Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway: Writing Sexy Times (or not) by Ana Reese

Serving Royalty Blog Tour – Writing Sexy Times (or not)

It feels odd to talk about taking off pants on Pants Off Reviews.

It isn’t unknown in writing romance, whether it’s M/M or otherwise, that sex is a big seller. While I can admit to enjoying a good smutty scene or two myself, I find that I tend to skim over most of them when reading just to get back to the plot of the story. I’ve seen quite a few posts on whether writing a sex scene just for sex, or writing them when it pushes along plot. I have to go with the plot pushers. Those are really the only sex scenes I tend to read anymore, but I can totes understand reading a PWP (porn without plot) scene just because. Hell, I have plenty of times. I just can’t write them.

Though the Serving Royalty series is based around a young nobleman, Jonas Hall, descending the social ladder to become a whore in the capital city’s palace, it isn’t about the sex. Well, not totally. It’s about Jonas, who has been put aside his whole life, finding his own place in the world even from such low standings. It shows that while certain things are expected of him, they aren’t going to be the things that shape who Jonas is or how he is perceived by those that matter.


"Maybe he's offering to crawl under the table and find that dessert fork you dropped."

Jonas hurriedly stood up straight, looking down at his soft boots. His cheeks stained pink at the innuendo coming from behind him. They were truly a bawdy group to talk as they did at the dining table. He dreaded to see how they were in the privacy of their own rooms.

And Grant had said the dinner meal was more formal. That was apparently only the case when the royal family was in attendance.

"Oh?" The blond ducked his head a bit, looking up at Jonas' face. "I don't think he's ready just yet for all that. What do they call you?"

Jonas whispered his name, struggling not to snap and bring unwanted negative attention on himself. He bit his tongue just to be safe.

"So quiet, Jonas?"

"Leave him be, Tollious. The poor lad's probably shy!"

Jonas peaked across the table through the hair that had fallen across his shoulder. It was the older gentleman Grant had been serving who came weakly to his defense against the blond, Tollious. The older man's salt and pepper hair was striking against his dark eyes.

"Shy," came a sneering comment from further down the table. "He won't be for long if Walters keeps him those colors."

"Who wouldn't want him to stay in them?" Tollious smiled wickedly up at Jonas. "I can think of quite a few here that would be charmed by his face and demeanor."

"I can think of more that'll prefer him on his hands and knees, crying out in—"

"Enough!" snapped the older man. "Keep those comments to the Wing or your private chambers, Nicolas. Not all here wish to hear your vile tongue or perverted mind."


 If you would like a chance to win a free copy of Through the Door then follow the link and drop a comment!

Through the Door is available for pre-order at LT3, and comes out this Wednesday (or, as faithful LT3 followers well know, will actually go live tomorrow night).

 Thank you for continuing along on my tour with me!

Many thanks to Pants Off for having me!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway: "Silver Pearls" by M. Raiya

Hi! I'm M. Raiya, excited to be here at Pants Off Reviews today on my Silver Pearl Guest Blog Tour. And today is the big day itself! Silver Pearl is now available from Less Than Three Press. Release party time! Join me for a glass of your favorite bubbly as Joel and Laburne make their debut. Brand new characters, brand new story!

My release day tradition involves my husband (okay, not in the way you're thinking!) Above my computer is what I call my Wall of Fame. I have five by seven framed copies of all my covers. My husband prints them for me, since he's very talented that way, and I hang them up. I have to admit, I really like the way they look up there. Aside from being really pretty, they represent a lot of pride.

I wrote for years and years without being published. I majored in writing in college and had several stories in the school's literary magazine, which was nice, but the stories weren't ones that really came from my heart. My teacher, though I loved her dearly, insisted that we all write mainstream, New Yorker style stories. The ones about middle aged couples who were sick of each other but lacked the energy to do anything about it, and the most exciting thing that happened was that somebody made toast. I wanted to write about dragons and swords and unicorns and healing and lust. Not allowed. But I learned a lot about the craft of writing.

Then I went to graduate school. All my teachers there were men, and they wrote what we called "hunting, fishing, and fucking" stories. Obviously, gay characters need not apply. I wrote a harmless little ghost story, and got a B in the class (which in grad school was the equivalent of barely passing.) After I graduated, I wrote more of what I was "supposed" to write. I did publish in a few more literary type places, but in terms of money and fame, I was going nowhere. My heart wasn't in any of them.

It wasn't until after my first daughter was born (I have two. See, my husband isn't totally regulated to printing photos for me) that I began writing fantasy again. My creativity needed an outlet and I didn't have much time to write, so I had to get my fiction fix in as fast a way as possible. I didn't really try to publish -- I was just writing for me, for fun. But I did take it seriously, and I worked hard at making my writing as good as I possibly could. I know my writing improved more during that phase than it had during any of my formal education. It was then that I started writing about the characters who were published in my Notice Series much later. When my girls got older, I joined several writer's groups and enjoyed the support of other writers. But I wanted more.

Hitting the send key on the email that contained the manuscript for The Glass Man was probably the scariest thing I'd ever done up until then. Then signing the contract became the scariest thing.
And then when I got the edits and I saw the amount of fixing I needed to do... And then I had to join social lists, and host Live Journal, and start my own blog, and holy cow! There are times I've wondered why I ever wanted more than to be alone with my computer.

Then I look at my Wall of Fame.

Enjoy Silver Pearl, everybody! Thanks for celebrating with me!

Here is the blurb:
Standing in a meadow late at night, not really certain why, Joel is shocked when he encounters a unicorn—one that turns into a beautiful young man. Joel aches to be closer to the unicorn, but everyone knows unicorns only approach virgins. After a brutal attack that left him broken and afraid, Joel is no longer that. Then hunters appear, determined to take down the unicorn, and Joel will have to overcome the horrors of his past in order to save his chance at a future.

Here is a link to a book trailer I've made to whet your appetites: http://mraiya.blogspot.com/2013/03/silver-peal-book-trailer.html

To read the excerpt and enter a contest for a chance to win a free copy of Silver Pearl, visit my blog at http://mraiya.blogspot.com/2013/03/silver-pearl-blog-tour.html and leave me a comment with your email address. The winner will be drawn on March 23.

Thank you all so much for reading!

M. Raiya

Friday, March 15, 2013

Guest Post: Scavengers Series by K.A Merikan

I’d like to talk about two things today. About our covers for the Scavengers series and about working with an illustrator.
Scavengers:July was the first novella we published. I was really keen to do the cover myself, cause I felt I knew what style I wanted it to be.

And the thing is, I still like the illustration on this cover. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s quirky and a bit different. I did the cover for the second one in the series in the same style, but when it came to the third one, I got stuck. I sort of knew what I wanted to do with it, but I wasn't happy with any of the sketches I came up with. Maybe it was because what I usually do is fashion illustration and it's mostly women that I draw.

So I talked it through with Agnes, my co-author, and we decided to do a redesign for the whole series. The stories are set in a steampunk, post-apocalyptic Victorian London, a few years after the outbreak of a zombie Plague. I wanted to convey all those things, without commissioning an over-detailed, realistic painting with too much going on. Even though I wouldn’t be painting it myself, after some brainstorming, I had a clear vision of what I wanted. 

I was really excited, as I had already found an artist who did cute silhouette art some time ago and knew I would want an illustration from her sometime. This was the perfect time to call on her and see if she’d be interested in a project out of her usual line of work. 

