The Empty Hourglass – Deal With A Devil, by Cornelia Grey


Rating: 4.0 stars


Thomas Escott has always wanted to be a toymaker, yet just as he achieves his dream, an accident claims his right hand. He’s certain his life is over – until he hears about groundbreaking prosthetics being made by a reclusive inventor.

Jethro Hastings is perfectly content to live alone up in the mountains working on a secret masterpiece: a humanoid automaton that will change the scientific community forever. He’s behind schedule, and the date of the unveiling is fast approaching, so when Thomas shows up on his doorstep offering help in exchange for a mechanical hand, Jethro agrees. Time, after all, is running out on another deal he’s made: one with the devil.

The devil gives Jethro’s inventions life, but he can just as quickly take life away – Jethro’s, to be exact. As the sand in the devil’s hourglass falls, marking the time until the end of the deal, inventions go haywire, people get hurt, and Thomas realizes he needs Jethro just as much as his prosthetic. Now he must find a way to save Jethro’s soul, but negotiating with a devil is just as difficult as it sounds.


When I first read the blurb for The Empty Hourglass I just knew I had to read this and review it.
The whole deal with the devil thing is highly fascinating to me and pulled me in, the steampunk genre and the automaton certainly didn’t hurt and I thought I deserved a nice change of pace. Boy, did this book deliver it! A thoroughly pleasant read all told.


Thomas Escott:

He was painfully aware of his too-light, too-modern clothes that moderately smelled like smoke, despite his best attempts to get the stench out of them, and of the blond hair that he kept long, as was popular in the capital at the moment. But mostly, he could fell their gazes almost piercing the right side of his head, where the hair had been scorched off in the fire and was now replaced by tender, gnarled skin, thin scars running from his mangled ear to his cheek and spreading down his neck before disappearing under his collar.
At least they couldn’t see his arm…

Jethro Hastings:

He was young, probably just a few years older than Thomas. For all his ragged appearance, with those untidy clothes and messy black hair, he was a handsome man, tall and slender with olive skin and green eyes shimmering behind his glasses. If that was Hastings… well, he was a far cry from the old man Thomas had been expecting.


What a great story, pure steampunk fantastical storytelling at its best.

Thomas, the handsome young man from the capital, searching for salvation from his unfortunate, unexpected and unexplainable calamity and a fortuitous, anonymous tip off as to where he may find his salvation.

The scientist, wanting to atone and help others, pining for his lost first love, creating a living testament to him and a legacy that wouldn’t be duplicated – true immortality, whilst fulfilling his pact with the devil.

A love story of a little girl and a devil who sees a way out of an intractable difficulty – if only he can nudge things his way, and then the culminating, cataclysmic grand finale. Sort of.


Funny how you can tell when a good writer comes together with good editor and wonderful beta/proof reading. This makes the world of difference in a smooth, enjoyable read such as this one. Ms. Grey does a phenomenal job of intertwining the fantastic steampunk experience with a smooth developing story, bringing in vibrant ancillary characters that add a vibrancy and depth to the story that I wish some others had. Yes, storytelling at its finest, and this book delivers it.
I was mesmerized by the story: Thomas, Jethro, the devil, the other inventor, Dragana, and Mina. Mina, what a great character that ties it all in together. Yes, the writing is truly magical.
I won’t give you any spoilers, just suffice it to say that you need to set some quality time for a great read. You’ll need time for it because you won’t want to put this one down.


I would like to thank Cornelia Grey and Anglerfish Press, an imprint of Riptide Publishing, for supplying me with a copy of The Empty Hourglass in exchange for my honest review.


Cornelia Grey is a creative writing PhD student, with a penchant for steampunk and classic rock. Born and raised in the hills of Northern Italy, where she collected her share of poetry and narrative prizes, Cornelia has since lived and worked in London, Japan, Spain, and Germany. She also works as a freelance translator.

She likes cars, knitting, performing in theater, going to museums, collecting mugs, and hanging out with her grandma. When writing, she favors curious, surreal stories, steampunk, and mixed-genre fiction. Her heroes are always underdogs, and she loves them for it.

The Empty Hourglass, Copyright 2016 by Cornelia Grey
Cover Art: Jay Aheer
Editor: Danielle Polesz
Layout: L.C. Chase
ISBN: 978-62649-393-3

A Taste of You, by Irene Preston

A Taste of You

Rating: 3.8 stars


Garrett Ransom is America’s hot chef du jour. He has a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City, a hit reality TV show, and a new man in his bed every week. Yes, he secretly thinks his business partner, Giancarlo “Carlo” Rotolo, is hotter than a ghost pepper, but he would never jeopardize their friendship with a fling. Then Garrett overhears some juicy gossip among the crew and realizes he’ll have to break Giancarlo’s cardinal rule, no banging the staff – for Carlo’s own good, of course. Just a taste of Carlo should be plenty. Long-term relationships aren’t on Garrett’s menu.

Giancarlo’s been in love with Garrett forever. He’s sure Garrett will eventually realize they are destined to be more than business partners. But when Garrett installs his latest boyfriend as their new chef d’cuisine and announces plans to leave Carlo in New York while he opens a second restaurant on the west coast, Carlo is forced to re-evaluate his life.

Can a high-strung British chef and a nice Italian boy from Brooklyn find the perfect fusion of fine-dining and family-style?

A Taste of You

After reading Tall Order and enjoying that delectable morsel, my friend Lisa and I absolutely had to do a Gay Guy/Straight Girl review of A Taste of You, another mouth-watering book by Irene Preston. Although the two books, Tall Order and A Taste of You, aren’t sequels, they’re certainly companion books in the same ‘family’, might we say, and they can be read separately. I wholeheartedly invite you to read these exquisite concoctions. They’ll leave you hungry for more! What follows is my review of this tasty offering. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.


Garrett Ransom:

The California sun had kissed his hair a lighter shade of blond and brushed a hint of golden color into his skin so that he glowed, a bronze angel, as he stood in the soft lights of the restaurant. … Garrett was the only chef he knew who never seemed to smell like his kitchen. No fish. No beef. No spices. Never in a million years the fry station. Garrett smelled sweet— warm cookies, vanilla, and sugar— like he should have been the pastry chef instead of Grace. The aroma always blindsided Giancarlo. Garrett wasn’t known for sweet. The scent was a secret thing. The Garrett no one knew but him.

Carlo Rotolo:

An image of Carlo standing in his kitchen dripping with sweat flashed into his mind. He replayed the scene. Carlo, hot and sweaty and angrier than Garrett had ever seen him. The sight of Carlo so worked up, in his skimpy running shorts and sweat-drenched shirt, had almost done him in. Carlo had been flushed from exertion and emotion, his wet hair had curled out of its usual precision style, and the way he smelled— pure male— had made Garrett’s mouth water. His dick was throbbing right now just thinking about it. Carlo had been so pissed, and all Garrett had wanted to do was jump on him and show him how to work off some of that excess emotion.


This story is pure, 100%, M/M Romance at is finest. Two men, made for each other, living in the fast paced and exciting culinary world of uber-chefs, five star restaurants, and ultra-high society.

Carlo, the boy from Brooklyn that made his way to culinary school, leaving behind the family restaurant and meeting Garrett, the handsome, dashing Brit that he ends up falling head over heels for. His love for his Italian family keeps him at bay in New York City, never wanting to be far away from them.

Garrett, the emotionally challenged, handsome and sexy, Brit that comes from an emotionally cold and aloof British high society family that has built walls around himself so he can’t feel anything. Going from boyfriend to boyfriend, always sabotaging his budding relationships so he can’t commit, until he realizes just exactly what Carlo means to him and then it dawns on him that he can lose the most important person in his life.


This is my second book by Irene Preston and I must say that I have become a fan of her writing, to the extent that I’m going to go and read her next book as apparently she has a good, straightforward writing style that I am finding I enjoy quite a bit. There aren’t any gimmicks, hidden traps, story arc hiccups or complicated crossword puzzles to figure out, it’s just good, enjoyable romance writing. The story plays out at a good pace, the characters are well developed and the humor is there, definitely.

Let’s not forget the sex, yowza! Sometimes I read an M/M romance book and end up scratching my head saying ‘where was the sex’? Definitely not with Ms. Preston, it’s definitely there. Very romantic, hot, steamy, enjoyable sex scenes.


I would like to thank Irene Preston and Sharon Stoker Laurent for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.


Irene Preston has to write romances; after all she is living one. As a starving college student, she met her dream man who whisked her away on a romantic honeymoon across Europe. Today they live in the beautiful hill country outside of Austin, Texas where Dream Man is still working hard to make sure she never has to take off her rose-colored glasses.

2nd Edition A Taste of You was originally published in 2015 by Fated Desires Publishing.
© 2015 Sharon Stoker Laurent
ISBN: 978-0-9968099-2-4
Cover Art by Syneca

Hello, Gorgeous!

Hello, Gorgeous, it’s me!


Yeah, I never thought I’d be doing my own blog and yet here I am.

It all started pretty innocently. I bought one of those magical gadgets, a Kindle, and got back into the game of reading – big time! And now there was this whole thing called M/M Romance, who knew. I wish it was around when I was just a tender gayling but, hey, better late than never.

Along the way I’ve met my siblings, you know who you are, from various corners of the world, that have made my life so much richer and fun and rewarding – I love the whole, crazy lot of you! Thanks! BTW, I still don’t know how you deal with all that cold up in Nova Scotia, but I’m fixin’ to go and find out!

A while ago one of my siblings invited me to join her in her blog, Attention Is Arbitrary, and I did and wow, I’m really enjoying sharing my joy of all these marvelous, magical, sexy, damn well written books with the rest of the world. Score! And then life, as usual, throws a curve ball and my Lisa had to put her blog on hiatus to take care of, well, life.

As I started going into withdrawals it suddenly hit me! Look, a squirrel! No, seriously, I talked my very patient geek husband into helping me set up this here bloggy thingy – wooHOO!

