Monday, September 17, 2012

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ebook, 175 pages
Published September 17th 2012 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN13 9781937551667
Edition Language English

A very fine stand-alone as well as a must-read for established Special Forces fans. I would also nominate this as an excellent first male/male romance book.

Aleksandr Voinov's voice takes on a fresher, lighter tone yet remains sophisticated in this highly enjoyable romance. I've been anxiously awaiting this new look at the next generation of his Special Forces characters. While it's possible that this book was written purely to indulge his fan's wanton pleading, I honestly believe this project was something the author enjoyed pursuing.

For the past eight months I have been rereading, buddy reading, quoting and praising the epic Special Forces. It's kind of like that first rock album you really connected with and had to share it with everyone willing to listen, in an effort to keep it alive and valid. So, when I heard that Aleks would continue the story, I was thrilled. When I heard the story would be contemporary and revolve around Nikolai, Vadim's son, I was intrigued. When I found that it would be a "sweet romance", I was apprehensive. How could the tragic, physically invasive SF be turned into anything sweet? Duh, I've said this before; I trust Aleks writing and I trust his vision. What he created here was a new day, a new path, while simultaneously easing my soul and giving much needed comfort. Well done.


There's much better than me out there for you.

Nikolai Krasnorada - Strong, gorgeous, open-minded and introverted. Nikolai is a surprising character to develop from the madness that is Special Forces. He feels normal, average and yet leads a lifestyle many would envy. An explorer by nature or just seeking something he's never known, he works hard to keep a birds-eye-view of his family's, uh, unique quirks.

"The harmless one"

Henri LeBeau - Smooth, rich, flirtatious and the enemy. Wow, what's not to like there?

Vadim sat...back to the wall, seemingly playing with his smartphone -- or really plotting who to kill first...with nothing more than a coctail umbrella.

Vadim Krasnorada - I had instant concern for Vadim in this story. The god-like strength is subdued, vulnerable and he fears losing someone he loves deeply. His brilliance, cunning and protective nature are completely intact. I love him more than ever.

Anya - So like her mother. Competitive, manipulative, a bitch.

I have to say that it was quite interesting to watch Voinov work with the more "normal" characters of Nikolai and Henri. As a fan, I've seen him develop and present some fascinating, unique and complex characters, so seeing his ability with regular guys was enlightening.


It turns out, for me, this was the perfect contrast to Special Forces. A modern story reflecting a more progressive, yet far from perfect world. Opening within the exciting and fast-paced corporate world, Nikolai and Henri are in high-level discussions relating to corporate mergers and takeovers. The two men are both successful in business but have each forestalled their personal lives. The tentative attraction is acknowledged, but Nikolai is not one to be pinned down. His family has not given him much reason to seek anything long term.

There are glimpses of the parents and family who have worked to achieve certain levels so that their children can have a different type of life. For all that parents strive to make their children's lives easier, smoother, those children must still attain their own sense of self via pitfalls and success.

A strong and necessary undercurrent in the book revolves around Nikolai and Vadim's incomplete relationship. I found myself crying for Vadim. I think you will too.

The Anya twist is reminiscent and surprising. Voinov's genius was showing when he developed this plot line. I have to wonder how long he was sitting on that idea.


The chemistry and the banter.

This is why I think Voinov found enjoyment in these characters. It was clear in the writing style that he liked both Nikolai and Henri and I found it delightful that he could interest me in such normal, warm and "real" guys.

The story was quick, lively and well written. Again, I would say this would also be an excellent introduction into male/male romance. The pace, tone and visuals are easy to sink into. never know what kind of memory will keep you going when you need it.


The longer I digest this book the more satisfaction I'm taking from it. If this is Aleks' attempt to appease his fans, fine. I say more power to his fans for causing this revisit.

There are several plot lines that would be very interesting to pursue. In a very vain attempt to color Aleks' mind, I would love to see more of these characters.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Change of Pace A Change of Pace by Tielle St. Clare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition
Published May 10th 2011
Available at

I found this book through a recommendation (thanks Elizabetta) after reading a couple very heady stories and needing something lighter. It delivered on the lighter bit but was maybe just a bit too light.

This read a little like porn. There was something going on but it just never really "got" there. Well the sex "got" there but the plot didn't. I'm sitting here still expecting a sequel.

THE CHARACTERS: little professor...

Aiden, the Professor, is likeable and has a few layers. Unfortunately, we don't really get to see what is hinted at in his demeanor. We get glimpses of his intelligence, his warmth and his prickly-ness but none of it really goes anywhere

The man was irritating, annoying and sexy as hell, not to mention completely off limits.

Knox is sexy but his constant verbiage of, "your little ass" or "your little body" started to bug me. It felt a "little" demeaning. I did like his go for it attitude though.


Knox and Aiden (The Professor)have been lusting after each other for some time. When the opportunity arises to explore their physical attraction, they don't hold back, even though Aiden is only interested in something long term. This could have bothered me more, but I really felt that it was just two men, throwing caution to the wind and giving into their needs. There wasn't much analyzing or introspection going on.


A quick paced story that got right to the heart of the action, i.e. sex. There were several POV shifts in mid-stream and lazy sentence structure but the descriptive action kept the story together.


In the end I would recommend this to someone looking for a quick romp. The end left much to be desired, like a firmer conclusion, but it did end happily which is what I asked for.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Listening to Dust by Brandon Shire

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 142 pages
Published March 10th 2012 by TPG Books
ISBN 1470181290 (ISBN13: 9781470181291)
Edition language English
Available for purchase at: Amazon

There aren't enough stars for a book like this.

