Angels and Demons ( Phoenix Club 9) by C.J. Bishop

Title: Angels and Demons Word Count:137 pgs
Genre: Dark Gay Romance

Blurb:ANGEL, Part 3

Desperate to save Maddy from the growing dangers, Angel must defy Wade’s threats and risk everything to escape with his younger brother.

But when hope betrays him yet again, and Maddy disappears into the night – Angel is left alone to face his abusers and struggle to determine truth from lie.

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 :


My Review: The never-ending cycle of Angel’s abuse continues. Angel tries to placate Wade and Byrd by taking on more high paying customers. He almost succeeds in hiding some of the money , so that he and his younger brother Maddy can run away. It doesn’t go well for Angel when Wade finds out of his ‘ treachery’. He punishes Angel by letting Byrd have his wicked way with him. Byrd brutalized Angel sexually and threatened to do the same to innocent Maddy the next time.

As much as Angel would like to give up , he knows he can’t let anything happen to his sweet baby brother. Angel continues the farce that is his life and keep on turning tricks in the club. Angel’s boss Max frowns on prostitution in his club. When he hears a rumour that such illicit acts are happening, he is furious and can’t wait to find out who’s the culprit. Max sets Gabe and Cole to keep their eyes and ears out. It doesn’t take long for Gabe to figure out that the pimp is Wade. Gabe tries to seduce him so he can find out who his boy is.

Meanwhile, Dane is drowning his guilt and sorrow in a bottle. Not only is Angel being abused, but his personal life is in the toilet when the truth is revealed about Dane. Angel is devastated that Dane is one of the masked men from his nightmares. The one true hell that started his life on this treacherous slope of abuse and rape. Angel blocks out the feelings he has for Dane as he knows that there can be no future with someone who he believed has hurt him this way. Even though Angel knows that Dane wasn’t a part of the gangbang rape he experienced in the past, he just can’t forgive him. To Angel , Dane is guilty by association and by not helping him when he needed it the most.

Dane has gone MIA and everyone can see Angel is hurting. Angel pushes all his so-called friends away. He knows it will only cause him more pain to get attached. His focus is on getting enough money to run away with Maddy.They are all so shocked when they find out that Angel is the one turning tricks. Gabe and Cole corner Angel in order to help him, but the fear in Angel is so stark that he ran away while he could. He ran straight into the arms of his high paying client who pays him a whopping five grand. Angel sees salvation for him and Maddy finally. He is soon disabused of this notion when Byrd and Wade catches them. Maddy is able to run away , but this time Angel knows he is going to die when Byrd starts raping him.

Everyone is frantic at Angel’s disappearance. Dane has been found finally and he tells his friends the whole sordid mess of his part in Angel’s past. They forgive him when they see that he is just as much a victim as Angel was. Angel is able to get in a phone call to the Phoenix Club before his horror show starts. All his friends can hear Angel being raped. Dane is going crazy , not knowing where to begin looking for Angel. He is devastated hearing Angel’s cries. When Maddy shows up on their doorstep looking for help for his brother, they hope they can make in time.

Dane goes ballistic When He gets to the apartment and not much of Byrd is left when he is done. The horrible men who made Angels’ life hell is put behind bars. Angel needs serious medical attention and is rushed to the hospital. When Angel wakes to find a tear-stained wrecked Dane, his heart aches for all he sees. He forgives Dane wholeheartedly. It’s been a trial for both these men, but they are learning to forgive each other through their love that’s forged in the fires of hell. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear.


When Angels Cry (Phoenix Club 7) by CJ Bishop

Title: When Angels Cry         Word Count: 131pgs
Genre:Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb: ANGEL, Part 1

18-year-old Angel’s sudden arrival at the Phoenix throws Dane’s heart into a frenzy.

But after losing out so recently with Caleb, he is in no hurry to feel the heartache again and resists his own rapidly growing feelings for the young man, unaware that what Angel needs most right now is someone he can trust and feel safe with.

Caught up in an abusive situation at home from which there seems no escape, Angel’s prime objective is to protect his little brother from the same hellish existence he himself has been thrust into at the hands of their sick minded stepbrothers.

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 :


My Review: All Angel has ever known in his life is pain. Him being the new member of the Phoenix Club is a way to lessen some of that pain. Angel lives with his two step brothers, Wade and Axel. Wade is a horrible human being who started exploiting Angel’s innocence from an early age. Wade knows that Angel would do anything to keep his little brother Maddy safe from the harsh realities of their world. He uses that to keep Angel in line. Angel has struck up a deal with his brother that as long as he brings in good money, they will leave Maddy untouched.

