Review: “Riding with Brighton” by Haven Francis

TITLE: Riding with Brighton
AUTHOR: Haven Francis
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Harmony Ink Press
COVER ARTIST: Aaron Anderson
GENRE: Contemporary Romance; Come To Age
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 220 pages
RELEASE DATE: June 27, 2017
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $14.99 – paperback
  

BLURB:

In the small town of Spring Valley, molds weren’t made to be broken, and high school senior Jay Hall’s been living comfortably in his popular jock one since adolescence. If it weren’t for the colorful, outspoken artistic anomaly Brighton Bello-Adler, he might have been willing to remain there. Unnaturally drawn to Brighton, Jay knows he needs something from him, but is he ready to find out what that something is?

Temporarily ditching his old life, Jay climbs into Brighton’s Bronco and finds himself on a whirlwind road trip through parts of his small town he didn’t know existed. When the excursion takes an unexpected turn, Jay is cracked wide open, and the person who’s revealed does strange things to Brighton’s heart.

But just when it appears they could be headed toward their own shared piece of paradise, the road takes a sharp right turn into Jay’s life—where the real trip is about to begin.

In an unconventional love story that defies labels, two young men embark on a journey toward growing up, coming out, and finding their place in the world. It’s a trip that ranges from heartbreaking to uplifting, funny to sweet, but always unique and personal.


This book was just… EVERYTHING! I’m absolutely certain there are not enough words in the English language that could convey how much I adored this amazing story. I’ve never read a book that has been more perfect or relevant for Pride month, and I don’t think I ever will again. Everything about the book and story was on point, there’s simply nothing about it that I can fault or criticize because it was flawless. These characters have found their own little space in my heart, and I’ll never be able to let them go.

Jay Hall is 18-years-old. He’s the popular jock with the pretty girlfriend, but when he looks in the mirror, he doesn’t like what he sees. The person looking back is all just a facade. Jay doesn’t like the person he’s become, which is basically a clone of his friends, same haircuts, same clothes, same shoes and a pretty girl next to them. Jay wants more than this and believes his life needs a change. But he’s scared of making the change because he doesn’t want everyone to turn against him. The highlight of his week is going to his history class because he gets to sit next to Brighton Bello-Adler, the guy that’s everything Jay wishes he could be.

Brighton is also 18-years-old. He’s confident, outgoing and artistic, he gets along with almost everyone in the school and their town, and nothing seems to ever get him down. His parents love him unconditionally, and completely accepts his sexuality, they even like to try and set him up occasionally, much to Brighton’s embarrassment. Brighton finds Jay attractive but knows there’s no point even thinking about him in that way because Jay is totally straight.

When Jay tells Brighton in class that he’s sick of the life that he’s leading and wants something different, starting with new friends, Brighton gives him his number. They agree to meet up to see if they can build on more than just the short conversations and banter from class. During their day and drive around together, Jay begins to discover more about himself and what he really wants from his life. He opens up to Brighton about all of his thoughts and feelings, and tells him things that he has never even admitted to himself up until now. Jay realizes that he doesn’t actually want to be like Brighton, but wants to be with him, as more than a friend. Jay has finally accepted that he’s gay, and that he’s been attracted to Brighton for a long time. He can’t keep living a lie any more because it’s destroying him inside, and if it means losing some people in his life then he’s willing to take that chance, to be able to be honest with himself and be free, and actually loving the person he sees when he looks in his mirror every morning.

This was the most beautifully written story, of self-acceptance, coming out and finding true happiness within. There were highs and lows, and moments that were just breathtaking. I was drawn to this book as soon as I read the blurb, something just called to me, and I knew I had to read it. I spent almost the whole book with my skin tingling, butterflies in my tummy and practically glowing with happiness. And when I finished…well, lets just say I was Judd Nelson at the end of The Breakfast Club (one of my favorite films of all time) my fist was in the air in victory and triumph, and my head and heart had Don’t You Forget About Me screaming out as I closed my kindle down. This was an astonishing piece of writing that couldn’t portray the love is love message any more perfectly if it tried. I am so grateful to the author for the privilege of being able to read this awe-inspiring story, I don’t think it’ll ever leave me.

***The ARC was provided by Harmony Ink Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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Review: “Two Natures” by Jendi Reiter

TITLE: Two Natures
AUTHOR: Jendi Reiter
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Saddle Road Press
COVER ARTIST: Don Mitchell
GENRE: Come To Age, Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: YES
PAPERBACK: YES
LENGTH: 376 pages
RELEASE DATE: September 15, 2016
PRICE: $4.99 -e-book / $22.00 -paperback
  

BLURB:

Jendi Reiter’s debut novel offers a backstage look at the glamour and tragedy of 1990s New York City through the eyes of Julian Selkirk, an aspiring fashion photographer. Coming of age during the height of the AIDS epidemic, Julian worships beauty and romance, however fleeting, as substitutes for the religion that rejected him. His spiritual crisis is one that too many gay youth still face today.

