Book Reviews

Hard Evidence by Cheryl Dragon, Elizabeth Hollows, and L.M. Somerton at Pride Publishing

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Law Enforcement / Romance / Action/Adventure / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by Bob-O-Link on 15-September-2020

Book Blurb

'Secret's Hold' by L.M. Somerton

Hiding in plain sight is a risky business—in more ways than one.

Jamie is hiding from the past and sacrificing a lot to do so. After witnessing a murder, he’s on the run from powerful enemies. Taking a job at a rough leather bar, Spikes, is a way to survive off-grid.


Bubba is the bouncer at Spikes who takes a personal interest in protecting Jamie’s very cute behind, but when Jamie runs from the club in panic straight into the path of a van, there’s nothing Bubba can do.


Amnesia puts Jamie at risk, but his returning memories are even more dangerous. Desperate to protect his friends, he puts his life on the line for Bubba—the only person he can rely on to save his neck.


Reader advisory: This book contains a scene of attempted rape. There are also scenes involving abduction, violence, and the forcible administration of drugs.


'Under His Protection' by Cheryl Dragon

A cop protecting his witness… It’s all business until desire becomes stronger than rules or self-control.

Detective Matt Blackburn and addiction counselor Josh Braidshaw first crossed paths at the LGBTQ+ youth shelter where they both volunteered. There was mutual attraction and plenty of flirtation, but Josh’s relationship kept anything from happening beyond that.


The duo is again thrown together when Josh is attacked while witnessing a young boy from the shelter being kidnapped. Matt puts Josh under his personal protection and things heat up, now that both men are free. Josh wants his normal life back and Matt isn’t keen to lose his career by crossing a professional line, but their close quarters and the heat that simmers between them might cause them both to change their priorities.


Reader advisory: This book includes references to drug addiction, kidnapping and violence.


'Ticket to Freedom' by Elizabeth Hollows

When Calvin wishes for a knight in shining armor to save him from the criminals he works for, the last thing he expects is Felix.

Calvin Hughes works in a bar run by a criminal empire. He hates his life and desperately wants to escape, but he is afraid of reprisal if he does.


No one who stands up to the criminals walks away alive. It’s too risky. Who would do it?


Someone like Felix.


Felix crashes into Calvin’s life and immediately throws him into danger. Felix has done the unthinkable and stolen important information from the criminals. They want him dead and, after being in the wrong place at the wrong time, they want Calvin dead too.


It sounds like a disaster—but it might be everything Calvin’s ever wanted.


Book Review

For the knowledgeable among us, or perhaps merely for the erotically hopeful, ‘Hard Evidence’ is quite the throuple - anthological in scope. To preserve each participant’s individuality, the following reviews are presented, as well may be the case in an active throuple, seriatim.   


‘Secret’s Hold’ by L. M. Somerton
The very beginning of ‘Secret’s Hold’ is quite the salute to genre noir style: “Five months of hiding. Five months of pretending to be someone, something I was not.” The rhythm is on point. And the characters are just that – characters more than mere people. Jamie is almost feminine in mien: Cupid’s bow-lips, small nose, pointed chin covered with golden fuzz. On the other hand, Bubba is a physically massive powerhouse. Threat and attendant risks to Jamie are quickly posited by the author, though, in truth, somewhat sophomorically. Not surprisingly, Bubba comes to the rescue, as Jamie’s hero and extraordinary first complete sexual partner! (“Bending my legs, I stroked my dick with one hand while seeking my entrance with the other.”) The story's villain is appropriately serpentine (“[his] voice was sibilant. I half expected to see a forked tongue flicker between his lips.”) and Jamie is put at such glorious sexual risk as would make Pauline feel sufficiently Perilous.
Like an unexpected assignation, ‘Secret’s Hold’ is short and satisfying.


‘Under his Protection’ by Cheryl Dragon
The heroes are two men who, because of their individual romantic histories, are out to avoid entanglements. Josh’s taste in men has proven questionable. Matt, despite innate caution, is attracted to Josh and feels comfort with him. Guess what? Of course, they end up together, having confirmed their common sexual orientations, and great magnetism, and even though Matt may be the straightest gay man Josh ever met! (“Josh looked at the shiny eye-level badge. Matt’s groin was also around eye level. Both aspects of Matt were very attractive.”)

The charm of this piece is, despite their differences, how there to men are irrevocably drawn to each other. The shortcoming of this piece may be how artificial is the setup, and how the overly talky nature of this police procedural is used to flesh out a fairly thin plot, with sexual detail that is certainly under-detailed. ("Matt yanked Josh’s clothes off. “You’d better stay here…” ) Perhaps Ms. Dragon considered taking a stab at a situationally moral balance – but thankfully sex usually wins in gay lit. After a mere half f—k, the heroes plan to live together.

‘Ticket to Freedom’ by Elizabeth Hollows
‘Ticket to Freedom,’ is in many ways a short gay soap opera. It begins with an odd “cute” meet for the two heroes, who are so very different. That throws them together, and, little by little, as they face the bumps in their road, chemistry takes over. Let’s skip the clever quotes and titillating sexual detail – saving that for the readers to pleasurably discover. This is an easy, short read and worth the investment of a small piece of leisure time.

Reviewers at Rainbow Book Reviews quickly learn that the site hopes to support and further interest in gay literature – so there is little room for clever, sarcastic vitriol, ala Dorothy Parker holding forth at the Algonquin Round Table. Yet - reviewing an anthology of diverse writers poses difficulties. Suffice it to say that some polite, but discerning, readers of 'Hard Evidence' might very generously classify the entries as “varied”.


DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by the publisher for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Anthology/3 novellas, 185 pages/48491 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 15-September-2020
Price $4.99 ebook, $9.44 paperback
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