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Review ~ Starting from Scratch

Title: Starting from Scratch

Author: Jay Northcote

Publisher: Jaybird Press (self published)

Length: 57,000 words approx

Genre: Contemporary m/m romance/erotica, transgender, new adult

Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

Release Date: Wednesday 12th April 2017

Series info: Housemates #5

 

The Housemates Series is a collection of standalone stories set around a student house in Britain.

Each book focuses on new characters, with themes of self-discovery and sexual awakening.

 

 

Starting over isn’t easy, but Ben is ready to live his life as the man he was always meant to be.

Ben is transgender and back at university after hormone treatment and chest surgery. His new housemates have no idea about his history and Ben would prefer to keep it that way. He’s starting from scratch and his life is finally on track, except in the romance department. The idea of dating guys as a guy is exhilarating but terrifying, because if Ben wants a boyfriend he’ll have to disclose his secret.

Sid is drawn to Ben from the moment they meet. He normally gets what he wants—in the short term at least. Ben’s guarded at first, and Sid’s not used to guys rejecting his advances. He eventually charms his way through Ben’s defences and helps Ben on his journey of sexual awakening.

It doesn’t matter to Sid that Ben is trans. He’s attracted to the whole person, and isn’t worried about what is—or isn’t—in Ben’s pants. They’re good together, and both of them are falling hard and fast, but Ben’s insecurities keep getting in the way. If Sid can convince Ben he’s committed, will Ben finally be able to put his heart on the line?

Although this book is part of the Housemates series, it has new main characters, a satisfying happy ending, and can be read as a standalone.

 

 5*

I’ve been a fan of this fabulous series from the start and Starting From Scratch is another great installment. Each story features ordinary young men who are exploring their sexuality and entering into their first serious relationship while studying at college and living away from home for the first time. I like how the established couples from previous stories play a role in the subsequent stories. Ben and Sid were introduced in the previous book, Watching and Wanting, and now it’s their turn to fall in love. Ben was the quiet and rather reserved new housemate and Sid was Jude’s ex, who frequently made Shawn jealous. And the friction continues on and off during this story.

The main focus of this story is on Ben and his blossoming relationship with Sid. I adored how Sid helped Ben feel at ease with his body and gave him the confidence to be himself, both in and out of the bedroom. The reader gains an insight into the emotional and physical issues facing many transgender men through Ben’s experience in this story.

There’s no unnecessary drama or angst. I liked the ‘ordinariness’ of their everyday lives. There’s plenty of eating and watching TV. Nothing major happens. It’s all about Ben and Sid getting to know each other, how they respond and how they feel as their relationship develops. The reader experiences the anxiety and doubts as well as the warm, fuzzy feelings of happiness as they fall in love.

The story finishes with a positive happy ending and a strong hint at the next couple. I’m looking forward to reading about this sexy guy who wears eye-liner and lacy panties, and has gained the attention of another supposedly straight guy.

 

 

 

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Series Information and Links

 The Housemates Series is a collection of standalone stories set around a student house in Britain. This new adult series focuses on themes of self-discovery and sexual awakening.

 

Helping Hand (Housemates #1)

Like a Lover (Housemates #2)

Practice Makes Perfect (Housemates #3)

Watching and Wanting (Housemates #4)

 

 

 

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.

 

 

www.jaynorthcote.com

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Review ~ Bitten by Design

Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 80,000 words

Regent’s Park Pack Series

Bitten By Mistake (Book #1)

Amazon US | Amazon UK


When the last thing you want, is everything you need…

Seb Calloway isn’t interested in shifters. After his best friend bonded with one, he avoids getting involved with them no matter how hot they are to prevent the same thing from happening to him. Why take the risk for a few hours of fun?

Tim Walters is the pack doctor. Considered to be mild-mannered and non-threatening by pack standards, he prides himself on being able to stay calm and maintain his control at all times. Desperate for a bond of his own, he knows his interest in Seb is an exercise in futility, but he canít seem to help himself.

When news emerges that threatens Seb’s safety, he and Tim need to fake a relationship to keep Seb safe. Despite Seb’s refusal to be anything other than friends with benefits, what starts out as pretend, quickly becomes more for Tim at least. If Tim doesn’t want to end up heartbroken, he needs to prove to Seb that loving a shifter doesn’t mean losing himself.

