December 5th, 2015

andrew potter

Blog Tour: Driven Snow by Tara Lain

Driven Snow (The Pennymaker Tales, #2) by Tara Lain

Young Snowden “Snow” Reynaldi is brilliant, beautiful, and alone. Though he’s shy, weird, and tolerated by the NorCal University students because he’s a renowned whiz at chess and helps put the school on the map, that doesn’t keep him from dreaming of the object of his desires, Riley Prince, championship quarterback.

When Riley needs a physics’ tutor, Snow jumps at the chance, and their relationship heats up—but Riley has to come out of the jock closet to get anywhere. Meanwhile, Snow’s one true friend and mentor, Professor Kingsley, marries a woman who secretly wants the chess tournament glory and money for herself. Soon after, the professor collapses and Snow finds himself underwater—literally. In a car!

Seven frat brothers from Grimm College rescue Snow just in time for his life to get even worse, and Snow discovers the one relationship he always wanted slipping away. With evil looming at every turn, Snow must survive if only to prove he’s the fairest of them all and regain the trust of his handsome prince.

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About the Author: Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 23. Her best­selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.
She lives with her soul­mate husband and her soul­mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!
You can find Tara at


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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: An American Queer: The Amazon Trail by Lee Lynch

An American Queer: The Amazon Trail by Lee Lynch
Lesbian Non Fiction
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (October 14, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626392048
ISBN-13: 978-1626392045
Amazon: An American Queer: The Amazon Trail
Amazon Kindle: An American Queer: The Amazon Trail

This collection of Lee Lynch's columns chronicles over a quarter century of queer life in the United States, from the last decades of the twentieth century into the twenty-first.

“From the beginning of my writing career, I just wanted to write about lesbian/gay life as I experienced it. Like so many, I came from a place of great isolation. At the same time, being gay filled me with great pride and joy. Writers Jane Rule, Isabelle Miller, Radclyffe Hall, Valerie Taylor, Ann Bannon, and Vin Packer gave me inspiration and even the lesbian companionship I needed as a baby dyke. More than anything, I want to give to gay people what those writers gave me. And I want to do it well enough that my words might someday be considered literature and, as such, might endure because, as open as some societies have become, there are always haters, and cycles of oppression. Our writers strengthen us, offer a sense of solidarity and validation that we are both more than our sexualities and are among the best that humanity offers.”

A wonderful, evocative memoir. An excellent retrospective of Queer history in the United States, through the lens of one woman's experience. A truly enjoyable read.

A personal take on our modern history, from someone who was there from the pre-Stonewall days to Marriage Equality.  This collection of columns has been expertly crafted into a cohesive whole. It was a pleasure to read.

Excellent overview of the Stonewall generation from a politically active member.

This book is damn near perfect as a leisurely, scenic stroll through the past decades of American lesbian history. Writer Lynch describes the political and emotional landscape of the times with a deft hand and a bright heart in this series of snapshots, bringing out details that don't often make their way into formal history books. Her memories, hopes, and dreams permeate the stories told, revealing her as someone worth knowing, someone of substance: a role model for young queer people, yes, but also for allies who want to do more. This should be required reading.

This is a really remarkable essay collection, a fascinating slice of lesbian life over the last few decades.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Sideways Down the Sky by Barry Brennessel

Sideways Down the Sky by Barry Brennessel
Gay Historical Fiction
Paperback: 220 pages
Publisher: MLR Press (December 26, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1608209725
ISBN-13: 978-1608209729
Amazon: Sideways Down the Sky
Amazon Kindle: Sideways Down the Sky

In the land of snow monsters and steam baths, complex characters as diverse as the Japanese terrain experience lust, loss, and love. A young boy performs a daring rescue. A woman loses her old life to face an uncertain new one. A teenager suffers through a cataclysmic event. Love blossoms at the Tokyo Olympics. A rent boy's hardened heart melts when he meets a sexy, bouyant stranger. Much like the Japanese Islands themselves, there is commonality to be found among myriad differences. The poet, the musician, the artist, the tortured mother, the bankrupt father, the protective brother - they all know that there's a new day awaiting them after the moon slips sideways down the sky.

Detailed, nearly flawless, dramatic and very woven into japanese culture.

This is not my favourite style of writing but the characters were drawn exquisitely, and I love the way the book spanned decades and their lives were interwoven.

Haunting, beautifully written story that weaves together different characters throughout almost a century of Japanese history. 

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Where the words end and my body begins by Amber Dawn

Where the words end and my body begins by Amber Dawn
Lesbian Poetry
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press (April 21, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1551525836
ISBN-13: 978-1551525839
Amazon: Where the words end and my body begins
Amazon Kindle: Where the words end and my body begins

Award-winning novelist and memoirist Amber Dawn reveals a gutsy lyrical sensibility in her debut poetry collection: a collection of glosa poems written as an homage to and an interaction with queer poets such as Gertrude Stein, Christina Rossetti, and Adrienne Rich. By doing so, Dawn delves deeper into the themes of trauma, memory, and unblushing sexuality that define her work.

This book reminds me of why I like poetry. Amber Dawn blends poetic structure, which I love, with fresh feelings and images. No word is wasted. The theme is dark, but there is enough edge to it that it's not depressing. I don't feel sorry for the story teller. She's in control of her life, and it shows.

Poetry is so personal. This collection is wonderful on every level. available, deep, well written, moving, intense & very affirmative of female empowerment. Winner!

Poetry is to be re-read and savored. Each time read, it means something different depending on the day or life experience.  This collection of raw, cut to the bone verses elicited a deeper understanding, finding something new.  This form of writing, Gloss or Glosa was a treat to read and re-reread.  It is not a long tome, however, it speaks volumes.  I thank Amber Dawn for sharing her most personal experiences, as the opening poems on depression hit home for me.  I hope, as Ms. Dawn has written, she will continue to Gloss.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Love of Wicked Men (Episodes 1-6) by Brandon Shire

The Love of Wicked Men (Episodes 1-6) by Brandon Shire
Gay Erotic Romance
Paperback: 428 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 14, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1512126926
ISBN-13: 978-1512126921
Amazon: The Love of Wicked Men: Season One

Power, lust, legal intrigue. This is where sex and injustice meet. Sid Rivers and Jack Brown are two sides of the same coin. One is a lawyer with his own firm and dreams of money and power; the other is a criminal with a lengthy record and a quest for vengeance. When they meet, sparks fly. But was their meeting an accident? Or, was it planned by the billionaires who want to control their destiny? The Love of Wicked Men is an erotic journey into the underbelly of the legal profession, the corporate culture of profit-at-any-cost, and the secret world of industrial espionage.

The Love of Wicked Men was a very intense and fascinating book. I really like Mr. Shire's writing style. The story is exciting from beginning to end. I always wanted to know what happens next and I can't wait to read more in this series.

This is only the first instalment of a longer saga, ending on something of a cliffhanger. The title is apt, as the main characters are difficult men with less than stellar lives. The writing is excellent, pulling me through the story and making me believe that, somehow, even Sid will be rehabilitated in my eyes as a plausible hero, despite his many flaws.

Action, Highly Entertaining, Fast Paced, Drama, Mystery! This one had it all and I loved every single word of it! This is the sort of story I'd love to see turned into a movie. And that is all thanks to Mr Shire's writing style. Phenomenal. This is the type of writing that keeps you turning the pages and wanting for it to never end. I was very pleased and am looking forward to reading the next season.

I am in awe of Brandon Shire's versatility in his writing. The Love of Wicked Men was tough and gritty, and drew me right into Sid's world.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk

Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk
Gay Paranormal Romance
Series: Spirits
Paperback: 202 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (January 5, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1505557100
ISBN-13: 978-1505557107
Amazon: Restless Spirits
Amazon Kindle: Restless Spirits

After losing the family fortune to a fraudulent psychic, inventor Henry Strauss is determined to bring the otherworld under control through the application of science. All he needs is a genuine haunting to prove his Electro-Séance will work. A letter from wealthy industrialist Dominic Gladfield seems the answer to his prayers. Gladfield’s proposition: a contest pitting science against spiritualism, with a hefty prize for the winner. The contest takes Henry to Reyhome Castle, the site of a series of brutal murders decades earlier. There he meets his rival for the prize, the dangerously appealing Vincent Night. Vincent is handsome, charming…and determined to get Henry into bed. Henry can’t afford to fall for a spirit medium, let alone the competition. But nothing in the haunted mansion is quite as it seems, and soon winning the contest is the least of Henry’s concerns. For the evil stalking the halls of Reyhome Castle wants to claim not just Henry and Vincent’s lives, but their very souls.

Jordan is one of my favorite authors because she writes incredibly gripping paranormal fiction with lovable main characters pitched up against scary foes and situations. This book is a standalone, and although initially unfamiliar with these characters, I soon grew to love them and want them to survive and get together in the end. They did, and I hope this is the start of a series. The secondary characters were well fleshed out too - not mere cardboard cutouts. The idea of combining a scientist with a medium is original to me and worked well.

Yet another new author for me and, WOW, now I know what I have been missing I will certainly be reading more of her work. This story gripped me from the beginning and wouldn't let me put it down until I'd finished. The plot was incredibly well thought out with lots of twists and turns. The writing style was very easy to read, the pace was good and the characters were well rounded. I loved this story.

One of the best stories in the group.  The rivalry between Henry & Vincent was amazing as well as their passion.  The racial issues were right on point and I appreciated having been able to read a story that was so inclusive of various characters and situations.  I do feel there was a plot hole left open, but the story was good and entertaining.  On the edge of your seat entertaining. Wish I could give it more points.  Absolutely great story.

I enjoyed this book. The plot was creative and original. It was well thought out and had a clear arc. My only negative is that that the romance wasn't nearly as developed as the rest of the rest of the story. Very well done. I felt a part of the story from beginning to end. Overall I liked the characters. Even the spectral ones. However the part about Elizabeth being transgender seemed like an after thought. More as if thrown in as a result of current events (ie Kaitlyn Jenner) rather than a true part of the story. I would have liked that to be explored more. Overall good. Appropriate language for the time period.

I loved very word of Restless Spirits. The plot has both a good pace and a delicate touch, and all the characters were interesting and diverse.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Threefold Love by Ki Brightly

Threefold Love by Ki Brightly
Gay Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 230 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (April 17, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1632166976
ISBN-13: 978-1632166975
Amazon: Threefold Love
Amazon Kindle: Threefold Love

Captain Xavier Hobbs, a decommissioned combat engineer, was chronically lonely in the Army. But once he is back to being a civilian, with no family and nothing to ground him, he drifts. All he wants is a real home, a real life, and love—but that is easy to wish for and hard to make happen.

When he meets Andrew Landry, a high school English teacher, Xavier thinks he has found everything he has ever wanted, maybe even someone he can trust with his scars—the ones on his mind and body. Andrew’s quick wit and outgoing personality reel Xavier in slowly but surely. But he isn’t certain which way Andrew swings, and doesn’t dare to do more than hope the friendly man is actually flirting.

Then, on what Xavier idly wishes were their first date, disaster strikes in the form of Duncan McNeil, a fellow Wiccan and Andrew’s fiancé. Xavier’s hope is smashed to pieces, but Duncan and Andrew may have a different point of view. All they need is a little magic, some hope, and a lot of love to put everything back together.

I loved this story. The UST between the three men was really hot and it surprised me in places. That is part of the reason for the high score. 

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Medusa by Elizabeth Watasin

Medusa: A Dark Victorian Penny Dread by Elizabeth Watasin
Lesbian Fantasy Romance
Series: The Dark Victorian Penny Dreads
Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: A-Girl Studio (February 14, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1936622246
ISBN-13: 978-1936622245
Amazon: Medusa: A Dark Victorian Penny Dread
Amazon Kindle: Medusa: A Dark Victorian Penny Dread

Blind Elvie Chaisty discovers a breathing British Museum marble and soon more “living” statues appear in London. Meanwhile, a masked, monocled sculptress invites guests to her provocative marble garden, to be experienced by touch alone. The rich and the specially invited Elvie are enchanted by the sculpted bodies that can be discerned beneath their hands until one visitor dares to make a deadly discovery. Journalist Helia Skycourt and her stick for hire, Ellie Hench, must find out: is the monocled woman the centre of a death cult, one helping young women to an eternal state? Helia and Ellie race to solve the mystery before the sculptress’s fascination for Elvie seduces Elvie into her marble garden, permanently. With a special appearance by Artifice, artificial ghost and heroine of the steampunk Dark Victorian series, MEDUSA is a gothic, romantic horror set in an 1880, mechanical and supernatural London. An F/F lesbian historical dark romance and gaslamp fantasy. "Masterful. A vivid world of myth, mystery and Victorian magic." ~Felicity Kates, author of the Steam Bunny, The Little Miss Kick-Ass series "A delightful girly-Gothic romance, inventive, sensuous and thrilling; Dracula's Daughter by way of Hellboy. An absolute joy." ~Amelia Mangan, writer of the macabre: Drag Noir, Phobophobias, and the upcoming Release.

I adore this book. Elvie is entirely too perfect and meandering sensuality of the story had me devouring pages. I loved every second of it.

Probably my favorite read from the first batch of Rainbow Awards stories. This combines some of my favorite things: romance, adventure, reimagined mythology (yes, that is genuinely one of my favorite things), steampunk and a certain Gothic air, all written together with wit and imagination. Elvie is a fascinating character, and the subtle callbacks to the first book in this series don’t detract, they just make me want to go read more by this author. Fantastic world, great storytelling, and characters that stick with you.

Impressive Victorian era Gothic, Steampunk, and not watching the series Penny Dreadful I can't say how much that comes into play but I was able to read the story even though it is book 4 in a series it stands on it's own.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Signs by Anna Martin

Signs by Anna Martin
Gay Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (March 20, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1632168103
ISBN-13: 978-1632168108
Amazon: Signs
Amazon Kindle: Signs

After spending most of his life in special schools, Caleb Stone now faces public high school in his senior year, a prospect that both excites him and threatens to overwhelm his social anxiety. As a deaf teenager, he’s closed himself off to the world. He speaks a shorthand with his parents and even finds it hard to use American Sign Language with people in his local deaf community. But Caleb finds comfort in his love of photography. Everything he can’t express in real life, he posts on his Tumblr.

Struggling to reconcile his resentment for his father's cruelty with the grief of losing a parent, Luc Le Bautillier scrolls through Tumblr searching for someone who might understand his goth look and effeminate nature. When Luc reblogs a photo by Caleb, sparking a conversation, they both find it easier to make friends online than in person.

Luc and Caleb confront their fears about the opinions of the outside world to meet in New York City. Despite Caleb’s increasing confidence, his parents worry he’s not ready for the trials ahead. But communication comes in many forms—when you learn the signs.

Loved the story and its characters. I thought the characters were very realistic, and I got sucked into their story very quickly. New to me author but now I've read two I'll be definitely more.

This was a very nice story with a lot of interest in it, and I learned a lot. Two nice you g men trying to help each other as much as they could - a very equitable relationship. I didn't think the writing style translated into a good reading style at the beginning, but either I got used to it or it improved. I liked the way the author ex-plained how she had chosen to write the ASL.

What a beautiful story of healing, love, growth, independence, and the discovery of strength between two young men: Luc and Caleb. I wish this story had been placed in the YA category because the MCs were both high school seniors on the precipice of adulthood, but being in the gay contemporary romance category, I can still give this book a high score, but I really feel as if this story resonates stronger with a younger audience. I know that as a father when it comes to books, any books, especially YA books I read them with an eye toward if I think they would be acceptable for my daughter. As I read this I saw my daughter within the character of Luc. A hurting character, broken and fragile inside, who tries to appear unflappable, unfeeling, and uncaring, but is actually, deep, selfless, intelligent, talented, and extremely giving. Just as Luc found his Caleb, someone with inner strength despite the circumstances and hardships thrown at him, determined to succeed, someone who brings out the best in Luc, I want my own daughter to find her "Caleb" or "Cala". These characters were so beautifulły portrayed that I was emotionally invested in them and found myself cheering them on throughout the book. The setting of the book was easy for me to immerse myself in, though perhaps that is because I used to live in New York, but the author's style of writing took me right back there. The only downfall is that every so often there would be an abrupt shift in the POV from Caleb to Luc or vice versa. It was jarring. Other than that, This was an amazing read and I immediately recommended it to my daughter.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Boystown 7: Bloodlines by Marshall Thornton

Boystown 7: Bloodlines by Marshall Thornton
Gay Mystery / Thriller
Series: Boystown
Paperback: 262 pages
Publisher: Kenmore Books (March 6, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1508545715
ISBN-13: 978-1508545712
Amazon: Boystown 7: Bloodlines
Amazon Kindle: Boystown 7: Bloodlines

In the seventh book of the award-winning Boystown Mystery series, Private Investigator Nick Nowak finds himself simultaneously working two cases for his new client, law firm Cooke, Babcock and Lackerby. A suburban dentist has been convicted of murdering her adulterous husband. Nick is asked to interview witnesses for the penalty phase of the trial—and possibly find the dead man’s mistress. At the same time, he’s deeply involved in protecting Outfit underboss Jimmy English from a task force out to prosecute him for a crime he may not have committed. While juggling these cases Nick slowly begins to rebuild his personal life.

