Handsome, brilliant, and surrounded by good friends, twenty-three-year-old medical student Miles Fox has a secret— and it’s not that he’s gay, though he harbors a crush on his straight best friend, Luke. Miles, like his grandmother, Anna, possesses the healing gift, an ability she’s made him swear never to use or divulge, lest horrible things befall those he loves. It happened to her when Nazis butchered her family.
But it all goes to hell when Miles heals a terminally ill man on a New Orleans cancer ward and wakes locked in the psych unit. Worse, news of the healing miracle spreads. For millennia its carriers have been hunted by those who would steal it. Dr. Gerald Stangl and his teenage son, Calvin, know what Miles possesses. They, like their predecessors, will stop at nothing to take it, including kidnapping, torture, and murder. As the Stangls’ noose tightens, Miles and Luke are trapped in a death match with stakes higher than they could ever imagine.
I love it when a book takes me by surprise and delivers as well as this one did. Dark Blood checked off all my boxes: Contemporary M/M, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Historical, Detective Story… I mean, really? I got so into this book it’s not funny.
Such an original story line… The Holy Grail! The true meaning of the Holy Grail brought up to date, and then some, with such exquisite characters.
Read on, you won’t be able to put it down.
Handsome Miles Fox, born with the gift of healing and eternal life. The green eyed descendant of a long ago, almost extinct, race. A race of which we know not its origins, but that nonetheless persists. Miles has been kept in the dark about his abilities by his grandmother, Anna, for reasons of survival. As Miles becomes a man and goes to medical school, much to his grandmother’s consternation, he meets Luke Paxton, his best friend that he’s smitten with. It’s his relationship with Luke that becomes the pivotal moment of their existence.
He looked at his best friend since starting medical school— Luke Paxton— twenty-three, born and raised in an ultraconservative Charlestown family, oldest of three, wicked sense of humor, and someone who’d apparently break a shitload of rules for a friend in trouble.
Luke, who’s fallen for his best friend, bringing out those feelings he’s long suppressed due to his upbringing and his ultra-conservative father. It’s his feelings for Miles that bring about the culmination to this wonderful story.
Talk about original! This book took me completely by surprise, out of left field. What an original story, and so well written, too.
Miles and his ability to heal. His grandmother, Anna, trying to protect him from those that are trying to steal this precious, ages old, ability. Luke, denying his true feelings in order to satisfy his stringent father, until he meets handsome Miles and then all bets are off. The one person who believes Miles regardless. The Stangls, father and son, descendants of a long line of seekers of the Holy Grail, finally close to achieving their goal via gruesome medical experiments of Miles’ progenitors and other hapless individuals.
What a brilliant, original story! I cannot recommend this book enough if you want to read something truly unique and exciting and completely off the same old rut.
I seriously cannot wait for the next book in this series, and there better be a next book!
Flawless. Absolutely flawless. This kind of storytelling craft comes along rarely, so grab it while you can.
The story flows seamlessly, easily, allowing a total immersion into the book. Such rich developments of the characters, not just the MCs, also the secondary characters. The Stangls, father and son, so well crafted. Grandma Anna, the perfect protecting mother figure. Tomas, Miles’ great grandfather. Zosimus, Miles’ ancestor from antiquity. They’re all so well written wholly developed. What a joy to read.
CALEB JAMES is an author, member of the Yale volunteer faculty, practicing psychiatrist, and clinical trainer. He writes both fiction and nonfiction and has published books in multiple genres and under different names. Writing as Charles Atkins, he has been a Lambda Literary finalist. He lives in Connecticut with his partner and four cats.
I was a beta reader for this book and worked closely with the author. My review, however, is my true and honest experience of my feelings and thoughts regarding this story and this author’s writing style. I will always strive to give an honest depiction of my reading experience.
This book is a work of fiction that contains explicit erotic content (heavy verbal denigration, orgasm control/denial, forced chastity, etc.), between adult men, and it is intended for mature readers.
Wes has spent his life looking for that one special guy who will understand and love him—all of him. From his tender vanilla side, to his darker debauched side.