 

5*

I always enjoy reading Annabelle Jacobs’ intriguing shifter stories. Bitten By Mistake was one of my favourite growly reads of last year, so I was keen to read Seb and Tim’s follow-up story. It was also great to see that Jared and Nathan were still hot for each other and the continued story of the conflict between the two local London packs and the rogue shifters, along with more info on some of the other pack members. Who can they trust? Thrilling stuff!

The romance is another ‘pretend boyfriends’ plot, although different from book 1, with Seb firmly stating he didn’t want to become a shifter or end up in a mated bond like his bestie, Jared. He fears having the choice about his future taken away from him. Even so, Seb falls for Tim, who is already besotted with him, as they try to divert the rival pack’s attention away from Jared/Nathan and keep Seb safe. There’s plenty of action and suspense, along with some lust-filled steamy sexy times and some more tender moments for these guys.

Tim is such a calm and patient guy. He’s kind and restrained with Seb and my heart went out to him several times. Tim wants the happiness and love Nathan and Jared share, but is willing to accept being Seb’s friend if that is what Seb decides when their ‘fake relationship’ comes to an end. I adored his growly possessiveness and his care for injured Seb throughout. I especially loved the exciting climax of the story. Perfect for these guys!

Great writing and storytelling. I’m already looking forward to book 3—hopefully Alec’s story. (Although I’d be happy with Luke’s story, just saying!) Glad Alec was given page time in this story too.

Disclaimer: I assisted in the proofreading of this story.

 


Annabelle Jacobs lives in the South West of England with three rowdy children, and two cats. An avid reader of fantasy herself for many years, Annabelle now spends her days writing her own stories. They’re usually either fantasy or paranormal fiction, because she loves building worlds filled with magical creatures, and creating stories full of action and adventure. Her characters may have a tough time of it fighting enemies and adversity but they always find love in the end.

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Release Day Review ~ The New Wolf (Building The Pack #1)

Release Day Review ~ The New Wolf (Building The Pack #1)

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The New Wolf (Building The Pack #1) – RJ Scott

Length: 25,500 words

Cover: Meredith Russell

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

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A dangerous lone wolf is intent on destroying the beginnings of a pack and when Connor is attacked and near death, there is only one thing that can save him. A wolf shifter’s bite.

After a hate crime leaves one of them near dead, Veterinarian Josh Nolan and Cop Connor Vincent are starting a new life in Black Creek, a remote town on the edge of the Green Mountains range, Vermont. Josh is taking over his grandfather’s practice, and Connor starts a new position with the local sheriff’s office. When Connor becomes curious about unsolved crimes going back fifty years he cant know the kind of secrets he begins to unearth. Or the danger that he puts himself and Josh in.

 

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The smell of coffee woke him and he reached across the bed to check for Josh. When he felt empty sheets, he assumed Josh was the one making coffee. His feet hitting the floor sent a sensation of pain up his legs and he cursed under his breath. He had issued a check with Josh that his body couldn’t cash. Either that or he was getting old. Padding into the kitchen, he blearily rubbed his eyes. It seemed they’d slept through the day and it was after nine in the evening. Josh was wearing sweats that hung from his hipbones and in the soft light from the hall, the dark kitchen was casting weird shadows around his lover. Connor had never seen anything so beautiful as Josh leaning against the counter, waiting for the coffee machine to do its thing.

He yawned widely behind a hand and crossed to Josh, cuddling him from behind. Josh tensed in his arms momentarily in surprise. Evidently, he hadn’t expected Connor out of bed yet. Then he relaxed back into Connor’s hold and finally turned in his arms and pulled Connor closer for a hug.

“How you doing?” he asked gently.

“Aching a bit,” Connor answered truthfully. After five years together, Josh could see through Connor like his mom used to be able to do. According to Josh, he could tell when Connor was lying, joking, or any other ing Connor attempted to pull on him.

“You should probably take some more pain meds.” Josh punctuated that with a kiss and, for a second, they stood close and kissed gentle close-mouthed kisses and simply held each other.

“It’s weird,” Connor started. “My thigh is fine, my chest, fine, but I feel like every muscle in me aches, and my joints, my knees, even my damn elbows. Like I’ve pushed too many weights, or run three marathons back to back.”

Josh tugged back a little and, even without being able to see into Josh’s eyes, Connor knew his other half was probably going to mention the unnecessary sex in the hallway. He wasn’t wrong.

“We shouldn’t have done that this morning,” Josh admonished. “You’re not well enough.”

“I was fine. You weren’t complaining.”

Josh huffed a laugh, then turned back to the coffee. Carrying two mugs into the front room, they sat next to each other on the old wide sofa that had come as part of the house.

