These stories can be any genre, but they all have main characters who are LGBTQ+ . I separate them out so they are easier for you to find. 🙂
TWICE BAKED by Andrew Grey
Contemp. LGBTQ Romance
Luke is a food blogger—mostly about food he doesn’t like. He has a large following, so large that he gets asked to be a judge on a television cooking competition, but it means leaving Philadelphia and moving to LA for the filming. When he gets there, he discovers one of the other judges is Meyer, his ex. Meyer is solidly in the closet and kept Luke as his dirty little secret for years. For Meyer, it was a fling—but one that didn’t leave him alone. For Luke, it was real, but Meyer hurt him badly. Still, when the two meet again, things heat up in the kitchen—and bedroom. But there’s someone who’s trying to make things bad for them.
Things I liked: This is a cute romance that builds on the popularity of cooking competitions, but from the perspective of judges not the contestants. It puts the reader behind the scenes with the cameras, the daily stress that goes with this kind of work. The issues between Luke and Meyer are believable as is Meyer’s problems with his parents and with coming out in general. The ending was satisfying with a HEA for them (not giving this away. This is a romance which means it’s all about the relationship and ending with a HEA or at the very least, a HFN (happy for now). The villain caught me by surprise—nicely done.
Things I didn’t like: Really? Not much. It’s fun, light, romantic, with just a little bit of a mystery to ramp up the anxiety.
Recommendation: A good book for anyone who wants a nice, light M/M romance.
Thanks to Dreamspinner Press for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
LUCIFER’S LITIGATOR by TJ Nichols
LGBTQ+ Paranormal Romance
To get free from his contract with the god Plutus, Will has to fix his one regret in life—Tom. But twenty-five years have passed since he’d left his first love.
Will had grown up poor. He’d thought getting a degree in law would change that, but he didn’t have the name to go with the degree and nobody wanted him. Enter Plutus who offers him everything Will ever wanted—more money than he knows what to do with, prestige, and more. All he has to do is work for the gods, keeping people from breaking their own contracts with the gods. After twenty-five years, Will is tired of it all. Tired of sending people to their doom. But the only way to break the contract is to fix his one regret—except it’s not as easy as it sounds. The gods don’t like to lose the souls they’ve collected.
Things I liked: The story! It’s so unique and different. In this case, the gods are the bad guys and Lucifer is a good guy (kind of). The issues between Tom and Will are believable and well done. The setting of Perth, Australia is also different for me to read. The setting was a little thin, but overall, it worked. We definitely see how far Will has come from his poor start to the penthouse suite, Jaguar car, and fancy clothes/bling. We also see how conflicted he is about what he does, and how conflicted Tom is about coming out. Just a well-done story.
What I didn’t like: Honestly, very little. It was a little slow to start, but so intriguing a premise that I kept reading—thankfully.
Recommendation: A definite recommendation for anyone who likes M/M paranormal romances.
THRALL by Ravon Silvius
This is a story full of magic and vampires. The old empire has fallen into ruin and vampires and thralls are overrunning the land. Kaiden was once the village drunk. Now, he’s a thrall—servant to a vampire master and driven by his thirst for blood. And yet, he’s different from the other thrills. Unlike them, he still has a mind. When his master orders him to kill Johann, a vampire hunter, Kaiden resists the order. Johann sees this and realizes that Kaiden is not a mindless bloodsucker. He takes Kaiden back to his compound, much to the consternation of the other hunters. With Johann’s help, Kaiden breaks free from his master, but he can never be human again. However, he might be able to turn into something more—a vampire master. Kaiden and Johann set out to find out about the old empire and the old magics, and find much more along the way.
Things I liked: This isn’t your normal vampire story. It’s about a young man who was made into a slave, but he fights to retain a bit of his humanity. The characters are well-drawn, believable (yes, they’re vampires and hunters – but it’s a fantasy), and have issues. They’re good and bad, with hopes and dreams. The setting is detailed enough that you feel like you’re there without being overbearing. The author makes good use of all the senses. I liked the plot—the reasons for everything that happened. Yes, I’m being vague—I will not give away an author’s story—but the author set things up and followed those points in an acceptable manner. I liked the ending. It’s not a romance. There’s no HEA. But it’s a good ending—as good as it can be with what the author set up. And from the ending, I can believe there’s a chance for further stories in this universe.