Instead of a literal portrayal of steampunk guys with no shirts on or something of that sort, I wanted to have a Victorian style portrait of the MC’s in profile as a symbol of the times they live, since those were popular at the time. Gas masks symbolize the steampunk element, but we needed to add a zombie element as well. Something elegant and discreet, because the story itself is not a slasher, with the zombies serving as a backdrop. In the end, we went for a frame of bones and guts, and some blood splatter in the middle.

We needed the imagery to work for all three parts of the story, even though each one has a bit of a different theme. To use the illustration for the whole series, we used the damask style pattern for the background, and gave each one a different color scheme.

The end result and the cover for a paperback bundle coming out soon:

I love how the whole series works together in the different colors.

What I enjoy about working with an illustrator is getting that unique image. It’s not just a stock photo that can reappear on several different covers. I got to tell the illustrator how the character’s look like and have her create a design for the bone and guts frame that will be ours to use for the series.

When working with an illustrator, it is best to approach them with some kind of idea, but also with an open mind to let them suggest things. For example, I wanted James to have a top hat, but it turned out that it didn’t work with the composition, so we ditched it. It’s like cutting out scenes, which seemed a good idea at the time, but turned out unsuitable. 

I come from a Fine Art background, but if you don’t feel overly confident about your color choices, sometimes you just have to put trust in the designers and let them work their magic.

There’s also a myth and fear among many self-publishers that they won’t be able to afford an illustrator. My answer to that is - you don’t ask, you don’t know. One of the artists I asked for a book cover quote, came back with 2000$ and fair enough if he’s in demand, but there are lots of young freelancers, talented, but not yet popular. They’re looking for commissions and by lurking around a place like http://deviantart.com, you can easily approach artists and ask if they’d want to do your project. When you consider the fact, that you can work with people from all over the world ,you’ll find that you can get a brilliant, made-to-measure cover starting at 20-30$.

Here’s a blurb from the newest and last part of our zombie-apocalypse-Victorian-gay-romance extravaganza:

--- Keeping his wife happy was hard enough without a gay lover and the zombie Plague. ---

In July of 1893, James Hurst, a perfect English gentleman, had retrieved a treasure that would secure the financial future of his family, got scarred by a zombie and lost his virginity to Ira Russell, the mercenary he hired. After a rocky start, their mutual fascination makes James happier than ever.

Despite initial worries, Ira has no trouble blending in with the aristocratic household. Even James’ young son comes to adore the new teacher of survival tactics and his maritime stories. His wife on the other hand takes a different sort of interest in Ira. Her infatuation with him is the living proof of James’ failure as a husband, but is it too late to pick up the pieces? With a political opponent watching his every move and the threat of a terrorist attack on London, James is walking a tightrope. Can he keep his family safe without giving up on his newfound happiness (and Ira’s skills in tying him up)?

WARNING: Contains graphic m/m sex scenes, gore, zombies, violence, angst, BDSM, lots of deliciously dirty talk  and a confident, tattooed ex-sailor.

Kat Merikan

Art by Alison Mutton 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Review: See the Light by Cassandra Carr

See The Light by Cassandra Carr
3.25 Pants Off

Hockey player Jason Monroe lives a double life—star defenseman and soon-to-be Olympian on the ice and closeted gay man outside the rink. A serious relationship is out of the question, and Jason makes do with anonymous sex in barroom bathrooms, not willing to take the chance on coming out as gay in a decidedly macho sport.

Advisor to the US Olympic hockey team Patrick Parker knows a thing or two about being a professional hockey player who’s not out. He’s fifteen years older than Jason, and when he senses the sexy younger man is interested, he knows he shouldn’t give in to the attraction.

The two men can’t keep their hands off each other, though, and with each heated encounter it gets harder to hide their relationship. When their world blows up around them, forcing them into the limelight, though, will their love survive or be put on ice?

I am coming to the conclusion that maybe sports books aren't for me. From the very few M/M sports book I've read (where a sport is also the main focus of the story and not just something the characters play) I've enjoyed only one. See the Light falls into the category of a book I somewhat liked, but my overall feelings are very meh.

Jason Monroe is a star defence man on his hockey team, and soon to be Olympian. His career has skyrocketed and he couldn’t be happier, but behind all the success he's a man with a secret, and that secret is that he is gay. One thing Jason knows for sure is that you can't be openly gay and play hockey. But when he starts getting strong physical reactions to Patrick Parker advisor to the US Olympic team, Jason is feeling like he might actually out himself. What he needs to do is keep his head in the game, and face the facts that there is no way a guy like Patrick is gay, no matter the reaction from his dick.

Seeing Patrick day in day out, is seriously affecting Jason and Patrick is taking notice. Suddenly, the sexual chemistry is too much and Patrick might not be gay after all. The men enter into a relationship but with tentative feelings, knowing that nothing long-term can come of it. They both fear the repercussions of coming out, and it’s that fear that rules them. Though one thing is for certain, their physical chemistry is off the charts.

Firstly, I wasn't 100% invested in the characters. Their relationship seemed to be based only on sex, and after awhile it irked me. It was all about blow jobs and getting off, and nothing more substantial. Where I can understand the urgency due to the lack of time, but in the end it was all they had. When it comes to conflicts, there really isn't much just their struggle in finding time together and thinking if their relationship is long lasting.

I didn't like how the coming out happened (I think that whole tragedy strikes so overcome with grief and being scared you forget yourself and the truth comes out) I feel like it’s been done before. Not saying facing the after stuff isn't brave, but I wanted more from the characters. What I liked was the sexual chemistry, the men were molten lava together, and the strongest part of the book but it also fuels as the weakest part of the book. There is no doubt that Jason and Patrick are great in bed together, it’s the after stuff  I am worried about and I feel like another book might be needed just to see how strong they are as a couple.

Should You Read It? A fan of sports book might like this one, and those who love a somewhat dramatic coming out. This is a first for me by Cassandra Carr, and I am willing to try something else by the author. See the Light had something, but it was also missing a lot. Also, man seriously needs to go easy on the blow jobs.

Coming Soon: Geek Week

I am so excited for this Theme Week, its going to be another big fave of mine, because this time its all about the Geeks. I am talking about the sexy, and from what I gather tons of my readers and some authors are total fans of a nerdy characters (and/or even nerds yourself). So if you are, I want you to join me in making Geek Week all types of special.

I am looking for guest posts, giveaways, and anything you wanna share with us. If you have an awesome collection of Star Wars memorabilia, you just dressed up for a steam punk party, or you're all into protons/ions, then quite frankly you're perfect. This is also a celebration of how sexy the mind can be, and we want to read about those characters who are socially awkward but their intelligence knows no bounds.

Geek Week will be running from April 22-28, so to be apart of it hit me up at pantsoffreviews@live.ca What I am looking for is...

  • Giveaways
  • Guest Posts
  • Book Recommendations

And I will be talking about some of my fave geek characters and books. I want to hear about all your faves too, so stay tuned.

SideNote- Check out that awesome banner, and the other on the right hand side. Thanks to the wonderful Ms Megan Derr. They are so totally awesome!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Review: Bestiary Volume #4 (Take 1)

Reviewed by Fehu
I is for Imp by India Jackson
Less Than 3 Press
Short Story
3.75 Pants Off

Donavan is a lowly thief, scraping by picking pockets with the help of Oriax, an imp he once helped and who now is his companion on the streets. When they learn of a tournament that is to take place a few days away, they cannot resist the opportunity. But their hopes of easy gold are soon shattered by an unexpected and dangerous presence …

This one is for fans of fantasy with a medieval feeling! It's actually my favourite story in this bundle and it would have been nice if it were a bit longer, with some more background information about the knights.