“I’ll be complaining tomorrow,” Josh deadpanned. “I’m not saying it wasn’t hot, but jeez, look at this.” He wriggled a little and pushed down his sweats to expose his left hipbone and five perfect crescent dents that were red and sore.

“Shit, babe,” Connor snapped immediately. He placed the coffee down, then touched the marks on Josh’s beautiful unblemished skin. “Did I do that?” He leaned down and pressed a kiss to the marks, then sat back up, not knowing what to say. Should he say sorry? Is that what Josh wanted. Why was it so difficult to read Josh’s expression? Normally he could read Josh as easily as he, himself could be read.

“You just don’t know your own strength,” Josh said without accusation. Then he straddled Connor’s lap and buried his face in Connor’s neck. “I fucking loved it,” Josh mumbled.

Connor held him tight and relished the feel of Josh’s skin against his own. “I love you,” he said gently.

“I love you, too,” Josh murmured. “Don’t ever get attacked in the forest again. Okay?”

Connor moved so that more of Josh’s weight rested on him. The feeling of him was exquisite. Then he cuddled hard and made a mental promise never to go into the trees again.

 

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4.5*

This is a re-release of the first novella in a three book series written by different authors. Each novella follows the story of two different main characters within the overall story arc.

I enjoyed this fast-paced and compact story. I immediately got a feel for the character dynamics and the set-up. I liked how the paranormal mystery is gradually revealed and the effect it has on the main characters’ romance. Josh and Connor are already an established couple at the start of the story, having  recently moved from New York to settle in a small remote town in Vermont. Connor is finding it hard to adjust, but Josh is willing to move back to the city for him. The guys are obviously devoted to each other and their few sex scenes are hot and passionate. However, suspicious goings-on keep them in Black Creek and impact on their relationship with an almost devastating effect.

The writing style, the engaging characters, and the shifter storyline are all compelling and kept me reading swiftly to the end. I particularly liked the world-building, both within the ‘real’ and the paranormal world, and the brief glimpses we get into pack life and its history. I noticed some editing issues, but nothing major that detracted from the overall story.

The ending of the story was wrapped up quite abruptly with the main story arc left unresolved. Book 2 and 3 need to be seen as part of the whole, so this book shouldn’t be read in isolation or seen as the end of the story. Josh and Connor get their HFN, but I’m hoping the other two authors give Josh and Connor a role in their subsequent stories as I’d like to see the impact the shifter revelation has had on their relationship.

 

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RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

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Review ~ Lost in the Echo

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Title: Lost in the Echo
Author: Jack L Pyke
Publisher: Fantastic Fiction Publishing
Release Date: August 23rd, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Suspense, Romance
Page Count: 99 pages
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Three days. Three questions. Three answers.

Kidnapped, blindfolded, and bound to a bed, running away isn’t an option any more for Will Chambers. Despite being a linguistic tutor and having every conversational tool at his disposal, all Will wanted to do was fade into the background, become lost in the echo of wild heath and harbour. But now someone wants to put his body and mind on full display, force Will to find his voice—answer three questions, over three days. All Will has to do is provide three… simple… answers.


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4*

This is an extended edition of a short story first published for the Goodreads Love Has No Boundaries “Dear-Author” Challenge.  I haven’t read the original version, so I can’t compare the two or say what has been added or improved on.

I particularly liked the wonderful writing style and use of language. Right from the start the author sets the tone well.  I was enthralled by the sentence structure and use of imagery to reveal the different settings. Jack creates a suspenseful atmosphere, especially in the first half. The story itself is mysterious and gripping, and held my attention to the end.

This is a complex tale with many layers that needs your full attention, otherwise you may miss clues and references to the various characters and their relevance to the plot. There’s no real backstory at the start and information on the characters drips through a few drops at a time. I was a little bewildered at first and not sure who was being referred to. I think that was the intention of the author. The story gradually unfolds with flashbacks to explain the current situation.

The story has a dark element, but it wasn’t quite as dark as I’d thought it would be.  Yes, there’s kidnapping, physical restraints, and psychological torture to some degree. Above all, it’s an emotional tale, full of pain and grief. It is also about love and love for more than one person.

We experience what Will is feeling. We’re lost with him, confused as to what’s going on. His senses have been dulled, and we experience what he’s going through. Will is lost in the echoes of the past and his grief is palpable.  

