• Shades of Lust

  • The Carnal Tower, Book 1
  • By: E.M. Lindsey
  • Narrated by: Kirt Graves
  • Length: 7 hrs and 53 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (35 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"The path to paradise begins in hell.” (Dante Alighieri)

On a small path leading to nowhere sits a looming cathedral, once-abandoned, now hosting the most dangerous of pleasures.

And Stone Brice is the most dangerous of all: Lust. A former acrobat, Stone’s life was changed dramatically after an accident, and now he runs The Carnal Tower, a place where people can go to have their deepest and sometimes darkest fantasies realized.

Stone is a man who is rarely taken by surprise, so when he meets the artist, August Ashley, he doesn’t expect to trip and fall at his feet—literally. But there’s something about the quiet stranger in the park that Stone wants to take apart, and that feeling only gets worse the more Stone gets to know him.

Stone is well aware he can’t mix business and pleasure, but when August comes to him with a proposal for a trade—seven paintings for seven nights with Lust—he can’t say no. Not when it means he’ll be able to have August exactly the way he wants him—even if it’s just for a week.

Stone has every plan to strip August down to his very soul, but the longer the week goes on, the more Stone comes to realize that August might very well be his undoing.

Shades of Lust is the first book in a new series. It features a bi-awakening, high heat, low angst, and the human embodiment of a seven deadly sin whose sole purpose is to make sure his client never forgets their week at The Carnal Tower. Each book in the series can stand on their own, and all contain no cheating, and a happily ever after.

©2022 EM Lindsey (P)2022 EM Lindsey

What listeners say about Shades of Lust

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    5 out of 5 stars
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I am hooked🎣

I loved it this book has everything enjoy.
Kink, self-acceptance, showing that mental health problems can't hold us back. size difference 🥵
I'm so excited for the Knicks six books in the series and hopefully we get some side stories!!!!
also Kirt Graves is in my top five narrators that's what brought me to this book and I'm so happy

1 person found this helpful

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Lust

I absolutely loved this book. EM Lindsey did a fabulous job creating two very broken men who managed to work through a lot of their issues and come out whole together. Was it a perfect happy ending? No, but it was perfect for them. Stone has to be one of the yummiest MCs I’ve read this year, and I couldn’t get enough. I also thought that August’s anxiety disorder was very well written. I can’t wait to read the other Sin’s stories!

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Worth Checking Out

I enjoyed seeing August and Stone's story brought to life. The storyline is an interesting premise and you can't go wrong with Kirt Graves narrating.

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An emotional listening pleasure

Listening to a new author is usually an interesting reading experience 🤔 but what made this book more enjoyable was narration by another fave narrator of mine Kirt Graves. E. M. Lindsay has a storytelling style that revolved around intriguing, damaged characters. She also picked up MCs with severe anxiety issues and disabilities, but the thought process to empathize with them is what caught my eye. I was expecting KINK😏, at least because of the title, but it's on the suttle side. The storytelling focusses on the two leads and how troubled they are by their developing feelings for each other. I was also surprised by the description of the brothel with a mix of history attached to it and the embellished decor, it really sounded like a sanctuary😉, even if the naughty kind.

Our first MC is Stone Brice, the owner of the brothel service "The Carnal Tower". Stone is the sin Lust and there are six other guys named after the other Sins. The Carnal Tower caters to any and all kind of sinful pleasures including hardcore BDSM. Stone and his guys all have a tragic history and traumatic past they rarely talk about. Stone has also suffered a cruel fate when he lost his legs in an accident, but he got through it and made his mark with a PHD and now his business. To the onlooker these guys might be living sexy, glamorous lives, but it's a lonely one.

When Stone meets MC 2 August Ashley, he is literally tripped of his feet. But, when August actually learns about Stone and his role in his work he is intrigued and fascinated. And that's how their journey to uncover each other's layer starts. August is an artist with severe anxiety issues and Storm sees him at his most vulnerable during a panic attack. But, when Stone hires him for painting the seven sins in exchange for being with lust and have seven sessions with him, they both never expected that they got more than what they bargained for. In between these sessions Stone gets to explore August in more ways then one😏 (loved the sexy talk😍) and August gets to understand the man Stone is other than his counterpart lust.

The support cast of the other Sins is interesting as well, just like names they have been given. Sloth is Jet, he's the baby face adorable look guy, but is blind. Skyler/Sky is Gluttony, the most energetic of the lot, but he's losing his hearing ability. King is the most mysterious of the lot and closed-up about his past, and he is Greed. Then, there is Flint, Stone's younger brother sharing the same traumatic past, but has a more volatile nature and he is Wrath. There are two more Sins Avon (the doggie babysitter 😋) and Monroe, but they only got some snippets of introduction. I'm sure the author has lined up some real good build-up stories for all the Sins🤗.

