Beautiful Chaos Gay Romance Review

“Emotional” isn’t enough to describe Devon McCormack & Riley Hart’s Beautiful Chaos. The title alone should clue you into that. Does chaos give way to harmony or…simply a mess? Find out below.

From the Amazon Blurb:

SILAS

My home is my sanctuary. Or is it my prison? Some days it’s hard to tell.

I’ve confined myself behind these walls for protection. I have my reasons, but that doesn’t change the profound loneliness I’ve discovered in the process.

Then one day I find myself drifting toward the window to see him. Corey Marshall, my new neighbor. Quiet, reserved, and cute as can be. He infects my thoughts, becomes the image I fantasize about.

I want to taste his lips, smell his scent…feel what it’s like to be inside him.

And soon, watching becomes exchanging gifts and messages, which becomes so much more.

It’s wrong to want this as badly as I do, but I can’t help myself. I crave him so desperately. It’s hard to tell if what we’re doing is going to make me lose my mind or change my entire world, but it’s too late to turn back now…

COREY

I’ve never been quite right. Too high or too low. Pain is my constant companion…at the hands of my abusive ex, and often from myself. The sweet relief is only temporary, but in those moments, it’s like I can finally breathe.

Then I meet him. Silas Rizner calms the chaotic storms inside me. He makes me feel loved, treasured, even when I don’t deserve it. I cherish the moments we share–cooking, cuddling, and when Silas reads to me until I fall asleep. When he’s inside me, it’s the only time in my life I’ve ever felt complete.

Silas becomes the glue that holds me together, that bandages my scars. Inside the walls of his home, we’re almost safe, but our demons are always there, waiting to break free.

We’re a mess. We’re broken, chaotic, beautiful; we’re in love.

But not even love can slay our monsters. No, only we can do that.

Unless our monsters destroy us first.

TRIGGERS: Self-harm, depression, anxiety, mentions of past domestic violence.

*While the sexual situations depicted in Beautiful Chaos are imperative to the characters’ development throughout the course of the novel, readers are advised to peruse the “Dear Reader” letter at the beginning of the book to help them make an informed decision about whether this particular story will be to their tastes. This letter can be viewed in the downloadable sample or by using the “Look Inside” feature found on the title’s product page.

First, I want to give these two authors their props for handling some deep, very real issues dealing with domestic abuse. Do not ignore the trigger warning from the blurb. These two lovers have a lot of darkness to wade through.

Thankfully, Silas and Corey’s ultimate journey doesn’t fall into the typical co-dependent unhealthiness that plagues the romance genre (Looking at you, Fifty Shades). Though the two have a lot of work to do, but the focus is on them healing individually instead of together.

From a writing perspective, scenes were captured so vividly I had to put the book down a few times to catch my breath. That’s not to say this is a book that “isn’t for everybody.” On the contrary, I believe it’s a story we don’t get enough of.

Beautiful Chaos isn’t about happy endings or beginnings. It’s not about two beautiful, Calvin Klein model-looking men who are “struggling to find love.” It’s about how someone who is completely damaged learns to choose themselves so that they can choose another.

I look forward to more from these authors.

 

Photographic Memory Gay Romance Review

Aiden Bates’ Photographic Memory offers plenty of promise. Imagine running into your old middle school crush on a blind date? What are the odds, right? But do those odds hold up to Bates’ overall story? Let’s find out.

From the Amazon Blurb:

A man focused on success. An artist determined to make a difference. A fateful choice between love and money.

ALEX
I’m on the verge of burning out, but I can’t quit. I refuse to be poor, refuse to return to Texas a failure. My career is everything—at least that’s what I thought, before I was set up on a blind date with Jordan, the boy from my past I left behind.

Jordan is everything I remembered—a brilliant artist dedicated to making a difference in the world. He calls to my soul, reawakens the part of me I crushed in order to get ahead. How can I be with someone whose political activism threatens my very livelihood? How can I not, when he reminds me of the person I used to be?

A person who would make the choice to betray his employer and hand over sensitive financial documents in order to bring down a tyrant bent on destruction. . .

A person who is carrying a life-altering new secret.