First of all the story reminded me a bit of a fantasy game, the knight who fights for the king, an evil spirit haunting the castle, who turns out to be in the ruler. Now doesn't that sound a bit like something of Final Fantasy? And so the adventure begins with a thief, Donovan and his imp Oriax, though the thief doesn't exactly know that he has an imp, who perform on stage and while they distract the people with magical tricks, one of them can go and steal the money from their audience.

After they are robbed Donovan and Oriax agree to participate in the Jester tournament of the King, to their surprise they meet one of the holy Paladin Knights, and understandable Oriax is not happy about that meeting. With their tricks Donovan gets the position of the court Jester and it's not an offer he can refuse. What he doesn't know, is that there have been some problems in the castle and that something evil dwells in it, which is also the reason the Paladin was there, who is paying quite a lot of attention to Donovan, but it might not be for the reasons one would assume.

While I would love to have some more background in formation, the story itself is nicely paced. The characters are entertaining and the romance is very light. I enjoyed the fantasy game feeling of this one and if one wants to read a short,  well written fantasy, then this one is just the thing!

Across Borders by Alex Powell
Less Than 3 Press
Short Story
2. 75 Pants Off

In an effort to help mend a long-standing rift between the Shui-long dragon clan and the Ceffyl Dŵr, Xin-jian reluctantly agrees to be the ambassador for the dragons and spend time amongst the Ceffyl Dŵr. The enemy he comes to know is nothing like he expected, however, especially Tiernan. But before he can truly begin to explore peace, he must stop those who will not give up the old hatreds.

Xin-jian is from a rare breed of dragons and the foster brother to the dragon princess Mai-hua. When the princess is attacked by Ceffyl Dŵr, their old enemy, he meets his match. Surprisingly Xin learns that the princess wanted to have peace talks and it's the presence of her brother, who followed her, that provoked the attack. Even more surprising is that the Ceffyl actually is not against peace between their two races, would even welcome it, at least that's what Xin and Mai-hua find out, when they visit the Ceffyl's lands. It's not after their meeting with the dragon Emperor that they find out why there is a conflict and why he doesn't wish for peace.

The beginning is quite promising, a battle, two enemy races facing each other sadly that doesn't last. I had hoped for enemies to lovers and this might be the case it term that the two races are enemies. Xin's mate fights against him in the beginning but they fall in love pretty quickly, so the enemy part is mostly superficial. The story is fast paced on the one hand, but I felt that it was progressing too fast, while not really allowing for character development. Mostly all falls into place and the evil Emperor is very predictable. Also I didn't really like the characters; they felt a bit flat to me.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Guest Post: Kitchen Newbie 101 by Talya Andor

"Kitchen Newbie 101"

Greetings, foodies, potential foodies, and lovers of food-related things! Heartfelt gratitude to Pants Off Reviews for having me in order to welcome a release I am so proud and happy to present. On this, the second day of the Appetite "Tour de Foodie" to accompany the release of A Cut Above the Rest, I wanted to bring out a guide to basic kitchen skills, stations, and other terms and roles that you'll see in the Appetite series.

Restaurants exist on two planes: the front of house, and the kitchen. The front of house is what they call the dining area: the place where a host or hostess greets diners, and brings them to tables or booths for their meal. Whether no-frills or fancy, the front of house is the place where meals are served and customers enjoy the magic dished up from the hard-working chefs behind the line.

The kitchen is where the magic is created. The layout of the kitchen, and the way it operates, depends on the type of restaurant as well as that restaurant's size. A modest diner, for example, can get away with one line cook, maybe two. That one cook will be in charge of all the food that comes out of the kitchen. In larger restaurants, especially fine dining, they are staffed with more cooks. The greater the complexity of the operations taking place in the restaurant, the more stations the restaurant will have, and the more specialized they'll be.

In the Appetite series, for example, the kitchen is supervised by the executive chef/owner. Under him, there is an executive sous chef, a sous chef, and several line cooks who each work different stations at the kitchen such as garnish, fish, meat, and so on. It's separated out in that way, almost production-line style with everyone performing a different type of work, in order to produce large quantities of food while bringing it together under a single chef who does quality control to make sure that the food leaving the kitchen is up to standards.

At the front of house, waitstaff take orders in the form of a "ticket" that is sent to the kitchen. These tickets arrive at the expedite station. Of all stations, the expedite station is the conductor of the symphony, the wizard's platform where the magic all comes together. The person doing expedite, typically the executive chef, calls out the tickets and gets the various stations moving on what they need to cook. As the stations cook their food, they must communicate amongst one another, calling out timings for when their component will be ready so that they can bring their food to the hot plate at the same time.

The hot plate is where all of the components for each dish come together at the expedite station, where the food is kept warm. From there, the food is plated, arranged on plates to the chef's satisfaction, and picked up by servers to go to eagerly-awaiting patrons.

On especially busy nights, when the kitchen is slammed, a term very specific to cooks that you'll see is that they're "in the weeds." It means the chefs are so busy or behind on their cooking, it's hard bordering on impossible to catch up. The origin of the term is unclear, but it's been used in cooking establishments dating back to the late 1800s.

When the kitchen is in the weeds, it's not uncommon for a dish to get eighty-sixed, meaning it has to be removed from the menu due to lack of ingredients. Let's say the diner came in for the flank steak special with asiago risotto, and that flank steak was so popular that the kitchen ran out of that cut of meat. In kitchens that serve fresh food, they don't have any option but to eighty-six that special until they can order more product and serve it again the next night.

"Eighty-six" is another term with muddy origins, though it's theorized it came about during Prohibition Era—and, at the time, meant the customer themselves was getting the boot before the cops could come around to bust them.

Getting back to when all goes well, the food goes up to the expedite station and it gets plated so that it's a feast for the eyes, and from there is delivered to the customers. Another item worthy of note—while some restaurants add an enforced gratuity, or tip, ranging from 15 – 18%, the new standard for tipping has been 20% for some years. Of course, a discussion on tipping could take another entry on its own.

The chef's gratuity, much like the author's, is often in the satisfaction that the diners get from what they've served (whether they review on Yelp or not) as well as the repeat business from those who've enjoyed what they have on offer. Good eating to you, or, bon appetite!