Angel tries to sharpen his skills on the dance floor , by getting one of the other dancers help. It is going good with Ricky, but Angel only has eyes for Dane. Dane is one of the sexiest men Angel has ever laid eyes on, but for some reason Dane keeps his distance. Dane is intrigued by Angel’s innocence, but he doesn’t want to fall in the same trap like before. Dane fell a little bit in love with Caleb before and that unrequited love killed him. Angel knows he needs to be focused in order to make enough money to get his brother away from Wade and Axel.

Max and Horatio are still pining over each other, but seeing the turmoil that Max is in, Horatio decides to go away. This kills Max, but this is what he needs to separate himself from the overwhelming feelings. Horatio is half way around the world entertaining another young doppelganger of Max. Even though it is not ideal , he still finds a friend in Seth. Gabe and Cole are still very much in love, but Gabe starts being furtive and taking secret phone calls. Cole has caught on and it makes him very nervous that Gabe is keeping secrets from him.

When Angel is hurt by one of Wade’s friends Byrd, he becomes desperate. He enlists the help of Dane to give him some lessons for sensual dancing. The chemistry between the two is off the charts and soon leads to something more. Angel seduces Dane with his innocence and Dane’s guards around his heart are pushed away. After they fall into a blissful sleep, Angel is caught in the grips of one of his nightmarish memories. Dane sees that loving this boy could be the thing to go break him. He is running scared and pushes Angel away, telling him that their hook up was a one off thing. Angel is heartbroken and leaves in tears, knowing that yet again he was nothing special to another man. To be continued….. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

Stealing Innocents by Cari Waites, Lisa Henry

​Title: Stealing Innocents                        Word Count:70,700

 Genre: Gay Romance

Blurb:Those who dare to scratch the surface of ordinary, everyday life may be horrified to find a sick underbelly beneath—a nightmare world populated by villains and victims, predators and prey, where the rules of society no longer apply.

Where you’ll find people like Danny, the boy who sells himself to pay for his father’s gambling debts and ends up in a situation more twisted than he ever imagined. Or Troy, the cop whose obsession with saving a brutalized human trafficking victim turns deadly. Or Drew, the mental patient who begins to suspect his nightly delusions of abuse by his doctor are actually real. Or David, the cuckolded husband who decides the best way to get revenge is to seduce his wife’s barely legal son.

Stealing Innocents is an exploration of our darkest human impulses, where sex is power, love is horror, and there’s no such thing as a happy ending.


This collection contains three edited second editions stories that were previously individually published, plus one all-new story, by Lisa Henry writing as Cari Waites.
 My Review: When Danny is sold to the man who his father owes insurmountable gambling debts, he learns how irrevocably his life has changed. From the very first moment he meets Archer, he understands the true meaning of ownership. The first thing Archer does is to place Danny in a cock cage  and demand that he be addressed as ‘ Sir’. Danny who is a 18 yr old virgin has never been  exposed to the world of BDSM. He is extremely confused when he is placed in a childlike room. He is further confounded when  Archer explains that it is for his own benefit since he had a horrible role model for a father. From night one Danny is made to understand that he won’t be eased into the lifestyle gently. Danny is forced to learn how to pleasure his master and is breached with an  anal plug without any gratification for himself. This is just a prelude for things to come.

Danny learns a fine lesson in humiliation and degradation on his second day in Archer’s household. He certainly can’t reconcile the changes he sees in himself in such a short space  of time. He yearns for the torture that his body undergoes when he is caned and simultaneously stimulated by the anal plug. Archer shows him that there is a thin line between pain and pleasure. Daniel submits to Archer and quickly fall into subspace where everything feels like an  out of body experience. Danny continues to learn harsh truths about his body and his tolerance. He is exposed to many unknown tools and practices such as enemas, sounds , fisting and orgasm denial that  causes humiliation but titillate his senses as well.

At first, Danny sets out to please his master only to avoid punishment. However, he soon realizes that in the nether recesses of his mind, he is embracing this part of himself that he has only just acknowledged. Danny meanders between feeling ashamed and dirty while reveling in the ‘special’ relationship he has with ‘daddy’ Archer. That is until he remembers this situation is not of his own free will. When Archer decides to share his new slave with his business associates, Danny becomes a little bit combatant.

