Monday, May 28, 2012

Dark Soul Vol. 5 (Dark Soul, #5)Dark Soul Vol. 5 by Aleksandr Voinov
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ebook, 98 pages
Published March 19th 2012 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN13 9781937551292

Spoiler Below!!!!

I can't move. I can't do anything. I can't go left, I can't go right. I can't win this game.

I keep saying this; these books are not what I had expected.

Most surprisingly, I found a simple but strong message that was completely unexpected. A message in a sexy, gay, mafia romance; come on, really? From out of nowhere a deeper meaning came clear and it was a lovingly placed punch to the gut that is becoming a pattern with Voinov.

Often, I thought I knew what was coming and I found myself changing my mind on that score, several times. I had glimpses of what the ending might have been, but I had no idea what it would mean to me.

[I often think about why we choose to cherish the four leafed clover or the white flower with the one purple petal or earth's rare elements. Of course, we cherish and collect these things because they stand out from the norm. They're different. They're special. But, when it comes to our fellow humans, we want perfection. We don't like different. We don't cherish it or honor it or want to be like it. So often, we shun it. 

Silvio is that one-of-a-kind creation and Stephano has learned how truly special that is and loves him for it. Not despite it, but because of Silvio's weaknesses and uniqueness, Stephano cares and needs and worships Silvio.
[I often think about why we choose to cherish the four leafed clover or the white flower with the one purple petal or earth's rare elements. Of course, we cherish and collect these things because they stand out from the norm. They're different. They're special. But, when it comes to our fellow humans, we want perfection. We don't like different. We don't cherish it or honor it or want to be like it. So often, we shun it.

Silvio is that one-of-a-kind creation and Stephano has learned how truly special that is and loves him for it. Not despite it, but because of Silvio's weaknesses and uniqueness, Stephano cares and needs and worships Silvio. (hide spoiler)]


There was just something fundamentally right about a good-looking guy with a stupidly cute puppy.

Precisely written, the author given us an interesting perspective into a dark realm of society where we don't expect to find affable characters that we find our self identifying with, emotionally. Not to mention, creating a character so sexually intriguing, discordant, beautiful and impaired. I found this to be a great combination of qualities.

I want to thank Aleksandr Voinov for giving me, once again, more than just an entertaining read but an emotional token that is a gift to be shared.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dark Soul Vol. 4 (Dark Soul, #4)Dark Soul Vol. 4 by Aleksandr Voinov
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ebook, 50 pages
Published February 27th 2012 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN13 9781937551230

No Spoilers - just quotes

All this was too bizarre for words.

In this penultimate book in the series things are really coming to a head. Literally, Stephano is pushed to the brink from so many directions that you feel he is about to lose it at any moment. Voinov keeps an edge of discomfort running through this story and that tension is thrilling.

"Tell me to leave."
The barracuda's closing in for the kill.
"I wouldn't mean it."

No one and nothing is pushing Stephano harder or further than himself. I like the dichotomy of these "power men" who are so confused by basic instinct and emotion. And, although I find myself nearly shouting at the characters what the right choice is there is, even in me, an underlying doubt about who's pulling strings and moving pawns.

Who'd give him the wisdon to handle Silvio without losing his mind in addition to his heart?

I was surprised and delighted to find levity mixed into a climactic portion of the story. Again and even more glaringly, Stephano's self-doubt and humanness shows through allowing me to identify (as ridiculous as that seems) with him.

..."you absence when you're not there. Unlike other people, who leave nothing." He sounded like an idiot, didn't he. Yep, he did.

Although I missed having more of Silvio's perspective in this book, he was clearly central to the story. His angst and pain permeated everywhere and his unique sexual attractiveness makes him an undeniably unforgettable character.

I am looking forward to the conclusion even as I have my concerns that there is likely not going to be a happy ending.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dark Soul Vol. 3 (Dark Soul, #3)Dark Soul Vol. 3 by Aleksandr Voinov
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ebook, 84 pages
Published December 19th 2011 by Riptide Publishing (first published December 18th 2011)
ISBN13 9781937551155
Edition Language English

"What am I to you now?" the hooker asked.

