3.5 Stars, Alexa Milne, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Chris, Totally Bound

Review: Sporting Chance by Alexa Milne

Title: Sporting Chance

Author: Alexa Milne

Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 256 Pages

At a Glance: Even though there are some things that didn’t work for me in this novel, I’d still recommend reading it for yourself.

Reviewed By: Chris

Blurb: Sometimes keeping hold of love is just as hard as finding it.

Dan and Iestyn are looking for romance. A school trip, a love of history, a wedding, a tango, the game of chess, and their friends and family all help the two men to realise that they’ve finally found true love with each other.

Iestyn thinks that he’s completely ordinary and that Dan is the only out and currently gay rugby player anywhere. Being gay can be difficult enough. Being famous also has its problems. But being gay, famous and a sportsman can make finding love complicated. So when Dan Morgan meets Iestyn Jones and gives him his phone number, their road ahead has more than a few bumps to overcome.

Will Iestyn and Dan overcome the obstacles thrown in their paths? Or will fame destroy their lives as well as their love?

Dividers

Review: Sporting Chance is the debut novel from author Alexa Milne. The set up for the story is an adorable ‘meet-cute’ between Dan and Iestyn. While on a field trip with his students, Iestyn is surprised by Dan flirting with him and giving him his card for later. Of course, the students are in awe because Dan is the only openly gay, currently playing, professional rugby player in the sport. They think it is super cool that Dan is flirting with their teacher.

Now, this is not the set up for a start to an easy relationship for Dan and Iestyn. Both men have issues they need to work through to be good for the other. While Iestyn is the person all his friends turn to when they need things fixed, to listen to them, etc., his own support system isn’t that great because those friends aren’t the reciprocating type to support him when he needs it. I will admit there are a lot of secondary characters in this story on both Dan’s and Iessie’s side. There were almost too many characters in the story. This, for me, ended up detracting from the time that should be spent on Dan and Iestyn, who I really did like and wanted to have an awesome HEA in the end.

As this was a debut story, I went in with an open mind, knowing there might be things that could pull me out of the story. Fortunately, those times weren’t excessive but enough that I lost the pace of the story for a bit. The story was well written but contained too much of an info dump to keep me solidly in the story. I don’t have a problem with a word heavy book; in fact, I love longer books. A book that dumps a lot of unnecessary information about things happening around the characters, though, tends to pull me from the story. Ultimately, I wanted my focus to stay on Dan and Iestyn, particularly Iestyn, because he was just adorable.

Now this is just my reader/reviewer opinion, and I recommend reading this story for yourself because what doesn’t work for me might work for you. I am definitely going to give future works by this author a try because I really did enjoy her main characters and the basis for the story.

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4 Stars, Carina Press, Eileen Griffin, Genre Romance, Nikka Michaels, Reviewed by Chris

Review: In the Fire by Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin

Title:  In The Fire

Author: Eileen Griffin & Nikka Michaels

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 223 Pages

At a Glance: I recommend this for anyone who loves a man who knows their way around the kitchen.

Reviewed By: Chris

Blurb: Because the way to a man’s heart…

Eight years ago, the world was their oyster. Until, that is, competing chefs Ethan Martin and James Lassiter’s hot and heavy relationship fizzled after Jamie left for an internship in Paris. Even though Jamie’s career has taken off since his return to the States, with his own television show and a lot of fame, his feelings for Ethan have never quite gone away.

Ethan’s culinary career has developed more slowly, but he’s almost saved enough to buy the restaurant where he works and re-open it as his dream spot, Bistro 30. If only he could get the sexy chef who loved him and left him out of his mind.

But when someone starts sabotaging the restaurant and a fire threatens to take away everything Ethan holds dear, his only option is to rely on Jamie for help. Back in close quarters, the two men will have to find a way to work through their past if they hope to save the restaurant and their future.

Dividers

Review: Eight years have passed since Jaime and Ethan were rivals and lovers. The strain of a long distance relationship, coupled with lack of communication and a jealous ‘friend’s’ meddling, tore them apart. Leaving both without closure as to just why things ended makes for an interesting meeting the first time they see each other again.