Throughout high school, his successful career in the Marines, and as a BDSM Dom, he’s remained confident his partner is out there waiting to be found.
However, several events shake his normally unflappable self–assurance.
And, even after he finds Grif, will his past catch up with him and possibly drive his soul mate away?
When I first read Grif’s Toy, the precursor to Wes’ Denial, I was totally blown away and suffered a severe case of book hangover! I needed more. I craved to know what Wes was all about. See, no one is as perfect as Wes was in Grif’s Toy. His incredible self-control and spot on determination bespoke of something deeper, more profound, and ominously dark. I waited patiently, biding my time. Good things come to those of us who wait!
Wes’ Denial is nothing short of a tour de force reading experience. Right from the opening scene the tone is set for one heck of ride.
Sit down, buckle up, shut up, and keep your hands inside your car at all times. The emotional roller coaster is about to begin, and this ride’s a doozy!
**Full Disclosure –I was a beta reader for this book and worked closely with the author. My review is certainly colored by that experience. However these are my true thoughts and impressions.
I’ll assume you’ve read Grif’s Toy and, like me, couldn’t wait for Wes’ story. After all, Wes is strong, honorable, and generous. But you knew, didn’t you? Didn’t you? That there was something else there? Something dark. Something…wrong. This book isn’t Grif’s Toy. That was a sweet, tender love story. This is something entirely different. Be warned, JLT will try to lull you into a sense that everything is perfect, so enjoy that tease because he’s setting you up for gut wrenching denial. Wes’ Denial.
And there will be tears.
Weston ‘Wes’ De Luca:
Wes. What a complex, and yet sincerely honest, man. Since his early adolescence, when he discovered his penchant for being a Dom and, yes, a sadist, he’s been searching for his one, true soul mate.
Wes doesn’t just enjoy, he doesn’t just get off on, he absolutely craves seeing the tears in his sex partners. He loves to inflict that just right amount of pain that will take his sub to that marvelous place where time stands still and you float on nothing but the pure rush of endorphins and the ebb and flow of pain/pleasure, experiencing a continuous orgasm of ever increasing intensity. As a Dom’s Dom he lives for this. And something else. See, Wes has a thing for impact play – his one craving that he’s terrified of.
Wes’ Denial is his story. His efforts to control his craving and his undying love for the soul mate he’s found. Can he keep him? Does he deserve Grif?
Sit down, buckle up, shut up, and keep your hands inside your car at all times.
Marcus ‘Grif’ Griffin:
“You’re always saying how you don’t like the characterizations of a broken sub who is magically fixed by an omnipotent Dom.”
Grif is the epitome of an intelligent, well rounded, well-adjusted man who happens to be a sub. In everyday life Grif is a successful businessman, in the bedroom Grif needs Wes. Not just any man, Grif needs Wes. However, Grif never cuts himself short even though he’s submissive and wants to be taken to those deep, dark, exciting places that Wes can take him to. Grif is a realist that can cut through the BS and hone in on a problem with razor sharp accuracy and then dissect it until he can ascertain a solution. He’s no one’s fool, least of all Wes’.
Sit down, buckle up, shut up, and keep your hands inside your car at all times.
Weston “Wes” De Luca – The solid rock of a man. Pure strength, loyalty, and committed love. Wes isn’t afraid of anything…except showing his fractures.
Marcus “Grif” Griffin – I know you love Grif, but you haven’t even scratched the surface. I’m willing to bet you’ll be wildly surprised by his strength of character.
Additional Characters –
Henrik – stunning
Paul Eaks – scary
Thomas – Dom of Doms
Grif Two – Heh, yeah. You’ll see.
“Because that’s the point. We allow things to happen to us. We allow ourselves to do things to other people. And we allow ourselves to be happy or sad about those things. You’ve allowed the past eight weeks—allowed yourself to do things you never thought possible— just like you’ve allowed this thing with Paul and Henrik…”
Paul and Henrik. Yeah. Paul and Henrik. Two pivotal individuals in Wes’ life experience that I cannot get enough of, intense as they may be, and intense they are. I need to warn you right now, these are two incredibly for mature audiences only story lines, the likes of which only an author such as Mr. Tonlet would be able to pull off. Here’s what’s real: I can so relate. Perhaps that’s what I love – they’re so close to reality it frightens me, to a degree.
Wes’ undying love and devotion to Grif is palpable throughout the story, as well his not being this perfect, flawless character. No one is, and that’s the beauty of this story. We get to see it all, warts as well as soaring, euphoric moments. Grif’s individuality and wholeness always remain intact, such an integral part of this love story, and a love story it is. Kudos to you, Mr. Tonlet!
The Epilogue. I love you. I hate you. Thank you for that epilogue. How dare you give us that epilogue! You deserve a flogging for that epilogue. Oh, wait. Never mind. Damn you, man!
Spanning some fifty-five years this is an epic look at not only the full relationship between Wes and Grif, but also of Wes as a young man just discovering what makes him tick. He learns pretty early on that he ticks differently than the other boys, but his natural curiosity and openness allows him to explore and develop relationships fully.
There are three distinct periods in Wes’ life prior to Grif. His pre-military school days. His early military career. And a term of self-education and discovery. Each of these periods are vivid, striking and eye-opening.
As the reader learns about who Wes is, who Wes really is, we also see and understand what is so very special about his most important relationship, Grif. They are the perfect couple, with the perfect life both publically and personally. But something dark is lurking just beneath the surface that could destroy that perfection. Grif feels it. But Wes is in denial.
I honestly must say that Mr. Tonlet is a master storyteller extraordinaire. To be able to take this subject matter through two books and tell each man’s story distinctly, through each one’s specific experience flawlessly? Yeah, good stuff here. Both Wes and Grif come alive, through Mr. Tonlet’s craft, as completely whole, different, individuals with their own quirks and idiosyncrasies. This is no small feat.
The cast of supporting characters: Paul, Henrik, Thomas (oh, so wonderful Thomas!), Matthew, Quinn and Gage. I need to fess up: I’m in love with Quinn and Gage! So, so much there that I want to know about.
I seriously cannot recommend Mr. Tonlet’s writing more than what I already have. Every single one of his works I have devoured and desired more of. Go ahead, give yourself a treat, you deserve it.
If you read my review of Grif’s Toy, here, you’ll see that I held back a bit on my praise. The reason for that is because I knew JLT had this book in him. A book that would come from his core. A book that would shatter boundaries.
As I said earlier, JLT begins by lulling you into a sweet, tender romantic view of Grif and Wes’ early relationship, but right from the start there is a thread of darkness. An undercurrent of trouble. He keeps the reader on edge by applying just the right amount of tension, by degrees, at just the right moment.
I think this may be JLT’s signature attribute. Even in his other writing he builds a story in a way that keeps you so connected that you don’t even see the intensity building around you. Bravo, Joseph.
THE FOUR QUESTIONS FOR LISA
1) As a Straight Girl, I need to know your thoughts, feelings, experience regarding Paul and Henrik’s story line? What did you honestly think? It’s gritty and that’s what I want to know about. Too much? Are you OK with this? Feelz!
2) Are there any further writings along this story line you’d like to see? I have my own thoughts about this, FYI.
3) Did Wes deserve Grif’s final decision? Curious here.
4) I don’t want to divulge anything, or give any spoilers, but I’d like to know: Which one was your favorite scene and/or scenes.
THE FOUR QUESTIONS FOR OJ
1) Without giving anything away what was your favorite scene?
2) I want to deny it, but do “Eaks'” exist?
3) Again, without giving anything away what did you think of Grif’s resolution?
4) Bonus. Tears?
I would like to thank Joseph Lance Tonlet with providing OJ He Say! with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
JOSEPH LANCE TONLET is a born and raised Southern Californian—with a twenty-year stint of living in the Midwest. He loves the laid-back lifestyle of San Diego and considers himself lucky to live where people dream of vacationing. A lifelong reader of m/m fiction, he began his writing career one night sitting at his MacBook and has never looked back. He writes to bring the characters he dreams about to life.
Tattoo artist Geoff Gilchrest is convinced his life is some sort of cosmic joke. Why else would a hemophiliac also be a masochist? He’s given himself more than one elbow bleed since puberty just doing what guys do when alone and bored, so forget about whips and chains. How many partners would contemplate playing with someone even a mild flogging could kill?
Gallery owner Robin Brady knows he can deliver what Geoff needs: to be taken to the edge of danger but never beyond. But Robin came to Saugatuck to get away from the leather scene and heal from a betrayal by his former sub, so he’s not sure he should get involved with Geoff. His ambivalence isn’t helped by the fact that Geoff’s unwillingness to communicate about his well-being hits Robin in some very raw places.
Geoff’s hemophilia isn’t the obstacle he thinks it is. Instead, a lack of trust— on both their parts— is what could end them before they have a chance to begin.
In all honesty? I don’t even know where to begin with this book. Risk Aware is so unlike anything I’ve ever read before that I have few comparisons to base much on. I mean, writing about a hemophiliac, BDSM sub is challenging and interesting enough, as it is, but to on top of that go where Ms. Gormley went, in such exquisite and tantalizing detail? Yeah, good stuff boys and girls.
As a connoisseur of the more intense, pleasurable adult pursuits, I can tell you this has been exquisitely researched and executed. Some (most?) of the activities described in this book, while real and actual, are not to be taken lightly, or undertaken, without someone knowledgeable and sane to guide you. I bow to you, Ms. Gormley.
Make no mistake about this, guys and gals, this is some heady stuff right here. The amazing part? Dayum! And the research? Exquisite. I don’t give many 5 stars out and Risk Aware is a must for an MM BDSM aficionado. Enjoy.
I was wrong, wrong, wrong. I didn’t want to read this. Being honest here, I have a character flaw and don’t do well with disabilities. Hemophilia terrified me. How could it be something I’d want to read about? Much less, kinky. I’ll tell you how – by being written by a clever genius, that’s how.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what caught my eye about him. He wasn’t gorgeous. Fairly ordinary, in fact. String-bean thin, maybe a little taller than I was. Pale and unmuscled. Dishwater-blond hair. Blue-gray eyes in a face with high cheekbones, a long, protuberant nose, and lips that managed to be both thin and lush looking. Above average, I guess I’d have rated him. But skinny had always been my type.
…once in a while I saw him stare, from under his lashes, at one of the dominants when the guy wasn’t paying attention. The looks he gave them were hungry, full of yearning.
Hot, hairy, muscular, successful, blond Robin Brady escapes to Saugatuck to start anew after his ex in New York ruined his career and life by accusing him of domestic violence. As a result of the legal accusations he cleared himself of he has decided that he is going to walk away from the whole Dom/sub thing… sure… until he comes to the leather event at the Dunes resort in Saugatuck and comes up against Geoff. Geoff ticks off every single box for Robin. It’s his sure, steady hand that steers Geoff to everything he’s dreamt about and always felt he couldn’t experience.
This bratty and broken tattoo artist needs kink. His hemophilia is an issue, but his attitude is what needs an adjustment.
Wealthy, gorgeous, and on the surface very together, but he’s hiding from his past and denying his true self.
“It’s about consent, Geoff. Yours and mine. RACK: risk-aware consensual kink. That acronym does actually mean something. If I don’t know all the facts, I can’t give meaningful consent.”
This is an amazing story! Geoff, traumatized by growing up a hemophiliac in the age of Ryan White, when all his school mates thought he was HIV positive and the parents pulled their kids away from him and with an overprotective mother that smothered him, comes face to face with his wants and desires as an adult – he’s a sub. Not just any sub. An intense BDSM sub. For reasons we can surmise, he’s drawn to blood play and needle play and wants a Dom to take him to those wonderful places a sub yearns to go to. Deep, dark, wonderful places.