The door creaked open and shut further up the alley. Alex turned, expecting to see Florian joining him for a smoke. Nik stepped out into the alleyway, unfastening his chef's jacket all down the front, baring a red t-shirt with a scrawl of words over the upper chest. He peeled up the bottom of his red shirt, fanning it out to circulate cool air through the front.
Alex lifted a hand, but found his voice was stoppered in his throat. He reached for his cigarette instead, turning to one side to ogle Nik less obviously, unable to resist the slender nape revealed by the dark hair pulled into its severe tail, the skinny chest spanned into a stretch as Nik lifted both of his strong, slender wrists into the air, pushing them as far as they would go. His face went soft-focused, his defenses dropping in that moment while he shifted positions, extending his arms in front of him and lacing his fingers, stretching those as well. Nik bounced on his tiptoes, making soft grunts of exertion that Alex could hear even from the back of the alley.
Stretching one arm over the other, Nik swung in Alex's direction. His eyes widened to such an extent that Alex could see white even from his distance. "What are you doing?" he exclaimed.
Alex performed a quarter turn, glancing to one side of him, then the other as though expecting to find any others that Nik might be addressing. He waved his cigarette laden hand through the alley air. "Taking that break you told me to?"
Nik stormed up the alley, aiming a finger at Alex like a cocked gun. "You're smoking!" he uttered in tones of mingled anger and betrayal. "I can't believe you're smoking ... it ruins your palate, and it cheapens our restaurant." He didn't stop walking until he was toe to toe with Alex.
Alex flicked his cigarette ashes to one side and kept the butt gripped low. That was all he needed, to burn his chef with stray ashes during an argument over the fact that he was smoking. "Yah, I know you Americans think it's a filthy habit, but I am on my break, okay?"
Nik came right into Alex's personal space to aim that finger near his nose, his face shuttered down in cold, hard lines once more. "Don't 'you Americans' me, Alex, I have dual citizenship and I can speak German almost as well as you," he exclaimed. "I'm surprised at you; what do you expect to accomplish, killing your taste buds like this?"
The unexpected attack on his break, Alex's one moment outside of the kitchen that had been consuming his life, threw Alex into quiet confusion for a moment. "You can't tell me not to smoke." Alex kept his cigarette off to the side, but its smoke continued to waft up between them. Fuck it. He wasn't going to try and hide something for fear of Nik's displeasure. Alex brought his cigarette and set it between his lips.
Nik's nostrils flared. "I can tell you not to smoke on our property," he retorted, reaching up to snatch the cigarette from between Alex's lips, leaving them tingling. "You're a chef, Alex, and if you want to be a great one, you ought to think about what this does to your palate. Your sense of taste, your sense of smell." He held the cigarette pinched by the very end, smoke curling in the air between their faces.
Alex inhaled, on the verge of saying something a man should never say to his ranking chef, on the line or off it.
"Besides," Nik continued, bringing the cigarette to his lips and taking a thick drag, his plush mouth closing on the filter where Alex's lips had been clamped only seconds before. He inhaled, taking the smoke directly into his lungs before leaning forward until there was only radiant heat between them. "Would you want to kiss this?"
Before Alex could move or formulate a response, Nik exhaled a stream of smoke directly into his open mouth.
It set Alex to coughing. His eyes watered and he balled his fists up as Nik pitched his cigarette to the ground, grinding it out with the ball of his non-slip shoes, eyeing Alex from across the smoldering distance between them before turning about face. Nik stalked back up the alley without another word.
Alex struggled to formulate thought in a haze of smoke and liquefied brain matter. A part of his primitive brain was still tracking the sway of Nik's hips even as Alex grappled with the upsurge of emotion that he had to label as rage. He was trying to set Nik's well-tended hair on fire with the power of his mind. He couldn't even muster a 'how dare you' for Nik's presumption.
He definitely couldn't let himself think he more than wanted to kiss that mouth, ashtray taste or no. He wanted to ravish it with his own until there was more than just a kiss between them.

You can purchase A Cut Above the Rest at Less Than Three Press.

Check out my giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the novel, and the "Tour de Foodie" continues tomorrow at Babes in Boyland!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

What's Happening This Week!

I can't believe I am doing another post this quickly, time seems to be speeding up. The days are already longer, which means spring is in the air when Christmas was just over two months ago. Gawww, where is the time going. Also its that time to register for GRL2013, and I was amped to go for this year but my little one has speech therapy which will run into 2014 so I have to be here. I could let someone else go, but I don't want to miss any of his milestones. So if you haven't registered yet, do so quickly cus spots are going fast.

This week I will be unveiling my banners for Geek Week, which I am so totally stoked about. It's just going to be pure awesome, so be sure to stop by and see that post. Lots of awesome coming this, and great reviews.

Here's what’s causing a pants losing this week...

See the Light by Cassandra Carr
The Pawn by Kate Sherwood
Bestiary Volume 4 by Various Authors (Fehu)
Duty to the Crown by Rebecca Cohen
Barbarossa's Bitch by Angelia Sparrow & Naomi Brooks 

Guest Post & Giveaway:
Market Garden (Blog Tour) 
Appetite Blog Tour (Talya Andor)
Scavengers Series (K.A Merikan) 

Other Post:
Intro to Geek Week

~Have A Great Week~

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Review: Once A Brat by Kim Dare

Once A Brat by Kim Dare
Riptide Publishing
Novella: 95pgs
3.25 Pants Off

Experienced dominant Marcus has a stalker. On the plus side, the boy following him around his local leather club is gorgeous and a self-professed submissive. Unfortunately, he’s also inexperienced, bratty, and liable to drive Marcus insane within his incessant chatter and questions.

Bret Daniels fell head over heels with Marcus the moment he first saw him. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to get Marcus’s attention and prove his worth as a submissive. He might not be a traditional sub, but he knows he has a lot to offer a dom who can handle his quirks.

When Marcus gives in and agrees to do a scene with Bret, sparks fly. One scene quickly becomes another, and another. But will it be a case of once a brat, always a brat? Bret intends to prove to Marcus that—expectations and experiences aside—he deserves his master’s collar.

I've only read Kim Dare once, and it was a short story in her G-A-Y series. I really liked it, so I was really looking forward to reading another story by the author and with it being from Riptide publishing I was all in. Sadly, I didn't like it as much as I wanted.

Marcus has a stalker, and stalker boy is not even trying to be subtle about it. As an experienced Dom, Marcus has no time to be playing around with a wanna be submissive. His stalker does get an A+ for being a persistent little effer, so the only left to do is face his little shadow head on. What Marco realizes is that not only is Bret Daniels a stalker but he's also a little brat. Maybe a little dose of BDSM reality will have him running for the door, but what Marcus soon realizes  is that Bret was born to be his sub, but if only he could do something about that mouth of his.

This was a really cute read and I do like Marcus and Bret, but Once A Brat really didn't pack the punch I had hoped. Bret is a refreshing a character and I liked that he didn't think all Doms was god or something; his focus was to please Marcus. In spite of that he never ended up losing personality, he remained the same bratty character up till the very end. Marcus, I didn't get a full feel of him but that could be because it’s a short story and his overall Domness (this could possibly be a word I just made up) didn't really come off very strong.

The kink scenes are very mild, not meant to shock but to titillate so readers don't really have to worry about hardcore BDSM stuff.  What is most entertaining is the interaction between Marcus and Bret. Bret is so cheeky he be shocking the hell out of other Doms, but it’s that attitude that makes him so fascinating to both Marcus and me. He's earnest but not pushy, green behind the ears when it comes to doing scenes, but his enthusiasm and the fact that he was made for it creates a very nice contrast. It’s one of those insta love kind of stories, but it’s really cute and I liked it.

Should You Read It? Yes, if you want an easy cute read. I like Ms Dare's writing, and I really like her characters, always a little flawed and filled with lots of personality. Though not the hit I was hoping, I still enjoyed reading it.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fanfiction Friday: Take #4

Once again I haven't read much fanfic of late, but now and again I get in the mood. Plus, Fehu has lots to share. I have to go dig deep in the archives once again and find some faves to talk about. Also, if any of you have any Recs for fanfic (doesn't have to be about the shows I only watch) just ones you've read and loved, please do pass them on. I would love to read some of them.

Happy Friday!!

Sterek (Teen Wolf Fandom)

4 Pants Off

Summary: Stiles is sitting in English class when the thought first occurs to him. They’ve been talking about the ending of Jane Eyre, and Rochester’s fate, and the concept of disability as punishment, and his mind jumps to Derek ordering him to cut off his arm, and he wonders idly whether the arm would have grown back or, more likely, just healed over the stump immediately, and huh, he thinks with a sudden thrill, huh, there’s no way Derek Hale is circumcised.

Thoughts: This is one hot little read I tell ya. Stiles is fascinated with a certain part of Derek's and he just can't think about anything else. The writing is fun, sexy, and a little sweet plus its porn through and through. Stiles is so Stiles in this one, and I can just see him hooked on Derek's uncircumcised penis.