I lived in Chicago at about the time this story is set, and I'll bet the author did, too.  He really brought the place alive.  This would be a good book for any younger LGBT people who don't understand how mysterious and terrifying the AIDS epidemic was before anyone was paying much attention to the disease that was "only" killing gays.

An interesting portrait of life during the discovery of AIDS. It didn’t feel so much like a story as chapters from a longer book—series so lots of names of people we don’t meet and the main character doesn’t change much. Both mysteries were solved so that’s good. I loved the way the gritty, stripped-down tone echoes classic mysteries. (I was an adult back then and don’t recall the words fuck buddy used until later? That one I’m less sure about than I think pagers were more common by that time, not a great mystery—though way too expensive. I wore one for work in a garage 1982 and I was doing minimum wage stuff.)

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Snow on Spirit Bridge by Freddy MacKay

Snow on Spirit Bridge by Freddy MacKay
Gay Fantasy
Paperback: 228 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; First edition (January 4, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1505413818
ISBN-13: 978-1505413816
Amazon: Snow on Spirit Bridge
Amazon Kindle: Snow on Spirit Bridge

Alone in Japan, Finni is struggling against the constant distrust, avoidance, and xenophobia he experiences every day. He misses home. He misses his family. Nightmares come all too frequently because of the stress, and well, Christmas is just not Christmas in Japan. Not how he understands it.

Distressed by how miserable Finni is, his roommate, Mamoru, offers to be Finni's family for Christmas. Little does he know how much one agreement would change everything between them, because both of them kept secrets neither ever dreamed were true.

“Snow on a Spirit Bridge” was a story with a big heart and unexpected twists of fate. Its multicultural take on various kinds of paranormal gives both the story and the setting a special kind of richness. The plot took an unexpected turn by incorporating two subsidiary characters, who were integral to the developing relationship of the main characters. The writing style matures after the first two chapters to a point where the writing is invisible, and the reader is left in a well-woven tapestry of the storyteller’s world and its heroes.

As I read this story, I could picture it as a manga in my head.  Nicely done!

A lovely different Christmas story. I really enjoyed this start to finish.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Breeding Stations (Alliances #1) by Chris T. Kat

Breeding Stations (Alliances #1) by Chris T. Kat
Gay Sci-Fi / Futuristic
Paperback: 204 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (July 27, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1634761758
ISBN-13: 978-1634761758
Amazon: Breeding Stations (Alliances #1)
Amazon Kindle: Breeding Stations (Alliances #1)

Alliances: Book One

Spunky commander Berit Turner is known for two things: his huge libido and his lack of a filter―he says what he thinks. Berit sets his mind on being part of a mission to Ligador to make sure the planet is habitable for humans. He’s ecstatic when his team is assigned to the task force. A delegation of Nadisc, a humanoid alien race, accompanies them, and passion ignites between Berit and their commanding officer, Tom. But Berit is determined that Tom is just another notch on his bedpost, as he doesn’t do relationships.

The excursion to Ligador goes wrong from the beginning, when they discover Ligador has been established as a breeding station by their worst enemy: the Tash’Ba. Dinosaur-like creatures become the team’s worst nightmare, and staying alive is going to take everything they’ve got… and then some.

The book is narrated from Turner's first person point of view.  There is strong sexual content - but Turner is kind of hilarious and he spends more time fighting his impulses that fighting the monstrous creatures.  The characters are very alive and I thought this was a good setting for the series to come. Unlike many other Sci-Fi writers, Mr. Kat does not assume you know anything about what's going on in the year 2247, so he explains himself.  I am inclined to read the next book in the series. Unless you object to strong gay sexual content - this is a great read.

Interesting world, and inter-species mating. I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Behind Locked Doors by Nicholas Kinsley

Behind Locked Doors by Nicholas Kinsley
Gay Historical Romance
Paperback: 178 pages
Publisher: Fantastic Fiction Publishing (February 17, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1622342127
ISBN-13: 978-1622342129
Amazon: Behind Locked Doors
Amazon Kindle: Behind Locked Doors

Edward Taylor is a man torn between his honourable façade and his forbidden carnal desires. Outwardly a proper Victorian family man, Edward secretly craves pain and lusts after men. Isaac Sinclair is a struggling writer forced by poverty to supplement his income with less savory pursuits, including discreetly inflicting “professional punishments” upon wealthy gentlemen. When Edward catches Isaac in an act of petty theft, the chance meeting seems to offer an ideal opportunity for both men. Neither man, however, is prepared for the escalation of social and personal risk occasioned by falling in love.

The front cover blurb that says this book is “A salacious BDSM romance” does the actual book a great disservice because the finely written story with depth of theme and characterization is so much more than that! Although there is some BDSM activity between the main characters, it is of distant importance to the main story, which dwells far more on the emotional makeup of sensitively, multi-dimensional written characters. The historical element is true-to-source, and the author leads you into Victorian London with the ease of a seasoned resident. The writing is first class, the plot delicious, the setting authentic and the characters drawn to a fine point of perfection.

Behind Locked Doors has a good pace, with the right amount of tension, and goo chemistry between the characters.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring by Julie Bozza

The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring (Butterfly Hunter #3) by Julie Bozza
Gay Contemporary Romance
Series: Butterfly Hunter
Paperback: 164 pages
Publisher: Manifold Press (October 31, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1908312866
ISBN-13: 978-1908312860
Amazon: The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring (Butterfly Hunter #3)
Amazon Kindle: The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring (Butterfly Hunter #3)

Dave and Nicholas, married for seven years now, are happily settled together – but as an Australian prime minister once observed, “Life wasn’t meant to be easy.” An unexpected threat to their beloved waterhole forces Dave to try asserting unofficial custodianship of the Dreamtime site, and a visit from Nicholas’s nephew Robin doesn’t help as he brings his own surprises. And there’s always the question of Nicholas’s health hanging over their heads …

A really engaging story that was easy to follow despite being the 3rd book in a series I had not read.

Very heartfelt, with a poetic, enchanted feel to it. The slow pace works for this particular story. Having read the first two books in the series probably would have helped, but wasn’t necessary, which is always the sign of a great read.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Love Me Tomorrow by Ethan Day

Love Me Tomorrow by Ethan Day
Gay Romantic Comedy
Paperback: 326 pages
Publisher: Wilde City Press, LLC (March 11, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 192518076X
ISBN-13: 978-1925180763
Amazon: Love Me Tomorrow
Amazon Kindle: Love Me Tomorrow

Event planner Levi Goode is positioned to inherit the newly vacated throne, becoming the in-demand party planner for Wilde City's elite. Years of hard work and perseverance are finally paying off as Levi lands his next big fish, working with socialite Julia Freeman-Kingsley. Distracted by work and dealing with his head strong mother, an ex-Vegas-showgirl suffering from debilitating health issues, Levi has his hands full. Time for love or even the occasional one-night stand, is one aspect of life Levi hasn't been able to master. Sparks of interest fly during a chance meeting with a paramedic called to the aid of his mother, and thanks to Ruby's meddling, Levi finds himself on a movie-date with the handsome Paramedic Jake. Personal and professional worlds collide when Levi realizes his new love interest is actually Jake Freeman, estranged brother to his brand new client. Discovering the man of his dreams already has a boyfriend, leaves Levi stunned realizing any hopes he had for something more with Jake were never going to be anything more than wishful thinking. Struggling to downshift his expectations and remain friends with Jake while continuing to work closely with Julia quickly consumes all of his time and attention. Wondering if there will ever be a special someone to love him, is where Levi's love story begins.

Love Me Tomorrow was a fun romantic read. The characters were appealing and the story was well-written. I felt the whole thing went on a bit too long and the Epilogue was totally unnecessary. But the end result was a good, fun romantic read. Setting Development was Excellent. Characters Development was Wonderful, appealing main characters including supporting ones.

I have always loved Ethan Day's writing style. In this particular book, the characters are likeable and I really enjoyed reading about them. Levi especially made me keep reading. When the plot picked up I couldn't put the book down.

As a preface I should say that I read this book when it came out. To make sure I read it under the same eyes as the other entries I re-read. The plot moved at a comfortable pace and was enjoyable. My only contention is that once the two main characters got together their relationship seemed rushed. Ethan wrote it off as though they recognized this fact but went on with it anyway, but it felt less realistic than the rest of the book. One of Ethan’s strength is writing great characters. This was no different. Did an excellent job of making a fictional city believable with a creative history. Would have liked a bit more detail. Easy to read. Language appropriate to both the setting and characters.

Long on angst, non stop humor with a dash of pathos. Was planning on skimming but fell in love with all the MC's and their family and needed to savor every sentence. Loved it!

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Chipman’s African Adventure by Jim Anderson

Chipman’s African Adventure by Jim Anderson
Gay Contemporary General Fiction
Paperback: 454 pages
Publisher: Valentine Press (March 19, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0994224400
ISBN-13: 978-0994224408
Amazon: Chipman’s African Adventure
Amazon Kindle: Chipman’s African Adventure

Chipman's African Adventure by Jim Anderson is a psycho adventure - a blackly comic tale set in the imagined country of Bomzawe in West Africa in 1972.. It also contains a tender gay love story. Though essentially satirical, some people may find the ribald sexuality confronting. Chipman Smith is still in the closet when he arrives at the Hornbill Palace Hotel at Tlula Leisure Beach , but he is well and truly out of it by the time he leaves. Or is he? Mr. Smith will never be the same again, and neither will you, after reading Chipman's African Adventure.This blackly comic tale, set in an imagined West African country, balances throughout on the edge of laughter. Crescendos of absurdity and high camp drama supplant and transcend each other with accelerating speed. Fledgling lawyer Chipman longs for true love. Will he find it with Zach Shaler, the Nebraskan cowboy with Peace Corps dreams, with Drift, the mamba snake catcher, even though Drift is seriously obsessed with Toffee, his intoxicatingly beautiful girlfriend, or with neither? Chipman hopes he has nothing but a drinking problem when he arrives from Sydney. To his horror he finds himself dragged into the bizarre re-birthing rituals of Dr Starry Sanguini, a drug-crazed Australian psychotherapist with a shady past. These rituals rapidly metamorphose into psychedelic theatrical extravaganza. Chipman emerges in one piece, but is he more clear sighted than before or just a slave to Sanguini as guru and ringmaster? Chipman is a benighted but endearing hero, confronted by many moral and ethical dilemmas. His naivety and goodwill are offset by a shrewdness of intellect and an ability not only to observe but to participate in the beauty, brutality and seething sexual shenanigans of his seedy post-colonial environment. The satire is savage and so is the civil war which inevitably comes, but there is an unexpected and underlying tenderness shown in Chipman's dealings with Sanguini's troupe of international outlaws and generational refugees. It would be easy for a psycho adventure like this to fall into caricature. Instead, the protagonists have a depth of characterisation which makes it all touchingly down to earth and real. Not everyone escapes alive, sane or uncompromised from Tlula Leisure Beach. You will never guess the end.

I hope the author won't mind me saying that Chipman's African Adventure is a real diamond in the rough. It's long, meandering, and at times off-the-rails absurd. But within that dense, psychodelic jungle of a narrative is one heck of a fun story about a mild-mannered Australian civil servant finding himself in the most unlikely of locations. An inspired cast of misfit characters, many moments of wild and brilliant stream-of-consciousness writing, and a richly imagined setting that swallows you into the story. Reading this crazy book was time well-spent.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Idolatry by Rebecca Cohen

Idolatry (Reagalos Book 2) by Rebecca Cohen
Gay Fantasy Romance
Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (September 5, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1627989390
ISBN-13: 978-1627989398
Amazon: Idolatry (Reagalos Book 2)
Amazon Kindle: Idolatry (Reagalos Book 2)

Sequel to Servitude

Reagalos: Book Two

Upon taking the throne as High Lord of Katraman and Liege of Scura, Lornyc Reagalos’s focus on rebuilding one city and reassuring another leaves little time for his husband, Methian. Added to that, he must contend with the unexpected revelation that his grandfather, Romanus, set up his own religion and named an enigmatic figure called The One as its deity. Through some twisted interpretation of the signs left by Romanus, the Cerulean Cult comes to believe Lornyc is their god and invites him to sanctify the Cult as part of its five-hundred-year anniversary.

During the Sanctification Ceremony, the Cult’s holy relic, an orb given to it by Romanus, is split, releasing an entity that tears a hole in the dimensions. The species that guards the dimensions, the Valen, force Lornyc to fix the breach, or they will have him extinguished.

Now as Lornyc faces a race through the different planes of existence to capture the escaped entity, he must rely on his own Valen guardians to help him. With Methian and his family by his side, Lornyc must fight to repair the damage or lose his life.

Story moved at a good pace. Concise and diverse by bringing in the other dimensions. My only complaint was that there really wasn't an ending. The dialogue and scene just stopped. No cliff hanger just 'I'm done.'. Very creative. I was able to immerse myself into the fictional time and place without difficulty. Author was able to make it relatable, but unique at the same time. I enjoyed both the primary and secondary characters. I probably would have understood them more had I read the first book. So a bit more backstory would have been helpful. Good use of imagery. Language appropriate to setting and characters. Good balance of showing and telling.

The writing style was great, although I believe this is a sequel to something? Nevertheless, I didn't once feel left out of the action. I really like the handle the author has on court intrigue--its a favorite subgenre of mine. The blend and creation of the setting magic styles was really fun.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano

Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano
Gay Biography / Memoir
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: OR Books; 1st edition (2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1939293677
ISBN-13: 978-1939293671
Amazon: Nights at Rizzoli
Amazon Kindle: Nights at Rizzoli

Salvador Dalí, Jerome Robbins, Jackie Onassis. Gregory Peck, Mick Jagger-S. J. Perelman-I. M. Pei. Philip Johnson, Josephine Baker, John Lennon: they, and so many more who made New York City the center of the universe in the 1970s, all had one thing in common besides their adopted hometown-they shopped at a legendary palace of books, music and art: Rizzoli Books at 712 Fifth Avenue. There, Kennedys and Rockefellers mingled with tourists and "regular" customers under the watchful gaze of sophisticated employees, themselves a multi-talented, international collection of artists, scholars and rogues. Nights at Rizzoli is the memoir of Felice Picano, an aspiring but near-starving young writer who in 1971 lucked into a part-time job at the stunningly elegant store via a friend. It metamorphosed into a life-changing experience, one that exposed him to some of the brightest lights in the world's cultural capital. At the store, he himself became a key player on a stage that opened every night to a new drama that often featured romance, at times violence, and of course always the books and their readers. And when his shift was over, in this post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS era, the handsome young bookstore manager stepped from one world into another, prowling the piers, bars and very private clubs of a different New York City.

I have to admit I am a sucker for books like this.

This is a very vivid, detailed memoir about gay life and a special bookstore in the early 1970's of New York City. Worthwhile not just for the cast of famous characters and the love of books but for capturing a very specific era that many readers may not be aware of. Terrific writing flows naturally from one page to the other and I want to recommend this to all my gay friends who love Manhattan like I do.

This is the second memoir I've read from Felice Picano, and I liked this one immensely better than the first one I read last year.  Mr. Picano has lead a very interesting, persistent, and engaging life all centered around a simple bookstore, Rizzoli's.  His fondness of the place, and the rich history paint a wonderful portrait of the times.  My favorite is Mr. M, offering him more money to manage the bookstore, believing that the budding writer would not and could not live on a writer's wage.  As he noted, if he stayed, he would not have realized his dream or his full potential.  I'm glad he decided to keep on writing so we could peek inside the eclectic store, personalities, and celebrities in the heyday of the Rizzoli.

Delightful to read, engaging, setting is excellent.  The name-dropping gets a bit tiresome but that was part of the time and the circles in which he traveled.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Double Heat (Twin Ties, Book Three) by Lynn Kelling

Double Heat (Twin Ties, Book Three) by Lynn Kelling
Gay Contemporary Romance
Series: Twin Ties
Paperback: 322 pages
Publisher: Fantastic Fiction Publishing (August 23, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1622342453
ISBN-13: 978-1622342457
Amazon: Double Heat (Twin Ties, Book Three)
Amazon Kindle: Double Heat (Twin Ties, Book Three)

When Evan and Brennan moved in with their boyfriends, Alek and Luka, they knew things would be complicated, but as their privacy gets eroded, and people around them begin to notice the tangled nature of the four-way relationship, coping becomes a struggle. After Brennan leaves on a brief trip home, and Evan remains behind to enjoy the full attention of both Alek and Luka, the careful balance of things gets thrown off. Ex-boyfriends surface, haunting Evan and Brennan in similar ways as regret for poor choices threatens their happiness, and the sexual freedom displayed earlier in their lives draws predators willing to use violence, coercion, mind-games and force to take what they want. Though Luka and Alek struggle to protect those they love, it soon becomes clear that the dangers surrounding them will find ways to rush in, trying to take what belongs to them.

Liked this one a lot and am very intrigued to go back and check out the rest of the series. The right amount of sexy and angst. 

