Book Series Review – “Free Men” by Kate Aaron

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When you finish a series and you can’t stop thinking about the characters and their world, you know the author has done a great job of bringing you into his/her story. Kate Aaron does just that with her Free Men series.

I wasn’t sure quite what to expect when I started reading The Slave, the first book in the series, but I fell in love with Tamelik immediately. Collared slave to an emotionally reserved Master whom he loves without reserve, Tamelik’s first action is to purchase a rebellious slave in his Master’s name in order to save Kai from a much worse fate. The introduction of the distrustful and fearful Kai into the Master’s household, and his eventual seduction by Tamelik and his Master, are some of the most touching and beautiful scenes I have ever read. They are also incredibly hot! Tamelik and Kai’s Master, who remains unnamed at this point in the series, is, despite his position, a gentle and loving Underlord, although he tries to maintain a cold and professional demeanour when not alone with his two slaves.

The first book ends with a cliffhanger and I had to find out what happened to these three men!

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In The Soldier, the second instalment in the Free Men series, Kai takes over as narrator/POV and we follow as he and Tamelik and their Master are captured by a violent militia. Throughout this story, Kai faces despair, torture and harsh conditions in order to do everything he can to save Tamelik and his Master. The love he has developed for the two men becomes apparent as he journeys across the desert to get help. So many times his effort is rewarded with so much less than he deserves, yet he keeps fighting for the three of them to be together again.

By the time I finished The Soldier I was fully invested and needed to find out more about the enigmatic Underlord who is the recipient of Tamelik and Kai’s devotion.

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I think The Master is my favourite of the three books, if only because we get to explore the now named Master, Lysander’s, world more deeply in his relationship to his wife, The Mistress, and her lover Cal. We discover many secrets as to why Lysander is the way he is, why he denies his strong feelings for Tam and Kai, and the guilt he faces every day about his people’s treatment at the hands of the militia.

Kate Aaron has crafted an entire universe with such realism and emotion that you can’t help but be caught up in it. Her characters are very real and they all struggle with different things as they try to find a place for themselves in the Kingdom.

5/5 stars from me for the entire series.

Although there wasn’t any BDSM in this series, I loved the power dynamic between The Master and his slaves, even though he never took advantage of his ownership and always made sure they were willing participants in any sexual encounters.

I have all three ebooks on my Kindle but I will be asking for the hardcopies for Christmas. This series is worth putting on my actual bookshelf.

Release Day!!!

Finally, The Loft – Book Two is out!

The Loft by MP

MLR Press, Amazon.com

But not before it received a fantastic 5/5 Heart early review at Kimmer’s Erotic Book Banter Blog!

Stellar 5 Heart Review!

So excited to share the continuation of James’, Tate’s and Sebastian’s story with you all!

The Loft-Book Three is already in editing and will be out before Christmas!

Happy reading :)))))

Liz

Book Review – Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins

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Again, I have to say the cover is what grabbed me. University boy, sunglasses, attitude.

I’m not particularly a fan of the “gay-for-you” trope unless it’s done properly, but the premise intrigued me and, as the quintessential voyeur, I really liked the idea of one guy watching the sexual antics of his roommate.

*Off Campus blurb

Everyone’s got secrets. Some are just harder to hide.

With his father’s ponzi scheme assets frozen, Tom Worthington believes finishing college is impossible unless he can pay his own way. After months sleeping in his car and gypsy-cabbing for cash, he’s ready to do just that.

But his new, older-student housing comes with an unapologetically gay roommate. Tom doesn’t ask why Reese Anders has been separated from the rest of the student population. He’s just happy to be sleeping in a bed.

Reese isn’t about to share his brutal story with his gruff new roommate. You’ve seen one homophobic jock, you’ve seen ’em all. He plans to drag every twink on campus into his bed until Tom moves out. But soon it becomes clear Tom isn’t budging.

Tom isn’t going to let some late-night sex noise scare him off, especially when it’s turning him on. But he doesn’t want any drama either. He’ll keep his hands, if not his eyes, to himself. Boundaries have a way of blurring when you start sharing truths, though. And if Tom and Reese cross too many lines, they may need to find out just how far they can bend…before they break.

