Tag Archives: suicide

For Never and Always by Ana J. Phoenix

For Never and AlwaysFor Never and Always by Ana J. Phoenix

Published March 10, 2016

Page count: 170 pages



Seth finds himself alone at an abandoned train station, with no idea what happened, or how he got there. He boards a train, only to discover it’s a special express transporting the recently deceased to their final destination. The conductor tells him he’s having a near-death experience. Seth wonders if it has something to do with his violent boyfriend, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is getting the hell off the train before he actually dies. But when he spots his best friend and secret crush among the traveling dead, the urge to leave fades…

Our thoughts:

A very unique and creatively different mm romance book! I’m not even sure I personally would call For Never and Always romance as I prefer to reference it as literary fiction with LGBT and romantic elements.

Seth finds himself boarding a train only to discover it hauls those who’ve died to their final locations. Whether that’s back into the fray as a ghost that wasn’t able to clear their conscience and accept their death. Or, taking them to their afterlife (whatever that is) waiting for them once they’ve achieved clarity in death.

When Seth boards the train he’s told he’s not dead yet and he can leave as long as the doors remain translucent. When he finds his best friend Carter on the train, Seth is relieved. This is until he remembers that those on board are dead. Carter has passed away from cancer. He’s was young and feels bitter over his fate. He feels cheated out of more time to live a full life. He worries he won’t be remembered so he struggling to find his clarity and his time is running out.

During their voyage together, Carter and Seth learn a lot more about each other. They discover secrets that could have changed their lives. Feelings that could have made things better for Seth. Things that could have brought Carter down a different path as well. All that hindsight being so much clearer. So much that could have been if they’d only reached out a utter a few words to say how they felt.

Seth is trying to decided if he even wants to leave the train. Maybe death would be better than returning to his abusive boyfriend. All these intense moments and feelings cloud Seth and Carter’s choices. They want to be together but Carter knows Seth has a whole lot more ahead of him, if he can find the strength to carry on.

I expected this novel to bring on the tears, but it didn’t. I felt it was more serene. There wasn’t any urgency, even with the time pressure on Carter to clear his baggage by the last stop. The pace was slower, more for reflection and discovery. To be introspective and make the hard decision to let go or hang on. I expected to be gutted! I was pleasantly surprised that the author was able to achieve this world and dynamic for Carter and Seth that wasn’t melancholy but filled with the potential for more.

Please be aware of the triggers for this story. There are mentions of rape and suicide.

SPOTLIGHT AND REVIEW: Broken by Nicola Haken

Title: Broken
Author: Nicola Haken
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 29, 2016

When Theodore Davenport decides to switch his mundane job for a career, he walks into Holden House Publishing with enthusiasm and determination to succeed. As he settles into his new role, makes new friends, and dreams of making it to the top, everything is going to plan.

Until he meets James Holden, CEO of Holden House.

James Holden hasn’t been able to stop thinking about his encounter with the timid man he met in a club bathroom last week, and when he discovers the one haunting his dreams is an employee, he can’t seem to stop himself from pursuing him.

Just a little fun – that’s what James tells himself. He can’t afford to care for someone who can never reciprocate, not once they find out who he really is. James believes nobody deserves the burden of being attached to him. He’s a complicated man. Damaged. Difficult. Demanding.


Is Theodore strong enough to confront James’ demons? More importantly, is James?

(M/M romance. Not suitable for readers under 18 years of age due to language and sexual content. ***Please note*** This book contains scenes of self harm, mental illness and suicidal ideation which may pose as a trigger, or be uncomfortable for some readers.)


“Broken is truly a remarkable book. I was blown away by it, by the raw and sincere way Ms. Haken took these men through the roller coaster of living with unrelenting demons. And now, as I sit here wondering if I have to courage to post this review, all I can think about is how far into my heart Theo and James have embedded themselves–and how I hope they never leave. I think it might be too hard to say goodbye…although maybe not as hard as it was find the words that I hope compel you to read this breathtaking book.” ~ Beth, Give Me Books 

“A stunning but achingly painful read” ~ Author Sloane Kennedy 

“This is an amazing book full of so much raw emotion that it gripped me and wouldn’t let up. I felt like I was watching a movie in my head and I wanted to just jump in the book and give James a huge hug. Lots of FEELz in this book.. both good and bad.” ~ Alpha Book Club

Nicola lives in Rochdale, England with her husband and four children (six if you include the dog and cat!) She is the author the author of the m/m romance Souls of the Knight series, and is currently working on a standalone with new boys, James and Theo, due for release early 2016. When she is not busy playing with her imaginary book friends (or talking about them with real life friends!) she can usually be found carrying out her ordinary mum/housewife/all round slave duties. Oh, and if the kids ever ask, she moonlights as the Pink Power Ranger while they’re sleeping…


Absolutely amazing. An emotional journey I didn’t want to end.