Archer shows Danny how well and truly he is owned. Archer proves to him that he has no agency in their relationship and the more resistant he is, the harder it will be for Danny. Daniel experiences all forms of debauchery at the hands of his ‘daddy’ and he is denied all gratification. This is where he understands that the only pleasure  he will gain is by living vicariously through his master.

There is a juxtaposition between the old Danny and the new Daniel.Danny realizes that he is losing the will to fight. Self preservation kicks in and he decides to hide away that part of himself that makes him Danny. He cloaks Danny under the skin of Daniel, the one who thrives on being a good Daddy’ s boy. However, there are times when the spitfire Danny pushes through and this always leads to punishment. He shows resistance when Archer takes him to a tattoo parlour. Without knowing the plans that his daddy has for him, Danny defies him. This proves to Archer that Danny still has not learnt how to trust him wholeheartedly. Archer is very disappointed that his boy still does not believe that daddy knows what’s best for him. At that very moment, Danny glimpsed his biological father going into a well known gambling den. Danny is truly broken by this sight, because it means that all his sacrifice was for naught. He now has to reevaluate his arrangement with Archer and figure  out what is the true purpose of his debauched life. That night, Danny cries for a father that still has not learnt his lesson, but things are now clearer in his mind.

Everything comes to a head the next night when Danny is put on his knees to service Archer and his associates. The last guest arrives while Danny is taking care of his ‘daddy’s needs and it’s none other than his father Clyde. Clyde is disgusted by seeing Danny this way, but what is even more disgusting is when he suggests that he should have gotten more money for  basically selling Danny into this lifestyle. The true monster reveals himself and any love that Danny felt for his father in that moment was extinguished.

Danny’ s eyes have truly opened up and he now gains insight into the life he has been living with Archer. Archer treating Danny like a child was his way of giving Danny a rebirth for the childhood he knew Danny had lost at the hands of his father. Danny always had the responsibility of dealing with an addict for a father, rather than embracing a carefree childhood. Archer gave Danny a chance to be a child again in order to be the man he was always meant to be. Danny realized that he got a new identity by being  ‘daddy’s’ baby boy Daniel. For the first time, he thinks he is really ready to embrace Daniel and every nuance that comes with this persona.

Daniel regains his agency in the most unexpected way. He kills the man that he now sees was the poison in his life. Clyde is dead and Daniel is freed of all charges. He is also free to make the decision to be his daddy’s boy. Archer will allow him to be the man that will be his partner in everyone’s eyes, but at home Daniel will be the perfect daddy’s boy.

 I am still not sure how I feel about this book. It  was so horrific that it was good. This was very well written.It was nitely a page turner and not for the feint of heart. It is really heavy on the BDSM elements, violence and abuse. It was weirdly good and I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.  

P.S. This review was only for the first story. I found that the other short stories were too inhumane. I was not able to review them as they made me a little bit sick to my stomach.

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. 

Trey Grey 1:The Darker Side of Trey Grey by Tara Spears

Title : The Darker Side of Trey Grey   Word Count : 111,720

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : No one told Trey Grey that life could be dark and unpredictable. With the death of his father when he was eight, his mother’s departure from Earth on a syringe full of Heroin and the brutal abuse of his stepfather, Trey learned these lessons all too well on his own.

Now at twenty years of age, he is nearing the completion of his accounting degree and can finally glimpse the end of his life as a prostitute, the only profession he has ever known.

Wracked by nightmares of Willie’s years of abuse, and controlled by severe obsessive-compulsive disorders as a result, he seems to have a tentative handle on his own life. That is, as long as he keeps a death-grip and no one touches his Camaro, kitten.

But even the best laid plans can be torn to gory bits.

His savior comes in the unlikely form of a spiky-haired blond named Justin, after a night of drunken debauchery that neither of them seems able to forget. Justin might just need Trey as much as Trey needs him.

Trey travels through his fearscapes and begins to find his own forgiveness, but at what cost to the manic-depressive Justin? Will they be able to live through the trauma of each other’s lives and find their own version of normal?

