A Bit of Rough

A Bit of RoughTitle: A Bit of Rough
Author: Laura Baumbach
Publisher: MLR Press
Amazon: Buy Link
Release Date: November 26, 2007
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (print 217 pages)
Rating: 5 stars out of 5



Architect James Justin impulsively lets himself be picked up in a biker bar by seductive hunk Bram Lord for a one night stand that turns into something bigger. The physically impressive, forceful stranger mets, matches and exceeds James’ sexual fantasies, but can shy, uncertain James be everything the strongly committed Bram wants?


Two men hook up in a biker bar for one reason and one reason only and that would normally be the end of it. That would be your first conclusion and you would be right, and you would also be wrong. If you love romance and the whole “opposites attract”  storyline you won’t be able to resist Bram and James.

James Justin is a junior architect in  a well-known architectural firm. He had done a lot of work on a project – restoration of a heritage house – and he thought it would be his step up the ladder to success but he just found out that his boss had assigned the project to someone else with more seniority. James is very disappointed and decides to drown his sorrows in the nearest bar, which is where he meets his dream man – incredibly hot, rough, forceful, dominating and sexy as hell Bram Lord who makes James pant. Soon they are outside in the alley having the hottest sex and neither man wants it to end there. James wants to lick Bram from the bottom of his cowboy boots to the top of his ten gallon hat and Bram just wants the entire package that is his Jamie.

From their first date everything about Bram was a new experience for James, from his chivalry in seeing to James’ comfort, to his protective streak, his teasing and his loving. Poor James had no idea what hit him but loved every minute of  it particularly when Bram showed him his masterful side by controlling him during sex. Bram knew he had definitely found his man and would do everything to keep him, even if he had to tie him to his bed.

Was the relationship all sweetness and light? Definitely not, as Bram had to restrain some of the more take charge aspects of his personality, especially where James’  job was concerned, otherwise he knew the affair would be over before he could snap his fingers. James, the smaller and physically weaker partner, had to practice the art of give and take and learn how to take what was offered by Bram, with both hands, while still maintaining his independence and integrity. Their relationship was complex from the very beginning and James had to assert himself continually in order not to be overwhelmed by the more forceful Bram who was not accustomed to being denied.

A Bit of Rough is sensuous, passionate, addictive (I’ve read it many times since I bought it in 2005) and demonstrates Laura Baumbach’s ability as a storyteller par excellence to draw me into a book despite two stereotypical characters that are just too perfectly matched. Bram is the big, hunky, extrovert alpha male, owner of a construction company, who falls for small pretty, delicate James, an architect.  Dom and sub in a symbiotic relationship, but their interactions are what give the story its charm and provide a  brief look into what makes human beings who they are. Even though Bram adored James he could not resist trying to change those same characteristics that attracted him in the first place, and the pull of emotion, love, and fighting for dominance lifted this book into the realm of a “keeper” for me.

There is external conflict from James’ neighbour Williams who loved to terrorize him whenever he met him in the corridors of their apartment building, which brought out all of Bram’s protective instincts, and Bram in full defense of his man is a sight to behold, but James has a lot of spunk and deals with both Bram and the bully in his own way. One aspect of the relationship between Bram and James that I would love to  have seen is Bram “bottoming” for James, just once, but it didn’t happen even though Bram seemed willing; I thought that would have made his character more nuanced, but that’s just me.

Of course A Bit of Rough is not perfect, very few books are – there are editorial and spelling errors which sometimes took me out of the story but they were not so many that they affected my enjoyment of the book. I should point out that when I checked my review copy of A Bit of Rough later, it was the original ebook  published by Torquere Press; in the newer print version published by MLR Press many of these errors have been corrected, and I have therefore revised my rating to 5 stars. The plot was not complex but the prose and dialogue and above all, the characters, made me love this book which is one of my favourite M/M romances along with Laura’s other gem, Out There In The Night.