While Jaime has been over in Paris, with a career that has taken flight, Ethan’s taken longer to reach the dream of owning his own restaurant.  Now, that’s not to say either have regrets for what happened in the past. Nor does it mean that they are actually over each other, because they lacked that closure of really saying their relationship was finished eight years before. Now being tossed together again after all these years, both realize they have things left unsaid and unfinished. It actually throws them both for a loop they weren’t expecting. Along the way of figuring out what went wrong, they also figure out they really aren’t finished with their relationship. That doesn’t mean things are going to be easy, though, because there is still someone who is trying to come between them, and there is someone trying to sabotage Ethan’s new restaurant.

In the Fire is told in alternating points of view, which really gives you better perspective of both sides of the story. While you think the breakup would be relatively cut and dried, it really wasn’t, because there was major miscommunication and hurt feelings on both sides due to perceived faults. If they had only talked to each other and not let others direct their paths, they probably would have never split.

This was a good follow-up to In The Raw, which introduced these two characters. In the years that have passed, Ethan and Jaime have grown up in so many ways, but they do still have some of the same issues from the first book. Ethan still has a temper, hates to ask for help, and still worries about others before himself, which really puts him in a bind a few times in this book. The story was solid from start to finish and kept a good pace with both points of view.  This book did offer closure for Ethan and Jaime, which is ultimately what I’d wanted from both stories.

I recommend this for anyone who loves a man who knows their way around the kitchen, and is able to admit when he’s wrong, or didn’t pay attention to what was going on.

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Charlie Cochet, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Chris, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Audio Review: Blood & Thunder by Charlie Cochet – Narrated by Mark Westfield

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Title: Blood & Thunder (THIRDS: Book Two)

Author: Charlie Cochet

Narrator: Mark Westfield

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours, 50 Minutes

At a Glance: This is another fantastic entry in the THIRDS series.

Reviewed By: Chris

Blurb: When a series of bombs go off in a Therian youth center, injuring members of THIRDS Team Destructive Delta, and causing a rift between agents Dexter J. Daley and Sloane Brodie, peace seems unattainable. Especially when a new and frightening group, the Order of Adrasteia, appears to always be a step ahead. With panic and intolerance spreading and streets becoming littered with the Order’s propaganda, hostility between Humans and Therians grows daily. Dex and Sloane, along with the rest of the team, are determined to take down the Order and restore peace, not to mention settle a personal score. But the deeper the team investigates the bombings, the more they believe there’s a more sinister motive than a desire to shed blood and spread chaos.

Discovering the frightful truth behind the Order’s intent forces Sloane to confront secrets from a past he thought he’d left behind for good, a past that could not only destroy him and his career, but also the reputation of the organization that made him all he is today. Now more than ever, Dex and Sloane need each other, and, along with trust, the strength of their bond will mean the difference between justice and all-out war.

Dividers

Review: So, if you’ve seen my reviews here for the audiobook of Hell & High Water and Rack & Ruin, you know I’m just a little bit addicted to the THIRDS series by Charlie Cochet. This is a book obsession I happily admit I can’t get enough of in any form.

I honestly didn’t think there was a way that Mark Westfield would be able to top his performance in Hell & High Water. Boy, was I ever wrong! If anything else, Mark was able to get deeper into the characters, especially Dex and Sloane. Okay, I know I’m biased because I’m a total Dex fangirl, but seriously, Mark Westfield becomes Dex in this audiobook.
Now, on to the storyline … In Hell & High Water the focus was on world building and introducing the characters. In Blood & Thunder, character development and growth is the focus, with the relationship building aspect on Sloane and Dex. This story also shows within the storyline how close Destructive Delta has become again, with the inclusion of Dex, and starts delving into other personal relationships within the team and in the THIRDS series.

There are some ‘laugh so hard you snort your drink’ moments in this book. The Therian Training class with Dex and Sloane was one of the most humorous moments in the book. Imagine Dex being Dex, trying to show off how to work with your Therian partner to a class of new human/Therian agent pairs. There are some of the best one-liners in this short section, along with Sloane licking Dex in the ear, which annoys the piss out of him, and Dex taunting Sloane till he chases him.

We also have some darker aspects to the book, delving more into Ash and Sloane’s time in the labs, Sloane’s feelings for Dex, and even Dex’s own doubts about himself. Overall, this was another fantastic entry in the THIRDS series and while I’ve read the others, I highly anticipate hearing what Mark Westfield does with the books on audio.