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: In My Neighborhood by Giovanna Capone

In My Neighborhood by Giovanna Capone
Lesbian Poetry
Paperback: 140 pages
Publisher: Bedazzled Ink Publishing Company (December 30, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1939562708
ISBN-13: 978-1939562708
Amazon: In My Neighborhood
Amazon Kindle: In My Neighborhood

"A living, breathing love song to the poet's heritage and the many ways it shaped the fierce and independent woman that she has become today." -Maria Mazziotti Gillan, American Book Award winner for All That Lies Between Us "Capone paints a vivid picture, whose themes of love and loss will resonate with many, as they are simultaneously both personal and universal." -Mary Saracino, novelist, poet, and memoir writer, author of Heretics: A Love Story In My Neighborhood is a lyrical, humorous, and provocative book documenting Giovanna Capone's search for a political and personal identity as an Italian-American raised in an old world traditional family, who later claims herself as a lesbian and a political activist. From beginning to end, through poetry, essay, and memoir, she explores her journey both emotionally and geographically, as she leaves the hub of her ethnic identity in New York, and enters the world beyond her childhood. Her writing is bound by a search for love, freedom, and ethnic identity, and also by her feminist politics and point of view. Her beloved heritage is an ever-present touchstone as she examines her roots and describes her adult life and developing consciousness.

The only sin of this collection is that it left me wanting more. It's a slim volume, lacking perhaps the meatiest tidbits of queer experience, but the constant and touching thread throughout is the poet's immigrant heritage. This heritage is related in verse simultaneously accessible and moving. Several times I found myself on the edge of tears without knowing why, the words having sunk into me without my awareness and provoked deep empathy.

This year, the submissions for Lesbian Poetry I was tasked to read were varied in style and story telling.  In My Neighborhood was written as a series of short stories following Giovanna Capone's life from a young girl to and adult in an Italian neighborhood. The richness of each of these vignettes had me immersed in her culture and her maturation. This was a enchanting read from beginning to end, and I look forward to looking up more of Ms. Capone's past poetry.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Undone by E.M. Hodge

Undone by E.M. Hodge
Lesbian Poetry
Paperback: 142 pages
Publisher: Sapphire Books Publishing (November 15, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1939062772
ISBN-13: 978-1939062772
Amazon: Undone
Amazon Kindle: Undone

Undone is a love story told in verse. It is a journey of two women out of loneliness, to friendship, lust, love, and finally moving in together. Hopefully, you will experience these poems as instances of sensuous experience in words spoken aloud with a lover.

I must admit I like reading and writing poetry so I truly enjoyed this book.

Ms. Hodge's bare yet full verse of Undone was a delight to read.  The pages flew by, as her sparse wording opened a new world with each line, each page, each verse.  Re-reading, as I may do several times with poetry, this begged nearly daily re-reading to glean what appears on the surface to be plain, bursts as a peacock's tail in visual and visceral panorama.  While training for a triathlon, Ms. Hodges was severely injured forcing her to retire from her tenure track position.  Her outlook is one that I share--though one chapter ends, there are a variety of other options available. My she long be long in her newest endeavor as a wonderfully insightful poetess.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Lonely Shore (Chaos Station #2) by Jenn Burke & Kelly Jensen

Lonely Shore (Chaos Station #2) by Jenn Burke & Kelly Jensen
Gay Sci-Fi / Futuristic
Publisher: Carina Press (May 25, 2015)
Amazon Kindle: Lonely Shore (Chaos Station #2)

Book two of Chaos Station

All they can do is live day to day…

Felix Ingesson has returned to his duties as the Chaos's engineer with Zander Anatolius, his ex-boyfriend-turned-broken-super-soldier, at his side. Hope means something again. But there's nothing Felix can do to battle the alien poison flowing through Zander's veins, or his imminent mental decline. With each passing day, the side effects of Zander's experimental training are becoming more difficult to ignore.

When the ruthless Agrius Cartel seeks their revenge—including an ambush and an attempt to kidnap the Chaos's crew—Zander is pushed over the edge. He can no longer hide his symptoms, nor does he want to. But hurting Felix when he's not in control of himself is Zander's worst nightmare—when it nearly happens, he agrees to seek help. Even if that means trusting the unknown.
As Zander places his life in alien hands, Felix appoints himself his lover's keeper. And though he tries to be strong, he can't ignore the fact that he might lose Zander…forever this time.

This caught me in a way I didn't expect. I am definitely buying the first one right now.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Candy Man/Bitter Taffy by Amy Lane

Candy Man/Bitter Taffy (2 books as 1 submission) Amy Lane
Gay Romantic Comedy

Candy Man by Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press; 1 edition (December 3, 2014)
Amazon Kindle: Candy Man

Adam Macias has been thrown a few curve balls in his life, but losing his VA grant because his car broke down and he missed a class was the one that struck him out. One relative away from homelessness, he's taking the bus to Sacramento, where his cousin has offered a house-sitting job and a new start. He has one goal, and that's to get his life back on track. Friends, pets, lovers? Need not apply.

Finn Stewart takes one look at Adam as he's applying to Candy Heaven and decides he's much too fascinating to leave alone. Finn is bright and shiny—and has never been hurt. Adam is wary of his attention from the very beginning—Finn is dangerous to every sort of peace Adam is forging, and Adam may just be too damaged to let him in at all.

But Finn is tenacious, and Adam's new boss, Darrin, doesn't take bullshit for an answer. Adam is going to have to ask himself which is harder—letting Finn in or living without him? With the holidays approaching it seems like an easy question, but Adam knows from experience that life is seldom simple, and the world seldom cooperates with hope, faith, or the plans of cats and men.

Bitter Taffy (Candy Man) by Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press; 1 edition (July 29, 2015)
Amazon Kindle: Bitter Taffy (Candy Man)

A Candy Man Book

Rico Gonzalves-Macias didn't expect to fall in love during his internship in New York—and he didn’t expect the boss’s son to out them both and get him fired either. When he returns to Sacramento stunned and heartbroken, he finds his cousin, Adam, and Adam's boyfriend, Finn, haven't just been house-sitting—they've made his once sterile apartment into a home.

When Adam gets him a job interview with the adorable, magnetic, practically perfect Derek Huston, Rico feels especially out of his depth. Derek makes it no secret that he wants Rico, but Rico is just starting to figure out that he’s a beginner at the really important stuff and doesn’t want to jump into anything with both feet.

Derek is a both-feet kind of guy. But he’s also made mistakes of his own and doesn’t want to pressure Rico into anything. Together they work to find a compromise between instant attraction and long-lasting love, and while they’re working, Rico gets a primer in why family isn’t always a bad idea. He needs to believe Derek can be his family before Derek’s formidable patience runs out—because even a practically perfect boyfriend is capable of being hurt.

Fantastic story, great setting, and great character development. I was hooked from the first few paragraphs and couldn’t stop giggling until the end!

Two sweet, slightly angsty stories, with characters I enjoyed meeting. I particularly liked Adam, in Candy Man, with his painful family past, his fragile pride and good heart, and his difficulty seeing his own worth. These are not as heart-deep for me as some stories by this author, but were well worth a reread.

I fell into this story like it was candy floss wrapped around me. I adored it.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Rattlesnake by Kim Fielding

Rattlesnake by Kim Fielding
Gay Contemporary Romance
ISBN-13 978-1-63476-477-3
Pages 240

A drifter since his teens, Jimmy Dorsett has no home and no hope. What he does have is a duffel bag, a lot of stories, and a junker car. Then one cold desert night he picks up a hitchhiker and ends up with something more: a letter from a dying man to the son he hasn’t seen in years.

On a quest to deliver the letter, Jimmy travels to Rattlesnake, a small town nestled in the foothills of the California Sierras. The centerpiece of the town is the Rattlesnake Inn, where the bartender is handsome former cowboy Shane Little. Sparks fly, and when Jimmy’s car gives up the ghost, Shane gets him a job as handyman at the inn.

Both within the community of Rattlesnake and in Shane’s arms, Jimmy finds an unaccustomed peace. But it can’t be a lasting thing. The open road continues to call, and surely Shane—a strong, proud man with a painful past and a difficult present—deserves better than a lying vagabond who can’t stay put for long.

Well written, with beautiful characters and a great story. Not a lot of action or drama, just a wonderful, character driven read.

This is, in my opinion, one of Kim Fielding’s best books. It is very slow paced but the pace really suits the story.

What made this book for me was the characters. They were so well-drawn I felt like I knew them. I also loved how the story was emotional without being melodramatic.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish

In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish
Gay Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (July 10, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1634762126
ISBN-13: 978-1634762120
Amazon: In the Middle of Somewhere
Amazon Kindle: In the Middle of Somewhere

Daniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in―not at home in Philadelphia with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates looked down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Holiday, Northern Michigan, but he’s a city boy through and through, and it’s clear that this small town is one more place he won’t fit in.

Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his muscular body, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people.

When the two men meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything.

This was a treat to read!  For a debutante, this book was truly well written! The writing was smooth and excellent. The characters were developed with careful precision allowing the reader to become part of the story. This could very easily be turned into a movie. I swear, I can see it happening. A job well done! I will definitely be looking out for more from this author.

I really enjoyed this debut book. The MCs were lovingly shown and the setting  was perfect. I don't know Michigan at all, but Roan's writing brought it to life and I want to go there now! What lost  a perfect score here was the rather lecturing feel to descriptions of university life and Daniel's job. It felt like a bit of an info dump at times, and more information than we needed. Unless you're fascinated by academia, those passages won't work well.

Wonderful characters and a simple but emotional plot kept me engaged in this book from beginning to end.

A well-written and engaging story with characters who are easy to love. Daniel in particular is well-drawn, as a guy whose past struggles make him expect to be constantly judged, and to have to fight for everything. It was fun to watch a big sweet man like Rex work to get past the prickly walls Daniel has built around his heart.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Peripheral People by Reesa Herberth & Michelle Moore

Peripheral People: A Ylendrian Empire Novel by Reesa Herberth & Michelle Moore
Gay Sci-Fi / Futuristic
Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (January 26, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626492697
ISBN-13: 978-1626492691
Amazon: Peripheral People: A Ylendrian Empire Novel
Amazon Kindle: Peripheral People: A Ylendrian Empire Novel

Corwin Menevie and Nika Santivan are decorated veterans of the Imperial Enforcement Coalition, and are perfectly capable of solving cases the old-fashioned way. When they’re paired with Westley Tavera and Gavin Hale, the most powerful Reader/Ground team to emerge from the Psionics Academy, it could either be the best thing that’s ever happened to crime fighting, or the makings of a quadruple homicide.

During a routine investigation, West’s talent puts them on the trail of a brutal serial killer who traps his prey in a deadly mental playground. Then the killer starts baiting the team, laying psychic landmines at crime scenes and exposing IEC secrets. The strain of the case binds the agents closer together—so close that Nika and Gavin start sharing a room, and even the curmudgeonly Corwin finds himself as occupied with West as he is with the murders.

But as West’s visions of death grow more violent, the only way out for all of them may be straight through the mind of a monster. If they’re not careful, they may forget which side of the hunt they’re on.

Peripheral People was an intelligent and absorbing thriller that kept my interest from start to finish. The plot moved along at a cracking pace and I loved the character development and romance between the two leads. The supporting characters were interesting and three dimensional. I will probably read more from this author.

A perfectly created world. I'd not read any of this series, but soon understood what was going on. The main characters were shown clearly and had distinct, individual personalities. The world-building was excellent, and I had no trouble believing West and Corwin could travel psychically into others' minds. The book wasn't quite perfect - one or two occasions it seemed to get bogged down a little with interpersonal relations rather than getting to the heart of the plot and solving the mystery, but overall it's one of the best I've read in this category.

I read this book and re-read it. This held my interest from the start for the interesting characters, and their past, plus the tension between the main guys..

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Infected, Epitaph by Andrea Speed

Infected, Epitaph by Andrea Speed
Gay Sci-Fi / Futuristic
Paperback: 330 pages
Publisher: DSP Publications (November 18, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1627988610
ISBN-13: 978-1627988612
Amazon: Infected, Epitaph
Amazon Kindle: Infected, Epitaph

Sequel to Infected: Undertow

Infected: Book Eight

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective solving crimes involving other infecteds.

Tiger strain infections start showing up all over Seattle, much to Roan's dismay, and worse yet, they may have a personal connection. Meanwhile, Roan gets hired to look into the puzzling death of Dee's former lover. Then the FBI wants him to investigate a new apocalypse cult of infecteds pushing for a violent revolution against normals. All around Roan, events are spiraling out of control. Just when his singular abilities are needed most, Roan develops new symptoms that might signify dire consequences if he doesn’t stop shifting at will. Roan finds himself at a crossroads and must make a difficult decision about his future.

This is the beautiful first meeting of soul mates. It's heartbreaking,  for those like me who know how that story ends, but it's a sort of privilege to be able to see two people who were born to be together meet and recognize they're meant for each other. It's great to see how the main characters complement each other and their dialogs are lively and funny. Even if there is a sort of sadness,  the undertones are not hopeless, because what the author was able to convey is the dignity of Paris even in the bad place he is at the moment. And Roan is a caring, badass, no-bullshit hero, who speaks more through his deeds than his words.

I've been hooked on Roan's story since book one and have really enjoyed reading each and every book in the series.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Secrets of Angels by A.L. Duncan

Secrets of Angels by A.L. Duncan
Lesbian Historical Fiction
Paperback: 210 pages
Publisher: Regal Crest Enterprises, LLC (March 16, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1619292289
ISBN-13: 978-1619292284
Amazon: Secrets of Angels
Amazon Kindle: Secrets of Angels

After four years of war ravaging the French countryside and towns, it looked as if all sense of humanity had disappeared. To an outsider, the streets of 1918 Paris would seem the worst and most dreary place for an American to ever wish to step foot upon being only ninety miles from the closest front. This, of course, was the fear that beset the soul of Marguerite Adler. She would not have had the slightest interest in traveling to Paris if it were not for a letter from her mother's estate, which stated her presence was needed immediately to settle affairs. Marguerite's life becomes gradually transformed in a city that is very much removed from any imaginations. Paris, despite parts of it damaged, is quite alive and colorful. It is in Paris where she finds Jean, a seemingly virtuous soul trapped in a mind exposed to the effects of war and her patriotic support. Both women, having pledged themselves to peace, albeit in quite opposite ways, find themselves attracted to a spirit the other wished they had. This is a story of how civilians survived in an everyday world of atrocity, hostilities and love by their almost sublime faiths and their prevailing submission of acceptance of the world around them.

Secrets of Angeles is the story of ordinary atrocities of war as seen through the eyes of they who must go on living and loving. This book is a mesmerizing study of intent, intrigue and the intransigence of the soul, no matter what passions stir that soul to action or apathy.

Sweetly elegiac.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles

The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles
Gay Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (June 16, 2015)
Amazon Kindle: The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal

A story too secret, too terrifying—and too shockingly intimate—for Victorian eyes.

A note to the Editor

Dear Henry,

I have been Simon Feximal’s companion, assistant and chronicler for twenty years now, and during that time my Casebooks of Feximal the Ghost-Hunter have spread the reputation of this most accomplished of ghost-hunters far and wide.

You have asked me often for the tale of our first meeting, and how my association with Feximal came about. I have always declined, because it is a story too private to be truthfully recounted, and a memory too precious to be falsified. But none knows better than I that stories must be told.

So here is it, Henry, a full and accurate account of how I met Simon Feximal, which I shall leave with my solicitor to pass to you after my death.

I dare say it may not be quite what you expect.

Robert Caldwell

September 1914

"The Caldwell Ghost" and “Butterflies” are previously published short stories. The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal continues and completes Robert Caldwell and Simon Feximal’s story.

Well rounded characters and I enjoyed how their relationship was told through the cases they worked. I loved the world building and that I could picture everything as it was playing out, almost like I was watching a movie.

Another perfect read. A collection of short stories that piece together a lifetime relationship. Sad and sweet, scary and funny, all stories are different and entertaining.

This was literally the best thing I read all year.

This is a charming (if sometimes harrowing) homage to Victorian occultists and its resulting pulp fiction. KJ Charles's mastery of the vernacular of this period is remarkable, as always. Ever wonder what would have happened if Holmes and Watson had been lovers rather than colleagues, and if Holmes's weakness had not been cocaine but the result of arcane tampering? Here's the answer. (In Feximal's world, the Hound of the Baskervilles would have truly been a giant spectral hound.)

I adored this book which hearkened back to the days of Victorian England, and the poignancy of two men investigating to the best of their abilities.  The irony--and hope--at the end undid me, and I have spent lots of fruitless--if wonderful time--imagining the ending that I'm sure we all wanted for our heroes. I did not realize until recently that parts of this book were released independently, as individual adventures, and that knowledge only made me love it more.  It's like Sherlock Holmes, paranormal style, and I cannot praise it enough.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Sea Leopard by M. Kei

The Sea Leopard: A Pirates of the Narrow Seas Adventure by M. Kei
Bisexual Historical Fiction
Series: Pirates of the Narrow Seas
Paperback: 222 pages
Publisher: Keibooks (October 15, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0692228071
ISBN-13: 978-0692228074
Amazon: The Sea Leopard: A Pirates of the Narrow Seas Adventure
Amazon Kindle: The Sea Leopard: A Pirates of the Narrow Seas Adventure

Isam Rais, captain of the xebec, ‘Sea Leopard,’ is on a swashbuckling adventure in the Mediterranean Sea. Battling unfriendly allies as much as his enemies, he plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with a much more powerful frigate, only to see victory snatched from his grasp by the resolution of the opposing captain. In debt and needing to repair his fortunes, he accepts a dangerous commission from the Dey of the Sallee Republic to hunt pirates—Muslim pirates—disloyal to the country that gives them refuge. Isam finds himself on the unpopular side in a battle of corsair against corsair. In the midst of storm and bloodshed, he is rescued by a mysterious veiled woman in a fateful meeting that will change his life forever.

