Book Review – Kris Ripper “Catalysts (The Scientific Method Universe 1)”

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I. Love. This. Book.

Everything about it.

The exploration of one young man’s journey into his own sexual self. No labels, no assumptions, just a (kind of) random meeting and a discovery that he may not really know much about what he wants but he trusts himself enough to try to find out.

This is where the scientific method comes in.

An experiment. A vague hypothesis. Unexpected results.

Will, 21, knows he’s attracted to women and that he’s supposed to enjoy having sex with them. But every encounter leaves a sour taste in his mouth. He likes kink. He fantasizes about being dominated. But he’s too scared to tell this to any of the girls he dates.

He is, however, not scared to tell the male Dom he encounters, unaware and by accident, in a move by his twin brother Adam who is aware that Will is spiralling into depression and needs to find a way to help him.

Will gradually learns to trust the older gay man who promises to introduce him to gradual levels of kink play with no sex involved, just to see if Will’s supposition about his affinity for it is correct.

A scientific experiment so to speak.

An experiment that has surprising results in store for both of them.

I love Ripper’s approach to the labels of identity. Will questions his sexuality many times while he is conducting his experiment but doesn’t get hung up on labels. He trusts to just follow where his desires take him.

Hugh, a soon-to-be-qualified therapist, helps Will to not question himself too much, to not worry about it.

The kink scenes and sex scenes in this book are perfectly conveyed — so very ordinary/extraordinary, with occasional missteps and discomfort and misunderstandings, just as happens in everyday life. They are also incredibly hot and very emotional. Will’s journey, from detached scientific subject to involved participant, is wonderful to observe. His innocence and sense of sexual/sensual discovery in the hands of an experienced Dom are incredibly touching.

There are so many important things addressed in this series: Sexual discovery, kink and the way it can be an intrinsic part of someone’s personality, open relationships, poly relationships, undefined relationships, the importance of friendship as a basis for any relationship, trust and honest communication, even when, especially when, emotions are confusing and unexpected.

This is a fantastic book, an incredible series, and a must for anyone’s LGBTQ+ library.

The Kindle edition of this book is free right now but I don’t know how long that will last.

Catalysts: The Scientific Method Universe Book 1

Kris Ripper

 

 

 

 

Book Review – Sara Dobie Bauer “Escaping Solitude”

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*It’s not just a pretty cover, folks.

This second instalment in Sara Dobie Bauer’s Escape Trilogy takes Andrew and his beloved Edmund to nineteenth century New Orleans, a setting rife with secret brothels and fancy vampire lairs.

Again, the writing is exceptional.

Sara’s portrayal of Edmund’s restless character and Andrew’s protective, yet deadly nature, are bang on and compelling. Her secondary characters, like Danys, Philipe and Michelle, are equally distinct and well-crafted.

I enjoyed the way Andrew was challenged in his attempts to reign in Edmund’s impulsive behavior, and resigned himself to dealing with him as a parent with an energetic and boisterous child. Edmund seems to run on adrenaline and curiosity, and it was enchanting to see him so distracted by Michelle’s giant library and the two male prostitutes at May’s brothel.

These novellas are fast-paced and enchanting and not your average vampire read.

Looking forward to the third and final book of the series!

*A free copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Pre-order links (October 29th release): Amazon.com, Amazon.caNineStar Press.

My review of Escaping Exile (Book 1)

Book Review – Tom Cardamone “The Lurid Sea”

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I have not read anything like this before.

A fantastic, Alice In Wonderland type journey through whirlpools as opposed to rabbit holes and mirrors, with its protagonist, the god-spawn Nerites, delighting in his curse/gift to wander the bathhouses of the world, meeting and enjoying countless strangers.

Tom Cardamone’s writing is a revelation – lyrical, raw, earthy, dark, fetid, glorious and depraved.

There is an innocence to Nerites that balances the evil incarnate of his half-brother, Obsidio. Nerites is propelled forcefully though willingly from encounter to encounter, joyously satisfying his relentless hunger and the lascivious requirements of a host of men, while Obsidio trails behind, leaving death and destruction in his wake.

Everything about this story revolves around fluid which is why I adore the title. The fluidity of space and time. Bodily fluids. Effluvia.

It is a Bacchanalian orgy of a book, a writhing verse of sex and spunk. The story drags you down and along at a breakneck pace through the damp reaches of multiple watery worlds, almost necessitating a towel-dry at the end.

But through it all are splashes of history and spurts of reverence and romance. This is a beautiful read, even though it touches on dark themes of death, disease and incest.

I simply cannot wait to read more of Tom’s work.

Buy Links: Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Bold Strokes Books, Nook, Kobo

 

 

Book Review – Sara Dobie Bauer “Escaping Exile”

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*Having followed Sara Dobie Bauer on Twitter, I was delighted when she PM’d me and offered to send me a copy of her new book, Escaping Exile, for free in exchange for an honest review. Since it was a sexy story about a male vampire and a human sailor, what the hell was I supposed to say? Yes, please!