Warning: This book contains cranky roommates who vacillate between lashing out and licking, some male/male voyeurism, emotional baggage that neither guy wants to unpack, and the definitive proof that sound carries in college housing.

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This book did not disappoint. In fact, I’m re-reading it at the moment and am even more impressed at the quality of the writing.

Amy Jo Cousins has such an amazing grasp of body language and human behaviour and the writing ability to create a vivid picture in the mind of her readers, which is equally impressive when she’s writing a hot voyeuristic scene or one in which her compelling characters reveal their emotional vulnerabilities and hints of their equally traumatic pasts.

Ms. Cousins makes it pretty clear from the beginning that Tom’s interest in his roommate Reese’s sexual antics comes as not so much a surprise to the “supposedly” straight former athlete but a reminder that he’s always had a level of sexual fluidity. She makes his reaction to his feelings intelligent and self-perceptive. He is mature and self-aware enough to realize he has always been, as he puts it, equal opportunity, when it comes to his sexual attractions. In my opinion, this is the only way the “gay-for-you” trope can work in a way that is respectful to the real Queer community. Because a straight guy doesn’t just “turn gay” for the one person that he finds himself falling in love with. That straight guy has to at least have a closeted past and/or a knowledge of his own bisexuality that simply flew under the radar until he is forced to acknowledge it.

Both protagonists in Off Campus are extremely compelling and about equally matched in the trauma that has shaped them. They are each trying to manage as best they can by dealing with former situations of deep betrayal and victimization. Tom has been metaphorically fucked over by his Dad’s criminal financial past and Reese, well, you’ll have to read the book to find out. But both characters’ situations are utterly believable and their strength in response to all that has occurred is one of the things that binds them. They both refuse to let their betrayers triumph. They both are committed to moving forward in whatever capacity that entails and, eventually, their tentative relationship helps them to heal themselves.

Ms. Cousins also gives the secondary characters vivid personalities. Tom’s friend Cash and Reese’s friend Steph are drawn just as realistically as her protagonists and add a great and real level of comedy in their interactions with Tom, Reese and, eventually, each other.

This is a wonderful story about survival, redemption, and refusing to be a victim.

And let me just say that the many voyeuristic scenes at the beginning of this full-length novel were some of the best I’ve read.

This is a dense book packed with real knowledge of human behaviour and psychology. I absolutely loved it.

Definite 5/5 stars.

*Off Campus is Book 1 in Amy Jo Cousins Bend or Break series.

 

Book Review – Playing to Win by Avery Cockburn

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I almost gave this one full marks just for the cover. Jk. But as a lover of men in kilts it did grab my attention.

*Playing to Win Blurb: 

Being out in this world was dangerous enough. Being real was downright suicidal.

Colin MacDuff has nothing. Growing up in a Glasgow slum, he learned never to trust, never to cry—and never EVER to be at the mercy of anyone, especially rich men. So how did he end up half-naked at a rave with Scotland’s hottest young aristocrat?

Lord Andrew Sunderland has everything. From ancestral castle to posh prep school, he’s spent his life wrapping others around his wee finger. With a social circle full of celebrities and politicians, nothing can stop Andrew’s rise to the top. Nothing, that is, save his desire for a dirt-poor, wolf-eyed footballer whose scars and tattoos tell unbearable tales.

Colin and Andrew come from different worlds, believe in different worlds, want different worlds. Yet every time they touch, all worlds fall away.

Set amid the fiery Scottish-independence struggle, this searing gay romance tells the story of two men who must lose everything to win each other’s hearts.

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I fell for Colin at the very beginning of this novel and he did not disappoint.

Colin MacDuff is street-smart, sarcastic, brave and compassionate and always up for a challenge. Which is part of the reason he finally gives in to his animal attraction to preppy and privileged Lord Andrew Sunderland, even though they seem to be hilariously mismatched and their “relationship” doomed to failure.

