Fri
Jan 23 2015 1:00pm

Fresh Starts: Male/Male Best Bets for January 2015

Black John (Johnnies #4) by Amy LaneAlthough many of us love dark and painful situations in our books, romance is ultimately an optimistic genre, one that promises healing, growth, and lasting happiness. For the new year, January offers some m/m reading that celebrates fresh starts and emotional rebirths.

Black John (Johnnies #4) by Amy Lane

John Carey is just out of rehab and dying inside when he gets word that Tory, the guy who loved him and broke him, has removed himself from the world in the most bitter way possible—and left John to clean up his mess.

Forced back to his hometown in Florida, John's craving a hit with every memory when he meets Tory's neighbor. Spacey and judgmental, Galen Henderson has been rotting in his crappy apartment since a motorcycle accident robbed him of his mobility, his looks, and his boyfriend all in one mistake. Galen's been hiding at the bottom of an oxy bottle, but when John shows up, he feels obligated to help wade through the wreckage of Tory's life.

The last thing John needs is another relationship with an addict, and the last thing Galen wants is a conscience. Both of them are shocked when they find that their battered souls can learn from and heal one another. It doesn't hurt that they're both getting a crash course on how growing up and getting past your worst mistakes sure beats the alternative—and that true love is something to fight to keep if your lover is fighting to love you back.

The eagerly awaited fourth book in Lane's dark and emotional “Johnnies” series follows the original Johnny, the owner of the gay porn business which has become a home for many troubled and gorgeous young men. Friendship, comfort, and healing are always big parts of these books and this looks like no exception.

Restless Spirits (Restless Spirits #1) by Jordan L. Hawk

After losing the family fortune to a fraudulent psychic, inventor Henry Strauss is determined to bring the otherworld under control through the application of science. All he needs is a genuine haunting to prove his Electro-Séance will work. A letter from wealthy industrialist Dominic Gladfield seems the answer to his prayers. Gladfield’s proposition: a contest pitting science against spiritualism, with a hefty prize for the winner.

The contest takes Henry to Reyhome Castle, the site of a series of brutal murders decades earlier. There he meets his rival for the prize, the dangerously appealing Vincent Night. Vincent is handsome, charming…and determined to get Henry into bed.

Henry can’t afford to fall for a spirit medium, let alone the competition. But nothing in the haunted mansion is quite as it seems, and soon winning the contest is the least of Henry’s concerns.

For the evil stalking the halls of Reyhome Castle wants to claim not just Henry and Vincent’s lives, but their very souls.

This doesn't exactly fit the theme, but as first in the “Restless Spirit” series, it's a fresh start for Hawk, author of the popular “Whyborne and Griffin” series. This is another paranormal mystery series, but set in the Victorian era.

The Burnt Toast B&B (A Bluewater Bay Story) by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz

After breaking his arm on set, Wolf’s Landing stuntman Ginsberg Sloan finds himself temporarily out of work. Luckily, Bluewater Bay’s worst B&B has cheap long-term rates, and Ginsberg’s not too proud to take advantage of them.

Derrick Richards, a grizzled laid-off logger, inherited the B&B after his parents’ untimely deaths. Making beds and cooking sunny-side-up eggs is hardly Derrick’s idea of a man’s way to make a living, but just as he’s decided to shut the place down, Ginsberg shows up on his doorstep, pitiful and soaking wet, and Derrick can hardly send him packing.
Not outright, at least.

The plan? Carry on the B&B’s tradition of terrible customer service and even worse food until the pampered city boy leaves voluntarily. What Derrick doesn’t count on, though, is that the lousier he gets at hosting, the more he convinces bored, busybody Ginsberg to try to get the B&B back on track. And he definitely doesn’t count on the growing attraction between them, or how much more he learns from Ginsberg than how to put out kitchen fires.

The authors of the “Flesh Cartel” series go in a very different direction with this cozy and domestic entry in the multi-author “Bluewater Bay” world. The fifth — and final? — story, it features a transman character and themes of gender stereotypes and expectations.

Second Act by Kaje Harper

Sometimes you have to go home again.

When Bryce Edwards left Minnesota for the bright lights of Hollywood ten years ago, he was determined not to look back. He's built a solid acting career through his own hard work and talent. But when he finds himself unemployed right before Christmas, the memories he's been ignoring start to rise up and annoy him.

