Boys in Blue

Warning: Remember that I have an issue with being able to keep my mouth shut. Spoiler alert!

So I have a thing about series…you knew that right? I write them. I read them. I love them. The latest in my reading adventures started out simply enough, read a short story by Mia Watts about two cops, partners who have a little too much beer and do something two straight guys would never do. Bad Boys, Bad Boys turns out to be the first in the Boys in Blue series and when I discovered that the heroes of Bad Boys, Bad Boys were in another longer story I had to have it.

These first two books in the series (at least I hope this is only the beginning and not the sum total) are about Geo Wilson and Mack Sullivan, two detectives who’ve been partners for several years. Bad Boys, Bad Boys, as I said, is a short story. In it, we meet the two cops tying one on. Or rather, Geo is tying one on while remembering all the erotic dreams he’s had lately about about his partner Mack. Both Geo and Mack are straight with a long history of women in their pasts. Still, something’s happened recently inside Geo and his dreams are filled with lust for Mack. When his inebriation leads him to kiss Mack, it’s a domino that begins to drop a lot of other dominoes and inhibitions in succession.

Mack questions himself and his reaction to the kiss as he drives Geo home. His cock obviously liked it. And Mack finds himself filled with confusion mixed with a reluctant lust. At Geo’s house, things escalate as Mack tries to get Geo into bed so he can sleep off the drunk. Instead, Geo yanks down Mack’s pants revealing a hard cock that Geo instantly goes for. The resultant blow job blows the doors off of Mack.

Of course, Geo doesn’t remember it except in snatches after Mack confesses what happened. Mack acts like he wants to forget it, but Geo isn’t afraid to turn his back on what happened.  The rest of the short is about Geo chasing Mack. Not literally so much as figuratively. He wants to pursue the attraction and Mack is filled with denial and trepidation not to mention confusion. Through it all, Geo shines brightly as a man who isn’t into lying to himself or others. His attraction for his partner isn’t something he’s willing to compromise on. He wants Mack and he wants Mack to acknowledge that he wants Geo too.

The HFN leaves lots of questions in the reader’s mind. And it leaves this story open for author Mia Watts to return to it. Luckily for the reader, she does revisit Geo and Mack a year later in Reasonable Doubt. In the last year, the two men have grown closer and are now living together. They are in a committed relationship albeit a relationship that’s in the closet. They love each other and are at the stage where they express that freely. However, each man has doubts, albeit about different things.

Reasonable Doubt takes Geo and Mack’s relationship and adds a huge bump in the road to their HEA. First, there’s Geo’s ex, an FBI agent who walked out on him and never looked back. Then, there’s her partner, a snarky twink with a crush on Mack.  Geo allows Lauren to crawl all over him, thinking that Mack’s jealousy is a good thing because it means Mack loves him. Mack pushes Geo away and right at Lauren, thinking that if they had something commitment worthy, Geo wouldn’t let her touch him. At cross purposes, their relationship deteriorates into arguments and unhappiness. It’s not until Andy the twink FBI agent points out to Mack that he’s not much of a man to let a woman take his man away.

When Mack explodes out of his broody, sullen behavior and lays it all on the line, Geo instantly pushes away his ex and comes clean to Mack about his feelings. Their case escalates and comes to a close as Geo and Mack talk commitment and bring their relationship out into the open.

The longer story this time around gives the reader a more complete picture of Geo and Mack, their relationship and their emotions. Sure, there’s hot sex too, but it’s the emotions that I always look for in a book. Personally, I could have stood to have more emotion and description in the sex scenes. I like lots of internal thought about what they are feeling as well as how the sex itself feels. However, while Watts only delivers that at a what I’d call a basic level (she describes the acts themselves sparingly), she does make up for it in two ways. One, she has a way with sexual tension that will make your panties wet. And two, she’ll capture you with a sparkling dialog that shows the depth of the emotion between the two men. Sure, I was rooting for more hot descriptives, but I love good dialog and Mia Watts is great at it.

I’m not sure if there will be other books and if there are, if they will be about other couples or a return to Geo and Mack.  I’d sure like to see more of Geo and Mack. There seems to be more to their story than we’ve seen thus far. Maybe in future installments they’ll only be secondary characters, but still, more Mack and Geo is only a good thing.

