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JustJen

JustJen

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The Current Between Us
Kindle Alexander
Painting Fire on the Air - J.P. Barnaby
4.5 stars Review coming soon from The Blog of Sid Love.
Happy Anniversary, Baby (Second Chances #1.5) - T.A. Webb
Very sad but sweet recap on things on the anniversary of Brian's death which brought back many memories of reading the original story.
House of Simeon - D.J. Manly
Hot gladiators and slaves? Check! Ok, so this pretty much held my interest throughout. Some of the scenes are a little gorey, but not terribly cringe-worthy. I had no trouble feeling the desparation or hopelessness of the plights of these guys. Gold was making the best of his situation and tried his best to convey the way things were to the new slaves/gladiators. Can't imagine the feeling of knowing you are sending a bunch of people to slaugter, let along having to do the slaughtering yourself. But this was the way things were. They were property to be used as the masters saw fit, whether it was for sex (although I was a bit surprised the slaves were more often used as tops) or for sport/entertainment.

Anyhoo, there are some good characters here, and some not-so-good characters. It moved along at a good clip, and I was eager to read the next segment.
In Liam's Wake: The Makeshift Soldier (Toys and Soldiers) (Volume 1) - Ashlyn Forge
Review written for Hearts On Fire Reviews.

Book one of new author, Ashlyn Forge’s, new series, Toys and Soldiers, is about Liam and Riley who are taken from New York to the Colony, an underground world with many laws and where nobody is actually free. When we meet Liam, he is on a mission to get he and Riley out of the Colony and back to New York. Unfortunately, Riley is in a coma, and he is the one who knows the way out.

It took me a little while to get the idea of what was going on here, but once I did, I was pretty interested. My biggest issue here was the frequent flashbacks showing little by little how Riley ended up where he is. I understood the idea behind the switching back and forth, but I’m not a huge fan of flashbacks on a good day. Here, they left me confused, even though each one gives more and more information and pieces of the puzzle. I was already borderline confused and then had to figure out the timeline and match the characters up with what I knew to what I was actually seeing, though I did enjoy gathering the puzzle pieces. However, as much as I disliked the flashbacks, I’m honestly not sure if this would have worked as well without them, as each one reveals more of the mystery.

Liam has problems in that even though he is pretty good hearted, he constantly seems to be making the wrong decisions. He screws up over and over, finally putting his only friends or allies in danger as well. Unfortunately for him, he has other factors working against him in the form of implanted receptors that are like a ticking time bomb. Nothing is easy for him, and he tries so hard to keep his original word of returning home.

One thing I was unsure of through most of the story was that both guys seemed a bit homophobic. They were pulled into the situation where they only had each other to rely on, and while we learn about things that happen to change this circumstance, they remain somewhat stand-offish. The reasons for the reluctance become clear, but the intimacy level remains low even though they appear to want it. In the end, I had the impression they were in more of an emotional relationship than a sexual one.

Even though things seem pretty basic here, there is a lot going on. There are a lot of details that set up this world and paint a very unique picture, not only with the environment, but with the characters and creatures as well. This ended up being a pretty intricate story. There are twists and turns throughout as the pieces are put together, and it continues right up to the end. I was quite impressed with this as a first story, and despite my issues with it, I’m looking forward to the next installment now that the groundwork has been laid out.
The Price - Dominique Frost
4.5 stars Review coming shortly from The Blog of Sid Love
Roughing It - Holden Wells
Review coming soon from The Blog of Sid Love
Light - Nathan Burgoine
4.5 stars Review written for The Blog of Sid Love

What a refreshing read. This was a fabulous paranormal story that takes place in Canada during Pride week. Kieran is a really funny young gay masseuse who takes a week of vacation to enjoy all that Pride week has to offer.

Kieran is also Telekinetic with a side of Telepathy. He has grown up with it but mostly practices his skills with the help of his cat, Easter, by moving his toys around the room to play with him. Every time he uses his Telekinetic powers, he produces light in various forms.