Things I didn’t like: Honestly? I thought it was a little slow. And yet… everything that happened needed to happen.
Recommendation: This is an epic fantasy which means there’s a lot going on so don’t expect a quick read. If you’re up for a book that is long, has vampires, hunters, magic, and just a touch of romance, then this book is for you.
Thanks to the publisher for providing this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
IN SAFE KEEPING by Victoria Sue
Lucas is a firefighter who lost his son and wife in a fire. His wife was running away from him because of his job. While working the fire at the motel, the other firefighters found them…along with Lucas’s brother (who survived but was injured). Lucas blames his brother Mark for everything and hasn’t spoken to him for three years. While clearing an area of wildfire, Lucas comes across Owen and a baby girl hiding out in a cabin. He does manage to save them, but realizes there’s something wrong. Owen and the baby disappear from the hospital before Lucas can ask them what’s wrong. Then he finds out. Owen is on the run from a gangster (Damien) who murdered baby Mia’s mother—Owen’s friend—in front of Owen in order to control him. Owen is supposed to testify at a trial against Damien, but he has to survive first—which isn’t easy since people in the marshal’s office and in the police department are on Damien’s payroll. The only person he can trust is Lucas.
This is the standard person in jeopardy trope, but that’s not a bad thing. There are lot’s of twists and turns along the way and internal and external conflicts galore. The characters are realistic and believable, the situations plausible, and the ending is satisfying. I love that when Lucas is hurt, he turns to the one person he stopped trusting—his brother. That was really good.
Things I liked: The characters. They are realistic and I love the dog and the baby combination, especially when she calls him B-bee (dog’s name is Bailey). Nicely done. I love that the brothers resolved their issues and that the bad guy gets his (okay, not really giving anything away. You know in this kind of story that’s going to happen!). I also like that the author gave me a bit of a surprise as to who was working for Damien. I didn’t expect what happened there (definitely not giving that away!). I loved the baby having the men wrapped around her little finger, and them accepting it. I liked the romance. It was sweet and developed slowly, though they were in constant danger. Both men had issues, but overcame them to build something worth having.
Things I didn’t like: Not much. It’s a sweet, standard romantic suspense story with lots of action, nastiness, happiness, and more.
Recommendation: Definitely recommend to anyone who likes M/M romantic suspense. Am going to find more books from this author as she has a good style and gives a satisfying read.
Thanks to Dreamspinner Press for providing this ARC in return for an honest review.
SUMMER OF HUSH by RL Merrill
This is an amazing story. Easy to read (though, to be honest, I didn’t get all the rock metal references). But even with that, it was still a great story.
Krish—aka The Guru—is a music blogger. He’s been writing his blog anonymously for six years and has millions of followers, including Silas, leader of the band Hush. Krish gets the chance to go on the Warped Tour (this is a real thing, I discovered. A tour for multiple bands that started in 1995) and gets to meet his idol, Silas. There are instant sparks between Silas and Krish, but also too many secrets. When Krish does come out as The Guru, some of the band members don’t take it well. They’ve been burned by journalists and keeping his identity secret doesn’t sit well with them.
There are accidents, fights, making up, making out, and more as the fates try to keep Krish and Silas apart, but also keep throwing them back together. As in most romances, it all works out in the end with a HEA that satisfies.
What I liked: The mixture of reality (the real tour) and imagination (not a real band) kept the story on the believable side. The characters were well drawn, making them feel like you could go meet them. The settings—on the bus with the band and all the things that go with cramming a bunch of young men into a bus for long periods of time. The diversity of the characters.
What I didn’t like: Honestly? Nothing. This is a well-written, believable romance that ends in a HEA that satisfies.
Recommendation: A good read for anyone who likes M/M romances. You don’t even need to understand the music scene to “get” this book. A definite recommend.