I give Bad Boys, Bad Boys, a 4.5 and the longer, hotter Reasonable Doubt gets 4.75 which gives this series (at this point anyway) 4.75 Valentines.

4.5 Valentines

Bad Boys, Bad Boys: Boys in Blue Book 1

Total e-Bound

Short Story

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Blurb:

What you gonna do when they cum for you? A police force partner submits to his desire while under the influence of alcohol. But since neither of the men are gay, what do they do with their lurking lust?

Geo Wilson has been partnered to Mack for three years. Sharing the same muscular build, dark hair, and olive complexion, they’ve been dubbed ‘the twins’ by the department. But lately Geo’s dreams have taken an erotic twist to centre around Mack.

Mack values his friendship with Geo, would give his life for the man. Then one night Geo has a few too many beers and plants a kiss on him, he can’t forget. He might have been able to pass it off as beer-haze except in helping Geo get back to his apartment, Mack is taken off guard by Geo’s tackle and a mind-numbing blow job.

Now the partnership has to redefine itself while the criminal world continues around them. They could lose their badges, or lose each other.

4.75 Valentines

Reasonable Doubt: Boys in Blue Book 2

Total eBound

Novella

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Blurb:

Geo and Mack have faced a lot of problems, but when the problem is within their relationship, will Mack come clean and claim his man, or lose him to an old flame?

Geo Wilson’s feelings for his partner Mack Sullivan run deep. But formerly straight Mack grows distant when Geo’s old flame, a former female detective gone FBI, comes to town to take over the lead on their case. Geo makes no effort to discourage the woman, and Mack wonders if he missed the break up memo.

Geo’s apparent rejection hurts and Mack begins to have reasonable doubts about where they stand.

For Mack, taking the next step is a huge risk and one Geo has never taken before. Geo’s friendliness with the former girlfriend could be a sign of changing affection. It wouldn’t be the first time Geo has left a broken heart in his wake and Mack’s beginning to wonder if he’s just become another notch in Geo’s belt. All that’s left now is the case and as it comes to a close, will Mack and Geo catch the killer only to lose each other?

Project Alpha

Again, I’m bringing you a series rather than a single book. And yet again, this is sci fi rom. If you’re a regular here and at Sunlight Sucks, you’ll know that the sci fi rom is my newest favorite thing to read. As usual, if you don’t want any spoilers at all, don’t read my reviews! I try not to give everything away, but I always seem to say too much.

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The Project Alpha series by N.J. Walters is a futuristic story with an Armageddon storyline. In these three books, Earth has gone through the “Great Change” and much of the world is contaminated, polluted, and basically destroyed. On the part of the planet where the series takes place, the rich and powerful created an inner city behind the Gate where the air is pure, flowers and grass grow and everything is pristine…on the surface. However, the underpinnings of this society are corrupt and evil.

In the outer city, the air is polluted and often smoggy and foggy like the London of Jack the Ripper’s day. Buildings are in ruins and the trappings of the 21st century society litter the rubble…burned out cars, televisions, etc. The people who live outside the Gate are desperate to survive which can make them dangerous.

The plot of all the books in this series is similar. Thirty years before, the rulers of the inner city had scientists create the perfect soldier. The Piedmont Corporation created genetically enhanced men with microcomputers in their brains.  These men were called Alphas. Midway through the project, most of the Alphas were destroyed for various reasons – they weren’t developing fast enough, they botched their assignments, etc. When the remaining two Alphas figured out how to bypass some of their programming, they were slated for execution too, but they escaped.

The corrupt General who runs the inner city seeks to destroy these two Alphas while the Alphas, in turn, seek to destroy General Caruthers and the Ruling Council. They believe clean air and plentiful fresh food should be available for everyone, not just the rich and powerful.

In the first book, Embracing Silence, a tracker for the Resistance trails a strange man through the outer city. The strange man is Tienan, Alpha One, and he knows he’s being tracked. Eventually, he decides to capture his tracker and is surprised to find that it’s a woman.