Jasper/Edward (Twilight Fandom)

4.5 Pants Off

Summary: 'The way he looks at me makes me feel...uncomfortable.' Jasper's girlfriend's brother, Edward, keeps staring at him.

Thoughts: Oh bloody hell is this angsty (like intense chewing your finger nails angsty). I really loved what the author did with the characters, Edward here is like a 180 Edward from that of Twilight (night and freaking day). There is intense situations, and man I wanted throw my comp when I remember reading this. It's well worth the read (trust me).

Fehu`s Picks

Merlin/Arthur (Merlin Fandom)

Fool Of Us All
5 Pants Off

Summary: Merlin accidentally makes everybody in Camelot fall in love with him. Everybody except Arthur, that is.

Thoughts: This one is hilarious! It's told from Arthur’s point of view, who is furious, that apparently all world decided to find his Camelot’s wizard irresistible. Of course it's Merlin's fault! A love potion is at work and my favourite scene was Arthur and Merlin on a hunting trip, all animals love Merlin as well and he hates it when Arthur tries to hurt the poor things. Arthur is as expected pretty grumpy. The best part is the dialog there are some great lines that made me laugh, learn from my experience and don't listen to it in public! ^_^;

Supernatural Fandom

4 Pants Off

Summary: On his first day at work in a new hospital, Jensen finds that his biggest concerns revolve around not looking like a psychotic hobo, deciding which coworker(s) he wants to sleep with, and figuring out a way to stop badgers having sex in his house.

Thoughts: Another one of the funnier fanfiction variety. Again I caution you not to listen to it in public, since it starts with Jensen having a bad day, just before he starts his job at a new hospital. The place he rented had two furries lovers in it, so after a long drive the sight of two badgers having sex in his house greeted him. How it all could get worse? The badgers or at least one gets sick, just guess who was conveniently in his way? Of course his coworkers would turn out to be freaks as well, how could that not have happened, with Chuck in the picture?

Guest Post: Gay as Mardi Gras by Lily Velden

Firstly, many thanks to Pants of Reviews for having me!

So, who the hell is Lily Velden, you’re asking yourself? Don’t worry, I ask myself that same question at least once a day. I’d love to be able to give you a definitive answer, but in truth, it’s fluid. It changes on a day to day basis, okay, hour by hour basis, which is probably why I’m divorced and single… I’ve never been much good at accepting labels or boxes, let alone, fitting into them.

Okay, well there you have one insight!

Hmm, the basics… I’m a heterosexual woman in her forties (how did that happen??? It feels like only yesterday I was twenty-one…) who writes M/M fiction. I’m unashamedly idealistic, and despite my checkered history, I’m an incorrigible romantic.

The reason I pop those snippets in is because they relate to a question I’ve frequently been asked by family, friends, and even readers since I began my M/M journey.

Why do I read and write about gay men?

I’m not alone in having been asked this question. I’m fairly confident most women writing in the M/M genre have been. The oft heard response of; if you like cock, then two lots of boy bits have to be better than one, though an oh so valid reason, doesn’t hold true for me. I’ve always been a quality over quantity type of girl.

I hate to admit it, but I’m not that great at being a girl. I’m a dunce when it comes to brand names—Louboutins or JELLYPOP? I don’t care as long as I can walk in them without breaking my neck, and they look nice with what I’m wearing. Tom Ford or something picked up at a chain store? Once again: couldn’t care less as long as it fits and doesn’t make my arse look big! And I’m sorry, but I can’t convince myself that any handbag is worth $5000+!

As I read over what I’ve just written, I’m chuckling—I’ve managed to make myself sound like an ugly, old frump. I’m not… well, I hope I’m not. It’s just, being a bit of a tomboy, I never perfected my hairdressing or make-up skills.

When reading, I quite enjoy being given wonderful descriptions of everything about the heroine, but let’s just say when it comes to my own writing, I have no interest in showing my ignorance by reeling off the wonderful brands she‘s wearing, walking in, carrying over her shoulder, dousing herself in, or how she managed to put her hair up in an intricate bun! I’d probably make all the wrong choices!

Don’t get me wrong – I like description and when it comes to describing my boys, I can wax lyrical. As someone who is also an artist, with a love of life drawing and portraiture, I could write sonnets about their bone structure or the play of muscles fanning their back. Just don’t ask me to go into detail about the weave of their shirts…

I write about men, yes, because I like them, but also because it’s a challenge.

I’m a woman—writing a romance novel from a woman’s perspective about how she feels is not a huge leap. Let’s face it, after three marriages, there’s a good chance I know what it feels like to fall in (and out of) love—or lust—experience a first kiss, be courted, get married, and start a family. I also know from the female perspective how it feels to be betrayed, abandoned, and used.

When I write from a man’s perspective, I have to constantly be on my toes. Men think differently to women. Act differently to women. React differently to women. Their priorities and motivations are different. Because I can’t take anything for granted it makes me stop and think and ask questions. It encourages me to observe and listen—to both my characters, and the men who populate my life; be they colleagues, neighbors, friends, family, or random strangers in a supermarket or gas station.

It’s been good for me—it’s made me more aware. More understanding and tolerant. Men may have their quirks and foibles, but so do women. Conversely, it’s also made me more frustrated—here we are in the 21st century, and we still have so many prejudices. We still treat sections of our community unfairly and unjustly. How can we justify having one set of rules/laws when it comes to marriage and children for heterosexuals and another for gays and lesbians?

Love is love. Gender shouldn’t matter.

Perhaps, for me, the most important thing I discovered along the way is though many emotions are universal, and know no gender, our experience of them is individual and personal. It is that diversity of experience that fascinates me and inspires me to want to share my characters’ exploration of them through their stories.

I hope some of you will want to join Jesse and Daniel, from Gay as Mardi Gras, on their journey.

Gay as Mardi Gras
Published by
Dreamspinner Press
SUMMARY: After the demise of his relationship with his childhood sweetheart, Janey, Jesse needs to get away. His nan has just the thing: a month-long cruise around Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. It seems perfect—until Jesse realizes what kind of cruise it is. 
A gay cruise. 
Since Jesse’s roommate, Daniel, is recovering from a broken heart, the two decide to buddy up. They hit it off, and with Daniel now Jesse's partner in crime, they explore the boat and participate in all the fun activities on offer—with some, ah, interesting results for straight boy Jesse. 

RELEASE DATE: 06 March, 2013

BOOK LENGTH: 77 pages

GENRE: Contemporary M/M fiction 

LINK at Dreamspinner: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3615

You can find me in the following places:

WEBSITE: www.lilyvelden.com/
TWITTER: @LilyVelden
FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/lily.velden
EMAIL: lilyvelden@live.com.au

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Review: You Belong With Me by Jeff Erno

You Belong With Me by Jeff Erno
Harmony Ink Press
Novel: 164pgs
4 Pants Off

Wesley Harris is sixteen and openly gay, at least to his family and friends. Often bullied at school, he's shy and reserved. Wesley has a penchant for designing T-shirts, and he's a gifted artist. When Brad Johnson, one of the school's most admired jocks, moves in next door, the two boys begin to develop a friendship. It begins when they see each other through their bedroom windows and start exchanging notes with each other. Brad has a notebook upon which he writes messages which he holds up for Wesley to read, Wesley returns the gesture. 

This unique manner of communication leads them into a genuine friendship in which Brad confides in Wesley the issues with which he's struggling. His parents are divorcing, his girlfriend is cheating on him, and his father is critical of everything he does. Most significantly, Brad confesses to Wesley that he thinks he might be bisexual.

