Hank Edwards & Deanna Wadsworth-Murder Most Lovely

Murder Most Lovely by Hank Edwards and Deanna Wadsworth is what happens when you replace Jessica Fletcher with a gay mortician/coroner, move from Maine to Michigan, and introduce a cat named Mr. Pickles Furryton. And we can’t forget Michael’s grandfather, the aging womanizing former mortician and coroner who loves him some manhattans while trying to peek at murder scenes.

I have to say, right off, that I definitely enjoyed this more than I ever loved any Murder, She Wrote episode. Jessica Fletcher was always a little too wholesome for me. OTOH, there is much less wholesomeness in this story, but a whole lot more wacky ridiculousness.

Michael loves mysteries. He has a favorite author, Russell Withingham, who writes the Brock Hammer books. And it’s just Michael’s luck that the literary festival in his little town just happened to be able to get him in for a signing. So, on the rainy morning that was the first day of the festival, Michael grabs his umbrella and the first 10 books in the series, and stands in line to get them signed. While he’s waiting, he nearly pokes the eye out of the gorgeous man behind him, who then offers to hold the umbrella for him.

Gorgeous man’s name is Jazz Dilworth, which Michael thinks sounds like a name straight out of a Brock Hammer book, and he’s a stylist at the local beauty parlor. And oh yeah, he’s Russell’s ex-husband, and it wasn’t a pretty divorce, as evidenced by the huge fight that Jazz and Russell get into.

Russell really is a douchebag of douchebaggian proportions. I think that Jazz is well shut of him. I mean, seriously. He had a habit of sticking his dick into just about any hole he could, as often as he could, whether or not he was married. It’s just obvious as the story goes on how pathetic he is.

I love the chemistry between Jazz and Michael from the very second that they start talking to each other. They are so sweet and wonderful together. It’s a medium burn story, which works really well for these two. We really get to watch them build their relationship and friendship up, and we definitely get to see how much Jazz cares for Michael, and how he’s willing to take care of him when necessary.

Russell’s PR man Norbert was an asshat and just a creepy mccreeperson from the very start. I never liked him, and then I ended up liking him less, if that’s at all possible. Well, it must be, because that’s what happened.

I really enjoyed this one, if you can’t tell. Mysteries are one of my fallbacks, so this one was perfect. I’m really hoping that this is the first in an ongoing series starring Jazz and Michael. The book says that it’s Case One, so I’m really hoping that they stay the main focus of each book, along with their friends, who are all fun.

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The drug dealer angle seemed a little weird to me. It seemed almost like a tacked on aspect. I mean, I liked how the way that the overall mystery worked, but I think that the chapter that was from the POV of the dealers was just totally random.

OK, that’s all for this one. Go read it and enjoy yourself. Happy reading!

Claire Marta & Summer Stanton-Bane

Claire Marta and Summer Stanton got together and wrote a lovely, intense book that is full of all the feelz and not more than a little bit of angst. Bane is the first book in a new PNR series (NOT PBR like I wrote first, lol). The series looks like it’s going to involve a fairly hefty dose of BDSM of all shapes and flavors. I’m not sure if the next book is going to be Mm, but this one is. There are several existing relationships, Mm, Ffm, and Fm, so I don’t know where it’s going to go, but I’m excited for the ride. There is only one single person who shows up in the book, so maybe he’ll be next?

Bane is a werewolf with one huge issue. Actually, the dude has subscriptions, but right now only one of those issues is the big problem. He can’t shift. He can’t even feel his wolf. Six months ago, he went through a horrific trauma, and by horrific, I mean HORRIFIC, and since then, he’s been left unable to shift at all. His pack and his Alpha, Liam, have tried everything they can to help him, but it’s only getting worse. So, they decide to send him to Mistress Mystic and her club for some therapy. Her club is the paranormal world’s best BDSM club, and they do some therapy, or they have in the past, and Liam has decided that this is going to be the best therapy for Bane. I am not entirely sure why Liam thinks this, Bane is pretty damn vanilla at the beginning, but one does not doubt Alphas, right? Pfft.

