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.

No Angel ( No Shame 5) by Nora Phoenix

Title: No Angel Word Count:167 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Indy and his chosen family are celebrating the holidays…in true No Shame style.

It’s time to say I do, and Indy couldn’t be more excited. Side by side with Noah, Josh, and Connor, he’s proud to take his vows with their friends watching.

But his post-wedding bliss is rudely interrupted when his past once again comes back to haunt him. And not just him, Connor gets some shocking news as well that leaves him reeling.

Before they can all share the best Christmas ever, they’ll need to come together as one family.

No Angel is the fifth book in the No Shame series, a continuing series that needs to be read in order (start with No Filter). You can expect the usual sexy shenanigans, some suspense, and a whole lotta love and emotions as we reconnect with all characters from the previous books.

My Review: The boys are back and even hotter than before. It starts out with Indy and Josh having wedding jitters. They are both about to marry the men of their dreams, Noah and Connor. To the world this looks like a joint wedding of two couples. It really is a melding of 4 souls joining together to form one whole. Connor is no longer jealous of the special relationship that Indy has with Josh. To them, it’s as natural as breathing and they come together seamlessly. Both Connor and Noah are finally understanding that they all need this connection and bond that keeps growing for all of them. Instead of dividing, it has actually brought them closer together, they are now a family. This also includes the trio that they have let into their lives , Charlie, Brad and his ‘daddy’ Miles. Although unconventional, all of these relationships are being fostered in a safe environment that has allowed them to flourish.

News that there is a contract out on Indy’s life once more threatens to shake their foundation. Connor, Noah and Miles who are the ‘man’ of the house decide to hire private security to ensure their ‘boys’ are safe. They all agree that the security needs to be kink friendly so that they won’t need to curtail their lifestyles. They find a Dom named Wander who is very open minded, but it is still an adjustment and causes some embarrassment for some members of the household. This tests the true strength of the triad relationship when it comes to light that Miles is a bit embarrassed of his relationship. Brad is deeply hurt that his ‘daddy’ would deny the special part of their relationship…. his need of his consensual use and debasement. Miles knows he needs to atone for his mistakes so he asks Connor to dole out his punishment. Although unconventional for a Dom to ask another Dom for punishment, this is his way to prove his worthiness to his ‘boy’.

Even more earth-shattering is when Connor’s mom calls him out of the blue. She says her final goodbyes and tells of the end of her affiliation with the mob. Connor takes this as a premonition of bad things to come and he is indeed right. After giving herself over to police custody, she confesses to her crimes of murdering the remaining Fitzpatricks and then some. This is her last act of protecting Connor and proves her unfailing love in her own way. She later commits suicide. This is heart-rending for Connor, but his men are there to pick him up. Connor is shattered and he doesn’t do well with grief. It is Noah who pulls him in the right direction to express his feelings.

Indy comes up with a game where everyone in the house gets their ultimate sexual fantasy. It is through these sexy times where Connor and Noah finally become intimate with each other and boy was it intense. Intense in a good way and cathartic at the same time. It was definitely a balm to soothe Connor’s hurt and put him back together again. Blake and Aaron was also featured and they also get their happy ending. Aaron proposed to his master who accepts. They have a winter wonderland wedding on Christmas eve where Blake gets the chance to officially collar his ‘puppy’ with a diamond encrusted pink collar. This was certainly the best Christmas holidays for all these men who’ve come together and formed this beautiful family. I give this my ratings of 5- bring out the vibrators cause there is lots of hot sex. I absolutely loved the perfect end to a perfect series.

No Fear (No Shame 3)by Nora Phoenix

Title: No Fear Word Count:325 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb: Aaron is drowning. After coming out as gay, he lost his parents’ approval, his job, and his sense of identity. He feels like a freak who doesn’t fit in anywhere. His last hope was his brother Josh, but Josh can’t seem to forgive him for how Aaron treated him when they were teens. Not that Aaron can blame him, because he did treat Josh like crap.

All Aaron wants is for someone to accept him, guide him, because he doesn’t have a clue. When sexy jiujitsu teacher Blake takes him in and starts mentoring him, Aaron has hope for the first time, even though he can’t understand what Blake sees in him.