Wesley Harris is gay, and pretty much everyone knows it. His parents don't mind which is awesome, but it’s when he gets to school that the acceptance from home goes out the window. He gets bullied but Wes doesn't let it affect how he lives and enjoys school. So when jock superstar Brad Johnson moves in next door Wes can hardly believe his luck. Bonus is that their bedrooms are facing each other, so the boys communicate using a notebook and they strike up a friendship. Brad is more than Wesley expected, and suddenly he's falling hard but he knows that Brad will always be fantasy because one: he's straight, and two a guy like him would never be attracted to a skinny geeky kid like him.

They have a genuine friendship and Wes is able to be himself and share everything with Brad. Yes, his heart is still on the line but having Brad as a friend means more. When Brad shares that he might be bi-sexual, Wesley feels like he's on cloud nine. Their relationship starts to move in a direction that makes them both happy, and Wes is thinking maybe after all a guy like him can have the boy of his dreams. Until real life jumps in and Brad has family stuff to deal with, and his feelings for Wes could cost him everything. Wesley still has to deal with the bullies at school and maybe this time he really has had enough.

This is a Jeff Erno book pure and simple, the author is never afraid to hit you with a dose of reality and mixing in the happy ending we hope every young adult could have. As much as I enjoy this trope of nerdy awkward boy falling in love with superstar jock, I really want to see a switch up. The characters take on a classic example of characters we've seen before by the author. Regardless, I found Wes to be a strong character and enjoyed the change that happened with him, and it made me wish that others would stand up for themselves like this.

Once again the author does good for the sex part of the book, not explicit but very sweet interludes between two boys who genuinely care for each other. It always makes my heart feel super happy to read about young people falling in love, and the intimate moments mean something. Wesley and Brad are sweet together, and their little story will warm your heart.

Should You Read It? Yep, if you are a Jeff Erno fan like I am then you won't want to miss this one. As much as I enjoyed it, I really want in the future for there to be a switch up of characters. For once I want the nerdy boy to deem himself worthy from the get go, and maybe he can fall in love with a sexy nerd too. I love me some jock/nerd set-up but I am really in the need for something more.

4 Pants Off

Review: Metal Heart by Meredith Shayne

Metal Heart by Meredith Shayne
Dreamspinner Press
Novel: 264pgs
4.5 Pants Off

Scott King swore off rock stardom after his band, King Phoenix, crashed and burned. Now in his forties, Scott lives a quiet life as a music producer and session guitarist. But in a box hidden in his wardrobe lie the relics of the past he left behind—a past filled with drugs, booze, and broken hearts. For sixteen years, Scott has had no contact with his former bandmates, so when he’s asked to play at a benefit gig for King Phoenix’s old sound man, his world turns upside down. A King Phoenix reunion means a run-in with Scott’s ex, Ash Walker—and sixteen years ago, believing Ash wanted to leave the band, Scott OD’d and almost died.

Since then, Scott has ruthlessly suppressed his feelings. As a result, he's completely unprepared for the impact of seeing Ash again, or for dealing with his emotions about the band’s demise. He definitely didn’t expect Ash to want to start up where they left off. Now Scott has to decide between his safe existence and the twenty-year-old love song that could cost him his sobriety—and his heart.

Another book I was very surprised by, and man it’s awesome when that happens. Metal Heart brought out all kinds of emotions in me, if you follow me on twitter and Goodreads then you already know this. There is something very charming about the story, and refreshing about the characters that I just fell in love with. Plus, its rockstars and they're always all kinds of kickass.

The book is broken down in two parts: the 1990s and 2011 (the books present time). In 1990, Scott King is looking for a band to make it big with so he can quit his day job and go on to superstardom. When a friend tells him about a band one man short, and gives him their demo, Scott knows he's found his band. With the smooth sultry voice of the singer giving him feels below the belt, and with a name like King Phoenix it’s like a match made in heaven. When Scott finally meets the band they hit it off right away but it’s the singer Ash that has Scott in a twist. Ash is sexiness personified and Scott is close to losing his shit over the sexy singer, but he's got the music to get lost in and keep his crush under control. Working their way to up in the music scene comes with a lot of hard-work and disappointments but they knew the road to fame wouldn't be easy. From the small gigs, and rocking out at every club/pub they get to play at Scott's feelings for Ash intensifies but he knows that nothing will ever come of it. Until he gets a glass to the face at a gig gone wrong, and Ash is jumping in to take care of him and pouring out his feelings while they lie together in bed. Things seem almost perfect, because together they will take over the world with their music and rock on.

A series of ups and down, and finally all their hard work is paying off. Scott and Ash are in love, but the relationship remains a secret, regardless their happy being with each other. King Phoenix is the next big thing, and people are noticing. Boom, comes the record deal, KP is finally touring, and things couldn't be any better. With a few good years under their belt, suddenly performing for larger crowds has Scott suffering from stage fright and it’s taking a toll. When friends introduce him to pick me uppers that will take his fear away, Scott feels like he can fly. Next, he's using things to stay awake, drugs to go the sleep, and he is just one addicted mess. His love for Ash won't save him this time and everything starts to fall in between the cracks. When Scott realizes he might be losing Ash, he goes on the bend and ODs, and a dream for a band goes up in flames.

Now it’s 2011 and Scott has tried to forget a time when he almost died, and lost the man he loved more than anything. So when he gets a call to a reunion show for a friend who is dying to raise money for his family. Scott can’t be an asshole and say no, but it would mean seeing the band for the first time in 16yrs but most off all it would mean seeing Ash. He decides to do it but it doesn't mean he's gonna be nice about it, because while he was fighting for his life his bitch ass band upped and disappeared. It's that Ash up and disappeared is what hurts the most.

So this book was made of awesome, and I am just surprised by how much it I love it. Though I am singing praises, it did piss me the eff off. First, Scott really knows how to hold a grudge and though I can understand him being pissed about them not coming to see how he was doing, he can’t blame them for his drug use. No one held his face to a line of coke, so he has no one to blame but himself. I am also pissed at all the band members because the douche bag faces could have visited him or at least called to see how he was doing, especially Ash. They were in love and together for years, and just like Scott I can't forgive him easily. No matter the excuses I was all "It Doesn't Matter" all your stupid asses could have called in the last 16 bloody years.

Meredith doesn't shy away from writing the drug use, and you get to see how intense it all was for Scott. The relationship between the men was a real sweet case of young love, and it’s heart breaking to watch them crash and burn. But they were so young going after a dream without any form of guidance. I wouldn’t have minded if this story was a bit longer because I feel a lot of things weren't explored to their full potential. There is a lot of blame, without any real solution so I am feeling a bit dissatisfied with how it all ended. I am crossing my fingers that I get another story, because I am so in love with Scott and Ash.

Should You Read It? I am going to give this one a big YES, because I cried while yelling at this book. This was my first time reading Meredith Shayne and it will not be my last, I loved the rockers, loved all the angst, and I loved Scott/Ash. The writing had such a wonderful flow; I could have easily read another hundred pages. Metal Heart was superb!

4.5 Pants Off

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

And The Winner Is...


(Chris T. Kat Giveaway) 

~Winner chosen using random.org!~

Review: The Last Grand Master by Andrew Q. Gordon

Reviewed by Fehu
The Last Grand Master (Champion of the Gods #1) by Andrew Q. Gordon
Dreamspinner Press
Novel: 350pgs
3 Pants Off

In a war that shook the earth, the Six gods of Nendor defeated their brother Neldin, god of evil. For the three thousand years since, Nendor and the Seven Kingdoms have known peace and prosperity.