My Review :  Trey Grey looks like any other young man going to university  on a scholarship. Only he isn’t,  Trey has scars so deeply imprinted on  his soul and some on his body. He moonlights as a prostitute and every john takes another piece of his sense of self. He doesn’t look at his penis as an extension of himself,  but rather as a separate entity. He has had a horrific past filled with abuse and this warps his view of himself. Trey has severe OCD and his ticks are bodily fluids especially semen. His abusive past and being a prostitute definitely  contributes to his behaviour.  Trey sees himself as very dirty  and there are certain rituals he has in place to lessen his uncleanliness. He masturbates out of necessity,  rather than for enjoyment and it has to be done in his shower so that he can immediately wash down the evidence with bleach. It isn’t until he scrubs himself bloody and raw that he feels a modicum of sterility and purity.

 Trey has a lot of pent up self recriminations for how his body would betray him at the height of culmination while his step father raped him. He gets  flashes of his abuse on a nightly basis where he relives the horrors of his past through his nightmares. After having nocturnal emissions after one of his nightmares,  Trey has a super meltdown which causes his OCD to kick in and he goes overboard with the scrub brush and the bleach all over his body. When he finally wakes up its five days after the fact and he is surrounded by the dean, his dorm supervisor and EMTs. Trey refuses to go to the hospital as he fears being put in a pysche ward for evaluation. One of the EMTS are very knowledgeable in  OCD and he racks up brownie points in Trey’s book. Trey willingly accepts the help of the nurse and this helps during convalescence.

A tale of a boy’s stolen childhood unfolds when his dreams are hijacked by the phantoms and ghouls of his past. His abuse has shaped how Trey lives his life, shutting  himself off from most human contact and no true friend. It  is very hard for him to communicate as a normal young  man,  because nothing  about him or his circumstances is normal. Up until he meets Justin, the first guy to ever rock his world sexually, he has never felt the need to have a connection with anyone. He tries to protect  Justin by shielding him from the quagmire that is  his everday life. He runs in the other direction without any explanation.  Trey realizes that even after a week he still can’t forget about Justin who features in his dreams rather than his omnipresent  nightmares. Trey’s therapist encourages him to explore the unknown of being in a relationship. He seeks Justin out only to find out that Justin is just as screwed up as himself. Justin is manic depressive and has insecurity issues. He has attempted suicide since Trey spurned him without an explanation.  Can two people who are prone to self harm and self destruction forge a relationship ?

Justin opens new doors in Trey’s sexuality. He offers him experiences Trey never dreamed of owning. There is a playful side to Justin that helps to bring Trey into the world of the living. There is also a calmness about  him that chases Trey’s demons back to hell. Trey might be a little broken, but he definitely has gumption and he has used his skills to survive and maintain his sanity. Being a prostitute might not be ideal and he is constantly judged. However, the most important thing is that he has survived years of abuse, not knowing any kind of comfort or love. Yet, he willingly puts Justin needs before his own and care for him like no other. 

It is exhausting watching these two traipsing  through the murky demon infested waters that is both their reality. They both have serious mental issues that is extremely taxing in different ways, but they keep on helping each other and being the backbone when  the other is down. Their issues take a toll on their relationship when Trey realizes that he is spiraling out of control. The threads of their relationship starts to unravel when Trey refuses to give up his life of prostitution right away. When there is another occurence of self harm that lands him in the hospital, Trey realizes that it’s time to seek help and seriously open up to his therapist and Justin . All three of them decide to work in conjunction to get Trey to a mentally healthy and happy place.

Justin draws the most lurid detailed images of Trey in his nightmares.  It allows Trey to see his horrors from another  person’s perspective and this gives him a new handle on his abuse. It brings him a sense of peace to think that if he can help someone to speak up against child abuse, it would have all been worth it. He wants to be the face of his abuse so that maybe other people can take notice of what child abuse looks like.  Justin and Trey bring out the best in each other. Although everyday is an uphill battle for them, they just have to trust in each other. Trey has to learn how to feel and enjoy for the first time consensual sex. Even when there is a kink that he thinks pushes him past his limits. Trey revels in the beauty of their passion for each other. Trey and Justin are very complicated  and needy together, but apart they are destructive in their own right. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear. 

It takes a lot of strength and courage to move beyond child abuse. I pray for all those survivors and all those who have endured any form of abuse,  it is the ultimate violation. Hopefully,  with every  single person that speaks out, another demon can be vanquished.

The Price of Falling by Melanie Tushmore

Title :  The Price of Falling          Word Count : 81,000

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : Mike Miller thought he was an average high school student. Your all-American, football playing, middle class kid. He didn’t mind being normal and fitting in, until new student Jason Reilly showed up. What was it about Jason that was so magnetic? Surely he shouldn’t be feeling things for another guy?