Also attending the Pride events are a bunch of bigoted haters led by a crazy televangelist (Kieran named him “Stigmatic Jack”) protesting everything gay. Unfortunately, Stigmatic Jack also appears to be Telekinetic as he injures people attending the events. Kieran uses his powers to thwart the evildoers and protect his fellow Pride attendees by creating a brilliant light show. This brought on the poll to give him the name “Rainbow Man,” which Kieran absolutely hated. After this first incident, Kieran goes to the aid of sexy leather daddy, Sebastien, one of the Pride coordinators, who was injured in the attack.

Kieran’s co-worker, Karen, who is a fabulously sassy character, continually tried to set Kieran up on blind dates, but this pretty much stopped once Kieran met Sebastien. The two really hit it off, but some fun flirting takes place before they ever take things all the way, and even then, the sex is mostly off screen. Have to say that my smutty side was hoping for more in this regard, but this was such a sweet story with enough commentary that I was able to use my own imagination when needed. He ends up sharing his secret with Sebastien, and it strengthened my sense of what a great guy Sebastien really is and how much I liked him with Kieran.

So, Kieran spends the rest of Pride week attempting to counteract Stigmatic Jack before he does any real damage to people. He doesn’t have the best control of his powers, often chastising himself for not practicing and honing the skills more as he grew up. Sebastien ends up helping him in different ways, and there is a nice twist I wasn’t quite expecting where Stigmatic Jack is concerned.

This is such an enjoyable paranormal story, with a hint of romance, sex and love. There are some nice side characters, although I never quite understood Miracle Woman, another Telekinetic who Kieran frequently meets in astral form. I kept expecting her to come out of hiding to help Kieran. The story is funny at times, moves along at a nice pace and was quick to read. I recommend to those looking for a different kind of paranormal. I’ll definitely be checking out more stories from this author.
Deceived - Lexie Davis
This one just didn't wow me. It started off ok, but then everything just happened too easily. Matt walks out of jail, goes to Shayne, before practically any words, they are having sex. Even when Shayne says he may have evidence or wants to talk about what happened, all Matt wants to do is make pancakes.

So, this did have some potential, but too many things just didn't make sense to me, and I just wasn't feeling it.
F.A.S.T. Balls (Balls To The Wall, #5) - Tara Lain
3.5 stars Review coming soon from The Blog of Sid Love
Beyond Duty - SJD Peterson
Review written for The Blog of Sid Love.

I first met and fell in love with Macalister Jones (Mac) and Gunther Duchene (Gunny) in their free short story of the same name. The short story was perfect, but these guys had so much more to show us, and I’m thankful they were able to tell it here.

Mac and Gunny met in boot camp, became friends and then lovers. After a few years, they became exclusive, but still remained more best friends with benefits, having to continue hiding under DADT. Now, some 22 years after they met, they are facing retirement from the military which is coinciding with Obama’s signing of the repeal of DADT.

Both men are a little worried about the changes this could bring to their relationship. Both are terrified of losing each other, but Gunny seems to be having the most trouble, thinking the younger Mac will want to take the opportunity of freedom to find someone younger and new. These guys are super hot, both alpha marines, and even though Gunny outranks Mac and they are the same size and build, Mac is the more dominant of the two. This leads to a very hot d/s scene that, quite frankly, I wish there was more of.

Mac is quite the cheeky fellow, and while very cocky, there is never any question, in my mind, about his feelings for Gunny. He is playful and fun at times, super hot dominant male at others. These two were made for each other in every way. They share so much and always seem to know exactly what the other needs.

As their retirement ceremony draws near, they deal with coming out to family and friends, as well as their fellow marines. Gunny’s coming out to his parents about broke my heart. This has its ups and downs, but it is something they feel needs to be dealt with before their ceremony. Another thing they struggle with is what they will do with themselves once they are officially retired. Mac is worried he will get bored quickly and get himself into trouble, so they are trying to figure out the next stage of their lives as well.