This pirate tale is one of authenticity and chock full of action. One could put it on a par with C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower series and Rafael Sabatini’s Sea Hawk and Captain Blood (if either of those two authors had Gay characters). The writing is masterly, the character’s full, the action page-turning. This is the kind of book that GLBT readers have always wanted to read about—their place in the history of adventure.

Suspenseful, swashbuckling adventure story!

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Bad Dyke: Salacious Stories from a Queer Life by Allison Moon

Bad Dyke: Salacious Stories from a Queer Life by Allison Moon
Bisexual Biography / Memoir
Paperback: 132 pages
Publisher: Lunatic Ink (November 20, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0983830975
ISBN-13: 978-0983830979
Amazon: Bad Dyke: Salacious Stories from a Queer Life
Amazon Kindle: Bad Dyke: Salacious Stories from a Queer Life

Furry-style fox hunts, breaking into waterparks, and masturbating in trees. It’s all just part of the queer life of author and sex-educator Allison Moon. This collection of 18 memoirs celebrates the humor and tenderness of falling in and out of love and in and out of bed.

I love Moon’s voice, and her essays are funny and poignant. I really enjoyed this collection.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: A Small Country about to Vanish by Victoria Avilan

A Small Country about to Vanish by Victoria Avilan
Lesbian Contemporary General Fiction
Paperback: 194 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 20, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1514349299
ISBN-13: 978-1514349298
Amazon: A Small Country about to Vanish
Amazon Kindle: A Small Country about to Vanish

"A most remarkable homage to things Israeli, things Jewish, things human, and the love and honesty it takes to face down a country gone awry, a people prone to remembering and forgetting, a heart that knows true love and therefore knows its absence. A Small Country about to Vanish is love's survival story, between the author and her country of Israel, between Shelli and Rona, between a mother and her children, between a husband and wife. Avilan writes about Israel with the love and pain stemming from the realization that not all that we love is perfect, but we can't help loving it, or him, or her. This book almost reads itself, so sure-footed is the pacing, the ease of being drawn in despite some unease about what is written. The author does not intrude on her characters with the pointed finger of too much message forcibly delivered. A reader's ease and ability to identify with each main character is to have witnessed Avilan's magic literary show. This is a tense, taut and shocking study of freedom. Freedom to love, to live, to remember or forget how one obtained and lost those freedoms." -- Historical romance author T. T. Thomas.

Very interesting well written story by a talented author.  Definitely knows her subject matter and her setting and characters are well developed.  All kept my interest. thought provoking!

Another unexpected read that made me bask in a different world in the most wonderful way…Israel is so alive in this book that as a reader I felt the history that permeate that country. It’s a cultural joy to find books like this one.

The mark of a good story is to lose oneself in it. Most of the time as I was reading this I forgot to breathe. The author did not miss a beat. The POV changes were a little disconcerting at first, but it was a very useful device to differentiate between the different time periods and characters. Well done.

Avilan hits top marks for all criteria, and the book is a compelling study in conflicted loves—of self, of another, of a country. The thoughtful pace and vivid setting and characters serve to celebrate a masterful writing style. Set in Israel and California, the story follows childhood sweethearts to the conclusions hinted at, and publicly denied, as one woman makes a “Sophie’s choice” of impossible alternatives, chilling revelations and heart-rending decisions that will change her personal geographies of the soul and spirit in large ways.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Everything by Carole Wolf

Everything by Carole Wolf
Lesbian Contemporary General Fiction
Paperback: 482 pages
Publisher: Bedazzled Ink Publishing Company (September 26, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1939562562
ISBN-13: 978-1939562562
Amazon: Everything
Amazon Kindle: Everything

Jolán Edmunds, an accomplished and well-respected classical violinist, dies suddenly and Myla, her daughter, is convinced she had killed her because she had wished her dead. Fiery and charismatic Jolán has many guarded secrets, particularly Rachel Cole, her lost true love. Rachel unexpectedly crosses Jolán's path and turns her life upside down as they rekindle their romance. Rachel tries to convince Myla she didn't cause Jolán's death but Myla doesn't believe her and wants to know everything. With Rachel's help, Myla pieces together her mother's startling past, all of which leads to the most devastating secret of all-herself.

Took a while to finish this one but what an awesome, intense, complex story with very well written characters. This book has it all, and it will stay with the reader for a long time. I know it will stay with me.

The wonderful writing and sexy, evolving characters pulled me in from the very first page and held my attention to the last.

Everything by Carole Wolf is an outstanding piece of fiction. Beautifully written, telling a sad but honest story about a daughter getting to know a deeper understanding of her mother after her passing, through the eyes of her mother’s journals, video footage and those who loved her. An excellent departure from the usual coming of age or coming out stories, told from the young person’s eyes, without judgement and with plenty of emotion and feeling.

Wolf tackles a difficult subject, heroin addiction, with the sensitive touch of judicious empathy. The characters and the settings are the Technicolor drawings you would expect for a story that largely takes place in California. Set against the backdrop of the music industry, the story follows a classical violinist’s descent into the murky backwaters of drugs and rock ‘n roll in a thundering crash to the bottom while her lover must make choices the addict cannot.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Burnt Toast B&B by Heidi Belleau & Rachel Haimowitz

The Burnt Toast B&B (A Bluewater Bay Story) by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz
Transgender Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 214 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (January 3, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626492174
ISBN-13: 978-1626492172
Amazon: The Burnt Toast B&B (A Bluewater Bay Story)
Amazon Kindle: The Burnt Toast B&B (A Bluewater Bay Story)

After breaking his arm on set, Wolf’s Landing stuntman Ginsberg Sloan finds himself temporarily out of work. Luckily, Bluewater Bay’s worst B&B has cheap long-term rates, and Ginsberg’s not too proud to take advantage of them.

Derrick Richards, a grizzled laid-off logger, inherited the B&B after his parents’ untimely deaths. Making beds and cooking sunny-side-up eggs is hardly Derrick’s idea of a man’s way to make a living, but just as he’s decided to shut the place down, Ginsberg shows up on his doorstep, pitiful and soaking wet, and Derrick can hardly send him packing.

Not outright, at least.

The plan? Carry on the B&B’s tradition of terrible customer service and even worse food until the pampered city boy leaves voluntarily. What Derrick doesn’t count on, though, is that the lousier he gets at hosting, the more he convinces bored, busybody Ginsberg to try to get the B&B back on track. And he definitely doesn’t count on the growing attraction between them, or how much more he learns from Ginsberg than how to put out kitchen fires.

Honestly, this book blew me away and that's not easy to do. It was hilarious at times and poignant at others and just such a joy to read. It kept me up into the early morning hours until I couldn't keep my eyes open to read "just one more scene."  I nearly ran into a bridge support on my daily walk because I couldn't put my phone away to stop reading the book. I loved how Ginsberg's gender, while being an issue...wasn't THE issue. The story was more about Derrick coming to terms with his own sexuality and what that meant in his world.  And everything was just so well done. The sex was perfect. The reactions were perfect.. Derrick coming to terms with his parent's death and how well loved he actually is...perfect. And Ginsberg was perfect. I couldn't think of *anything* I would change, hence my score.

Ah, this book had two great characters that I was rooting for the whole way through. Wonderful little book.

Really well written - beautiful characterization.

This was a sweet story exploring a relationship which was very different for one of the MCs, Derrick, who proved to be a kindly man who gained insight into his own past and character as the book went on. His boyfriend Ginsberg, was also patient and kind in how he made allowances for the new situation his partner found himself in. The B&B itself was another character in the story. I don't know how realistic the sex scenes were, but they were nicely unsensational, and gave me food for thought.

Ginsberg, badass stunt double for the star of the show-within-the-book, caught my attention in the first of the Bluewater Bay stories. Ginsberg is a force of nature, and the contrast between his personality and verve, and Derrick's curmudgeonly (yet oddly innocent) viewpoint is highly entertaining.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Wrong Man by Lane Hayes

The Wrong Man (Right and Wrong Book 2) by Lane Hayes
Gay Erotic Romance
Paperback: 220 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (February 6, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1632167816
ISBN-13: 978-1632167811
Amazon: The Wrong Man (Right and Wrong Book 2)
Amazon Kindle: The Wrong Man (Right and Wrong Book 2)

A Right and Wrong Story

Successful owner of an upscale boutique in fabulous West Hollywood, Brandon Good swears by his personal edict to “live in the present.” After a bad breakup, he agrees to dog-sit to keep his mind off his ex. Never did he expect the dog to belong to a man from his past, the only man to ever truly break his heart.

When Jake Westley relocates to join the WeHo fire department, the last thing he anticipates is reuniting with his secret high school love. Thrilled with the prospect of reconnecting with Bran, Jake feels no guilt in using his charming old dog as an unwitting matchmaker. As he and Bran rekindle their friendship, it becomes clear the intense attraction they once felt is stronger than ever. But as hard as they try to leave the past behind, painful memories resurface. Bran will have to confront his fears and consider the possibility that the man he swore was absolutely the wrong one might be perfect after all.

This is a smart, funny book that was hard to put down. I loved the characters and cared about what happened to them. An interesting plot and great style.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Undercover Blues by Chris Quinton

Undercover Blues by Chris Quinton
Gay Historical Romance
Publisher: Manifold Press (November 1, 2014)
Amazon Kindle: Undercover Blues

London, the 1930s: With the cooperation of a top-ranking scientist and his son, Tom Langton and Robert Darnley are sent in as bait for a gang that uses blackmail to steal industrial secrets at a time when Hitler’s rise to power in Germany threatens Europe. The two men are friends, but they each have secrets of their own – and both are well aware that homosexuality is against the law. Living in close quarters, having to portray an illegal relationship, adds unexpected tensions to an already dangerous situation.

A simple plot that was very well executed, never lost itself in trying-too-hard originality or fell into any cliché traps, and for that it deserves full points. I'm no historian and I know little about England in the 1930s, so I can't say anything about the accuracy. From an interested reader's position, however, the setting was brilliantly done - details such as phonebooths, language, customs, it all brought the time to great vividness. Bonus points for keeping evil Nazi Germany in the background. Two very complex characters, adapting two very different personas. The author showed the difference between character and adopted persona in their language, in their behaviour. There were also hints at the psychological repercussions of being undercover as somebody else for an extended period, e.g. is the attraction honest or is it backlash from the persona? Plus development on a very subtle level for both guys. Seriously well done. Truly, any writer who can turn such a simple, predictable plot as "going undercover together and discovering mutual attraction" into something entertaining and enjoyable to read is a seriously good writer. The story moved at just the right pace, never too fast or too slow. It pulled the reader in and along, while at the same time you never got lost trying to remember what happened if you were interrupted. Some bits could have been fleshed out more, and the editing missed a few typos. Still a well-written book. Would recommend and read again.

A breezy, lightly-written, historical counter-espionage story. Despite being a story of spies, blackmail, illegal relationships, and law enforcement, the plot manages to avoid descending into melodrama. The slow-burn romance between two interesting men has an enjoyable tension, and reaches a satisfying end.

Did I ever say I don’t read historicals? Well, I guess I’m a convert now. I’ll most definitely read any historicals as entertaining and well-written as this book. This was a deliciously intricate caper-mystery-spy novel that I most certainly will read again in order to (re)discover and enjoy all the tiny details that made it such an enjoyable whole. Highly recommended.

Why haven't I seen this book before? It was exactly what I love. Deft writing, cracking plot and two main leads who sizzled with UST.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: In Distress by Caethes Faron

In Distress by Caethes Faron
Gay Sci-Fi / Futuristic
Publisher: Branwen Press (September 10, 2014)
Amazon Kindle: In Distress

After the Great Destruction decimated the world, science is the new god. Geneticists rule, instituting a DNA-based caste system in their effort to restore the human genome.

As a Zed, Will’s a virtual slave who isn’t allowed medical care. A tragic accident has left him crippled, awaiting death. Just before his time is up, Malcolm, an enigmatic Alpha with two differently colored eyes, sweeps in and buys him. Will becomes part of a family of freaks—other damaged Zeds who should be dead. Life seems ideal until Malcolm makes a request that could change Will’s life.

Malcolm harbors more secrets than his Zeds could imagine. His attraction to Will unravels his carefully cultivated control, and one secret escapes: he craves pain, not just as a sexual release, but as a way to atone for his past. Will may be the one person who can give him what he needs if Malcolm can only allow him into his heart.

As they struggle to build trust, each secret Malcolm reveals threatens their relationship. In the end, their desire for each other may heal both men if they can unlearn the lessons of the past.

Fluid style. Good world building.

Solidly plotted post apocalypse future dystopia. A real page turner with plenty of angst and hope between the 2 MCs as their relationship develops and deepens. Secrets are carefully revealed throughout this book, keeping the reader in suspense.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: For Real by Alexis Hall

For Real​ by Alexis Hall​
Gay Erotic Romance
Paperback: 362 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (February 15, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626492808
ISBN-13: 978-1626492806
Amazon: For Real: A Spires Story
Amazon Kindle: For Real: A Spires Story

Laurence Dalziel, a thirty-seven year old trauma surgeon, is worn down and washed up. And for him the BDSM scene especially is all played out. He’s tired of pantomiming submission, and he’s long since given up looking for more than hollow release.

Then he meets Toby Finch. Nineteen years old. Fearless, fierce, and vulnerable. Everything Laurie can’t remember being.

Toby doesn’t know who he wants to be or what he wants to do. He doesn’t know how he ended up where he is or where he’s meant to be going. But he knows, with all the terrible certainty of youth, that he wants Laurie.

He wants Laurie on his knees. He wants to make him hurt, he wants to make him beg, he wants to make him fall in love. But while Laurie will surrender his body to Toby’s desires, he won’t surrender his heart. Because whatever they have, however right it feels, he knows it can’t last. Toby has to live his own life, and Laurie has to let him.

It can’t be for real.

Oh my dog!!!! . . I was a bit let down when I saw it was BDSM. That usually does very little for me. But this book made me a believer. I have loved Alexis’s other books because they are clever, funny, and hot. I love this one because I was forced to, much like Laurie, the jaded BDSMer was forced to love Toby but not in a stilted set-up. They were so perfect together.  There were bits that felt slightly holier-than-thou about BDSM  (eg the conversation about safe-words) but who cares. The book has so much heart to go along with Alexis’s usual cleverness I’m thoroughly charmed and wowed by it. The BDSM was never forced or silly—except in the one scene when it was supposed to be, and even that wasn’t cheapened into being a mere plot device because Dom, the secondary character, is more than a stereotype (and he made sure we and Laurie knows it) . The heroes are fabulous and I get snuffly just thinking of them – and I NEVER get snuffly about books. I feel sorry for whoever dropped the ball on reading this. S/he missed an absolute treat. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year. And now I have to recover and get some sleep because Hall made me stay up way past my bedtime, reading.

The emotionality, the depth and the sheer brilliance of the writing took my breath away. An awesome read and a wonderful, poignant romance.

BDSM, but with much more focus on the psychology, the needs of the two men and the balance of the relationship, than any mechanics of the physical side. Not that there aren't excellent sexual episodes in it, but there are no formal scenes here, no careful planning and stylized progression. Just two men, one older, one younger; one experienced in the scene, one completely new to it; one broken by losing love through no fault of his own, one urgently seeking something he's never had... and the young, inexperienced guy is the Dom. This worked for me on so many levels. The writing is excellent. (If you haven't tried this author yet, and were daunted by the accent or the steampunk of other stories, try this one.) The men are imperfect, physically as well as in their very human emotions and psychology. The progression through the relationship is organic, not formalized, moving in very believable fits and starts. There are wonderful moments and painful moments and I read it in one breathless evening, then went back to the beginning.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: When Skies Have Fallen by Debbie McGowan

When Skies Have Fallen by Debbie McGowan
Gay Historical Romance
Paperback: 296 pages
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing (July 8, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1910635502
ISBN-13: 978-1910635506
Amazon: When Skies Have Fallen
Amazon Kindle: When Skies Have Fallen

For many in war-torn 1944, love blossoms in the dance hall, and airman Arty Clarke is no exception. He's a thinker and a dreamer; however, it's not the beautiful, talented dancer in his arms-his best friend Jean-who inspires his dreams. For when his gaze meets that of Technical Sergeant Jim Johnson, Arty dares to imagine a different dance. Their love is forbidden, by both the armed forces and the law, but with Jean's cunning and support, Arty and Jim try to bridge the distance between them and find true love despite the danger and a life-threatening disaster that could destroy Arty's dreams for good. Can the pair stand strong together, no matter how many skies have fallen?