Robin, the son of wealthy parents who strikes out on his own in New York and is betrayed by his sub, and accused of domestic violence, manages to clear his name. As a result, he decides to start anew in Saugatuck and open his art gallery. As he is inexorably drawn to Geoff he must confront his past and how it is going to affect the relationship he is building with his one true love and as their relationship grows they must confront the realities of day to day life.
This is a powerful, and exquisitely written, statement on our society today.
I could get into the trajectory of the story – both of these men are coming from heavy pasts that have molded them into who they are – but trust me that the plotting is perfect here. Even with the false starts and do-overs, this story moves right along and is perfect for this developing relationship. The way the guys work thru their challenges is as encouraging as it is erotic. So good.
But what I want to tell you about is the clever kink! Oh my gosh, each time I thought Robin had no way to satisfy Geoff I was completely surprised by Ms. Gormley’s craft. Surprised and devastatingly satisfied. Whips and chains are lots of fun, but sensory deprivation and mind-fucking are off the charts hot in this book. And there’s one scene in particular that had me flying afterwards. Thank you, Amelia!
Robin’s mastery of Geoff’s particular needs is a thing of creative beauty. Exactly when I thought things would need to back off, Robin just notched up the intensity. And Geoff tests Robin at every turn.
“There’s something phallic about a needle, don’t you think? You’d watch me sliding it into you, knowing there’s no part of you I can’t penetrate. Nothing off-limits. There’s no reason it can’t be part of our play if we want it to be.”
Good golly, Miss Molly! Such wonderful, descriptive, detailed writing. I can’t begin to describe how good this is. I felt as if I was there, in the midst of it all. The attention to all pertinent, and superfluous, details makes this story come alive and drew me in. Each BDSM scene, one kinkier, more intense, hotter, than the next, is so well drawn and executed. As someone who’s been there, and other places, is there something you’re not telling us, Ms. Gormley?
I became so totally lost and consumed into this book that it took me a couple of weeks before I could sit down and do it justice in my review. I want more. I want a sequel. Geoff and Robin deserve it.
Ms. Gormley does an absolutely brilliant job here. My overwhelming takeaway was with how real this all felt. So often BDSM feels like utter fantasy and not real. But here I was instantly connected. I felt like I was peeking in on a real relationship. Flaws, miscommunication, emotions are all palpable here and made me feel part of rather than apart from the story.
And here’s the thing, Gormley doesn’t rush this at all. We get lots of up’s and down’s, starts and restarts, because that’s what these guys need. It’s how relationships develop. No insta-love here. But believe me, it doesn’t drag, each twist and turn is necessary to solidify this complicated relationship.
Lots of kink, but lots of story too. Perfect combo.
THE THREE QUESTIONS FOR LISA
2) I need to know about your thoughts and feelings as you read this. (I know, not a question).
3) Hot? Or not? If so, which scene did you feel was the hottest?
THE THREE QUESTIONS FOR OJ
1) I think from now on I’m going to seek out Clever Kink. Gormley has raised the bar for me. As someone with “experience” did any of this surprise you?
2) Do you still love me even though I have a character flaw? Seems I’m the one with the disability here, Geoff is golden.
3) I had one tiny, tiny issue with this, not worth mentioning in the review, but I was left wondering if Geoff’s tattoo studio was successful. Did that bother you?
I would like to thank Amelia C. Gormley and Riptide Publishing with providing OJ He Say! with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Amelia C. Gormley published her first short story in the school newspaper in the fourth grade, and since then has suffered the persistent delusion that enabling other people to hear the voices in her head might be a worthwhile endeavor. She’s even convinced her hapless spouse that it could be a lucrative one as well, especially when coupled with her real-life interest in angst, kink, social justice issues, and pretty men.
When her husband and son aren’t interacting with the back of her head as she stares at the computer, they rely on her to feed them, maintain their domicile, and keep some semblance of order in their lives (all very, very bad ideas— they really should know better by now). She can also be found playing video games and ranting on Tumblr, seeing as how she’s one of those horrid social justice warriors out to destroy free speech, gaming, geek culture, and everything else that’s fun.