Silence is an orphan who was named by her adopted brother Adrian when he rescued her at age twelve. She’s smart and resourceful, but no match for an Alpha. Tienan is shocked by his instantaneous sexual attraction to Silence. He keeps her locked up for several days as the sexual tension between them grows.  When this couple finally comes together it’s explosive.

What happens afterward isn’t exactly what the reader expects yet it’s not unexpected either. Betrayal, overwhelming sexual attraction, undeniable love, sacrifice, and the unveiling of long held secrets all lead to the HEA shared by Tienan and Silence. It also leads to an ending where the reader knows more in this world is coming.  General Caruthers is still after them. The Resistance is on the move. And there’s another Alpha – Tienan’s friend Logan known as Alpha Two – still out there.

The second book, Have Mercy, takes up the story by following Logan as he is pursued by the security police from the inner city. Unfortunately, he’s shot by them and although he eludes them, he passes out in a shack. He’s found by two teenagers who take him to a woman healer.

Logan awakens tied to a bed but bullet free with his wounds neatly stitched up. His attraction to the healer, Mercy Dockins, is instantaneous and mutual. The two share a quick, incendiary encounter in a pantry, setting up the rest of the story in a similar manner to Embracing Silence. Lust turns to love almost immediately with Logan’s Alpha genes telling him right away that Mercy belongs to him.

Logan discovers that Mercy lives in a community beyond the northern border of the outer city. Her house is filled with orphans from the city. Their community is walled in and they have animals and vegetable gardens.  Logan’s longing to belong and Mercy’s longing for a family dovetail as each realizes how much they want to be together and how impossible that would be.

The ending of Have Mercy is a little more surprising than the end of Embracing Silence.  How Logan and Mercy get their HEA isn’t that predictable. But it also sets up the reader for the third story in this series that leads to the battle against the inner city and General Caruthers’ forces. There is yet another Alpha who needs a HEA, after all.

In Sweet Charity, the third Alpha is Adrian whose secret (that he’s an Alpha) is revealed in Embracing Silence. In Have Mercy, we discover that he’s actually Alpha Ten. Here in his own story, we find him matched with his enemy’s daughter.

Abused both mentally and physically by her father, Charity has spent her life as the General’s pawn. She knows nothing of love and affection from men, yet when she meets Adrian, that changes. Escaping from the inner city, risking her life to take a dying man’s message to Adrian, Charity takes control of her destiny for the first time. And the instant Adrian lays eyes on her, he knows she belongs to him.

There are some twists and turns to the battle that ends this book. They are all related to the General, his machinations, Charity and Adrian. I’ve probably given enough spoilers about this series so I’m not going to divulge anything about the battle. You’re all smart enough to know that Adrian and Charity survive otherwise we’d have no HEA. However, I’m not about to tell you the how.

What I will tell you is that this book is a timeless tale of an abused woman who risks torture and death for the man she’s come to love. It’s a journey from her past filled with pain and fear to her present where she takes control of her life by offering it up to save another while facing down the biggest demon she has…her father.

Sweet Charity has all the elements any reader of romance could ever want. It will make you bite your nails, ache with tears, and laugh along with the characters as they find happiness at last. It leaves you with the promise of love everlasting as the hero and heroine truly do conquer all.

The theme of good versus evil, illustrated by a beautiful city that seems so perfect but is actually more polluted than the one outside it’s gates is a compelling one. The evil underpinnings of the inner city make it more ugly than the ruins that comprise the outer city where good souls just seek to survive. The theme of steadfast love that grows quickly and strongly in the harsh environment of fear and betrayal parallels the two cities. And over all lies the notion that this could be humanity’s fate if our society continues to leech our planet of its resources.

This is a gritty series, but the passion between each set of lovers is intense. I preferred Embracing Silence slightly over the others if only because of the climax between Tienan and Silence when she thinks he does not care about her and thinks her adopted brother doesn’t trust her. I’m a sucker for a heroine who lifts her chin and puts one foot in front of the other despite being ravaged by heartbreak and the overwhelming sense of being alone and unloved. N.J. Walters does this really well and that ending gives Embracing Silence 5 Valentines.  Sweet Charity with it’s gripping battle and the answers to so many questions raised in the first two books comes in next with 4.75 Valentines. Have Mercy may only rate 4.5 Valentines, but it’s still an amazing story, sexy and incredibly sweet. The series as a whole rates a 5 from me. If you like sci fi rom, you should read these.

