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MLE

MLE's Porn and Ponies

I read and I write about what I read. Any questions?

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If it Drives by L.A. Witt and Aleksandr Voinov

I received this book as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


I really enjoyed this book. I'm not usually a fan of such a large age gap, but the respect that James and Cal have for each other, and the genuine connection that they share beyond the physical made this relationship work for me. Kink played a large role, but it wasn't the entirety  of their connection, and I liked how much each man clearly cared for the other.

 

The kink in this story worked for me because of how grounded it felt in Cal's feelings for James. He knew it was something James needed, so he makes the decision to seriously learn about James's needs, and desires. Cal wants James, and in wanting James he wants to understand all of him, and I respect that. I did like that it became more than that, and Cal learned as much about himself and his own desires as his did about James. Maybe more. I liked that it wasn't about Cal being a martyr to James's needs, and sacrificing his own desires to please another. Cal has his questions, and reservations, but he understands that it is a learning process, and he is willing to seek help, and ask questions which just made me respect him even more.

 

I loved seeing Nick, and Spencer again. I liked the role that they played in this story. Nick's guidance really helps move the story along, and I liked seeing other sides of both him, and Spencer. I liked that Nick's sexual preferences don't define who he is as a person, and don't prevent him from being caring or kind. He isn't just a sexual sadist, but a fully formed human being which is a nice change from so many erotica. I liked that domination and submission were something to be learned, and to be understood rather than presented as something people just knew by instinct. The mistakes, and the miscommunications made everyone seem much more human, and relatable to me.

 

I liked the conclusion. It fit the characters, and felt happy without feeling to fairy tale romance, or Cinderella. The moment that Cal shares with Spencer, and Nick cemented their place as my favorite characters from this series. My apologies to the other characters who I like, but not as much as I like Nick and Spencer. Another strong addition to the series, and I'm hoping that this is not the end for Market Garden. That would be too sad for me. 

Straight Shooter by Heidi Belleau

I received this story as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This was really an interesting story. I didn't know what to expect going into it seeing how Austin acted throughout the rest of the series. I was looking forward to seeing things from his perspective, and I wasn't disappointed. I was really pleased by what a complicated person Austin turned out to be. It was easy to see him as almost a stereotype in the earlier books, but seeing things from his point of view made me realize exactly what drove his words and actions. I really felt for him and the fear, and self loathing that drove him. I can't imagine how scary his feelings were, and seeing how much he punished himself for his own needs and desires almost broke my heart. He makes so many mistakes, and bad decisions because of this it was hard for me to read in parts. I was surprised by how much I liked Liam as well. I appreciated how much Liam seems to care for Austin, and how much Austin's self loathing and fear hurts his heart. I loved that Liam wasn't the stereotypical cold, perfect dom. Liam made mistakes, and messed things up like Austin, and it made Liam more human to me, and like him that much more for it. I love that this series continues to explore a wide array of sexual expression. That the lines are a bit blurred, and it's more than just gay, and straight or even gay, straight, and bi. It makes for such rich characters, and story lines. The relationship between Liam, and Austin might not be traditional, but the feelings and needs that drive it are real, and work for both of them. I appreciated that the Austin and Liam connected not just on a sexual level, but on a personal one as well. I liked that they were friends, and that when real feelings arose it wasn't just based on physical need. I also appreciated that this book didn't just focus on Austin and Liam's relationship. I liked seeing how Austin and Bobby's interactions change over the course of the story as well. I liked seeing what colored Austin's view of Bobby, and how he learns, and makes a sincere effort to change. Their friendship was really one of the highlights of the story for me. I liked that it wasn't about Liam making Austin accept himself, and how his friends played a role as well. Austin's hockey is well integrated into the story, and I like how big a part it plays. It adds a lot to the story, and seeing Austin interact with the team gave me a better appreciation for his character. Overall it was a really well told story. Austin frustrated me at times, but I understood where he was coming from. The stress, and the pressure he put on himself, and the terror of discovery that colored all of his actions, and relationships felt honest. I appreciated seeing his growth over the course of the story, and seeing him learn to fully accept himself was wonderful. The ending was well done, and it left me feeling good about where things ended up.

