SLAVE is now a full time reviewer for Guys Like Romance, Too!

Please note that SLAVE's Erotic Review is on hiatus to catch up on reviews.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hump day with Dreamspinners Press: Sue Brown

I admit I don’t write books about magic. At all. My stories tend to be contemporary and very boringly domestic. Prior to discovering MM romance I used to read fantasy all the time, with witches and wizards, potions and spells. I’ve probably been reading it for thirty years and my top ten authors are mainly fantasy writers, and yet I can’t write a word. I used to read David Eddings, Terry Goodkind, Patricia McKillip, Kristen Britain, Marion Zimmer Bradley and many more. I loved it when horror writers such as James Herbert weren’t afraid to throw some dark magic into their stories. I was always thrilled if I found a same sex couple in the books. In fact, fantasy was where I discovered gay couples without the need for a miserable ending.

I’ve tried to write fantasy, really I have. Plot number 1. Boy discovers he’s a wizard and goes off on amazing adventures. Hmmm, I think that’s been done before. Plot number 2. Girl discovers she’s a witch. Scrap that, a sorceress. Not such negative connotations. She goes off on amazing adventures. How many times has that been done? There are so many good books out there that I don’t get past the first page of the plot. I’m stifled by what I’ve read before. Everyone else has done it bigger, better, brighter. What I did discover in my failed attempts is that world building is bloody difficult.

Which makes me wonder. What stirs our writer’s muse? I read mainstream crime and fantasy and yet cannot formulate a story in my favorite genres. I stopped writing because I could never start/finish a story. My daughter begged me to write a dark romance with magic (this was the Twilight era) but no dice. No plot worked for me. I haven’t read a romance since I was a teenager and yet suddenly one kiss with Captain Jack Harkness and I’m popping out romance like a mother with octuplets.

I still love fantasy. I love the world building and the adventures. I love where the impossible can happen with a spell or a potion. Losing myself in a good fantasy series is a real escapism for me. I used to hide in the loos at work with the latest David Eddings because I couldn’t wait to get home and read it.

I’ve tentatively dipped my toe into reading MM magic and fantasy but I need recommendations. Over to you, dear friends. Which authors and books do you recommend? Who is going to have me hiding away from work so that I can catch up on their latest book?

                                                                  Now available    at Romance

Dumped by his boyfriend, Frankie Mason goes out with the girls, gets totally trashed, and ends his night by falling in front of a taxi. He’s rescued by a man with beautiful green eyes who takes care of him until he’s put into an ambulance. Frankie curses himself as he realizes he doesn’t have the man’s phone number. Still in pain a few days later, he is dragged out to a club only to be saved by Green Eyes once more. This time, he isn’t letting the man go.

Unfortunately Frankie has to attend a team-building exercise, nicknamed Womb Weekend, organized by his company. Al is working so he doesn't mind, until he discovers who the team leader is. Al has a lot of explaining to do!

Dawn had arrived with a pale pink-and-blue sky, and thankfully no rain. Frankie decided to walk home, relaxed and full, and ready to sleep. At this time of the morning, he could cut off a few minutes by walking through the station concourse without negotiating hundreds of tourists.

He stepped off the curb, and after that, he wasn’t sure what happened except his world spun crazily out of control. He heard the sound of a car horn, and Frankie was thrown off his feet, only to land on the ground, an excruciating pain in his hip.

What the fuck?

“He just stepped out in front of me. You saw that, didn’t you? He didn’t look at all. He was probably after a score.”

Frankie opened his eyes and glared at the man standing over him. “Thanks for your concern, arsehole, but I’m not a druggie. Give me your phone number, address, and insurance details,” he said brusquely. At least, he aimed for brusque rather than weak and feeble.

The man sniffed and vanished out of sight. Frankie contemplated getting up. On the other hand, the ground was comfortable and he had nowhere to be.

“An ambulance is on its way. You have a habit of getting into trouble, don’t you?”

