More Beautiful Than a Unicorn by Bell Ellis (review)

Tagline: Fairy tale of a shy virgin with both a unicorn and an exotic hero who keep fading away

More Beautiful than a Unicorn Book Cover Image

Title: More Beautiful Than a Unicorn 
Author: Bell Ellis
Genre:  Paranormal M/M Romance
Format:  Short Story (12k words, 38 pages)

Series: Walk on Wild Side

Publisher: Dreamspinner (June 2016)

ISBN: 978-1-63477-514-4

Retail: $1.99

Also available:  Walk on Wild Side Anthology

Rating:   star  star  star  half-star   (I liked it alot! – but I’m a sucker for fairy tales)

Dreamspinner’s 2016 Daily Dose anthology includes 30 romantic male/male shifter stories released one a day during the month of June.

Synopsis: At 25 years of age, Tobias is a bit frustrated at being a virgin and being alone, but when he begins catching sight of a unicorn, he’s not sure what to do.  After being rescued by some ruffians by the exotic Amar, Tobias realizes he wants more love and connection than he’s had, but more than anything he just needs to spend time with someone he really loves.

Review: A fairy tale through and through, the author brings a little character to fabled characters, including a sweet but earnest modern male virgin and a stout, experienced, and true Unicorn stallion.  Tobias comes across as a truthful and truly  shy young man slowly thrust into a fantastical story.  The connection between the protagonists moved a bit more swiftly (at least in terms of exposition, although it developed over a longer bit of “story” time) than in a full romance novel, but decently on pace for a short story-length fairy tale.  The ending had an interesting twist, cementing the focus of the story, which I say would be the importance of a pure love.

Recommended for fans of: Fairy tales; unicorns; sweet virgin men; the power of love (almost at first sight); sweet and simple sappiness (in a good but simple way) over sizzle.

Explicit Heat: fire  fire – not explicit, mostly fade to black, but some heated hints and tantalizing tastes
Passion: heart  heart  – A tremendous amount of love and passion implied, but in a fairy tale kind of way (rather than sizzling, although fans of denial might find it even more compelling)
Genre:  Adult Romance


Caught! (The Shamwell Tales #1)


Title:  Caught!
Author: J.L. Merrow
Genre:  Male/male romance
Book info: Publisher | Goodreads | Author
Format: eBook Novel (276 pages)
Publisher: Samhain (August 2014)
ISBN: 9781619222250

Overall rating:   5 stars (out of five)

Tagline: The working bloke and the semi-posh academic – an English village romance (with bow ties!)

I connected with this story so much I’m going to diverge from my normally objective(ish), prose-only, semi-analytical reviews and range to something more personal…

O.k., I will start with my typical, objective(ish) review:

JL Merrow gives us a another simple, semi-geeky, English romance, this one focused on a recently-arrived educated, “semi-posh” teacher who falls for a sexy, working-class bloke. At its core, this is a mostly sweet and tender story that will have appeal to Anglophiles, cross-class romance enthusiasts, Doctor Who aficionados, and, most especially, bow tie lovers. That being said, the narration centers on the attraction, vulnerabilities, and insecurities of “Emsy” (Rob), and readers who find his yearnings and fears to be compelling should find this to be an entertaining and endearing romance. However, those who find a geeky character’s self-sabotage because of his insecurities and past betrayals to be annoying may not be as appreciative.

There was a fair amount of erotic tension built, although overall there was relatively little sex (and most of it was off-book), but…

My totally subjective, over-the-top, personal “oh-my-god-yes!” for this story:

…but several “missed” opportunities that built the sexual tension led to an erotic scene that eventually blew me away.

First of all, Sean the hard-working, council estates guy (American = blue collar guy from the “other side of the tracks” or “housing projects”), and the author’s hints at his accent just makes me melt.

Also, this average bloke really appreciates that Rob (Emsy) resembles Matt Smith as Doctor Who…

Matt Smith as Doctor Who
…which already raises the heat for me (on both ends).

Studly Sean also repeatedly expresses his appreciation for Emsy’s bow ties, even (and especially) when things get hot and heavy, so that’s a definite yes…

Sexy Bow tie

…as I love all types of bow ties on a man.

But what really took me over the edge was a sizzling scene where Sean began leering, lusting and almost panting over…

Matt Smith's Doctor wearing braces

…Emsy’s braces (suspenders).

It was just a few words, but it was hotter than hell for me.

Way too personal reasons why I liked it so much…
Years ago, I wore suspenders most of the time, until I entered a very seriously relationship with a rather dashing and fashionable Cubano. Miguel significantly upgraded my wardrobe and style as we frequented the hottest, most stylish clubs and gay nightspots in Chicago. Years and a relationship or two later, I married my wife who thinks things like suspenders (and plenty of my other nerdy characteristics) are dead sexy. For me, the lesson is true love is so much more likely with a person who appreciates you for being you – like Sean usually does of Emsy.

More personal experiences related to Caught!

So after reading Caught!, I went out and bought my first pair of suspenders in years, as my wife is someone who will really appreciate me wearing them. (Or maybe I’ll ask my wife to wear them and see if I can’t pull off one of those sexy accents – “Oi! ’bout time sum’un likes braces, innit?” )

And more – After being surrounded several times in football-related mini-riots when I lived in Britain, English hooligans intimidate me as much as the rougher edges of the south side of Chicago (which I experienced first hand for many years when growing up). On the one hand, I enjoy “street” or working class accents, as those sounds seem to re-connect me to the “real” life outside of my academic ivory tower. However, when I combine the sound of those accents with gay or geeky ideas running through my mind, I have a visceral, fearful, “run and hide” reaction based on too many years of intimidating and violent incidents.

So the scene in Caught! of a working class bloke panting over braces, well it just takes some of my most ingrained, deep-seated terrors and turns them into something incredibly sexy… how many books do that?