Remembrance by Ravon Silvius

I recevied a copy of this book from the author in exchnage for an honest review. I really enjoyed this book. The world building was complex, and interesting. I love how the author's writing really fit the post disaster world she had created. The people, and places just seemed to fit, and make sense in that setting. I like how people had such varied reactions to their situation. They all seemed to act differently according to their personality, history, and character. I appreciated that. I'm not a fan of books where only the main characters have any sort of development. It makes for stale reading for me. I really liked Aldric. I liked how his past was slowly explored over the course of the story, and how his history worked with the history of how the world came to be as it is. I appeciated the author's sensetive handling of his trauma, and how that impacts his relationship with other people, and his personality. It felt honest, and it really gave me an appreciation of how hard it has been for him to just keep moving on. I liked the bond he formed with Daniel. Nothing felt like instant love, and I appreciated the time they took to get to know, and trust each other before love came into the picture. Anything faster would not have fit either one of the characters. I liked Daniel as well. I loved the role he is playing in the world, and how hard he is working to perserve the stories of the people around him. I had a little more trouble with his backstory, and since we never really get into his head some of his changes of heart later felt a little more awkward to me. Nothing too serious, but I would have liked a little more into his past relationship, and how he moved on. The plot was engaging, and well paced. It gave me a real feel for how the world came to be like it is, and what impact it has had on the people of the world. The history of this world is well reasoned, and I really loved how rational and cold the final decision was. I'm really looking forward to reading more of this series. A really well done first instalment.

Dirty Deeds by S.E. Jakes

I received this book as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


I really like S.E. Jakes. Something about her writing, and the sense of humor mixed with danger makes me a happy girl. This one had to be my favorite of all her books. Why? Mal.

I have to say Mal just did it for me. The anger, the snark, and the edge of crazy is just what I want in a book like this. I liked how his past was slowly revealed over the course of the story, and there was no one moment of sobbing revelation. Mal is not the sobbing revelation sort. Thank heavens for that. I liked the way his mind worked. It made for compelling reading. I also liked that they kept his edge even when he started to fall for Cillian. I'm hoping that continues in the next book as well. I'd hate to see him submit to Cillian completely.

It's not that I didn't like Cillian, I did. I liked that he wasn't quite the suave spy he seemed to be, and that underneath that veneer he was a hard, and angry boy. I understood where his controlling nature comes from, and I liked that he wasn't weak or whimpering, just that some of his controlling tendencies got to be a little much for me, and I'm hoping that Mal turns the tables on him again in book two.

I liked the balance between the two men. Both have controlling tendencies, and the need to let go, so it was never really about one man totally dominating the other. I liked that they were both strong, and fragile at the same time. Both men grew hard, and I liked that it wasn't about one whole person fixing the other broken man.

I liked the action of the story. The men are apart for most of the story, but I liked that. I think the anonymity of the internet interactions allowed to very guarded men the freedom and space to open up to each other, and get to know each other on a deeper level than they would have had this all been in person. The twists and turns kept me on the edge of my seat, and I loved watching things unfold. Just a friendly warning, but this book ends on a major cliff hanger, and if that isn't your thing you might want to wait for book two. Me I will be waiting not so patiently for the next one. I must know what happens next, and I need to know how the major revelations at the end play out.

 

 

Song of the Spring Moon Waning by E.E. Ottoman

I received this book as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really liked this story. It had the feeling of a legend or a fairy tale, but I like how the more magical aspects were balanced with the more mundane. It made the story feel a bit more real to be. The characters were well drawn, and developed. They felt like real people rather than shallow stereotypes or tropes. I liked that even though I guessed Yu's secret fairly quickly it wasn't nearly as simple as I first expected. I liked that added diversity this story had. It was more than just a simple m/m romance, and I appreciated that the characters were treated with the respect, and dignity that they deserved. It was short, but it felt like a complete thought. I'm really hoping that there is more to this story though. I'd love to know where things go from here.

Second Star to the Right by A.F. Henley

I received this story as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really did find myself enjoying this story. I really liked that Jack wasn't the sweet innocent I thought he might be from the synopsis. He was more bitter, jaded, and resentful of growing up than a pretty little man child, which was I appreciated. I liked his sharp tongue, and sense of humor. I liked that it was Mason who was the sweeter of the two. I found him to be a truly good, and caring person. I liked that even though things moved quickly it didn't feel like instant love, and I found the sex to be truly sexy. A nice short love story. Perfect for a cold winter day.

In Discretion by Reesa Herberth

I received this book as an ARC through Net Galley in exchange for a honest review.

 

I really enjoyed this story. The plot felt nicely tense, and well developed. I like how Thanson and Kazra's past was worked into the story, and revealed in bits and pieces instead of one big awkward information dump in the beginning. It helped to draw me into the story, and the characters.