5 Valentines

Project Alpha: Embracing Silence

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Blurb:

Earth 2133

Tienan is an Alpha—an assassin who has been genetically and computer enhanced. He has escaped from the lab that created him and the Ruling Council that controlled him. He is now outside the Gate—a high-tech shield that protects the enclosed city from the contaminated and lawless land outside. Tienan must constantly evade security forces sent to eliminate him, his only goal to destroy his former masters.

Silence is a tracker with the Resistance on the trail of a dangerous stranger. The hunter becomes the hunted and when Tienan kidnaps her, she thinks her life is over. But both captor and captive are enthralled with one another. Desire and need ignite each time they touch. Enemies become lovers.

Treachery and mistrust drive them apart. But nothing can diminish the sexual heat smoldering between them. With enemies all around, they must confront each other one final time. With time running out, sexual longing and trust battle with betrayal for supremacy.

4.5 Valentines

Project Alpha: Have Mercy

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Blurb:

Earth 2133

Logan is an Alpha—a genetically enhanced assassin—who has escaped from the lab that created him. He is now outside the Gate, a high-tech shield that protects the enclosed city from the contaminated and lawless land outside. Shot while evading security forces sent to eliminate him, Logan’s only goal is survival.

Mercy Dockins is a healer. Her world is shaken to its foundations when a stranger is brought to her near death. As she heals him, her body and soul respond to him, overwhelming her with sexual desire. With little more than a look and a touch, passion flares out of control, consuming them both.

But this stranger is dangerous to not only her well-being, but also to the safety of everyone she loves. And he has brought the security forces right to her door.

4.75 Valentines

Project Alpha: Sweet Charity

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Blurb:

Earth 2133

Adrian is an Alpha—a genetically enhanced assassin—thought dead by the people who created him. Living outside the Gate, a high tech shield that protects the enclosed city from the contaminated and lawless land outside, he is the leader of the Resistance, living only to bring down the Gate and the people who sought to kill him.

Charity Caruthers is the daughter of one of the most powerful and brutal men in the inner city—the General. She risks everything sneaking outside the Gate to get a message to Adrian.

Passion explodes, ripping apart the foundations of both their lives. Charity begins to understand true sexual desire as Adrian teaches her the passion to be found in dark fantasies. Loyalties are tested and trust pushed to the limits as the final confrontation is at hand. Some will die. Some will live. And Adrian and Charity’s fragile relationship could be the final casualty in this war of retribution and freedom.

Cyborg Seduction

In the past few months, I wrote a couple of review like posts about books I’d read that I enjoyed.  Last Christmas, I wrote a post here about all the Christmas books I liked.  Lately, in some of my loop discussions, I’ve talked about books that I liked. It dawned on me that I have the perfect forum right here for talking about books.

The blog on this site is meant to be about writing, books, and publishing. Why shouldn’t I just do mini reviews of the stuff I’ve read and enjoyed? I talked about Neil Placky’s Gaylife.com on Sunlight Sucks. I talked about Kim Knox’s Breaking Chance on Flirty Author Bitches. And when I talked about The Dickens with Love and The Christmas She Rules here, I thought of it in a more promotional light rather than what it truly was…a review.

So while that Christmas post was a review, this shall serve as my first official “Valentine Review.” As such, I’m going to break the mold a bit.   I will try not to give spoilers, but I have to admit that may be tough for me. Also, I may mention some grammatical or structural stuff from time to time, but the main thrust of a Valentine Review will always be positive because, to be frank, I don’t want to come on here and talk about BAD books. I don’t want to give bad books unwarranted attention. There are other review sites out there who are happy to do that in their own snarky way. They get a lot of traffic from rubberneckers with a reality show mentality who thrive on seeing train wrecks. Sorry, folks. Move along. No train wrecks to be seen here. Only the stuff I like will have the privilege of a Valentine Review.

