Category Archives: Gay

Review: If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales & Cale Dietrich

Title: If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales & Cale Dietrich
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Bi, Romance
Length: 408 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich’s “If This Gets Out is an absolute showstopper! Equal parts edgy and adorable, this bright, joyful book has everything I look for in a queer YA romance.” —Phil Stamper, bestselling author of The Gravity of Us

Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartthrobs in front of the cameras and best friends backstage.

But privately, the pressure to stay in the closet has Ruben confiding in Zach.

On a whirlwind tour through Europe with an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, the two come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben realize they will never truly have the support they need.

How can they hold tight to each other when their whole world is coming apart?


If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales & Cale Dietrich is a terrific young adult LGBTQ romance with fantastic characters.

Boyband Saturday is embarking on a European tour but the trip is nothing but business. Eighteen-year-old Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are close friends as well as bandmates. Ruben is gay but the band’s management will not let him come out. In fact, they have minimized his appearance along with his vocals. Zach is an introspective songwriter but he is cast as a bad boy and their manager never agrees to let them perform his songs. Exuberant, energetic Angel Phan’s role in the band is bland and suppresses his personality. Jon Braxton is nothing like his band persona and although his dad runs their label, he doesn’t get any say in anything with their band. During their overseas tour, everyone chafes at the lack of free time and Ruben and Zach become even closer. That is until a kiss between Ruben and Zach threatens to derail their friendship and leads to unexpected trouble with management. The band has achieved success beyond than they dreamed,  but will Saturday survive the fallout when Ruben and Zach want to take their romance public?

Despite their success, Ruben and Zach suffer from self-doubt. Ruben is constantly undermined by his mother and he has yet to set clear boundaries with her. Zach is easily paralyzed by worry since he is somewhat passive. Both are a little on the anxious side and neither want to do anything to jeopardize the band. Despite their personal concerns, they always let Angel and Jon know about anything that could impact Saturday.

Although If This Gets Out is an enjoyable LGBTQ young adult romance it can sometimes be a little angsty. The characters are vibrantly developed and very appealing. Ruben, Zach, Angel and Jon are very close and their friendships are always rock solid. The storyline is engaging and offers a realistic portrait of the exploitative side of the music industry.  The romance between Ruben and Zach is very sweet and Ruben is very patient with Zach as his new boyfriend becomes more comfortable with his sexuality. With the Saturday’s future hanging in the balance, Sophie Gonzales & Cale Dietrich bring this heartwarming novel to an uplifting conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Gay, GLBT, If This Gets Out, Rated B, Review, Romance, Sophie Gonzales, Wednesday Books, Young Adult

Review: This Is Not a Lie by S.C. Farrow

Title: This Is Not a Lie by S.C. Farrow
Publisher: Dixi Books Limited
Genre: Historical (80s), Gay, Literary
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


In 1984, St Kilda is the heart and soul of Melbourne’s thriving music scene. Joel Reed, a brilliant young guitarist and songwriter, followed his sister Karen to the bohemian beachside suburb to chase his dream of becoming a rock star. On the surface, it seems like Joel has got it all together. He’s in an up-and-coming rock ‘n’ roll band and is surrounded by people who want to see him succeed. However, Joel is also a high-functioning heroin addict and closet homosexual. Desperately lonely and dangerously self-destructive, he hides his true self, lives a carefully constructed lie, lest he be discovered, outed, and shunned by the city’s legion of hard rock fans. When the band is forced to audition for a new frontman, Joel’s world is turned upside down. Harry Engel, offbeat, charming, and disarmingly charismatic, walks into the rehearsal room to audition and rocks Joel’s carefully constructed world. Joel’s never met anyone like him before – and it’s not long before he falls in love. However, there’s no way he can tell Harry how he feels. There’s no way he can’t tell anyone how he feels. He can’t do anything to jeopardise the band’s success. And so, he lives the carefully constructed lie – until tragedy strikes and threatens end Joel once and for all.


Taking place in Australia in 1984, This Is Not a Lie by S.C. Farrow is a captivating novel that is quite poignant.

