No Limits ( No Shame 2) by Nora Phoenix

Title: No Limits                         Word Count: 309 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb: This is NOT a stand alone novel. See end of this description for details) Josh is convinced he’ll never find someone who’ll love him the way he is. He’s not exactly a catch with his PTSD, which has transformed him into a homebody most of the times. Sweet, maybe, but also boring as hell. Plus, there’s that submissive tendency he recently discovered and is dying to explore. His complicated relationship with Noah and Indy doesn’t make it easy, either. When Connor shows interest in him, he can’t believe the sexy cop would look at him twice, let alone make an effort to get to know him. When he does, Josh discovers they have more in common than he’d ever thought possible.

Connor had survived the ordeal that left his best friend and fellow Marine dead, but that survival came at a price. He’s a robot, going through the motions, but barely alive. Until fate intervenes when he meets Josh. The vulnerable man triggers all kinds of protective and dominant urges in Connor, but what would a cute guy like Josh want with an inexperienced, closed-off, bossy steamroller like Connor?

When Connor discovers his past endangers Indy, all hope for a future between him and Josh seems lost. After all, there’s no way Josh will ever choose Connor over Indy’s safety and Noah’s lifelong friendship. When a crisis hits, can Connor prove he’s strong enough to deal with everything that’s thrown his way?

No Limits is a steamy M/M romance that ends with a HFN, but has a continuing storyline as well. It’s the second book in the No Shame Series, and IS NOT A STAND ALONE NOVEL, so make sure to read the first book (No Filter) first. It contains hot sex, a little BDSM kink for beginners, more hot sex, and a beautiful friendship that transcends labels. Also: trigger warning for mentions of sexual abuse and sexual violence, including rape.

My Review: Joshua doesn’t think that he will ever lead a normal life. Between his severe PTSD and the sexual trauma he experienced while in the army, he has constant flashbacks. His best friend/ fuck buddy Noah keeps him grounded. Watching Noah in his newfound relationship with his boyfriend Indy causes Josh to yearn for something more. He is not exactly sure what that is, but he knows he feels attracted to the sexy as sin cop O’ Connor.

Connor is confused at the relationship between Noah and Josh. However, it is Noah who has given him the green light to pursue Josh. Connor is in the closet, but he knows he’s never felt the way he does about Josh. When Josh finds out that Connor is interested he is elated, but definitely shocked that such a dominant macho man could be his. Connor has a few sexual hang-ups about his size that has held him back from being with a guy. Josh is only too happy to show him that there is nothing called ‘too big’. Josh likes a little pain with his pleasure, he thrives on rough sex. He is certainly coming to terms and willing to explore his submissive tendencies with the right person.

Things become explosive when they come together for the first time. Josh feels like he has truly found someone he can belong to. He feels safe in the comfort of Connor’s arms. Connor is still a bit perturbed about the dynamics amongst this trio involving Josh, Noah and Indy. When certain secrets are revealed, he admits to feeling left out and a bit jealous that Josh stands with Noah and Indy. Even though their relationship is new , he wonders if he will ever be a number one priority with Josh. Josh needs both Noah and Connor to learn how to be comfortable around each other, because he can’t live without one man or the other.

Josh schedules a fun filled day of paintball for all of them. Noah and Connor set aside their alpha posturing to work together and it pulls them all a bit closer. Their time together is soon ripped asunder when Noah has to be rushed to the hospital for an infection in his stump. Indy panics and vanishes. He can’t face losing Noah, it is clearly a dick move on his part, but understandable given his past. Josh is devastated, but he tries to keep it together since he has the medical power of attorney over Noah. The doctors decide to operate and cut off more of his stump to save Noah’s life.

Connor knows that he has to step up and take care of his man before Josh loses his mind. He takes Josh home and they delve further into the BDSM lifestyle. Connor gives him a spanking which sends Josh into subspace, one of the best releases he has ever had. They profess their love for each other shortly after. Connor makes the decision to get educated in being the proper Dom to his sub Josh. Josh has made up his mind that he already belongs to Connor and he is only too happy to engage in lessons. It is an exhilarating experience watching these men solidify their D/s relationship and learn their limits.