As Mike slowly starts to ignore everything else in his world, he finds not everything about Jason is what it seems. When he discovers Jason will do anything for cold hard cash, he enters in an agreement that could leave him broke for life.

A tentative story of discovery following the lives of two unlikely lovers.

My Review : What starts out as an indecent proposal  slowly turns into more. When Jock  Mike Miller  first meets the new kid in his class Jason, he is enthralled by his  beauty. There is just some nameless emotion that draws him closer. Mike builds up his courage when he notices a trend of Jason getting into different cars with older men. He propositions Jason , a blowjob for money. Jason accepts, even though it seems as if he wants nothing more to do with the Jock outside of their transactions. Mike falls deeper under Jason’s spells the more time they spend together. Mike always has to gauge Jason’s mood, he seems to come with a lot of baggage and he’s perpetually angry. 

Jason is very manipulative and Mike becomes a slave to his needs. Jason holds him by his short hairs and uses his  body as a weapon against him.Their relationship is very one-sided and Jason gives very little, while Mike uses up most of his college fund for his sexual escapades. Their affair seems so cold and pathetic at times and Mike just allows Jason to take advantage of him.

Things came to a head when  Mike gets tired of being a doormat. He questions Jason about their relationship,  demanding that Jason define it.As usual Jason is very nonchalant and this angers Mike to the point where he gets physical, knocking the juice Jason was holding out of his hand. When Mike saw the fear in Jason’s eyes he felt lower than dirt, knowing that he had crossed over into an unforgivable  territory. Mike does his best to try patching things between them. They are in the middle of having make-up sex when Mike’s dad unexpectedly comes home and catches them in the act.  Mike’s conservative father turns into a bigot right in front of his eyes, calling him all types of unsavoury names. Mike’s dad basically  banished him from their home , pulling him out of school and sending him off to live with one of his business partners. 

 Mike is ostracized from his family and friends, all but his sister Alicia who loves him unconditionally. Mike is incredibly  lonely and shell-shocked. Blake becomes a pseudo-father for him and it is with his encouragement and love that Mike regains some of his self-esteem and grow into the man he was meant to be. Mike supresses a major part of himself and even starts dating women in the hopes of gaining his father’s acceptance. When he finally sees his father for the first time, in over two years since he’s been banished,  Mike comes to the realization that his father still sees him as a disappointment and is not willing to overlook his sexuality. Mike becomes truly angry and decides to not try gaining his father’s acceptance and love anymore.

It is really sad to see how one decision can ricochet and cause so many wasted lives. It always boggles my mind to see how some parents can be so intolerable to their own flesh and blood’s sexual preferences. Their self serving attitude has such a diliterious effect on all their lives and causes so much much pain and suffering to all involved. 

It takes Mike four years to finally get out of his slump and admit to himself that he is gay.  He plays around with a few guys and feels reborned and exhilarated for having these experiences. It seems , he is finally living again when  he is reminded how short life can be. Mike gets a call saying that his father has had a massive stroke. His family is turned upside down when it seems as if his dad might not recover successfully. In her grief, Mike’s sister who has stood by him through thick and thin admits to something horrible she did when he got sent away. Alicia has hidden letters that she had gotten from Jason to pass on to Mike saying how sorry he was. Jason went as far as giving her most of the college fund which Mike had given him as payment for sexual favors. 

Mike is furious and he searches hard to see if he can put the pieces of his life back together.  When he finds Jason,  he is devastated at his condition.  Jason has become a heroin addict who is in pretty bad shape. Mike tries to salvage things  by placing Jason in a facility,  to see if he can  recover the Jason he once knew. Just as he thinks he will be able to revisit his life and reclaim what was once lost, Jason runs away from the rehab facility. Mike is at his wits end, but he keeps doing all he can nonetheless. When Jason is found  Mike goes to him and begs him to come home with him to New York . After a lot of back and forth , Jason relents.

All is definitely not smooth sailing for their tentative relationship.  Being a recovering addict, Jason is often moody, sullen and extremely rude. Jason is like a recalcitrant child at the best of times. The dynamics in the house with Jason , Mike and Mike’s sister is definitely tense. Mike is caught in between the two people he loves the most and theydefinitely make it clear that they hate each other. Alicia decides that three is a crowd and moves out for the betterment of their relationship.