Thanks to the publisher for providing this free ARC in return for an honest review.
AFTER THE FALL by L.A. Witt
This is the latest installment in the Tucker Springs series, none of which I’ve read before, but you don’t have to have read any of them to know what’s going on in this story. It is truly stand-alone—for which I am grateful.
The story is told from the point of view of Nathan and is in first person, so it’s all him. He’s a receptionist/clerk/office person for an acupuncturist. He’s also a lover of horses and manages to save enough to purchase a beauty—Tsarina. On their first trail ride, they’re galloping up a steep path when a motorcycle comes roaring out of nowhere and spooks the horse. This causes a fall where Tsarina ends up on top of Nathan. Not good for Nathan. The horse is okay. Nathan, however, ends up with a broken leg and, when he punches Ryan (the cycle rider) in the face, also a broken wrist. Nathan ends up with casts on his leg and arm and has to give up on his dream of riding his horse for several months. Interesting point: The author obviously knows her horses and lingo and uses it well to enhance the story.
Then Ryan offers to take over riding Tsarina for Nathan and the story takes off. The men form a comfortable relationship, get to know each other, and slowly but surely start a little romance.
I liked how the author gave both men relationship hang-ups, but some of Nathan’s just went a little overboard for me. Especially the first sex scene where he freaks out about not being in control but we’re not told why or what happened to make him so…insecure.
Also, there was a lot of repetition of scenes. I got to the point where wanted to read something different and skipped ahead. A lot. After a certain point, there wasn’t much going on that hadn’t happened before: Nathan gets help going up or down the stairs, they go visit Tsarina, they go to a restaurant to eat, they talk too long and leave the restaurant late. Add in some sex scenes about halfway through and go through everything again—including the sex. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. It just got repetitive.
There was the usual romance story dust up where it looks like they’ll never be together—though you know they will—and the story has a satisfying ending.
Ms. Witt’s writing is full of humor and snark, as well as emotions. I found myself actually laughing out loud on a few occasions. The sex scenes were well done—even if they did seem to repeat. Explicit but never clinical, and emotional and romantic, despite a couple of casts getting in the way.
Recommendation: This is a solid romance about two guys who are realistic and a gorgeous and there’s a beautiful horse to boot. A definite read for those who like light standard romances.
I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
TAKE DOWN by Jess Anastasi
LGBTQ+ Romantic suspense
Caveats: contains physical violence
Danny Jones left his comfortable job in Houston to return home to the small town of Everness to help his mom who has cancer. In Houston, he was out and comfortable, but when he returns, he has to go back into the closet or risk the wrath of his abusive father. Then he meets Deputy Jake Perez, a new resident who is on the trail of a psychotic killer. They meet when Danny runs his truck into a disabled car (at a blind curve) and Jake saves his life. There is instant attraction, but Danny doesn’t dare do anything about it. Then the bodies start piling up and everything points to Danny.
This was a story that started intensely with the accident and subsequent explosion. And it didn’t let up.
The characters of Danny and Jake are three-dimensional with issues, both internal and external that makes them realistic. The secondary characters, especially the sheriff, are there as strong support rather than just background. There was a strong attraction between the two main characters and grew organically as the story moved forward. I loved Jake’s sensitivity to Danny’s wish to keep his father from finding out about them and Danny’s determination to help his mom even though all he wants to do is get away from his father.
Although it’s pretty obvious who is doing all the killing, it works for the story because this is a romantic suspense and not a solid murder mystery. The author does a good job of building the suspense and keeping you on the edge of your seat when Danny disappears. Jake is the only one who believes Danny is still alive. Danny’s father is truly nasty—but the author introduces a bit of humanity to him when he realizes Danny is gone and everyone thinks he killed him. That was an interesting scene, well thought-out and well-done.
Details: the setting is a small town in Texas near Houston. But we really don’t know any details about it other than that – oh, and that there’s one bar in town. Still, the lack of details isn’t a big problem, but a little more would have been nice.
So… romance, suspense, murder, acceptance, and more combined to make a compelling read that keeps you turning the page. I definitely recommend this book.
