenda, keeping him in the job with the privileged man he doesn’t know if he’d rather slap or kiss. Once Andrew’s parents announce their impending divorce, Andrew goes off the rails, only to find Tom there to catch him.
Through the last two years, Malcolm and Kirk have lived and loved, but when Sammy asks Malcolm to keep a secret from his big lover and his biker brothers, including Road Dog, Sammy’s father, Malcolm agrees, only to be found out and losing everyone who mattered the most to him. Can he and Kirk find their way back to one another, possibly with the help of the big Marine they met through Sammy?
Secrets, intrigue, murder and unspeakable acts abound in this final installment of the series. Three couples unite and are put to the test by family, friends and new jobs. Can three men come out stronger or end up another casually of their Men in the Shadows?

My Review : This book really showed how to bring the two halves of our ‘selves’ together and how to reconcile the disparity between the two. First of all, we meet Sammy who is a sweet young man who seems to be lost. Sammy has been hurt by a former lover and has decided to cure his pain by sleeping around. This helps him for a time, but lately he has realized that these encounters are leaving him unfulfilled. When Sammy starts getting notes from a secret admirer, he has to admit that he is somewhat intrigued. He tells his best friend Malcolm who seems to be worried for Sammy. He suggests that it could be the work of Sammy’s former lover Neil. Sammy agrees with Mal, but even though he still feels hurt over Neil’s betrayal, deep down he hopes the notes are from him. Sammy goes through his everday life as usual, going to college, working at his father’s garage and doing some tutoring to a spoiled brat named Andrew.
Things come to a head when Neil reveals himself as Sammy’s secret admirer. Sammy’s immediate reaction is to walk away from Neil as he knows no good can come from it. Neil persuades him and begs him for a chance to apologize. Neil is sorry for the way he betrayed Sammy. He knows that he messed up before and got Sammy’s friend Malcolm hurt, but he was also the one who helped find Malcolm when he was kidnapped. Sammy wants to forgive Neil and he realizes that he is still very much in love with him. He is in a quandary, because he knows that his family would definitely not appreciate him getting back together with Neil. Sammy’s father Road Dog, belongs to a biker gang, and he has forbidden his son to ever speak to Neil again after all the problems he caused the family .
Against his better judgement, Sammy decides to give Neil another chance and take things slowly . Neil is ecstatic that he gets to be with his sweet Sammy again. They agree to keep their relationship a secret for the time being. Things are going great with them and within no time they have totally reconnected. Neil is the only man that has been able to bring out Sammy’s kinky side, he is a bit of an exhibitionist. Neil caters to Sammy’s exhibitionism by filming their passionate lovemaking and uploading it to a porn site with Sammy’s approval. Sammy is beyond excited to see the thousands of views that their video has gotten. This sparks a flame within Sammy which can no longer be tamed.
In the meantime, another relationship is being formed between Sammy’s spoiled brat student Andrew and his live in bodyguard Tom. Andrew comes from a family of wealth and he is rude and disrespectful to everyone. He is over priveledged and his father has paid his way through life. He is failing his classes and Sammy realises that the true problem lays in the fact that he can’t read. Andrew goes through life ,covering his failings by being rude and not letting anyone get close to him. He pushes everyone to their breaking point, so that they will eventually leave him. This did not work with Tom, who he thoroughly pissed off with his attitude. Tom is a former marine and a Dom and he is absolutely fed up with Andrew’s disrespect. He is outraged and resorts to his natural inclination to discipline. It isn’t until he starts spanking Andrew and hears him screaming and sees the tears roll down his face , that he realize he does not have the right to discipline him. He starts to apologize, but he sees something in Andrew’s eyes and demeanor that appeals to him. Andrew thrives on punishment and their is a sparkle in his eyes that was never there before. Tom decides to hone Andrew’s submissive nature and turn him into the perfect slave . Tom wants to be his master so bad and soon sees the reality coming through.

It was truly an awakening for both of them to see the rich snobbish attitude taken over by the true mindset of what it means to be a perfect slave to his master. Andrew knows that his true purpose in life is to service Tom in all aspects of his life. Tom initiates Andrew to the life of a slave surrounded by like minded friends. Andrew endures a lot of pain with all the devices used by master Tom and his mentor, but he relishes it and receives pleasure as well. Andrew’s lessons in submission is definitely not for the feint of heart. Tom is a hardcore Dom and there is a lot of pain play , hot wax play amongst other things that I couldn’t fathom. However , the one thing that resonates with me is the open love that these two men experienced once both of their dreams are fulfilled.
Sammy’s feelings for Neil are becoming overpowering and he feels he can no longer hide his relationship from his family. To say his father was upset is a true understatement. Road Dog walks away without speaking to his son. His confession also opens a can of worms when it is revealed that Malcolm kept his secrets. Malcolm’s husband Kirk who is a member of the same biker gang as Road Dog believes that keeping secrets from his biker brothers is a true breach of trust. This causes a rift in their marriage and Malcolm walks out on Kirk. I was really sad to see this as they are my favorite characters.
They have been through a lot and they are really a solid couple.
They all have to pull together when trouble comes in the form of Andrew’s rich daddy. He is the head of a pharmaceutical company that developed a drug that can ‘cure the gay away’. Finding out that his son is gay would definitely cast a shadow on his wonder drug causing him to lose money, so he decides to have his son killed. This is where Malcolm comes up with the brilliant idea that the members of the biker gang could protect Andrew for a fee. It was very interesting to see the different kinds of friendships that were formed amongst these three couples. They all faced the dangerous ordeals with the support of their friends. They endured and came out victorious as three devoted couples. Tom was able to find his perfect slave in Andrew. Neil was able to cater to Sammy’s kinky side and this allowed Sammy to appreciate the man he knows and loves. Kirk was able to reaffirm the strength of the bond that he has with Malcolm.I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear.