 

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Against a backdrop of the upcoming vote for Scottish Independence on which they each have opposing views, their love story is a rich and layered one. The relationship is tenuous from the beginning because their backgrounds and current life situations are so divergent, and the knowledge that each cheers for the other side in such a crucial and deciding vote on Scotland’s history makes any alliance that much more fragile.

They start off just hooking up for sex, because neither seems able to fight the attraction they feel for each other. Andrew confesses to Colin that he doesn’t like to top, so Colin gladly takes on that role each time they get together. He almost hates the fact that he enjoys having sex with Andrew so much and occasionally some of his anger at Andrew’s privileged life emerges during these encounters.

Andrew loves Colin’s Devil-may-care attitude and thinks he understands the reasons Colin is so against Scotland remaining part of the UK, but he doesn’t really “get” what life is really like for Colin until he visits Colin’s family home in Glasgow. Conversely, Colin finally gets to see what life is like for Andrew when he meets Andrew’s well-off parents and prig of a brother.

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Ms. Cockburn’s writing is excellent in the way it conveys the world of Glasgow before/during/after the vote. She deftly creates the world she knows and uses some distinct local dialogue to add to the Scottish flavour of her characters. Her detailing of Colin and Andrew’s sexual encounters is done with emotion and skill, making each of them a treat to experience, from the blowjob in the dark during a police raid to the eventual experience of making love when they’ve realized they aren’t just fucking anymore.

There is a sub plot that is deftly written about Andrew’s life possibly being in danger and this is resolved believably in the end. I also enjoyed the effect of social media on their relationship and how Ms. Cockburn used Andrew’s and Colin’s Twitter accounts to juxtapose their political leanings and life situations very effectively.

A wonderful story with well written and believable characters, full of emotion and vulnerability and heroic acts, with a history lesson to boot.

What more can one ask?

5/5 stars from me, and not just for the cover 😉

*This is the second book in Avery Cockburn’s Glasgow Lads series.

 

New Book Review Feature

Book-Review

I’ve decided to add the occasional book review to my website/blog.

Now I have, over the years, come to the conclusion that these sorts of books, by which I mean romance and erotic romance, are an intensely personal experience. As such, there is a wide variation of what appeals to certain people and what doesn’t. A book that I might love and think is the epitome of distinction might cause someone else to go “meh” and vice versa.

That being said, I am very picky about which sorts of books I enjoy reading. I write in this genre in order to write stories I enjoy and think are worthwhile. There is a certain level of competence and style that I must find in any book that is going to resonate with me. Because of this, I wouldn’t be able to have a book review site where I invited anyone and everyone to submit books for an honest review because I’d end up skewering at least half of them.

Recently, I became a member of a Facebook Group that provides links to books that are currently free to purchase on Amazon. As I understand, some authors are able to offer certain of their titles for free for a limited number of days which enables them to, a)climb to the top of the bestseller list for a certain amount of time, thus making them more visible in the retail giant’s algorithms and, b)expose their work to new readers who might not be able to/want to purchase their book at the regular price.

I used to avoid reading other titles in my genre because I couldn’t count on the quality of the work when I made a purchase. As the mother of two kids living on an almost single family income, I don’t have money to throw away on books I don’t end up liking/reading, even if it is only $3-$6.

So I have been downloading a lot of these free ebooks to my Kindle app and I would say that maybe one out of five are books that I end up reading past chapter one. Sometimes I don’t even get that far. Very often, the premise sounds intriguing but when I begin reading, either there are major problems with the story or great difficulties with execution. On occasion I will persevere with a story that doesn’t completely enthral me because the writing itself is good enough but still end up feeling less that satisfied at its conclusion. Occasionally, the writing is so bad I wonder how this person got published in the first place. Although a good proofreader can ensure that a written work is free of errors and typos, they cannot cover for a writer who is not skilled at creating realistic, or at least believable, fiction.

What I would like to do is to take the books that I do enjoy and review them here on my blog/website, because this way I can help you all discover some really outstanding writers and some kick-ass stories.

The first four books I will review are:

Playing to Win by Avery Cockburn

Feral by Kate Sherwood

Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins

and;

The Troll Whisperer by Sara Trevor

Stay tuned!

