Tag Archives: Mary Calmes

your book boyfriend's boyfriend short story reviews

Your Book Boyfriend’s Boyfriend Short Story Clear Out

Sigh, I’ve been trying lately to read a significant portion of the short stories on my shelves.* I keep saying I’m not a huge fan of them. But somehow I always download more. Usually, it’s because I don’t check the page length of something and don’t realize it’s a short, but not always. And today is one of those day.

There was a huge M/M giveaway over at Prolific Works; 116 stories and books!

your book boyfriend's boyfriendThe organizers even made a check list for readers, and I just went hog wild downloading books. Do I need more books? No. Did I do it anyway because I have no self control? Yes. So much yes.

And here’s where the sigh comes in. Several of them are what I would call short stories. I was on the ball this time and checked pages lengths (for those books that had them available). So, I did this to myself knowingly. It’s just that a lot of them were from authors I know I enjoy, were prequels to interesting looking series, and/or were part of series that have been featured on Sadie’s Spotlight. (I do try and support those when I see them.)

And since I happen to have been reading and reviewing short stories in clusters anyhow, I figured I’d just go ahead and set these aside to read all together as one more ‘short story clear out.’ This one can be the ‘Your Book Boyfriend’s Boyfriend Short Story Clear Out.’ Yeah, that’s too clunky, but I trust you get the point.

I downloaded 13 stories that I know are under 100 pages. There are a further 5 (not included in the photo) that I couldn’t find page lengths for, even after searching. Some of them may turn out to be under 100 pages and, if so, I’ll add them after the fact. But as of now, here are the stories I downloaded and intend to read:

your book boyfriend's boyfriend shorts

As an aside, what are the chances there would be two unrelated authors named Kiki?

Revenant, by Michelle Frost

The Metal and Magic series, that Revenant is a prequel of, was featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight. So, I was glad to be able to pick up this freebie and test it out. I thought that it was a little rushed, but easily readable. I liked the characters and world. I’ll happily check out the rest of the series.

Exposed, by Jamie Luther

I liked the reversal of expected roles here and the characterization of Torran and Penn. This seems like it will be an interesting series. As a personal quibble, I hate the whole “Boy” thing. I think my associations with it just aren’t the sexy kind and I find it always pulls me out of a sexy scene. But that’s just me and my preferences.

Fireman’s Carry, by Eli Easton

I enjoyed this short/intro to the Hot Cannolis series. I liked both characters and the drama was engaging. It was enough that I’d be interested in following the series when it comes out.

Just George, by Mary Calmes

It’s been several years since I read any Mary Calmes, but I used to quip that her books were like crack—almost always formulaic and often containing problematic aspects, but hitting so many emotional buttons I liked them anyway. I didn’t find much objectionable in Just George, but in classic Calmes style, the story pressed all my “Awww” buttons and I enjoyed it.

Blood Omen, by Sheena Jolie

There was too much world-building for such a short piece, especially since it tended to be info-dumped. (I sense a lot of it was simply brought over from something long, one assumes the rest of the series.) But I liked the characters and it does seem an interesting world. I’d give the series a shot.

Gravity, by Kiki Burrelli

Meh, not bad. But, while I liked the idea behind the story, I thought the whole thing felt rushed and a bit too much of a mish-mash.

Light My Way Home, by Morgan Brice

I’ve not read the Treasure Trail series (though it was featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight), but I was able to follow this story just fine. I liked both of the characters and the world. I did think it was a little heavy on the tell vs. show and it felt a little rushed in the making-the-alternative-relationship-work department. But I enjoyed it enough to give the rest of the series a try.

To Kiss a Frog, by Elizabeth Silver

I quite enjoyed this; thought it was super cute. It also feels complete, which often isn’t the case with series prequels. I look forward to the rest of the series when it comes out.

Until His Beginning Ends, by Kiki Clark

This was a sweet story. I enjoyed the characters, the writing, and the world it introduces. I’ll be interested in following the series.