Adam is a vampire who doesn’t have a permanent sub. He is the club manager, demos, and DMs as necessary. Mystic has tapped him to be Bane’s temporary Dom, to help Bane heal so that he can get his wolf back and be himself again. Adam isn’t all that happy with the job, but he owes Mystic and they are pretty much BFFs. So, he does it. Of course, he has no clue what he’s getting himself in for.

Bane and Adam are like oil and water at the beginning. Bane, being an Alpha werewolf has a hard time with the idea of submitting. He’s a jerk and he kink-shames people, not necessarily to their faces, except to Adam, but definitely does that. He doesn’t understand BDSM, he’s not overly happy to be there, and he’s really unhappy with the particular activity that Mystic and Adam think would work for him.

I get why Bane is being a jerk, at least part of it. Submitting isn’t easy, especially when you are at the top of the heap. He’s also terribly and tragically broken, and he blames himself for it all. He holds himself responsible for the world, which isn’t easy, and he doesn’t particularly like himself. You put all that together and you get someone who is hurting so badly that he just can’t even focus. And because he hurts so badly, he’s angry. It’s easier to be angry than it is to hurt. It’s also easier to want to make other people hurt because you feel like if you can make them hurt, then you are going to hurt a little less. Of course, it never really works that way, but it feels good in the moment. When it comes to the kink-shaming thing, it’s really easy to dismiss or make fun of something that you aren’t familiar with or don’t understand, and that’s what Bane does. Of course, Adam, being his Dom, isn’t going to let him get away with that.

Adam, him I like from the very beginning. He’s a good man. He’s a patient man. He may be an exacting and stern Dom, but he is not harsh. He doesn’t want to truly break Bane. You know, break him in a never going to be fixed totally harmed kind of way, not break him in a good way and make him cry and put him back together kind of way. There is a difference. He may want to hurt Bane, but he doesn’t want to harm him. And he only wants to hurt Bane in a way that will bring both of them a lot of pleasure. Adam has his own issues too, and he’s done what he can to make his life happy and contented. I, personally, think that he’s not dealt with a lot of the issues, but that’s just my personal opinion on the matter. He’s still a good man who wants to watch out for people around him and has created a family that he loves and who love him.

One of those family members is Elias, and Adam calls him Imp, which I’m pretty sure suits him perfectly. I can’t wait to see more of him, because he’s just so damn cute. Smart too.

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I can’t stand Liam. How you gonna send someone to a BDSM club for therapy and not tell them all the truth? Liam needs to die by burning in a pit of hellfire and lava. I’d be more than happy to arrange it. And you just know that he didn’t do a damn thing to try to help Bane at all. Just the way that he acted when he showed up proved that. And that was really fucking rude too.

OK, that’s all I have to say today. Go check this out! Happy reading!

Cassidy Storm-Game Night

This is a double first for me today. This is the first book I’ve read of Cassidy Storm’s, and it’s the first FF to show up on the blog, so that’s very cool, yes? So, let’s see what happens on Game Nightshall we?

The basic plot is that Mia and Alyssa work together. Alyssa has a huge crush on Mia, and manages to make every single excuse she can to get near Mia, so when Mia invites her over for Game Night, Alyssa jumps at the chance. I mean, wouldn’t you if your crush said hey, come over to my house? Even at my age, I would totally fucking jump on that.

When Alyssa gets to Mia’s house, it turns out that she isn’t the only one over to play games that night. There is Dallas, Casey, and Willow. Dallas and Mia are dressed in a costume. Casey says she always dresses like this. And Willow is dressed like she’s super sweet. Poor Alyssa, she didn’t know that she was supposed to dress up.

The games that they play are super fun. There are all kinds of variations of poker and some never have I ever and maybe just a smidgeon of truth or dare. Of course, I’m pretty sure there are a whole lot of games being played that we don’t know about, but it works on so many, many levels.