I enjoyed the story, but read it again to sort out the characters, who did what and their motives, plus to order the different flashbacks.  It’s a multi-layered story with lots going on that I didn’t fully understand at first. The second reading clarified some of my confusion. Even so, I struggled with what had exactly led to the kidnapping and am still a little muddled about the motives and why things happened as they did, both in the current as well as the backstory. 

I don’t want to give away any spoilers in this review. Give it a try. I recommend it.

***An ARC of Lost in the Echo was provided by ForbiddenFiction in exchange for an honest opinion***

 

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“Hm.” Will brushed the flat of his stomach, just by accident at first as he shifted the sheet to get comfortable, but then, as his body reacted, a run of happy goosebumps chased a second, more deliberate touch.

One arm covering his eyes, almost hiding him from loving the touch he played on his body, Will dug the flat of his feet a little harder into the mattress. The shy covering of sheet only added to the slow tease of the back of his hand brushing the length and thickness between his thighs. So easy… so easy just to slip between material and skin, maybe just to feather-play those fingers between navel and the vulnerability of everything hidden beneath the thin safety of the covers, to stroke, to please.

Will arched his back slightly, letting a soft murmur escape his lips. How long had it been? How long since he’d known the feel of his body pressed into the mattress by someone else. Hearing a whisper in his ear, keep the touch light… a game of mutual consent, or shift it into something darker, where giving up control tipped the scales, and a harder tease with cuffs slipped around his wrists as that heated body above him shifted a cock deeper, dug that rough drag of nails down his thigh— harder.

Control. He didn’t mind games of surrender, if only in the bedroom. He didn’t mind admitting how much he missed being held and fucked hard enough so that—

Giving a cry, he twisted to his side; head now buried in his pillow, legs curled up in almost a defensive position as he gripped at the sheet, trying to stop the heat he could feel burning in his cock.

Wrong. Today of all days, it was wrong.

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Review ~ Bitten by Mistake

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Author: Annabelle Jacobs

Release Date: July 28 2016

Length: 81,000 words

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

 

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From animosity to searing passion in a lunar cycle… but can their bond survive?

Wolf shifter Nathan Kohl’s pack is his whole life. Arrogant and handsome, he avoids commitment to anything or anyone outside of his pack. He works hard, plays hard, and pursues humans as lovers because there’s little to no chance of him forming a permanent bond. However, when Jared Taylor comes into Nathan’s life, every rule is broken.

After a bad experience, Jared vowed to never get involved with another shifter, no matter how much they got under his skin. Despite being physically attracted to Nathan, who’s all kinds of hot, Jared only sees an arrogant, domineering bastard.

A disastrous case of mistaken identity throws Nathan and Jared together until the next full moon. Forced to spend the next twenty-eight days in close proximity, they can no longer ignore the powerful attraction between them. Passion ignites, and their relationship takes a turn neither of them wanted.

But when the full moon comes, everything might change again.

 

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4.5*

This is a fast-paced, fun, and sizzling story that had me engrossed right from the start. There are several moments near the beginning that had me chuckling out loud.

A wolf shifter and a human start out as antagonistic ‘enemies’ only to become lovers via an accidental bite and a strong bond that forms between them. I haven’t really read many paranormal/shifter stories, but I like Annabelle’s take on this genre (both in this story and The Altered series).  This story is set in contemporary London with humans and shifters living side by side, fully aware of each other. The shifters rule themselves through the various packs, unless an issue affects humans, such as when a shifter illegally bites a human.

Once bitten in this AU doesn’t necessarily mean the human automatically or immediately becomes a shifter, and so an agonizing month of waiting follows. Will he or won’t he change? Neither Nathan nor Jared know. Will Nathan be found out and punished, even sentenced to death for this illegal act? And when a bond develops between them, will it last after the next full moon? Exciting stuff. So much uncertainty and dread pervades the two characters’ emotions and their interaction. And all the time a powerful force draws them towards each other. But will it come to an end or will they become mates? I loved this uncertainty and their desire for the bond to remain in place. There’s lots of powerful feelings in this relationship with plenty of intense and steamy times.  I especially loved the growly, possessive, claiming scenes and the hot sex with teeth and claws. ROAR! There are also some lovely comforting and tender moments where the two guys are caring for each other and where they are filled with doubt about their future.

“I’m scared that I’ll wake up and there’ll be this big empty space here… ” He pressed gently against Nathan’s chest “…where I should be.”

There’s enough world building throughout. Nathan is not that clued into his shifter way of life, thus requiring computer research and the need to question his friends/pack members rather than have the info dumped in the text, so that worked well. The reader finds out the details at the same time as Nathan and Jared.

