Tag Archives: novella

4.5 & 3 Stars for Aubrey & Darragh (Storming Love: Wild Fire #1) by T.A. Chase #MM #Fireman #Romance

1.5

Title: Aubrey & Darragh (Storming Love: Wild Fire #1)
Author Name & Publisher: T.A. Chase (MLR Press)
Publication Date & Length: September 7, 2015 – 44 pgs

Synopsis

Aubrey Rabinstern is prepared for the wildfires sweeping across the land around his house. He’s even accepted the fact he’ll lose his home. But Aubrey doesn’t expect to find a man he can love in the midst of the ashes left behind.

Darragh O’Flannery never thinks he’ll meet a man like Aubrey Rabinstern while fighting the wildfires destroying acres of land and homes. Yet in the middle of the chaos, he and Aubrey forge a connection. Can it withstand the normality of life once the fires are put out?

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Review

ThreeStar

Well I will start this review with while I thought it was cute and sweet it was just a little to sweet for my me. It was also a insta-love which most of the time I like but sometimes it moves to fast for me and I end up not really feeling the connection between the two MC’s and unfortunately I just did not feel the connection between Darragh and Aubrey.
You do get your hot fireman with this story and cute kittens which I did love but due to the lack of feeling a connection between these two I am sad to say this novella was just not for me…

Kara

FourandHalfStars

Absolutely loved this book. The characters became so real to me. That shows signs of an excellent author. You get a hot fireman and loved the cute kitten. It was definitely an instant love that did make it a little had to believe but I’m sure it can happen that way in real life. This a short story and a light read. Excellent job T.A. Chase.

~Lynn

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Filed under 3 Star, 3.5 Stars, Kara, Lynn, M/M, New Release, Review

5 and 4 Stars for Hook, Line, & Sinker (Hard Hats #2) by Piper Vaughn #MM #Erotica @dreamspinners @pipervaughn

0.2

Title: Hook, Line & Sinker (Hard Hats #2)
Author Name & Publisher: Piper Vaughn (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: November 19, 2014 – 181 pgs

Synopsis

When they were teens, Castor McCormick was the bane of Blake Kowalski’s existence. Their mutual animosity led to summers filled with rivalry. Now, nearly two decades later, Cas is moving back into the neighborhood to live in his grandmother’s old house. Blake tells himself he isn’t interested in seeing how snarky little Cas grew up, but when his mother dupes him into visiting his former nemesis, he finds out “pretty” can evolve into “sexy as hell” on the right man.

Cas didn’t think he wanted to see Blake again. No one has ever pushed his buttons like the arrogant boy he remembers from their youth. Turns out, the adult version of Blake still gets him hot under the collar—and everywhere else. With Blake on leave from work to nurse an injured leg and Cas taking time to move and unpack, they form a tentative friendship that turns into a sexual affair neither man can deny. But when Cas’s job sends him out of state to deal with a difficult client, their new relationship will be tested, and if they fail, Blake’s broken leg might not be the only thing to end up scarred.

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Review

FiveStars

I really liked this story. Childhood enemies turned adult lovers. It’s a very sweet story, but I still loved it.
The way the characters relearn each other after so long of not knowing the man the other has become after such hatred during childhood. It was a slow burning romance in a way but a flash fire in others.
I loved the way they worked through their problems and learned to trust each other after everything they’d go together both in the past and recently.
A great book if you are looking for a sweet, uplifting book.
Renee

FourStars

I really enjoyed this.  A great low-angst romance.  Blake is a perfect blue-collar hero.  The contractor loves fishing and baseball.  He injures himself playing road hockey.  Castor is his childhood nemesis turned adult crush.

It is refreshing to read a story about two men in their thirties who are both self-confident and generally happy.  The relationship dramas are small and very real.  It takes a while for Blake to get his mind from hook up to relationship. Castor has to work out of town.  

Piper Vaughn’s sex scenes are alway steamy and this is no exception.  Even the pre-pubescent versions of these two had chemistry!  I loved the supporting characters.  Blakes mum and Castor’s grandma add warmth and humour to the story.  

This is a sweet, very believable and endearingly simple love story.

