Tag Archives: Dark

Review: High Concept by Whitley Gray

High Concept by Whitley Gray
Title: High Concept
Author: Whitley Gray
Cover Artist: Mina Carter
Publisher: Loose Id
Reviewer: Monika
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Contemporary
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay
Length: Long Novel
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨
Rating★★★¾

Blurb:

Denver homicide cop and shooting survivor Beck Stryker lives to solve the case that left him with PTSD, chronic pain, and killed his co-investigator four months previous. Now his career hinges on his ability to work with the man who shut down his advances two years ago.

After last parting ways with Beck, psychiatrist-turned-FBI profiler Zach Littman never anticipated seeing the detective again. Being sent to Denver to work on a series of killings that have continued after the only suspect died is bad enough. Discovering the detective in charge is Beck leaves Zach gritting his teeth and girding his loins.

The last thing either of them needs is romantic entanglement with a fellow investigator, but danger is a powerful aphrodisiac. The case heats up, and friction between them ignites a fire neither can ignore, first at work and then in the bedroom. As they zero in on the plot behind the murders, the crosshairs zero in on Beck and Zach.

Review:

This is my first time reading Whitley Gray and while I didn’t love this book I did more than like it. High Concept started out strong I thought I had a 5 star book on my hands but as I got into the story it lost me in places.

At the beginning of the book we meet Beck Stryker a Homicide Detective just recently back to work after being involved in a on the job shooting that left his partner dead and Beck severely injured. Along with his physical injuries he’s suffering from PTSD not a good combination but he’s desperate to get back to work so he can pursue the case that killed his partner. When it appears there are 3 cases that have the same MO a FBI profiler is called in to help. Zach Littman is that profiler and as chance would have it Beck and Zach have met, two years before they shared a kiss, a kiss that neither man has forgotten unfortunately at the time of the kiss Zach was in a relationship and Beck was deep in the closet.

Now they are together again working this case. Zach is no longer in a relationship but he is suffering from PTSD from a previous case and Beck doesn’t have any real reason to stay in that closet anymore. They are two damaged men trying to make life and their budding relationship work. I did like the dynamics of their relationship but I had trouble accepting that these two have been thinking about each other all that time over just a kiss. As it turned out that was fairly easy to ignore because this story isn’t about their romance it’s about the mystery, their budding relationship is a side story, a good one but not the focus of the book.

If High Concept had stayed on this track I’d have been ecstatic, unfortunately a case in Zach’s past comes to play but it has nothing to do with the case Beck and Zach are working on. Having another case thrown into the mix like that was distracting and at times annoying, not for any other reason than it was like reading two separate books that was written as one story. If the stories had somehow ended up related in some way that would have been great, I just didn’t like being pulled between both and I didn’t think enough information was given on Zach’s case. I kept wondering if this was book 2 of a series and I needed to read Zach’s story to understand what was going on but it’s not and that whole story line just didn’t work for me in this book. I think it would make an excellent book on its own, Zach’s case was dark and intriguing, perfect for a mystery.

If you’re looking for a book where the romance is the focus this may not be the book for you but if you don’t mind the romance being secondary and the mystery being the focus you might want to give it a try. I will definitely be picking up another book from Whitley Gray.

Review: The Beginning of Knowledge by Anne Brooke

The Beginning of Knowledge by Anne Brooke
Title: The Beginning of Knowledge
Author: Anne Brooke
Cover Artist: Wilde City Press
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Reviewer: Monika
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Contemporary
Type: Non-Romance
Pairing: Gay
Length: Novelette
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨♨♨
Rating★★★★☆

Blurb:

When University administrator Alan Castleton meets temporary worker and talented pianist Luke Milton, he doesn’t expect to become obsessed with the handsome young blond. But soon he is heavily involved in a passionate and angry affair, and exploring the dark shadows of his own personality in a way he’s never encountered before.