The James Lucas Trilogy

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When I started writing my first novel, which became Beyond the Edge, I wasn’t even sure I could write a full length novel. I had these three distinct characters in my head and I knew how they met, and I had a vague idea where to take it from there. But I wasn’t sure if all three would get together, or just two. I kind of just followed them along and let them show me what they wanted. And it worked.

I loved writing this book. After a lifetime interest in BDSM, it was wonderful to bring that and my love of gay men together in this world I created, set in my home city of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

I am immensely proud of this book. It received an Honorable Mention from the NLA-I (National Leather Association – International) in the Pauline Réage Award category for excellence in SM/Leather/Fetish writing.

After it was published, a number of readers expressed sadness at the bittersweet ending of Beyond the Edge. I won’t go into detail at the risk of spoiling the book but a certain character did not get the HEA ending some readers felt he deserved.

I didn’t want to leave these characters behind either. So I started writing what became The Cross and the Trinity, again not 100% sure I would complete it. But I did, and I realized I had some sort of a series going on. The fetish party scene in this book was very fun to write and still receives many positive comments from reviewers.

When I finished writing The Cross and the Trinity I had a feeling that I did want to write a third book. That book became A Numinous Light. But what to title my trilogy? I agonized over this for a long time. All three novels are told from the point of view of Tate Mackenzie, but James is the pivotal force of the first novel and the binding presence in the last two. Plus he is the character that motivated me to write the novels. I had this image of a great Dom – one who is intelligent, compassionate, competent. A Dom who knows his kink and knows how to put his subs in their place, yet who always plays safe and knows the difference between aggression and assertiveness. Finally, a Dom who despite his best efforts, often finds himself at the emotional mercy of his subs.

So the series is titled The James Lucas Trilogy. Since I didn’t write these books as a conceptualized series from the very beginning, there can be confusion on some book platforms as to the order of the books and their existence as a unified trilogy. I’ve listed them here in order.

Each book is different, because I can’t stand writing the same thing over and over again. And each book can stand alone as an independent story. You don’t have to have read the first book to enjoy the second, or the third, although it might deepen your appreciation of the characters and their journey.

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Book 1

BUY NOW:  MLR PressAmazon, Barnes and Noble

Blurb: Tate Mackenzie has signed on for a weekend of kinky fun at the hands of respected Dom, James Lucas. However, James has invited another man, twenty-four year-old Sebastian Doucette, to join in. Thrown together under James’ expert tutelage, the two men experience an instant attraction and begin a tentative relationship on their own time. But James hasn’t been entirely honest with the boys and soon Tate finds himself the focus of two infatuated men. How will he choose the man he wants or the lifestyle he desires to pursue?

Review: “Full five stars. Reading this story was such a pleasure, the writing smooth and pacing perfect. Exploring this Dom and two-sub menage was quite an erotic trip, with many of the scenes standing out as unique in my experience. The cross-dressing was an interesting exercise in humiliation and the puppy play adorable. Something for everyone in this BDSM adventure. Not to mention a sweet romance.

Highly recommend!”

~ Goodreads, 2012

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Book 2

BUY NOW:  MLR PressAmazonBarnes and Noble

Blurb: Tate and Sebastian are having trouble maintaining a successful monogamous relationship. When trust is betrayed and old friends reappear, the men are faced with the challenge of making things work or changing the way they will be together. Nobody ever said relationships were easy, and when sexy Dom James Lucas swoops in at the right time, things get even more complicated. Or do they? Do gay men have to tow the traditional line, or is there room for a new definition of true love?

Review: “That was so beautifully written, I love Elizabeth Lister’s writing style and am now devouring everything I can find by this author. The first person pov through Tate’s eyes is done so well, he is such a caring and lovely character. And the way we get to know the secondary characters through Tate’s eyes… Sebastian, sweet and adorable and just a little bit naughty. And James, well *ahem* yeah, holy shit.”