Sarah

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4.5 and 4 Stars for Ascension (Southern Spirits #7) by Bailey Bradford #MM #Paranormal @BaileyBFun4Me

1.5

Title: Ascension (Southern Spirits #7)
Author Name & Publisher: Bailey Bradford (Pride Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: September 22, 2015 – 96 pgs

Synopsis

Conner Sutherland never thought he’d meet the love of his life in the Afterlife…

Conner Sutherland has been alone for a long time. He can’t remember the last time he even felt the desire to be touched by another man. Sometime before his death, when he’d still been Laine’s lover. But Laine had found Severo years ago, and if any two people were meant for each other it was Laine and Sev. Where that leaves Conner, he doesn’t know, other than feeling lost and out of sorts.

He doesn’t want to think about the way he feels when he sees Ro—Rogelio, Sev’s nephew. Conner’s seen Ro grow from pretty boy into a handsome man, but wanting him is foolish and useless. Ro’s got a life to live, and even if he does things that hurt Conner, that’s not Ro’s fault. He doesn’t know he entranced Conner long ago.

Ro has only ever wanted one man for keeps. It’s a pointless want, though, because Conner Sutherland is dead and too busy pranking Laine and Sev to notice Ro anyway.

But life, and death, have a way of surprising you, as Ro and Conner find out.

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Review

FourandHalfStars

This was a little bit of an unusual story, but it does fit right in with the rest of the series.  I have never read a story where spirits fell in love, but I have to say surprisingly it was a good story.

You start out with so much sadness, but you still get the sweet romantic story of  Connor and Ro. Their destiny was to be together.  It was awful the bad things done to Ro before he passes on. But everyone deserves to fall in love with their soul mate.

It was perfect for this series the whole spirit angle was very entertaining.  I loved how it was wrapped up in this book.

Sherry

FourStars

Okay so happy we got Connors character being a MC in this book!  I have been wanting to know more about him and you definitely see a lot more of Connor in this Novella.
Connor is just going along while time is flying in the world of the living.   Then you meet Ro Sev’s nephew, who is lonely and going through the motions upset and depressed with the loss he just went through.  So he makes mistakes that makes it so he can be close with Connor.  What to say about these two… It was sweet how they had each other but also a little goofy at the same time.  There is not much angst with this one.. You get more of them together which honestly at first was a little weird this being the first time I have read a book about ghosts being together. Let me say I really did like it!
So without giving away anymore spoilers… I really liked this book!
I would definitely recommend this book!
Kara

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4 and 3 Star Reviews for Charlie’s Hero (Heroes #1) by Nic Starr #MM #Romance @Dreamspinners @nicstarooo @dreamspinner

0.1

Title: Charlie’s Hero (Heroes #1)
Author Name & Publisher: Nic Starr (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: June 17, 2015 – 200 pgs

Synopsis

Schoolteacher Charlie Matthews returns to his hometown, looking to regain a sense of community, reconnect with friends, and settle down. It looks like his dreams have come true when paramedic Josh Campbell attends an accident at the school. It’s love at first sight, and a romance begins.

But Josh’s reluctance to come out to the brother who raised him, puts pressure on their fledgling relationship. While Charlie understands Josh’s concerns, he can’t help growing impatient. After all, Charlie came out years ago.

It’s not until Charlie confronts his own parents and realizes he hasn’t come to terms with their rejection that he fully understands what Josh has to lose. But Josh is Charlie’s hero, and Josh will do anything to prove to Charlie that to be part of a family, he doesn’t need his parents.

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Review

FourStars

While I enjoyed this story, I can’t say that I LOVED it. It was too sweetly romantic in my opinion. I mean there wasn’t even really any drama until like 80% through. It was more about the relationship as it grew and developed between the men.

The characters were great. I loved how they met and how they were these two unique men, but in the end the plot and pacing was just a bit slow for me. I feel like it needed something to help move the story along a bit faster.
All in all though, the strong characters, the slow building romance, the great chemistry ended up being enough to make it a good book if you are looking for a sweet romance.
Renee

ThreeStar

I liked this book but there were parts of this book I just did not love.   Parts of this book just dragged a little bit for me… Then you have Charlie and Josh, while I did think they were a cute couple I really did not feel it for some reason.  This book had it’s sweet moments and there was some angst mixed in but not a lot.  Josh was the sweet shy character and Charlie was the type of man who knew what he wanted.  So I liked the story and  the premise but for some reason I could not see them together at all.