JORDAN
I’m falling in love with someone who works for the most evil bank in the country—the boy I loved when we were kids. But he isn’t the same person. I know Alex—he isn’t a man without a conscience, a man devoted to nothing but success. The more time we spend together, the more I can see the familiar light coming back into his eyes. A light banishing the imposter who would choose murky success over ethics, sabotaging our relationship.

He’ll have to make a final choice—us, or his dreams of wealth. Have I gone too far, bringing Alex into my world of battling corporate greed? I don’t want our relationship to cost him his career, his reputation. . .

But maybe it should, if it means halting his walk down a dark path.

A path we now have no choice but to walk together. I’m expecting Alex’s baby. . .

. . .and Alex is expecting mine.

Alex and Jordan’s romance shouldn’t work on paper. Fortunately, the most incredible of romances start out that way. Bates’ writing rarely disappoints as we navigate the complete different and opposing worlds of both leads.

However, I could have used a flashback or two. A scene from back when they were awkward, most-likely-oppressed gay teens would have been nice. I mean, by all means, rip on Texas a little.

The romance was a little hard to buy into at times. Yes, it’s possible to be in love with someone who has nothing in common with you. It’s happened to me more than once. However, at times, it seemed like all these two had in common anymore was being from *Grim Thunderclap* Texas.

Overall, this was a very interesting read. Though I struggled with some parts, I was not disappointed. I look forward to more of Bates’ work.

The Boyfriend Contract Gay Romance Review

Secret trysts and daddy issues in a gay romance? Sounds about right. Jason Collins’ The Boyfriend Contract offers a sweet, if predictable, story that’s sure to delight the M/M core fanbase.

From the Amazon Blurb:

BRETT:

It’s normal for your new boss to ask you to be his fake boyfriend at the interview, right?

When I arrive at the run-down vineyard for a bartending job, I’m not expecting a man like Ethan Carrington to answer the door. Tall, chiseled, and passionate, the man is sex on legs, and he offers me more than bar work.

Ethan wants me to pretend to be his boyfriend to impress investors. I’m reluctant, but I need the money, and there are many perks to working with the drop-dead gorgeous man in charge.

The job is fun, the benefits are excellent, and Ethan is charming and intriguing. I can pretend to be his boyfriend, no problem. That’s all this is: an arrangement we’ll both benefit from. So why can’t I stop fantasizing about him?

We’re surrounded by wine, and all I want to do is offer Ethan a private tasting.

ETHAN:

He’s gorgeous, and he just gave me the best Climax I’ve ever had.

Well, at least that was the name of the sample drink he prepared for me during the interview. He’s good with his hands, but I have my eye on more than just his cocktails.

I used to be all about living fast and spending money, but those days came to a screeching halt when my wealthy father gave me an ultimatum: prove my skills by flipping an old vineyard and turning a profit, or he’ll cut me off.

The vineyard needs renovations from the ground up, but investors aren’t willing to part with their money. They want proof that I’m good with long-term commitments.

A stable boyfriend would do the trick.

All my dreams come true when Brett shows up. Sexy and irresistible, he’s more than capable behind a bar, but I have something crazier in mind. If his acting is as good as his bartending, he’s perfect fake boyfriend material. The question is, what happens when it stops being an act?

Things are heating up, and I’m not sure if we’re still pretending.

Right away, it’s obvious where this story is headed. That’s not why you’ve chosen to read it, though. Like many M/M romance novels, most of the story is meant to accentuate the sex scenes. Notably, however, the toppings more often than not add a much needed boost in flavor.

Two guys agree to pretend to date each other. As time goes on, they begin to realize they’re not pretending anymore. We’ve seen the same thing in heterosexual land several times before. So, why does it work so well here?

From writer-to-writer, I can tell Jason Collins made a considerable effort to improve his already-well-defined skillset. Even though the story is predictable, his writing enables you to still feel for the characters and wonder what’s going to happen next anyway.

It’s a testament that sometimes we need a little predictability when we step away from reality.

 

Honeymoon for One: Gay Romance Book Review

Keira Andrews once again successfully writes a better gay romance than even the most sappy gay men could conjure. With Honeymoon for One: May/December Gay Romance, we are once again treated to a love story that hits all the right spots, both figuratively and literally.

From the Amazon Blurb:

Betrayed the night before his wedding by the supposed boy of his dreams, Ethan Robinson escapes the devastating fallout by going on his honeymoon alone to the other side of the world. Hard of hearing and still struggling with the repercussions of being late-deafened, traveling by himself leaves him feeling painfully isolated with his raw, broken heart.