This genre-bending novel couples the ambitious political analysis of literary fiction with the pleasures of an unconventional love story. Vivid social realism, enriched by unforgettable characters, eroticism, and wit, make Two Natures a satisfying read of the highest sort.

Perry Brass, Amazon bestselling author of The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love and the novel King of Angels, says of Two Natures: “If you want to know what life is like in Nineties New York, when Style has become God, sex has become a contact sport, and jobs, money, and survival are always around the corner someplace else, then this late coming-of-age novel is a good place to start.”


This was one of the most difficult books I’ve read. I’m not a religious person, so I found it hard to empathize with Julian’s struggle with the religious faith of his childhood but the description of the LGBT scene in New York City in the mid-1990’s is spot on. Set against the early days of AIDS. Julian’s story takes us from his college days through his struggle to make it as a fashion photographer, with all the shame and glamour of that world. He’s already escaped his narrow-minded and abusive father and his family crop up regularly in his life. We witness a hilarious scene when they come to visit, and he throws an impromptu dinner party with some friends. He engages in an open relationship with Phil, a gym monkey who he falls for, who turns to…well, an alternative career. I’m not going to give the plot away.

Julian’s career slowly builds as his personal life descends into a nightmare. He indulges in a drug-fueled night which ends up with him deciding whether to take an AIDS test or not. He’s persuaded by Peter a ‘friend’ with an alter ego, who comes to mean a lot to Julian. But it’s not Julian who succumbs to AIDs, and he ends up as a carer for someone he loves. I wasn’t keen on the open attitude to unsafe sex and drug taking but I recognize it was honest and reflective of the culture and time in which the story is set, it’s integral to the story and not at all gratuitous. It also gives the story a gritty realism that I found compelling.

This is a very detailed orientated and wordy book. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a deep look into the spiritual, political and sexual impacts of that era.

***I would like to thank the author for the privilege and opportunity of reading this ARC.  My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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Review: “The Eye of Ra” by Dakota Chase

TITLE: The Eye of Ra
AUTHOR: Dakota Chase
SERIES: Repeating History
PUBLISHER: Harmony Ink Press
COVER ARTIST: Anna Sikorska
GENRE: No Sexual Content; Adventure; Come To Age;  Fantasy
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 107 pages
RELEASE DATE: May 16, 2017
PRICE: $6.99 -e-book / $14.99 -paperback
  

BLURB:

What do you do when you accidentally destroy your history teacher’s prized collection of historical artifacts? If you’re teenaged delinquents, Aston and Grant, this is more than just a rhetorical question. They’ve made a huge mistake, one that might cost them everything. Adding to their misery, their history teacher’s name is Merlin. Yes, that Merlin, and the answer to their dilemma is deceptively simple according to the old wizard. You go back in time to replace the items you destroyed! Aston and Grant find themselves in ancient Egypt, where their first task is to find and retrieve “The Eye of Ra,” a golden amulet owned by none other than King Tut, the boy king of Egypt. Neither of them is all that versed in history, so they have to play it cool and learn as they go. It’s not just the amulet that’s causing them trouble, either. They soon become friends with Tut, and find that they want to help him out. Surrounded by enemies, needing to survive in a primitive world, Aston and Grant quickly learn one basic truth. History isn’t dead when you’re living it.


levilogooptimummWell, this was a short and fun read.

I would recommend this book to the youngsters as it has no sexual content at all.

The story is about Aston and Grant who ends up in a boys’ school. Actually, they were sentenced by a judge as a result of their doing. They come from opposite poles of society and end up as roommates.

They don’t really have time to be roomies because, against all the promises, Aston swore to keep his head down, not even after 24 hours he and his roommates end up in ancient Egypt.

They become fast friends with Tuk the young pharaoh of Egypt. Well, let’s just say I don’t think its really easy to get near to a Pharaoh but I don’t think that going back in time is easy neither, so there you have it…

Aston is gay, a real bad boy who doesn’t think further then next second. This kind of behavior lands him where he is now. Grant is no different, maybe a bit more diplomatic but he is hotheaded too.

Back in Egypt, they must face politics and wars and those things are not really their forte.

The book, as I said I dedicated for young readers between 14 till 18.

****The ARC was provided by Harmony Ink Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book****

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Review: “Salvation’s Song” by Pearl Love

TITLE: Salvation’s Song
AUTHOR: Pearl Love
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Harmony Ink Press
COVER ARTIST: Paul Richmond
GENRE: Fantasy, Come To age, Gay for You
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 326 pages
RELEASE DATE: May 16, 2017
PRICE: $6.99 -e-book / $17.99 -paperback
  

BLURB:

An ancient evil threatens the world, and only the chosen few can save it: the Singers, the Seekers, and the Saviors….

Tyrell Hughes enters his junior year of high school at Winton Yowell with everything going for him. He’s popular, he has great friends, and he has the eye of the hottest girl in school. Jeremy Michalak is a transfer student hoping to escape the bullying he suffered at his last school. All he wants is to keep his head down, make it to graduation without any trouble, and pursue the thing that makes him happiest: playing clarinet.

