My favourite one yet in the series – full of comfort and hope

Brave & Beautiful (Sassy Boyz, #3)Brave & Beautiful by Elizabeth Varlet

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Definitely my favourite so far in this series and the one which ties in the closest to the dance related theme on which the books hang.

Surprisingly, for a character who has suffered so much in his relatively short life, Tam was a beautiful soul, and I never found this story to be particularly depressing or overly angsty.

I also didn’t really find Driver to be an ass, as others have pinned him, I understood his need to run, to try and escape from feeling anything real. Yes, he was a dick, but it wasn’t done from malice or even with any deliberate intention.

I will say one thing though, why the ridiculous names?! I swear there’s not one character in these books, including secondary ones, that has what I’d consider a ‘normal’ name and it does knock me out of the story a bit each time I read it.

There’s some truly sweet character development in this one and the steam level, while on the lesser side for quite valid reasons, still manages to be wonderfully expressive and emotional.

Loved the cover too, again my fave of the series so far.

#ARC received from NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Potential trigger issues but I didn’t find it dark

Dark & Dazzling (Sassy Boyz, #2)Dark & Dazzling by Elizabeth Varlet

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this one more than book one. I’m not sure just what it was, but I had more sympathy for Z than I had had with Ansel, even though most of Z’s problems were caused by his own pride.

I loved Connelly though, even if he was a bit of an idiot to not tell Azariah that he’d paid his back rent for him. His whole character was unapologetically caring and he tried to do his best all the time.

I wouldn’t say this one was particularly dark though, there’s two scenes people have highlighted as being potential issues but I felt neither hit the non con status even if one was a little bit icky and the other was filled with angry emotions.

Either way, there’s some hot sex, some angst, some dramady and a nice lot of groveling to wrap things up.

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Just my cup of tea

Rule BreakerRule Breaker by Lily Morton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh this book suited me perfectly, the right amount of banter, a British bite of sarcasm and humour, insanely hot sex, a broken man who finds his way and another who provided the port in a storm.

Gabe, tormented and broken Gabe, I’ve had my own version of you, a man afraid to let go of his heart, afraid of love because of the pain it can bring with it.

He was an utter arse at times but I understood him completely, he was frightened of his feelings for Dylan and couldn’t take the risk of being abandoned so he fought back with his whole arsenal of emotional weapons.

And there’s no one can hurt you as much as the person you’re in love with. I ached for Dylan, but he didn’t sit passively by when pushed, he hit back too, using the knowledge he’d built up to stab Gabe where it would hurt the hardest – into the fragile part of his feelings he’d slowly been letting out.

The scenes in Devon at Dylan’s parent’s farm were among my favourites. The contrast between the family’s acceptance of Gabe, his own awakened feelings which allowed him to just let go, and the explosively hot Fleshjack edging sexual encounter was perfect.
And gawd, the sexual chemistry between these two men hit volcanic status, it oozed off the pages alongside the tensions and the emotions.


His shirt is hanging off one shoulder, the arm seam ripped where I’d fisted it, and his trousers are round his ankles. I’m stark, bollock naked apart from one black sock. We’re both covered in sweat and come and breathing heavily.

I know other reviewers have described the relationship between them as toxic but I don’t think it was as straightforward as that. Gabe never hid from Dylan that he couldn’t do real, that it would only ever be sex. But Lily Morton did brilliantly to show the reader, through only Dylan’s POV, that he was fighting more than just sex, that feelings and emotions were involved whether Gabe wanted them to be there or not.

Dylan knew what he was doing when he got into bed with Gabe and he managed to run with it for quite a while, hoping there’d be a change in circumstances as anyone in love would do. It wasn’t until Gabe started shutting himself off – and the Valentine’s Day incident – that he took a stand.

I understood why he reacted as he did, it was a natural consequence of being pushed away too far. I loved how Jude and Henry, best friends of the two men, saw what was really going on and started their plotting, knowing Dylan and Gabe really did need each other.

For me, there was enough groveling and genuine expressions of remorse to enable the narrative to come together for the ending. The epilogue was all ends up awesome too.

