Tag Archives: 10 stars

Four worthy free reads

Like London buses, you wait ages for a review from me, then four of them come along at once 😉

These were among the recent free offering from Smashwords. Two were out and out excellent, the other two well worth your time.

And I am happy by R. Cooper is a gorgeous little steampunk/Edwardianish story about an ex-kept boy turned valet, and his disabled war hero mster who is now in Parliament, though still struggling with the effects of the war, lost chances for love, and his amputated leg and arm. Wonderful angst yearning, and tenderness, and kudos for a maimed hero who is given dignity and agency, without being a vehicle for able-bodied pity.
Rating: 10/10 ★★★★★★★★★★ 

Butterflies (The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal) by K J Charles is Victorian detective/horror pastiche done with the skill and panache this author demonstrated so devastatingly in A Charm of Magpies. A proper yet blisteringly angry narrator is forced to work with the man he thinks has spurned him, on a case as menacing as it is dangerous. A side story to The Caldwell Ghost, a novel unfortunately published by Torquere Press, it nonetheless stands alone, and if you want to see more of Ms Charles’s work out, well, let me not dissuade you.
Rating: 10/10 ★★★★★★★★★★ 

Right Hand Red by Danni Keane follows two boys from the age of four to young adulthood, through their friendship, their difficulties, and their sexual awakening. Sweet but not without angst, and I may have grown a bity teary-eyed at one or two points.
Rating: 8/10 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

Stag: a Story by Ben Monopoli is not romance but instead an all too realistic window on the world of a thirteen-year-old gay boy, going to his first school formal, and trying to avoid the whole issue of a partner. Nice writing, and may tempt you to seek more out by this author.
Rating: 7.5/10 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 

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The Broken Bell by Frank Tuttle

Rating: 10/10 ★★★★★★★★★★ 
Title: The Broken Bell
Author: Frank Tuttle
Genre: Fantasy, horror
URL: Samhain Publishing
Price: US $6.50
Other Information/warnings: horror, violence
Summary [from the publisher]:
There’s no way Markhat can turn away his newest client. Who is he to refuse the woman he loves—especially when she bribes him with breakfast?
This time it’s Darla’s friend Tamar Fields, whose fiancé vanished days before the wedding. His wealthy family insists Carris Lethway is simply away on urgent business. Tamar smells a lie, and she needs Rannit’s most famous finder to figure out if the source of the suspicious aroma is a conspiracy, or the groom’s cold, sweaty feet.
As if his plate isn’t piled high enough, Mama Hog’s slip of the tongue has landed him in the middle of a good old-fashioned Pot Lockery clan feud. Plus, Rannit’s streets are abuzz with rumors of war—and Tamar’s case has his own lady love hearing wedding bells of her own.
As Rannit arms for battle, Markhat finds himself torn between old alliances and new commitments, and a growing, awful fear that no matter which way he turns, all he loves is about to go up in flames.

My review: Continue reading The Broken Bell by Frank Tuttle

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If It Ain’t Love by Tamara Allen

Rating: 10/10 ★★★★★★★★★★ 
Title: If It Ain’t Love
Author: Tamara Allen
Genre: Historical, m/m romance
URL: Smashwords
Price: FREE
Other Information/warnings: None
Summary [from the author]:
In the darkest days of the Great Depression, New York Times reporter Whit Stoddard has lost the heart to do his job and lives a lonely hand-to-mouth existence with little hope of recovery, until he meets Peter, a man in even greater need of new hope.

My review: Continue reading If It Ain’t Love by Tamara Allen

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Finished by Christian A Young

Rating: 10/10 ★★★★★★★★★★ 
Title: Finished
Author: Christian A. Young
Genre: science fiction
URL: Smashwords
Price: US$0.99
Other Information/warnings: none
Summary [from the author]:

A life of larceny in a half-wrong body isn’t what Aldin hoped for, but right now it’s all he’s got and he’s making the best of it. When an unwelcome surprise sends him running, his prospects hinge entirely on his wits and an unlikely ally.

My review:

When I was younger, this was the kind of story I would inhale like air. Tightly written, clever, thinky science fiction with masses of ideas, interested world building and commentary packed into spare, punchy prose.

And then I discovered m/m, where the art of the short story is confined to stroke fic and PWPs. Because short fiction is hard, and you need to be more than just a decent writer to make it work. You need to be really good. And Mr Young is really, really good.

Aldin is an art thief, looking to complete one last job so he can finish his sex reassignment surgery and live in the body he knows he belongs in. But his partner has other ideas. Just when all seems lost, help comes in the most unexpected form.

That short summary doesn’t do justice to this. For heaven’s sake, risk the whole buck and buy this, and enjoy it. It’s rare enough to have a transgendered hero in any story, but even if you haven’t the slightest interest in that, this is still a short, cracking read. Science fiction as it should be. Highly recommended!