Indy finally shows up and explains to Noah that he needs to sort things out in his head before he could come back. When Noah is released from the hospital, he is happy to see that the dynamics have changed. He sees Connor taking control and realize that for the first time Josh’s needs are being met. Connor proves his love for Josh by providing a solution for their living situation that will work for all of them. They decide to buy a bigger ranch style home where each couple can have privacy while still maintaining their closeness. Finally , Indy comes back after taking care of some issues that would hurt his little family. I really enjoyed watching these two couples come into their own. The unhealthy sexually codependent relationship between Josh and Noah is broken. Now their respective relationships will have a fair chance of flourishing with some mutual exhibitionism and voyeurism on both couples part. I give this my ratings of 5- bring out the vibrators.

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 :

ABEL
CALEB
ANGEL
GABRIEL
MAXWELL

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 :

ABEL
CALEB
ANGEL
GABRIEL
MAXWELL

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.

Joker (Executioners 2) by J.M. Dabney

Title: Joker                    Word Count: 150 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb: Joker, what a misnomer, but Jackson Webb’s friends were idiots. He’d joined Executioners almost three years earlier after the lead singer King caught him playing his guitar behind his garage. It broke up the monotony of his life, but once he got bored, he’d move on to another distraction. He wasn’t nice. He sure as hell wasn’t friendly. He was what he was, his friends handled his attitude and standoffish nature just fine. At thirty-eight he was pretty sure he was too stuck in his ways to change shit now. 

Demetri “Dem” Urban was settling into a new life in the middle of nowhere. Okay, he was hiding from everyone in a kitchen as far removed from his five-star kitchen back in New York as he could get. Gideon invited him to stay with him and his wife for a while just until he could get everything back on track. He didn’t see it happening, but he had to admit the scenery wasn’t bad even if the man had the personality of a rabid, man-eating bear. Dem did like a challenge and that fit Joker Webb perfectly.

Author’s Note: This story contains scenes of a violent nature, mentions of rape and torture (All off page from characters pasts) and severe abuse. If you, as a reader, find this objectionable or triggering in any way, you can skip this story without losing the transition to the next book.

My Review: From the moment of conception Joker’s life has been embedded in violence. Joker is the product of a rape, where his father kidnapped his mother and continued to abuse her for years. That physical abuse turned into torture for Joker, especially when  his mother disappeared. His father perpetuated the cycle of violence that was passed on from his grandfather. Joker fears the blood that runs through his veins has tainted him and will cause him to be the same kind of man. He has always shyed away from touch, learning to live with the bare minimum of everything. Joker leads a very structured life where he sticks to routine as a means of controlling all the rage and anger he is filled with.  

Gideon’s best friend Demitri needs a change after he breaks up with his boyfriend of two years. From the moment he sees a picture of Joker, he feels a certain spark. Demitri leads a pretty upbeat life and he doesn’t allow anything to get him down. He was borned with a degenerative disease that has gotten progressively worse and causes him to use arm crutches.Demitri loves being in the kitchen and is currently working at the diner where Joker eats all his meals. Demitri forces his way into Joker’s life by disrupting his monotonous routine. When he purposely messes with Joker’s breakfast, he is pissed and storms out. Dem realizes that he needs to nudge Joker in the right direction rather than  push him over the edge.

Dem starts inserting himself gently into Joker’s life and even though Joker balks, he still ended up taking Dem on a date. Dem is definitely the aggressor in this relationship, pursuing Joker at every turn. Dem even goes to Joker’s isolated cabin, drops in unannounced and stays two days. This is unheard of, everyone usually just leaves Joker when he needs his space. When Dem leaves the cabin , he tells Joker he will be staying at his home. Even though Joker is a bit standoffish and skittish, he doesn’t push Dem away.

Joker gives Dem one night of unadulterated passion. Dem has needs and he begs Joker to give it to him hard. He is tired of everyone treating him as less than because of his disability. Joker becomes swept up in the passion and gives in to both of their desires for the first time. Joker is understandably conflicted and he flees for 3 weeks. Joker doesn’t have the proper framework when he thinks about sex. He associates any type of rough sex with rape.

Dem was worried sick and he thinks he might have pushed Joker too hard. Joker acknowledges to himself that he wants their relationship to work. Their friends give them both advice , but what resonates with Joker is Sheriff Pelter’s advice to be honest. Dem understands that they will never have a touchy feely traditional relationship, but what they have is real and very promising. After being together for more than 6 months , Dem spits out a wedding proposal that is quite untraditional. Joker gladly accepts, hoping that he will be the man that Dem needs. I give this my ratings of 3- It was ok, give it a try.