Narrator Kirt Graves work isn't new to me, but he always is a treat to listen to😍. Without Kirt this book would have been a drag to read because the story starts slow, especially in the beginning chapters. The character development of MCs was dragged a bit, but the vulnerabilities portrayed by Kurt were amazing to listen to. He just gets the emotion of a scene so well, especially the struggle of August with his anxiety and Stone's helplessness that he just can't help August in his hour of need. The awkward communication between the two was also quiet a noticeable act. He might not bring too many accents or variations, but he gets the characters and their essence with story awesomly well. A wonderful listen indeed♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️.

***I received a copy of this audiobook from Gay Romance Reviews, for an honest review.***

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Love this!

Shades of Lust is Book 1 in The Carnal Tower series. This steamy book was amazing and left me wanting more. Stone runs a business, with six others, fulfilling peoples fantasies with the carnal sins. August is an artist who trades paintings of all the sins for a week with Stone as Lust. Stone and August are perfect together and Stone seems to know just what August needs. This book is everything I've come to expect from E.M. Lindsey who continues to be one of my favorite authors. I'm never disappointed when I read/listen to any of their books. I definitely recommend this book and look forward to the next one. 
Narrator Kirt Graves does a fabulous job. I'm never lost or confused when listening to him. He's a joy to listen to and really knows how to bring a story to life.

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Fantastic

I adored this book when I read it. Hearing Kirt bring these characters to life just blew me away. I truly enjoyed every second of this audio.

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unexpectedly heartfelt

Story: 3.75⭐️
Audio: 4.25⭐️

Given the premise of “Shades of Lust”, I was definitely expecting a steamy romp, but was pleasantly surprised by the quieter, character-driven story of two men convinced they’re destined to be alone finding love and rediscovering themselves. August has always been quiet and introverted, an artist who gets lost in the objects he sees and ideas and inspiration he finds everywhere, add in his innately anxious nature and difficulty dealing with people, he found himself ostracized or pitied by others.

People only see a weirdo, not a person, and definitely not someone worth their time to get to know; having carved out a niche for himself as an artist and small gallery owner, he’s made peace with being too different, too big a mess to be worth anyone’s time as well as his loneliness. Yet, when Stone commissions him to do paintings of the Sins, August can’t help but see this as a chance to escape the never-ending loneliness and chaos in his mind so agrees to do the paintings in exchange for 7 nights with Lust.

For Stone, The Carnal Tower isn’t a brothel with a cool gimmick; it’s a place to explore the art of sexuality, sensuality and discovery—to indulge needs and desires of the body as well the mind. Stone loves his job and the family he’s created with his fellow “Sins”, and while he encourages them to believe that they can find the kind of love and partnership they want, he doesn’t think it’s possible for him. When he meets August during one of his runs in the park, he’s intrigued and charmed by the earnest, tightly-wound man and becomes even more so when discussing the commission. Before their first night together, Stone is already in deep and knows his feelings for the man will complicate what should be a simple business transaction, and every time they are together all Stone wants to do is give August whatever he needs, be that Lust overwhelming his senses with pleasure or Stone offering cuddles and a Xanax.

Both characters are compelling and relatable, and the fast but deep emotional need for one another is palpable. While August’s constantly high levels of anxiety shape how he handles the world and how he lives, he’s not a one-dimensional ball of nerves, especially when he’s somewhat comfortable or being seen through Stone’s eyes. The other Sins are fleshed out enough to be interesting and to establish the found family dynamic at the Tower and Stone’s nurturing and protective personality.

My main quibble with how the story unfolds is that despite Stone and August being contracted for 7 days of lustful indulgence and needing to spend time together for painting session, the pair actually don’t spend much time together and the ending feels somewhat rushed. Given that many things overwhelm August and/or cause him to panic, especially unfamiliarity or even the idea of change, much of the story is a pattern of August spiraling and needing to reset alone and then each man spending the subsequent separation with their thoughts being consumed by one another. They spend a lot of time thinking about one another, wishing for more but being hampered by the barrier of the contract/their own fears and less time getting to know one another.

Then the shift from ‘we only have these 7 days’ to ‘we’re going to give a relationship a go’ is a bit abrupt, with the story then breezing through the last few days of their contract into dating. Their connection is intense from the start and when they get to talk, they feel so seen and understood their connection can’t help but deepen, and while this does mostly work for the insta-love in this story, I can’t help but think of Stone’s remark about clients who are so touched-starved/deprived that they fall in love at the first kiss, and it kinda feels like that a bit with these two—both certain no one could love them for who they are that they can’t help but fall in love with the first person who makes them feel seen.