A few minor things I thought were missing from the plot: I’d have relished more backstory for both main characters sprinkled throughout the story, e.g. more detail on Jared’s past relationship that went wrong and the reason why he loathed shifters so much. More information on the rogue pack storyline to fill in some gaps would have worked well too. I was also expecting a confrontation scene between Nathan and the big, bad Alec and was hoping to find out more about the tension between them. Perhaps his character was being built up in readiness for a future storyline.

I’m not going to give away spoilers, but I thought the ending was resolved in the best possible way for these guys.

The story finishes with hints at options for further books and I’m hoping the series will continue. I’d like to know what’s happening for Nathan and Jared, as well as following other romances that form. I’m especially hoping Luke gets his own story in the future.

A recommended read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Annabelle Jacobs lives in the South West of England with three rowdy children, and two cats. An avid reader of fantasy herself for many years, Annabelle now spends her days writing her own stories. They’re usually either fantasy or paranormal fiction, because she loves building worlds filled with magical creatures, and creating stories full of action and adventure. Her characters may have a tough time of it—fighting enemies and adversity—but they always find love in the end.

 

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ARC Review ~ Farm Fresh by Posy Roberts

Getting down and dirty never felt as clean as it does at Kaleidoscope Gardens!

 Farm Fresh, book #1 of Naked Organics

by Posy Roberts.

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Jude Garrity visits the farmers market every Saturday. As an environmental engineering student, he’s curious about living off the grid and sustainable agriculture.

And one particular farmer.

Hudson Oliva has worked hard to support his commune, where queer people live without fear of harm or retribution. When Jude asks pointed questions about living there, Hudson realizes he needs to be honest about his home. Few people know what the farm is actually about, but Jude is insistent.

Jude moves to Kaleidoscope Gardens, however his sexual hang-ups make it hard to adjust. He’s an uptight virgin living among people who have sex freely and with multiple partners. When Jude finally loosens up, Hudson is flooded with emotions. Falling for Jude wasn’t part of Hudson’s life plan. But when vindictive rumors about the commune begin to spread, love might be all he has left.

Genre: Contemporary Romance, MM Romance, Gay Fiction, with a splash of MMM+

Length:  Novel, 202 pages

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 This is a sex positive story about living, loving, and working hard on a sexually free commune.

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4*

A commune as defined in a dictionary is a group of people living together and sharing possessions and responsibilities. My only knowledge of one is a local religious commune with a bad reputation, so I was interested to read a story with a commune as its setting.

Posy takes this ideal of communal living and portrays a well-established GLBT community that has become a sanctuary for its  inhabitants.  It’s a safe place where same sex and poly relationships flourish. The members celebrate their sexuality by practising consensual sex out in the open, with plenty of hugging and kissing from everyone. “Our Utopia” as Leo (one of the founding members) describes it. It’s not an out-and-out orgy 24/7, but everyone is free to express their sexuality and nakedness without embarrassment or condemnation.

The purpose of the commune is not only about sex. It’s a farm, focusing on sustainable agriculture, renewable energy and conservation. The members grow crops to feed themselves, as well as to sell to make a living. And that’s how Jude meets Hudson at the local farmers market. Although still a virgin, Jude is fascinated by the idea of communal living and hopes it provides an opportunity to overcome his sexual hang-ups.

Jude is coming to the end of his environmental engineering degree and is eager to apply what he’s learned. He’s a problem-solver, a doer, and does his best to improve their facilities and save them money. He’s inquisitive, a trait his parents had tried to tamp down, and shows himself to be capable of taking charge of projects. Being able to apply his theoretical studies to the problems encountered by the commune helps boost his confidence and standing within the community.

Hudson shares a house with Leo and Charlie, and they regularly have sex together and separately. He loves them, but he’s not in love. The three men are in an open relationship and together they discover new pleasures and meet each other’s sexual needs. Jude moves in with them, but he takes time to adjust to the way of life.

Jude had suffered emotional torment and abuse at home from his supposedly Christian parents. They were no more than monsters because of the guilt and anguish they imposed on their children. Jude’s been seeking his first sexual experience since leaving home, but each time has backed down. He has a lot of unhealthy issues regarding sex to work through and hopes living in a sexually active commune can help him.

Jude’s initial reaction and reservations to the commune are understandable given his background and upbringing. He takes slow steps and moves forward with help from other members of the commune, especially Leo and Charlie. They encourage him to participate in the open communal lifestyle, even if he still isn’t ready to have penetrative sex. He sees and hears sex going on around him, within his house and within the community. He finds it harder to relax with Hudson than the other two men because Hudson means more to him. But Jude is scared to say how much he wants Hudson.