Love in Xxchange 9: Where There’s a Will by Bailey Bradford

Title : Where There’s a Will             Word Count : 73,553

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : Three men who’ve given up on love find it in the most unexpected place.

A rough cowboy, a sassy spitfire, and a bartender—they sound like the start of a joke, but there’s nothing funny about the way Carlos feels when a sexy spitfire of a man blows him a kiss.

Carlos came down to Texas from the Mossy Glenn Ranch in Montana to deliver some bad news to his former boss Nick. Just one problem, his GPS unit is a lying POS. It keeps having him drive in circles and nagging him to turn in impossible places.

Then a man blows him a kiss, and reawakens a part of him Carlos thought was dead and gone. He’s a middle aged cowboy, tired and unemployed, yet when he stops for directions and sees the sexy spitfire getting jacked off by one very handsome, stacked bartender, it’s a jolt to his libido.

When Will and Troy invite him to play and make it clear they aren’t a couple, they’re just strangers like his is to them, Carlos just can’t resist.

But each of them have secrets, pain and desires, needs and hopes. Will is hated by most the town residents, Troy can’t accept his own needs, and Carlos has let his past control him for almost two decades. Can they find what they need together and in themselves? Is such a thing possible?

My Review : This was a jam packed sexy ass book. It started with a bang, banging through the middle and ended with a bang. Usually, I am not really a fan of threesomes, I think someone always gets left out and that feelings and emotions are not reciprocated equally. I am so wrong and I am so sorry that I waited so long to read this one. I shouldn’t have expected anything less from Bailey Bradford who is truly a magnificent author. I really love this series, but I wasn’t too keen on Will at first. Will can be a little bit abrasive and he comes off super slutty. It just goes to show that everyone deserves a second and third chance even. 

The three of these men complemented each other perfectly.  Will is the carefree young man who has hidden baggage and uses sex as an outlet. Troy is the sexy , tough bartender who deals only in one night stands and fears being judged as less than a man. Then finally, we have Carlos, the older serious sexy as hell cowboy. They really make their threesome relationship work by opening up to each other and being fearless when trying new things. Carlos was the top dog that pushed the trio in the right direction where they all needed to be. Will was the glue,  he was the small one that needed love ,protection and a little bit of pain from his two handsome hunks. Troy seemed strong but he was the most vulnerable one who was so afraid of embracing his true nature for fear of being hurt and demeaned. Carlos and Will saw how much Troy needed to let go and be tied up and dominated. Carlos was the perfect man to carry out the task and Will was willing and ready to be the example of showing the freedom , joy and ecstasy of being tied up.

 This led to numerous amazing sexual exploits with these three sexy men. It caused my temperature to rise and my blood to boil in my veins in a very good way. There was a really hot double penetration scene that really revved my engines. The logistics of that kinda thing doesn’t compute in my brain , but it leaves me very very curious and makes me want to aspire to such endeavors😉. 

Will is one of the strongest of the three, not physically strong but emotionally. He is a little insecure and he has some issues to work through. He uses pain , spankings and every aspect of the BDSM lifestyle as a way of release and he embraces himself wholeheartedly.  This experience is very cathartic for Will and it brings out the strength  in Carlos to accept his need to dominate and for Troy, it allows him to realize something that he has always wanted for himself which is to be dominated without fear or shame. It was quite clear to all three involved that they were the real deal,  they were really in love and they totally got each other. This was a great finale to this series, I really have to go back and do reviews on the previous books. I forgot how much I loved the men from the Xxchange. I give this my ratings of 5- bring out the vibrators .You’ll definitely need it. 

Favorite Quotes : 1.  Yep, he was gonna die and go to wherever happy little sluts went, except he was only a slut for these two now, which wasn’t the point. ( You really gotta love someone who embraces themselves wholeheartedly.  Will is totally free , he knows what he wants and he does everything to get it.)

2. “Give him a good ride, get your ass warmed up for me.” “Jeez,” Will gasped as he started a slow rhythm, “Gonna make me come with that dirty talk. You know I love it.” (There is something to be said about the art of dirty talk, mm mm mm makes me want to cream my pants😇.)