Exceptional historical accuracy and sense of setting: the novel rings with authenticity. The characters are strong and the plot tension comes not just from the war but their own desires and the demand for secrecy. Pacing is sometimes a bit slow. Extremely strong historical romance overall.

Very sweet, gentle romance. I found myself thinking of the characters even when I wasn't reading, which makes it a good book in my esteem. Very well done.

A lovely novel. A story that shows - two hearts can find each other even amidst the warzone. And passion for dance and friendship can help an impossible dream come true.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Prince of Faith by Belinda McBride

An Uncommon Whore 3: Prince of Faith by Belinda McBride
Gay Erotic Romance
Paperback: 218 pages
Publisher: Loose Id, LLC (November 20, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1623002761
ISBN-13: 978-1623002763
Amazon: An Uncommon Whore 3: Prince of Faith
Amazon Kindle: An Uncommon Whore 3: Prince of Faith

Held captive in a whorehouse, Markus Dayspring wakes every morning with a thirst for revenge, and collapses every night with a prayer for strength. He lives on in spite of deadly addictions and a crippling, shameful secret. When he's rescued by a man from his past, his reawakened love threatens to crush his damaged soul.

Caius also has a secret, one that could ultimately kill him. But his vow to rescue Markus is stronger than guilt, fear and even his loyalty to King Helios. Too many have died because of Caius and rescuing the missing prince might allow him to sleep without nightmares.

Old habits are hard to break and new pain threatens their growing love. Yet one gleaming ray of hope continues to guide them to safety, even in the face of an unexpected violation of trust. With the stakes growing higher by the hour, Markus and Caius must learn to have faith before they can heal and face the future together.

After reading the first two books in this series a couple of years ago, I was waiting eagerly for Markus's story. I was worried about him! This story doesn't disappoint. The same rich world-building, the characters who have unversal as well as personal issues to resolve. Wonderful.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Lone Wolf by L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov

Lone Wolf (Bluewater Bay Book 4) by L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov
Gay Romantic Comedy
Paperback: 306 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (November 12, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626492409
ISBN-13: 978-1626492400
Amazon: Lone Wolf (Bluewater Bay Book 4)
Amazon Kindle: Lone Wolf (Bluewater Bay Book 4)

Hunter Easton is screwed. Fans, producers, and his agent are all chomping at the bit for the next book in his wildly popular Wolf’s Landing series, but he’s got epic writer’s block and is way behind deadline. Then he reads The World Tree, a fanfic novel by his online friend “Lone Wolf.” It isn’t just a great story—it’s exactly what the series needs.
Kevin Hussain is thrilled when “Wolf Hunter” wants to meet up after reading The World Tree. When Wolf Hunter turns out to be Hunter Easton himself, Kevin is starstruck. When Hunter tells him he wants to add The World Tree to Wolf’s Landing, Kevin is sure he’s being pranked. And when their online chemistry carries over—big-time—into real life, Kevin is convinced it’s all too good to be true.

The problem is . . . it might be. The book deal, the sex, the money—everything is amazing. But fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and Kevin is left wondering if Hunter really loves him, or just loves his book.

The beginning of this novel was off the charts. It crackled with tension, particularly the sexual tension between Hunter and Kevin. Some of that dissipated after they consummated their relationship, so it was a little disappointing that it happened so early. By the midway point, the book was starting to drag a bit, just because it's so long. The novel felt longer than it needed to be to hold the story. (In my opinion, the addition of the ninth Wolf Landing book to the mix was a mistake. It made the novel longer without really adding anything substantial.) Maybe it was tiring to read because there weren't a lot of changes in mood. The characters never had a moment to relax, so the readers never had a moment to relax. This book had a strong sense of place that I really enjoyed. I loved these characters. They were like real people, and their thoughts and emotions were captured in a compelling way. The writing was pretty much flawless, and the tension high throughout.

I love a good shared-world series, and the Bluewater Bay series is really good. This is the first one, and sets up the world beautifully -- the town, the TV series, the book-within-the-book that's the basis of the series. I also loved the May-September relationshiop, and the fact that the two main characters bonded first over their work and mutual geeking out over obscure movies.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Caged Sanctuary by Tempeste O’Riley

Caged Sanctuary by Tempeste O’Riley
Gay Erotic Romance
Paperback: 204 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (December 29, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1632166127
ISBN-13: 978-1632166128
Amazon: Caged Sanctuary
Amazon Kindle: Caged Sanctuary

Kaden Thorn, a dental surgeon who lives a quiet life, has no hope of finding the love he craves. A vicious gay bashing cost him the use of his legs and confined him to a wheelchair. He has given up hope of finding a Dom or even a nonkink partner to love him. When his best friend practically forces him to attend a dinner party, the last thing he expects is a strong Dom who can see beyond his wheels.

Deacon James is an architect and a demanding Dom, but he has spent the past couple of years without a sub or partner. When an employee invites him to a dinner party to meet his girlfriend, Deacon smells a setup but agrees anyway. He prides himself on being an excellent judge of character, and when he meets the younger dentist, he sees past the chair and finds a sweet submissive man who more than piques his interest.

Kade's fears and demons continue to haunt him, challenging Deacon to use everything he's learned as a Dom to earn Kade’s trust and submission. Deacon's determined, though, willing to battle all of it to have Kade by his side and at his feet.

I loved this book! I really liked how Deacon managed to give Kaden what he needed, however unconventional the means. Deacon had to convince Kaden he was serious and that he didn’t see Kaden as a “cripple”. Deacon’s patience was very endearing.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Finding Pluck by Peter Difatta

Finding Pluck by Peter Difatta
Gay Contemporary General Fiction
Paperback: 410 pages
Publisher: Pembroke Publications, LLC; 1 edition (February 17, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0692375236
ISBN-13: 978-0692375235
Amazon: Finding Pluck
Amazon Kindle: Finding Pluck


First Prize Winner of the William Faulkner Literary Award

Finding Pluck was lauded for having a “highly readable, sophisticated narrative structure” and for illustrating “a pleasing twist on the traditional bildungsroman, the novel about growing up.” —William Faulkner Literary Award Judging Committee

It is 1995 in North Carolina and high-school student Taylor Hanes is struggling to escape his small-minded dying textile town. He finds his ticket out by being awarded a full-ride Gay and Lesbian Equality Scholarship to a state university. Problem is, he isn’t gay. He lied on the application. Abruptly, he is shocked by hometown intolerance, and worse yet, he awakens the wrath of the scholarship’s long dead benefactor.

Taylor contends with the hauntings as he continues into college. He joins forces with a group of friends who help him investigate why the benefactor is an unsettled spirit. Along with this and his studies, Taylor is also forced to carry out duties related to his scholarship. These requirements enlighten his understanding of the origins and human cost of prejudice and further his resolve to help the restless spirit find answers in order to cross over.

The narrative deftly moves between the present and when the benefactor attended college in 1927, the pinnacle of the Jazz age and a period of great change and moral conflict. As the friends dig deeper, the story draws parallels in the lives of the characters. This is a coming-of-age novel based on actual examples of the culture of prejudice and connects with the heart as well as with the mind.

I had some minor problems with the narrative voice, which felt a bit too detached for my taste—that was literally my only complaint. The plot was interesting and unique, the characters were vibrant and well rendered. I read this in a single sitting, just couldn’t put it down. Thank you Peter Difatta, for a great read!

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Acquittal by Anne Laughlin

The Acquittal by Anne Laughlin
Lesbian Mystery / Thriller
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (October 14, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 162639203X
ISBN-13: 978-1626392038
Amazon: The Acquittal
Amazon Kindle: The Acquittal

Ex-Chicago cop and new PI Josie Harper has been hired by an outside group to clear the name of publisher Lauren Wade, recently acquitted of the murder of her lover. That means finding the real killer, a task made more difficult by Lauren’s unwillingness to cooperate and a large family problem—Lauren’s parents have been kidnapped for a ransom she can no longer pay. Josie has a big challenge of her own: how to redeem herself after losing her job as a detective. When Josie and Lauren join forces to rescue the parents, they discover they make a great team, in more ways than one.

Will Josie’s troubled past come back to haunt her? And who did kill Lauren’s lover?

One of the best lesfic mysteries I've read in a long time. Laughlin's pacing and plotting are excellent, and she has created a complicated but lovable protagonist dealing as best she can with bipolar issues (think Clare Danes in Homeland). There's romance but the story is not a romance and there's enough humor to keep the novel from being overly dark. Overall, The Acquittal is an outstanding lesfic mystery.

Brilliant. Layers of layers of deception and deviousness wrapped around a PI who wavers between normal and maniac

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The HomePort Journals by A.C. Burch

The Homeport Journals: A Provincetown Fantasia by A.C. Burch
Gay Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Wilde City Press, LLC (March 18, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1925313034
ISBN-13: 978-1925313031
Amazon: The Homeport Journals: A Provincetown Fantasia
Amazon Kindle: The Homeport Journals: A Provincetown Fantasia

Fleeing New York City and an abusive partner, would-be writer Marc Nugent finds work at HomePort, the Provincetown mansion of Lola Staunton, a fabulously wealthy recluse. Aided by an attractive-but-unattainable artist and an all-too-available cross-dresser, Marc investigates accusations of rape and murder that have estranged Lola from a childhood friend for more than sixty years. Past and present converge when a long-lost journal reveals tales of infidelity, adultery, and passion that mirror the life Marc has recently abandoned. When his ex-lover arrives in search of revenge, Marc must confront his past, his notions of family, and his capacity for love. Evocative, funny and heartfelt, The HomePort Journals will be to Provincetown what Tales of the City is to San Francisco. - William J. Mann Author, The Men from the Boys series. A cockeyed, full-hearted Provincetown fantasia, The Homeport Journals combines history and romance with a dash of wit and a firm belief that in some magical places there is always a second chance- for love and for art. -Heidi Jon Schmidt Author, The House on Oyster Creek

I really enjoyed The HomePort Journals. The story was different and engaging and the writing style drew me right in and didn't let me go. With an cast of interesting and compelling characters and quite a bit of heart, it was a very good read.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Thirty Things by Cate Ashwood

Thirty Things by Cate Ashwood
Gay Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 210 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (April 3, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1632168995
ISBN-13: 978-1632168993
Amazon: Thirty Things
Amazon Kindle: Thirty Things

All their lives, Finn and Nate have been inseparable, sharing everything, and when a childhood accident left Finn broken, Nate stood by his side as all his other friends left. After all their years together, there’s one secret Finn still hasn’t revealed: he has been in love with Nate since they were eight years old. Hiding his feelings for twenty-one years—terrified of what might happen if Nate ever found out—has been difficult, but losing his best friend would be worse than living with a bad case of unrequited love. Unfortunately for Finn, Nate doesn't make it easy.

Nate believes there are some things that just have to be done before your thirtieth birthday. As a gift to Finn, he plans an adventure to check off a list of thirty things to experience before hitting that milestone. Starting in Crawfordsville, Indiana, they tour the country, trying new things and meeting interesting new people. Nate’s having the time of his life, but he can tell Finn is holding something back. As the days count down, navigating the back roads suddenly seems easier than figuring out where their relationship is heading.

One thing’s for certain. There will be no turning back.

Beautifully written friends to lovers, road-trip romance.  You can't help but fall in love with Finn and Nate and want nothing more for them than a happily ever after, together.

This story could have been written as a coming of age book--though the characters are thirty years old.  Nate, Finn's best friend decides to celebrate Finn's impending thirtieth birthday on a month long, cross-country trip with thirty things to do while on the road.  This is a low angst novel, with Finn's insecurities and Nate's confidence on display through their travels across the US.  Wonderfully crafted with interesting and unique stops along the way (who knew there was a Wigwam Village Hotel?), with many surprises and memories that would impact both Finn and Nate for a lifetime. This book was a joy to read as you can see the love the two main characters have for each other, so much so that you root for the two of them to have a happily ever after.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: On The Clock by L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov

On the Clock: A Market Garden Tale by L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov
Gay Erotic Romance
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (July 10, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626493278
ISBN-13: 978-1626493278
Amazon: On the Clock: A Market Garden Tale
Amazon Kindle: On the Clock: A Market Garden Tale

When Blake Raleigh’s favorite rentboys retire from Market Garden, they’re sure their friend Jason will be a perfect replacement. Though Tristan and Jared are a tough act to follow, Blake returns to London to test out their recommendation.

Jason is right on the money. Negotiations turn him on. Getting paid turns him on. The higher the stakes, the hotter things get. Each trip to London is more expensive than the last, and the webcam sessions don’t run cheap, but Jason is well worth the sticker shock.

The more time they spend together, the more Blake wants, and not just sex and transactions. But Jason’s been burned before by men who thought they were in love with him, and he’s not making that mistake again. When the lines between personal and professional start to blur, it’s going to take more than money, jewelry, and sports cars to keep Jason from clocking out and walking away.

Excellent pace, writing style fluid, adroit characterization.

This is the installment all fans of the Market Garden series have been waiting for.  Rolex (i.e. the voyeur in Quid Pro Quo) finally gets his HEA.  I appreciate that they don’t go from john/rentboy to HEA without some work and soul searching.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Kneel, Mr. President by Lauren Gallagher

Kneel, Mr. President by Lauren Gallagher
Bisexual Erotic Romance
Paperback: 306 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing (June 9, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1619230445
ISBN-13: 978-1619230446
Amazon: Kneel, Mr. President
Amazon Kindle: Kneel, Mr. President

Sworn to have their lover's back, front, or any other side that needs covering. Secret Service agent Kent Sinclair, head of POTUS security, thought himself prepared for every contingency. Until the First Lady-a woman who barely tolerates his presence-approaches him with a request that startles the hell out of him. Carlene Broderick is frightened. With the weight of the country and impending war on his shoulders, her husband, James, is buckling under the strain. The key to helping him cope is the name he calls out in his sleep-and it's not hers. It belongs to his fellow ex-SEAL team buddy. His ex-lover. Kent. Without hesitation, Kent plunges into treacherous emotional territory, only to realize it's not really him that James needs. The Commander in Chief needs to give up complete control in the bedroom. To relieve that much pressure, Kent and Carlene must work together and declare a truce that rapidly heats up into something more. Something that leaves James caught deep in forbidden territory-torn between his beloved wife and the man he's never stopped loving. Warning: Contains three forty-somethings discovering whole new sides of themselves, a rejuvenated marriage, and plenty of kinky fun. All brought to you by an ex-SEAL in a wetsuit, a bisexual President, and a First Lady with a tattoo on her ass.

Liked the story and the dynamics and interplay between the 3 main characters, especially liked Carlene.  A nice twist on a POTUS story!!! First story by this author but won't be the last.

Two men, one woman, and the tense world of White House politics doesn’t sound like the ideal recipe for a HEA romance. Gallagher represents the POV’s of both 2 male and 1 female characters as they struggle to find the sort of trust that would allow the POTUS to function under difficult circumstances, and the kind of permanent love that would bind them together even after the emergencies are over. This book represents a complex and intriguing read about a threesome with just enough light BDSM to keep the reader on the edge of the seat.

One of the best books I've read this year. Fabulous tension and takes the erotic nature to a whole level while dealing with the sensitivity of a threesome in a perfect manner. The pacing was snappy and all around an enjoyable read.

It was almost believable which I found amazing! The relationship between Kent and Carlene kept me interested in the story.  The politics got in the way for me but, hey, it’s a story about a politician.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Heart of the Kingdom by Sasha L. Miller

The Heart of the Kingdom (The Kingdom Curses Book 1) by Sasha L. Miller
Bisexual Fantasy Romance
Paperback: 314 pages
Publisher: Less Than Three Press (October 15, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620044471
ISBN-13: 978-1620044476
Amazon: The Heart of the Kingdom (The Kingdom Curses Book 1)
Amazon Kindle: The Heart of the Kingdom (The Kingdom Curses Book 1)

All Cenric wanted was a necklace to gift to his lady love, in the hopes it might persuade her to actually become his lady love. Instead of love, however, Cenric is informed of her engagement to someone else, wakes up to find his house burning down around him, and is dragged away by a man who might have saved him, but won't say much about why one necklace has Cenric running away from someone willing to kill to get it back.

This was a very good story. The reader was quite literally taken on a journey with lots of twists and turns. My only negative is that the story between the two men seemed to take a backseat to everything else. I was personally left wanting in that regards. Very well done. Original. Creative. Intriguing. Detailed. Loved the dwarfs, but by the time we got to the capitol there were almost too many characters to keep track of. Author did a good job of trying to give each distinguishing characteristics, but a smaller scale may have worked better. Language was appropriate to the setting and characters. Readability was good. Imagery was well done. I felt very much a part of the story.

