Monday, August 27, 2012

Books This Week (or semi-recently)

So, in my continuing effort to bombard you with fun, here are few good books I read recently. Don't worry, I am still working on the next part of True Love's Kiss - it was a crazy weekend so not much got written but between tonight and tomorrow night I hope to finish it. :)

Title: Spy vs. Spook #1 - Houseboat on the Nile
Author: Tinnean
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Length: 350 pages
Rating: 4 Quills
Tags: spies, enemies to lovers, in the closet, second love, contemporary


Mark Vincent is WBIS—Washington Bureau of Intelligence and Security. Quinton Mann is staunchly CIA. Mark thinks the CIA is full of dilettantes who leave him and the rest of the WBIS to clean up their messes. Quinn thinks most WBIS agents are sociopathic loose cannons. So they don’t exactly get along.

Of course, just because they don’t like each other doesn’t mean they can’t play mind games on each other. Or sleep together. But when an explosion at Mark’s apartment sends Quinn to the morgue to ID a body, he has to reevaluate his position on denial.


This is the story of two intelligence officers, one with the Washington Bureau of Intelligence and Security (made up??) and the Central Intelligence Agency. They are rivals and for years have battled against each but have only recently met. Much to both of their surprise they cannot get each other off their minds. And, as the title suggests, they take of residence in a houseboat of denial, oops I meant a houseboat on the Nile.

I have a love/hate relationship with this book. Originally, I started reading it when it was the unpublished story, Mann of My Dreams and had to stop because editing and pacing were all amuck. I picked up the newly edited and professionally published version as a part of a challenge and while some of the issues are still there I found myself racing through this book. Somehow, and I can't really figure out how, these two wormed their way into my heart and I couldn't help but want them to finally realize they could make each other happy. 

My main cringe when reading this was the fact that the author told a whole scene or series of scenes from one character's point of view and then hopped back in time and told the same thing all over again from another character's point of view, and sometime did again from a third character's point of view. I appreciated the insight into the various character's minds. However, it drew the story out and it sometimes became tedious. When I finished I really wanted to give this 3 quills because of that. But every time I tried to record it as 3 quills, 4 quills came out instead. So, I guess this is one of those books that I can't really tell you why I liked it but I did. 4 Quills.

You can pick up your own copy of Houseboat on the Nile here at Dreamspinner Press for $6.99.

Title: Show Me Yours
Author: Kaje Harper
Publisher: M/M Romance Group - Love Is Always Write event
Length: 47,693 words
Rating: 4 Quills
Tags: family drama, in the closet, friends to lovers, light, contemporary


Josh and Trey have been friends since they were kids, but Josh moved away when they were both seventeen. Their bond has been thinned by distance, by the weight of secrets withheld and a trust betrayed. For years now they've only exchanged short emails and occasional calls, over too many miles to cross. Trey's been willing to live with that, even encouraged it. Because letting Josh get close again might make keeping Trey's secrets impossible.

When Josh shows up on Trey's doorstep with a request for help, it could well be an unmitigated disaster. But Trey finds he can't say no. This is Josh asking Trey to lend a hand. Josh, the guy who still pushes every other man Trey ever looked at to second place. So Trey's going to take the chance and say yes. He's going to grab a few days with the straight guy he never stopped loving, take what crumbs he can get, and damn the consequences. Although those consequences may not turn out to be the ones Trey's expecting.


This is the story of Josh and Trey. They were best friends in high school but have drifted apart since then - mostly due to the fact that Trey has been pushing Josh away so that he never discovers Trey's secret. Trey has been in love with Josh since they were 15 years old. When Josh comes back into town begging help with his Aunt's store for the week while she is on vacation, Trey balks but eventually realizes he can't refuse anything Josh asks. Over the course of the week they realize what was a friendship could be so much more. 

I am a sucker for friends to lovers stories and Kaje is one of my favs so I was bound to like this story. I really like the tension in the beginning and how they slowly learned to trust each other again. I also appreciated how Kaje did not have them hop right into bed with each other. So often author assume that just because two MCs have been friends for a long time they are ready to skip over all the physical intimacy steps straight to sleeping together. This story was made much richer by letting Trey and Josh work through what it meant to be together and figure what they wanted from each while getting closer to each other physically rather than having to back track.