FOUR by Tia Fielding
LGBTQ+ romance with triggers
Caveat: There are a lot of triggers in this story… but they are handled in such a way as to make the story readable for most people. There are some who may still react to some of the issues. Be aware that there are subjects of PTSD, abuse, violence, and more – but told as in the past by characters saying what happened to them in the past, not present.
This was a difficult story to read, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good story. It really is. The characters are believable and sympathetic. The world building—a small town—is done well, giving you a brief look into the lives of the people who live there.
The story is basically about two men—Kaos and Padraig (Paddy). Kaos is a young person who is gender fluid with a past (as are all the characters in this story). An ex-con, he was in an abusive relationship. He finally got the nerve to leave and move to Acker to be with his friend (and ex-cellmate) Makai and Makai’s mate, and then he meets Paddy. Paddy is the town vet, 47 years old (a good 20 years older than Kaos) who was married for 23 years to Marcus. Marcus died and Paddy turned in on himself. Then he meets Kaos and his world is turned upside down. (Please note: the author tells the reader from the outset that Kaos is fine with the he/him designation so I am using that here).
This is a simple story about the men, their friends, their pasts, their current life, and possible futures. It’s not your standard romance. Kaos has girly days and boy days and Paddy (and others in town) have to learn to accept him as he is. Kaos has to learn how to accept that no everyone is violent and that gentle love can and does exist. This story has a lot of love, forgiveness, acceptance, and looks into the human spirit.
As noted above, there are a lot triggers in this book which needs to be noted for some readers, but they are not heavily on the page. They are triggers the characters experience due to their pasts and how they deal with them.
Still, it is a good story and has a satisfying end that shows that even the most broken people can be put back together—maybe with a few cracks here and there, but the glue of love eventually heals all.
ANHAGA by Lisa Henry
This was an interesting book. Okay, I know, that’s never a good way to start a review, but it was. I had a little trouble getting into it at first—not because of anything specific, it was just a little hard for me to get into. And that’s on me. But once I did… I didn’t stop.
I loved the character of Min. He’s so…unheroic. And yet, he’s not. He’s a thief, a liar, and more. He cares so much for his friend Harry that he’s willing to go to the last place in the world he wants to go and do something he really doesn’t want to do in order to save Harry’s life. Then he meets Kaz, and his world is turned end over end.
This is a decent fantasy with really good world building and light-hearted wittiness that keeps it from being too dark—mostly thanks to Min. From the outset, you know it’s going to be different because Min is so different from most heroes. It’s just fun—with serious undertones. Or serious with fun undertones? Whichever you decide on, it’s definitely worth the read.
This is not a romance per se, but a fantasy with romantic undertones—both between Harry and his paramour and Min and Kaz.
The author caught my interest and held it with a different kind of story, excellent world building, unique and quirky characters, and a satisfying ending that made me check out to see what else this author has to offer.
I definitely recommend this book.
KNEADING YOU by C.S. Poe
M/M short story
Wow. Just… wow. So, this morning, I thought I’d look at the dozen or so stories I have on my slate to review to see which one I wanted to read next. I do this by reading the first few paragraphs or first page of a story and rating it in my mind as to whether I want to go on.
And then I opened this one. The premise: what do you get when you mix an award-winning, shy, carpenter/baker with a broke librarian? You get a short story with a HEA ending that satisfies the soul.
And didn’t close it. Okay, it’s only a short story so it’s not like it took me forever to read (about an hour), but still… I couldn’t put it down. The characters of Miles and Christopher are so well-crafted and the premise so believable that I couldn’t stop reading. I wanted to see what happened. Okay, the bad guy—Sam—really wasn’t necessary, but the rest of the story is really good. And honestly? I’d love to see this developed into a much longer story. I want to see what happens with them. With the library they’re trying to save. With the town. In these few short pages, the author made me care—and that’s what good writing is all about.
Caveat: for those who don’t like their stories hot, there is one steamy scene, but it fits the story well. So…if you like your gay (M/M) stories short, hot, and satisfying, definitely pick this one up.