Here's an inspirational comment: A wonderfully engaging and remarkably in-depth strangers-to-friends-to-lovers fantasy tale. From the first line, I was hooked and fully immersed into this fantasy world that shows what it's capable of through subtle details embedded throughout the plot and the dialogue. Wickedly fun banter between the two spitfire characters, Cenric and Rylan, was awesome, and though this story is extremely light on erotic scenes, I felt the romance all the way down to my curling toes.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Harem Master by Megan Derr

The Harem Master (Tavamara) by Megan Derr
Bisexual Fantasy Romance
Paperback: 456 pages
Publisher: Less Than Three Press (May 13, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620044137
ISBN-13: 978-1620044131
Amazon: The Harem Master (Tavamara)
Amazon Kindle: The Harem Master (Tavamara)

Lord Demir has spent his life trying to appease a brutal, selfish king, and keep the concubines under his care alive-and now he is on the verge of losing everything. The council wants to abolish the harems, there are no heirs to the throne, and the foreigners control the Steward. One wrong move will tip tensions into civil war. Crown Prince Ihsan returns to find his home in turmoil, and the royal court so full of vipers it's impossible to say which of them will strike first. Removing his father from the throne, one way or another, should be a simple matter. Staying alive and proving himself a worthy king will be far more difficult. Crown Princess Euren has spent the last five years in hiding so that she could not be used against her father or Ihsan. But she is the daughter of a soldier, never meant to wear a crown, never trained to fight battles where words are the weapon of choice. If she hopes to keep herself and her loved ones alive, she'll have to learn fast.

I'm normally pretty tough on the setting score. It's hard to me to give a book a solid 10 in that category but this book was well done.

Beautiful plot, I love these oriental atmospheres. Really well-written, great descriptions, charming and engaging. One of the best books I read. Now I need to read the first two ones.

The society in which a harem is considered sacred was beautifully drawn. Lots of intrigue and fighting. The third in a series—I hadn’t read any of the others but I didn’t feel lost reading this title.

Here's an inspirational comment: Preconceptions about stories set within a harem should definitely be cast aside. Prince Ihsan's harem is portrayed as a socially acceptable, sacred and honorable tradition with a proud history, and it's made up of seasoned warriors rather than soft nobles. Each character in the story is fully fleshed out and his own man, and you fall in love with all of them as these men form friendships and bonds of devotions. Court intrigue mixed with a polyamorous romance in a fantasy setting? Brilliantly done.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Summer Symphony by Brandon Shire

Summer Symphony by Brandon Shire
Bisexual Contemporary General Fiction
Paperback: 202 pages
Publisher: TPG Books (October 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1506014437
ISBN-13: 978-1506014432
Amazon: Summer Symphony
Amazon Kindle: Summer Symphony

Martin Zoric had vivid dreams of fatherhood, of a small hand pressed to his, of pink dresses and girlish laughter. Then his wife had a stillbirth and his world fell apart. He listened to the unwanted apologies, stood by his wife as was expected of him, and kept his façade strong and firm for the entire world to see. But does he have the strength let go and really grieve? When Ren Wakahisa landed in Croatia he was hoping to escape the cultural pressures put on him to conform. His family wanted him to forsake love for duty. They viewed his happiness as secondary to familial prosperity. Does he have the courage to be who he wants to be? Or, will he yield to their wishes? Summer Symphony is the story of how two men find their answers and what they learn about strength, and grace, and the endurance of love.

A well-written story that packs quite an emotional punch. I was especially engrossed by the depiction of a man's grief at the loss of his child and the tremendous impact that had on his marriage and his life. Overall, a great read.

A book you have to say a lot about it or nothing. It deals with grief in a real, heartbreaking way. I never thought I was reading fiction and I had to remind myself it was a book, because the pain was so real. It's a story about expectations and having to conform to them and having to perform to them. It's a story about cultural differences, blown away by music. Even if this is not a romance and it deals with strong feelings, it's not hopeless, because there's a way you can find to cope, even if you won't ever heal.

Reminiscent of his earlier works. Superb writing that wrings the emotions out of readers!

Thoroughly enthralling story of a summer symphony that is beautiful to behold. Written with a deft hand.

Gut wrenching and raw, this book made me cry several times.

What a beautiful delicate story of the aftermath of bereavement on one man and how he is helped back to his world again.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Innocence by Suki Fleet

Innocence by Suki Fleet
Gay Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 230 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (March 2, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1632165600
ISBN-13: 978-1632165602
Amazon: Innocence
Amazon Kindle: Innocence

At eighteen, Christopher is restless and longs for something he cannot name. His mother vanished when he was very small, and after spending more than ten years travelling on the rivers and canals, drifting between towns and schools with mostly only his dad and brother, Jay, for company, he is desperate to escape that claustrophobic existence. When they return to settle in Arlow, a town they haven’t been back to in over a decade, everything changes.

Malachi has given up on love. He lost his heart when he lost his innocence. Now, at twenty-nine, he just exists—getting drunk, fixing cars, and playing the music he loves.

When their paths cross one night at a gypsy camp, Christopher thinks he's found what he's been looking for, but Malachi is afraid. He's afraid their love will destroy everything Christopher has ever known. They are ghosts from each other's pasts, and if Malachi's secrets are revealed, more than just innocence will be lost in their wake.

Lyrically written, with captivating characters.

This just flows.  The setting was particularly well-done and the characterizations were 3-dimensional and believable.   And thank heavens for the happy ending, which some may find too hopeful but was desperately needed for balance.  Well-done!

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Riding Passion by D. Jackson Leigh

Riding Passion by D. Jackson Leigh
Lesbian Anthology / Collection / Erotic Romance
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (May 12, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626393494
ISBN-13: 978-1626393493
Amazon: Riding Passion
Amazon Kindle: Riding Passion

Life is best measured by the moments that take our breath away.

An artist and a poet burn bright and hot after a chance meeting in a moonlight horseback ride on the beach. An empty house is still filled with memories of lust and love. Tearing open a birthday gift takes the wrapper off a woman’s deepest fantasy. A breath-stealing ride through a star-studded night sky on a dragon horse ignites a fire never before experienced. A woman is reminded that her long-time partner still sees her through a lover’s eyes. Mount up for a ride through a novella of passion and ten short stories of buried desire, sizzling encounters, and romantic surprises.

As one who doesn't normally read short story collections or lesbian erotica, I enjoyed this collection far more than I thought I would. Every story was tight and well-crafted so that I knew each character, saw their growth, and experienced the changes they went through within those few pages. The sex was always hot and the relationships were realistic, each with their difficulties. The technical writing style was impeccable, ranging from poetic to more straightforward and simple. I appreciated all of them, and admire the skill it takes to switch styles. The order in which the stories were placed gave me the opportunity to follow the progression of the characters and the web of their connections. The entire anthology was a demonstration of Leigh's considerable abilities.

Outstanding erotica collection.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde

The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Lesbian Contemporary General Fiction
Paperback: 342 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (December 9, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1477824685
ISBN-13: 978-1477824689
Amazon: The Language of Hoofbeats
Amazon Kindle: The Language of Hoofbeats

From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes a story of the heartbreak and healing power of family. New to a small town, Jackie and Paula envision a quiet life for their kids: a young adopted son and two teenage foster children, including the troubled Star. However, they quickly butt heads with their neighbor, Clementine, who disapproves of their lifestyle and is incensed when Star befriends her spirited horse, Comet. Haunted by past tragedy and unable to properly care for Comet, Clem nevertheless resents the bond Star soon shares with the horse. When Star disappears with Comet, the neighbors are thrown together—far too close together. But as the search for the pair wears on, both families must learn to put aside their animosity and confront the choices they’ve made and the scars they carry. Plumbing the depths of regret and forgiveness, The Language of Hoofbeats explores the strange alchemy that transforms a group of people into a family.

The Language of Hoofbeats is a touching story of a lesbian couple that moves into a small town with 3 children.  One they adopted, the other two are fosters.  Their closest neighbor is not happy that they have moved in and they are lesbians.  The story shows how the neighbor and the couple have to push aside differences when one of the children does something unthinkable that affects them all.

Mrs Catherine Ryan Hyde work seem to be always precise and on point and this book is another example of why I enjoy to read her books. This is not the first time that I read a book divided into two point of views but it is a lot more rare that the different voices are not connected by a romance building among the owners of those voices. I think that the way she balanced her protagonist's stories is perfect and the story even if not new is never trite or banal.

The characterization was a rare piece of craftsmanship, making even the most disagreeable character human and sympathetic.  Best of the bunch – VERY well done!

The plot structure was perfection. There were lots of arcs, but they all came together. Clem's struggles seemed to mirror Star's, and the horse brought them together. The setting--Clem's house, the barn, and Jackie's house were well done and used to maximum benefit. Characterization was spot on. Character growth of everyone was incredible. It seemed they all had fears they needed to overcome. The writing style was fantastic--each sentence has a purpose.

For me, this book is a straight 10-10-10-10 for a total of 40. I was almost sure it would be 5 pages into it. Okay, I need to justify my rating. This is going to be longer than you want to read, but I'll get around to something you can use by the end. When I read other lesfic, I can't help but compare the writing to my own writing. There are a lot of authors I judge "not as good" or "really, really not as good". And then there's a group that I consider peers, or close enough. There are a few I put "a little better". Then there's Catherine Ryan Hyde. I can only hope someday to write this well. You probably can't use any of that and want a simple one liner. So... The Language of Hoofbeats tugged at my heartstrings. It made me laugh. It made me cry. I felt joy, and I felt sorrow. And I felt hope..

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Red Dirt Heart 4 by N.R. Walker

Red Dirt Heart 4 by N.R. Walker
Gay Contemporary General Fiction
Series: Red Dirt Heart
Paperback: 330 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 4, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1512221651
ISBN-13: 978-1512221657
Amazon: Red Dirt Heart 4
Amazon Kindle: Red Dirt Heart 4

Moving from a Texas ranch to an Australian Outback station was a life changing decision for Travis Craig. Though it wasn’t really a decision at all. Something in his bones told him to go, though he had no clue as to why.
Until he met Sutton Station’s owner, Charlie.
Loving Charlie shouldn’t have been easy. The man was stubborn, and riddled with crippling self-doubt. No, it shouldn’t have been easy at all. Yet somehow, falling in love with Charlie was the easiest thing in the world.
Loving him was easy. Living with him, teaching him how to love in return and, more importantly, how to love himself, was not.
But Travis knew all along it’d be worth it. He knew the man with the red dirt heart was destined to be his. Just like he knew the red dirt that surrounded him was where he was supposed to be.
In the final instalment of the Red Dirt Series, we see Charlie through Travis’ eyes. We see how much he’s grown and how much he loves. We go back to Texas with them, and we see Charlie get everything he truly thought he never deserved.
Red Dirt Heart 4 is Travis’ story.
And this is the story of not just one red dirt heart, but two.

I loved this series! It was really nice to get Travis' POV in this story and I'm really going to miss Charlie, Travis and their wonderful "family".

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Obsidian Sun by Jon Keys

Obsidian Sun by Jon Keys
Gay Fantasy
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (July 10, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1634762916
ISBN-13: 978-1634762915
Amazon: Obsidian Sun
Amazon Kindle: Obsidian Sun

Differences must be put aside when vengeance becomes all-consuming.

Anan, a spellweaver of the Talac people, returns from a hunting trip to find his village decimated, his mate dead, and everyone else captured by Varas slavers. The sole survivor is Terja, a young man without the velvet that covers most Talac, marking him as a spellspinner. Since Talac magic requires both a weaver and a spinner, Anan and Terja must move beyond their ingrained mistrust. All that remains is revenge and a desperate plan to rescue their tribesmen before they are sold to Varas pleasure houses. A goal Anan and Terja are willing to die for.

With the blessing of the Talac gods, they discover new and surprising ways to complement each other’s power. But as they race through terrain full of enemies and dangerous creatures to reach their people before they pass into Varas lands, they must take drastic steps to face the overwhelming odds against them. Understanding their connection might be their only hope.

Captivating, immersive worldbuilding, and a story that won't let you go. A truly original work of fantasy that would make as excellent a film as it does a book.

I pretty much gobbled this up in one delicious bite. Beautifully descriptive use of the English language, showing a realistic yet frail, violent fantasy world full of intriguing details. Anan and Terja complement each other so well, as a velvet weaver and a non-velvet spinner they're different but sport a united front against their foes, the Varas addicted to velvet. The plot tells a story of revenge and a battle for the survival of the Talac peoples. A wonderfully woven tale of kilt-wearing heroes, and I can't wait for more by this talented author.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Facing Demons by Lynley Wayne

Facing Demons (Scars Book 3) by Lynley Wayne
Gay Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 436 pages
Publisher: MLR Press (October 10, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1608209601
ISBN-13: 978-1608209606
Amazon: Facing Demons (Scars Book 3)
Amazon Kindle: Facing Demons (Scars Book 3)

When demons from his past interfere with his present, Cam knows Seth is the only one he can trust to help him face them. At the age of fifteen, Seth Dempsey gave his heart to Cameron Reyes. Three years later, Cam shattered it when he walked away. When Cam blows back into Seth's life years later, Seth knows he will do whatever it takes to ensure Cam doesn't slip away again. Even if it means going up against a corrupt DEA agent and a drug cartel. Cameron Reyes was born on the wrong side of the tracks. He fell in love with Seth, but knew the only way to keep him safe was to leave, no matter how much it hurt. Eleven years later, when his life implodes, he knows the only person he can trust is the boy whose heart he broke all those years ago. While they fight to stay one step ahead of everyone and clear Cam's name, can they learn to work together in order to face down the demons of the past and find the happily ever after they have dreamed of?

Perfectly paced and engaging. Had me hooked from the beginning. Well-written and angtsy read. I loved Seth and Cam. The action was incredible.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Daydreamers by Jonathan Harper

Daydreamers by Jonathan Harper
Gay Anthology / Collection / Contemporary General Fiction
Paperback: 164 pages
Publisher: Lethe Press (March 15, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590212967
ISBN-13: 978-1590212967
Amazon: Daydreamers
Amazon Kindle: Daydreamers

Ne'er-do-wells, prodigal sons, and young men without so much as a clue to their present state of mind let alone their futures are waiting to be met in the stories within Daydreamers, Jonathan Harper s debut collection. But these men are not Walter Mittys everyday life refuses to allow them languor. Whether it be the roll of the dice in a Dungeons & Dragons game played in a hostile, rural bar, the lure of body modification and being suspended in front of a crowd, or discovering a body on the beach, the rough edges of each young man cannot help but be noticed, even admired. And once a young man is admired, he needs to decide whether or not to awaken from his daydreams.

Extremely well-written contemporary general fiction with gritty eye for detail and solid reporting from the middle and lower classes. The characters have many problems and no easy answers. Stories themselves are not as memorable as the writing, which is terrific.

I thoroughly enjoyed Harper's prose.  A great skill of good authors is the ability to interest readers in stories and characters in which they might not normally enjoy, and Harper had that ability with me.  I found his work to be a pleasure to read, in spite of being completely out of the genres I would normally be drawn to.  His work is a great achievement for his debut.  

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Rebels by Jeff Mann

Rebels by Jeff Mann
Gay Poetry
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Lethe Press (April 20, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590211146
ISBN-13: 978-1590211144
Amazon: Rebels

Poets have been responding in lyric to the bloody aspects of war since Homer's era, and the American Civil War, in its scale and ferocity, was unquestionably one of the bloodiest. In Rebels, acclaimed poet Jeff Mann ranges the battlefields where such destruction occurred: famous battles like Malvern Hill, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and Cold Harbor, and those lesser known, such as Scary Creek and Cloyd's Farm. In his travels, Mann muses on Southern heritage and the sufferings of the Confederate people, both soldiers and civilians. As he did in his popular Civil War-era novels, Purgatory and Salvation, Mann ''queers'' the War as few other writers have, examining the conflict from a gay man's perspective. In this fine edition, several of Mann's poems have been illustrated by artists, making this volume unique in the fields of both Civil War studies and contemporary poetry.

This is a book of poetry so I'm not sure how to apply the fiction categories, but it is extremely good poetry: vivid, articulate, and grounded in history. Mann's excellent knowledge of the era brings each line to life and recreates a time many of us have lost our connection to. The characters, their relationships, and the erotic stirrings are simultaneously uplifting and tragic. A must-read for anyone interested in the Civil War, its continuing impact on America today, and the powerful bonding of men in war. Mann is a modern master of gay literature.

This was a delight to read.  Mr. Mann varied his prose style throughout, which made for good reading.  The vividness of the imagery Mr. Mann conjured with few words left a lasting impression.  Whether it was the description of a grave, a death, battlefield horrors, or a life long past, all came to life with his beautiful poetry.  It is hard to pick just a few favorite passages; I read a re-read several that became favorites, forever burning the wonderful choreography of words into my memory.

A breathtaking, stunning series of interrelated poems juxtaposing the haunting re-imaginings of a Southern descendant of Civil War fighters as he and his husband travel the Civil War tourist spots and graveyards of the South. The free verse poetry is alive and fresh with nearly shattering revelations that build to a showdown between the heroic history of the heart and soulless participation in the mundane. A sensitive but unsentimental triumph of empathy over enmity, this book is like reading a modern Longfellow: Brilliant.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Never Too Late by Julie Blair

Never Too Late by Julie Blair
Lesbian Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (November 18, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626392137
ISBN-13: 978-1626392137
Amazon: Never Too Late
Amazon Kindle: Never Too Late

What happens when a single night of unexpected passion with a stranger leaves you wanting more?

