Let It Ride by L.C. Chase

Grade: B
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, m/m, cowboy
Series: Pickup Men #2
Published: 5/26/14
Reviewed by Anne
195 pages

Bridge Sullivan wakes up one day after a scorching wet dream and thinks he just might be gay.  After a hilarious talk with his penis he’s not really sure about being gay or bisexual, but he’s quite sure he’s Eric-sexual.  He’s a pretty self-accepting kind of guy.  Not much bothers him.  So, once he figures out he’s got a thing for Eric, he decides it’s time to act on it.

Eric Palmer is a paramedic on the rodeo circuit that Bridge works.  He’s openly gay and has become good friends with Bridge and his circle of buddies over the past year.  For the first time in a long time, he feels like he belongs.  He’s surprised by the signals his straight friend is sending him, and even if they mean what he thinks they mean, he’d never do anything to screw up this group of friends he has.  Eric is very attracted to Bridge, but determined not to take any risks.  Bridge only scares him more when he tells Eric he’s not looking for a one night stand – he wants a relationship. 

This was a nice story that worked best in the last quarter of the book.  The reasons behind Eric’s hesitancy to allow himself to attach to Bridge are hinted at during most of the book, but not spelled out until near the end. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until those reasons were made clear that I found them believable.  So the first part of the book suffered because Eric came off as over-reacting.  I do think my own history as a foster parent makes stories including foster care a harder sell for me.  

Overall, though, it was a good read and a pretty low conflict story, which I enjoy.  I loved the rodeo setting and camaraderie between Eric, Bridge, and their friends.  The fact that Eric refused to just throw a condom on the floor, and in fact turned getting a garbage can into a pretty hot scene earned the book bonus points from me!

This story is the second in this series, but it stood alone just fine for me.  I’d recommend it for any m/m reader who has love for cowboys and rodeos!

M/M Monday – Wallflower by Heidi Belleau

Wallflower (Rear Entrance Video, #2)

Grade: B
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: Mild Kink
Genre: Contemporary, m/m
Series: Rear Entrance Video #2
Published: 10/21/13
Reviewed by Anne
206 pages
Rob is a college art student.  He’s a very shy nerd and enjoys gaming online.  He’s gay (but still in the closet) and he has a crush on one of his roomates (who happens to be straight.)  Rob just started working at Rear Entrance Video, a store that rents porn movies and sells sex toys.  He also fantasizes about dressing up like a woman and he’s really not sure what to do with those thoughts.
Dylan is a confident, tall, and big man.  He’s in one of Rob’s classes, he frequents the video store and he’s also gay.
This story is about how Rob and Dylan meet and what happens between the two of them, but it is much more about Rob coming to terms with himself.  It was a story that grabbed me and I didn’t want to put it down.  It was very interesting to think through how Rob felt as he considered spending time as “Bobby” and what that would and wouldn’t mean to him.  It’s not an easy path for Rob to walk; some of that is due to other people in his life, and some of it is due to his own hang ups.
I enjoyed Rob/Bobby’s growth throughout the story.  His choices on how to deal with things led to a precarious situation which was scariest because I could see how easily it could be true, and not without the happy ending this story had.  That was a sad reality to consider.  It was really a high to see Rob come to terms with himself, though – totally worth the angst that came before it!
I do imagine that this story was a little sweeter than real life would be for someone in Rob’s situation.  Only one asshole picked on Bobby.  Of all his friends and relatives, only one had a hard time with him coming out.  Dylan and his parents were all very understanding of what Rob/Bobby was going though.  I think real life is probably a bit more painful.  That’s not a criticism of the story, but a nod to the fact that this is the kind of HEA/HFN the book has.
The biggest criticism I have of the story is that the romance between Rob and Dylan felt very much like insta-love once they had sex.  They went from hating each other to loving each other pretty darn quickly.  I also found Dylan’s nickname for Rob (Puny) to be annoying, but I know I’m being overly sensitive on that front.
I do have to give bonus points to any story with references to Twilight AND Flowers in the Attic.  It’s also got a well adjusted and happy adopted character with adoptive parents who are lovely – all this while acknowledging the challenges of being adopted.
Overall this was a good read.  It made me think about gender in ways I hadn’t before, and I enjoyed it.  The romance was a bit rushed, but it still worked for me.  I recommend this book and I think I’ve found a new author and new series on the m/m side of things.

M/M Monday – Sweet Young Thang by Anne Tenino

Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma, #3)

Grade: A-
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, m/m, college age
Series: Theta Alpha Gamma #3
Reviewed by Anne
414 pages on my ereader; Goodreads says 329 pages
This book was funny and sweet and I didn’t want to put it down!

Collin is one of the leaders of his frat, which recently publicly announced their acceptance of gay/bi brothers.  Collin is also in the closet, for the most part.  He doesn’t seem worried about his frat brothers’ acceptance, but he knows his Uncle Monty, the father figure in his life, will not be accepting of him if he came out.

Eric is a firefighter paramedic.  He responds to an explosion and fire at the frat house and is attracted to Collin, who keeps his cool under pressure.  When he sees Collin again, he flirts with him and Collin flirts back.  It’s not long before the two of them hook up.  (And that’s one very hot night!) Both of them are interested in more, but step carefully, not sure if the other would want anything to do with them.

While the fire and an attempted bombing at the frat house drive the storyline, we get to watch Eric and Collin fall for each other and work through issues that come up.  And it’s all so very sweet and hot and good!

It surprises me that I am ok with things in the m/m genre that I know would bother me if the book was m/f.  But it just doesn’t.  In this case it’s Collin’s age (21).  Fifteen years (36/21) is a really big age difference between Collin and Eric.  It’s almost icky.  By the end of the book I really didn’t have a problem with it.  Collin was really mature and handling a lot in his life, so he seemed older than 21, especially compared to some of his frat brothers.

Oh, and let’s talk about the frat brothers.  I loved them!  They provided a great comedic backdrop that kept the story from getting too heavy or emo.  The good hearted but clumsy attempts of the straight brothers to support their gay brothers was hilarious and sweet.  They came across as pretty dumb at times, but I was willing to accept that.  I’m not sure how realistic it is, but I’ll suspend disbelief in favor of the humor in this case.

This was the 3rd book in this series, but it stood alone very well. I hadn’t read the first two and had no problems keeping up.

I’m adding Anne Tenino to my list of m/m authors I love! I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes m/m, but especially those who liked College Boys by Daisy Harris.

One final thought.  I really disliked this cover.  Then I read the book and it fits the story, which makes me hate it less, because those purple underwear and taking pictures feature in the story, but still not my favorite cover.