In his early twenties, Joel Reed is the founder and lead guitarist of  hard rock band The Blackhearts. After losing their lead singer, Harry Engel joins the band over the objections of Joel’s sister and band manager, Karen. With the opportunity to finally score a record deal, turmoil roils within the band as Joel wrestles with his feelings for Harry and his addiction to heroin. Karen is worried about the band’s future so she makes a decision she believes is in The Blackhearts’ best interest. The other band members are supportive of one another, but they have financial concerns as they practice long hours in hopes of finally reaching their goal of stardom.

Joel is willing to put in the hard work to make The Blackhearts a success. He is a little quick to anger and he can be stubborn.  Although Joel knows he has to stay in the closet in order to achieve success, he uses heroin and alcohol to dull his pain.  He has successfully managed to keep his desires under wraps, but his strong attraction to Harry is almost impossible to hide.  And resist.

Harry is a charming, charismatic and gifted singer. He is also a very talented songwriter whose suggestions take the band’s songs to a whole new level. Harry is also drawn to Joel but he is haunted by the events that precipitated his move to Melbourne.  His demons threaten to derail The Blackhearts shot at finally finding success.

Joel is deeply flawed with realistic issues that he refuses to talk about or deal with. His addiction to heroin is not glamorized but rather serves a reminder that many addicts are functional with families and careers.  Joel’s pain is palpable as he struggles with hiding who he is in order to achieve success.

Full of heartbreak and hope, This Is Not a Lie is an emotional novel that is well-written with vibrantly developed characters. The subject matter is true to the time period and difficult topics are realistically handled with sensitivity. S.C. Farrow brings this compelling novel to a surprisingly upbeat conclusion. I absolutely loved and HIGHLY recommend this outstanding novel.

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Filed under Dixi Publishing Limited, Gay, Historical, Historical (80s), Literary, Rated A, Review, SC Farrow, This Is Not a Lie

Review: Sort of Dead by Rob Rosen

Title: Sort of Dead by Rob Rosen
Publisher: JMS Books LLC
Genre: Contemporary, Supernatural (Ghosts, Physic), Gay, Erotic, Romance
Length: 198 pages/Word Count: 65,171
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author


Nord wakes up to find himself sort of dead. Well, that is to say, he’s dead, alright — murdered, in fact — but not in heaven, at least not yet. In this limbo-like state, he meets Max and learns that everyone there is waiting for the final poof, hopefully to a better place. Only, with unfinished business back in the real world, like bringing his murderer to justice, Nord’s poof is nowhere in sight. So he and Max set out to find the killer and make things right again. Of course, that’s easier said than done when you’re nothing more than a couple of randy spirits.

With the help of Voltan, a diminutive mystic with a predilection for turbans, and Clark, a nerdy computer geek eager to shed his loner past, plus a ghost accountant Bruce, Bruce’s drag queen brother Eve O’Destruction, and Nord’s kick-ass mom, the newly enamored pair set out to hunt for the murderer, and are quick to discover how much they’d taken for granted when they were alive.

In this hysterically funny and often poignant mystery about fate and love and family, it ultimately takes dying for our heroes to have the times of their lives.


Sort of Dead by Rob Rosen is a madcap, ghostly mystery with romantic elements.

Nord wakes up to discover he was murdered and he is now in a heavenly holding room.  With Max to guide him through this disconcerting and unexpected twist in an otherwise normal life, they decide to try to figure out who killed him and why.  With assistance from a quirky yet lovable group, Nord and Max begin their hunt for a killer.

Nord, Max and their motley crew are wonderfully developed with plenty of um, interesting, eccentricities. The storyline is interesting with clever otherworldly abilities. The romance aspect is understated yet endearing. Fair warning-the romantic encounters are erotic. The search for Nord’s murderer yields vital clues but will their efforts uncover the motive and identity of the person responsible for his death?

Sort of Dead is a very entertaining mystery with a lively cast of eccentric characters.  The storyline is fast-paced, amusing and heartwarming.  Rob Rosen brings this zany mystery to a heartfelt, sigh-inducing romantic conclusion. Fans of the genre will enjoy this sometimes bittersweet but always engaging story!

