Lenni Reviews: “Isle of Waves” by Sue Brown

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

In the third book of the Isle of series, (one and two here), a string of vandalism to their restaurant has Nibs thinking of closing up shop. But with a huge storm on the way and the death of a dear friend, the stress of being forced to close puts a strain on Nibs and Wig’s relationship.

I know the plot synopsis says it focusses on the stress of possibly having to move under homophobic pressure putting them out of business, but it doesn’t feel like it. This meanders through a bunch of slice-of-life scenes without going anywhere. Wig and Nibs should be the main focus but they are frequently put to the side, making me wonder when it was gonna get to the point already. And some plot points are left dangling so it was all unsatisfying. If you don’t read the previous two books, you’re gonna end up lost because those previous characters have prominent places in this book. 2.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Isle of Wishes” by Sue Brown

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

In the second book in the Isle of series (first one here), Liam goes missing so Paul Owens, Sam’s brother, heads to the US to find him. When a hit and run puts a John Doe in the hospital that could be Liam, Paul meets Olaf Skandik in his search, and the pair hit it off but can the flightly Paul convince the closeted Olaf to take a chance on love; even if it is long distance?

I thought the hit and run and a later shooting would lead up to something but it just got glossed over. I wasn’t expecting a romantic thriller but to have all that wrapped up in some throwaway sentences was severely disappointing. Even Olaf being closeted wasn’t that big a deal. It made me wonder why they were plot points at all. Unfortunately, all that disappointment did impact my enjoyment of the book. I felt a bit cheated. 2.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Isle of… Where?” by Sue Brown

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

As this is a bundle, I decided to review the books in separate blog posts so I don’t end up not posting for a while then dropping this block of text that I bet nobody will read. So, here we go with book one in the series.

Liam Marshall arrives on the Isle of Wight because as per his best friend’s last wish, he will scatter the ashes of his friend into the water. While fumbling with the box, Sam Owens approaches him to keep him from flinging the ashes in his face and the two become fast friends. And even faster, they become more. But Liam hasn’t been in a relationship since his friend was diagnosed with cancer and he became a caregiver; not to mention he lives in America and Sam lives in the UK. Even if Liam believed in love at first sight, could he take a chance on such a long-distance relationship when he is already so emotionally vulnerable?

This book is a bit rushed but ok. I think it was a good call to skip some of the sex scenes as they would have gotten boring and repetitive. The chemistry between our main leads is alright… But it’s all fluff. I didn’t feel too deeply connected to anything. It would have been nice to dig deeper into the caregiver aspect with Liam and how lost one can feel after being in that role for so long. But, I do enjoy a bit of fluff, though so I can forgive that omission. 3.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Take it All” by Quinn and Perin

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Featuring three short stories, Quinn & Perin offer a selection of hot, but ultimately not long lasting gay erotica stories. While not leaving much of an impact once they were over, while reading them you are dropped into the scene all of which are steamy as all get out. This is absolute smut with no pretense and in that, it succeeds. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Closet Boy” by Sean Michael, Jeff Gelder (Narrator)

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*This audiobook was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Disowned by his hyper-religious, homophobic parents, Way’ra lands a job as a janitor at the Iron Eagle Gym. Only problem is he has nowhere to live so he secretly spends his nights sleeping in a closet at the gym. When gym member Neil McPherson develops a crush on the young man, Way’ra is desperate to keep his circumstances a secret. Neil is determined to get this shy young man back off his feet and out of his shell.

Holy crap, this was a long sit… First off everything came off as unintentionally funny because the narrator sounds like Mister Metokur, and I cannot blame anyone but myself for that comparison.

Secondly, this is another book where the couple has their insta-love but then… Nothing. They’re together. The rest is basically slice of life as they go about their days and meet up at home. And cook. And eat. And have sex. Then do it all again. I kept waiting for the third act breakup or SOMETHING but it never happens. Way and Neil are so sweet, I have diabeetus.

The religion thing just kinda pops up to remind the reader it IS still a thing and Way’s innocence can come off as a little creepy; like he’s too young to be in this story. All in all, I was just twiddling my thumbs waiting for the ending. This has a LOT of untapped potential to be explored and it’s a shame that opportunity was missed. 2.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Steel and Promise” by Alexa Black

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+.