I have a thing for emotionally grueling books. The harder the story, the more the men suffer, the more I enjoy.  Life is messy and a story like I mentioned, to me, is real life. The struggles, hardships, stressors, they’re what make life difficult but help us know we’re alive and kicking trying to fight through.

Fighting through is exactly what James David Holden is doing. From the moment we meet him, James is trying to keep it together. From his job to his personal life, he’s treading water. He’s a bit of an arrogant bastard but not to the point of hating him. No, that feeling is strictly for his mother. She is another level of selfish that James in nowhere near.

Take-charge-James meets Theodore one night in a bar and that sets the stage for their volatile relationship to emerge. Volatile because James is a jerk at first but Theodore can’t stop gravitating towards him anyway. Doing as James asks and going against everything Theo knows he should be doing with regards to James. It’s quite comical to see Theo struggle. He’s powerless when it comes to James.

As we get to know both men through their job (Theo works for Holden) and their dating we discover a bigger secret. James suffers from mental illness. He’s sure this will push Theo away, he almost hopes it will. That would support what he’s felt all along, he’s not loveable. Not worth having to deal with manic depression and suicidal tendencies. Not worth love and effort. However, James greatly underestimates Theo’s love and devotion. Theo has a huge heart and he’s willing to pull James closer, not push him away.

Broken is a beautiful story of hope. Hope in love. Hope in healing. Hope in tragedy. Hope in a new day. Hope in therapy. James is so shattered. He must totally break and smash into pieces before he can become new. To put the pieces together again and grow. The pieces might be permanently damaged and worse for wear, but they’re there.  With Theo by his side, James just might be able to overcome. Theo, his rock, his anchor. Theo, a beacon of light, hope and love.

Yes the story is emotional, but it’s not overwhelmingly so. I recommend Broken, it’s a must read. It’s raw, it’s truth, it’s beauty.



Focus on Me (In Focus #2) by Megan Erickson

Focus on Me CoverRelease Date: July 21, 2015
Published by InterMix
Review Copy from NetGalley


Colin Hartman can now add college to his list of failures. On the coast-to-coast trek home from California, Colin stops at a gas station in the Nevada desert, and can’t help noticing the guy in tight jeans looking like he just stepped off a catwalk. When he realizes Catwalk is stranded, Colin offers a ride.

Riley only intended to take a short ride in Colin’s Jeep to the Grand Canyon. But one detour leads to another until they finally find themselves tumbling into bed together. However there are shadows in Riley’s eyes that hide a troubled past. And when those shadows threaten to bury the man whom Colin has fallen in love with, he vows to get Riley the help he needs. For once in his life, quitting isn’t an option…

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Colin and Riley… *sigh* Talk about two guys who are perfectly imperfect. In a way their cross country journey is symbolic of their relationship – a little uncertain where they’re headed, but with each step they’re more committed for the long haul. I love the dialogue and connection Erickson creates between them, and the way she tells their story is just spot on. I can’t imagine a more emotional, suspenseful, and compassionate delivery for this tale where two guys are toting some hefty baggage.

Riley is perhaps one of the best crossover characters I’ve ever read. For those of you who’ve read Trust the Focus, you might remember him as the inspiration for Landry’s fake boyfriend. As part of Landry’s path to closure and acceptance with Justin, he’s reached out to Riley and the two are pen pals of a sort. This connection is genius on Erickson’s part, because she uses Riley’s correspondence with Landry to convey his perspective. The rest of the story is from Colin’s point of view, so that’s really our sole peek into Riley’s head, something that’s very important as his true struggle is revealed.

Aside from the complex journey full of love and sadness Colin and Riley take in this story, maybe the most important focus is mental health. Not necessarily just raising awareness but the subtle ways to recognize when someone needs help. Sometimes people are almost too close to a situation to objectively know when to step in for a friend or loved. Erickson does a wonderful job illustrating the impact those illnesses have not only on those suffering but also everyone around them. The effect is wide and far reaching – to family, friends, lovers, co-workers, hell, even strangers in some cases. It affects all aspects of life and can damage even the best of relationships. Finding the strength to get help is difficult, and in this case, I’m happy Erickson doesn’t view it through rose-colored glasses. Nothing about Riley and Colin’s struggle to be together is glamorous or perfect; it’s exactly that – a struggle. I guess there’s some truth to what they say –  sometimes the best things in life worth having are also the hardest.