Dark Soul.

Who's? Silvio's?

Or mine?

This book reached a new level in an already gripping series. Parts of the story are so surprisingly sexy and beguiling that I couldn't look away.

Other scenes were so dark and disturbing and forbidden that I couldn't look away.

Quick, fast and surgically precise writing makes reading this a pleasure. My favorite of the series so far.

In fact, a very short review here so that I can get right on to #4.

Highly Recommended

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Dark Soul Vol. 2 (Dark Soul, #2)Dark Soul Vol. 2 by Aleksandr Voinov
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ebook, 55 pages
Published November 21st 2011 by Riptide Publishing (first published 2011)
ISBN13 9781937551131

Spoiler Free - Just quotes.

Fear, isolation, longing. The gripping first scene is tender and mental and erotic as hell.

"I'll never forget turning you into a lover."

I think the term "God-father" takes on a whole new meaning when Voinov applies it. Gianbattista fills that roll for Silvio carnally, mentally and spiritually. Their profane relationship is quite intriguing and a bit wrenching. Do you want to see reparation or separation? And, who do you really feel for here? Intriguing.

"the strength and steadiness in that body -- that was exactly what Stefano craved now. That strength, that barely contained dark energy in Silvio".

Hints and teases and glimpses. Yes, this is still building into a powerfully driven, intense ride of a series. Voinov's command of character building drives my need for more. Plus, there is an underlying current of manipulation and violence that has yet to come clear.

Voinov's writing fascinates me.

“Me, I'm going to write ass-kicking trans* characters. I think I might end up writing not a single thing that is "pure" by some people's standards. Just because, and because I can.”
― Aleksandr Voinov


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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dark Soul Vol. 1 (Dark Soul, #1)Dark Soul Vol. 1 by Aleksandr Voinov
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ebook, 76 pages
Published October 30th 2011 by Riptide Publishing (first published October 27th 2011)
ISBN13 9781937551070

No Spoilers-

Mr. Voinov has once again caught me by surprise. Dark Soul 1 was not what I was expecting and I should know better, by now, than to have any preconceived notions regarding what Voinov has written. Honestly, I kept putting this read off as I wasn't interested in reading a story about the mafia. This isn't a book about the mafia. This is a story about onions.

Yeah, yeah I know the onion/layer analogy is over used but still, it is a good one to describe this book. The characters are multi-layered, the progression is multi-layered and the emotions that the reader experiences are also quite layered. Layered may be too straight-forward of a term. In the analogy you peel back the layers to see what lies beneath. In truth, what we have here is a complex network of intensity that is not typically found in the male-male romance genre.


I'm starting to dislike, resent even, that these talented authors, of the m/m genre are placed in any category that might separate them from a wider audience.

Dark Soul has all the intensity, complexity and depth that I am beginning to expect from Voinov. One warning: Pick this book up and expect to read it straight through. There is not one moment of lull where you can stop and walk away.

The Characters: In my opinion, character development is Voinov’s strong suit. I think he must delight in creating the complex personalities that keep us so enthralled.

Stephano initially appears to be a straightforward mafioso character; calculating, secretive, planning, scheming. That would be too simple for Voinov. There is much more to learn and discover about Stephano. His sexual denial just waits for us to strip away and understand.

Silvio is pure, liquid, dripping sex. If that doesn't get you to read this then I don't know what will. Voinov could have stopped right there with his development of Silvio but of course, he didn't. He gave us a broken, tortured, scarred beautiful creature that instantly penetrates your psyche. More, please.

Gianbattista might prove to be just too simple. Simple in this book is just too easy and I refuse to just buy into his easy, suave charm. Complex simplicity is his deception.

The Story:

Set in a backdrop of underworld tension and manipulations, the real story is only enhanced by the scenes that Voinov paints. Through Stephano's observations we peel the layers of Silvio's character while simultaneously discovering Stephano's true nature. The story development is just that, it feels very much like the set-up that it is for the next books in the series. That's just fine. Since it powered right through and in parts, blasted the pages with gritty, sexy, hard-to-look-at action, there was no lack of story. Just a continuous, rising build to the next book.