Twenty years later, Dr. Jamie Hammond thinks she’s put that night far behind her. She’s a successful chiropractor and is about to celebrate a ten-year anniversary with her partner. But instead of reaping the benefits of responsibility and hard work, she finds herself fighting to save her business and relationship as doubt, betrayal, and disappointment tear at the fabric of her life.

Carla Grant is looking for a new challenge after settling her daughter at college. She never imagines that applying for an office manager position will change her life.

As Jamie and Carla work to save Jamie’s business, they will have to examine everything they thought they knew about love, responsibility, and family. Can two women dare to believe that it’s never too late for happily ever after?

Great debut novel.  Easy read with complex MC's and secondary characters. A little heavy on the Melissa Etheridge references though.

Very nice style, the story had a natural flow to it. Characters were exceptionally well developed. Plot moved well without becoming predictable.

This was an excellent story. It's so much cheering for Carla as she moves into her new life, and it was nice the amicable split. Your heart breaks for poor Jamie with all she's struggling with but she handles it believably and without unnecessary drama that would drag the story down. All the characters and their motivations were believable, even the 'bad guys' of the books were very human rather than pure evil. I loved the friendships, the slow burn of Jamie and Carla getting back together. Every moment of this book was a joy.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Hammer and Bone by Kirby Crow

Hammer and Bone by Kirby Crow
LGBT Anthology / Collection / Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 198 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (July 30, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626492050
ISBN-13: 978-1626492059
Amazon: Hammer and Bone
Amazon Kindle: Hammer and Bone

Carnival mystics. Zombie tribes. Bad magic in the Bayou. Mage-princes, alien cities, and soul-stealing priests. The grim monsters in the worlds of these dark, speculative tales are true horrors, but it’s the people you should fear the most.

People like Michel, a boy pining for his best friend, Ray. But a presence in the swamp calls Michel to avenge another lost love, and he must decide which summons to answer. Or Angelo, a prescient cop who denies his visions until they endanger the man he loves. Or Bellew, an overseer in a shantytown of criminals sheltering a revenant and feeding it from their ranks.

From ruined lands of steam and iron, to haunted Southern forests, to brutal city streets where hope and damnation flow from the same spring, only a few stubborn souls possess the heart to challenge evil on its own terms. Some wield magic, some turn to rage or even love, but the ones left standing will survive only if they find the courage to carve their own paths to freedom.

Even if it means carving through flesh.

So many worlds, each intricately crafted and fully formed--so different from one another, yet fully, gloriously brought to life in the space of a short story. Breathtaking characters, and stories that impact like a punch to the gut. This is how speculative fiction should be done.

Sooo creepy. The setting for the book, for the different stories contained within were so wonderfully described that as each story revealed its creepy, horror, paranormal aspect it only served to increase the tension, the creepy factor. Each character within the story were interesting, and they maintained their intrigue throughout. There was very little character development with each story being so short, and the intent of the author for the overall vein of the book/collection, but I still would have liked to see the characters stretch and grow more. The plot of most of the stories was interesting, though some of them were just too confusing or disjointed. An overall great read.

Wow. Just wow. What a freaking journey this was! When it comes to world-building, Crow is a master of her craft. An imaginative collection of weird tales that suck you into their dark fantasy world and won't let you leave without a couple of dents in your heart and a fond memory of every character in each different world. Taking these stories beyond expectations, the author delivers us stories with happy endings and far-less-than happy endings, and both gay and lesbian pairings. Sad and bleak and depressing took on new meanings in this anthology of splice-of-life tales. More than once I was left heartbroken, most of all by Hangfire, a beautiful story of love and loss that left me in tears. The author's creativity deserves a definite thumbs-up!

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Arctic Absolution by Lynn Kelling

Arctic Absolution by Lynn Kelling
Gay Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Fantastic Fiction Publishing (December 16, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1622341996
ISBN-13: 978-1622341993
Amazon: Arctic Absolution
Amazon Kindle: Arctic Absolution

Dixon Rowe is a good man and a good cop who keeps finding himself in bed with the enemy. After he picks up a young ex-con named Jaye Larson for stealing food, Dixon is seduced by the possibility of helping someone truly in need. He tells himself he’s assisting young Jaye out of the goodness of his heart—not because of how sexy Jaye is under all of the tattoos and defiance. But temptation entangles them as the malicious ghosts of Jaye's past returns to haunt their every step. Jaye’s ghosts are bad enough, but the demon from Dixon's past is real enough to put both of their lives in danger.

The author had a way of pulling the reader in even though I had a hard time with the story.  However it is important to know this story will not be for everyone, and in fact is full of topics that could be considered triggers for some readers.  It is angst ridden and at times darker than what I like my stories to be, but I am glad I was given the chance to read this book.

This intense, gritty and and at times heart breaking story had me riveted to every page. Flawed heroes Alaskan Troop Dixon Rowe and ex con Jaye Larson are thrown together under what could have been the worst of circumstances, but there's enough of a spark there to make them want to explore their strange attraction for each other. Both victims of abusive pasts, their attempts to heal one another involve heart wrenching conversations and  at times some violently rough sex. This is not for the faint of heart, but the author does an excellent job of reaching into the men's psyches, exposing their innate fears under the hard exteriors and ultimately giving them the healing they so desperately long for. Top score from me!

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Girl Sex 101 by Allison Moon

Girl Sex 101 by Allison Moon
Lesbian Non Fiction
Perfect Paperback: 388 pages
Publisher: Lunatic Ink (April 7, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0983830959
ISBN-13: 978-0983830955
Amazon: Girl Sex 101
Amazon Kindle: Girl Sex 101

Girl Sex 101 is a sex-ed book like no other, offering helpful info for ladies and lady-lovers of all genders and identities, playful and informative illustrations on each page, and over 100 distinct voices, plus a hot narrative that shows you how to put the info to good use!

Learn how to navigate the twists and turns of female sexuality, with special guidance from thirteen guest sex educators including Nina Hartley, Sex Nerd Sandra, Jiz Lee, Tristan Taormino, Julia Serano, Reid Mihalko, Kelly Shibari, and more!

Girl Sex 101 will teach you...
*The bits and pieces that make up female sexual anatomy
*Simple ways to communicate in the heat of the moment
*How to build a Road Map of your partner s pleasure
*Essential moves for cunnilingus, strap-ons, hand sex and more!
*Positions to avoid fatigue and generate the power you need to rock your girl's world!

You'll gain confidence to please your girl, no matter what your hands-on experience. Buckle your seat belt and get ready to ride!

Additional contributors include: Claudia Astorino, Tobi Hill-Meyer, Tina Horn, Megan Andelloux, Ignacio Rivera, Sophia St. James, Carol Queen, and Ducky Doolittle

Topics include: Safer Sex, STIs, Cunnilingus, Strap-on sex, Trans Women, Intersex, Sex and Disability, Gender Identity, Coming Out, Menopause, Pregnancy, Dyke Drama, Relationship Skills, Flirting, Vibrators and Other Toys, Lesbian Identity, Bisexual and Pansexual Identity, and much more!

This is the book every young woman should have been given instead of dry health class lectures on anatomy and menstruation. In a fun, often irreverent, entertaining way, Moon lays out the realities of sex for women, and though the emphasis is on women having relations with women, the information she shares in a sex-positive, non-judgmental way is vital for all women. With an inclusive atmosphere so that all women find themselves represented in a respectful, realistic way, Moon and her guest educators take the mystery out of how things work, how to approach sex in a positive, co-creative way, and what to avoid. With helpful, and wonderful, illustrations and even a story to illustrate certain points interspersed between the educational bits, everything a woman needs to take the anxiety and mystification out of sex is right here.

Great combination of graphics,  understandable language, and story-telling with wonderful ‘how-to’s’.

I wish I'd had this book when I was twenty, but even reading it at fifty-six I learned a lot! The book is full of information presented in a professional and entertaining way. No matter how experienced or inexperienced a person (this book's not just for girls!) is, this book has something to teach. Allison Moon knows what she's talking about, and she talks about it all. Oh, and it's fun.

I'm rating logical progression as "plot" and layout as "setting."  Characterization – the mildly erotic storyline used as illustration of principles – was strong on diversity but I think individual vignettes would have worked better.  These gals shag everyone. And, finally – This is NOT a book that should be read all at once, and it's not a book to give anyone as entertainment.  As a textbook for healthy consensual sex, it's excellent.

This is an absolutely unique and desperately needed resource for those who love cis women, female-identified women, feminine-of-center persons, female-bodied persons, and even persons whose bodies and identities don't fall neatly into a category. Targeted at the underserved demographic of those wishing to honor and respect a lover's personhood throughout a sexual encounter, Girl Sex 101 focuses heavily on achieving meaningful consent, negotiating boundaries, learning how to communicate about sex with a partner--especially one who's suffered abuse, misgendering, or body issues--and making the sometimes daunting prospect of true physical intimacy attainable for anyone. I can't recommend it highly enough. Everything about it from its charming fictional interludes to its fun illustrations to its up-to-date, sex-positive feminist approach to the subject matter win rave reviews. This book is a must-read for lesbian, multisexual, and trans* spectrum people.

From beginner to old-timer, very informative female sex primer. Easy to read, conversationally written, and very supportive and encouraging of whichever gender lifestyle a woman may choose. Lots of good tips!

It was informative, well written, and I like that the author also didn't want girls to man hate. Very nicely done.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Mastering Love (The Hampton Road Club 4) by Morticia Knight

Mastering Love (The Hampton Road Club 4) by Morticia Knight
Gay Erotic Romance
Series: The Hampton Road Club
Paperback: 234 pages
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing (June 9, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1784306134
ISBN-13: 978-1784306137
Amazon: Mastering Love (The Hampton Road Club 4)
Amazon Kindle: Mastering Love (The Hampton Road Club 4)

Evan sees a Master who could be his whole world and Ned sees a beautiful boy in need. But shattered trust and broken hearts could keep them apart forever. Evan landed on his ex-Master’s doorstep after Master Gabriel dumped him for a virgin. He’d hoped Thomas would take him back, but he’s moved on with his new submissive, Linus. Evan has nowhere to go and barely a penny to his name. Fortunately, Master Aaron and his boy, Sam, invite him to stay at their guesthouse. Alone and abandoned, Evan aches for a Master who can give him more—if only he knew what ‘more’ meant. Master Ned has finally decided to settle down in one place after traveling on the road for years. He’s always loved the Hampton Road Club—it’s a private sanctuary for men such as himself. The roaring twenties might be freer than ever, but the decadence of the sadomasochistic club could put its members in danger if they’re not discreet. Ned’s on the lookout for an untried boy who’s ready to fully submit to him on a daily basis. In return, he plans to train and care for his submissive. If he can also find love, then his life will be perfect. After Evan is introduced to Ned at the club, they have an intense encounter that catches them both by surprise. What should lead to a possible future for them as Master and submissive is destroyed when Ned mysteriously casts Evan aside. Evan wonders if he’ll ever be good enough to keep a Master, and Ned fears he may have lost the best thing that ever happened to him. Shattered trust and broken hearts have to be repaired before Evan and Ned can find their way to each other—if it’s not already too late.

What a beautifully, erotic, and loving story that gives the reader a chance to imagine how BDSM relationships began before they were officially labelled, before the leather daddies, and before the grand surge of heterosexual influences. This book is another glimpse into the birth of what would become a movement, and Ms Knight did an exceptional job with the entire thing, from start to finish. As a member of the community being written about, it was interesting to see the author's imagining of how the community began, formed, and grew, how the ultimate care and longing for permanency for their submissives turned into the basic tenements of safe, sane, consensual (SSC) and then to risk, awareness, consensual, kink(RACK). The plot was very well done, each character was delightfully and wondrously explored and delved into, from the main characters to the secondary characters. The settings were fresh and alive, described so vividly they were like a movie running across the screen of my mind. This can all be attributed to Ms Knight's writing style. The emotions the characters displayed were splashed across the words of the page in bright, emotionally, gripping colors. It was an amazing read and I can't wait to read every other book in this series.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Finding Matt by JD Ruskin

Finding Matt by JD Ruskin
Gay Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 230 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (December 5, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1632162768
ISBN-13: 978-1632162762
Amazon: Finding Matt
Amazon Kindle: Finding Matt

When six-year-old Matt Wilson and his Shih Tzu, Pixie, step out of the Stanton Community Hospital and disappear, his desperate parents convince Jaron Greenberg, a local pet psychic, to aid the police in the search. Jaron specializes in finding lost kitties and fixing problem pooches. He isn't prepared for a case with so much at stake. And as soon as he starts, the abilities he's had since childhood begin changing and growing in unexpected ways.

Paulo Silva is a veteran detective new to the small town of Stanton. As the low man on the totem pole at Stanton PD, he isn't happy when the chief assigns him to babysit the pet psychic instead of actively working the missing child case. As Jaron uncovers clues, Paulo starts to wonder if he might be the real thing. Or maybe it's just his testosterone reacting to what he’s sure is mutual attraction.

The story moved forward enough to keep me invested and I liked the characters. The intensity of the kidnapping situation was very good and realistic considering what brought everything together. A good story all the way.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Vampire and the P.I. by J.P. Bowie

The Vampire and the P.I. by J.P. Bowie
Gay Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Wilde City Press (June 9, 2015)
Amazon Kindle: The Vampire and the P.I.

When Sean Martin was shot in the hip he thought his days in law enforcement were over. Leaving the force with commendations and a healthy disability agreement he opened up his own private investigative business, and for a while enjoyed success until a jealous and homophobic ex-colleague spread a story about Sean assaulting an underage boy, the son of an influential congressman.

Overnight, Sean’s business tanked, leaving him broke and with zero clients. That is until Master Vampire, Rafael Barrantes, hires him to find the murderer of Julian Hunter, a young male escort. Sean isn’t crazy about working for a vampire—but all that changes when he meets Arturo Menendez, Rafael’s private secretary.

The stunning and uninhibited Arturo wastes no time in showing his admiration for the handsome PI. He immediately tries, and succeeds in seducing Sean. In between bouts of the most amazing sex Sean has ever had, he discovers that the facts surrounding Julian’s murder have been swept under the carpet. Perhaps by pressure from his wealthy ‘clients’ whose veneer of respectability might be irreparably damaged if it were disclosed they had used Julian’s services.

With Arturo’s help, Sean wades through a web of deceit, lies and treachery trying not only to find Julian’s killer, but also to vindicate himself of the false rape charge that ruined his career. In the process he is beaten, kidnapped by a bad cop, and bitten by a rogue vampire. With the odds stacked against him, can he possibly ever solve the mystery of Julian’s murder, and can Arturo, even with his vampire powers, save Sean from a grisly death?

This author is very good with writing interesting storylines that keep the reader involved with the characters. Sean and Auturo were good together and there were a lot of twists that involved a lot of characters. The overall story was interesting all the same.  I think this is the 3rd story by this author that I have read, and for the most part, I like their style.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: After The End by Sara York

After The End by Sara York
Gay Young Adult
Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 24, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1502483734
ISBN-13: 978-1502483737
Amazon: After The End
Amazon Kindle: After The End

With international flights crisscrossing the skies on an hourly basis, are we ever really safe? When a strain of the Ebola virus mutates; it spreads quickly leaving the medical community shattered. People are dropping in the streets and life, as most know it, comes to an end. Two city dweller survivors, Dean and William, are forced to flee the city and live in the wilderness—where dangers lurk behind every tree and in every valley. Not everyone alive after the end is good, and William and Dean are faced with challenges that would bring many to their knees. Growing up in the hood of Atlanta, Dean knows how to overcome trials, but he knows nothing of love. Can he sustain a relationship with William, or will his doubts end them before they even have a chance? From birth William has had a silver spoon in his mouth and two in each hand, but the end brings him face to face with reality where he has to take responsibility for his life. After the end, money has no meaning, and life is lived on the edge. Join William and Dean after the end and find out how close to the edge they come.

Loved.It! One thing I'll have to say about Sara York's writing is, She gets better and better the more she writes. This book has so much going on, action, romance, mystery, you name it! It was well written, the story line sucked me right in and I became part of their world. I felt what these young men were feeling and that, in my opinion, is the best thing an author can accomplish. Well done!

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Deadening (Sisters of Spirits Trilogy 3) by Yvonne Heidt

The Deadening (Sisters of Spirits Trilogy 3) by Yvonne Heidt
Lesbian Paranormal Romance
Series: Sisters of Spirits Trilogy
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (February 17, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626392439
ISBN-13: 978-1626392434
Amazon: The Deadening (Sisters of Spirits Trilogy 3)
Amazon Kindle: The Deadening (Sisters of Spirits Trilogy 3)

Shade Stewart is a member of the Sisters of Spirits paranormal investigative group and a self-proclaimed necromancer. Renowned for leaving a trail of broken hearts, she walks between darkness and the light, searching to ease the emptiness in her spirit with women and whatever else might ease the pain. After an explosion leaves her in a coma, Shade is trapped in a place between this reality and her nightmares, fighting for her life and her soul.