Clay Kelly never expected to be starting life over in his forties. He got hitched young, but now his wife has divorced him and remarried, his kids are grown, and he’s left his rural Outback town. In a new career driving a tour bus on Australia’s East Coast, Clay reckons he’s happy enough. He enjoys his cricket, a few beers, and a quiet life. If he’s a bit lonely, it’s not the end of the world.

Clay befriends Ethan, hoping he can cheer up the sad-eyed young man, and a crush on an unattainable straight guy is exactly the safe distraction Ethan needs. Yet as the days pass and their connection grows, long-repressed desires surface in Clay, and they are shocked to discover romance sparking. Clay is the sexy, rugged man of Ethan’s dreams, and as the clock counts down on their time together, neither wants this honeymoon to end.

Honeymoon for One is a gay romance by Keira Andrews featuring a May/December age difference, a slow burn of newfound friends to lovers, first-time m/m sex, and of course a happy ending.

Ethan and Clay are immediately captivating as love interests. As gay romance usually goes, there tends to be a bit of “insta-love” and fairy tale romances. That simply isn’t the case here. Though we’re expecting a happy ending (per the blurb no-less), these two are fully realized from a story standpoint.

Keira’s main gift as a writer is characterization and attention to detail. The interactions between Ethan, who is hard of hearing, and Clay are handled extremely well.

From a technical standpoint, Keira’s writing is in top form as usual. The dialogue is realistic and well-researched. She certainly spares no expense when it comes to the backgrounds of characters and the details of their locales.

All that to say, if you’re looking for an example of how to plant and grow your characters, look no further.

This isn’t just another book about two men falling in love and succumbing to over-written melodrama. It’s a story that clearly and consistently displays a portrait of male love that few get to see, yet a picture that should hang proudly.

 

Of Sunlight and Stardust Gay Romance Book Review

There are few books that leave me in such emotional shambles as Of Sunlight and Stardust. Christina Lee’s gay romance novel pulled no punches. It is a ravishing tale that will leave you wanting more yet begging for the heartache to cease.

From the Amazon Blurb:

After the death of his wife, Tanner Rowe takes a step toward making her dying wish come true and buys the house with the dilapidated barn she’d been inexplicably drawn to in the picturesque Upper Peninsula. But after a year, he still can’t get past his grief long enough to make the repairs he’d promised.

Recently out of prison, Cole Lachlan has little to his name. Homeless, broke, and without many options as a felon, Cole heads to Red Bluff with hopes of a second chance. There he meets Tanner, whose loneliness mirrors his own, and soon Cole is trading room and board for rebuilding the burned-out barn on Tanner’s property that hasn’t been touched in seventy years.

Turns out, the barn holds more secrets than either of them could have imagined. After unearthing a hidden journal from 1948, Cole and Tanner spend their evenings poring over the pages, reading about a young man pining after his best friend. The deeper they delve into this forbidden affair from the past, the more Cole and Tanner’s own relationship shifts–from acquaintances to friends…to undeniable attraction.

But as they begin to deal with the newness of falling in love in the wake of Tanner’s loss and Cole’s past, they also become more determined to unravel the mystery of the young lovers who’ve captured their hearts, the rumors about the fire, and what really happened that fateful night.

Loneliness has a way of making us mirror images of each other. Perhaps, that’s the real theme of this book. We wait for Tanner and Cole’s relationship to blossom, eventually leading to the steaminess we’ve come to expect from the genre. Yet, there’s a deeper mystery lurking further compels the reader.

I was a little skeptical about them incorporating the journal into the events of the plot, but luckily it worked in the end. Cole and Tanner’s dynamic plays well against Tom and Charlie’s parallel story line. You’re invested in both relationships.

Now to get technical. When describing Christina Lee’s writing, vivid is the best adjective. From the moment the story takes off, you will feel as though you’ve experienced this story before. There’s something familiar about all of it.  Christina uses that feeling of familiarity as a weapon to gracefully cut you to shreds. And to her credit, the technique used is superb.

Of Sunlight and Stardust, simply put, is a must-read. If you want something that tugs on your heartstrings and demolishes even the most stoic of hearts, this is the book you’ve been looking for.