This isn't my typical style of review because I just can't. I can't really read my kindle highlights to share those thoughts. My eyes are too full. I'll explain below, why I've just had to take a different approach here.

70%, 70% is where I cracked. Broken. Crushed and flayed wide open. Until the end and well beyond.

I could easily let go and curse out Brandon Shire. I could easily hate an author that can cause me so much pain. I suppose I'm a masochist though, and actually love that he can reach me like that.

When endless media incursion causes me to tune out and block out the noise, to become numb and uncaring, it's good to find that I can still be moved. To find that my humanity and passion are still alive. Brandon Shire has a way of awakening every sense, with imagery and emotion, vivid and tangible. In this book, you will be there, with the characters, smelling, feeling, wanting. Wanting so badly.

I'm not writing any sort of synopsis because I believe this book should be discovered entirely for yourself. I can't imagine two people finding the same things here. So I can't tell you what it's about, for you. To be sure, there are overarching themes, but the subtle layers of understanding will develop differently for everyone. This is a simple story with incredibly complex problems. Problems that are so big it's easier to look away. But don't look away. Read this book. Tell friends about it. Until our humanity is flawless read this book and books that keep reaching us.

I have to say one last thing. It will only mean something to a few GR friends but it matters. Plus, I need to release a little pent up frustration and between this read and some comments made in an unrelated GR thread, I have to let it go. *I only read male/male romance for the sex. (That is hostile sarcasm, by the way, and should not be construed as truth, by anyone).

Edit:  I just found Brandon's Pinterest page dedicated to Listening to Dust.  It's a photo journey for the book.  Brilliant. You can see it here:  Listening to Dust Pinterest Page

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

 My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Expected publication: September 15th 2012 by TPG Books
ISBN13 9781476353616
Edition Language English

Afflicted by love’s madness all are blind. – Sextus Propertius

--I’m a lousy human. I didn’t want to read about a blind guy and a gay prostitute, but when Brandon Shire approached me and asked me to review his new book I was flattered. As a new blogger I thought, wow, someone discovered me. So, I looked into some of his other books (I glanced at his ratings on GR) and decided, “Okay, I can give this a shot.”. Since this was my first read and review of a Brandon Shire book I honestly went into it expecting very little. I didn't really care for the cover and also, no one had recommended him to me before, so what could I be missing, really?


The question hung like flypaper swirling in the air, all the dead carcasses a tribute to that particular twist in life called consequences, which in this case remained unspoken.

I was blown away immediately. The writing style had a heavily descriptive tone and I was instantly walking alongside the characters, feeling the setting. There were moments where I really had to dig for understanding, because I was both; learning the author’s elocution, and because he made me reach to grasp a weighty concept.

I was just beginning to realize that this somewhat demanding writing style would require more concentration and effort than I usually give a “typical” romantic read, when the dialog began. I was delighted to find an easily readable, relatable tone that wasn’t pretentious. The characters were as comfortable to listen to as the descriptive narrative was beautiful. A very enjoyable combination.


Maybe he had been using the stink of independence to cover up his loneliness.

Hunter Stephens – Strong, sexy and fiercely masculine, Hunter is not what I expected in a blind main character. Independent despite his blindness, or more accurately, because of it. He is confident, coherent and extremely cognitive. Yet, he is wary. He doesn’t want empathy. He wants to be treated as a man. He wants to be “taken” as a man.

…and wondered what it would be like to wake up next to someone like him and not feel like an accessory, not feel…disposable.

Dillion – He is beautiful, surprising and secretive. Overcoming the worst in human nature, he remains hopeful and wanting. Despite his successes he finds himself in an endless loop. He wants to leave the circumference and grab at something in the middle.


Look at my gay blind friend, aren’t I so socially forward?

A man who has always been treated as delicate, fragile and vulnerable needs to know he’s just a man. Another man gives him his strength; unabashedly powerful sex is an intro to a deeper connection.

As I said earlier, I wasn't really into the premise, but I couldn't have been more wrong. This isn't at all about a weak, afflicted blind guy. It's about two strong men, two fighters trying to find out if they can let go. Two men taking a difficult step forward to learn whether or not they can be what each other needs.

I was simultaneously thrown into the subcultures of gay prostitution and blindness. Somehow, Shire found a way to beautify and romance me, despite myself. I was overwhelmed with butterflies. I cried. I laughed and I learned, about me.


…he wrapped himself around Hunter like a soft vice of hard passion.

Raw, descriptive, erotic as hell. The sex struck me as "a man's POV", which was fine with me. It was all the more gritty and in-your-face (often literally). Some of the terminology did make me a bit uncomfortable but it fits the story. Maybe I just need to get out more.

What would his feet be like trapped in boots all day? Hunter wondered. Not rank, no; a slight vinegar smell, like chips, only with a more sensual under-tongue taste.


Possibly the most surprising aspect of the book, for me, was how even at the very end, the last two pages, I was experiencing a racing heartbeat and tummy flips. That NEVER happens for me. I was ready to scream at the lack of conclusion but now realize the story continues. The story stops in a good place but, I, for one, can not wait to read more about Hunter and Dillion and more, much more, from Brandon Shire.


My thanks to Brandon Shire for providing me with a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.

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