There is some light BDSM in the book which is to be expected given Bram’s character, but it is only a very small part of the story and in my opinion adds to the relationship.

Purists may not agree with my rating of this book which committed the “unpardonable” sin of having stereotypical protagonists, but I think that the author managed to infuse a lot of complexity into the relationship, which added to its charm. Highly recommended!



  • I really, really wanted to like this book. I tried so hard to like this book. I even finished it and started the second book before I decided I had too much. Every review I’ve seen talks about how loving a relationship Bran and James share and not a single review that I’ve seen has stated the obvious- it’s an unhealthy one. Playing in the bedroom is one thing, but when your partner starts to take control of your whole life? This is a sign that you need to get out. Big time. This isn’t my only problem (far from it) but it’s the one that’s been weighing on my mind.

    • Violacer
      Thanks for the information. I was actually waiting for a re-release because the ebook that is on the Fictionwise site is from the original publisher, TQ. I suspect that I will find the same kind of errors that were in the original version of A Bit of Rough which I have both in print and ebook.


      Although I have many print books I find it easier to read the ebook versions when I’m reviewing, since I can adjust the print and annotate, especially for .lit Microsoft Reader. I was hoping that MLR Press would reissue this book but I guess TQ still has the rights since the print book is published by TQ.

  • Thanks, Wave. I’m so sorry the copy you have was the first one from a publisher who employed NO editors at all. Or line editors or proofers. I had to do it all myself and I suck at it. g

    Since that time I paid to have it proofed before we released it with MLR Press — back before we had editors on permanent staff. I’m hoping the MLR Press version has less errors for everyone. And I admit it, Bram and James are my favorites!

    • Hi Laura
      Thanks for stopping by. I bought this book a long time ago and it’s the original version. Probably at that time there wasn’t as much care focused on editorial or other errors.


      As you can tell, it’s one of my favourite M/M books and it has become dog eared with time and frequent reading – like a much loved t-shirt would from frequent washing.:)


      Is Roughhousing going to be released as an ebook soon? I check your bookstore every so often and it’s not listed. Bram and James are two of my favourite characters and every time I open A Bit of Rough it’s like reconnecting with old friends. g

  • Can I chime in as someone who works on these books? We do our utmost to catch it all. Some publishing houses are better than others but I know that it is a focus at some houses – improving the quality of the books that are put on the market.

    • Kris
      Editorial and other errors are encountered in most books that I read regardless of publisher or price, and the reason I mention them is that, as a reviewer, I point out these errors the same way I would if I felt that the characterizations or plots fell flat. I am by no means singling out MLR and I know that many publishers are working very hard to reduce the % of errors in their books.

      Do you know if Roughhousing will be released as an ebook any time soon by MLR Press? I haven’t read it, and re-reading A Bit of Rough reminded me that there is a sequel but I’m trying to cut down on the number of print books on my bookshelves.

  • Thanks Larissa. This book certainly is a keeper.


    This is actually a print book not an ebook. I bought it years ago when I started reading a lot of M/M. those were the days when very few epubs were around. However I think it’s now available as an ebook at the new MLR bookstore. I found that there are just as many errors in print as there are in ebooks

  • Oh yeah I remember this book. This is one that you read and it sticks with you! It’s awesome and I agree with your review.

    While yes I’m highly annoyed with the number of errors in ebooks lately, if I stopped reading because of that, I wouldn’t have anything to read 😛 but sometimes stereotypical books can be awesome to read 😀

  • I really liked this book too. The beginning was a real eye opener as it was the first time I’d read such a raw and rough m/m sex scene and I loved how it their relationship then progressed on to something tender and more heartfelt.
    I’ve also never been able to look at garlic sauce the same way since ;).

    • Jen
      I must admit that the first chapter was one of the hottest I read in a while (except for PWP). I love rough sex which turns into something tender.

      Almost every time I have garlic sauce I remember this book, although I have never tried a hot man with garlic sauce.


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I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports - especially baseball
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