Admittedly, there is a bit of just-go-with-it, that as a Voinov fan I was willing to do. After a particularly intense and brutal exchange Silvio seems to too easily forgive Stephano. I am confident that there will be further development that explains the ease with which this forgiveness comes. In fact, I think it was purposely left open ended for future exploration.

I highly recommend this book and am hoping to be able to recommend the series as well. I will be moving right along to Book 2 as there are more layers to peel.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hot Head (Head, #1)Hot Head by Damon Suede
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ebook, 320 pages
Published June 15th 2011 by Dreamspinner (first published June 1st 2011)
ISBN 1615819495 (ISBN13: 9781615819492)
Series  Head #1

“Because people should not be punished for loving and hoping and holding their hearts open.”

My timing in reading this book has a lot to do with how it hit home for me. While I was swept away with the powerful, hard-hitting writing style and the "hell-yes" sexiness, it was the underlying message that came through loud and clear. That message will and has made this book a genre classic, of which I wish it to transcend.

Last week, my president announced his stand on same sex marriage. Yesterday I watched a video of a religious figure (also in my country, unbelievably) calling for electrified fences to contain GLBT humans. I'm not an activist but I am strongly secure of my feelings and convictions with regard to same sex issues. Mostly, I don't want it to be an issue.

Hot Head is a spicy, gritty, sexy rocket of a story that starts out fast and never slows down. The writing style of Mr. Suede is gripping, quick and concise. I found no wasted words or passages.

“Everything was so nutty with Loretta, all her reactions. She used tantrums like most people used sedatives”

The character development is superb. I found myself instantly enthralled by both Griff and Dante. In fact all of the players were instantly identifiable. The descriptions of secondary characters was just as complete and poignant as those of the main characters, I appreciate that. I particularly enjoyed the visual of Loretta as an operatic diva, very telling. Some of the stereotyping was surprising to find and quite in-my-face but I did not find it offensive. It just helped to draw a picture of the diversity of the city.

The story had a very full and yet tight feel. A backdrop of 9-11 permeated the story but didn't overwhelm it. I thought the author did an excellent job of infusing lasting feelings from the disaster with the need for hope. The epic feel of the story comes from drawing a picture spanning childhood, youthful frivolity, adult-life complications and a desire to have a fulfilling, mature future. Well done here.

The message. Hope. Hope for acceptance, love, family and peace.

Thank you Mr. Suede for the journey. I have a feeling that you will continue to write poignant, meaningful and current stories and I look forward to them.

“The world is different, but folks are the same, huh?”

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Special Forces (Special Forces, #1-3)Special Forces by Aleksandr Voinov
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ebook, Vashtan Edition, 3338 pages
Published 2007 by online

Oh, please can I give this 10 stars? I really have no words. All of the previous reviews have already said all the perfect words. For a mature, adult reader this will be a life changing novel. Admittedly, I put my life on hold to finish this book. I just couldn't stop reading. The character building was everything. I will carry Dan and Vadim with me forever.

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Anything for YouAnything for You by Ethan Day
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Ebook, 106 pages
Published March 13th 2011 by MLR Press, LLC
ISBN13 9781608203123

I'm wavering between 2 and 3 stars on this one.

It's me really. First I should know better than to read first person and this was really first person.

The story was very, very cute to the point of cutesy. Maybe it's just not fair of me to have an opinion on something so sugary after reading so many angsty, edgy, dark things lately.

The writing was fine, very fast paced and enjoyable enough but there was much to be desired. There was practically no character development, no relationship development and not much of a back story either. The point of the story was for the MC to come out and although he did it was just pretty anti-climatic. There was some build up that he would have to come out to his parents and that just never even developed.

There was also some build up for the MC to bottom and give himself over to his partner but we only had a glimpse of that and it wasn't very fulfilling.

In the end this just felt like an outline for the complete story yet to come. Again, I sort of take the blame for this one as maybe I just wasn't in the right place for this story at this time. I will take a look at Mr. Day's other books as I think his writing style was agreeable to me unless it's always first person.