I liked both men. They had a great connection, and I liked learning what happened between them. It played a big role in the story, but never felt like it took over the plot. I really liked Thanson's profession, and the complexity of what it means to be a Discretionary. Sex and secrets are a potent combination.

The writing felt nicely tense, and it fit the nature of the story, and the characters well. I loved the sense of humor as well. Thanson and Kazra had some great byplay, and was just what I was looking for.

The ending was nicely done. It wrapped up the action well, but there were no huge out of character heroics, and they had to rely on others to save the day. The epilogue was set nicely ahead of the ending, but not in the too distant future. It added a happy note without being too sappy or feeling like a fairy tale ending. Overall a good science fiction tale with a little romance and more than a little danger, and intrigue. 

Payoff (Market Garden #8) by L.A Witt and Aleksandr Voinov

I received this book as an ARC through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed the conclusion to Tristan, and Jared's story. It felt like just the right ending to the arc of their relationship, and it left me with a feeling of closure. I liked seeing their feelings for each other develop of the course of the three stories. It felt natural to me, and I liked that this felt happy without feeling too sappy or out of character. I liked how Tristan's jealousy, and love were dealt with, and how that worked into the job they were on. The sex was truly hot, and I ended up with a lot of respect for Rolex. I'm really hoping that he is the boss in the next Market Garden book. I liked the respect he seems to have for Tristan, and Jared. This is fast becoming one of my all time favorite series. I was a bit hesitant for the next one, after reading this I am a lot more excited.

King of Dublin by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau

I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. I have to say that this book was not quite what I expected it to be, and I enjoyed that. The characters were felt honest to me. I really felt for Ciaran. He had been such a naive idealist before he was captured it broke my heart to see what years of slavery had done to him. There were times I was frustrated by him, but I always understood the anger and the fear that drove his words, and actions. Looking from the outside he does this that might seem stupid, but smart, and rational decisions by such a damaged boy would not have made sense or been honest to the character. I really enjoyed Darragh as a character. He is strong in such a caring manner while still being a flawed individual. He wasn't the typical alpha male that shows up to fix Ciaran. He isn't that sort of controlling guy who needs to own someone else. He isn't a saint either, and I liked the balance between his protective nature, and his kindness and compassion. I liked how that played out in the character's bond over the story. It felt like their relationship was on a much more even footing, and I appreciated that. Ciaran might have been in a bad place, but it didn't mean that he was totally broken. I liked that Ciaran was such a strong person, to have survived the years of abuse by such an unbalanced character. The plot was strong, and I liked that the world and the people in it felt honest to the post disaster setting. It actually felt like a world in crisis to me, and only added to my enjoyment of the story. The secondary were a complex bunch, and added to the depth of the plot. I loved the intrigue, and snarl of alliances that comprised this book. Overall a really well developed story with strong characters that I really enjoyed.

Secret by Brigid Kemmerer

I received this book as an ARC through Net Galley in exchange for honest review. I really enjoyed this book. It was nice seeing that Nick and Adam's relationship was given the same consideration that his brothers and Quinn's relationship received. Seeing them so obviously enamored with each other, and how well they supported and encouraged each other was wonderful. They really were just too adorable. I wasn't as enamored with Quinn's story, and wish they book had focused more on Nick and Adam. I did appreciate that her difficult relationship with her mother was more deeply explored, and I got a much better understanding for how much pain she was in. I did like her budding relationship, but it felt like it took away a bit from Nick and Steve's story, and I wish this had been more of a side short story than a part of this book. I liked how characters in this story aren't static, and people have the ability to grow, and change, and that characters needed to learn about each other, so they could understand each other. It's a refreshing change from so many young adult novels, heck even adult novels, with cardboard villains, and heroes. I think my favorite character in these novels continues to be Michael. I love how well he does taking care of his brothers at such a young age, and I will be very excited to read his book. Another fun, well written, and developed book in what is fast becoming one of my new favorite series.

Always Saying Goodby by Hollis Shiloh

I received this book as an ARC through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This was a nice short story about love, and what drives people together, and what it takes to make a relationship work. I liked the characters, and I like what lead to their break up was neither outside forces driving them apart, or a silly big misunderstanding. I liked that their break up felt like it was rooted in the problems in their relationship, and the fears and pride of both men. I think the time skip really worked well in this story. It allowed me to feel the time, and the changes the men had undergone while they apart without having to give a minute by minute recounting of all seven years. I found the ending to be well done, and I liked that it felt happy without feeling unrealistic, or too sappy. It worked for the characters, and I appreciated that. Overall a nice love story for a cold winter day.