I had almost forgotten how much I loved these guys, but it came flooding back the moment I started reading this. It is just as wonderfully written as the free short story, captivating and fun, sexy and sweet. There are some moments of sadness mixed in with a lot of hot sex, but through it all, their love shines through, and I don’t think I could ever get enough of them. Ms. Peterson has delivered another fabulous story with these guys, and I will always hold onto the hope that we will still see them again.
Every Drop of My Love - Jane Davitt
Couldn't resist this one and I wasn't disappointed. I loved it! It's fast, edgy, no sparkles here. I loved the voice of Steve, and I really liked North. This was over way too fast. I wish it was longer and really hope to see more of these two again.
Touch Me Not - Genna Donaghy
Review written for Hearts on Fire Reviews - 3.5 stars

This was a very sweet story by a first-time author. I don’t recall ever reading anything quite like it. It is current time, but alternate universe where men and women are either dominant or submissive, each looking for their true mate. A lot of detail goes into the how’s and why’s of this set up. When true mates touch, the bond begins, and once this happens, there is pretty much no going back. There are relationships between non-mated couples, but if one of their actual mates comes along, they have no way to fight that bond, leaving the other person left out. If they have a child, that child becomes like a bastard child. If mated couples are split up, they eventually suffer from sickness.

Anyhoo, Jake is an unmated guy who grew up watching his father rather cruelly dominate his mother to the point where she perished. So, he is in no hurry to be mated to any dom, thinking he will lose all free will, in addition to the ranch he loves and runs almost single-handedly.

Unfortunately, there is a company in town that has been attempting to buy up the land for the mineral rights, pretty much forcing other ranch owners to give up their land. With Jake being a sub, he would be easily controlled if that company could find his mate and thereby have the land transferred.

Even more unfortunately, Jake helps a drunk guy to a hotel after a night in the bar, and quickly realizes Henry as his potential mate. So, he takes off running. Henry is also the son of the guy who runs the company taking over the land. So there are a few complications involved here.

Henry has not looked to hard for his mate, afraid he would end up with a super submissive easily controlled mate. When he realizes he has met his mate and then sees he is not so easily pushed around, he makes it a point to win Jake over without using his dom powers of coercion. This takes time, and some distractions get in their way, but they get everything together when it counts.

These guys made a really sweet couple, but not in the sugary sweet over the top way. I liked that Jake wasn’t a pushover, and that Henry didn’t want him to be. They take things slowly, not even having actual sex until the epilogue. You don’t miss it though, as there is enough going on here to keep you occupied without it. Despite the dom/sub theme, the BDSM aspect of this is extremely light. This was a quick, easy and smooth reading story nicely done for a first timer who I’ll definitely be looking forward to seeing more from in the future.
Royal Pains - Dakota Rebel
3.5 stars

Jamie and Ethan have moved to Chicago together so that Ethan could take over as King of the City following the events in book 1. He is finding this isn't an easy task, as his counsel and previous Queen seem to all be up to things behind his back, and he hasn't been able to win the people over as well.

Ethan gave up his home, family and friends to go with Jamie, and while they are together, they still haven't rebonded yet. Fighting and sex, sex and fighting are still the keys of their relationship. Ethan is struggling with being in a new place, essentially on his own as Jamie is off doing his kingly duties. He is lonely and bored and misses Jamie's full attention. He is a bit whiney at times where this is concerned.

Ethan is called back to Royal Oaks for a few months to step in for his parents when they must leave town for a spell. At about halfway through this story, the plot starts to thicken around the goings on in Chicago. The family and friends come together to help, and everything falls into place.

This is a really easy going, funny at times, story with quite a bit of sex and agression and fighting and make up sex. The guys do what they do best throughout most of the story. They fight, get worked up, have crazy hot sex, have a short cooling off period, then start the cycle all over again. It's different, but it works for them.
Bound to Break - S.E. Jakes 4.5 stars

Review written for The Blog of Sid Love.