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Filed under Contemporary, Erotic, Gay, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Rob Rosen, Romance, Sort of Dead, Supernatural Elements

Review: After Elias by Eddy Boudel Tan

Title: After Elias by Eddy Boudel Tan
Publisher: Dundurn
Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Fiction
Length: 296 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A modern queer tragedy about a pilot’s last words, an interrupted celebration, and the fear of losing everything.

“Utterly engrossing. Coen is a hero for our era, darkly struggling amid the aftershocks of loss, but doing so with dignity, humanity, and passion.” — Timothy Taylor, author of The Rule of Stephens

When the airplane piloted by Elias Santos crashes one week before their wedding day, Coen Caraway loses the man he loves and the illusion of happiness he has worked so hard to create. The only thing Elias leaves behind is a recording of his final words, and even Coen is baffled by the cryptic message.

Numb with grief, he takes refuge on the Mexican island that was meant to host their wedding. But as fragments of the past come to the surface in the aftermath of the tragedy, Coen is forced to question everything he thought he knew about Elias and their life together. Beneath his flawed memory lies the truth about Elias — and himself.

From the damp concrete of Vancouver to the spoiled shores of Mexico, After Elias weaves the past with the present to tell a story of doubt, regret, and the fear of losing everything.


After Elias by Eddy Boudel Tan is a poignant novel of grief and discovery.

Coen Caraway and his fiancé Elias Stantos live in Vancouver but they are marrying in Mexico. Coen has already traveled to the resort when a television report rips his heart out. Elias is the co-pilot of a plane that has just crashed into the ocean. His last words, “pronto Dios,” lead to speculation that he deliberately crashed the plane.  Coen at first disbelieves the theory but as days pass, doubts begin to creep in. Regardless of his questions and staggering loss, Coen decides to remain at resort and invites his guests to join him for a celebration of life for Elias.

Coen puts on a good front that he is fine but when his close friends Vivi and Decker arrive, they are concerned.  So are his parents and his older brother, Clark. Despite their pleas to return to Vancouver, Coen goes full steam ahead with the celebration of life but it soon becomes clear that he is clearly struggling to cope with his tragic loss. As the accident investigation leads to even more questions about Elias, Coen is determined to try to understand the man he loved.  But will he find the answers he is searching for?

After Elias is an emotionally compelling novel that deals with some difficult subject matter. The chapters alternate between the present and Elias and Coen’s relationship in the past. Coen is the main narrator of the story, but are his recollections reliable? The cast of characters are vibrantly developed with relatable foibles and appealing strengths. Eddy Boudel Tan deals with sensitive topics in a compassionate but straight forward manner. This heartfelt novel comes to an emotional yet mostly satisfying conclusion. I absolutely loved and highly recommend this beautifully written, thought-provoking debut.

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Filed under After Elias, Contemporary, Dundurn, Eddy Boudel Tan, Fiction, Gay, Rated B+, Review

Review: Wait for Me by Kris Jacen

Title: Wait for Me by Kris Jacen
With Me Series Book One
Publisher: MLR Press
Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Romance
Length: 202 pages/Word Count: 43,000
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


The hardest job is waiting.

Master Sergeant Jeff “Mackey” MacNamara has been waiting for THE ONE for years. First it wasn’t too safe to find a partner and now his schedule is a nightmare with training soldiers and deployments.

Scott Ash has found where he always was meant to be after a brief bout of idealistic do-gooder after college. He loves his job as a child care director, if he could just find someone to love — perfect might cover it.

A chance meeting when Scott is doing a favor for a friend starts them on a journey that could take them to forever, it’s just a matter of waiting.


The first novel in debut author Kris Jacen’s With Me series, Wait for Me is a sexy yet heartwarming military romance.

Master Sergeant Jeff “Mackey” MacNamera is about to deploy again when he meets Scott Ash. The two men immediately hit it off and despite their impending separation, they decide to give their fledgling romance the chance to grow. Jeff has been hoping to find “the one” for quite some time, but is Scott equipped to deal with the realities of dating a soldier?