Once again, Kirt Graves gives a great performance; he is so good at conveying the nuance and emotionality within the character beats and story with genuineness and without OTT dramatics that he’s a perfect fit for this type of story. He makes the moments the men spend together, their fears, their strengths and weaknesses feel real and moving. The narration definitely elevated my enjoyment.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this audiobook provided by Gay Romance Reviews.

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Great story.

This is the story of Stone and August. It is the first book in the Carnal Towers series and narrated by Kirt Graves. This is the first time that I am listening to Mr Graves and the way he brings you the story makes you feel like you are part of their story. The story is written beautifully with amazing characters. I love anything that E. M. Lindsey writes and this series is falling perfectly in with all the other books. Definitely recommended.

I received this audio as an Arc and I am reviewing it voluntarily.

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  • AL
  • 07-24-22

Magical

Story: I absolutely loved the Carnal Tower concept and the amazing characters the author created within it! It promises to be a fascinating series and Lust’s story is a delicious intro.
The idea for the story and the MCs themselves had me addicted from the get go. The book is yet another proof of E.M. Lindsey’s talent of creating fascinating, complicated personalities you’d just love to hug and call friends.
Narration: perfect match for the book. The performance was brilliant and the voice added another great layer to the story.

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First Deadly Sin

I jumped at the chance to listen to this story because of Kirt Graves. I love his narrating, and the story sounded interesting. I like the idea of writing a series about the seven deadly sins, this one being the first. I thought the story was good, but I wish we had more detail about their arrangement.

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  • RACHEL REED
  • 07-21-22

Amazing

This was a sexy biawakening romance.

I absolutely loved Stone and August's story

This was dark, angsty and so very compelling.


I had a blast listening to this one


The narrator performed an amazing audio delivery and narration.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Marilisa
  • 07-30-22

I just finished Stone and August’s book by EM Lindsey and I am so excited for the continuation of this series!

From a devastating accident he suffered a long time ago, Stone gained a huge settlement he put into building the Carnal Tower, a place where all your deepest desires can come to life, for a price.

I am so intrigued by all of the Sins, I can’t wait to get to know them better and see them get their HEA.

I’ve read a few romances with s*ex workers MCs and I found that a lot, even with the best of intentions, tend to have a negative look at the profession and tend to end in them giving up that life for love. While that’s completely fine, I always felt like that shouldn’t be the only story to be told. I really appreciated how this book treated the subject, with August seeming to understand Stone and that his job is separate from their relationship.

I think I was a bit surprised by the end, I felt like there was space to expand the story and grow their relationship, but I’m sure we’re going to get glimpses of them in future books.

I felt like both Stone’s and August’s disabilities were written with care and research. Thank you for including imperfectly perfect characters, like all of us!

Great audiobook performance by Kirt Graves too!

I received a complimentary copy of this audiobook, thank you to the author and GRR

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  • Magnus
  • 07-27-22

Amazing

Another amazing story by EM Lindsey. August and Stone are fantastic to get to now and follow on their journey. Kirt Graves was a superstar as always.
This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

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  • Anne M
  • 07-27-22

Just ok story but pretty good performance

Not what I was expecting. This was hard for me to rate. I liked the characters but didn't feel like they were developed enough other than to say Stone ran away to a circus from a crazy religious cult family (not all that original in these types of books) and was in a accident that left him as a double amputee and he used the settlement money to start a brothel of sins in an abandoned church. I just didn't feel connected to either of them. I did think that they made an ok couple but I was disappointed with how low steam, uneventful things went and moved at a snail pace. I found myself interested enough to finish but just barely. I just wanted to get through it as quick as I could.

I found the concept of the church brothel of sins intriguing and I think it really could have been an interesting concept but I just didn't feel like the execution worked in this case. I wouldn't recommend it and I don't think I'll continue with this series.

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  • Susie Umphers
  • 07-27-22

Hot and emotional

What a great idea for a series and what a couple to start off with. The idea of a character embodying one of the seven deadly sins and running a place like The Carnal Tower where people go to fulfill their fantasies works superbly. What is amazing in this story is that you'd expect the character associated with Lust not to have a deep emotional connection with his partner. How wrong that assumption is about Stone. The relationship he and August develop is as hot as they come, but also one of the heart and Kirt Graves is the perfect performer to bring the heat and all the feels.

