Sunday, August 2, 2015

Love Is An Open Road Round-up

Every year, the M/M Romance group on Goodreads organizes an event in which readers submit images with story prompts that are then picked up by author and writers who give freely of their time and craft to write beautiful and amazing stories.

These are some of my favorites so far...

Almost But Not QuiteBlurb:

Dear Author, 
This is billionaire Max. I met him last year when I had hit rock bottom, I had nowhere else to go, no money, no job prospects, just a drug habit I picked up to help me cope with the horrible things that had happened to me since running away from my abusive home. They say when it rains it pours; well can you make the rain stop by bringing this ray of sunshine into my life?

My rating:

A nice, well-done story about a young man who's tried hard to better his circumstances, but his drinking gets in the way, and a very rich, somewhat older man, who sees in him first someone to atone with, but then falls for what might be.

With some family drama, some nail-biting moments, and some hot sexy times, with a dose of humor, rounded out by some nicely developed characters, this was a splendid way to spend an hour.

Free from the M/M Romance group's Love Is An Open Road event. My thanks to the author.

Ask, Answer, Look, KissBlurb:

Just when they think they will be in the friend zone forever, everything changes.

As a successful chef and co-owner of Best Bites Catering, Travis Reed is happy. He gets to do all the things he loves - live in one of the most beautiful Florida beach towns, cook the food he loves, and hang out with Benny McKenna, his best friend and co-owner of Best Bites. If there is one thing lacking in his life, it is a lover. It couldn’t be Benny, though. Not when Benny made their friend-only status very clear shortly after they both came out.

Benny made the decision to keep his relationship with Travis purely in the friend zone back when both men were in college. Now, ten years since he made that decision, he is beginning to waver. Something about the focus Travis gives to his craft makes him jealous, illuminating how lonely he is. A love life punctuated by a series of one-night-stands isn’t especially satisfying. And with Travis acting strangely ever since they moved in together, Benny is unsettled.

When a friend asks Benny and Travis to participate in a non-profit dating event for GLBT people in the Tampa Bay, they agree to help out. What they aren’t prepared for is answering a series of increasingly intimate questions, all aimed at making couples fall in love. The idea of falling in love wasn’t on Travis or Benny’s radar, but now they are rethinking their assumptions. Could answering the right question lead to something more than they ever expected?

My rating:

Adorable Friends-to-Lovers novella about two men who've been best friends for 18 years, who live together, own a business together, and fear losing each other if they admit what they've both been feeling for a while.

Take a sprinkling of good friends who provide the needed push, a pinch of jealousy, an accident with a sharp knife, and some really strong UST-cum-sexy-times, and you have yourself a wonderful, somewhat fluffy and oh-so-ooey-gooey romance, culminating in the perfect ending.

Free from the M/M Romance group's Love Is An Open Road event. My thanks to the author!

An American Homo in ParisBlurb:

Dear Author,
I came to Paris 9 months ago, with my now ex-boyfriend. City of Love, my ass. Now I’m sitting here in this cafĂ© near the Eiffel Tower, sipping the cheapest coffee they had on the menu, heartbroken and unsure of my next steps.
Without a place to live, no job, not much money left in the bank, and speaking only a little French, I guess it’s time to put my tail between my legs and head back home to Bumfuck, Idaho.

My rating:

This was my prompt for the Love Is An Open Road event. When Vanessa North claimed it, I did a happy dance.

And now it's live, and it's ever so awesome, and I devoured it this morning.

Benji (love the name you chose, girl) came to Paris with his boyfriend Aaron, who was hired by a French company as some wunderkind programmer. Aaron insists on speaking French when out and about, knowing that Benji is struggling with the language, but doesn't offer to help him learn. Working long hours also doesn't help.

See, I know exactly what Benji feels like. I know what it's like to move to a foreign country with only a rudimentary understanding of the language; I know what it's like to feel lonely and homesick and depressed. I know what it's like to hole up in your apartment, fearful of going outside even for the smallest things, because you might not understand the locals, and you might not say the right thing the right way. It's very difficult, and if your partner is not supportive and doesn't understand, doesn't help, it can send you into a deep depression and change you as a person. It can destroy your relationship.

It killed my marriage.

So, I know exactly what Benji is going through when he talks about his experiences.

I didn't have a Ziri, not for some time. But I learned the language, eventually. I learned to live with the homesickness, learned to deal with the customs in this foreign land, and after 20+ years, this IS my homeland now.

But there's more to this story than Benji's loneliness and depression. Meeting Ziri is a stroke of luck (or fate, maybe), and by giving himself a push, Benji finds his way out of the hole, into what may be.

Loved the inclusion of current culture, what with Instagram, YouTube, and things going viral. Ziri shows Benji what it means to have fun again, and even though they initially believe that this is only going to be for one day, fate steps in and helps them out. Their attraction is immediate and believable, and while they may be swept up in the excitement, both take the time to see that there's something there, something worth pursuing.

With a strong HFN, and an excellent scene in which Aaron gets what's coming to him, this short story, written for FREE as part of this event, was everything I had hoped for, and more. Vanessa took my prompt and turned it into something uniquely hers, with humor and emotions and some tears, and it was absolutely wonderful.

Thank you! Thank you SO MUCH!!!

When Skies Have FallenBlurb:

For many in war-torn 1944, love blossoms in the dance hall, and airman Arty Clarke is no exception. He’s a thinker and a dreamer; however, it’s not the beautiful, talented dancer in his arms—his best friend Jean—who inspires his dreams. For when his gaze meets that of Technical Sergeant Jim Johnson, Arty dares to imagine a different dance.

Their love is forbidden, by both the armed forces and the law, but with Jean’s cunning and support, Arty and Jim try to bridge the distance between them and find true love despite the danger and a life-threatening disaster that could destroy Arty’s dreams for good.

Can the pair stand strong together, no matter how many skies have fallen?

My rating:

This was absolutely fabulous. Falling in love amidst the terrors of WWII, knowing their love is criminal in the eyes of the law, but finding support in amazing friends and family members, Jim and Arty do what they have to do to stay together. Utterly brilliant in the emotional writing, this took my breath away.

Free from the M/M Romance group's Love Is An Open Road event.

My gratitude to the author.

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, happy reading!

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