I debated posting this review at all considering I honestly hope people don’t read this and think of buying it because of my reaction. But given enough thought, I decided people needed to be warned about this THING. I have been sitting on this review since October of last year because every time I started it, I would get so LIVID, I’d have to put it down. I was going to do sketches for this one too, but again, blind rage kept me from accomplishing this.

First off, just so you all know the level I am dealing with here? I apologize to Serena’s Plight. If you have not read that review? Go read that first. Then be VERY afraid.

Also, this review will be full of spoilers and I just don’t freaking care.

Cailyn Derys is a high-class courtesan who takes an interest in reclusive noblewoman Teran Nivrai, who is known for her darker tastes. While Cailyn can see there is a depth to the fearsome woman hidden from everyone else, there is still a very real danger in being involved with Teran.

First off this book is boring. Very, tearjerkingly, hair pullingly boring. Between the repetitive word choices and Lesbain Sex For Dummies 101 clinical and dry writing, it was a true struggle to get through this book I almost quit the book at 17% because the image of this alien woman in a pool of water was described in the blandest way possible. If I am tempted to stop reading your book because I thought of 5 different ways to rewrite your scene to make it more interesting, ya dun fucked up. I have ripped apart The Beauty Books and even there, I can at least say the prose was beautiful.

As to how “dark and disturbing” this is? No, sorry. It really isn’t. Teran’s darker tastes can be found in your average adult leaning vampire novel; bloodplay, cutting, and such. Not to mention how the tension between Cailyn and Teran is undercut by how familiar Cailyn is with Teran right from the start and their intimacy seems unearned. Out of nowhere this alien woman feared by all just opens up about her former lovers like Cailyn is a trusted confidant? Sorry, not buying it.

One point I will give this book is Cailyn is her own person. If a client or anyone steps over the line, she’s not afraid to call them on it and put her foot down. And that trait does carry through to the rest of the book. She never becomes a doormat.

So, after all that, all the build-up to how dark this book is and how I found it to be as dry as a bag of sand in the Sahara, what about this book made me want to rage out? At 80%, Teran gets mad for whatever fucking reason because it honestly doesn’t matter and we are treated to an overly detailed rape scene between her and Cailyn. As if I wasn’t annoyed or indifferent up to that point because of the rest of the boring sex in this book, now I’m pissed off and disgusted. Tossing this pointless shit in there doesn’t make this “dark erotica” it makes it exploitive schlock of the worse common denominator. Teran is now irredeemable and I don’t want to follow this character for the remainder of this book because all of that effort to make her seem less of the monster her reputation says she is has been destroyed. She IS a monster and this book can suck it for trying to make me see her as anything else.

I don’t know how I made it through this… Cailyn starts the book as an accomplished courtesan with autonomy and freedom and ends it as a slave owned by her rapist. If you want BDSM, Story of O did it better. If you want dark erotica, Killing Stalking is a great example of something taboo, disturbing, yet also compelling. Other reviews had people quitting around the 70% mark saying it was too dark but no, it was boring and dumb. I have never outright hated a book this much and I refuse to give it any stars at all.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Librarian’s Rake” by Z. Allora

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Philip and Tristan are polar opposites; Philip a risk-taking hairdresser and Tristan a quiet librarian. But when their matchmaking grandfathers get them to meet, neither can deny an attraction is there. However, Philip has always preferred quick trysts and worries he my not be the type of man Tristan would want for more than one night. Tristan wants to test his wilder side but lacks the courage and is more suited to longer relationships. Each man must step out of their comfort zones for a chance at happiness.

This is about a librarian so I had to grab it and thus I may be biased since I AM a librarian. Tristan is so adorably awkward and Philip may be more brave and flippant, but he’s not dangerous or irresponsible. And the side characters are hilarious. About 81% in, this line made me crack up:

“I swear, the smartest thing to ever come out of your mouth is that librarian’s cock.”

I had to put the kindle down and catch my breath. Again, I’m probably biased because I’m a librarian but in that moment, that was the funniest thing in the world. What a descriptive way to vent your frustrations to your friend.