 I am a firm believer in the fact that we don’t choose who we love and the heart wants what the heart wants,  no matter how devastating that love might be for us at times. The heart’s resiliency can be very potent and allows us to carry on through anything. It bounces back from all unforgivable occurences over time. They say that time heals all wounds and that is definitely true in this case. Mike and Jason eventually gets to a point where they have a healthy relationship with the normal ups and downs of everyday life. This is truly a coming of age story and it spans quite a few years. It is a journey in young love that eventually culminates in an everlasting love that withstands all the pitfalls of life. I give this my ratings of 4 –  because of the perseverance and resiliency of a love that had many obstacles thrown in its path. 

Chasing the Dragon by Kate Sherwood

Title : Chasing the Dragon                                 Word Count :78,272

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb :When mercenary Jack Hunter stumbles upon Christian Manning servicing a client in a back alley, it stirs feelings he’s kept deeply buried. Hunter becomes Christian’s knight in shining armor when he rescues him from an attack and takes him to his secluded cabin to heal.

Being stuck in the cabin over the winter gives both men a chance to get their lives in order. Christian is struggling to break his heroin addiction, and Hunter needs to get away from the organization he helped start years before—a group of people who don’t appreciate being told no. It’s a toss-up which goal is more difficult. Their new starts spark a relationship between them, but nothing good comes cheap. Despite the complications, Hunter wants more, but Christian is resistant to making that commitment. When Hunter’s private security company threatens them, only nurturing the fragile trust they formed at the beginning of their love affair will save them. But for two men with very dark pasts, relying on each other might be easier said than done.

My Review : The first night Hunter meets Christian Manning,  he is on his knees sucking off a john. Something about the sight of Christian’s mouth being pummeled by the stranger tugs at him. Hunter doesn’t think it’s arousal because he is straight,  or so he thinks. The john stiffs Christian the money that was agreed upon and tries to get rough with him. Although Hunter tries to stay out of it, he doesn’t want to see Christian get hurt, so he scares away the guy. After Christian offers his sexual services to Hunter which he denies, they go their separate ways.

Hunter  can’t stop thinking about Christian so he goes to the bar across from the hotel where the kid works. After a few hours of waiting he sees Christian being pulled into a car and he drives up to rescue him.Hunter whisks Christian away to his remote cabin by offering him a job renovating. While on the way Hunter realizes not only is Christian a prostitute, he is also a heroin junkie. He devises a plan with a doctor to help Christian detox and kick the habit. Hunter helps Christian through puking, cold sweat and irritability. After a few weeks he prods Christian to start exercising and walking with him. 

Slowly but surely Christian gets stronger and start helping out around the cabin by cooking and renovating.  Eventually, the physical side of their workouts brings life to another form of workout and the attraction between these two men gets really intense. They can’t keep their hands off each other and Hunter really likes exploring and learning about sex with another man. Hunter finds himself falling really hard for Christian but Christian is quite adamant that they are fuck buddies. Christian tries hard to push Hunter away and commits the ultimate sin which tears Hunter’s world apart. Hunter is left totally devastated and broken hearted. My heart broke in two for the hurt and betrayal that Hunter had to go through because of Christian. He committed a despicable , unforgivable act.

After three years of being apart,  we are reintroduced to Christian who has a job interview with the mercenary company that Hunter belonged to. He goes through the rigmarole of training and boot camp successfully,  but what he doesn’t realize is that the board of directors are just using him as a way to get Hunter to comply with their demands. Christian and Hunter’s first meeting is heartbreaking,  so much time wasted because of stupid mistakes and lack of trust in a love that was real. Hunter is grumpy and sullen to Christian at first but they both have to put their differences aside and band together so that they can work against the company to stay alive. It doesn’t take Hunter very long to know that he is still in love with Christian,  and for Christian after being three years clean, he finally believes that he deserves something pure and good in his life. That would have been all well and good if they didn’t keep dancing around each other scared of their feelings for each other or lack thereof. 

This book was an uphill battle in the romance department right until the end. It wasn’t the typical happily ever after where there is conflict, resolution and then undying love. It was more of: conflict, we meet again, talk through our problems,  we love each other but we are still insecure in our love. I kinda liked it though and I guess it works because really who has that perfect happily ever after in real life? I know I sure as hell don’t.  Relationships take lots of work and I guess this is what Kate Sherwood brought out in these two characters. I give this my ratings of 3- it was ok, give it a try.