But then a new wizard unleashes the power of Neldin. Meglar, wizard king of Zargon, uses dark magic to create an army of creatures to carry out his master's will.

One by one, the sovereign realms fall. Soon the only wizard who can stop Meglar is Grand Master Farrell, the Prince of Haven, the hidden home of refugees. An untried wizard, Farrell carries a secret that could hold the key to defeating Meglar—or it could destroy the world.

While helping Nerti, queen of the unicorns, Farrell saves Miceral, an immortal muchari warrior the Six have chosen to be Farrell's mate. But Farrell approaches love with caution, and before he can decide how to proceed, Meglar invades a neighboring kingdom. Farrell and Miceral find themselves in the middle of the battle. Farrell pushes himself to the limit as he and Miceral fight not only to stop Meglar but for their very survival.

I think this might be a book that depends on what the reader likes, book chemistry if you will. Some people like melodrama; others prefer a lot of action or other like a smooth romance story. Well I love fantasy stories, the longer the better, but they do have to have something in them to actually attract and hold my attention and it doesn't have to be the story itself. If I like the characters, a pairing, a special hero, then I will be happy to read on, even if the story doesn't interest me as much. Here the characters didn't draw me in from the start, but I hope since it's the first book in a series that they will grow on me in time.  Honestly if one doesn't mind a mostly uncomplicated romance story with a fantasy setting, then this just might be the book for them. I have friends who don't like complicated stories, me, I prefer some action and excitement to spice it up, but since it all might come in the next book, I'm keeping an open mind.

Farrell is the Last Grand Wizard and the Prince of Heaven, with his deity who sounds suspiciously like Horus; he gets a visit from a unicorn, who takes him to the place where he is needed and where he is supposed to meet his fated mate. The army of the evil Wizard Meglar have surrounded the city of Northhelm. It all happens pretty fast and so Farrell has to battle against an army, wizards and dark magical creatures.

Not a bad start! BUT I wish he didn't beat them so easily! I don't mind powerful characters, but Farrell appears to be all powerful. The romance part starts there as well and I had nearly given up hope after I've read the scene where Farrell meets Miceral, since it looked like instant-love. Thankfully after they left the city and fled to Heaven, the romance did slow down and they decided to get to know each other first and it was not all a smooth ride!

To get back to book chemistry, the writing didn't flow, I looked at the page count and a lot happened, a lot of characters were introduced but there are no real problems there and I didn't get the sense of danger or suspense that should have been there. While the word building is interesting, the plot evil father against son is not exactly new, it's all in the details to make a difference and this book has a lot of descriptive details, but it failed to emotionally engage me, because all felt a bit too easy and constructed. Like I said before this is, the first book in a series, so I hope I will get my suspense and drama in the next books!

3 Pants Off

Review: Choices & Changes by K.L Belanger

Choices & Changes by K.L Belanger
Dreamspinner Press
Novel: 258pgs
4 Pants Off

On the cusp of his twenty-fifth birthday, Bo Sanford grows frustrated with his directionless life. Slaving away at his father’s construction company all week and partying every weekend leaves him little time for introspection, but he knows it’s time for a change. When his best friend, Mac, drags him to a college party, Bo catches sight of a girl. But not just any girl—the girl of his dreams: a delicate blonde-haired beauty with a pink scarf and a smile that promises warmth and humor. There’s just one problem: she isn’t a girl.

Even after Bo discovers the truth, he keeps seeing Erick, and the choice to follow his heart despite the obstacles has profound repercussions on not only his sense of self but his relationship with his family and even his job. Being with Erick makes him all the more determined to be his own man and claw his way out from under his father’s thumb.

But Erick faces choices of his own: the choice to get involved with someone redefining his sexuality, the choice to trust again, and even the choice to believe love can last beyond the temporary.

Bo Sanford is tired and just wants to rest, but his best-friend Mac has other ideas. He wants to hit up some frat parties for some female companionship, but all Bo can think of is sleep. Working construction is a tough job, and dealing with the boss aka his father is even tougher, so Bo is strung out and just wants some sleepy time. Too bad Mac is uber persuasive and Bo finds himself heading to the party anyways. So Bo decides he's just gonna drink some cheap beer, hang and then go home but no hook-ups. Until his eyes land on the most stunning girl he's ever seen, and maybe the night is starting to look up. Well, Bo's bubble gets busted fast when Mac points out that his dream girl isn’t a girl after all and Bo does the only thing he can think of, he runs.

Maybe a little fresh air will clear the drunken haze but Bo knows that he's not drunk and clearly he just found a man very attractive. When the very person of his torment comes to greet him and offers him a beer. What Bo really wants to do is run, but when Erick takes a seat beside him Bo finds that the man is easy to talk to. Suddenly they're meeting each other at a diner and Bo is in freak out mode but behind that entire freak out is that Erick is easy to talk to. Erick isn't looking for any form of relationship, so Bo's friendship is all he needs despite the attraction sizzling in the air.

The men begin a genuine friendship, but it has the feel of first love. They spend hours just talking on the phone, and is always glad to be in each other’s company. Erick is Bo's solace when it comes to dealing with the stress of work, an overbearing father, and whatever hardships might happen in his day. But while Bo is sharing everything Erick seems to be holding a lot back. Because Bo is risking it all for their relationship and maybe Erick isn't as in it to get it as he thought.

This book has a lot to like, because it focuses on the developing friendship between two men who found each other. The romantic aspect of it all takes a backseat, and getting to know both Bo and Erick is front and centre. Bo is a man, for the first time in his life is attracted to person of the same sex, but this book is not about the GFY (gay for you) trope, it far surpasses that because Bo is attracted to Erick, not because he's male but simply because he's Erick. Conflict is provided due to Erick's past and this is the part I didn't like so much about the story. I think Erick should have just talked about it to begin with, and the revisit from the ex-boyfriend wasn't needed (that part really took away from its uniqueness). I am also not 100% on their romantic relationship, yes their friendship is solid so by the time it starts to lead into the physical stuff, and they still felt like best-friends to me. Not a bad thing, but most definitely not the best approach.

Overall, Choices and Changes is a perfect title. Bo has to make choices, and deal with the drastic changes in his life that comes in the form of Erick. It’s about a young man finding his place in the world, and building a life from there.

Should You Read It? Yes, if you want to read a solid story based on a real relationship without all the sex. It’s a character driven story, with a little something special going for it. You could say its GFY but it is so much more than that. I really enjoyed reading it, and look forward to reading more about Bo and Erick (say it is so).

4 Pants Off

Guest Post & Giveaway: Honour by A.F. Henley

~ Please help me welcome AF Henley to Pants Off for the very first time. Be sure to say hello, and enter the giveaway.~

Right now, somewhere out there in this world, probably even right here in the province of Ontario, is a man that would fall down dead if he heard I just wrote a historical novel. I'll skip the boring parts of names and titles and we'll just call him Mr. G, my grade ten history teacher. Grade ten, I can say with equal parts relief and joy, was the very last year I was forced to learn a date, a fact, or a concept with relation to history. At the time, a student had to take history from grade four forward. After grade ten, you could opt out. (And I did. To roaring fanfare, both mine and teacher alike. There's a strong possibility that I may have burned my notes as well. At a party ... thrown to do just that. I'm not going to confirm or deny. I'm just saying ... there's a chance.)