How to Date a Dragon, by Louisa Masters

Meh, it was fine. The writing was readable, etc. But, despite being a .5/prequel I was pretty confused. It definitely didn’t feel like it should be read as an introduction to the world. Plus, I just thought Hagen was annoying. I get that that was kinda his whole shtick, but I didn’t enjoy him.

Mr Fairfax, Mr West and the Meet Cute, by Anyta Sunday

I really struggled with this story in the beginning. Not because of bad writing or anything. I am one of those people who suffers strongly from second-hand embarrassment. So, reading about a guy who got himself into an embarrassing bind and then had to do increasingly embarrassing things to keep from having to admit it was difficult for me. Honestly, I almost DNFed it. But luckily it balanced out and I enjoyed the last half of it a lot. The two characters are both very sweet.

Until His Soul Awakens, by E.M. Lindsey

I quite enjoyed this in a quiet sort of way. It’s a bit of a slow burn for such a short piece. But it made the payoff that much sweeter.

Dirty Magic, by Richard Amos

Meh. I liked the idea of the world. But the writing is kind of a rambling, stream-of-consciousness mess and the solution for saving the day was come across far too easily.

Of the five downloads that I mentioned not having page lengths for, I think these four are short stories. So, I’m going to read them and add the reviews as I finish.

unknown page lengths


A House of Blood and Gold, by Raven Abernathy

This story turned out to be 131 pages long, according to my Kindle. Which I deemed long enough for it’s own post. You can find it here.

Twice Bitten, by Eliot Grayson

I enjoyed the heck out of this, which surprised me. I did not particularly enjoy The Alpha’s Warlock, with some of the same characters as in this novella. But here I liked both of the heroes, appreciated their individual struggles, thought the sex was hot, and the story felt complete, despite it being so short.

Aleric, by Taylor Rylan

Meh, I’d say it was OK, at best. The dialogue was just so stiff. It certainly didn’t tempt me to continue the series.

An Emporium of Hearts, by Hailey Turner

I thought this was very sweet. The world makes it pretty obvious the story is part of something bigger, but the little bit of story here feels complete enough to enjoy.


*As a personal shorthand I call anything under 100 pages a short story. I know there are variations, depending on length. I even wrote a post about it once. But for the puroses of this blog anything with less than 100 pages I call a short story.

Old Loyalty, New Love

Book Review of Old Loyalty, New Love (L’Ange, #1), by Mary Calmes

Old Loyalty, New LoveI recently bought a number of Mary Calmes e-books, as they were all on sale for a dollar. Old Loyalty, New Love was one of those books. (At the time of posting, I noticed it’s still listed at $1.00)

Description from Goodreads:
When jackal shifter Quade Danas was banished from his pack for being gay, he spent years in the military escaping his father’s prejudice before returning to civilian life as a bodyguard for Roman Howell, the teenage son of a very rich man. After Roman is in an accident that leaves him physically scarred and emotionally distant, Quade is the only one who can get through to him. As Roman becomes a man, he realizes what he wants—his bodyguard by his side and in his bed. Unfortunately, Quade can’t seem to see past the kid Roman once was to the man he has become, certain Roman’s feelings are merely misplaced gratitude. But Roman knows a lot more than Quade realizes, and he’s used to persevering, no matter how many impediments life throws his way. He wants the chance to prove to Quade that he’s strong enough for a jackal alpha to call mate. 

Despite the decades Quade has been away, and the heartache of his father’s rejection, his inborn loyalty to the pack remains, and his abrupt departure left the jackal shifters without an alpha heir. As a psychopath shifter staking claim as alpha draws Quade back home, and Quade feels compelled to heed the call, he may be forced to make a choice he never anticipated. But doing so means he must leave Roman behind… unless somehow they find a way to make loyalty and love work together.

This review pretty much sums up what I feel about Calmes books, but I’ll try and give my opinion of this one.

I swear to God Mary Calmes books are like crack. I know they’re all the same. I know objectively I should hate them because I generally hate all the tropes that make them up, but somehow they also manage to push some primitive button in my brain and I often guiltily enjoy them, despite my intellectual objections.