During the course of the story, Jude gradually overcomes the shame he associates with sex and masturbation. His parents had told him he’d burn in hell for sins of the flesh and that sex was solely for procreation. Memories of his father’s words continue to haunt him for many months. He eventually manages to separate himself from those teachings and the guilt, realizing he needs to partake or leave the commune. Through shared experiences with his housemates, his reserve gradually falls away.

Hudson has his own issues because a past lover deserted him. They surface again in his interaction with Jude and the new dynamic with his housemates. He fears being abandoned again. Hudson and Jude are attracted to each other, but things are often awkward between them and it takes time for them to sort out their various issues. They don’t really spend the time getting to know each other properly before problems set in and Hudson comes to feels he’s gotten in the way of Jude finding himself.

Throughout the story, Hudson yearns for Jude, but he holds back from telling Jude how he feels. He knows he has to be patient with Jude as he overcomes his fear of sex, but his feelings for Jude get in the way and their relationship falls by the wayside for a time. Hudson eventually admits he selfishly pushed Jude away because he felt Jude pushed him away first.

Although his motives are more clearly explained later, I became increasingly frustrated with Hudson’s behaviour. He acted like a spoilt child during much of the book, albeit overcome with jealousy, hurt and insecurity. His response to Jude blows hot and cold and his reactions are a bit of a roller coaster. Even after they finally make love for the first time, his response is bewildering. He realizes he’s not cared for Jude properly afterwards, but still does little to make amends. He  doesn’t talk through the problems and becomes insular and cold. At the start of the story, he was warm and open, always with a smile, but he eventually makes Jude feel unwelcome and that results in Jude thinking he’s messed up the dynamics in their house.

Hudson craves love and ownership, and so finds it difficult when he has to share Jude with Leo and Charlie.  He wants Jude to himself and this conflicts with the commune’s  ideals. When he decides to woo him, he still holds back and their relationship stagnates. He fears Jude will shut him out and believes Leo and Charlie have also rejected him at one point. There’s tension and they end up avoiding each other for a time. Hudson withdraws from nearly everyone in the community, but he’s been sending out bad vibes for months. His reactions are confusing to Jude and to me as a reader at times.

Thankfully, Jude takes charge in the end and it’s exactly what Hudson needs. By this time, Jude is comfortable in his own skin and not embarrassed by his own nakedness.

There were several steamy sexy scenes involving two, three and foursome sex. Jude and Hudson’s scene in the greenhouse was smoking hot and just what they both needed.

Farm Fresh has a well-paced and balanced storyline, not focusing solely on sexual scenes, but the development of the commune and those within it. There’s conflict and angst, but it’s resolved positively. I particularly liked Leo and Charlie’s characters and their supporting roles in the story.

Although the first in a series of books, this story ends happily with no major cliffhanger, but has the potential to explore other characters and their relationships. I’m glad Hudson and Jude’s story finishes the way that it does. It suits their characters, with the two of them very much in love and supported by the others in the commune.

Overall, an enjoyable read in a unique setting, with different character dynamics compared to most m/m romance stories. Recommended if you accept or are willing to read non-traditional pairings and intimacy outside of a committed relationship.

***I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review***

EXCITING NEWS! Hudson’s pre-story is in the pipeline.  It will be a freebie that will eventually be part 1 of Naked Origins, the pre-novel to the Naked Organics series. The only way to get this story right now is to use the unique link provided in a purchased book or in the Rafflecopter giveaway Pride Promotions is doing or by signing up for Posy’s newsletter.

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Real life. Genuine men. True love.

Posy Roberts writes about the realistic struggles of men looking for love. Whether her characters are family men, drag queens, or lonely men searching for connections, they all find a home in her stories.

Posy is married to a man who makes sure she doesn’t forget to eat or sleep. Her daughter, a budding author and dedicated Whovian, helps her come up with character names. When Posy’s not writing, she enjoys crafting, hiking, and singing spontaneously about the mundane, just to make normal seem more interesting.

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Guest Post and Review ~ Torn and Frayed by Rodd Clark

Guest Post: Torn and Frayed by Rodd Clark

 

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Guest Post – THE BAD BOY

Rodd stopped by today to tell us about writing bad boy characters and why he thought Gabriel Church was the baddest of them all.  Gabe is the main character in two of Rodd’s books; Rubble and the Wreckage and Torn and Frayed. Enjoy!