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The Tradesman’s Entrance by Cameron Vale

Rating: 10/10 ★★★★★★★★★★ 
Title: The Tradesman’s Entrance
Author: Cameron Vale
Genre: humour, erotica, m/m
URL: Smashwords (published by Vagabondage Press LLC)
Price: US$1.99
Other Information/warnings: explicit sexual content, intentionally bad writing excerpts
Summary [from the publisher]:

Virginal Stephen Patterson is suffering from writers block on his latest money-spinning bodice-ripper, and his mood can only get worse when Dave the plumber shows up two hours late, mocks him, and plunders his pantry.

But first impressions can be deceptive; Dave is a highly unusual tradesman with an odd line in biscuit-based philosophy, an open-minded approach to sex, and a cast-iron certificate in unblocking all sorts of pipes.

When Dave decides that it’s long past time for Stephen to unclog years of fear and insecurity, Stephen may finally discover who he really is.

My review: Continue reading The Tradesman’s Entrance by Cameron Vale

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Death by Misfortune by AM Riley

Rating: 10/10 ★★★★★★★★★★ 
Title: Death by Misfortune
Author: AM Riley
Genre: Detective mystery
URL: MLR Books
Price: US$8.99
Other Information/warnings: Violence, references to abuse and BDSM, explicit m/m sexual content
Summary [from the publisher]:

After a glamorous studio party, “Psychic to the Stars” Sylvie Black is found murdered in her fortune telling booth, a blood soaked tarot reading spread out before her. Shortly afterwards, the high-profile director who was about to produce Ms. Black’s ‘tell-all’ Hollywood screenplay, is found murdered as well. Closeted Homicide detective, Bill Turner, and his partner, Kate Crandall, find themselves sorting through a cast of likely suspects, who all seem to have secrets worth killing for. They soon run up against the studio rumor mill, and Jeremy Reilly, a young studio AD determined to protect their prime suspect.

My review: Continue reading Death by Misfortune by AM Riley

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The Only Gold by Tamara Allen

Rating: 10/10 ★★★★★★★★★★ 
Title: The Only Gold
Author: Tamara Allen
Genre: Historical (late 19th century)
URL: Dreamspinner Press
Price: US$6.99 (ebook), US$ 17.99 (paperback)
Other Information/warnings: violence, sexual (non-explicit) content
Summary [from the publisher]:

Jonah Woolner’s life is as prudently regulated as the bank where he works. It’s a satisfying life until he’s passed over for promotion in favor of newcomer Reid Hylliard. Brash and enterprising, Reid beguiles everyone except Jonah, who’s convinced Reid’s progressive ideas will be the bank’s ruin. When Jonah begins to discover there’s more to Reid than meets the eye, he risks succumbing to Reid’s charms—but unlocking the vault to all of Reid’s secrets could lead him down a dangerous path.

Losing his promotion—and perhaps his heart—is the least of Jonah’s difficulties. When the vengeful son of a Union army vet descends upon the bank to steal a government deposit of half a million dollars during the deadliest blizzard to ever sweep New York, Jonah and Reid are trapped, at odds and fighting for their lives.

My review:
Continue reading The Only Gold by Tamara Allen

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Cover Me by L A Witt

Rating: 10/10 ★★★★★★★★★★ 
Title: Cover Me
Author: L A Witt
Genre: contemporary, erotica
URL: Carnal Passions
Price: from US $3.90
Other Information/warnings: Violence, explicit sexual content
Summary [from the publisher]:
When paramedic Nick Swain responds to a shooting in a seedy neighborhood, his entire world is thrown off its axis. His life is threatened…twice. Allegations of racism and medical neglect threaten his career and his ability to sleep at night. Not that he’ll be sleeping any time soon after the incident throws him into the path – and arms – of Detective Andrew Carmichael.

One hot night after another with Andrew may help Nick relieve some stress, but sex won’t solve every problem in his life. With the media hounding him and the city watching his every move, he starts to wonder if the world is out to get him.

The world may not be out to get him, but someone is.

And that someone wants Nick dead

My review: Continue reading Cover Me by L A Witt

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Uneven by Anah Crow

Rating: 10/10 ★★★★★★★★★★ 
Title: Uneven
Author: Anah Crow
Genre: BDSM erotica
URL: Torquere Books
Price: US $5.95
Other Information/warnings: Explicit BDSM and m/m sex
Summary [from the publisher]:

Rase Illion is a middle-aged captain of industry, a restrained man with a spotless reputation just emerging from the shadow of his vicious, driven father. Since his father’s death, Rase has been living like the old man was still alive, keeping up appearances with his trophy wife and appropriately luxurious house. Which is when Rase meets Gabriel.

Gabriel loses his temper during his first meeting with Rase and lashes out, which unleashes Rase’s carefully hidden submissive and masochistic tendencies. His encounter with Gabriel snaps Rase out of his sleepwalking life, and he sets about remaking his world in his own way. Rase isn’t the only one shaken by their encounter, though. Can he convince Gabriel to give their relationship a chance?

My review: Continue reading Uneven by Anah Crow

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