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For my first official forage into this area I’ll be telling you mostly about one book, but also a little about the other two in the series. Laurann Dohner’s Cyborg Seduction series at Ellora’s Cave may not be a comfortable fit for a modern woman who only wants to read about enlightened societies where women have true equality to men. There are some shades of the old romance bodice rippers with forced seduction themes in these books.  That’s not to say that the heroines aren’t fiesty. They’re far from submissive, but the societies in this series dictate the circumstances they find themselves in where they have to bargain to the lesser of two evils. The lesser usually being that they have to submit to sex with a cyborg.  Like those old romances where the pirate captures the lady and seduces her into loving him, these heroines fall for the cyborgs. But it’s not pretty at first and readers who aren’t a fan of this type of storyline had best just steer clear.

My most recent read, and the most recent release in this series, was Melting Iron. In the first two books, Burning Up Flint and Kissing Steel, the hero of Melting Iron is a total and complete asshole and you pretty much hate him.  However, what I noticed most about Melting Iron is that the author really has learned how to take a cold, nasty cyborg and turn him into a true hero that the reader adores.

As a reader, I didn’t like Flint all that much and it truly takes the entire book for him to get to the hero point and show that he loves the heroine. Steel, in the second book, warmed up a lot quicker. In the third book, Iron shows he is the hero almost from the beginning. Which is amazing considering how horrid he was as a secondary character in the first two books.  This growth in the author as a writer gives me a lot of hope that if she does further stories in this series and world (yes, please! I’d like Ice’s and Coal’s stories!) that I’ll be able to identify with the heroes right from the start.

The world Ms. Dohner has built is a harsh one. Humans created the cyborgs on Earth and when they realized they couldn’t control them and use them, they tried to have them all exterminated. Since the cyborgs had enhanced intelligence, they escaped and found a new world to colonize, Garden. On Garden, men outnumber women by quite a bit because the majority of the cyborg females were lost during escape from Earth. Because of the unequal numbers, laws are put into place to ensure that breeding occurs and the cyborg race is continued. The laws become a huge problem when love enters the mix.

In the first two books of the series you discover that the lost cyborg women have been found. This creates a shift in numbers that affects the laws and helps to ease the path of true love between the human females and cyborg males of the series. Sure, it’s a plot device but it’s an acceptable one, and as a reader, I mostly sat on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen with the laws to help the poor heroes and heroines achieve their monogamous HEAs.

I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, but I loved the third one which is weird because I didn’t expect to like Iron AT ALL. In Melting Iron you have a fiesty red-headed female mechanic (human) pitted against a cold, almost brutal cyborg male with a long red braid. The red hair is a key factor in this story and I’m not going to go into the nuts and bolts of it, but I will say that the heroine’s utter fascination with seeing Iron’s long hair turned  loose hit a special nerve with me. (I beg Rott to let his long curly hair loose too.)

Dawn, the heroine, is a woman I can identify with much more than the first two heroines. Her mercurial moods and Irish temper are a lot closer to my own personality and the fact that she’s techie and works as a mechanic is also way more like me. So, I could totally identify with her.  Dawn’s evolution from captive slave to Iron’s family unit (it’s kinda like being married) follows an arc I can empathize with.  But it’s still the development of Iron’s character that shows how the author’s skills have grown as this series has gone along.

It’s here in this third book that the reader discovers why Iron is so harsh in the first two books. Learning his background through Dawn’s eyes puts his prior behavior into perspective finally. And this book comes across much more richly in terms of the emotions of the hero and heroine than the others did. The detail with which their emotions are drawn suck you right in, something I applaud.

I noticed more telling and structural issues in the first two books, not enough for me to dislike them, but enough that I wouldn’t give either top marks. Melting Iron, however, is deserving of the top spot. The Cyborg Seduction series as a whole is deserving of top marks and is definitely a series I would recommend to those who like or are interested in reading sci fi rom.  If you don’t believe me, just read em yourself and decide.

5 Valentines

Melting Iron: Cyborg Seduction Book 3

Laurann Dohner

Ellora’s Cave

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Blurb:

Being a female mechanic on a space station for eight years has taught Dawn a lot of tough life lessons that have hardened her heart. She’s got a temper and a mouth to match her red hair and has never backed away from a challenge. Then she’s kidnapped and blackmailed into agreeing to be a cyborg’s personal sex slave.