My one complaint is that sometimes it was difficult to tell whose head we were in. Their voices were a little similar and I often found myself skimming backwards trying to figure out who was narrating at any given moment. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this fun story, especially the way Kaje was able to balance the joy of falling in love with the harsh realities of child sexual abuse and homophobia. 4 Quills.

You can pick up a copy of Show Me Yours here on it's Goodreads page for free.

Title: Belonging #2 - Counterpunch
Author: Aleksandr Voinov
Storm Moon Press
Length: 55,000 words
Rating: 4 Quills
Tags: bsdm, athlete, sex industry, slavery, dystopian, alternate world


Fight like a man, or die like a slave.

Brooklyn Marshall used to be a policeman in London, with a wife and a promising future ahead of him. Then he accidentally killed a rioter whose father was a Member of Parliament and had him convicted of murder. To ease the burden on the overcrowded prison system, Brooklyn was sold into slavery rather than incarcerated. Now, he's the "Mean Machine", a boxer on the slave prizefighting circuit, pummelling other slaves for the entertainment of freemen and being rented out for the sexual service of his wealthier fans.

When Nathaniel Bishop purchases Brooklyn's services for a night, it seems like any other assignation. But the pair form an unexpected bond that grows into something more. Brooklyn hesitates to call it "love"—such things do not exist between freemen and slaves—but when Nathaniel reveals that he wants to help get Brooklyn's conviction overturned, he dares to hope. Then, an accident in the ring sends Brooklyn on the run, jeopardizing everything he has worked so hard to achieve and sending him into the most important fight of all—the fight for freedom.


Brooklyn is a cop who accidentally killed the daughter of someone very powerful during a riot. In this dystopian reality this got him convicted of murder. His sentence was life in prison but due to overcrowding this was commuted to slavery status. He lives his days as a slave boxing for the entertainment of rich freemen. And everyday he rebels against his cage, hating all freemen who have never had to live under the boot of slavery. Until one day, he is hired to service Nathaniel. Nathaniel does not want was Brooklyn expects and slowly worms his way into Brooklyn's heart. Together they work to get his conviction overturned and help Brooklyn train for the boxing World Championships. At the last minute, things go terribly wrong and seems like all is lost. However, Brooklyn and Nathaniel are able to pull through and win Brooklyn his freedom and his title. But even more importantly - they get to love each other forever as free men.

Let me be honest, I thought I would hate this book. I read it because I am doing the Goodreads M/M Romance Group's Members Choice Award Challenge. This story won for the Slave/Dub-Con/Kidnapped category. Those are generally hard limits for me and I will not pick books that include those themes (unless I dagnabit get them picked for a challenge because I am freakin' obsessed with completing my challenges). For once I am so glad I was forced to read a book I thought I would hate. 

Aleksandr brings Brooklyn and Nathaniel to such vivid life. I loved how Nathaniel did his best to treat to Brooklyn like a person and not a slave despite some of the secrets he was keeping. I am also a sucker for unlikely love stories (possibly why I like HotN above). Love snuck up on these two so slowly they didn't realize what was happening. It gave them a space of joy in a chaotic and unpleasant world. There were times I wish there had been more world building. However, I am guessing that is because I did not read the first two stories in this universe (written by Rachel Haimowitz and only tangentially related to these characters). If I had read those I am sure the structure of society and how the slave culture came to be would have been better explained. Nevertheless, I was very pleasantly surprised by this story. 4 Quills.

You can pick up a copy of Counterpunch here at Storm Moon Press for $5.99.

Also read recently:
The Society 1 - In Darkness Bound by Christine Price - 4 quills
BOatK 2 - Who We Are by T.J. Klune - 4 quills
Accidental Love by Shae Connor - 3.5 quills
A Note in the Margins 2 - Twelve Days by Isabelle Rowan - 4 quills
Instincts 2 - Enduring Instincts by S.J. Frost - 3 quills
Balls to the Wall 2 - Fire Balls by Tara Lain - 2.5 quills
Cut & Run 6 - Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux - 5 quills

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