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Chris, Self-Published, Whitley Gray

Review: Artistic Endeavor by Whitley Gray

Title: Artistic Endeavor

Author: Whitley Gray

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 130 Pages

At a Glance: This is a very satisfying short story with sweet characters who find more than they expected out of a casual situation.

Reviewed By: Chris

Blurb: When friends ask one-night stand connoisseur Michael Esteban to introduce college professor and virgin Cobey Miller to the joys of sex, Michael balks. Lust is his thing, not leading a twenty-five year old novice. But shy Cobey has problems meeting men, and their introduction fuels Michael’s decision to help Cobey become a gay-sex-loving guy. It’ll all be fun and games—unless someone falls in love.

Dividers

Review: Originally offered in the anthology Campus Cravings, Artistic Endeavor is a short but fulfilling read.

I have to say the characters in this story really tend to suck you into the book. I didn’t expect to like Michael trying to initiate Cobey into enjoying sex. Surprisingly he ended up being a really good guy, he just liked sex and had a fear of commitment after being ditched by his last partner. You have to admit that once that little bit comes out, you look at his actions and reactions differently. He’s allowed himself to become so closed off to the potential for love that he almost misses his opportunity.

Cobey was just sweet and so adorably cute that you couldn’t help but cheer him on when he does something sexy with Michael. I would have liked to have seen what his family thinks of him being gay, as I don’t remember seeing that in the story. That’s probably the only thing that could have been expanded on to give that full picture, but really the story was highly enjoyable as it stood.

Overall, this is a very satisfying short story with sweet characters who find more than they expected out of a casual situation. I recommend this for those who enjoy the lighter side of sex and romance.

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5 Stars, Felice Stevens, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Reviewed by Chris

Review: After the Fire by Felice Stevens

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Title: After The Fire

Author: Felice Stevens

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 253 Pages

At a Glance: I highly recommend this for anyone who loves their men a little bit broken but utterly redeemable.

Reviewed By: Chris

Blurb: A single bullet destroyed the dreams of Dr. Jordan Peterson. With his lover dead, Jordan descends into an endless spiral of self-destruction that nearly costs him his friends, his career and his life. When Jordan finds himself working closely with the aloof Lucas Conover, the investment banker’s mysterious past and unexpected kindness shocks him back into a life and emotions he’d thought lost forever.

The betrayal by the foster brother he’d worshiped, taught Lucas Conover never to trust or believe in anyone. Living a solitary life couldn’t free him of the nightmare of his former life; it reinforced his belief that he would never fall in love. When the death of one of his clients forces him to work closely with Dr. Jordan Peterson, he meets a person whose suffering exceeds his own. Though Jordan rejects his effort to help, something within Luke pushes him discover more about the first man to ever get under his skin.

As Luke lets down his guard and Jordan lets go of his pain, desire takes control. Each man must come to terms with past struggles if they are to create a future together. And learning to trust in themselves and love again after tragedy and a lifetime of pain, may be the only thing that saves them in the end.

Dividers

Review: How would you handle losing the love of your life? That’s what Jordan is dealing with as we start After the Fire. This book picks up almost 9 months after A Walk Through Fire ends, and Jordan is still deep in the grieving process after having lost his partner Keith. He’s not really coping or allowing himself to heal; instead, he’s drowning his feelings in Xanax and alcohol. He doesn’t eat, he barely sleeps, and he’s pretty much cut his friends out of his life.

When Jordan’s partner Keith died, he left control of his finances to Jordan. This includes a youth center focusing on getting kids help and getting guns and violence out of their area. Because Jordan has checked out on life, the financial adviser to the foundation, Lucas Conover, threatens Jordan that he’ll have him removed as president of the board, as he’s not stepped up to help. This lights a fire under Jordan. Even if it doesn’t really change things, it gets him angry and determined to prove Lucas wrong. Lucas doesn’t believe Jordan will step up to help because he sees the alcohol controlling Jordan.