I guess what I’m trying to say is if you’re looking for an emotional, heartfelt read that’s gritty and doesn’t hold back, this is your book. You can expect all the best parts that come with attraction, chemistry and budding romance, but expect these two guys to be real. They’re each dealing with their own issues, and no one’s going to show up and wave a magic wand to fix everything for them. Neither will these guys magically fix each other. It’s painful, ugly and absolutely beautiful. You’ll need tissues. If that sounds like something you’d like, then Focus on Me is definitely not to be missed.


BLOG TOUR: The Next Call by Sue Brown

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Welcome to our stop on The Next Call blog tour! We’re glad you’re here as we introduce you to a fantastic, emotional m/m read from Sue Brown recently released by Dreamspinner Press. Check out a little bit about the book, see what we have to say about it, and be sure to enter to win in Sue’s big giveaway!


The Next Call cover
COVER ARTIST: Christy Caughie

Mark Grayson volunteers for an LGBT helpline, the same one that helped him through his teenage years. One day he takes a call from “Ricky,” a suicidal man being forced into a marriage he doesn’t want. For weeks Mark talks to Ricky and provides support, but he’s frustrated by the lack of information Ricky provides and the decisions he’s making. In the meantime, Mark starts a relationship with another volunteer. Then tragedy strikes and Mark takes time away from the helpline, but when he comes back, Ricky is waiting. Mark realizes Ricky is stronger than before and their relationship changes, but Mark isn’t sure what their future holds if their relationship is destined to be at the end of the phone.

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PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
RELEASE DATE: February 4,  2015
LENGTH: 169 Pages



There’s something almost seductive about this story from the very beginning. Its desperation and despair call out to you, and you’re lured in by the prospect that someone might need saving. Just who actually needs and does the saving, however,  is a surprise unto itself. Sue Brown masterfully creates tension and suspense that will absolutely have you waiting for the next call.

Mark’s been through so much – love, loss and simply trying to live. Despite the fact that he seems to have a pretty decent grasp on life in general, he undergoes his own metamorphosis throughout the story. When we really get to know him, he’s fresh from a nasty breakup that leaves him second guessing himself. This uncertainty opens the door for all that Sue Brown has planned, including eye opening revelations and experiences he never expected.

I’ll admit when Mark takes Ricky’s first call I thought it would be obvious to him that they’re already connected. In hindsight, too much time has elapsed since that night on the bridge when fate threw them together, so it makes sense that he’s unsuspecting. Mark’s lack of awareness sets the tone for a conspiratorial relationship between reader and author; Brown keeps us in the know, almost like we share the best kept secret. As we watch the overall story of Ricky’s struggle to accept his sexuality, we already know who he is and why it’s significant. The fact that Mark doesn’t keeps his reactions genuine, and we never suspect he likes Ricky for anything more than just the man he is. How can he? He doesn’t know Ricky’s secret. I often wondered if it would change things if he had… If his behavior during that crucial scene in the pub says anything, I think the answer is yes.

I’m in awe of many things in this story, but first and foremost it’s how Brown builds a relationship between two people who are physically absent. Their connection is genuine, heartfelt and simply remarkable. I’ll admit to being frustrated by it at times, because it’s clear Mark’s getting attached. He’s trying to have a normal life, and his relationship with Ian demonstrates that, however he has a growing obsession with Ricky’s calls. In fact, these guys live almost completely separate lives the entire book, yet still manage to form an intense emotional connection that doesn’t leave you doubting its sincerity or their sanity, which may even be more remarkable. ;)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Brown’s inclusion of one of the biggest LGBT topics in recent years: gay athletes. I’ve read several stories that feature closeted professional athletes struggling with acceptance and coming out, and I was delighted to find this story is more than just ‘another gay athlete’ story. Brown puts her own unique spin on the issue, giving a very realistic view of the conflict and conspiracy many men and women encounter while trying to secure their careers and remain true to themselves. It’s not an easy place to be, and we tend to have some unrealistic expectations of our superstar players. Someone with as much potential and fame as Ricky is expected to fulfill all the expectations and stereotypes for the perfect player. It’s a nice reminder to us that they’re only human, and rather than mold them into who we want them to be, we need to accept them for who they are and the talents they share with the world.


Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn’t following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot and has gotten expert at ignoring the orders.

Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favorite television series. The series was boring; the kissing was not. She may be late to the party, but she’s made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.




There will be FIVE winners chosen from this contest:

  • First Winner will get a $20 Amazon Gift Card.
  • Second Winner will get a paperback copy of Stolen Dreams. (The contest is open for everyone and not limited to a specific region!)
  • First Runner up will get e-copies of The Next Call and Stolen Dreams each.
  • Two Second Runners up will win an e-copy of either The Next Call or Stolen Dreams.

Contest Begins: 26th January, 2015
Contest Ends: 28th February, 2015

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