I like most of the characters. I really don’t like Casey. She’s a snotty bitch. I loved it whenever Alyssa clapped back at her and whenever Mia told her off. It was perfect. I really wish that she had been knocked down a little more. I love the chemistry that Mia and Alyssa have. It’s kind of sweet and shy and just cute.

I would love to see another Game Night to see what would happen next, or maybe the day after Game Night.

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Oh, I really love the tease that is the ending of this. It’s perfect for the story.

OK, that’s all I have to say on this one. Go hit it up. Happy reading!

 

Claire Thompson-Castaways

You remember how I said that I would be featuring more Claire Thompson? Well, here you go. Castaways isn’t out for Kindle yet, but it is in paperback and the Kindle version is on pre-order and it will show up on your Kindle 2/3. This is different from the other stuff I’ve blogged about from Claire, because this one is vanilla-ish. Yes, she does write vanilla. I qualify it with the -ish because there is some fairly mild power exchange stuff going on, but that could just be because of the nature of the relationship between the guys.

So, here’s the story. Sam is an up and coming artist from NYC. He’s been working really hard to get ready for a big show, and his last one was wildly successful. His friend, Tim, who is also the gallery owner has given him a ticket for a Caribbean cruise. Sam has been spending a lot of time looking at the ocean and taking pictures so that he can remember the light.

Donovan is two years out of law school. He’s an associate at a high powered law firm. His father is a lawyer who helped him get this place, and he’s always pushed Donovan to do better, be better, yadda, yadda, yadda. He’s getting ready for his first big case, but he’s decided that he needs a vacation before his big case because he’s fighting burnout. One night, he bumps into Sam on deck as Sam is looking at the sea.

That chance meeting doesn’t seem like it would be anything, and it probably woudn’t be, if the ship they were on didn’t catch fire and sink that night. Donovan gets swept overboard by a huge wave and the current catches him and sweeps him away from everyone else. Sam gets knocked down and ends up a little out of it and all the lifeboats leave without him. Luckily he finds one last life raft, but he goes the same way as Donovan and fortuitously picks him up, where they find themselves floating further and further away from everyone else and on to their very own deserted island.

Now, this could be considered a first time gay novel, but I think to classify it that way would be a disservice to the book. There is so much more to it than just one guy finding out that he’s attracted to another guy and trying to deal with it. For one thing, Sam doesn’t identify as gay. He doesn’t identify with any label, really. There is a really beautiful passage where he talks about liking men and women and what attracts him to either. He says that he’s attracted to people, but that he emotionally connects with men. I love that whole section because it shows how much time and thought that Sam has put into who he is. It’s not easy to figure all that stuff out at the best of times and being alive is a continuity and you aren’t going to be the same person today as you are a year from now or you were a year ago, so putting a lot of time and energy into figuring yourself out is totally awesome. I love that Claire gives Sam the space to be that person. You don’t see a lot of characters like that, and I really would like to. Donovan is really interesting. He is really confused about what’s going on and his feelings. Sam is right there with him though.

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I know no one wants to think that a disaster like a shipwreck could be good for someone, but I think that I could argue a case that it was almost a good thing for Donovan. He’d never had time to just be or to just connect with anyone, and the month spent on a deserted island with someone like Sam would give him the time to just be and to figure out who he is. Sam is a total superstar throughout the thing, and really sort of guides Donovan through the whole process, but not by taking his hand and leading him, more by just being there. Like I said, totally awesome.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one today. When it releases on 2/3 go check it out or put it on preorder now. Happy reading!

Claire Thompson-Perfect Cover

Over the next 3 or 4 weeks, I’m going to be putting up a lot of Claire Thompson books. Some will be MF, some will be MM, some will be kinky, others will be vanilla or vanilla-ish. Today we’re starting with Perfect Cover. This one is an MM vanilla-ish book. I’m calling it vanilla-ish because there is some light bondage, but nothing more than that. And now, on to the book.

