Recent Reads: Tiny Little Scrap, Lessons in Love and Face Blind

I have three diverse MM Romances for this week’s Recent Reads since there’s nothing like a bit of contrast!

I’ll start off with an ARC read, released today, that I’ve been really looking forward to. It’s titled Tiny Little Scrap, by the lovely N E Mack, the fourth short in the MM erotic Straight Lace series that I’ve loved and written about on previous Recent Read blogs. The series is set in modern-day Sydney and tells the continuing story of Bryan, the gay-for-pay student jock who unwittingly starts on a journey of sexual discovery prompted by his online Daddy, older billionaire Dane, with flatmate Allen aiding and abetting.

In this fourth short, after much deliciously steamy, witty and clever online build-up, Bryan and Dane meet for real. Well, in fact, typically impatient and dominant Dane ambushes rabbit-in-the-headlights Bryan in his bedroom. I won’t spoil what happens next for all the Bryan and Dane fans but suffice it to say, their climactic scene is every bit as erotic, funny, conflicted and sweet as you might expect from N E Mack.

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, there’s an additional encounter in a local restaurant that’s so hot I’m surprised it didn’t peel the wallpaper from the walls! This entire series is erotic, romantic and a revelation to both readers and the characters, especially Bryan, who is starting to realise not remotely the person he assumed he was at the start of the story. Happy release day to N E Mack and roll on books 5 and 6!

My second read is the first in a historical romantic mystery series that I’ve been meaning to read for ages and I’m so glad I’ve finally started. Lessons in Love, Book 1 in the Cambridge Fellows series by Charlie Cochrane reveals a delightfully gentile and whimsical world set in a fictional college at Cambridge University at the start of the 20th century. I felt like I’d stepped back in time to this cloistered, cerebral almost exclusively male world.

Jonty Stewart, an outgoing, ebullient and charming new appointment as an English fellow meets and initially clashes with Orlando Coppersmith, a doctor of Maths with a reputation for buttoned-up sour temper. These two are a delightful odd couple, both very believable within the confines of their time. Their gradual friendship and romantic closeness against the backdrop of a murderer on the loose within the college gave the story a dramatic tension that kept me reading. I enjoyed this so much that I’m already well into book 2 of this charming series.

As a nod to approaching Halloween, I really have to mention the wonderful Face Blind, a new release by the equally wonderful JL Merrow. This is the story of Corin, whose devastating brain injury after a car accident means he’s unable to recognise faces, even of close family members, and Adam, who must face his complicated past and solve a family conundrum. The setting of magical Glastonbury, the West Country town famous for its Tor, ancient ruins and modern New Age practices is the perfect backdrop for this story of acceptance, closure and renewal during the pivotal autumn festival of Samhain.

Both Corin and Adam are so likeable and sympathetic, and their sweet and tentative romance is all the more tender due to the sense of mutual care and sensitivity. I was sucked into the layers of the plot, haunting mysteries, the burgeoning love story and most of all, the magical atmosphere the author has created for this story, very much about a specific place and its resonances. Wonderful storytelling! I noticed that the book description refers to this as book 1, so I hope we have more Glastonbury Tales to look forward to!

Recent Reads: Big Boy Pants, Dear Diary and Terribly Tristan

I’ve been lucky enough to read not just one ARC or pre-release this week, but three! And they have all been wonderful reads.

Big Boy Pants by N E Mack is now on release (from September 15th) and is the third story in Straight Lace, an ongoing series of 6 MM erotic shorts. They centre on Bryan, a student jock ‘twunk’ who makes some extra cash as a gay-for-pay cam boy. Of course, it’s all an act, or so he thinks, despite his increasing bond with his favourite viewer, I’m Watching.

I am hooked on the sly humour with which the continuing story is told, from Hidden to Frills to Big Boy Pants. Bryan’s reaction to his unexpected journey of discovery is note-perfect as his trepidation and surprise are overcome by uncontrollable desire and he slowly realises that he might be ‘a little bit gay.’ This is another perfectly polished gem in an outstanding series. Can’t wait for the next one!

Holly Day’s delightful short story Dear Diary will be released on September 17th and is currently on a pre-release/new release 20% sale at JMS Books until September 23rd.  In this sweet and moving story, the diary format worked perfectly to show the mindset of the diarist, who suffers from anxiety and depression, further triggered by a romantic breakup. The ups and downs of his progress are charted in the tone of his entries and especially by the presence of lovely Lars. This was so heartwarming, rooted in reality but also wonderfully romantic. Such an engaging read.

The final story in this fab trio is Terribly Tristan by Lisa Henry and Sarah Honey, the third and final story in their wonderfully funny Bad Boyfriends Inc. series, set in Sydney’s student district. Terribly Tristan is now on pre-release and will be out on October 18th. The first two books in the series Awfully Ambrose and Horribly Harry are now available on KU and are highly recommended for anyone in need of a giggle!

As ‘slutty butterfly’ Tristan has fluttered around in the two previous books as roommate to Ambrose and Henry in a rickety student house, I couldn’t wait for his story! If Ambrose used his acting skills to make some cash as a professional bad boyfriend, Harry accrued deliberately appalling wardrobe choices, whereas now it’s Tristan’s turn, he simply truthfully tells the horrified parents of his ‘dates’ how much he adores sex with as many partners as possible.

His meeting with Leo made me cry with laughter and I was giggling all the way through this delightful tale as Tristan realises that after working his way through the hot male population of Sydney while not remembering anyone’s name, he might decide not only to be a proper boyfriend to Leo but a good one too.

It was lovely to be back in the shared house with Tristan and coupled-up Harry and Jack, and a treat to have a heart-melting cameo from Ambrose and Liam. This was such a heartwarming story and the perfect finale to this terrific and very funny series.