Blake doesn’t do relationships. At all. He’s more than willing to help Aaron find solid ground under his feet, but that’s it. Until insecure, vulnerable, and surprisingly sexy Aaron gets under his skin, triggering all kinds of protective instincts that make Blake long for more. He wants to take care of Aaron, give him what he needs, but how can he convince Aaron of that?

When Josh’s friend-with-benefits Indy’s past finally catches up with him, it endangers them all—and leads to heartbreaking decisions for everyone involved.

No Fear is a steamy M/M romance that ends with a HFN for Aaron and Blake, but has a continuing storyline as well. It’s the third book in the No Shame Series, and is not a stand alone novel, so make sure to read the first book (No Filter) and the second book (No Limits) first. It contains hot sex, a little kink, more hot sex, very mild puppy play, and a beautiful friendship-with-benefits that transcends labels. Also: trigger warning for mentions of sexual abuse.

My Review: We were introduced to Aaron Gordon in the previous installment of this series. We met him as Josh’s younger brother who turned his back on him when he came out. First impressions of him were that he was a spoiled brat who comes from an uber religious family. He comes off as being a self entitled kid who got everything handed to him. Now that he has come out himself, his parents kicked him out. Aaron is no longer the golden boy and he is rudely awakened to some of the horrors faced by many gay men around the world. On his first foray out to a club, he is beaten badly and gets a few bruised ribs for his troubles. Aaron shows up on Josh’s doorstep and even though they are not close, Josh lets him stay for a bit. Things are very tense for awhile and it soon becomes clear it’s not gonna work. Aaron is perceived to be very lazy and expects to be taken care of. He doesn’t have the wherewithal to clean up his own mess. It is Josh’s boyfriend Connor who steps in and gives him an ultimatum: pay his own way or he has to stay somewhere else. Josh finds him a safe space to stay with Indy’s juijitsu professor Blake Kent.

Blake seems to be a very rigid man , but he has a very kind heart and he looks out for others and champions the weak. He opens his home as a safe space to people who have been abused. Blake is empathetic to Aaron’s situation, but he soon loses patience with his slovenly ways. Blake takes Aaron to task, letting the arrogant young man know he needs to pull his own weight. After Aaron cleans the studio without complaining, Blake heart softens when he realizes that Aaron is trying. After a very candid conversation, Blake understands that what he saw as arrogance is actually Aaron’s vulnerable insecurities coming through. Aaron is a lost puppy, who has lost all his sense of self and identity.

Blake gives Aaron carte blanche to ask any question he wants. This leads to some sexual explorations when he finds out that Aaron is still a virgin. Blake decides to pay it forward and lead this innocent young man into a gay new world. First order of business is to get Aaron some sexy underwear and a new wardrobe. After careful scrutiny, Blake deduces that any form of sexual identity that Aaron might have formed while living with his parents would have been eradicated. Blake sees through the fear of rejection and perceives that Aaron may possibly want to identify with a more gentler, feminine side of himself. He knows he is spot on when he sees the joy on Aaron’s face when he tries on a more feminine wardrobe. This also brings out Aaron’s sexy side. Aaron is feeling a new sense of self and decides to have the sexy dominant Blake relieve him of his virginity. Blake decides to give him a taste of the gay nightlife first to see other options before he takes on the much coveted job of v-card defiler.

Aaron knows from the moment he steps in the club that there is no other man for him. He sways sensually to the music and Blake knows right away that he is willing to break all his rules for this sexy Aaron. Blake knows that there is definitely something building between them that defies his no relationship rule. He is certainly intrigued by this sweet cuddle puppy who has turned into a terrier. When they start getting too frisky for the dance floor, Blake makes the decision to take sexy Aaron home. He is on his way home when he noticed something weird at his studio. Someone’s trying to break in, he stealthily creeps in and overheard them talking about finding Indy. Blake knows he has to warn Indy.