After that murder mystery on the brink of a terrible war, this was a bit of much needed levity. It’s a cute read that made me laugh and made me blush. If you want a quick and dirty read while curled up with some cocoa, you could do far worse than this sharply written story. 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Wounded Pride” by Remmy Duchene and B.L. Morticia

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

Brian Daystar is celebrating the opening of his youth center for at-risk kids but notices a considerable lack of support from his country music star boyfriend, Corey. When Corey finally bothers to call Brian, he’s drunk and not alone. Deciding to end it, Brian takes a vacation to New York to face Corey while staying with Renford Kline; a retired attorney considering becoming a law professor. Brian is attracted to Renford but Ren’s experience with men has never gone beyond college experimenting. Both are attracted but Brian’s past traumas and Ren’s reluctance to get feelings involved may keep them from the happily ever after they have been wishing for.

First off? Ren, 39 isn’t ‘old man’ territory. I could see if he was pushing 55 (seeing as he’s retiring) but, no.

This is one of those romances where you think there would be more time spent on building the relationship between the main pair before they hop into bed but nope. Not really a criticism on my part; just saying the writing and tone made me expect that. As is, the flaw in this standard romance cycle is I feel some of the character elements could have been explored more; like Brian’s pretty dark past and Redford’s previous attraction to women. It doesn’t make the book bad at all. In fact, I find it sweet and the smutty bits are written well. But those deep personal issues could have used more attention. A fun romp even if I was left a bit wanting; 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame: Master of Gay Erotic Manga” by Gengoroh Tagame and Chip Kidd

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After reading My Brother’s Husband, I decided to give a look into Tagame’s other works. I thought I would find more things as sweet and ‘dawww‘ worthy as that book. What I found was decidedly different. And by ‘different’ I mean hardcore porn. There’s just wang and butts everywhere.

This book is a collection Tagame’s short comics from various publications. It includes:

  • Hairy Oracle
  • Arena
  • Exorcism
  • Country Doctor
  • Standing Ovations
  • Missing
  • Class Act

These stories range from sweet but xxx rated to flat out S&M bondage and rape. Each story does come with some commentary from the creator about the story; which was very interesting to read. It puts each one in some context. I did notice that the one story closest to what I would call a romance (Hairy Oracle) was the one written specifically for a women’s publication as opposed to the more graphic stories containing non-con.

As shocked as I was, I liked seeing different body types and a unique art style. Most yaoi features whispy pretty bois but the men here are bulky and hairy (similar to a bear). I refuse to judge this by my own tastes concerning smut like this because everyone has their kink and these comics are targeted to a very specific audience. While I personally have some issues with rape fetishes (gay, straight, or otherwise), and I don’t care if its’ a spoiler but there’s some defication in this and I feel the need to warn potential readers; I can’t bash the book for that. It wouldn’t be fair to the work as a whole. I have to give this a solid 3.7 as a collection but I was MUCH more entranced by My Brother’s Husband.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Edge of the Blade” by Jeffe Kennedy

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated for 18+

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

Elite warrior, scout, and spy Jepp is lethal with her blades and her tongue so when she is selected for a diplomatic mission as an ambassador to a country where women are wives or sex slaves, she finds remaining docile and subservient more challenging than anything she’s faced before. But she must gather information on how big of a threat this foreign king may be and return alive without starting a war. Oh, and she’s sleeping with the king’s son; Prince Kral… Who has a wife.

Jepp is a cool character. You get a great sense of who she is from the smart writing and enjoy the story from her perspective. She’s smart, tough, and funny; you could see yourself chilling at the bar with her despite the fact she would drink you under the table.

While containing romantic and erotic elements, the way this book is structured made them feel like a legitimate part of the story instead of the plot grinding to a halt so the main characters can bone. There is genuine peril and intrigue with high stakes in a well written and constructed fantasy world. I haven’t read the first book (it may have given me some deeper context into some character relationships but it’s not necessary) but the story is so interesting, I’d be excited to follow to the next book. It’s obvious Jepp and the Uncharted Realms world have plenty more stories to tell. 4.5 out of 5.

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