“Who doesn’t love a bad boy?  I’ve wondered why readers are drawn to those figures so much, and over the years I’ve discovered that bad boys are appealing because of what they represent; that simple need for change.  We see someone who sits outside the box and fights every constraint of a normal society and we simply want to fix that in them…despite it being the single trait which drew us to them in the first place. Gabriel Church is one-hell-of-a-bad-boy, because he isn’t just that image of Harley riding, wind in the hair sorta rebel; he is a serial killer and cold to the bone.

It just so happens, Gabriel is also a man undergoing a great transformation in his life.  He finds himself falling in love with an unexpected source, one he hadn’t even believed possible.   It’s his blind confusion and that new awareness which carries his account forward.  But as every romance reader fan knows, the outcome is always preordained.  It’s nearly impossible to fix the broken men in our lives, and Gabriel Church is no exception. 

So I ask; if you as the reader already know the resolution, and can see the futility or the struggle in taming the wild stallion, why then do we continue to the next chapter? Why do we still find a whisper of hope lingering in our hearts that this version will not end as other romantic tales of this caliber are destined? 

In my narrative the killer Gabriel Church falls in love with a writer named Christian Maxwell, who is the polar opposite of our main character.  Chris sees some attributes in Gabriel that others refuse to examine.  And in his consideration he finds hidden worth, and learns a value in the most horrendous of souls.  It’s our nature to fix the broken, to bandage the wounds, to heal the sick.  Readers of romance novels understand that desire better than most…even when the outcome is clearly fated from the first sentence of the first chapter. 

Gabriel Church was a pleasure to write because he is such a bad ass, and for me the image of Christian was always intended to be someone more abstract, slightly vague or nondescript. This was my calculation, or my hope, that the reader might make a connection to that persona, even more than their appeal to that bad boy image.  If we all want to fix the broken, then we had to see ourselves as the healer, and that’s easier when the lines are drawn with a subtle force of the pen.  I see myself as Christian Maxwell because I could never see myself as the wild eyed representation of feral HOTNESS that is Church.  I think readers need that rebellious man to tame, but they need the character of Chris to connect them to the storyline. 

I hope that readers of Torn and Frayed will make the same connections they did in my first book.  And I hope they continue the saga by reading the next chapter, out later this year.  We have to see where this torrid tale goes, and find out whether Chris can successfully transform our rebellious Gabriel before it’s too late.”

 

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“Conscience isn’t something all people are born with…”

Gabriel Church is a portrait in contrast. It would be easy to get lost in his pale-blue eyes, ache with the need to feel the strength of his masculine frame. He appears to be nothing but animal and instinct. The only people who know the full depth of that truth are dead, murdered, or two thousand miles away.

Gabe is a serial killer. For the first time in his life, he has more on his mind than his own survival. This time he is running from Seattle to protect the only person he thinks innocent in his laundry list of crime and murder: Christian Maxwell, his biographer and unexpected lover. Drawn to a place he never thought to return, Gabe finds new and different realities. Realities that insist he let go of his tragic past, those incredible perceptions of God, and his own divinity. He must open his eyes to what the love of a good man can do to heal a broken soul.

But when the killer is confronted by his own willingness to love and sacrifice, he is forced to ultimately ask the question: Just how far will he go to save a life . . . when all he’s ever done is take them?

 

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Exclusive Excerpt

Death was something Gabe had thought a great deal about . . . his as well as others. When you walked quickly away from a dumpster after depositing a body or when you crawled out of a bedroom window late at night, having left some lifeless white lighter crumpled in their own bed, you tended to look at death in a more accommodating fashion. No one escaped death, Jesus didn’t . . . and in the end Gabe wouldn’t. Just as it would come for Chris as easily as it had come for Shea back in Seattle.

Gabriel had few illusions about his death. He knew it would likely come with a hail of bullets whizzing past his ears as he ducked and weaved to escape gunfire from an overzealous highway patrol officers or FBI agents who’d finally run him successfully to ground. His mission would be complete whenever God decreed, so he didn’t need to worry about the resolution end. Some things were just out of his hands.

He had woken in his truck again, which was an all too frequent event, he knew, when you were a killer on the lam. After driving out of the city last night, he’d found the lights of San Antonio fading in his rearview. This was Texas, and even with the vast sprawl of people, there were endless rural areas one could get lost in—remote farm-to-market roads where very few farmhouses dotted the landscape. It had been late when he’d finally found a spot on a sloping bend on a rarely traveled dirt road, miles from where he’d last seen black asphalt.