Frankie turned his head to deny the charge and was fixed by the most beautiful green eyes he had ever seen. “Take me home,” he said and was rewarded with a smile from the man.

“Huh, a faggot. Might have known.”

The driver was really getting on Frankie’s nerves. “Give me the details and then you can get lost.”

A hand squeezed Frankie’s, and Green Eyes said, “Give me the details. You can talk to the police and I’ll look after my boy here, before he gets into any more trouble.”

“Frankie,” Frankie said.


“My name’s Frankie.” Frankie gave a melting smile to the nice man with dark hair and gorgeous green eyes. Then he glared at the driver. “That’s Mr. Lawsuit to you.”

“Listen, you little—”

Green Eyes sighed. “How the hell did you manage to get to adulthood, Frankie? The ambulance is here, thank God.”

Frankie was really pleased because fuck knows the pain in his hip was hurting like a bitch, and no one seemed to give a shit about him, and his mum would wash his mouth out with soap and water if he kept swearing, and….

His brain shut off as Green Eyes kissed him.

“What the…?” he said faintly.

“You were talking again, Frankie. It seemed the best way to shut you up."

Author Bio:
Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn't following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot, and has become an expert at ignoring the orders.
Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favorite television series. The series was boring; the kissing was not. She may be late to the party, but she's made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hump Day with Dreamspinners presents...Allison Cassatta

The Magic's in the Romance...

Who says there has to be mystical creatures for a story to be magical? Magic happens when two people realize for the very first time they’re falling in love—through a look, through a touch, through a kiss, or through softly whispered words on the cusp of explosive sex. My name is Allison Cassatta, and I want to introduce you to my brand of magic.
Throughout my writing career, I’ve focused more on real life, real world scenarios where one man spots another across a room, or maybe they’re forced into a situation where they have to work very, very close together, and sparks fly. Maybe they fight it at first. Maybe they dive right into a whirlwind romance. Either way, they either fall hard and fast, or fight it tooth-and-nail, but there’s always a little magic in the making.
In Beast, we take a classic fairy tale—Beauty and the Beast—about one person who only sees the ugly, and one person who only sees everything beautiful in the other, and we add a contemporary MM twist.
In this excerpt, Ara takes a long hard look at himself, and this is the moment he realizes he has to let go of what he sees in the mirror, and embrace what’s inside him now.

He went straight to the dresser and met his reflection head-on. It stared back at him, scars in all the places they always were, mocking him, laughing at his good intentions. The scar slicing through his left eye reminded him of the cruel things he’d said to Beni. The gash across his lip reminded him of all the partners who’d kissed those lips without loving him. No one had ever loved him, and after the accident, no one ever would. So why bother warming up to anyone now? Why bother trying to be a better man?
Because you don’t want to be alone forever, Ara Costas. You don’t want to be hated.
He ran the tip of his finger over the scar crossing his mouth, eyeing all the little slivers dotting his cheeks and chin, each one a bit more heartbreaking than the one before it. No one would ever love him like this. No one would want to spend a lifetime looking at him in this condition. The surgeries got him this far, but he wasn’t perfect, not like he used to be.
Ilias couldn’t possibly want a man like me.

For Ara, accepting the fact he’s falling in love is a long, arduous process, just like it was for Beast. He sees himself as a monster and no one in their right mind could ever possibly love him. In this excerpt, he’s longing for love, long for just a touch.
The candles in the center of the table flickered, casting dim shadows against Ilias’s handsome face. They stared at each other, silent as church mice. Ara pinched his lips together, wishing he had the nerve to go for a single touch—a brush of fingers, a holding of hands… a kiss of the lips.
He swallowed hard.
“Dinner is served,” Ms. Sprigs announced.
Ara sat bolt straight in his chair. His pulse rushed a little more than normal. He tore his stare away from his employee and turned it to his housekeeper. If he just kept his eyes on her, then he wouldn’t think about touching or kissing Ilias. Right?