Kara

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5 and 4.5 Stars for Aftermath (Southern Spirits #5) by Bailey Bradford #MM #Paranormal @BaileyBFun4Me

1.5

Title: Aftermath (Southern Spirits #5)
Author Name & Publisher: Bailey Bradford (Pride Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: September 15, 2015 – 110 pgs

Synopsis

Darren Brown spent two years running from his past, but he could only run so far before he was found.

Darren Brown lost the only two people he loved just days apart. His mother first, then his best friend. Guilt over his friend’s death drives Darren to wander for over a year before he winds up in the town of McKinton, Texas.

Lee Bausch served his tour in the Army then started his quest to find answers only one person could give him—except that one person had moved away. It takes him almost two years to find Darren Brown, and it turns out Darren doesn’t have the answers Lee needs—he is what Lee needs. Darren is shy and so sexy Lee can’t get enough of him, but he still needs answers because he can’t shake the feeling someone he loved was murdered.

After a terrifying experience at the motel, Darren knows he has to tell Lee about the spirits in McKinton. And there’s one spirit, scared and alone, who has the answers Lee seeks, if only the spirit knew how to tell Lee his suspicions are right.

Reader Advisory: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series but can be read as a stand alone title.

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Review

FiveStars

Okay I now have a new favorite character in this series and it is Ian.
The way he came into town looking for Darren and was so protective of him from the start. You could definitely feel the sparks between these two.  Ian is looking for Darren so he can find out what happened to his brother and when you do find out it was so sad what happened to Stefan.  Darren’s character I liked a lot too.  He was sweet but caring and the beginning reserved because he was so afraid of being hurt.
Together they try to find out what happened with a little help from beyond.  As the time goes on they grow closer together and there is steam in this book also.  You also get to see a lot of the characters from past books which I loved! Have to say I love Connor the ghost too in this series.  All the pranks he plays are just too funny.
All together I loved this book!
I would definitely recommend this book!
Kara
FourandHalfStars
I loved this book, all the books in the series have been good but something about this story just got to me. I love the rooster that’s been in the last couple books, just adds some humor to the story.

Darren was lost emotionally but Virginia took him under her wing and looked out for him.  Lee came to town looking for Darren he was Stefan’s  brother who was Darren’s friend.

I thought Darren and Lee falling for each other was sweet.  They made a perfect couple and fight well with each other. I love how they worked together to find what happened to Stefan.

The ending was fantastic, just like all the books so far the story gets wrapped up beautifully.  Such a wonderful series, I definitely recommend it.

Sherry

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3 Stars for Top Me Maybe? (BFP: The Secrets Collection) by Jay Northcote #MM #Erotica

1.5

Title: Top Me Maybe? (BFP: The Secrets Collection)
Author Name & Publisher: Jay Northcote (Blanket Fort Press)
Publication Date & Length: June 5, 2015 – 33 pgs

Synopsis

Duncan has a secret fantasy, but is Tyler the right man for the job?

Tyler’s new policeman boyfriend, Duncan, is gorgeous. Tall, broad, and über-masculine, he’s the epitome of the dominant top—in appearance at least.

When they discuss their sexual fantasies, Duncan confesses to a secret desire that surprises Tyler. Luckily for Duncan, Tyler’s happy to oblige and is determined to give Duncan a night to remember.

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Review

ThreeStar

This was a very short story, three chapters. It’s about Tyler and his new boyfriend Duncan. Tyler is versatile and Duncan is a top. When talking about fantasies it came up that Duncan had never bottomed but wanted to. Hence the title. Tyler jumps at the chance to top Duncan. It was short and steamy but because of the shortness I couldn’t connect with the characters and that’s a must for me to love a story.

Angie

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3 Stars for Protection by T.T. Kove #MM #Novella @ttkove

0.2

Title: Protection
Author Name: T.T. Kove
Publication Date & Length: July 24, 2015 – 112 pgs

Synopsis

Adrian isn’t looking for a boyfriend. He’s focused on school and social situations make him anxious. When his mother encourages him to make a friend and be more outgoing, he takes a chance at a party. It doesn’t live up to expectations. His classmates ignore him and the alcohol tastes bad. Worse? Oliver finds him moping in the bathroom.

Oliver, the class clown and know-it-all, might grate Adrian’s last nerve, but he’s the only one paying Adrian any attention. Not only does Oliver flirt him into a bedroom, he charms Adrian’s pants off. Adrian loses his virginity to a man he doesn’t even like and in the morning his anxiety spirals into full panic. They didn’t use protection and popular-with-everyone Oliver insists they need to get tested.