Bear Skin by Barry Lowe

One of the least erotic books I've read in quite some time, although I probably should have figured that out from the title. If you have to use the title to tell me that your erotic novel is hot chances are it is not. I'm not turned off by the idea of hair, but this book turned my stomach. So much of the sex was just nauseating. The descriptions ran to things like sloppy, greasy, and such that it wasn't attractive at all. The men ran in the same vein with so many of them being called trolls, or fat, hair matted, sloppy beasts. It's not that I want all my m/m to star svelte hairless nymphs, but being overweight, or hairy doesn't always mean you are a great, greasy, lazy slob. This leads me to what really bothered me about this book: the tone. There just seemed to be this vein of anger and bitterness woven through the book that made the sex feel more like the revenge of someone who had been wronged, than erotic sex. There was an undercurrent of meanness that was reflected in the ways the characters talked about their boyfriends, lovers, and other men that really made me uncomfortable, and turned me off entirely. The writing felt awkward, and the stories felt like they were trying so hard to push the envelope to be hot that it felt forced, and left me cold instead.

Strain by Amelia C. Gormley

I received this book as an ARC through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. I have to say that I really enjoyed this book, but I also think enjoyed is almost the wrong word. It is a dark, often hard book. The relationships aren't pretty, or sentimental, or really all that romantic. People come together out of necessity, out of situation, and out of convenience. There is a huge age gap between our main characters. There are elements of non-con, dub-con, and hard kink. Elements that would have usually sent me running in the opposite direction, but it this book it all works for me. What makes these elements make sense to me is the setting of this book. The world we know has fallen away, and they are in a much darker, harder place. I appreciated how much colder, and practical people have become. It fits the setting, and seems much more authentic that some of the hearts and flowers stories zombie I've read. The plot was nicely paced, and I liked how much I found out about the history of what happened and the military unit along the way naturally instead of one large info dump. I liked the depth to the character. No one, not even the secondary characters, were as simple as they first appeared. I liked that the more I got to know characters, the more I appreciated their depths, and complexities. I also have to say I love the strength to the female characters. It was nice to see them hold their own, and survive as best they can. Not damsels in distress in sight. A strong, dark read that felt authentic and genuine. I appreciated the ending, it fit the feel of the story without feeling too bleak or hopeless.

The 12 Days of Dennis by Jude Dunn

I received this book as an ARC through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This story had a cute premise, but it quickly became just too absurd to be believed. The ridiculously rich boyfriend, an indoor pool, a home theater, and an elevator felt more like a caricature than a real person, and I never really got a handle on who the main character was at all. The gifts started out a bit silly and just went south from there. By the time the eye rolling, overdone finale came I had lost all interest, and belief in the story. I had hoped for silly fun, but it read more like a farce, and lacked any of the warmth and spark I was looking for.

Long the Mile by Ally Blue

I received this book as an ARC through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. I wanted to like this story more than I did. The multiple time skips left me feeling a bit too distanced, and too much of the character transformation took place off the page for me to feel fully engaged with the characters or the plot. The whole story had a bit of an afterschool special feel to me, and sometimes it felt like the plot, and the characters were secondary to the message. What I did appreciate was the honest handling of homelessness, and how easy it can be for people to fall through the cracks. How hard it can be for people to improve their situation when they have a criminal record, or no fixed address or telephone number. I appreciate the honesty of that message, and even though I thought the story itself was a bit clunky, I’m glad I read it. It helped make me appreciate the support system I have, and how many times things in my life could have worse if I didn’t have those people.

Mindscape by Tale Valante

I received this book as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an

 

A short, but powerful novella. It was told through flashbacks, but for me this story was one of the few that used this effectively. It allowed me to know the important moments of their lives, how they met, grew to love each other, and the events of the war that lead to the where the story begins. Told in a chronological order this would have been a VERY long book. Using the flashbacks let me get to know the characters, and appreciate their bond, and understand what happened to them without getting caught up in the minutiae of day to day life. I appreciated the sensitive handling of PTS, and I liked the part the Resonance played.  I appreciated that it wasn’t a story about one person saving the other, and magically making everything better.  I liked that one person was not enough, and that he had to learn to accept help from another. The ending was nicely happy for now, and didn't downplay the continued issues that both men face.