Last one. I promise. The writers wanted to share this except simply because it tugs at both our heartstrings. Ara wants so badly to have his old look back, not really his old life, because he likes the man he’s become thanks to Ilias, but he needs to be beautiful again. He needs it like he needs air.
As soon as he turned on the bathroom lights, his reflection in the mirror came to life. It stared back at him with intensity. His left eye still drooped a bit compared to his right, and the two or three missing lashes in the middle of his lid hadn’t grown back. It was silly to think they might’ve. The incisions had to heal first, after all. His lips still had a slight indention and his chin tugged when he opened his mouth or smiled. It honestly appeared as though nothing had changed, as if all the pain and time away from being intimate with his fiancé was for nothing.
He slammed his fist down on the vanity, head hanging from his shoulders. “Hey,” a soft voice said from behind him. “It’s not that bad.”
“Yes, it is, Ilias. It is that bad.”
“You’re not done healing. Give it a few more days.”
“Nothing’s changed. I thought….” He looked at his reflection again before turning his head away in disgust. “It should look a little better.”
“Ara, I don’t care about your scars.”
“I do,” Ara growled, shoving his way back out of the bathroom so he wouldn’t have to look at himself anymore. “They’ve taken too much from me. This is supposed to be over.”
“Among mankind there are many that deserve that name more than you, and I prefer you, just as you are, to those, who, under a human form, hide a treacherous, corrupt, and ungrateful heart.”
Ara frowned, turning his head back toward Ilias. “What is that?”
“It’s a quote from ‘Beauty and The Beast.’ After Beast says he’s a monster.”
“So… what… you’re Beauty and I’m the Beast?”
Ilias reached for Ara’s hand and forced Ara to face him again, but Ara couldn’t look him in the eyes. He kept his gaze downcast, not wanting to be a monster in Ilias’s eyes.
“I didn’t say that. But look at it this way…. Would you love me any less if I were the one scarred?”
“No, I… I couldn’t,” Ara breathed.
“Would you care more about how I look than the man I am on the inside?”
Ara shook his head. “No, the beauty inside you is what made me fall in love.”
“Then why is it so hard for you to realize that I love you for the man you are on the inside?”
“I don’t know.” Ara swallowed. “I want what I lost. I don’t want to be damaged anymore. I know you love me. I have no doubt about that, but I need this piece of me back. I need to… to not be sickened when someone stares at me. I need to not relive that night when I look in the mirror. I need… I need me back, Ilias. Do you understand that?”
“No, I’m sorry, but I don’t understand it.”
“That’s because you’re still beautiful.”
Before Ilias could make a rebuttal, Ara made an about-face and tore out of the bedroom. He couldn’t have this argument right now. He couldn’t look that absurdly beautiful man whom he loved with every inch of his being in the eye and have Ilias tell him that being scarred was okay, that no one cared. People did care. People stared. He was a monster, and right now, Beast needed to be alone.

Ara Costas has it all—riches, power, and the kind of beauty that attracts all the right people. He’s flying high and loves his life, until a serious car accident leaves him horribly scarred. Ara becomes an angry recluse, hiding away in his Chicago high-rise apartment, running his multimillion-dollar business from behind a computer screen.
Ilias Adams is a quiet farm boy who keeps his nose buried in books. A great education and stellar resume land him a job as Ara's assistant and liaison to the board of directors. Little did he know when he signed up for this dream job that he’d end up working for the world's moodiest, most uptight boss.
Ilias is scared of Ara at times, but he recognizes the challenge he faces when he meets Ara and sees the reason for the man’s anger. Ara is guarded and suspicious, since he can’t believe anyone can bear to look at him. Despite all this, Ilias is determined to turn the beast into a beauty again, at least on the inside, and tear down the walls Ara has so carefully constructed around him.

Learn more about Allison Cassatta and her work at the following links: