My review cross-posted from Joyfully Reviewed: http://www.joyfullyreviewed.com/new-reviews/friction-antho
“Cruising” by J.P. Bowie
Free of a terrible relationship, Adam is ready to move on with his life. He’s grateful for the change of scenery being casino manager on a cruise ship will provide. However, life aboard The Maiden of the Seas is anything but smooth sailing. His casino team tends to be irresponsible, his friend who got him the job is acting strangely, the ship’s captain doesn’t like him, and a one night stand with the ship’s architect turns out to be more of a headache than a pleasure after the fact. Adam does manage to find one bright spot on board: Brett, the guitarist who plays in the ship’s lounge.
There are an unimaginable number of things that can go wrong on a cruise ship, but J.P. Bowie serves up some disasters you wouldn’t want to face. Adam’s a likeable hero and you can’t help but feel for the guy who has to deal with a whole host of difficult people…especially when you consider the fact that he can’t get away from them while on a ship. “Cruising” is Adam’s journey, as opposed to the more common romance structure which would be the journey of two people. But that doesn’t mean that Mr. Bowie neglects the romance. Brett is everything that Adam deserves and the pair of them are wonderful together. Even taking into account all that Adam has to handle on The Maiden of the Seas, “Cruising” is a lovely, sexy story that will leave you with a smile on your face.
“Maximum Exposure” by Jenna Byrnes and Jude Mason
Rob is worried his relationship with Max is in trouble, thanks to his own reticence to play the naughty games Max loves. With Max away on a business conference, Rob comes up with a plan: he’ll fly out for the weekend and meet Max at the conference…and challenge him to a “game” he’s sure Max will love. But will Rob and Max’s weekend away make their relationship stronger? Or will it lead to something that could tear them apart?
“Maximum Exposure” is Erotic with a capital “E.” Jenna Byrnes and Jude Mason dish up red-hot scenarios that are a pleasure to read, while at the same time mixing in some serious relationship problems. Rob’s concerned about the state of his relationship with Max and it automatically made me like him that he was determined to step outside his comfort zone to try and make their relationship better. He and Max are good together, on a number of levels, but they don’t have an altogether easy time of it in “Maximum Exposure.” An interfering man with a past connection to Max threatens to break them apart and I was eagerly reading “Maximum Exposure,” waiting to see Max and Rob overcome the obstacles the other man throws down in their path. All in all, I adored “Maximum Exposure.” Mses. Byrnes and Mason are each wonderful authors in their own right, and as a pair they’re dynamite!
“Yes!” by Kim Dare
To Andrew, life is meant to be lived pleasurably. If a man he’s interested in wants to have sex with him, Andrew’s not about to say “no.” He doesn’t see a problem with this, but Stephen – a young man claiming to be a Dom – seems to believe Andrew’s some kind of slut that’s incapable of saying “no.” Stephen makes a bet with Andrew, one where Andrew has to see if he can turn down everything Stephen has to offer for twelve hours. Andrew thinks this wager is his to win, and he’s more than ready to teach the would-be Dom a lesson…though he’s still looking forward to some vanilla sex with Stephan.
But Stephen has some surprises in store for Andrew. The younger man is more a true Dom than Andrew gives him credit for, and he has a few lessons of his own to teach the stubborn sub. Lessons that make Andrew want to scream “Yes!”
Sex, sparring, and submission pack one hell of a punch in the incredibly fun “Yes!” The battle of wills between Andrew and Stephen was so enjoyable that, after I finished listening to “Yes!” the first time, I wanted to immediately launch into a re-read.
Andrew thinks he knows pretty much everything about sex and his cockiness is part of his appeal. He’s sure there’s no way that Stephen, nineteen to Andrew’s twenty-six, is at all experienced or proficient enough as a Dom to meet his exacting standards. Boy is he wrong. Stephen’s quiet dominance and self-assured manner is every bit the match for Andrew’s arrogance. Stephen frustrates Andrew over the course of their bet, both sexually and mentally and the way Kim Dare handles this makes sparks almost literally fly over the course of the story. And what heat those sparks generate! “Yes!” is an erotic delight on top of being a fun heroes-battle-their-way-into-love tale. The sensuality in “Yes!” is a palpable presence, whether you’re reading or listening to the tale.