My tummy zinger scale = 1. When the "I love you(s)" were spoken that moment really worked for me.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Zero at the Bone (Zero at the Bone, #1)Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ebook, 308 pages
Published April 2009 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1935192817 (ISBN13: 9781935192817)
Original Title Zero at the Bone (Zero at the Bone, #1)

"Okay." He let his eyes close and it was a relief; not just a relief of minutes, but of years."

I've been on a jag lately looking for books that have characters that fit into a category of dangerous and broken. Well luckily my GR friends have once again come through and recommended exactly what I was looking for.

First we have D. D is broken, period.

D's form in the darkness, backlit by the red emergency light like a specter from hell.

Then we have Jack. Jack is a doctor. He is not as broken...or so it seems.

"You must think I'm the world's biggest dork," Jack said, half under his breath.

This book kept me off balance for most of the read. I don't mean that in a bad way, it just kept me a little tense and a little on edge. There were moments where I could take a breath and relax but even they felt like the other shoe was going to drop.

So I was a good way into the story and was starting to think that I wasn't really believing the depth of their caring for each other then I found myself bawling when they became separated. Huh!

There were a couple of moments where things were a bit unbelievable. I found it hard to believe that the cops would let Jack go into a bar when it was clearly too risky. Also, there's a part where Jack's gun is dropped and normally it would be evidence but the cop just picks it up and hands it back to him. I know, I'm being nit-picky. I could complain about D's 'accent' but eh, it just didn't bother me too much.

I enjoyed D and Jack very much but I didn't find them as gripping as some other m-m characters that I could compare them to. However, the plot line and story development really grabbed and held me and I enjoyed the pace very much. I would recommend Zero at the Bone to anyone looking for a good, sexy, edgy yet tender m-m romance without hesitation. There is much to like here.

"I ain't that guy." "Which guy?" "The guy who goes along with the plan. I'm the guy with the plan." "Fine. Let's hear your plan." D's mouth opened but no sound came out.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Armed & Dangerous (Cut & Run, #5)Armed & Dangerous by Abigail Roux
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ebook, 330 pages
Published May 18th 2012 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781613725139
Original Title Armed & Dangerous (Cut & Run, #5)

A Gift!

This book is a gift given by the author to the reader. It is full of exquisite romance, passion-filled exchanges and quirky little quips and phrases that are exactly what we love about Ty and Zane.

"Less talky, Zane,"
"I don't think I've ever been gayer than I am right now."
"Come on, Zane, don't be scared of a little pussy,"

"This was like National Lampoon's Vacation, but with death, property destruction, and an Irish accent."

The Adventure: is twisted and involved enough to keep the reader on their toes and not really seeing what is to come. Plus, what's not to love about putting four gay men in a car, on a road-trip of sorts who on some level all despise or at least don't trust each other. It's great fun to see what will happen.


Even the personality of the cats ring through - "Smith and Wesson both sat down in the opening to bedroom, ready to enjoy the show".

The Characters: are all just perfect, well developed and likeable/loveable. We read this series because we are in love with Ty and Zane but the development of the secondary characters (and all of their traits) are what bring the story into the realm of "all-time favorites". Julian's epic Alpha-suaveness, Cameron's vulnerability and Preston's aloof perfection are qualities you want to explore more.

I've noticed some readers not caring for Cameron but I have to say his character is just one of my favorites. I think it is because he is me. He brings a 'normal human element into this story of 'super-perfect-cool-spy-guys that let's me identify with and allows me "into" the story. I love that!

The Writing: is quick paced, immediately gripping and doesn't slow down...except where you want it to. The very best thing about this book for me was the amount of dialog. There was plenty of visual orientation, I never felt like I couldn't see what was going on but it was the deep and heartfelt exchanges and the quick, quirky comebacks that just drove this on. So often when I read I get bogged down in side character dialog though and the author is incredibly astute in keeping that from happening. There were glimpses of third-party elements essential to the story that came through perfectly clearly but did not slow the story down. Thank you!

So again, I say that this book was a gift from Abigail Roux to her readers. Probably in reparation for what she did to them at the end of book 4, but a gift nonetheless.

I gladly give this book 5 stars and the accolade of, "I can't wait for the next one".

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