Jeff and Scott are mature men who are comfortable in their own skin. Jeff is preparing for not only a deployment, but the next step in his career. Scott is the director of a child care center so not much fazes him.  Since their time together is limited before Jeff leaves, their relationship moves quickly but there is never a doubt their growing feelings for each other are real.

As a former military wife for 26 years (my husband is now retired), I have experienced firsthand the hardships of deployments many, many times.  So for me, I think the strongest aspect of the storyline is how Scott takes the time to learn what it mean to be involved with a military member. He asks intelligent questions so at least he has a good idea of what to expect.  But he also discovers that nothing can adequately prepare him for the reality of a deployment until he is actually living through it. Jeff’s experiences as the deployed partner are also realistically portrayed which provides a well-rounded glimpse of military relationships.

Jeff has a close circle of friends who support each other through thick and thin. They eagerly accept Scott into the fold so he has plenty of people to rely on through Jeff’s deployment.  The secondary characters are well-rounded but the vast number of people makes it impossible to tell them apart.

Wait for Me is a wonderful drama-free, engaging romance between two self-confident men. Jeff and Scott’s romance is believable and when conflict arises, they are quick to work through their problems.  A refreshing debut by Kris Jacen that I highly recommend to fans of military gay romances. I am eagerly looking forward to the next installment in the With Me series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Gay, Kris Jacen, MLR Press, Rated B, Review, Romance, Wait for Me, With Me Series

Review: Explore with Me by Kris Jacen

Title: Explore with Me by Kris Jacen
With Me Series Book Two
Publisher: MLR Press
Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Romance
Length: 127 pages/Word Count: 43,000
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


The Army is the only thing that First Sergeant Danny Glenn has known in his adult life. From the age of nineteen on, he’s worn a uniform every day. He’s seen so much in his twenty years but the last deployment did something to him. Danny’s begun to wonder if he can’t do more good helping people in the US instead of other countries but to do that he’d have to get out.

Doctor Liam MacNamara is finishing up the last of his residency in Emergency Medicine. Now’s the tough part, which offer to accept. He could stay in New Orleans where shifts are never dull or choose to uproot and experience somewhere different. College followed by medical school and then residency are the only things he’s known since he was eighteen. There’s got to be more out there, right?

Can a retired first sergeant and a brand-new doctor balance each other enough to explore their options together?


Explore with Me by Kris Jacen is a wonderful novel of new beginnings and love. This newest release in the With Me can be read as a standalone, but it is helpful to read Wait for Me due to the character crossover.

Near the end of his residency, Dr. Liam MacNamara is trying to decide which job offer to accept.  Help arrives in an unusual way when his brother Jeff’s long time friend First Sergeant Danny Glenn ends up in Liam’s ER. Since Danny needs someone with him after his release, Liam takes him home with him. They two men hit it off and Danny provides useful information that helps Liam narrow down his selection. Liam and Danny also fall into an easy friendship that is underscored by a mutual attraction.

Danny is also in the midst of making a big decision about his future.  A career soldier with over twenty years of service, Danny has grown weary of deployments and a lack of roots. Uncertain whether his rock solid friendship with his group of friends will survive retirement, Danny is conflicted about what he should do next.

The relationship between Danny and Liam is slow growing and simmers in the background as they make decisions about their respective futures. Their scenes together are delightful and their growing feelings for one another ring true. Due to the fact they live in difference places, a lack of communication sometimes becomes an issue.

Danny’s group of military buddies and their spouses also make guest appearances. Fans of the series will enjoy catching up with them but new readers might feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of characters. As always, the group is incredibly supportive of each other and they do not mince words once Danny finally admits he is considering retiring. But how will Jeff and the rest of their friends deal with the news that Danny is dating Liam?

Explore with Me is a fast-paced and engaging gay romance. Liam and Danny are well-developed characters who are facing true to life issues that will resonate with readers. Despite the distance separating them, Liam and Danny work hard to build a lasting relationship. The conflict that arises late in the novel is realistic and quickly resolved.  An enjoyable addition to Kris Jacen’s  With Me series that will delight old and new fans.

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Filed under Contemporary, Explore with Me, Gay, Kris Jacen, MLR Press, Rated B, Review, Romance