Jordan and Luke are both broken, in different ways, maybe, but both still suffer from things that have happened to them. Luke deals with a hellacious childhood and memories best left hidden. Along with what he believes to be the abandonment of his beloved older brother, Asher, who is Jordan’s best friend Drew’s partner. Jordan is broken by his grief and addiction, and the momentary blame he places on Drew for Keith’s death. Even though he knows it wasn’t Drew’s fault, Jordan can’t, or won’t, talk to Drew and share how he feels. The fact that Jordan and Luke could even attempt a healthy relationship is mired in their own self-doubt. Even though they do eventually fall in love with each other, it’s not an easy road for either of them.

Be prepared with Kleenex for this one, readers! It had some moments of sniffles that just couldn’t be held back. I’ve said with each new book, Felice Stevens can’t create a better couple, and she keeps proving me wrong. Jordan and Luke pretty much tore my heart up and then patched it all back together by the end. She also introduced a secondary character, Tash, who I utterly fell in love with and can’t wait for his story.

While there is some external conflict, this is a character driven story and what a story it ends up being. It kept this reader involved to the very last word on the very last page. I hurt for the conflict between Luke and Jordan, because neither were able to vocalize what they needed from the other at the start, and through most of the book. It was only toward the end where they were able to heal each other and be who the other needed in their lives. This was the hardest and yet best of Felice’s books out at this time.

I thoroughly look forward to the next in the series, along with any other stories this author shares with us in the future. I highly recommend this for anyone who loves their men a little bit broken but utterly redeemable.

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Kaje Harper, Reviewed by Chris, Self-Published

Review: The Family We Make by Kaje Harper

Title:  The Family We Make

Author:  Kaje Harper

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 461 Pages

At A Glance: I recommend this book for all of us who’ve ever struggled to feel accepted.

Reviewed By: Chris

Blurb: At seventeen, Rick Albright left his home, his parents and even his old name, rather than pretend to be straight. But being on his own was hard. When his big brother Sam found him, and insisted on giving him a place to stay, he didn’t resist too long. Living with Sam is better than fighting just to survive, but it’s not easy to find his balance in a simple, small-town life, after his time on the streets.

Travis Brinkerhoff finally managed to come out in college, his second year anyway. It was the one bright side to losing his baseball scholarship and jock status. But without money for tuition, second year came to an abrupt end. He’s back in his small Minnesota hometown, and back in the closet. Travis feels like he’s trying to fit into a life he’s outgrown. If he’s going to survive, he has to figure out a way to be his own man, maybe even have his own man, without losing the family he loves.

When he left the Marines, Sam Albright wanted nothing more than to find his missing younger brother. Mission accomplished. Now he’s got an independent, possibly traumatized, openly gay young man on his hands, a girlfriend in a war zone overseas, and parents he has to lie to in order to keep the peace. Keeping it all together won’t be easy, but Sam has never backed away from a challenge.

Dividers

Review:  The Family We Make is the follow up to Kaje Harper’s novella The Family We’re Born With. While it’s not necessary it to understand the story in The Family We Make, The Family We’re Born With does give background on Sam’s family and where they’re staying at the moment.

The Family We Make is mostly about Sam’s youngest brother Rick, who ran away from home before Sam left the Marines. While Sam is visiting his biological mother for the first time, he finally gets a call from Rick. Sam ends up tearing off after him and brings him back to Minnesota, where he’s staying for the time being.

Rick is scared and angry but wants the comfort of his big brother after being on his own for so many months. This doesn’t mean he’s going to make things easy on Sam, though, mostly because he’s scared that he’ll end up acting like their parents and turning on him because he’s gay. Eventually Sam cracks through the walls Rick has built, and they start to regrow their bond, along with the mechanic, Jeff, who Sam starts to work with. Eventually, then, we meet Travis. Travis and Rick form a bond while working on the road crews shoveling snow, and doing tasks for the elderly in the area.

The new bond between Rick and Travis is sweet and adorably sexy at the same time, as they’re finding their way with each other and growing into themselves. Unfortunately their road isn’t as smooth and easy as it should be, but it shows them what is important in their lives and what it means to be a family.

While the basis of this story is Rick and Travis’s, it’s not strictly a NA love story. There are a lot of characters and storylines intermingled to create this really deep and thoughtful story about what family truly means to us. It’s not always the family you’re born into that is there for you. It’s the family you create through friendships, relationships, and love that gives us the strength we need to grow into who we’re meant to be.