I’m always a bit wary reading new authors because I have quite high expectations in terms of story and writing style. Also, summer is a busy time of year for me with my kids on their summer break and my husband taking vacation time as well. I don’t have as much personal time to read and write and I struggle to keep up with my own projects.

So I was only able to give this little beauty of a story the attention it deserved this morning while my fourteen year-old slept in and my eleven year-old watched Youtube on his computer with headphones on the sofa near me. Thank God for headphones.

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First person present is not a point of view I’ve seen often in stories these days, but I got used to Sara’s compelling style very quickly. Her beautiful words flow on the page, creating vivid imagery and enticing tableaus: A plain grass hut on an island filled with cannibals, a beautiful shipwrecked sailor, a lonely vampire who frets with lust and hunger.

I read this little novella in one go. It seduced and entranced me with its language and subject matter. I’ve long been a fan of Anne Rice and her early vampire novels, and yes, this story did remind me of them.

But Sara has her own vampire vision and I loved the way that Edmund (the sailor) was nothing like the traditional human victim to Andrew’s vampire cravings. His intelligence and reckless courage were just as fascinating as Andrew’s implicit strength and newly discovered self-control.

Such a juicy little treat for a lazy Saturday morning! I would recommend this story to anyone and look forward to the continuation of the series.

*A free copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a free and honest review.

Buy Links: Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Ninestar Press

Book Review – Ella Frank “Confessions: Priest”

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*I think this is my favourite of all the covers in this series.

Joel Priestly is a fantastic character and one that Ms. Frank has taken pains to create and present as a stoic, intelligent survivor of intense trauma as a child. His early years were a haze of manipulation and violence, more of which she makes clear in this third book using flashbacks to his life with his mob boss of a father.

The delicate relationship that he is just beginning to flesh out with Robbie Bianchi, along with his husband, Julien, takes a big hit at the end of the second book (Confessions – Julien) and the first chapters of this book follow the three men trying to rebuild a level of trust with each other.

I like the way Ms. Frank writes about emotional issues like this. She seems to understand the psychology of people who are coming together – the doubts and fears that can plague us when we are getting to know someone new – and is able to communicate this through the thoughts and actions of her characters.

Honestly, I found this book to be my least favourite of the three, only because it deals with more angst and less “happy fun times”. I don’t write a lot of angst in my stories because I prefer to see people happy and dealing with the everyday challenges of a regular existence, rather than the less common trials of extreme violence and trauma.

I did like the way that Priest went out of his way to protect his loved ones in the face of the storm he knew was coming. It showed his strength and his faith that he could triumph over what had haunted him throughout his life.

I’m REALLY glad that Ms. Frank has promised to write a fourth book to give these guys a happier story together, now that their personal truths have been dealt with. Because when Joel and Julien and Robbie are relaxed and just enjoying their chemistry together? It’s perfection.

So yes, do read this book to learn the truth about Joel’s past and watch him protect his men, then keep your eyes out for Book 4 later this year!

*A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Confessions: Priest, book three in the steamy contemporary MMM Confessions Series from Ella Frank, is available NOW!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2waxq4X

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/ConfessionsPriest

Add to GoodReads: https://bit.ly/2MbqMTy

Start the series with Confessions: Robbie today!
Amazon US:http://amzn.to/2HdQ7IU

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/confessionsrobbie

Add To Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2EWp3Aq

About Ella

Ella Frank is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Temptation series, including Try, Take, and Trust and is the co-author of the fan-favorite contemporary romance, Sex Addict. Her Exquisite series has been praised as “scorching hot!” and “enticingly sexy!”

Some of her favorite authors include Tiffany Reisz, Kresley Cole, Riley Hart, J.R. Ward, Erika Wilde, Gena Showalter, and Carly Phillips.

Connect with Ella:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ella.frank.31/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EllaFrank2012

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellafrank1/

Mailing List: www.bit.ly/1hEYtgn

Website: https://www.ellafrank.com/portfolio

Book Review – Ella Frank “Confessions: Julien”

*Confessions – Elizabeth – I read this book in the throes of grief over my beloved pet Schnauzer, Bee Bee, who had to be put down last Thursday, three weeks shy of her 15th birthday.

Thank goodness I can rely on Ella Frank to tell a great story.

Confessions: Julien centres around Julien Thornton, master chef and one third of the romantic unit that encompasses him, the stern and quiet Joel Priestley, and the flashy and unstoppable Robbie Bianchi. They are all unique individuals with different and, in some cases, traumatic pasts who have come together in the name of sexual attraction and burgeoning love.