 

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4*

Not having encountered the first book in the Gabriel Church series, Rubble and the Wreckage, before reading this story, I checked out the blurb and some of the reviews for #1 and formed an outline of the original plot. It seems the most important elements are recapped in Torn and Frayed.

Gabriel Church is a serial killer on the run. He’d been prepared to tell the world how and why he’d despatched so many victims over the years. Christian Maxwell is the biographer who unofficially interviewed him and planned to record his life story. They became friends then lovers, but their relationship faltered when Christian’s jealousy results in the death of Shea Baltimore at the hands of Gabriel.

Torn and Frayed continues the story with Gabriel on the run from Christian as well as the law. His thoughts continually return to the ex-lover he has left behind. He’s trying to resist the pull to return to the man he obviously misses.

Rodd Clark’s omniscient story-telling style provides the viewpoint of various characters, focusing mostly on Gabriel, Christian and Scott Kenn, the detective who tracks down serial killers. As a result, the reader discovers a few facts the characters themselves don’t know about and this provides hints for the future plot.

The narrative builds steadily to the mid-point until Gabriel decides to contact his ex-lover again. These well-written chapters provide the background to the story and the main characters, sometimes rather repetitively referring to the main events from Book 1, emphasizing that Gabriel is on the run and missing Christian. Internal monologues and backstory are interwoven with present day events as Gabriel is drawn back to Seattle.

The excitement builds when Detective Scott Kenn is allocated the case of Shea Baltimore and he closes in on the murder suspect. It’s a race against time to see who will get to Christian first. Will Gabriel make it back in time to rescue Christian from the inquisitive detective and will the two lovers go on the run together as Christian now hopes?

Despite being an unrepentant serial killer, Gabriel’s character is shown to be capable of love and compassion. The reader sympathises with his predicament and is drawn into willing him to succeed. You don’t want him to be caught or delayed, you want him to be reunited with his ex-lover. Rodd Clark has you rooting for these baddies. For both of them, because Christian is to some extent culpable for the murder of Shea, even though he didn’t directly kill her.

Gabriel is shown to be a cold yet shrewd man, and the reader is never quite sure what his intentions are or if he’ll act out of character. His mood swings swiftly to dark and brooding, making it feasible he could commit any crime. He believes he is doing God’s work by dispatching his victims and he justifies the murder of others in his attempt to protect his lover. His motives appear logical within the context of the story. To Christian, his reasoning seems calculated and his beliefs unassailable. He is reluctant to question Gabriel’s actions and, despite his love, is rightly wary of him.

Gabriel Church presents himself as a likeable character with plenty of magnetism. He can be charming, endearing and sexy as hell when need be. As his story unfolds, the reader feels sorry for his horrendous past, his abusive childhood, and his lonely adult life. We’re on his side. He is not portrayed as a crazy man as such. He is patient and clever, capable of planning ahead and solving the problems he encounters. He knows what to do in difficult situations and Christian trusts him to sort things out for the both of them.

The few sex scenes are skimmed over and not a main feature of the story. So although the book pivots on his love for Christian there’s not a lot of romance. You feel Gabriel’s desire and need to be with his lover and that he is capable of love and affection. It is the deeds he does for Christian that demonstrate he is more than this heartless serial killer. He is willing to sacrifice his life to protect his lover and save him from jail. He sees his fate as part of God’s will and his earlier visits to a priest hint at him questioning this vocation. In return, Christian loves Gabriel despite his knowledge of the killings and considers leaving his family, career and way of life to join Gabriel on the run. He knows the details of Gabriel’s previous crimes, but has chosen not to inform the police.

I enjoyed reading this story, particularly the suspense and exciting page-turning events as the book reaches its climax.

The story is not over yet. There are clues scattered along the way that will need to be dealt with in Book 3. So, while I wait I’m going back to read Book 1 and discover more about the serial killer and his biographer.

*** Pre-proof copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review***

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Rodd lives in Dallas, TX at the moment but hails from the sticks of Oklahoma. Check out his web presence at RODDCLARK.COM. Interested in the M/M Mystery, Romance and Thriller genres but has a varied interest in many books. It has been written, that his writing has a very dark and distinctive voice with a need for deep exploration and analysis.  “Torn and Frayed is the sequel to his popular romantic thriller, “Rubble and the Wreckage.” The third chapter of the series should be released later in the year and give readers a chance to see how their wicked story is resolved.

 

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