Tyrell and Jeremy have nothing in common except their homeroom assignments and a mutual attraction each is determined to keep hidden. That is until a dangerous mystery draws them inexorably together. Young people all over the city are dying of seemingly natural causes, but Tyrell and Jeremy discover there are dark forces at work that only they can stop. Now the boys will have to put aside their differences and accept their feelings for each other if they are to fulfill their destinies and become the city’s salvation.


I was always wondering, about those scenes in books when teenagers stop at making out because they are minors. Well, in my opinion, its bullcrap. When two 14-year-old or 16-year-old boys starts to fool around, there is no way they stop at just making out. There is sex baby, hot, quick and ohsoogood. Although we know those things are illegal, and I can respect that about the author when they write those scenes, but it’s not how life works.

Well in this book that’s not the case. I must say that we will not have sex till almost the end, but it’s happening.

That said, the book is not erotica at all. Actually, is a very sweet in-closet and an out-and-proud, interracial story about two high school boys.

I must say, I admire what Harmony is trying to makes here, creating sweet love romance books for a young audience. I can hardly recommend this book above 14-year-old.

We are in Chicago where young people seem to die often. The cause is natural death. So, there is no suspicion about those cases, until both Tyrell, a 16-year-old African-American (well I don’t like this term. I don’t want to enter in details. I’m from Europe and I never saw the problem calling a dark skin colored man or woman black… it’s just the color, there should be no offense in that, but as I’m just an ignorant European) and Jeremy a 16-year-old very white (there again, skin color you see) very blond, non-conformist boy, has the same kind of experience.

There are ancient evils that hunt and feed on the life energy of their victims. Apparently, Tyrell and Jeremy are chosen to destroy those evil beings. How? Well, them being connected, nearby, creates a sound, a sound only heard by these creatures and the chosen ones. This sound carries a power that annihilates these evil forces.

I really liked this book, I couldn’t put it down. Through Tyrell’s struggle with his feelings toward Jeremy, and Jeremy, who was several times harassed and bullied for being gay you will find yourself falling for this two teenagers…

I want to congratulate the author for this very fine story …

***The ARC was provided by Harmony Ink Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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Review: “After the Romance Novel” by Susan Laine

TITLE: After the Romance Novel
AUTHOR: Susan Laine
SERIES: Before… and After Book
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: AngstyG
GENRE: Contemporary Romance; Bisexual; Come To Age; Gay For You
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 96 pages
RELEASE DATE: February 22, 2017
PRICE: $3.96 -e-book
  

BLURB:

Romance novels always end with a happy ever after. Right?

Evan and Adam are best friends, but they don’t know everything about each other. For one thing, Adam doesn’t know Evan writes and publishes gay romance novels until he discovers one while snooping on Evan’s laptop.

This revelation changes their relationship in ways neither could’ve imagined. Adam’s reaction to reading Evan’s stories is not what he expected, nor is the new way he’s looking at his lifelong pal. After all, Adam is straight, or so he’s always thought, and that is what Evan believes about Adam as well.

When Evan admits he might be bisexual, Adam suggests he try dating girls to find out for sure, but when Evan follows his advice, Adam is caught off guard by his feelings of jealousy. And when the date proves Evan isn’t bisexual, but gay, Evan’s request that Adam find him a guy might be the last straw.

How can Adam admit he wants that guy to be him? His epiphany will either end their relationship—or change it into something wonderful in their very own friends-to-lovers romance.


jologooptimummThis was a quick read, heavy on the ‘will they, won’t they?’ suspense! What would you do if your best friend read a personal file on your computer? What if that file was gay, erotic fiction that YOU had written? What if the characters had the same names as you and your best friend? Well, that’s the position Evan finds himself in when his best friend, Adam, gets bored waiting for him to get ready to go out and decides to look at his laptop! Adam finds himself in the reverse situation of having broken Evans trust by looking in the first place. Will their friendship be able to survive the subsequent upheaval?

Of course, Adam is a good friend so he has to read all of Evans books. He then has the added complication that Evans books turn him on when he reads them! Evan decides to tell Adam everything, about his writing, his research, watching gay porn and discovering along the way that he thinks he may be gay or at least bisexual.

Adam doesn’t quite know how to handle this new version of their old relationship, and he’s not actually sure of his own feelings either. Is he jealous, afraid of losing his best friend to another guy, or is there more to it? I liked both Adam and Evan and the way they tiptoe around their feelings for each after the truth comes out, it feels right for two seventeen-year-old, teenage boys. The angst and misunderstandings are spot on as is their emotional journey on the road to discovering who and what they are. Look out for the bathroom scene when Adam makes up his mind to act on his feelings, it’s hot!

For a short book, the plot and characters are well developed, and the sex is steamy! The ending ties up the plot lines well, even if it’s a bit predictable, but that was OK. I enjoyed the book a lot, and I immediately empathized with both Adam and Evan. It was easy to understand their emotional confusion and motivation. The plot is original, and it really works with the characters which isn’t easy in a book of this length, credit to the author.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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