Ryan has been working in the hospitality field, but was recently let go from his job. So when he hears that an all-inclusive paradise resort in the Caribbean is hiring, he’s all for it. When he’s interviewing for the seasonal position at Club Eros, he finds out that he’s basically being hired because he looks pretty in a speedo. His job is to be a gopher for the patrons of the resort. They all like to look at scantily clad pretty boys, as Club Eros is a resort for gays to come and celebrate and be comfortable with who they are. There’s all kinds of sex, both public and private, in couples and more-somes, vanilla or kinky. Pretty much if you want to have sex, there is at least one guy there who will be more than happy to help you with that. For Ryan, though, it’s a real worry. You see, Ryan is straight, and he’s going to have to stay in the closet and pretend to be gay while he’s there. Ryan figures that he can do that, but he doesn’t figure on the patrons and other employees.

Sean is a full-time employee and lives at the resort in a lovely little bungalow. Most of the time he has it to himself, but during the season, he has to have a roommate. This year, his roommate is Ryan. When Sean first sees Ryan, he falls into immediate lust with him, but he keeps telling himself to not do anything, he’s waiting for his one true love to come along. He’s not into casual hookups and random parties anymore, so he mostly stays to himself. He’s a true romantic. Then, he finds out Ryan’s secret and decides that he’s going to help Ryan. He and Ryan pretend to be a couple, which pretty much keeps everyone off Ryan.

At its heart, I think that this story is really about finding out who you are and being happy with that person. Ryan goes on quite a journey. There are some times when I really didn’t like him all that much. He gets surprised by some of the things that the patrons and other employees do to him, but I was like dude, get over yourself, this is stuff that gays have been dealing with in the real world, so just think. There were a few episodes of what I thought was toxic-ish masculinity, but Ryan really did grow and change, and Sean had everything to do with that. It made Ryan a much better person. Claire writes such thoughtful stories, with a lot of depth and layers, which make you think.

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One of the places I didn’t think that Ryan needed to get over himself was when the massage happened or what happened with his boss. Those things pissed me off quite a bit. His boss valued friendship over what he had seen of Ryan and his character. That was so, so, so wrong. And I would hope that the other dude got all kinds of terrible consequences. He needed them. He needed a lot of them.

I also didn’t like Ryan’s dad. His family culture, in general, was highly stressful, but the way that his father pushed him and devalued what Ryan did and what he was choosing to do in his life really annoyed the hell out of me.

Anyway, that’s the first of Claire’s books to show up on my blog over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more. Go check it out. Happy reading!

Loki Renard-Pure Evil

Loki is once more taking us into the House of Vitali. The only family where the pre-requisite to join is the fact that you REALLY don’t want to join and where attempting to kill other members of the family is to be expected. The House of Vitali is so dysfunctional that it makes Norman Bates suggest that you might want to check yourself and Joan Crawford all of a sudden says that wire hangers aren’t all that bad.

In Pure Evil, Angelo is separated from his beloved boys. He has to go deal with stupid little legal challenges from the LEOs and he has to stay in the city so that he can keep going to court. Meanwhile, Mark and Bobby have to stay in a safe, hidden location. Mark because he is a disgraced FBI agent and Bobby because, well, he’s Bobby. Angelo left Mark in charge because if he left Bobby in charge, there probably wouldn’t be anything left to come back to. Bobby is smart, but he’s also impulsive and vicious. He really needs to not be unsupervised, ever. None of this would be an insurmountable problem except for the fact that one day, Angelo doesn’t contact Mark to let him know he’s done with court and he didn’t take his car home. Someone has grabbed Angelo.

Damien is a mercenary. He’s been hired to kill Angelo, but it’s obvious that he has a personal axe to grind. He keeps telling Angelo that he’s going to do terrible things to him, but Angelo, being Angelo, isn’t fazed at all.

OK, that’s all the synopsis I’m going to give you because A) it’s pretty short and 2) I don’t want to take any of the journey away from you. Angelo is so devious that he makes Machiavelli look like a piker. He makes Twizzlers jealous. Have you ever seen a double threaded screw? Yeah, that’s not as twisty and devious as Angelo is. He has plans, more plans, backup plans, backup backup plans, and then some really good ideas as to where he’s going to go next. This book has twists, turns, swerves, and corkscrews. Each of those twists has all its own twists and turns. I mean, seriously, it’s like those stairs by MC Escher. I was left with more questions than I started with. I have no clue who knew what and when, other than the fact that I’m pretty sure Angelo knew everything all the time, I mean, he’s Angelo. This book is dark. Each of the Vitali books have gotten darker and darker. This isn’t the darkest thing I’ve ever read, but it was dark enough that I looked at the husband and was like shit, damn, fuck. Just damn. I am going to reread it this weekend to see if I can answer some of my questions.

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Seriously, my biggest question is how much did Mark know and when did he know it? That’s all I really want to know. And of course, Loki isn’t going to tell us, which means I’m just going to have to guess.

I did like seeing a softer side of Bobby. It was really interesting to see.

That’s all I have to say on this one. Go read all of them. Seriously. Happy reading!

 

Loki Renard-Perfect Evil

Loki Renard is evil. That’s all there is to it. She is just pure evil, just ask Bobby and Mark. They will definitely tell you. Perfect Evil is the sequel to Taken Boy. You could read PE without having read TB, if you really wanted to, but you will not get near as much enjoyment from it. Knowing Angelo and Bobby’s story will help you to understand the changing dynamic when Mark gets added in.

So, here’s our story. It’s been some time since TB. Angelo and Bobby are still together. They don’t have the easiest relationship in the world, but they are making it work for them. The FBI is trying to put together a case against them, which means they are following our man and his boy around. They tried to bug everything, but Angelo is just a wee bit smarter and a helluva lot more paranoid than FBI are, so he has everything scanned for bugs constantly.

Agent Mark Locke was in the military and now he’s in the FBI. This is his first field mission. He’s gay and his teammates know it, but generally, no one is making a thing out of it. He also uses anti-anxiety medication, which he hides from his teammates, because he knows that they would rag on him about.

His team hears about a party that Bobby and Angelo will be at. The person throwing the party usually brings in some pretty boy escorts to act as man candy. So, his team figures since he’s the only gay member of the team and he’s very good looking, that Mark is going to be the one that is going in. Instead of anyone actually trying to figure out what the man candy would actually wear to such a party, they dress poor Mark up in ’80s leather boy style. That, of course, makes him stand out and not in a good way. Mark has everyone’s hands on him at some point.

Then, bullets start flying and Mark gets hit. Angelo decides that he’s going to grab him up and take Mark with him and Bobby. He’s not sure why he’s doing it, but he trusts his instincts, and his instincts say to grab this guy and take him, so he does. Angelo directs Bobby to drive them out to a house in the country.

They get there, and the fun and games get started. I’m not going to even say anything about the fun and games, except for the fact that Angelo is a right bastard with an incredibly inventive and sadistic mind. There isn’t a whole lot of safe, sane, or consensual about anything that Angelo does.

OK. You know the deal. Angelo has plans and schemes and more plans and schemes inside machinations and manipulations. I would never want to play chess with Angelo. I’m pretty sure he has already won the game we were playing and the next one and the one after that. I wondered how Bobby was going to handle having Mark around, and it was… interesting. I need more of Angelo, Bobby, and Mark so that I can watch their dynamic play out some more. Angelo may be evil, but he’s my kind of evil.

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Since it’s a short book, there isn’t a lot I want to say about spoilers. But, I just want to say that I’m pretty sure that electricity isn’t going to be someone’s friend for a while. Also, the last chapter was a very interesting chapter when it came to Angelo. Gave some me some insight into him. I need more of Angelo. All the Angelo.

So, go check it out, it’s only $2.99. Happy reading!