In this, the second book of Ella Frank’s Confessions series, we learn even more about Julien and Joel, who have been so good to our beloved Robbie but hide secrets from their pasts that have the ability to affect this new relationship. I love how Robbie’s naturally exuberant and intuitive personality provides a needed lightness and perspective to the other men, who’ve been struggling and really need an outside look at what is going on with them. Here we are confronted specifically with Julien’s backstory and how he suffers daily from vivid memories and crippling guilt.

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Robbie keeps underestimating his own abilities to react positively and intelligently to the emotional stresses going on around him, but both Julien and Joel know that he is becoming a needed counterpoint to their obsessive and controlling natures. As Robbie also discovers an intrinsic love of submission and service, specifically with regards to Joel, we observe two different personalities who just happen to click so perfectly that we cannot even imagine them being apart.

As always, the sex scenes sizzle. They resonate, too, with honesty and overwhelming emotion. Frank wields a deft hand at describing men in the throes of passionate lovemaking that doesn’t shy away from the grittier details. It’s not fluffy romance, but hard, rough, exciting moments of pure male sexual energy and satisfaction, underscored by a strong developing attachment.

I enjoyed this middle instalment of Robbie, Julien and Joel’s story and look forward to finding out more about the “Priest” of this ensemble in book three.

*A free copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review.

*****

Confessions: Julien, book two in the steamy contemporary MMM Confessions Series from Ella Frank, is LIVE!

Synopsis:

People are complex.

Love a double-edged sword.

And when it comes to a broken heart, there are no rules, only time…

For the past eight years, Julien Thornton has been living with a secret. One that only a handful of people know about.

To the outside world, he has it all.

A thriving career. A loving husband. And a face that the American public fell for by the millions, on a reality show that inadvertently saved his life.

But behind the shine of celebrity, behind the easygoing nature, a crippling truth fills Julien with pain and self-loathing. It’s a truth that he fights to overcome daily with the help of his husband, Joel Priestley, and now their boyfriend, Robbie Bianchi.

But unlike Priest, Robbie doesn’t know what he’s helping Julien to fight. He doesn’t know what Julien did all those years ago. And with the anniversary of his sister’s death fast approaching, the time for explanations is running out.

And thus the question: will the princess be able to forgive the prick as the priest once did?

Only time will tell.

Download today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2LYB8Wq

Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/ConfessionsJulien

Add to GoodReads: https://bit.ly/2HKj17D

Start the series with Confessions: Robbie today!
Amazon US:http://amzn.to/2HdQ7IU

Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/confessionsrobbie

Add To Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2EWp3Aq

About Ella

Ella Frank is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Temptation series, including Try, Take, and Trust and is the co-author of the fan-favorite contemporary romance, Sex Addict. Her Exquisite series has been praised as “scorching hot!” and “enticingly sexy!”

Some of her favorite authors include Tiffany Reisz, Kresley Cole, Riley Hart, J.R. Ward, Erika Wilde, Gena Showalter, and Carly Phillips.

Connect with Ella:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ella.frank.31/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EllaFrank2012

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellafrank1/

Mailing List: www.bit.ly/1hEYtgn

Website: https://www.ellafrank.com/portfolio

Series Review – Christina E. Pilz “Oliver and Jack”

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I just finished the sixth and final book in the Oliver and Jack series by Christina E. Pilz and am now in mourning that the story is complete.

Sometimes, in a lengthy series, the final books can seem lacklustre and underwhelming. Even if the writing continues on a level of excellence, the story can sometimes fizzle out and be less than comparable to the earlier books.

Well, not in this case.

The three books following Fagin’s Boy (which I reviewed here), At Lodgings in Lyme, In Axminster Workhouse and Out in the World, carried the story forward with the two main characters facing further challenges but feeling more and more affection for each other, both physical and otherwise and I found the final two books in the Oliver and Jack series – On the Isle of Dogs and In London Towne) – to be riveting, revelatory and supremely satisfying.

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Ms. Pilz’s unfailing ability to transport her reader to the streets and byways of 19th century London and environs is astonishing. She is able to convey the noise, the stench and, yes, the beauty of this unique setting with her eye for detail and the manner in which her finely drawn characters react to their surroundings. Her use of language, particularly, to show the difference between the social classes, is perfectly executed. Jack’s street-smart and profanity-laden dialogue contrasts beautifully with Oliver’s more polite turns of phrase in a way that keeps the characters quite distinct and beautifully contradictory.

I have to say that Pilz’s version of Jack Dawkins, the Artful Dodger, is one of the most vibrant and colourful character representations I have ever had the pleasure to read. I fell deeply in love with his expressive language, straightforward outlook on life, and ability to find pleasure and humour in even the most bleak of circumstances.