Adrian is sure this isn’t the kind of friendship his mother meant and he tries to distance himself. But it turns out Oliver’s brash personality is just a mask to hide his own insecurities and family embarrassments. Adrian can relate. Oliver may be a know-it-all, yet Adrian can’t abandon him. Besides, they still need their test results. But how can the popular kid be friends with him when Adrian doesn’t want to come out of his shell?

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Review

ThreeStar

This was a super fast read.   While this Novella had some very hot scenes there was not really much more to it then that.  You meet Oliver who has confidence problems and Adrian who has anxiety, their personalities just did not mesh well at all to me.  I did like this Novella I just felt like there was a lot left up in the air.

Kara

Excerpt

I hate parties.

I hovered by the door leading into the living room. It was crowded with people drunk off their arses. They looked, quite frankly, ridiculous the way they tried to flirt and hook up with each other. It was disgusting. No one had better come over to me with their cheesy pick-up lines.

I wanted to leave. But the front door was on the opposite side of the living room. To get there I had to cross said room full of people who would notice me. Not that anyone had spoken to me yet since I arrived, but I had been invited. Probably because I’d been within earshot when my classmates had been talking about it, but I had been asked nonetheless.

Why did I say yes?

That was the million dollar question. I didn’t like parties, I didn’t like being sociable. I wasn’t good at it. Drawing attention to myself… I couldn’t do it.

People headed for the kitchen, almost shouting at each other to be heard over the music and everyone else.

I drew back and turned to find somewhere to hide.

My gaze fell on a door that had a simple WC sign on it. Really? What was the point of that in their own house? That was the kind of sign for public toilets. Maybe that was the point.

Still, it was a room. A door with a lock.

I could hide in there until the party calmed down and I dared to venture into that living room. I did this for you, Mum. I opened the door and found the room empty. I breathed a sigh in relief. You wanted me to be sociable and here I am. Never again. Never ever. This was the last time I tried. Being cooped up in my room was heaven compared to this.

I closed the door after me. A bottle clinked against the wood. I looked down at my other hand and the beer bottle clutched in it. I’d forgot about it in my panic facing the living room. Someone had pressed it into my hand when I’d arrived.

I crossed the small room to lean against the smooth wall, slowly sinking down to sit on the floor.

I should go home and enjoy my own company. Get on the laptop and get online. Play a game, do coursework, anything else but sitting here hiding. I didn’t even have my sketchbook with me, so I couldn’t draw. I could do that at home though.

I sat the bottle of beer on the floor next to me. I eyed it. I had drunk from it and it had tasted like piss. Not that I knew what that tasted like, but it was what I imagined it would taste like. I hadn’t ever drunk alcohol—never felt the need to. Not having any mates or being sociable meant I’d never experienced any peer pressure.

Tonight was, apparently, a night for new adventures though. I took another sip of the vile thing and almost choked as a result. I forced it down on sheer willpower. Perhaps tonight was the night I would experience being drunk. It wouldn’t take long if I got the beer down. Not being used to alcohol, I wouldn’t need much to feel the effects. Or so the internet told me. Why anyone liked beer, or would drink it to savour the taste, was beyond me.

I drank some more. Torturing myself was what I was doing. I should leave, but then I’d have to go through the living room where everyone was gathered. I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t risk having all their attention on me—it would definitely leave me in a state of panic.

Slam! 

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4 and 3 Stars for Rock Rod Studios Presents: Opening Alex by Emory Vargas #MM #Erotica

0.2

Title: Rock Rod Studios Presents:  Opening Alex
Author Name: Emory Vargas
Publication Date & Length: August 5, 2015 – 28 pgs

Synopsis

Rock Rod Studios is back with another explicit story of sexual discovery. And butts. And also shopping for things that go in butts and being really embarrassed about it.

After performing in a gay for pay porn video, college student Alex is decidedly gay to stay. Now that he knows exactly what he wants and where he wants it, it’s a whole new world. Except for the part where he has no idea what he’s doing or who to do it with.

When Alex asks his new friend Peter to watch some of his hardcore fetish porn, Peter says yes. With one condition…

As Alex’s crush on Peter intensifies, he’s called back for another round at Rock Rod Studios. This time, the studio wants to capture his first time bottoming on camera. Can he handle another round with veteran performer Andre?