This book is a lot like Book 4, Bound by Danger, in that there are two couples somewhat starring in the story. You may remember Rex and Sawyer and Clint and Jace from that book. Rex and Sawyer were just getting together and dealing with Rex’ lover who had gone MIA on a mission to retrieve two missing agents.

Fast forward four years and we find Lucky, a man found washed up on the beach with no memory of the past four years or how he got there. He is taken in by Emme and her family and now bartends for them at their restaurant/bar in South Africa. That is, until Lucky is spotted by an ex-teammate and recognized as former MIA soldier, Josh, just about the same time as Emme’s mysterious brother, Dash, comes back into town.

Dash and Lucky hit it off (or so it seems), but Dash is actually CIA who ends up bringing Josh/Lucky in for deserting. Lucky still has no memory, but the government is concerned about having a person with his particular skill set walking the civilian streets and are worried that he may have been turned by his captors in exchange for the release of his fellow POWs and is now a threat.

When word reaches Rex and Sawyer that Josh is actually alive, it puts a lot of strain on their relationship. I loved how this was done and even with Josh not having any memory of their past relationship, the worry was still there about what Josh’s return would mean for Rex and Sawyer’s relationship. Rex and Sawyer are great together, and the story shifts a little bit between them and Lucky/Dash with the Josh/Rex issue being the more common link. Sounds a bit confusing, but it really isn’t the way it’s written.

Lucky and Dash decide they will make a go of it, that there is more to their feelings than just screwing for information and the job. So, there are two couples’ stories being told here, as was the case in Men of Danger. This time though, things read a little smoother for me, and I found I quite enjoyed the style.

This story has so much to offer and is actually my favorite of the series so far. Hot military/special ops guys, damaged characters dealing with recovery from their tortured time in captivity, a few twists I didn’t see coming, and some smoking hot sex, to name just a few. Jakes remains at the top of my must read as soon as it hits the streets list, and this one was no exception. I recommend the entire series, but definitely Bound by Danger, as the same characters appear.
Taken - J.C. Owens
3.5 stars

Not sure what I was thinking, but this story went in a bunch of different directions than what I expected. Poor Landon was abused, though thankfully not used, by his evil brothers for years. When their latest mission goes belly up, Landon is captured by their intended target. Just when you think things are going to get down and dirty, slave/torture/abuse style, things take a different turn. Landon offers himself to Kirith completely for three months if he will set him free and clear after that point.

Kirith is part of a mob family run by his brother, Enzo. Enzo has a strong dislike for Landon and cannot get over him trying to hurt his family. Saving Landon though, is the way he handled the attack when he ran into Kirith's daughter, Laura.

Anyway, things roll along for them during the three months, and while feelings grow, Kirith sends Landon away after the time is up. Kirith is unable to leave his island and believes the isolation would be too much for Landon. So, he teaches him skills and sets him up with a company so he can start another life.

Then, things take another unexpected turn where it actually does turn into slave/torture/abuse, though the details are pretty vague. You get the idea though, and things get pretty bad before rescue happens.

I liked the story, but there were times I felt it dragged on a bit, mostly due to the style of telling, instead of showing. That is hard to explain, but while things were happening, the story just didn't seem to be moving forward. I also didn't love how quickly certain things were resolved. Enzo taking care of Marcello, as well as the victim's recovery were a few. The recovery seemed to take a bit of time, but then the final wake up "I just had a horrible nightmare" turn around just seemed rather abrupt.

I enjoyed many of the characters here though, and while I'm not a huge fan of kids in my stories, Laura was a sweetheart. Would have liked to have had a bit more closure on the evil brothers' demise as well.

Truce - Meredith Shayne
Not a bad quickie about rival opposites who eventually find they have something in common and call a truce while they are on tour. Wish this were a bit longer.