The problem was that I despised history with every bored bone of my body. I had no interest in what they did then. I wanted to know what we were going to do now! I never bought into the concept of needing to know the how to prevent the reoccurrence. Today was brilliance and yesterday was tarnish; move on or move out. Welcome to the nineties, boys. Hang on, it's gonna be a blast ... (And whoops. I might have just aged myself there. Ah, well.)

Something changed though. I started reading fiction. Suddenly history didn't seem so boring. It was actually kinda cool when one began to think about. Imagine, really, living in a home without a heating system; or a society where the monarchy sought control over not only what you did but what you wore, who you spoke to and how you addressed them when you did. Oh, the fun the right kind of character could have with that – the drama that could, for that matter probably did, ensue.

So no, Mr. G, pick yourself up off the ground. I haven't decided to become a historical guru or anything although, I guess, if I'm being honest, I could admit to a fair bit of researching. And enjoying what I found there.

(I mean, seriously ... swords. Hot. And have you seen the clothes? I could pull of a pink velvet cape, I know I could.)

Check it out:

M/M Historical Romance
45,500 words

Recently docked after a voyage abroad, Emmett wants only to find a warm bed and good food, for himself and the cabin boy he's taken into his care. Those plans are impeded, however, by an altercation in the streets—with a man he realizes too late is England's heir to the throne, Prince Andrewe. 

 When the encounter unexpectedly leads to a position in the royal household attending the prince, Emmett is not certain what to think. On one hand, it's a reliable income and ensures the safety of his charge. On the other, it's neither the life Emmett knows, nor an environment that he's comfortable in. Left to learn his lessons the hard way, Emmett spends his days contending with a spoiled, infuriating prince who leaves him in a constant tangle of emotions. 

 Then he begins to hear whispers of treason and must make a choice: defend Prince Andrewe, or betray him.

Available at: 
Less Than 3 Press

Also, if I've managed to amuse you enough to keep you interested, and you've made it this far with me, I'd like to offer my appreciation in the form of an opportunity to win a copy of Honour, in the ebook format of your choice. Anyone who leaves a comment is eligible, assuming they are of legal age and able to legally accept the work. Winner will be selected via a random number generator and will close on Wednesday, March 13th.

Cheers. :D

AF Henley

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Guest Post: Band Leaders & Managers by Melanie Tushmore

"I've already spent ten years of my life apologising for that band. As their manager, that's all I really did. Apologise." ~Doc McGhee, Mötley Crüe, 'The Dirt'

In my time with bands, I've gone from die-hard fan to rock-girlfriend, to co-manager, and finally to promoter and tour manager. (This is what happens when you start organising people; they just give you more work to do!)

People may read Crucifox and think, "wow, what an arsehole manager Doug is", or "what a bossy guitarist Sky is". Let me play devil's advocate. What most people are blissfully unaware of is the sheer stupidity that sane, rational people – much like myself – can be subjected to on an almost daily level. We're all human, and sometimes a few too many straws back the old camel's back, as they say.

Here's one small anecdote that didn't make it into Crucifox. My home, which was centre of town, was regularly used as a storage facility for band equipment – unfortunately for me – which meant that before any gig or tour, the band van would have to stop by my place to pick everything up.

One would assume that the rest of the band would help, but often they'd just come in, sit on my couch, and stall, hoping someone else would do the work. Like one ex-bassist in particular, when I noticed there was some shit smears on his jacket. The exchange went as follows:

Me: "Why is there shit on your jacket?"

Ex-bassist: "Oh, I had a poo in the park last night and picked up what I thought was my phone to put in my pocket... only it wasn't my phone, it was actually my poo."

Me: [horrified] "So why are you still wearing the same jacket?"

Ex-bassist: "I scooped most of it out..."

Me: "Get out of my house."

(Yes, really. I'm not exaggerating.)

That's just one example. The poo-pocket bassist had to borrow my then-boyfriend's snakeskin jacket for the weekend. I believe that was also the show where he had a huff because the band wouldn't let him tell a joke onstage between songs. They later told me his words after the set were: "How dare you interrupt me when I'm rocking out," said in all seriousness.

[Guffaw] Meanwhile, I was enjoying blissful peace and quiet on my own.

I used to think touring was fun, and then I decided I'd much rather let the smelly men all get on with it together, and leave me be. Thanks to the power of telephones, I could coordinate [nag] them wherever they were.

I started off not knowing much about behind-the-scenes in the music biz, only what I'd read from biographies and watched in documentary's. (Sharon Osbourne, I've decided, is a goddamn saint.) I worked in theatre as a performer, and gradually started working more backstage than onstage and learning the ropes there. It was a natural progression to be a promoter and put on my own productions, and then band gigs, which I co-promoted with my then-boyfriend, who was – still is – a musician and sound engineer.

So it went from there. I've seen some... er, interesting things. I don't drink or smoke; I'm more or less tee-total. I've watched adult men drink their own body weight during gigs, chunder it back up, and do it again the next night. All in the name of rock n' roll.

We used to do after parties and club nights, where I'd sit on the door, stone-cold sober, taking money from punters and watching all hell break loose around me. I should have taken more photographs, for blackmail.

Recently, I met up with a band I used to promote at their London gig, and we reminisced about a particularly messy gig with an even messier after party. In the club, I remember seeing one singer bitch-slap some boy from another band, because he was drunk, just as someone else leapt off the club's balcony, thankfully landing on his feet with no damage. I had wanted to shout 'everybody sit down and be quiet!' except the music was too loud. Security were throwing people out left, right, and centre. I was mortified. But my friend told me about something I'd missed. He said, 'Yeah, that annoying band, their guitarist was outside in the alley, with his dick out, trying to pee into his own mouth'.

I'm so grossed out. And I thought stories of that particular night couldn't get any worse.

So next time you think to yourself that the manager, or the band-leader, appears to be a killjoy, bossing the others around, bear in mind that it's hard work being the ring leader for a circus of goons!

I'll leave you with another quote that we often bring up, remembering another ex-bassist.

Me: "Why are you late for band practice?" Him: "I was cooking a quiche."

Yes. Really.

He also hid his eyeliner in the arse of an inflatable sheep whilst on tour up north, so no one would make fun of him for being a massive tart. (Why they had an inflatable sheep, I don't want to know. What happens on tour... well, almost invariably doesn't stay on tour!)

Crucifox #1: The Green-Eyed Monster is now available from Storm Moon Press for just $7.99 (ebook)! Go get your copy for some true rockstar fiction!
Sky Somers is an ex-traveller; the son of a folk musician and a new age hippy. Sky's form of rebellion is electric guitars, and he wants his own band. His desire is to set the world to rights through music. Brandon Cruikshank is new to London, recently arrived from Glasgow. Charismatic, charming; a natural born performer. Brandon is openly bisexual, with a penchant for dressing in women's clothes. His desire is to be adored.

From the moment Sky meets Brandon, he knows he has to have him. Brandon, in turn, wants Sky. But that's when it becomes clear they both have very different desires in mind. Brandon wants Sky as a lover, yet Sky only wants Brandon as a singer in his band. Misunderstanding set aside—or apparently so—Brandon and Sky become firm friends. To escape equally troubled pasts and families, they change their names. Now, Brandon Fox and Sky St. Clair are ready to take over the world.

As the years roll on, Brandon's desire for Sky still simmers, waiting. Then a chance night sharing a hotel room sparks the desire between them, and this time, Brandon wants it all. Sky has never explored his desires before. Now, the passion and jealousy Brandon has unleashed in him threatens to shake the whole band apart.
Author links
Website: http://www.melanietushmore.co.uk/ 
Twitter: @melanietushmore