When Peter asks to stick around and watch the scene unfold, Alex is more than okay with it. But the last thing he expects is how Peter reacts to watching.

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Review

FourStars
As much as I was on edge about the first book in this series, I actually really enjoyed this installment. I do wish I’d have had a bit of a reminder as to what had happened in the first part as it’s been a while since I read it and it took a little bit to remember the secondary characters (I did remember Alex though).
It was quite sexy with a bit of romance mixed in.. or maybe lust as we find Alex isn’t just sort of into gay sex… and he most certainly wants more from Peter.
I am glad I continued to read this series as I found this much better than the first part even if I would’ve liked a little bit of outside development of the characters outside of the sex (which was hot).
Renee
ThreeStar
I read the first one in this series, Alex Undone and enjoyed the short, hot novella. It interested me enough to want to read the second one, Opening Alex.
Another short, dirty glimpse into Alex and Peter’s sexy relationship.
The chemistry is pretty intense with these two and they scorch up the pages. I sort of … sometimes, felt like a voyeur haha it was great!!
One side note, I did find the 3rd person telling of the story a little distracting at times.
Reviewer: Kimberley

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4.5 stars for Sojourn by Geonn Cannon @geonncannon @supposedcrimes #lesbian #scifi #sciencefiction

Sojourn

Title: Sojourn
Author Name & Publisher: Geonn Cannon — Supposed Crimes, LLC
Publication Date & Length: August 1, 2015 — 143 pages

Synopsis

The first time humanity faced the scourge of Harvestmen, they were forced to take heinous methods to stop their spread across civilized space. Now the Harvestmen are back, and the crew of one vessel has to decide what they’re willing to sacrifice in order to extermine the menace once and for all.

“Blood and bone and muscle and stone
The Harvestman eats you when you’re alone
Skin and teeth and hair and eyeball
The Harvestman eats you, eats you all.”

The crew of the Peaceful Sea vessel Paralus have just completed a mission to retrieve an alien cleric from a world on the verge of cataclysm. The mission goes off without a hitch and the ship is heading home when they come across a derelict sister ship adrift in the middle of nowhere. A team is dispatched to see what happened to the missing crew, but instead find themselves face to face with a new swarm of their merciless foe. The crew quickly comes to realize they are the only thing standing between the nightmare of the Harvestmen destroying the rest of the galaxy, no matter what the cost.

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Review

FourandHalfStars

I’m the first to admit that when it comes to Sci-Fi I’m picky and a bit overly critical so I went into this book expecting it to fall short as most do. Thankfully, Cannon once again delivered something more than worth reading and made me fall in love with this book and it’s characters. Rani had me chuckling at every turn with her wit and the cast of (literally!) colorful characters surrounding her were deep, well planned and complimented her wonderfully.
I laughed, I cried, I yelled and wanted to throw my Kindle but I stuck with it and in the end was so glad I did. The imagery and plot devices were perfectly placed, well planned, thought through in detail and kept me interested. Well done once again Mr. Cannon!
~Rhayne

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AuthorBio

Geonn Cannon was born in a barn and raised to know better than that. He was born and raised in Oklahoma where he’s been enslaved by a series of cats, dogs, two birds and one unexpected turtle. He’s spent his entire life creating stories but only became serious about it when he realized it was a talent that could impress girls. Learning to write well was easier than learning to juggle, so a career was underway. His high school years were spent writing stories among a small group of friends and reading whatever books he could get his hands on.

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5 and 4 Stars for Redesigning Max by Pat Henshaw (AUTHOR INTERVIEW) #MM #Novella @phenshaw @dreamspinners

RedesigningMaxFS

Title: Redesigning Max (Foothills Pride #2)
Author Name & Publisher: Pat Henshaw (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: July 29, 2015 – 73 pgs

Synopsis

Renowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene’s Outdoors, hires Fredi to revamp his rustic cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Fredi is an out-and-proud Metro male whose contact with the outdoors is from his car to the doorway of the million-dollar homes he remodels, and Max is just too hunky for words.

When Max comes on to Fredi, the designer can’t imagine why. But he’s game to put a little spice into Max’s life, even if it’s just in the colors and fixtures he’ll use to turn Max’s dilapidated cabin into a showplace. Who can blame a guy for adding a little sensual pleasure as he retools Max’s life visually?

