Yes, I'm still keeping up with my m/m challenge, reviewing those m/m books that I really rather liked. You can see more about the challenge at I heart paperbacks.
Blood and Roses, Aislinn Kerry, Samhain Publishing
Arjen is a prostitute in Amsterdam. Not sure of the time period. Vampires are a given in this society. Maikel is a vampire who comes to the brothel and selects Arjen, but all he wants is to feed and have a safe place to sleep for the night. Arjen isn’t happy about it but agrees. This becomes a weekly event. Until their personalities get in the way - Arjen thinks he doesn’t want the vampire, even though Maikel makes his affection clear. Maikel accededs to Arjen’s wishes that he go away. This is beautifully written, emotionally stirring. Even though it’s first person pov (Arjen) there is much to discover as he doesn’t quite know his own feelings. And you aren’t ever sure about Maikel, tho’ you can surmise. Not terribly long (there are 85 pages of story, 20 pages of other books’ excerpts), the story focuses on their meetings in the brothel, so it’s very tightly written that way. No extraneous detail, intensely focused. Loved it.
An Uncommon Whore, Belinda McBride, Loose Id
Helios Dayspring has been a slave for 5 years. Griffin Hawke is a soldier, one of many sent to find Helios, who is actually a king. They'd been friends and lovers. Helios' memory's been wiped but they get the chip implanted in his brain corrected. They meet up with Carolotta, a displaced princess and Helios' sister-in-law. The three travel back to their planet, a new home their people went to when the first planet had been overtaken in war. Interesting to learn about his life as a slave in rather unemotional telling, instead of living through those years with him. He has to accept what he's been while he remembers the past that brought him to slavery and comes to grips with being a king. A very intelligent book. The characters are rich and complex. We come into the story when Helios has been a slave for 5 years, can't remember anything before that, and slowly his history is revealed. Told in first person from Helios's pov. Griffin is his lover, and he is almost heartbreaking in his own right as you learn about what he's been through as well. I would like to have seen a bit more at the end. It was rather neatly wrapped up. I had been thinking it would lead in to a follow up story, but it doesn't seem so.
Wicked Gentlemen, Ginn Hale, Blind Eye Books
Wow. And Wow again.
This was a terrific read. I was caught up immediately and couldn’t let go. It’s sort of a steampunk combined with paranormal story. The world-building is incredible, and this story seems as if it is just a small part of a world that the author knows in alarming detail. Belimai Sykes is a Prodigal, which in this world means demon. William Harper is a Captain with the Inquisition, which is a sort of religious-based policing and governing body that uses torture to get what it wants. William solicits Belimai’s help when his sister goes missing, and from there we discover their secrets. Both characters are deeply drawn, very imperfect and complex. While there are a couple of mysteries to be solved and bad guys to be dealt with, the real treasure is that we follow along as the two men grow, sometimes willingly and sometimes not, beyond the constraints their society has set them.