It is the middle of the night and its clear to see that Blake has woken up my favorite quartet. Blake is a little bit shocked to see the openness and sexual familiarity displayed by these four men. It makes him curious about their relationship. When he explains what’s happening,it is Josh who comforts Indy by kissing him. Looking at Noah, it is obvious that he isn’t upset at Josh kissing his boyfriend Indy. The same goes for Connor when he walks in. The easy camaraderie amongst these four is clear. They use sexual banter and nuance to comfort each other. What Blake is envious of is the love he feels radiating from all of them. However, it is very tense between the two brothers Josh and Aaron. The pot finally boils over when Josh lashes out at Aaron for not standing up for him when they were younger. Aaron is brought to tears and he apologizes for hurting Josh. It is Indy who appeals to Josh, showing him that Aaron was only a scared 15 yr old boy then. Blake cuddles his ‘puppy’, letting him know he is no longer alone. Blake sees deep inside his boy, knowing the pain he carries inside is keeping him from embracing his true sense of self.

Blake knows that with all the pain Aaron has endured, he just needs someone to take care of him. Blake takes Aaron on a date and he loves the connection that he feels with this needy young man. Something in Aaron calls to Blake and he explains the BDSM lifestyle, especially the daddy/boy dynamics. It doesn’t quite fit though;when Blake explains about puppy play, all the pieces snap into place for Aaron. Puppy play definitely resonates with Aaron and accounts for all the weird, clingy, needy feelings he is prone to feeling.Blake decides to step up to the plate and fulfill this need in his boy, which surprisingly calls out to the dominant nature within himself. Before they can go home to explore the new dynamics in their relationship, Aaron asks to stop by to check in with Indy and his men.

They aren’t there for too long before chaos ensues. The men who are hunting Indy show up. Blake jumps into the fray and disarmed two of them, but gets shot in the process. Connor kills 3 of the men. Indy knows he can no longer put his men in danger. He decides to go into witness protection. Blake is seriously hurt and flatlines twice. Luckily, Noah is there to pull him back. They are all in their own world of hurt. Aaron is constant and just like the ‘puppy’ he is, he never leaves Blake’s side. Everyone starts noticing how ‘clingy’ he is. Blake’s brothers Burke and Brad make derogatory remarks about Aaron. This brings up all of Aaron’s insecurities causing him to flee from the only home he has ever known. Blake is furious and takes his brothers to task for their judgement. Blake expresses his love for Aaron and continues to text his ‘puppy’. Aaron is so far gone in his loneliness, he drives quite a few states away and find a job at a motel.

Everybody’s world seems to be imploding.Connor comes up with a plan for him and Josh to free Indy, but it involves being separated. Connor has quit his job and gone back to the criminal elements of his past life in Boston.Indy has gone into witness protection and is in an unknown location fending for himself. Noah feels like he is losing himself, especially when he finds out that Josh has to be booked in a psychiatric ward for his PTSD. Blake is recovering slowly and missing his ‘puppy’, but he diligently sends text messages on an hourly basis letting him know how much he is missed.

It only takes Aaron a month to figure out what the sentiment behind Blake’s messages mean. Even though Blake hasn’t said it outright, Aaron knows he is loved. As soon as Blake opens the door, Aaron knows he is home. A sense of peace flows over him as soon as he is back in Blake’s arms. Blake presents him with a gift of a perfect pink collar and matching leash to welcome home his puppy. Aaron is at peace with himself and his unique needs and he is definitely ready to embrace his true identity. The sexual energy between these two is very palpable and showcases the full extent of their trust and love for each other. I really enjoyed how naturally the puppy play aspect was introduced by the author. It was not overly salacious, just two men being in love and freely expressing that love ,as it should be.

Indy once again proves to be a superhero trapped in his little ‘twinkie’ body when he ends up saving himself as well as a federal agent Miles who will star in the next upcoming book of this series. The plan Connor has set in place is perfectly executed without any of the key players falling under suspicion. At last, Indy is free, all the men of the Fitzpatrick clan who has hurt and hunted him are dead. I can’t wait to see the fabulous quartet that is made up of Indy , Noah, Josh and Connor reclaim their lives. Another amazing addition, the next one will be a threesome, can’t wait. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.