The more Alan tries to break free from his obsession, the deeper it entangles him. The dangerous split between his reason and his sexual desires threatens his peace of mind and, when the crisis point comes, he must decide once and for all the kind of life he should lead.

Review:

A dark erotic short that isn’t my usual type of read. I don’t read BDSM or any type of story with humiliation and I stay away from stories with one partner giving pain and the other receiving it even if it is consensual, it’s just not me. So I started reading this with trepidation and much to my surprise I loved it, what an amazing story.

I’m still not completely comfortable with what went on between Alan and Luke, it made me squirm sometimes but the emotion and desperation kept me riveted.  I couldn’t help but feel the pain and uncertainty Alan felt with where the “relationship” with Luke was headed, it brought me to tears.

I really liked these two and hoped they could make things work but it came clear to me early on they were not destined to have an HEA and this story wasn’t a romance or just an erotic story full of sex but a story about Alan exploring a side of himself he’s never fully come to terms with. Alan’s venture into the BDSM scene with Luke shows him how dark and dangerous he could be. Reading this story it may appear that Alan is the dominate of the two and he does “dominate” Luke but he isn’t the one in control of their situation Luke is and he’s also the stronger of the two and very sure of what he wants and how he wants it.

This is a really well written story about discovery of oneself written in a very sexy way. Brilliant Anne!

Review: Carved in Flesh by Various Authors

Carved in Flesh by Various Authors
Title: Carved in Flesh
Author: Blaine D. Arden, Angelia Sparrow, Naomi Brooks, M.A. Church, Logan Zachary, Kaje Harper, and T.C. Mill
Cover Artist: Nathie Block
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Reviewer: Monika
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Contemporary
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay
Length: Novel
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨♨
Rating★★★¼

Blurb:

People often say that the true perfection in the human form is in its imperfections. Scars are visceral reminders of a person’s past, a sign of an event that can never fade. Whether it was gained in combat, a traumatic experience, or part of a ritual with a lover, scars are the ultimate labels. They leave a permanent mark on the body and spirit that, one way or another, change a person forever.

Veld is an Elf who has known for years that his mute friend Oren is spoken for; the design of scars spanning Oren’s torso reminds him with every look. When Oren’s vowed, Haram, is killed, Veld must not only help to prove his own innocence, but also tread carefully as he discovers Oren’s Right and Haram’s last request. Next, Tiocfaidh Ár Lá—”our day will come”—was the cry in Joe Colson’s heart, even as he fled his beloved Ireland to hide from his sins in the States. He’d assumed his chances for love were long past when a much younger man rekindles something in him he’d thought long dead.

A near-fatal car accident leaves superstar model Ashley’s face permanently scarred and his career into a tailspin. Only his lover, Will, can pull him out of his depression, provided his affection hasn’t turned to Faded Love. Young Timothy has come to Larry for Scar Therapy. But Tim is seeking healing of a different kind, and Larry finds that he has his own wounds that need tending. Garvin’s scars are a Gift of the Goddess, seared into his skin as a beacon to find his kidnapped love, Nyle. Rescuing him, though, may entail a deeper wound than even the Goddess would bestow. Finally, when Kanovan returns from his off-world tour, his lover Mirin finds a lover’s mark he hadn’t expected. Mirin must re-evaluate how much Kanovan means to him, and what he must do to make Kanovan always Sojourn Home to him.

Review:

This was a tricky anthology to rate, every story had its good and bad and the bad was enough I couldn’t ignore them but that’s a personal thing. There were a few stories that started out great then fizzled as they neared the end which saddened me they really were good stories. I think there is enough variation of story types that everyone will find one or two or three that are special to them.

4.5 Stars
Oren’s Right by Blaine D. Arden

This story is set in the magical world of fairies and elves it’s a great little fantasy that tells of friendship and love. Veld is an elf that is in love with his mute friend Oren but Oren is avowed to Hasam. Veld knows he can never have the type of relationship with Oren as he would like but he can be the friend that Oren deserves after his Hasam is killed. When Veld is arrested for the attempted murder of the Healer Rames the story turns into a mini who done it.