Iron is one big bastard with long, fiery red hair, intense, dark blue eyes and a stubborn streak as thick as his dense muscles. If Iron thinks he can tame her, he’s about to learn that “meek” is not in Dawn’s vocabulary. But with that handsome face, a body to die for, a wickedly talented tongue and those magical hands, the guy just doesn’t fight fair.

Dawn is intent on melting Iron’s icy resolve to never fall in love with a human. He’s winning her heart and she’s determined to win his right back. These two redheads have just met their matches. Let the battle for love begin.

Reader Advisory: The big cyborg using his “research” on his new captive during a smoking-hot bondage scene. Woot!

I’m No Reviewer

I kinda have the rep that I’ll read anything and I’ll write anything. If I feel like it, I do it when it comes to reading and writing. That being said, I also can’t keep my mouth shut when I read something that just strikes me as perfection in print.

Earlier this month at Flirty Author Bitches, I expounded on the heroine who was different and offered up Kim Knox’s Breaking Chance which has a heroine who is a criminal. It’s a sci-fi romance, het, and a very good read if you like action-adventure with hot sex, romance, and a twisted ending.  I probably gave away spoilers without meaning to, but I really am no reviewer. When I talk about a book I love, I have trouble not offering up proof in the form of scenes and lines I loved.

So, as you may have guessed, I read something I liked last night. I went to bed early because I’d only gotten four hours of sleep the night before and wrote 4K words yesterday. I figured an hour of reading and poofta! I’d be asleep. And the road to hell is paved with good intentions…

Me, Louie,and my Nook (named Nookie) went to bed with Neil Placky’s GayLife.com.

Before I tell you about this book, let me say that I adore Kris Jacen. So far, there is nothing she’s told me to read that I didn’t like. We click as a team when it comes to me writing and her editing my writing. I love what she got out of me in Rousing Caine. And she’s a caring, supportive editor who isn’t done with you once your manuscript is finalized. If I see her name inside a cover, I know the manuscript has been handled with care and professionalism.

Of course, it was Kris who recommended Neil’s book to me, but he posted an excerpt somewhere, not sure where, and it captured my attention. Still, too many books, too little time and the file remained on my computer unopened until last night. Scrolling through the books on Nookie, I just clicked on GayLife.com and thought, “What the hell. Not gonna finish it tonight, but it seems like the kind of book that has a bunch of narrative and descriptions so it should put me right to sleep.”

I admit to having to eat those words. It’s a bitter breakfast, but I don’t care. I can still taste the divine sacher torte of GayLife.com in my mouth from reading until 1 am. Yep. Couldn’t put it down.

So what the hell was so great about this book that Miz Four Hours of sleep couldn’t stop reading? Uh, everything. This book read like a gay chick lit romance.  Saucy, irreverent, tender, funny…shit, you can slap all kinds of words on this book to describe it, but one rose above the others. Riveting. The characters just leapt off the pages at me. Written in first person, with an amazing voice, the author sucked me in within the first chapter.

Okay, I sorta hated Nick, the boss whom the hero falls in love with. He seemed really self-absorbed. But then, I remembered that like Elisa Rolle, I love the imperfect hero. I kept thinking that Brian, the first person hero of the story, would find someone amazing who just ripped his crush on Nick to bits. Didn’t happen. Instead, Nick started becoming more likable. That’s when I knew the book was totally headed for a happy ending.

Two more points I need to make about this book and then I’ll slap a Marcus on this post and toddle off to work. My first point is that I opened this book thinking I’d get these lush descriptive passages, pages and pages of Anne Rice and Margaret Mitchell type descriptives.  After all, Neil is heralded as a great writer. Uh. So not on the pages and pages of descriptives. You get some, and what you get is interesting and lively and yes, lush. But even better, you get dialog. Excellent, sparkling dialog. And there’s a Josh Lanyon type way of making less say more too which brings me to the second point I wanted to make about this book.

This author has a way with a one-liner that is so effing stellar he made me cry. Indeed, that is my mark of a truly great romance. Did you make me cry? I don’t think I’m giving away too much of a spoiler since this is a romance and you KNOW there is a HEA.  But when Nick says, “This is the room where the man I love sleeps” my eyes watered. No classic declarations of love and yet, I cried. This book is effing perfect. Read it. Really, you should.