Max, for his part, is grateful when Fredi takes him in hand, both metaphorically and literally. Coming out is the most exciting and wonderful time in his life, despite the conservative former friends who think they’re saving him from sliding into hell.

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Review

FiveStars

I read the first installment of the Foothills Pride series, so I was really excited to see another one. These are wonderful, smart stories that prove it takes a village to make a book come alive.

I was half in love with Fredi from the first page. He is, as several characters put it, “out there,” entirely unashamed of who is is and wonderfully flamboyant. He admits to playing it up for some of his design clients, but it’s pretty clear a lot of it is his natural personality. What I love is that despite being a bit of a gay cliche on the surface, he is in no way a stereotype or a stock character. Fredi has some fabulous surprises up his sleeve, and it’s fun to discover him over the course of the story.

Max starts out as a mystery, seemingly opposite Fredi in every way. He also seems to be a bit of a small-town outdoorsman cliche, but he too proves first impressions can be misleading. That was the most fun part of this story–letting go of initial reactions and letting these men tell their tale.

Pat Henshaw is a fantastic writer with a knack for creating memorable characters and settings. So far, this series has been two for two winners, and I can’t wait to read the next part.

Amy

FourStars

Such a sweet story! Butch, closeted Max hires flamboyant Fredi to re-design his hunting cabin. Told from Fredi’s POV, the stylish, urban designer is bewildered by the silent Max and his conservative, redneck community.

I fell in love with Fredi. His character was fascinating and his voice felt very real as he navigated redneck bullies with his quick wit and an antique hunting knife. I loved his fashion, his friends and the whole foothills community.

Max was a bit more complicated for me. Like Fredi, I was confused by Max’s sexuality at the outset. Max also seemed to have very little control over his life. It took a while for Max to start asserting himself and standing up to the bullies. By the end of the book, I respected him, but it took a while.

The only thing I found difficult about the book were the cliche homophobic redneck bad guys. This part of the plot felt really dated. The story is a good one; it doesn’t need the additional drama.

Ultimately, this is a sweet, gentle story. The two very different men have a great deal in common. Fredi helps Max ease his way out of his closet and Max gives Fredi confidence. They both make each other very happy.

Sarah

Excerpt

That night in bed, thinking of the delicious Max, I understood a little more why he wanted the forest in his house. I could understand how soothing the wide open-spaces could be to someone who spent his formative years as an outcast. Now I felt even more driven to give Max the vision he sought.

Three days later, exhausted from a couple of all-nighters but ready to show Max the portfolio of drawings and plans for his renovated cabin, I put on my other designer jeans, orange sailor shirt, green high tops, and lavender scarf. I was ready to knock Max’s socks off.

Max drove us to the Rock Bottom again for lunch. The grungy foothills cafe was just as tacky as it had been before and smelled just as delicious. The tables of surly-looking he-men in their Levis and wife-beaters or beat-up Western-cut shirts still stared and then whispered to themselves as I slid into a booth, the artist sketchbook tucked safely in my bag.

“So we’re ready to make some changes.” Max eyed the sketchbook as I took it out and laid it on the table.

“Whoa, not so fast.” I put my hand over the top of the book to keep it closed. “We’re a few steps away from starting. Let’s just take a look at the sketches and then talk money, and then if you’re still happy in a day or two, we can sign a contract. Remodeling isn’t anything to jump right into.”

The excitement brimming from Max’s face said Yeah, yeah. Blah, blah, blah. Open the damned notebook.

I sighed. I always hated this part of the job. Clients either loved the sketches and wanted the work done yesterday or they wanted to haggle every nut and bolt to the ground, changing the floor plan, the color palette, or complete idea on an almost minute-to-minute basis. It was exhausting either way.

“Okay, first, what you need to do is look at these drawings and imagine yourself living in these rooms, not just looking at pretty pictures. Ask yourself if you would be comfortable here. At this point, everything is changeable, but it won’t be the case when we start tearing down and making the plan concrete. So take your time. Be sure you’ve fallen in love before you begin.”

I waited until Max lifted his eyes from the sketchbook, looked at me, and nodded before I opened the book.

I went through the pages one by one quickly, not asking Max for a response and not watching him. This was the private, internal part, and I let him have his space. Max wasn’t my first client who kind of knew what he wanted but couldn’t articulate it.