Pilz has a wonderful grasp of human psychology and how people react to traumatic circumstances. Her 19th century world is brutal in its veracity but the way these two characters struggle to survive and barely escape some horrible situations is a testament to the harshness of the Victorian reality and its rigid social structure. When addressing less-than-appealing events, Pilz manages to maintain a sense of delicacy and honesty that, while not shying away from important details, shows her characters’ great strength in the face of adversity.

In conclusion, a beautiful series written with a deft hand and sharp mind, presenting characters at odds with the times of their existence who nevertheless find love and laughter to carry them through until they can grasp their happy-ever-after, which is all the more special because of the trials they have endured to get there.

 

 

Book Review – Christina E. Pilz “Fagin’s Boy”

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First, I must confess to putting off reading Fagin’s Boy, which I downloaded for free from Amazon several weeks ago, because I read a lot of historical literature like Dickens, George Eliot and Charlotte Bronte, and I was really worried that this book would not live up to my expectations of it. I’ve always loved the story of Oliver Twist and the movie musical as well. But the idea of a follow up story wherein Oliver and Jack (the Artful Dodger) grow up and fall in love made me giddy with excitement. But I was nervous about the writing.

When I finally began this story and immediately found myself transported back to Victorian London with all its period charm as well as its grime, brutality and criminal underbelly, I was thrilled.

I usually like my gay romance reads to be fast-moving, full of sexual tension and graphically described intimate scenes. This story read more like a literary novel with a leisurely plot and much introspection on the part of the central character (Oliver) which was absolutely fine because the quality of the writing and the author’s attention to period detail supported that. Indeed, I found myself entranced by her vivid descriptions of life in middle class London, then later by the squalid lifestyles of the lower classes.

Pilz does a wonderful job of navigating the subtle dance between two men who share an unstated obsession with each other but don’t fully understand where that obsession comes from or to where it might lead. When it gets there, her handling of Jack and Oliver’s acknowledgment of their physical attraction to each other is beautiful to behold and hotter than Hades.

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical romances with strong, vividly depicted characters and setting and an undeniable passion between two people struggling to survive and thrive in a harsh and unforgiving world.

There are five more stories in this series and I look forward to enjoying each and every one of them, the next being Oliver and Jack: At Lodgings in Lyme.

Thank you to Christina E. Pilz for permitting me to combine my love for historic literature with my fondness for gay romance in her painstakingly researched and beautifully written series.

Movie Review – “Call Me By Your Name”

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*Contains spoilers*

I have watched this film three times now, and it gets better at each viewing.

Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name is a feast for the senses – an erotic buffet filled to the brim with symbolism, intellect and culture.

But most of all, innocence.

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Call Me By Your Name is the story of 17 year-old Elio’s sudden infatuation with 24 year-old graduate student, Oliver, one of a succession of yearly summer visitors brought to the beautiful Italian villa by his father to help with paperwork and for the chosen student’s own intellectual and spiritual enrichment. It is based on the book of the same name by André Aciman, which I read before viewing the film. In this case, the movie exceeded the promise of the book – which in itself was wonderful – by immersing the viewer in the lush Italian summer that Aciman writes about and by selecting Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer as the two lead actors.

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Their chemistry is palpable from the moment they first meet through the tentative attempts at flirting and seduction, through to the final moments at the train station when Oliver has to leave. Chalamet was deservedly nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor. Somehow, he is able to show every emotion and thought that crosses Elio’s mind as he tries to figure Oliver out and decipher his own confusing feelings of attraction.

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This is one of the most mature films I’ve ever had the privilege to watch. It is a story in which sex is as natural as breathing, as wonderful a part of growing up as anything else, where nothing is shameful about embracing one’s desires and enjoying the fruit of life. The peaches that ripen in Anella’s orchard are as full of promise and as sweet as Elio. They are innocent but sensual in their own right, just like him.

As Elio and Oliver bicycle through the Italian countryside growing ever more aware of their mutual attraction, the viewer is treated to such a natural growth of love and longing that it becomes a part of the landscape.

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The house in which Elio lives and where Oliver stays for the summer is a character in itself. Like Elio’s parents, the ancient villa is always welcoming, doors open wide to the sunshine, balconies overlooking vast expanses of grass and trees. But there are hidden passages and secret rooms too, where only the most loyal companions are taken. Elio’s private escape above back of the kitchen, where he brings Marzia to wile away the hours until his tryst with Oliver, is also the room where he has intimate relations with a ripe peach and later cries in Oliver’s arms over the fact that Oliver must soon leave.

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This film is a celebration of summertime, first love, sexual exploration of all kinds — opposite sex, same sex, solitary sex with a peach — beauty and desire. It is also a celebration of how a parent can let their child become an adult by sitting back and letting that child explore the world on his/her own terms. By understanding that sexuality is a natural part of living and that putting barriers around who we’re allowed to fall in love with or engage with sexually is a losing game, and why would we want to play it anyway?

Call Me By Your Name Movie

Call Me By Your Name Book