Deep breath now. Shifting gears to… my Monday Marcus. Here’s one of my all-time fave photos of him. I know I’ve posted it before, but it’s been awhile,and I really love this shot.

I hope you all have a great Monday!

Christmas Rules

cs-012Every year I go nuts reading Christmas stories. I’m a little bit of a fanatic for them. Not Valentine’s stories. Not Halloween stories. Just Christmas. Thus far for the 2009 Christmas book feast, I’ve found two gems. I actually knew that both would be gems because I have a lot of respect for both authors.

Jennifer Leeland is singlehandedly responsible for the fact that I am published. She goaded me in blog comments until I submitted something. Goaded is perhaps the wrong word. She inflated my ego bigger than the effing Garfield balloon in the Macy’s parade by telling me I was frickin’ brilliant. And I will never, ever let her live it down that she kept saying that to me until I stopped denying it and started wondering if she was maybe just an itty bitty bit right.

This Christmas Jen pulled out all the emotional stops. What she did with The Christmas She Rules reminds me of what I did with Ride the Lightning… create a heroine with a tragic past who uses the lifestyle to both protect and punish herself. While my Emily is submissive, Jen’s Pamela is the ultimate Domme. You’ve seen her in the other books Jen’s written about this community. You’ve wondered what her story would be. Now, Jen’s told it.

The Christmas She Rules gives you a heroine whose strength and expertise will leave you gasping for air. But she is also a heroine whose vulnerabilities begin to appear as a submissive like none she’s ever had before cracks her composure and makes her… feel. If you read The Trust She Yields, The Secret She Keeps, and The Mask She Wears, you know who Pamela is – or think you do – and you will definitely want to read The Christmas She Rules so that you will come away finally knowing who Pamela really is.  You will also come away with the knowledge that Jennifer Leeland is some kinda author. If you don’t believe me read the book. And remember that I said this when you get to the scene where Pamela literally climbs on Christian as he’s hanging from the ceiling. Fuck. Yeah.

The other gem I have for you is one that Jen herself recommended on her blog. Not that I noticed that until tonight. Great minds like the same great things apparently. And this great thing is Josh Lanyon.

The Dickens with Love is written in that spare, but lush style that is so very Josh. His books are cinematic. I can see each scene, hear the characters breathe, smell the scents… Yet, Josh doesn’t waste a single word. Nothing is flowery. Nothing is scenic. Every word counts. And does double duty even. His is a voice you cannot shake and I found myself returning to The Dickens with Love repeatedly after my first read. Yes, you heard me… repeatedly.

I could not get enough of James and Sedge.  And the thin line between sex, relationships, and true love became oh, so much clearer for reading this book. It made me hot. It made me cry. And it wrenched my heart.  I wanted to find love on Christmas Eve when it snows in L.A. I found myself leaving work each night after that first reading, looking for the snow. (Of course, it didn’t snow in the O.C., but I had ice on my windshield one morning. Not that it counts.)

It takes a true master to wring those sorts of emotions from you without laying out the characters’ emotions word by word on the book’s pages.  You understand Sedge’s love so much better not just because of what Josh says but also because of what he doesn’t say.  Only a master wordsmith can convey emotion by what is left to the reader’s imagination.

I am still not done with my Christmas writing or reading. One of my first 2009 Christmas offerings released today, Christmas in Hell. It’s a whopping $1.89 and I hope you will stop by Pink Petal Books and get yourself a copy. A city girl, a cowboy, a wet Christmas Eve and a rickety barn. Sounds like a plan for love. *wink* I still have my M/M Christmas story to finish and then my freebie Antaeus family story.

When I finish my writing, I have the Santa Mug by my friend Patric Michael to read. I’ve saved Patric for last because he has a habit of pulling too much emotion from me. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve heard the raves of others, and I know Patric. You will LOVE his Christmas book.

So my Christmas rules are… read the good stuff and let the authors make you cry or smile and wring warm fuzzies from you. The best of the season is upon you. Make the most of it with these books.

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