Hopefully you’ll all enjoy some of the wonderful books I want to share, and event better will be when my good friend can come back and we can get back to our Gay Guy/Straight Girl reviews.

I love you and miss you, Lisa!


PS – I hope you stick around as I get more familiar with this, it’s all still voodoo to me, but then I do love me some adventure!

Ten Days in August, by Kate McMurray


Ten Days in August

Rating: 3.75 stars


New York City, 1896. As the temperatures rise, so does the crime rate. At the peak of this sizzling heat wave, police inspector Hank Brandt is called to investigate the scandalous murder of a male prostitute. His colleagues think he should drop the case, but Hank’s interest is piqued, especially when he meets the intriguing key witness: a beautiful female impersonator named Nicholas Sharp.

As a nightclub performer living on the fringes of society, Nicky is reluctant to place his trust in a cop—even one as handsome as Hank. With Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt cracking down on vice in the city, Nicky’s afraid that getting involved could end his career. But when he realizes his life is in danger—and Hank is his strongest ally—the two men hit the streets together to solve the crime. From the tawdry tenements of the Lower East Side to the moneyed mansions of Fifth Avenue, Nicky and Hank are determined to uncover the truth. But when things start heating up between them, it’s not just their lives on the line. It’s their love…

Ten Days in August

I couldn’t help it. When I read the blurb on this book it called out to me immediately. I’ve always had a fascination for this time period, the late 19th century/turn of the 20th century. So many events were happening: cities had gotten to the point where science needed to step in to make them livable; things like air conditioning and a reliable source of potable water and dependable plumbing, refrigeration for foods, more efficient modes of individual transportation besides horse drawn carriages, things we take for granted these days.

The cities had drawn in huge numbers of people from all walks of life and all places on Earth, so for the first time people realized they weren’t alone, including gay people – thus begins the evolution that would lead to the modern gay rights movement, further propelled by the two World Wars.


Nicholas Sharp – Stage name Paulina Clodhopper:

…he found Nicholas – Nicky – beautiful. Nicky had stood there on the street with a soulful pout as Hank and Stephens had approached the scene, and there was something about Nicky’s sass and indifference – insouciance, perhaps – Hank found compelling. His blond hair had shone on his hatless head, his clothes were well tailored and fashionable, and Hank got the feeling this was a man who had seen a lot in his short life, though he still had something delicate about him.

Henry “Hank” Brandt – Acting Inspector NYPD:

This man was really quite attractive, in a sweaty, disheveled way, although Nicky supposed there was no way around that in this weather. The man pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and then pulled the dusty bowler hat off his head, revealing dark brown hair, cut short. He wiped his whole face from his damp forehead to his thick mustache before he dropped the hat back on his head. There seemed to be a strong body under the wrinkled clothing, but it was hard to tell. Still, this man intrigued Nicky. His companion in the uniform was blond and bearded and looked considerably more polished, but in a bland way. This disheveled man was far more interesting.


This is a fascinating story of a serial killer on the loose, taking advantage of the rent boys that flourished in The Bowery section of Manhattan at the end of the 19th century.  Set against the backdrop of the summer of 1896, with a 10-day heat wave that killed nearly 1,500 people, many of them tenement-dwellers, across New York City. Enter Theodore Roosevelt, Police Commissioner. It was Roosevelt that spurred the administration of Mayor Strong to open up the parks so people could sleep at night and escape the suffocating, murderous heat, and it was he who initiated the delivery of free ice to the suffering inhabitants. Add in the tumultuous election of 1896 between William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan and the elaborate tapestry that binds this story together is all set.


One can tell right away that this book was well researched. From the manner of speech to the affectations of the characters, from the historical backdrop of the heat wave to the tumultuous election of 1896 that would change American politics for the next 40 years, from the clothing fashions to the lifestyle of a bustling, dirty, smelly megalopolis that New York City was on the verge of becoming, this book seems to have been meticulously researched. What a joy this is when it is coupled with the smooth storytelling that Kate McMurray carries out in this book.

I could absolutely see the time period, smell the fetid, pungent smells of a city in the throes of a massive heat wave. A city that did not yet have the modern efficiencies of air conditioning to escape the heat and refrigeration to maintain the food from spoiling. I could feel and taste the dust of a horse drawn cab and the smells of sweat from our MC’s. This was really good, descriptive prose.

The story was well drawn and the story arc progressed at a good pace, not too fast and not too slow, just about right. Although I could feel the romance and attraction of our two MC’s, and our two SC’s, I do wish there had been more intense, descriptive sex between them as I could feel their desire and angst for each other. Delving a bit more into this aspect of their relationship would have propelled and made the story so much more. As it is, it is good, solid writing, well enjoyed.


I would like to thank Kate McMurray and Lyrical Press, Kensington Publishing Corp., for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.


Kate McMurray is an award-winning author of gay romance and an unabashed romance fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with base­ball. She has served as President of Rainbow Romance Writers, the LGBT romance chapter of Romance Writers of America. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 29th 2016 by Kensington Publishing Corporation
1616508027 (ISBN13: 9781616508029)