Shattered (Phoenix Club 3) by CJ Bishop

Title: Shattered                   Word Count: 106 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb: Abel, Part 3

Abel’s heart is crushed by Devlin’s vehement rejection and refusal to believe the truth about his brother. With the threat of prison hanging over him, Abel is sent away with Horatio Kaplan to Italy for safe keeping.

Certain he has lost Devlin forever, and broken by the reality that he has devastated Devlin’s life, Abel takes an unexpected comfort in Kaplan when the man begins to show sincere care and affection for him. 

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: Having lost everything, Abel allows himself to be whisked away on a private jet with Kaplan to parts unknown. Abel is devoid of all emotion now that Devlin had forsaken him. Devlin himself is also in a world of hurt. He tries to detach himself from his feelings for Abel and concentrate on doing his duty as Savannah’s doctor. Cole and Gabe wish they could do more to help their friend Abel. It is Gabe who is the impartial voice of reason, telling Cole to give Devlin some time to process,  before going to talk to him. Cole wants to protect Abel and make sure that Devlin doesn’t send him to prison. Gabe realize that these two innocent men, Abel and Devlin are being crucified by  the actions of a monster.

The lines are being blurred in Abel’s arrangement with Kaplan when the man starts treating him more like a person rather than a trophy. Although Abel still mourns for the love lost, he finds a measure of release from his pain in Kaplan’s presence. On the other hand , Devlin finds no peace during his days. The look on Abel’s face when he tore him down is on a constant loop running through his brain. His subconcious also tortures him with long ago suppressed memories of his interactions with his brother that comes in the form of dreams. These dreams conflict with the idea of the idolized brother that Devlin remembers. His dreams remind him of a brother who was too willing to teach him how to masturbate when he was thirteen. Some of his brothers actions are borderline inappropriate. Devlin’s convoluted thoughts make him sick to his stomach as doubts begin to form. 

Now that the vault holding his memories has been cracked open, more and more questionable memories keep on popping up in Devlin’s brain. It’s driving him crazy,paired with the longing he still feels deep down in his soul for Abel. He gleans information about Abel from eavesdropping at Savannah’s door. He learns that Abel is out of the country with a man named Kaplan. It pains Devlin to think about Abel being with another man and he feels disloyal to his brother for even thinking about Abel at all.

Abel gets a little bit lost in the old world romantic feel that Italy offers. He doesn’t think Kaplan is so bad once he starts enjoying his company. Kaplan is very worldly and he explains the history of the beautiful place to Abel, his captivated audience. It doesn’t take long for the illusion to be torn and reality of his situation sets back in. It is Kaplan who encourages him to go back and fight for the man he loves. It is clear that Kaplan feels some sort of affection for Abel and aside from paying him twenty thousand dollars , he never treated him like a whore.

Meanwhile, Devlin has been waging a never-ending war between his emotions and his  memories. It is now solidified in his mind that his brother was indeed a child molester. This is corroborated by his best friend who he hasn’t seen in years. When he runs into him at a restaurant and they start catching up, Brandon has the same look as Abel when he talks about his dead brother, a look of relief. Devlin can no longer hide from reality when his own memories are pointing to the same truth, his brother was a monster.

On the day of Savannah’s release from the hospital, Devlin is shocked when he walks in and sees Abel. He can’t bear to look at his sweet tortured boy so he runs away. Since running away seems to be the theme with these two, their friends set a trap for them in mid-air on Kaplan’s jet. Finally, with all the walls broken down they both acknowledge who the real culprit is, the monster Craig. They both commiserate through their pain and reaffirm their undying love for each other. Sparks fly and they join the mile high club in the age old dance of love. This was a wonderful trilogy and I can’t wait to watch all the other men of Phoenix Club have their happily ever after. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

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.

 

 

 

Scars We Hide (CadburyNovel 2) by Jaclyn Osborn

​Title: Scars we Hide             Word Count: 308 pgs

Genre :Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Trust makes you vulnerable. Weak. Peyton Evans learned that lesson long ago. Being shuffled between foster homes since he was five, and then surviving for so long on his own, he has kept a wall around his heart. The abuse he suffered at the age of fifteen refuses to fade into the past, and the scars it caused impact him every day. He’d thought he’d found love before, but that relationship showed him once again that trust only led to more pain.