Oren and Veld were such endearing characters the bond of friendship between them was strong and I could tell that Oren loved Veld the same way that Veld loved Oren. I thought this story was well written and it drew me in from the start. It was a short magical story that I wish was longer, the world Blaine Arden created was intriguing and I was very sorry to see it end. This one was special.

3 Stars
Tiocfaidh Ár Lá by Angelia Sparrow and Naomi Brooks

Joe runs to the States from his home in Ireland after he gets caught up in some trouble there. He wants to escape his past with a new home and name. His life has been a tragic and lonely one until he meets young Ryan.

This is a sweet and at the same time heartbreaking story. I did enjoy reading it but I did think it moved along a bit too quickly there was too much story put into such a small space.  I loved Joe and Ryan, at first they seemed an unlikely paring but they soon won me over. Theirs is a May December romance with Joe being almost twice Ryan’s age. Ryan is an amazing young man. He was able to see past Joe’s visible scars from his violent past and love the man for who he is. This story has a very sweet HEA but fell a bit short with me.

3.5 Stars
Faded Love by M.A. Church

Ashley’s a young man that is on top of the world both professional and personally. He’s a big time model who wants for nothing including men. Will is a bit older and hasn’t had his big break yet but he loves Ashley with every fibre of his being. When an accident turns Ashley’s life upside he needs to learn to start again his old life is gone or so he thinks. He depends on Will to see him through the after math of the accident.

This was a sweet story at times a bit too sweet. The characters were likeable and it’s definitely a story of love conquers all but something was missing. I felt the love between these men and was happy they were able to work through their problems to reach their HEA but it all seemed a bit too easy. Cute story though and it will resonate with a lot of readers I just wish there had been more meat to the story.

2.5 Stars
Scar Therapy by Logan Zachary

Larry is a Scar Therapist his new patient Tim is just recuperating from a violent attack, he’s nervous and understandably skittish. Larry is really good at what he does which is lessen the pain and appearance of scars and Tim has a lot.

This story hit me in all the wrong places. I have a lot of trouble with enjoying a story where there is a Doctor/Patient type relationship. I know these stories are just fantasy and a lot of people enjoy them but for me it’s something that crosses a line and has always made me uncomfortable. Larry is a Scar Therapist so not a Doctor but someone who should have the same ethics that doctors are supposed to have. Right from their first appointment Larry was ogling Tim and that set me on edge. It’s a bit difficult for me to review this short when I have those kinds of feelings. I did try to look past that and underneath there is a good story. I liked both characters, Larry less so, I felt so bad for Jim I just wanted to hold him in the worst way when he finally tells Larry how he really got those awful scars. This story also contains that witchy bitchy mother we see so often in stories and sometimes I admit to them being necessary but in this one I don’t quite understand why she’s in it. She has one scene where she does her bitch act (she did it really well) and that was pretty much it. She does pop up again but she’s just so unnecessary to this story she could have been removed completely and it wouldn’t have altered the story at all. Tim was such a broken young man and the type of character that I’m drawn to if only Larry hadn’t of been his therapist and their meetings hadn’t of taken place in Larry’s office complete with a hospital gown. In my opinion this story isn’t a romance either it’s just two guys lusting after each other and with Tim being such a damaged young man it made me squirm a bit. In short change the therapist/patient relationship, give Larry a different profession. Underneath I could see he was a generous and caring person which was something Tim desperately needed. With that changed this would have been an entirely different story one that I’m sure I would love.

4 Stars
Gift of the Goddess by Kaje Harper

Nyles is a blacksmith and Garvin is a young boy of 16 that is on a trek with his father and brother. The wheel on their wagon breaks and they go to Nyles to have it repaired. Garvin’s father is a tyrant he treats Garvin like a slave and has no use for him. When Nyles witness Garvin being beaten by his father he steps in and asks if he could have Garvin as his apprentice and a deal is made. Move ahead 10 years and we see these two as a couple. Nyles is kidnapped and Garvis pleads to a Goddess he doesn’t really believe in to help him find Nyles.  That Goddess’s gift is scars that appear on him in the form of a map he must follow to find his one true love.