Maybe it's time to take a different approach; maybe it's time to confront his past and not just use it as motivation for his next angsty scene. If he can make peace with what happened back then— the small-town bigots who drove him away, and his first boyfriend who refused to leave with him— maybe he'll be free to move on to something better. He's not sure what “something better” will look like, but he's finally ready to get on a plane, go home, and find out.

If you didn't get quite enough Christmas last month, this sounds like a pretty lighthearted holiday novella. A reviewer describe is as a very realistic look at how actors live.

Shackles (Prosperity) by Alexis Hall

Dear Mr. Dickens,

Since you was so kind as to publish my story in your magazine, lots of folks have been sending me lots of letters asking me about stuff what happened what I don’t know about. Seems like they want to know how a priest what got himself chucked out the church, and the Arch Rogue of Gaslight, being only the prissiest motherswinker whatever held a knife to your throat, wound up in what I reckon ye might call love, or as near as passes for it.

Things is, I never did get the whirligigs to ask Ruben himself, but I done some asking round, and I think I got the shape of it.

’Cos it’s Ruben’s story, I tried to write it all proper and inkhornish like he’d like it, and Byron Kae has checked all the spellings for me, so you don’t have to ask that nice Mr. Collins this time.

I ain’t so sure about the commas.

Piccadilly

A story about two of the most intriguing characters from Hall's Prosperity.

Tap Out (Bannon's Gym #3) by Cat Grant  Tap Out (Bannon's Gym #3) by Cat Grant  

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

As a child, Tom Delaney did the best he could to protect his mother from his abusive father, but her eventual suicide left him a guarded and wary man who’s still carrying around a metric ton of baggage.

At Bannon’s Gym, Tom learned how to take back his power, and found love with fellow mixed martial arts fighter Travis Gallagher. Yet Tom can’t bring himself to take their relationship to the next level. Not if moving in together means leaving behind Gloria, his surrogate mom, who’s desperately ill.
When Gloria’s son, Eddie, hires an out-of-work nurse to care for Gloria, Tom is out of excuses—and afraid he’s being pushed out of his family of choice. That fear explodes in a violent sparring session that leaves Travis with a broken nose and Tom on the brink of getting booted out of Bannon’s Gym for good.

When tragedy strikes, Tom realizes it’ll take more than fists to conquer his fears, or he risks losing everything—his fighting career, his family, and the man he loves.

Product Warnings

Sweat- and testosterone-drenched alpha males ahead! More angst than an entire season of Downton Abbey! Wear a helmet—this could get messy!

There's a product warning with my name all over it. This is third in the “Bannon's Gym” series.

No Place That Far by L. A. Witt, Aleksandr Voinov

Sometimes you only get one chance at a second chance.

Still finding his footing after a long-overdue divorce, Marcus is looking forward to some mind-numbing drinking while ogling the grooms at Chris and Julien’s wedding. He never expected his attention to be diverted by the gorgeous best man.

One of Julien’s French Foreign Legion buddies, Timur doesn’t speak much English, but language is no barrier to Marcus understanding exactly what the huge Tartar wants—a one-night stand.

Except that one night turns into two, three, then more, which puts Marcus on edge. After Timur is done house-sitting for the honeymooning couple, he’s headed back to the Legion for another five years. Like it or not, once Timur gets on that plane, the fling is over.

Unfortunately, Marcus forgot to tell his heart not to fall in love. And this time, if history repeats and he makes another wrong decision, he may never see his tattooed Legionnaire lover again.

Product Warnings: Contains a soldier who makes up for his lack of English by using his hands to read his lover’s body; a chef-turned-bartender who no longer believes in love; a length of paracord that probably wasn’t meant to be used this way; and a couple of newlyweds who are game for some four-way play.

A hero who doesn't believe in love certainly deserves a fresh start. This is fifth in the “Distance Between Us” series, but stands alone.

White Nights by T.T. Kove

Radimir has loved Aleksandr for more than a decade. Long convinced that Aleksandr will never love him in return, however, he has spent the years drifting from bed to bed, unable to settle when what he really wants is out of reach. And has been all the more out of reach since an impulsive, ultimately disastrous night together while out hiking. And will definitely be forever gone when Aleksandr returns to St. Petersburg.