Struggling with an addiction he developed as a teenager, Torin Hayes found himself one screw up away from going to prison and decided to get clean. But a sudden incident threatens to send him back down that rocky path, and he fears people will never look past his intimidating appearance and will only see the tattooed delinquent he’s been labeled as for years. Moving to Cadbury, Oklahoma is his only way to start over.

When the two men meet, the attraction between them is far from instant, but Torin’s persistence blurs Peyton’s opinion of him as a tattooed bad boy who will break his heart and shatter him all over again. Peyton’s scars run deep and make it hard for him to let go of his fear and accept a love he doesn’t feel he deserves. But, when it comes to matters of the heart, even the most strategic plans can change.

*Trigger warning: This story contains content that may be sensitive for some readers. The triggers are: drug/alcohol abuse and flashbacks of sexual abuse including rape. This is Book 2 in the Cadbury series, but can be read as a standalone.*

My Review: The main character Torin has a lot of demons plaguing him. Torin a recovering alcoholic has just lost his best friend/ fuck buddy to a drug overdose. This causes Torin to relapse and go on a bender. His uncle steps in and decides to take him to his hometown in Cadbury. This is exactly the break that Torin needs to get away from all the bad influences. From the moment he lays eyes on the quaint little house that his uncle sets him up in, he knows that he can finally make a change in his life. He quickly starts looking for a job, but his bad boy persona coupled with a scar on his face can be very off-putting. 

Torin meets Peyton, the sexy blond barista that works in the coffee shop where he is applying for a job. Torin is smitten and there is an innocence and vulnerability that surrounds Peyton that makes him want to protect him. He is turned down for the job, but that does not stop him from asking Peyton out. Peyton is very attracted to the sexy bad boy , but he is cautious about relationships because of his experiences. 

All the people in Peyton’s life has always left him by the wayside. He was taken from his drug addicted mother and put in foster care. When he was finally placed with a family, he was sexual abused by his foster bother constantly. Peyton’s foster brother caused him a lot of emotional scars making him feel unloved and unworthy. Peyton tends to shy away from relationships because of the pain he believes will come from it.

Peyton tells Torin he is only interested in some no strings attached fun and Torin agrees. They both find out soon enough that won’t work. Peyton causes Torin to yearn for more, because he is the only guy that keeps Torin’s demons at bay. When Torin is with Peyton, he doesn’t think about drinking. He starts wanting more and this scares Peyton. It seems that Peyton has become his new drug of choice. When Peyton’s  ex Luke accuses Torin for not being good enough, that sets him on edge. Torin realizes in  that  moment that his sobriety is definitely going to be an uphill battle when he almost has a panic attack. He calls Peyton right then to see if he can soothe his raging demons.

 From the tone of his voice Peyton comes to the conclusion that something is  very wrong with Torin and rushes to his side. Peyton has to admit to himself that he does care for his sexy badboy. Torin opens up to Peyton telling him about his addiction  and about his grief over his bestfriend. However,  he stirs up a lot of Peyton’s demons when he pushes too hard , too fast. When Peyton rejects him , he gets really upset and this pushes Peyton even further into his shell because of his past abuse. Torin doesn’t understand that Peyton’s rejection stems more from self preservation than anything else. Here are two guys who are so damaged that they don’t recognize that they are each other’s healing  balm.

After about a week , Torin’s heart is aching after all his texts to Peyton has gone unanswered. He decides to take the bull by the horns and see if Peyton will give him another shot. At first , Peyton  rebuffs him but when Tor turns to leave he realize that he really want to lead a normal life where he can have a boyfriend. Tor is ecstatic that Peyton is willing to give them a chance. They start out slow and their makeup sex is extremely hot.They are with each other everyday and even though it’s slow going Peyton starts to open up a little more. He goes more in depth and tells Torin about being raped by his foster brother Jason. All of his insecurities are laid bare, his feelings of worthlessness and his stuttering. The pieces of the puzzle that is Peyton all comes together and Torin gets a better understanding of the man who has captured his heart. 