I can never say “no” to the opportunity to read one of Ms. Dare’s books, and “Yes!” proves why. Ms. Dare has delivered another winning romance in Andrew and Stephen’s story; it’s red-hot entertainment at its most engaging.
“Sorry Charlie” by Ashley Ladd
After years apart, Charlie is finally reconciling with his father. The only problem is, his partner, Jon, seems to be resentful of all the time Charlie’s spending with his dad. Jon claims that he’s just worried about Charlie getting hurt again, especially by his mean siblings, but Charlie doesn’t want to hear it. Will he have to choose between his family and Jon?
Families have a way of rocking the boat and I commend Ashley Ladd for taking a storyline that isn’t the happiest, to say the least, and not taking the easy way out by making things go smoothly for Charlie and Jon. I absolutely adored Jon and his love for Charlie came through bright and clear. It was harder for me to like Charlie. I didn’t dislike him, but he fell a bit flat for me. There were a few parts of “Sorry Charlie” that were a bit cheesy and out of place with the rest of the story, but overall it was a decent read.
“Heat of the Night” by SL Majors
Stephen Powell wants to be in London, partying night and day and screwing anything in a skirt. He does not want to be on a ranch in the middle of Wyoming, which is where his aunt has “sentenced” him to stay for a few weeks. But upon his arrival at the Double S Ranch, Stephen discovers the place may have something to recommend it: Dakota Youngblood. The older man is quiet, hardworking, and so sexy it makes Stephen’s mouth water. For a guy who’s never worked hard – or fallen for a man – Stephen is in for one hell of a learning experience.
SL Majors does the nearly impossible in “Heat of the Night.” She takes a character who, by all rights, shouldn’t be likeable (Stephen) and makes him an endearing hero. I loved watching Stephen get knocked off his feet not once, but twice. He learns the value of hard work at the Double S Ranch, but the captivating part of “Heat of the Night” is, of course, watching Stephen grapple with his feelings for Youngblood. It’s easy to see why Stephen falls for the older man, but it was a delight to see Dakota reciprocating. “Heat of the Night” is erotic as hell, but it’s also surprisingly sweet – a perfect combination in my book.
“One Night Stand” by Cassandra Gold
After two years spent mourning his partner, Tom is finally ready to date again. Feeling somewhat out of place at a bar on his first night out, Tom is surprised when he’s picked up by the gorgeous, blond Ian. Things heat up quickly, but Tom’s not the type for a one night stand and too late he discovers that a one night stand is all Ian is willing to give him. Tom knows he should put Ian out of his mind after their one night together, but when their paths cross again, it seems like Ian is tempted to break his self-imposed rule. Is it possible their one night stand could actually be the start of something far more permanent?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Cassandra Gold’s stories, it’s that Ms. Gold excels at creating heroes you wish were real. Tom and Ian are no exception and that’s why “One Night Stand” shines. I immediately cared about both Tom and Ian and wanted nothing more than the two to find happiness with one another. Tom has loved and lost and I admired the way he was willing to open himself up to love again. Ian, on the other hand, has loved and been burned – more than once. He doesn’t want relationships because he’s protecting his heart; something that’s understandable, even if it’s clear to readers that he’s missing out on living life to its fullest. Ian makes a few mistakes, but not deliberately, and I found I adored him just as much for his flaws as his attractions. Speaking of attraction, the heat between Tom and Ian is red hot deliciousness. The pair sizzle and the sexiness of “One Night Stand” is every bit as appealing as Ian and Tom’s general likeability (not something to be underestimated). “One Night Stand” is wonderfully entertaining from beginning to end and I find myself loving Tom and Ian more and more each time I read their story.
Friction is an incredible anthology, filled, as it were, with some of the best voices in contemporary romance. If you’re looking for a collection of sinfully delicious stories to pass the day with, Friction is the book for you.
Note: All of the stories in Friction are also sold individually as e-books and audio books.