The first glimpse tainted the vision the client originally had going into the project. I could steamroll clients into taking what I’d given them, but in the long run, they had to live with the new reality and I wanted them to be happy. I really wanted Max to be happy.

“It’s perfect,” Max whispered just as the waitress brought our food. “Let’s do it.”

“Let’s eat first, before we break ground.”

I didn’t talk during lunch even though Max wanted to get me to sign him up and start moving.

After we finished the cherry-apple pie, I said, “Now I’m going to go through and point out some pricey details. Think about if you really want them because they add time and money to the design. We can easily discard them.”

“No, I want it just like you’ve got it in here.” Max tapped the sketchbook with his elegant fingers. “Just exactly what you’ve got here.”

I sighed. “Let’s try it my way, okay? Will you just listen?” I was holding an edge of the sketchbook closed and looking into Max’s eyes. I didn’t want Max to be an ultimately unhappy impulse buyer.

Max tentatively touched my hand. “I trust you.” He rubbed his fingers over mine.

I was surprised by the touch of his fingers, which had immediately made my body tingle. I’d read about people being attracted and feeling a zap of electricity, but I’d never experienced it before. As far as my past liaisons with men went, we’d both showed up, which was enough for gratifying sex.

“Just a few minutes of listening.” I could hear a shaky quality in my voice.

“Okay,” Max agreed, sitting back and putting his hands together on the table.

I took a deep breath to steady myself. I looked around the cafe, hypersensitive to the quiet scrutiny of the other diners. Were they leaning out of their chairs to listen to our conversation? Why did they make me feel uncomfortable?

I looked back at Max, who seemed oblivious to their attention. His eyes went from the sketchbook to me. He seemed to lean toward me, and his eager look seemed to be trying to hurry me along. His impatience made me smile.

I took a deep breath and started my spiel. “There are some carvings in the pictures you should think about. Atop and along the sides of the windows in the living room, master bedroom, and the kitchen, and on the headboard and bedposts in the master bedroom. You said you wanted to bring the outdoors in, so I thought these carvings would be perfect.”

I turned to the pictures. I’d drawn animals like squirrels, foxes, and badgers carved into the wood.

In the master bedroom, the four bedposts looked like geese landing at the head of the bed and taking off toward the windows from the foot of it. Across the headboard and footboard, I’d drawn pussy willows swaying with frogs, butterflies, and small birds among the reeds, all carved from one piece of hardwood.

Having worked with a wonderful carver so many times in the past, I knew he would take my ideas and flesh them out, probably change them as he saw fit, and leave Max with stunning pieces of art—if Max could afford them and, more importantly, if Max liked this idea as much as I did.

“Beautiful.” Max traced the birds taking off in flight.

“Yes, it is. You’ll notice the wood on the floor, around the windows, and making up the furniture is the only brown. The rest of the room is blue.” Actually the blues ran the scale of hues from Alice blue to ultramarine, but I made it a policy to use only the most basic names for colors since many of my less artistic clients got lost in the fancy color names.

“I like other colors, not just brown,” Max protested.

I nodded, not about to remind him that he’d only wanted brown and green. Except for the touch of Max’s fingers on my hand, my spiel had been pretty standard. As far as I was concerned, no surprises were good surprises.

“In the living room and kitchen”—I found those pages—“you’ll notice that the predominant colors are yellow.” Well, from canary yellow to goldenrod, but who was counting? “Also, I added more rustic carvings to the decks. Animals between the posts of the back deck and birds on the bedroom deck,” I said, flipping to the relevant sketches and pointing them out.

On each page, Max ran his finger over the details I mentioned. It was distracting, so much so I had trouble keeping to the script. Max might not be an artist, but he definitely had an artist’s soul. His fingers were gently stroking my soul as well as the pages.

The diners at the other tables seemed to be trying to see what had Max so enthralled. I wanted to stand up and announce, “This is a private showing. Go back to your meals.” I didn’t, but still, sweat had started to drip from my pits.

Finally I closed the book and passed it to Max. It was hard to stay on task with Max so focused on the drawings and the diners seemingly intent on us.

“I want you to take this book and really study the pages. Take notes in the margins. Circle things you don’t like or have questions about. Go to the cabin with the book and try to imagine every room looking like the sketch. What would you change to make the sketch more you?”

When I peered up at Max, I was surprised to see glistening eyes looking back at me. Was Max crying? Oh hell no. God, I hoped not. I don’t do crying people. Ever.

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