Aleksandr wishes he could forget the night he gave in to a long-held desire for his friend, but more than anything he wishes that one night had led to so much more. But Radimir is a player, and Aleksandr doesn’t want to be simply another conquest.

Then family turmoil strikes Aleksandr hard, and he realizes the stability he’s always wanted was there all along…

For those looking for a new setting, Kove is a Norwegian writer and her “Arctic Love” series are set on Svalbard.

The Happily Ever After Mating Agency Presents: The Lion's Den (The Happily Ever After Mating Agency #2) by Jane Wallace-Knight

After losing his mate, lion shifter Jake Jensen has no intention of taking another. With three children, his pride, and a business to run, his life is full enough. After constant badgering from his mother he agrees to meet with a mating agency looking for someone unlike his late mate so that he won't fall in love and risk another broken heart.

At nineteen, fox shifter Jordan Ashby's life took a drastic turn when his parents died. Years later Jordan is working dead end jobs, having his sister and niece to care for. Signing up to the mating agency isn't ideal but his family deserves a better life than the one they have.

Taking a chance, Jordan agrees to mate with a total stranger, believing that in time the two of them could fall in love. There's only one problem, Jake is convinced that their mating can only ever be one purely of convenience.

This had me at “mating of convenience.” It's second in the wacky sounding series, but I think can stand alone. Note that this publisher often features very unconventional erotic themes.

Switching Leads (Campus Cravings) by Mia DowningSwitching Leads (Campus Cravings) by Mia Downing

Coach John Graham needs a new assistant coach for Cathia U's equestrian team. The last person he expects to get the job walks into the barn and stops his heart. How is he supposed to focus on the team when his ex-lover—sexy horse trainer Finn Parker—wants back into his life?

Finn has had a hell of a bad year, ending with a horrible riding accident. Instead of looking forward to winter in sunny Florida training horses for the show circuit, he ends up going home to snowy Cathia, NY to heal, physically and emotionally. He'll endure John's frosty reception if it means he'll get what he wants most. He’s used to taking the reins…for love will he switch leads?

Previously published in an anthology, this emotional second chance at love story was a standout for many readers.

Nights Like These by Chris Scully

Starting over sucks. At forty, Miles Koprowski thought he had life all figured out. He had a nice car, a hot young lover, and a cushy job… and then he didn’t. Call it fate, or karma, or a downturn in the market, but this opinionated cynic is now forced to play rent-a-cop in a dying office building in the burbs just to make ends meet. Throw in an unhinged ex, a coworker who hates him, and a hot new boss, and suddenly everything is uncertain.

Miles doesn’t plan on liking the night shift or becoming embroiled in a mystery that reawakens old passions and puts him in danger. And he certainly doesn’t plan on falling for the overbearing head of security, Colton Decker, former soldier and doting dad. But nights like these can change a man, make him start to believe there’s more to life than a high-paying job and a warm body in his bed. With a thief on the loose and his new job in jeopardy, Miles will have to decide what’s truly important. He might discover things he never knew he wanted… as long as he makes it through the night.

I'm intrigued by an m/m story with older heroes experiencing life changes. Reviewers describe this as a cozy mystery with a very slow burn romance.

Does January make you feel optimistic? What m/m stories are you looking forward to starting the new year with?

 

Learn more about or order a copy of the books mentioned in this post:

Black John by Amy Lane  
Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk  
The Burnt Toast B&B by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz  
Second Act by Kaje Harper  
Shackles by Alexis Hall  
Tap Out by Cat Grant    
No Place That Far by L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov  
White Nights by T.T. Kove  
The Happily Ever After Mating Agency Presents: The Lion's Den by Jane Wallace-Knight  
Switching Leads by Mia Downing  
Nights Like These by Chris Scully  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 


Willaful has been diligently reading and reviewing romance for the past seven years, but for some reason just can't seem to catch up. She blogs at A Willful Woman and Karen Knows Best.

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2 comments
Kareni
1. Kareni
Some intriguing titles here! Thanks for the post.
Desmond
2. Desmond
hi, am Desmond looking for love of my life

remijusnnamdi2015@yahoo.com
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