The Gentlemen’s Parlor: Room of Chains by Geoffrey Knight

The Gentlemen’s Parlor: Room of Chains by Geoffrey Knight
Stars: 2.5/5

Length: 15,500 (54 pages)
Dr. Darius inhaled on his cigar and a pillow of smoke drifted from his lips. "This place, the Parlor, it's about more than just money. The Parlor is somewhat... unique. The vast majority of people in the outside world—those beyond the walls of this mansion—would be offended and outraged by what goes on here. But those within these walls, they come to feel alive. They come to be loved, to feel that they belong to something... or someone. They come to find themselves. They come to heal... or be healed. In the Gentlemen's Parlor, nothing and nobody is judged."

Gather your secrets, slip on your mask, leave your inhibitions at the door...

A short story that offers more promise than it gives, but hopefully is just an opening into the world of the Gentlemen’s Parlor.

For me, this story felt like a teenager, awkwardly stuck between the innocence of youth and the sexuality of adulthood. The two men of the tale are fairly pure and innocent, as is their love, but they are surrounded by sex and lust. This in itself isn’t a bad thing, as it brings into stark contrast the two worlds and the difference between love and lust, but it also gives a sense of a gangly teen who can’t quite control his limbs.

The blurb seems to promise a high level of sexuality, which in some ways is given, but the juxtaposition of sexuality and the two main men seems at odds at one another. While I loved the role Dr. Darius played, both as the buyer and as a plot device, very little else drew me into the story. The characters were nice young men who relied on each other, but while I liked them, I never really thoroughly connected. The young men are still boys in many ways and cannot satisfy the promised sensuality that the club seems to offer.

That being said, the story was written well and paced properly. I think this short opens up the world of the Gentlemen’s Parlor and provides good footing for other stories to be explored, specifically Dr. Darius’ role in it. While every story (in what seems to be preparing for a series) would toe the line between pure smut and something more, I’d be interested in seeing where this leads.

Received this book for review.


All Wrapped Up, an anthology

All Wrapped Up, an anthology
Stars: 4/5

Length: 80,000 words (186 pages)
Tentacles are a taboo subject for most, something most people look at from between their fingers as they hide. All Wrapped Up explores this genre through the lens of gay erotic romance, offering four science-fiction and fantasy stories featuring tentacled heroes in all their wiggly glory.

The men in Ground Mission are podmates, a matched set: Simon Pollux, the lethal scout, and Adrian Lovasz, his willing and even more lethal combat specialist. In the midst of exploring an alien world, Simon is infected with an alien virus; to what lengths will Adrian go to ensure Simon's comfort?

In the wood-locked town of Orm, ranger Koster meets the mysterious Irsing: the guardian of the forest. Is he the one letting the forest turn to wilds, or is the forest turning to wilds on its own? In Wildwood, Koster aims to do whatever it takes to set things right.

Eli exchanges his a life of poverty in Dark Covenant when tricked into signing a contract giving himself to the masters of the Academy. His body, his movement, his life is theirs to do with as they wish, until the enigmatic Eramus offers Eli his power—if Eli will join with him.

Sebastian Reed lives on the legal limits in Situation Normal, barely scraping by in his hunk of junk ship until a Peace Officer, Ten, commandeers his ship... and his body. Not that Sebastian minds, except for wondering exactly where it is that Ten means to take him.

Tentacles aren’t my thing, per se, but this anthology was hot! It’s a wonderful mix of plot and tentacle sexiness, where the naughtiness may involve the squirming bits, but it’s not the focus of the entire story. A fantastic collection, especially for readers who are fond of this specialty. It has a little bit of sci-fi and a little bit of fantasy, providing a range of genres for readers.

Ground Mission by Laylah Hunter
A sci-fi story that originally didn’t interest me, but when I returned to it and finished it, I thoroughly enjoyed what it had to offer. The beginning, which is necessary to set the tone of the book, was more focused on the sci-fi than anything, which left me very blase about the story being told. However, as the plot progresses it gets good and really builds the bond between the two men. I ended up enjoying this more than I was expecting and it was a great start to the anthology.

Wildwood by Thea Hayworth
I loved this story from beginning to end. Of course, it had a slight advantage over the sci-fi story because fantasy stories are my thing. There was beautiful descriptions, a plot that was edgy yet simple, and a conclusion that was both sweet and heartbreaking. My only mark against this one would be that it ends on a slightly bitter note, but even that was realistic enough that I had to forgive the author because it was true to the story’s tone.

Dark Covenant by Gryvon
I enjoyed the plot and world building in this story, but I wanted so much more. This really felt like the first few chapters of a novella (at least!). There are so many places this can go and there are a number of questions left unanswered. Overall it was enjoyable, and while the end was satisfactory in some ways, it also left me feeling like the tale was not yet finished being told.

Situation Normal by Morgan Harcourt
The writing in this story was the weakest of the bunch, but still enjoyable. I’m pretty sure I could read about these two characters in a hundred different short stories and not be bored. It was fun and almost silly, but also intense, both in action and the sex. The characters come off as 2-D initially, but the last scene gives more depth to Ten and the struggle scene gives more depth to Red, enabling the characters to grow in their relationship together. It was a pleasant way to end the anthology.

Requested this book for review.
Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog.


Stained Glass by Jaime Samms

Stained Glass by Jaime Samms
Stars: 4/5

Length: 214 pages
The violent implosion of Lawrence McKenna’s last relationship left him floundering at the bottom of a bottle. Recently unemployed and struggling with his newly discovered submissive tendencies, Laurie needs his best friend, Jeff, more than ever. One sleepless night of detox and a desperate kiss convince him that the attraction they’ve battled all their lives has become too hard to ignore, but Jeff has other responsibilities that take him far away from Laurie and his self-destructive behavior.

When Jeff leaves, all Laurie wants is to be left alone to wallow. Instead, he finds himself riding herd on his friends who have quit their jobs to achieve their dream of starting their own manga publisher. Those same friends return the favor by riding him: about the booze, talking about what happened, seeing a doctor—and about Jeff, whose abandonment left Laurie bitter and resentful. Laurie knows they can’t have a relationship without forgiveness, but when Jeff returns, can he be what Laurie needs?

A very different kind of romance that focuses less on the main relationship and more on one man's struggles to recover from alcoholism and his past.

Readers looking for a kinky romance should go elsewhere. While kink is involved, this story centers more around psychology and overcoming life obstacles than it does kink. And while romance plays the guiding light, it's also secondary to character development and maturation. In many ways, this isn't a romance at all.

That said, I still think this was a good, if not great, book.

It’s confusing, and some readers may not like the storytelling style where the truth is slowly discovered as the author peels back the layers. Like an onion, not a parfait. In the beginning everything seems fairly clear, but as Laurie is more honest with his friends and himself, the reader gets to see more of the story and gain a greater understanding of Laurie’s last relationship and his own faults. While I found the slow discovery somewhat difficult, it also felt very real. Friends judged what happened without all the facts.

By the end I felt I was left with a fairly clear picture of what happened and how everything was resolved. I was pleased with the conflicts between Jeff and Laurie and how they were handled. People weren’t perfect, but they weren’t just jerks for the sake of being jerks either. The depth and variety in all the characters meant that no matter who Laurie was talking with, the reader was going to see a different part of him and a different part of the other character.

I don’t think this story will be for everyone, but readers who do venture forth will find an internal and external struggle worth working through for the satisfying resolution.