~ Goodreads, 2016

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Book 3

MLR PressAmazon, Barnes and Noble

Blurb: It’s been five years since James, Tate and Sebastian moved in together to enjoy a three-way BDSM relationship and James is turning fifty. After enjoying a surprise party and thoughtful gift, the health crisis of a close friend necessitates a trip to Montreal, followed by a snowy Christmas getaway in Mont Tremblant. Soon, an unexpected event challenges the dynamics of the relationship. Will the sudden appearance of family members, old friends, and new acquaintances cause insurmountable problems or present an opportunity to demonstrate the real meaning of togetherness?

Review: “A lovely (and hot!) conclusion to this series. I admit, I adore these characters too much to be entirely objective, but I continue to be enamored with the healthy portrayal of BDSM and an open-ish relationship that is refreshingly drama-free. It was deeply gratifying to spend more time in their world.”

~ Goodreads, 2015

Goodreads Review – Exposure

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Review of second read on Feb. 24, 2015.

Wow, I am SO GLAD I decided to re-read this one! I had forgotten the entire premise and just how much I loved it. (One advantage of getting old, I guess.)

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Purchase Link

MC Martin and MC Jeremy meet on a cold October day when Jeremy comes to Martin’s photography studio to have some photos taken for his portfolio. Both men feel a spark of attraction at this first meeting, but it takes a second photo session for them to confirm each other’s interest. Then they are off and running! The author gives us a first time blow-job scene that could melt the paint off the walls! These boys were so obviously running on more than just sexual attraction from the get-go.

Our boys start dating and the sex is so full of passion and eventually love that I’d like to high five this author as a personal thank you. Damn! Hot as hell! They experiment with some light BDSM play that will have you panting, I guarantee it.

Unfortunately, not all is well in Jeremy’s world and the realization throws Martin for a loop. (view spoiler) Of COURSE they get their HEA (I don’t read books that don’t!) but the journey to that HEA was just a delight to read. The love, emotion and passion of these boys was second to none.

This book is going on my rarely used Pure Romance shelf, reserved for books that sweep you away with the love and don’t have any unnecessary relationship angst to mare the tale. It is also going on my Absolute Favorites shelf.

Fuck yeah I recommend this one! Read it for a dreamy high of passion, romance and hot sex. You won’t be disappointed.

~ Gigi, Goodreads, February 2015

My Debut Novella, Reviewed.

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It’s been four years since my first ebook, Exposure, was published and I’ve been careful not to post any reviews that might spoil the story for others.  However, now that it’s been so long, I want to share this beautiful review with you.  I’m so proud I was able to create a character who dealt with the challenges that I deal with on a daily basis in a realistic and believable way.  I really put myself into this story and all the knowledge I had gained since my diagnosis with MS in 2009.

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“It takes a delicate hand to create a character that is not only vibrant, interesting and sexy but chronically ill and coping with that disease as well. Meet Jeremy, one of the main characters in Elizabeth Lister’s stunning novel, Exposure. Jeremy, a hot young working guy, takes a dare from his buddies to be photographed for the purpose of building a portfolio to be used to embark on a modeling career. Here is no simpering, vain young beauty; rather we grow to love this brilliantly courageous young man who has determined that he will live each moment of his life to the fullest. After all, when one is faced with the prospect of paralysis and loss of mental acuity that is symptomatic of advanced Multiple Sclerosis, one has a choice: either throw in the towel and bow to the disease or live as if there is no tomorrow. Thankfully for Martin, Jeremy does just that…embraces life. Martin, a photographer who is at best, adrift in both his career and personal life, is not only captivated by Jeremy when he presents himself to be photographed; but finds himself drawn from his safe and lonely existence toward the energy and vitality that is Jeremy. The two form a bond that goes well beyond Client and photographer and deepens into lasting and most satisfying love.

While this novel does not dwell on MS, the disease and it’s eventual life altering side effects, neither does it shy away from exposing what a relationship looks like when it is confronted with a life threatening disease. The compassion and care with which Elizabeth Lister treats her subject matter, the incredibly sweet and tender love she creates in her multi-layered characters, and the overriding sense of hope for a future together living without fear is done with a deft and capable hand. I highly recommend this novel. This will be the first of many novels I hope to ready by this gifted author.”

~ Goodreads, 2012

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