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  • Erryn Barratt
  • 07-26-22

Looking forward to the next book in new series

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. I’ve read tons of books by this author and everything is unique. I’ve come to expect a hero with some kind of disability – which was delivered – and sometimes there’s a hero who’s shy. Not quite comfortable with himself. Check that box as well.

I adored August. Kind of bumbling. Going through life just wanting to paint. He runs a gallery and has a receptionist to deal with, you know, people. He also has an adorable dog who gets into some mischief. Another little thing I love in books.

Stone is an interesting character. A devastating injury left him with a disability, but he just goes about living his life. He used the money from the settlement to create The Carnal Tower. He’s hired a group of men to each be one of the deadly sins. Their customers can come for just one night – or many nights – but there’s always a limit. No more than seven. Now, this group was quite the set of characters and I enjoyed getting to know them – a nice set-up for future books.

When Stone, the sin of lust, hires August to paint the sins, August comes back with a proposal – give me seven nights for seven paintings. It’s unclear whether he really knows what he’s up for, but he knows he wants out of the chastity that’s dogged him his entire life. He wants to really live – and Stone’s giving him the chance.

I was fascinated to watch the relationship unfold, and was quite pleased with the ending. Like I said, more books to come and I can’t wait. Kirt Graves did a fantastic job narrating this book and I hope he does the next one as well. Can’t wait.

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  • Lesetiger
  • 07-26-22

Amazing

I was intrigued by this story from the beginning and listened to the audiobook in just two days. The author E.M. Lindsey has created with August and Stone two sympathetic and at the same time very profound characters that I have already taken into my heart after a few pages.
Stone is successful in his job, he runs a high-priced brothel. But at what price? Can his secret desires ever come true? And then there's the accident that cost him his legs many years ago. By chance, Stone meets August, a very talented artist who lives a very secluded life and is also very shy. Two total opposites meet here and the way the story developed was really well done.
I absolutely loved the concept of Carnal Tower and I'm looking forward to more audiobooks from this series.
The theme of lust runs through the book and embedded in between is a beautiful love story. Of course there are steamy scenes as well.

Kirt Graves is a very talented narrator who did a brilliant job. He lives the characters and the story and he takes this story to the next level with his narration. It was a pleasure to listen to him.

I requested a free copy of the audiobook and this is my honest opinion that I am volunteering

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  • Trio
  • 07-26-22

What a World!!! Kirt Graves is Fantastic

Oh WOW! This world that E.M. Lindsey has created in their The Carnal Tower series is amazing. The first book, Shades of Lust sets it all up, so start with this one, and if you're a fan of audiobooks - Kirt Graves delivers a stellar perfomance in this one!

I literally can't wait for the next one to come out in audio!

an audiobook copy of Shades of Lust was provided to me for the purpose of my honest review, all opinions are my own

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  • L.D.
  • 07-26-22

Enjoyable

Shades of Lust is the first book in The Carnal Towers series, a contemporary romance series revolving around the seven deadly sins. Stone, aka Lust, is the founder and owner of the Carnal Tower, a brothel that indulges the deepest desires of its patron. The only problem is that Stone’s deepest desire - finding a lasting love - seems impossible. And then he meets August. Gentle, artistic August is everything Stone didn’t know he needed in his life. If only they can both trust their hearts.

This was a beautiful romance of love found later in life. There was a strong erotic theme throughout the book, and it was done so well that every steamy scene kept me on the edge of my seat. The characters were fascinating and I adored getting to know them and watching them fall in love. I’m definitely hooked on this series and look forward to the next book in the series.

The audiobook was narrated by Kirt Graves who does a wonderful job bringing the characters to life. I was so engrossed with the story and narration that I didn’t want to pause the audio. The audiobook production was well done and I enjoyed listening to it.

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  • alias11
  • 07-25-22

Beautiful expression of emotion, caring, and love

I really enjoyed this story and the MCs. I love when a man who believes he is incapable or unworthy of love finds just what he needs in another injured soul. August's sexual awakening was sensual, suspenseful, sweet, and so tastefully done. I also found it poignant and appropriate that most, if not all, of the sins have disabilities or challenges that would make some in society think they are weak or less than (lost limbs, blindness, hearing loss), yet here they are putting men on their knees, making them cry, beg, etc. It really did deliver a message of empowerment, and I liked how strong and self-assured, yet vulnerable they were. That may seem like a contradiction, but if you listen to the story you will understand. I loved the love story between Stone and August who accepted each other as they were. I loved the way their jagged and misshapen pieces fit together, and I am looking forward to the stories of the other sins.

The narration by Kirt Graves was fantastic, as always. Such beautiful expression of emotion, caring, and love.

I received a free copy of this audiobook and am voluntarily leaving this honest review.