Raven Sanchez, a fiery generational witch, is the newest member of SOS. Instantly attracted to Shade and the power she possesses, Raven pursues her, ignoring the darkness that surrounds her. Blinded by her desire, she uses her magic in an attempt to win Shade’s heart, setting in motion forces beyond her control.

I had read the first two in the series and was looking forward to the next book. Very nicely done. This was Shade's story and Heidt really developed her character so that she was fully fleshed-out by the end. I love the author's imagination!

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin

Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin by Ron J. Suresha
Bisexual Fantasy
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Lethe Press (October 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590214641
ISBN-13: 978-1590214640
Amazon: Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin: naughty, unexpurgated stories of the beloved wise fool from the Middle and Far East
Amazon Kindle: Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin: naughty, unexpurgated stories of the beloved wise fool from the Middle and Far East

This much-anticipated sequel to the award-winning collection detailing the exploits of the beloved 800-year-old Turkish "wise fool," Mullah Nasruddin, presents well over 250 hilarious and authentic folktales, dozens appearing in English for the first time. Author Suresha has done extensive research to unearth many of these centuries-old racy tales of the "naughty Nasruddin"-stories previously suppressed for moralistic reasons-which explore taboo themes as the Mullah interacts with his family, community, and strangers during his many journeys. Readers will be amused as well as amazed by this unadulterated account of the truly Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin.

I couldn't put it down!  And it's non-fiction! Suresha sets it up in a very scholarly fashion in his introduction, providing all the historical/academic references, evidence of his own scholarship as well as his personal passion for the topic, and warnings about the salacious nature of the work.  If ever an introduction was going to get you to read a book, it was that one! Then the content was in bite-sized, parable-style chunks.  Memorable, witty, and yes, naughty at times.  Suresha did a good job warning about racism, sexism, scatological humor, etc. sufficiently that I was able to put it all in context and not be offended.  In fact, with each of the pieces that was one of the many things he warned about, I would nod a bit and think "oh yes, he warned me about this." I had heard of Nasruddin before, but I couldn't have said anything about him of substance.  Now I feel I know how he thinks.  I'm actually going to go out and find Suresha's first book on the topic, because I found this one so entertaining.  And I'll buy this one when it's published because I'd like a physical copy of it in order to flip around and mark my favorites.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Camellia 2, Spring Blossom by Caitlin Ricci & Cari Z.

Spring Blossom (Camellia Book 2) by Caitlin Ricci & Cari Z.
Lesbian Erotic Romance
Series: Camellia
Paperback: 150 pages
Publisher: Less Than Three Press (July 27, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620045869
ISBN-13: 978-1620045862
Amazon: Spring Blossom (Camellia Book 2)
Amazon Kindle: Spring Blossom (Camellia Book 2)

Relationships, BDSM, and family are all complicated enough on their own—and almost impossible when they come crashing together unexpectedly. When Danny's brother sees a bruise that Danny obtained while in a scene with Lucy, she faces judgement from her family and their reactions send her running to Lucy for a safe place to clear her head. But staying with her girlfriend isn't the solution to the problem, and if she's going to untangle the mess that her life has become, Danny first has to start with taking control of herself.

I loved it and I want more of the story!!!  I found both MC's well written and would love to hear more of their story. Both are complex with so much more to offer.  The authors have a smooth easy style to their writing.

Best work I’ve seen so far. The only thing I would note is that since it’s shorter than the other books I’ve read, it has a slight advantage over other works. But apart from that, the characters are sympathetic (though a bit too romanticized in the some scenes) and well-developed and the plot conflict is tied up well at the end. The sex scenes were hot and very well written and the setting felt familiar and I had no trouble visualizing it. The book was also very well written – minimal typos, grammar rules adhered to, word choice both correct and evocative. I would be happy to read subsequent works by these authors.

One of the best romances I read this year. I was lucky enough to catch the first book last year and even more so to catch the latest installment. Beautifully written and with surprising twists, I couldn't stop reading this wonderful romance.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Jerricho's Freedom by JC Wallace

Jerricho's Freedom by JC Wallace
Gay Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Amber Allure (July 3, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1681759888
ISBN-13: 978-1681759883
Amazon: Jerricho's Freedom
Amazon Kindle: Jerricho's Freedom

Jerricho never expected to fall in love with Rex, the sexy, construction foreman, but he did. Too bad tradition forbids Jerry from marrying for love. Prince of the clandestine Anzuni demon clan, a Baelso (bearer of children), and a virgin at twenty-four, tradition dictates that Jerry marry a man chosen for him. Despite his soul-deep love for Rex, Jerry has no choice but to follow through with his obligation as prince and marry someone he doesn’t love.

But Jerry isn’t prepared for his dominant, aggressive fiancé who is interested in marrying him only for the future title of king. Facing the reality that he will lose his virginity to the cold man, Jerry flees to Rex for one night of passion. When Jerry finds himself pregnant with Rex’s baby, however, the actions of his enraged fiancé release Jerry from his marriage obligation.

But just when Jerry believes he will marry for love, he and Rex are ripped away from life as they know it. Betrayals, kidnappings, cruel experiments, pregnant men, and the reappearance of the Anzuni’s greatest enemy force Jerry and Rex to fight for their lives, their love, and their unborn child...

I enjoyed the story with all its twists and turns and great action. I did feel that it was too long though.

JC has become my favorite go to author for paranormal romance. I love his stories for throwing paranormal into my world in such a way that I actually believe there are demons out there now. The easy flow of dialogue and well fleshed out characters kept me engaged throughout the story.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Blue on Black by Carole Cummings

Blue on Black by Carole Cummings
Gay Fantasy
Paperback: 380 pages
Publisher: DSP Publications (June 16, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1632169495
ISBN-13: 978-1632169495
Amazon: Blue on Black
Amazon Kindle: Blue on Black

Kimolijah Adani―Class 2 gridTech, beloved brother, most promising student the Academy's ever had the privilege of calling their own, genius mechanical gridstream engineer, brilliantly pioneering inventor... and dead man. But that's what happens when a whiz kid messes with dynamic crystals and, apparently, comes to the attention of Baron Petra Stanslo. Killed for his revolutionary designs, Kimolijah Adani had been set to change the world with his impossible train that runs on nothing more than gridstream locked in a crystal. Technically it shouldn't even be possible, but there is no doubt it works.

Bas is convinced the notoriously covetous and corrupt Stanslo had something to do with Kimolijah Adani's tragic and suspicious end. A Directorate Tracker, Bas has finally managed to catch the scent of Kimolijah Adani's killer, and it leads right into Stanslo's little desert barony. For almost three years, Bas has tried to find a way into Stanslo's Bridge, and when he finally makes it, shock is too small a word for what―or, rather, whom―he finds there.

Very gritty world, and the author did a good job describing it without going into all sorts of exposition. The love interest has to be one of the oddest ones I’ve seen in a book, and very refreshing to see a new take on something like that. The author used a lot of customized terms and concepts for the magic/technology system, sometimes without enough explanation as to what a term actually means. The slow build of the plot and the one-side attraction keep the reader interested. The fact that the protagonist was interested in men and not women was secondary to the actual plot, and handled very well. The story dose suffer from the “build drama because the characters just tell each other things” trope. Overall really enjoyed it.

I am absolutely over the moon about this book. It starts out right in the middle of the action and fills in gaps expertly as we go along. The voice of Bas is really crisp and distinct, and the writing style and narration is simply phenomenal. I highly recommend this book and just love the way it unfolded.

The writing and plot and characters were superb, and the novel strikes some familiar vibes, à la Steven King's "Dark Tower" series, in that it's a bit steampunk, a bit horror, and a bit psychological thriller. There's also an element of fantastic realism, or magic.

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan

Carry the Ocean (The Roosevelt Book 1) by Heidi Cullinan
Gay Young Adult
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (April 7, 2015)
Amazon Kindle: Carry the Ocean (The Roosevelt Book 1)

Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

The Roosevelt, Book 1

High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.

But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When his untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility nearby.

As Jeremey finds his feet at The Roosevelt, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is behind the autism. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.

Well written and empathetic, tackling characters and situations rarely discussed in other novels.

This is one of the best, most touching, truest books I've ever read, in any genre, in any category. Jeremey and Emmet's love grows from a tiny, uncertain spark to a roaring flame that warms everyone near it. Their struggles--one with major depressive disorder, the other with autism--are related and developed with a deft hand by author Cullinan, and their sexualities are nuanced and handled with impressive thoughtfulness. To read "Carry the Ocean" is to enter their minds and their world, and the journey is so intense that at their victories, both small and large, I found myself with tears in my eyes and goosebumps prickling my skin. I never knew I needed a story like this; now I feel my life has changed in some wonderful way by experiencing it.

What I loved about this book was how pure and real the characters were portrayed. It was like the author took two people who the world would loook at as deficient, different, strange, damaged, and let us see just how awesome and normal they really are...or, rather, since there is no normal, how utterly awesome they are.

It tackles mental illness and autism.  Makes you see their struggles to just live their lives. One of the sayings in the book is “It’s like Elwood Blues says; everybody needs somebody to love.  I’m an everybody. I get somebody.”  It educates you, entertains you, and inspires you.   I truly believe this book should be read by everyone.  As she says in the book “There is no normal, not really. Not a right and a wrong way to be. But there is belonging”

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: A Fashionable Indulgence by KJ Charles

A Fashionable Indulgence: A Society of Gentlemen Novel by KJ Charles
Gay Historical Romance
Publisher: Loveswept (August 11, 2015)
Amazon Kindle: A Fashionable Indulgence: A Society of Gentlemen Novel

In the first novel of an explosive new series from K. J. Charles, a young gentleman and his elegant mentor fight for love in a world of wealth, power, and manipulation.

When he learns that he could be the heir to an unexpected fortune, Harry Vane rejects his past as a Radical fighting for government reform and sets about wooing his lovely cousin. But his heart is captured instead by the most beautiful, chic man he’s ever met: the dandy tasked with instructing him in the manners and style of the ton. Harry’s new station demands conformity—and yet the one thing he desires is a taste of the wrong pair of lips.

After witnessing firsthand the horrors of Waterloo, Julius Norreys sought refuge behind the luxurious facade of the upper crust. Now he concerns himself exclusively with the cut of his coat and the quality of his boots. And yet his protégé is so unblemished by cynicism that he inspires the first flare of genuine desire Julius has felt in years. He cannot protect Harry from the worst excesses of society. But together they can withstand the high price of passion.

Historical romance is often hit or miss, since the authors have a tendency to use only what they've encountered in other historicals, particularly Regencies. KJ Charles is so thorough with her research, you feel transported rather than merely plopped down in a setting. The feel of the streets, the pulse of London at that time, the mannerisms, the speech patterns, the smallest details of fashion are all so beautifully accurate, so painstakingly verified, I never once felt the need to look up a possible anachronism. Add to that the specific time placement around actual events, and the setting becomes so much more than window dressing. The characters are fully voiced and fully realized, always flawed as real people are, but with the growth one hopes to see in a romance. The despicable often becomes sympathetic as we're drawn farther and farther into the motives and machinations of a London in social turmoil. A beautifully paced and presented work, A Fashionable Indulgence hits all the right notes to render dry history a lovely, emotional tapestry.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  The intrigue behind the making or breaking of a gentleman in a very tumultuous time had me riveted to the read. KJ Charles takes the reader through the political unrest in both the government and the Ton as easily as silk slides through one's fingers--smoothly and luxuriously, and wanting more.  The characters were well rounded and their background stories added to the intrigue to move the plot along at the nice pace.

This historical romance manages to balance out a love story, a social commentary, and a young man's coming of age, and do it well. I loved Julius - his veneer of perfection was clearly hiding something deeper, and I was fascinated to watch it revealed. I also enjoyed Harry. He was in a tough spot, and it was easy to sympathize with his desire after all the hard years, to live a life of ease. Harry's dilemma, choosing between a happy life and the deep ideals of his parents, had no easy solution, and that gave just a touch of bitterness to the romantic resolution.

Very strong Regency with authentic details, solid writing, and steamy m/m relationship. Assured writing from beginning to end and many plot twists make it an entertaining read.

An emotional and entertaining historical romance! I liked the characters a lot, and the plot held my interest throughout.

It features a character who doesn’t know he’s descended from a wealthy family suddenly thrust into high society, and coached by a dandy obsessed with high-quality garments. It’s well-researched and a delightful read.

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Make Me Soar (Collars & Cuffs #6) by K.C. Wells

Make Me Soar (Collars & Cuffs #6) by K.C. Wells
Gay Erotic Romance
Paperback: 290 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (June 22, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1634762940
ISBN-13: 978-1634762946
Amazon: Make Me Soar (Collars & Cuffs #6)
Amazon Kindle: Make Me Soar (Collars & Cuffs #6)

Collars and Cuffs: Book Six

Anyone who frequents Collars & Cuffs knows Dorian Forrester is built for pain, including Dorian himself. But everyone has it wrong. For six years, Dorian’s chased a feeling that remains tantalizingly out of his reach. Unteachable, Dorian can take anything and everything a Dom can throw at him. Still, it’s not enough. Dorian needs… something more. Something he won’t find at Collars & Cuffs.

Dorian’s search takes him out of the safe environment he’s known for years, out of his depth, and into a realm of deep, dark trouble.

Alan Marchant has been watching Dorian with interest for a while and knows there’s more to Dorian than his label of “pain slut” suggests. When Dorian disappears, Alan and his friend Leo set out to find him. But the disoriented young man discovered cowering in a hotel room is not the Dorian they know and love. That Dorian is shattered. It’s up to Alan to pick up the pieces and show Dorian there are better ways to fly.

They may be off on a new journey together, but their destination will rock them both to the core.

I really enjoyed this story. K.C. Wells takes BDMS on a all different level, more mental that physical, and the way she does is amazing. You really can picture the scenes in your mind. It's a story of hurt that turn in self-exploration, a journey of self-discovery to find love. And you will love Dorian, cry for him, praise him for his achievement. And all of this thanks to the amazing writing style. I loved the all series of Collars and Cuffs, but I am sure this is the best one.

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Everything Changes by Melanie Hansen

Everything Changes by Melanie Hansen
Gay Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (March 13, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1632165694
ISBN-13: 978-1632165695
Amazon: Everything Changes
Amazon Kindle: Everything Changes

What happens when friendship catches fire?

Former Marine and lower-leg amputee Carey Everett keeps a grueling schedule of counseling fellow war veterans and their families. The injury he received in Afghanistan forces him to rely on a reserve of strength he didn’t even know he had. A much deserved vacation will let him reconnect with his best friend, who saved his life and has been there for him through devastating injury and painful recovery.

Part-time EMT and aspiring singer Jase DeSantis has been in love with Carey for years, but he’s come to accept that his straight friend will never be able to offer more. Jase fills his days with band rehearsals, ambulance shifts, and willing groupies, all while trying to cope with debilitating PTSD.

A week of sun, fun, and music in San Diego changes Jase and Carey’s lives forever when their relationship takes an unexpected turn. Jase has been longing for that change, but it leaves Carey reeling with confusion. As Jase fights to hold things together, Carey deals with doubts, fears, and his own preconceived notions about labels and the true nature of love.

This is a great read with more than a little angst.  If you love the friends to lover’s sub-genre then this is the book for you.

Depth of research, emotion, connection, feeling, love, hot sex, and even angst and realism that the author put into the story. It was the same with the setting and character development, the author did such an exceptional job with them, that I felt as if I know Jase and Carey. I felt as if I served along with them. As if I grew up with them. I could taste the Afghani sand, feel the splatter of warm blood against my skin, I felt as if I were ducking from the spray of bullets and the hail of fire and bombs from above. Sweat dripped down my brow as Jase and Carey relived their time in the service, and when they felt pain rip through their bodies, Mrs. Hansen did such a great job describing it, putting the reader there in the warzone with them, melding their minds and hearts with Jase and Carey that I too felt pain. As a veteran serviceman who suffers from PTSD as well and sees a therapist and is on antianxiety medication, Mrs. Hansen's descriptions of combat, of the comraderie between soldiers, veterans, and active servicemembers, and the way they bond, look out for each other, form attachments, and even with their families, and her vivid depictions of PTSD, its effects and some of the treatments were spot on and strikingly realistic. The author's writing style can only be described with one word: Breathtaking. She did an amazing job, bringing such a real, true, startling vivid story to life. I, for one, hope that there is more with Jase and Carey. I don't feel as if there story is complete and perhaps those small niggling issues will be addressed in a second book if there is one. But even if there isn't, Mrs. Hansen did such a perfectly imperfect job of writing this story that she now goes on my auto-buy list. Worth every point.

This was an outstanding book. It sucked me in and held me enthralled from start to finish. The flashbacks to Afghanistan were written so well that I felt as if I were there smelling the grit of the dirt and sand, the copper of blood and the acrid scent of gunpowder in the air. Just a phenomenal read, the best thing I’ve read in this contest this year.

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards - Cover Contest - Final Round

The first 10 covers for Design and same for Illustration (with some tie-in) are now on for the Final Round of the Rainbow Awards Cover contest.

Final Round will be open until midnight of December 7th. You can access the vote page here:

At today we count 3.611 votes in Round 2 from 434 persons who took the poll.


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