I’d love to read more about Jude and Henry too. I would say though, that the setting itself, outside of the sarcastic banter, didn’t really have a huge British feel to it. The odd words threw me, elevator instead of lift, intern instead of apprentice or trainee (as has been my own work experience) but whisky was spelt right 🙂

Also major kudos goes to Lily for including Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes as the tune which reminded Gabe of Dylan. It’s one of the most beautiful songs in the world imho.

Watch the Say Anything moment here

Make sure to grab the free short from Lily’s website of what happens next, it’s awesome.

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Gorgeous new series starter from Brooke Blaine is a second chances delight

A Little Bit Like Love (South Haven, #1)A Little Bit Like Love by Brooke Blaine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved, absolutely loved this tale of second chances, of finding your place, of going back and making something right, of getting the boy you never forgot and throwing out the damaging things which have made you unhappy.

Brooke Blaine is supremely good at this type of romance, she builds up the tensions but never throws in “plot for plot’s sake” dramady (as I like to call it). The drama in this book comes wholly from within the narrative and follows the natural progression of two men – who were each tricked into thinking the other had dismissed them as unimportant after a single night of passionate commitment – when they find out the truth nearly a decade later.

I loved Lucas and Jackson, I loved the way they eased back into their teenage experiences but with a hint of holding back just in case. Then, when everything came out in the open, how they fully embraced the fact they’d never stopped holding a torch for the other.

It made perfect sense for Lucas to react as he did, the pain he’d kept inside him for eight years had been lanced and then he saw something which he felt was taking him back to the night his heart had been broken. And Jackson, he needed to have the confrontation with his past so that he could finally make the break from a life he’d been neatly slotted into without ever having a choice.

And the setting, this is the beginning of a new series with a whole host of beautifully drawn secondary characters who will be getting their stories too and I can’t wait to find out more about Shaw and Bash and I hope we still hear from Syd as it’s such a pleasant change to have “the female rival” not be an utter witch.

This romance is sexy, it’s spicy, it’s hot and passionate but it’s also about finding and reconnecting, it’s about emotions and love and it’s about making the choice to trust even though you’ve been hurt by the person to whom you’re handing over your heart.

#ARC received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Fabulous exercise in how to write a submission romance

The Master Will AppearThe Master Will Appear by L.A. Witt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

LA Witt is one of my favourite writers no matter which section of the MM genre she’s focussing on and this book is a stunning example of her BDSM work.

The BDSM in this book is light, it’s a Dom/sub pairing with some pain play but mostly it’s an exercise in how one man, taught his whole life that he’s worthless, can come to discover he’s the most precious thing in the world.

The fencing setting was also fabulous, as I actually have friends who fence for the British Olympic team and who train the British Paralympians, and it made a change from the normal mainstream sports setting.

I loved both Ryan and Misha, and their emotional and sexual connections were incredible, the Dom/sub scenes were sensual and the consensual ‘gang bang’ was blissfully erotic and never felt like porn.

This book also has a wonderful epilogue.

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Brilliantly dark

The Difference BetweenThe Difference Between by Blake Moreno

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wrote a really eloquent review of this and then my kindle decided to just delete it so I’m not doing it again.

I will say though that this book is a tour de force ride through all the elements of dealing with sexual trauma from both sides of the relationship.

Heed the warnings but don’t be afraid of this book because it brings light into darkness and shows that there can be sexual healing and a reclamation of love even after the most brutal of traumas.

This is a romance, the love between Wade and Russ is powerful and all encompassing and provides the platform for which they can recover together.

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Five beautiful fat Quinn and Miles stars

Tied to You (Wild Side, #2)Tied to You by Riley Hart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love relationships where there is just as much talking and laughing as there is time spent on the smexy encounters and this book is a starring example.

You can tell, and Riley admits it in the acknowledgements, that these two men were written with love. They jump off the page in all their wonderful glory, Quinn with his smart mouth, Miles with his unfailing honesty.

I loved every bit of this story, as I did book one in the series (and the prologue before that) because they feel real, the friendship between the four men at the heart of the setting, those who surround them, and the world they inhabit, could be just round the corner at that bar table.
It reminded me very much of St Elmo’s Fire, one of the best films of the 80s and also of my own bunch of school mates who’ve now been taking the mickey out of each other for almost 40 years.

Beautiful cover too. I loved that this was a romance focused on an inter racial relationship with a man of colour at the centre. I wish there were even more novels which focused away from the typical white guy heroes.

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