Torin has turned into the sweetest most loving boyfriend and this causes Peyton’s healing to progress. Torin encourages him to speak to a professional and finally Peyton acknowledges that he does need help.These two men are able to find their strength from within each other to help heal their individual scars. Torin continues to go to AA meetings so that he can be a better man to support his sweet Peyton. Torin introduces Peyton to his mother and brother when they come for the holidays. Peyton sees how warm and loving Tor is with them and he feels a sense of belonging for the first time ever. They both work together to overcome any residual fear of intimacy leftover from Peyton’s past abuse. It’s slow going but Tor is very patient and so protective of his ‘baby boy’. Their relationship progress to the next level where they move in together and Tor gets Peyton a cat. The love that they feel for each other is something that is almost tangible. I really enjoyed watching these two men healing each others hearts. Their sexual chemistry was definitely a big plus as well. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear. 

Elpida 2: Tharros by C.Kennedy

Title : Tharros                             Word Count:109,942
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:High school senior Michael Sattler leads a charmed life. Almost. He has great friends, parents who love him just the way he is, and he was a champion hurdler until someone took out his knee when they kidnapped his boyfriend. Yet, Michael is determined to make the USATF tryouts in spite of his injuries.

Christy Castle is Michael’s entire world. Healing from years of abuse, his abduction by a predator has left him hiding a new secret as he tries to start his life again. Together, Michael and Christy work to recover from their wounds in time to make prom and graduate high school. To complicate matters, Christy is astonished to learn a fellow victim from his native Greece has survived. Christy will stop at nothing to bring him to the US to keep him safe.

But the prosecution of Christy’s kidnapper looms large in their futures and the struggle to return to normal only worsens. Christy’s past continues to haunt them and, when the prosecution turns ugly and Christy’s new life is torn apart, only their unrelenting courage and determination can save them from the nightmare that threatens to destroy their future together.

My Review: Tharros means courage in Greek and that was exactly what was shown in the second half of the love story of Christy and Michael. The story picks up where it left off from the first novel. Christy has just been found by Michael severely abused and raped by the monster who has abused him for most of his childhood years. This is a horrific tale of innocence lost and the injustices that monsters perpetrate on children everyday. Christy is in his last year of high school and has lived a lifetime of horror already. It is only the steadfast love of his boyfriend Michael and the great support system that he has in Michael’s family and friends that keeps Christy’s sanity intact.
The things that these two young lovers have endured in their short time together has definitely made them stronger. They are constantly harrangued by the press for the story of Christy’s recent kidnapping and Michael’s heroic actions to get him back. Most of their time is spent recuperating from their injuries and getting back to some semblance of normal. Although Christy is in a fragile mindset, he is given something new to focus on when he finds out that Thimi another little boy who endured similar atrocities is still alive. Christy does everything in his power with the help of the adults in his life to bring about Thimi’s safe passage to the United States.
It is the little joys of everyday life that helps Christy and Michael to continue their journey. They prepare for their prom while they go to physiotherapy to get their bodies healthy. Michael is very happy when all his physiotherapy pays off when his injured knee gets better. Micheal will be able to continue with his high school track team.Christy really looks forward to the event of prom and he is truly happy with the most simplistic things like finding a dress and wearing a beautiful corsage. Christy revels in his femininity and Michael supports him without suppressing the effeminate side of Christy. He embraces everything that is Christy.

 The rest of their time is spent getting ready for the trial of Yosef Sanna , the monster who abused Christy. It is very heart-rending for Michael to watch the almost catatonic state that Christy has reverted to as he testifies. Christy perseveres under the pressure, but he is utterly gutted and broken when Yosef yells horrible untruths about Christy’s mother not loving him. Christy flees the courtroom and by the time Michael figures out where he could be it’s almost too late. Michael finds him at the top of a ferris wheel , inconsolable , sobbing and wanting to die. Christy’s psyche is shattered to pieces and he believes he is the dirty little whore that his abusers want him to be.
Once again Christy ends up in the hospital where Michael stays with him. Michael is a fortitude of strength for his beautiful Christy. While they are there the verdict is passed and Yosef Sanna gets life in prison. However, it is the fact that Thimi, the poor abused little boy will be coming to the United States that gives Christy the strength to endure. Christy is definitely brave and has shown great courage in fostering new relationships and forming connections with people that are not tainted by abuse. Michael’s love for him remains strong and helps to heal Christy day by day. I give this my ratings of 3- because as much as I love these beautiful characters, there was just too many unrealistic dramas happening throughout this story. I actually set this book aside for more than a month before I was able to finish it. It was my love for Michael and Christy that made me pick it up again.

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.