Having said that, this one was basically a fail for me. While I liked the idea of the friend/employee to lover idea I didn’t like the way any of it played out. I didn’t like that Roman needed to be horribly scarred and suffering from a sensory disorder in order to be compatible with Quade. I didn’t believe that if Roman lusted after Quade since he was 16 and, even knowing Quade loved him for years, that he’d wait until he was 27 to suddenly divulge his love and then pursue Quade so aggressively. I didn’t like that Roman basically became a weepy, giggly woman as soon as they’d had sex. I hated that Quade was all about Roman wanting to submit, when this was never integrated into the plot. I didn’t believe a whole pack of families would allow even an alpha to pimp their daughters out. I hated the cult of Quade, the way everyone fell to their knees in worship of his alphaness just for standing in their presence. I thought it ridiculous that Quade’s ex and ex-BFF would have waited 11 years and then expected him to step back into their lives. It wasn’t at all believable. And worst of all I didn’t like that, like, 90% of this book was just rehashing the same argument over and over and over again.

Nope, Calmes may be like my crack, but in this one, I think I got a bad batch.

All Kinds of Tied Down

Book Review of All Kinds of Tied Down, by Mary Calmes

All Kinds of Tied Down

I borrowed an ecopy of All Kinds of Tied Down, by Mary Calmes. (Thanks, L.)

Description from Goodreads:
Deputy US Marshal Miro Jones has a reputation for being calm and collected under fire. These traits serve him well with his hotshot partner, Ian Doyle, the kind of guy who can start a fight in an empty room. In the past three years of their life-and-death job, they’ve gone from strangers to professional coworkers to devoted teammates and best friends. Miro’s cultivated blind faith in the man who has his back… faith and something more. 

As a marshal and a soldier, Ian’s expected to lead. But the power and control that brings Ian success and fulfillment in the field isn’t working anywhere else. Ian’s always resisted all kinds of tied down, but having no home—and no one to come home to—is slowly eating him up inside. Over time, Ian has grudgingly accepted that going anywhere without his partner simply doesn’t work. Now Miro just has to convince him that getting tangled up in heartstrings isn’t being tied down at all.

Ok, so I’m a fairly new Calmes convert. I’ve had mixed results with what I’ve read so far. I seem to really like or dislike a book by her. There is very little middle ground. And while those I dislike I can tell you exactly what it was that put me off, those I like just kind of fill me with a vague unnamed warmth that I can’t very clearly communicate. 

I suppose this could be called a purely emotional response, because, lawdy, it can’t be the complexity of the plots or the depth of the characters. Neither are extensive, the plot is basically a series of events allowing the characters time to work their feelings out (ok, so there basically isn’t one) and the characters could be called well fleshed out only if they were, in fact, 12 year olds. As true adult males, they lack a lot. Nor can it be the realism. Seriously, bones knit in weeks instead of month and apparently every other law enforcement agent in American is openly gay and the remaining half are all open and accepting of sexual diversity. It can’t even be the consistency, since the scene that ostensibly gives the book its most obvious title actually breaks the pattern set throughout the book, going against character for at least one of the men.

Regardless, this book is no exception to my obvious preference patter and it falls on the warm fuzzy, I liked if for unknown reasons, side of the equation. I can objectively tell you it was full of cliché characters. The über alpha that secretly just wants to submit, the fashion conscious gay man and fashion oblivious ‘straight’ guy, yep I’ve seen them all before. What’s more, it’s full of cliché Calmes characters. The names change from book to book, but the characters remain largely the same. The thing is that they apparently work for me. 

I keep thinking, ‘this should be a crap book. It’s completely formulaic. In fact, even having only read a fraction of Mary Calmes vast collection, I’ve still read what could easily be mistaken for this book already.’ I keep thinking that, but then I think, ‘yeah, but can get another one, please.’ 

So, I duck my head in shame, but I admit it out loud; this book is simplistic, cliché, predictable and my god the sap at the end is enough to suffocate me (honestly, this I could do without) but I liked it. I just can’t help it. Whatever alchemic hormone mix is secreted into my bloodstream as a result of reading this particular combination of man on man action is a win, even when I don’t want it to be.