Cameron has it all. He’s rich, lives in Manhattan, and even has a cross-dressing butler. But then he meets Nate, an Australian who’s bitter about love. Cameron is determined to turn this realist into a dreamer by sharing his world of classy restaurants, Broadway shows and fabulous parties. And while Nate’s friends see the makings of a fantasy romance, it’s Nate who has to learn that in order to open his heart, he has to face a painful secret.
Nate and The New Yorker
Did a book ever call out to you because of the blurb and then you pick it up and it turns out way different in a strikingly good way? Well, this is what happened to me with Nate and The New Yorker. Talk about an awesome experience!
I read the blurb and I thought: cute, it’ll make some nice, easy summer reading. Well, let me tell you! At first I felt it was kind of slow and then quickly the story kicks into high gear and I literally couldn’t put it down. The twists and turns, the rich characters, the rich food, and the surprise about the surprising ex! Yeah, you really need to read this one. I’ve found a new author to follow.
Handsome Nathan, who still pines for his ex that he misses dearly, is the down to earth realist and self-sufficient man that captures Cameron’s fancy while on a vacation in Europe with his friends, Lucy and Ben. Nathan has never been able to let go and move beyond Elliot, his ex, who he still sees and talks to. Or does he? As he becomes more and more enamored of Cameron we find the real story within the story.
The culprit stood at the entrance of the restaurant. Shortly cropped dark hair. Rosy lips that curved as if a sculptor had created them by smoothing their surface with the tip of his finger. His stylishly knitted red sweater hung loosely, making his upper body a mystery. And thick black-rimmed glasses that had me picturing him on my couch, reading quietly before I’d slowly pull them off his face, exposing my own superhero.
The story of Cameron and Nathan captivated me. Cameron is the rich scion of a well to do family, never having to work a day in his life, with a sumptuous apartment in Manhattan when he decides to run away for a while and escape to Prague where he meets the handsome Aussie, Nathan, on vacation with his friends Lucy, his boss, and Ben, his co-worker.
As Cameron and Nathan get closer and closer Nathan’s ex, Elliot, pops back into his life. Or does he? Here’s where the story took on the turn I didn’t expect and floored me. The rich backdrop of the secondary characters of Lucy and Ben, and Cameron’s aunt Bev and his butler’s alter ego of Rowena the transvestite, make for a book I fell in love with. I couldn’t put it down. Yes, it was summer reading all right – but was it ever excellent reading! I really recommend this one.
The writing is what really got to me. This starts out nice and slow, like a good orchestral piece and you’re thinking “nice” and then the other instruments start to chime in, each one at its exact moment in queue, until I was surrounded by a full crescendo of such rich characters, each one developed exactly right for the story, not overdone or lacking in any sense. Crazy Rowena and wild Bev, dedicated Lucy and Ben, and estranged Graham and Tony.
If you’ll notice I haven’t delved into Elliot much, and there’s a reason for that. I’ll leave Elliot for you to explore and to come to your own conclusions. Share them with me, if you will.
This book made me laugh, made me think, and it made me cry with its bittersweet tang, but most of all it really rocks!
Take a bow, Mr. Klehr.
I would like to thank Kevin Klehr and Wilde City Press with providing OJ He Say! with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Kevin lives with his long-term partner in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.
From an early age Kevin had a passion for writing, jotting down stories and plays until it came time to confront puberty. After dealing with pimple creams and facial hair, Kevin didn’t pick up a pen again until he was in his thirties. His handwritten manuscript was being committed to paper when his social circumstances changed, giving him no time to write. Concerned, his partner, Warren, snuck the notebook out to a friend who in turn came back and demanded Kevin finish his novel. It wasn’t long before Kevin’s active imagination was let loose again. The result was Drama Queens with Love Scenes, the first in a series of Afterlife tales.
Kevin is looking forward to thumping the keys on his laptop and churning out stories until it’s time for him to gain firsthand experience of the hereafter.