The story started out really strong, I loved Garvin and Nyles and the gift the Goddess gives intrigued me. The adventure and rescue Garvin undertakes was hard to read at times (yes tears were shed) but very well done. I loved how even though Garvin was a small slight young man he wasn’t portrayed that way at all. He had strength and heart galore and in some things he was much stronger than Nyles. His character was a definite departure from the stereo typical one that appears in a lot of M/M stories. It’s an interesting story and an enjoyable read with a few twists until the end, it fell short like something was left out and that left me a little disappointed.

2.5 Stars
Sojourn Home by T.C. Mill

Mirin and Kanovan are married and both are musicians but Kanovan spends a lot of time off world separated from his spouse. On his arrival home after one of his trips Mirin finds a lovers mark on Kanovan, it’s time to re-evaluate their relationship.

A bit of a scifi or maybe futuristic is a better word which is something I love to read but I really struggled with this story. The beginning was extremely hard for me to get into I found it confusing and hard to understand for a good part of it I had no idea what was really going on. That made it difficult to connect with the characters and their story. By the time I got to the end it did all made sense but by that time  it was too late for me to feel involved in any way with the MC’s or the story. Knowing what I know now if I were to re-read this story I’m sure my thoughts would differ somewhat but for me stories need to reel me in at the beginning, there are some days I just want to read to escape and if the story makes me think too hard or confuses me you’ve lost me unfortunately.

Review: Power Play: Resistance by Cat Grant & Rachel Haimowitz

Power Play: Resistance by Cat Grant & Rachel Haimowitz
Title: Power Play: Resistance
Author: Cat Grant & Rachel Haimowitz
Cover Artist: Imaliea
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Reviewer: Lynn
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Contemporary
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay
Length: Novel
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨♨♨
Rating★★★★★

Blurb:

Give me six months, and I’ll give you the world.

Brandon McKinney has scraped and sacrificed for what little in life he’s ever had. Though it’s been fifteen years since he escaped his father’s abuse, the damage remains. Trust seems as far out of reach as his dream of becoming an architect, and though he’s come to accept being gay, he can’t deny the shame and confusion he feels at other urges—the deeply-repressed desire to submit.

Jonathan Watkins is a self-made Silicon Valley billionaire whose ex-wife took half his money and even more of his faith. Comfortable as a Dominant but wary of being hurt again, he resorts to anonymous pickups and occasional six-month contracts with subs seeking only a master, not a lover.

When a sizzling back-alley encounter cues Jonathan in to Brandon’s deep-seated submissive side, he makes the man an offer: Give me six months of your life, and I’ll open your eyes to a whole new world. Brandon doesn’t care about that; all he wants is the three million dollars Jonathan’s offering so he can buy the construction company he works for. But he soon learns that six months on his knees is no easy feat, and shame and pride may keep him from all he ever wanted—and all he never dreamed he had any right to have.

Review:

I absolutely live for stories like this one! I am still reeling from the psychological hangover from reading Powerplay. Rachel and Cat have created a series that I will be waiting in line for.

As a Dom, Jonathan has dealt with a lot of unusual situations. He is thrown off his game when Bran enters his life. Bran is stubborn, proud, and broken. In order to keep his sub and himself intact, he first has to discover what Bran’s real motives are.

The walls Jonathan has to scale to reach Bran brought me to tears several times while reading this story. I felt like Bran was stripped bare and careful hands crafted him back together.

This book will not be for everyone. The BDSM scenes were well written and had me squirming in my seat one minute and squeezing my eyes shut the next.

I have fallen madly in lust with the authors, characters, and plot of this series. I cannot wait for the next installment! I give this book a 5 star rating and would recommend it to anyone looking to stretch their boundaries or to anyone who enjoys taking a journey of discovery with their characters.