I really fell in love with Rick and Travis as they were finding their way, and when the last thing hit them, well, it even got me sniffling. It was like, “just how much more can these boys handle at their age?” but handle it they did, and with the grace and strength of someone twice their ages might. Sam and all the secondary characters really filled out the storyline, giving that extra depth and support to Rick and Travis. It also showed how building their new family affected all of them individually, as well as together as a whole.

I recommend this book for all of us who’ve ever struggled to feel accepted, and those who’ve had to forge their own bonds of family. Kaje Harper really got everything in this book perfectly right, at least for this reader.

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, HT Pantu, New Adult, Reviewed by Chris

Review: I Hate Summer by HT Pantu

Title: I Hate Summer

Author: HT Pantu

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 264 Pages

At a Glance: I recommend this one for those who like new adult stories served by snarky, pretty boys, with a frenemies to lovers storyline.

Reviewed By: Chris

Blurb: Out since he was fourteen, Idrys grew up hating summer, mostly because of Trystan Jackson, the gorgeous eldest son of his parents’ holiday friends. After avoiding the joint holiday for five years, Idrys must now face Trystan again… or risk the wrath of his parents. Like Idrys, Trystan isn’t exactly the guy he was the last time they met, but Idrys has more to worry about than Trystan’s odd sleeping habits. He has to steel his—usually nonexistent—morals against the advances of the cute and innocent Josh, Trystan’s younger brother.

It’s only ten days, right? And afterward he doesn’t have to see either of them for another year.

If only it was that simple.

Two months after the holiday from hell, Trystan gets a last minute placement in the city where Idrys lives, and suddenly both brothers are back in Idrys’s life. Idrys is determined to carry on regardless, but sooner or later he might have to face the fact that summer doesn’t last forever.

Dividers

Review: Summer is supposed to be your escape when you’re young. When your family spends it with people that taunt you, then it becomes something you no longer enjoy. Idrys Bjornson has come to hate summers with his family, and even though he still enjoys camping and the outdoors, he just can’t tolerate the Jackson boys any longer. So, he decides to take time away from their summer vacations.

Four years later, Ide is sucked into going back out on vacation with his family. For the most part he’s okay with it, until he finds out the Jackson family is there, too. This vacation ends up being more difficult than he expected, between sharing a tent with oldest son, Trystan, and the younger brother, Josh, totally crushing on Idrys. Ide just keeps telling himself it’s only a short time to get through and then he’ll not have to see them again for another year.

Unluckily for Idrys, a year turns into two months, with Trystan ending up looking for a place to live in the same town Ide is working. These two love to hate each other, until they end up lusting over each other. Even then, they’re snarky and bitchy to each other.

I actually enjoyed the snarky banter between these two because to me, it was totally about sexual tension. Even when it seemed like they hated each other, it was that fine line of hate=love. And they played it off well, even if sometimes it did fall on the hurtful line instead of just teasing banter. The sex was off the charts hot between these two young men, and I literally cheered for them to figure out that they really did like each other.

I will admit the younger brother Josh having a major hard on (literally) for Idrys was a little bit much, but I think that’s because he seemed less mature than Ide and Trystan. I just didn’t see a connection with Josh and Idrys, not like the one with him and Trystan. The story was well written, it wasn’t rushed, didn’t down play any of the characters feelings, and had good supporting secondary characters.

Idrys is a character some will love, and some will definitely not enjoy, but that’s what makes each character stand out. Ide and Trys are both those types of characters—Ide just tends to use his modeling as a shield to keep people away. I will give the heads up to readers that the publisher has this labeled as a m/m/m and more. At the start of the book, neither are in a relationship together, but both are in, or have been in relationships, or have sex with others prior to getting together. There isn’t any threesome action for those who do not enjoy that type of storyline.

I thoroughly enjoyed I Hate Summer and I look forward to other books by this author in the future. I recommend this one for those who like new adult stories served by snarky, pretty boys, with a frenemies to lovers storyline.






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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Chris, Tempeste O'Riley

Review: Temptations of Desire by Tempeste O’Riley

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Title:  Temptations of Desire

Author: Tempeste O’Riley

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: The author really couldn’t have crafted a better character than Alex/Lexi.

Reviewed By: Chris

Blurb: Alexander James Noble is a gender fluid gay man who gave up on finding Mister Right a long time ago. He’s not asking for much, though. He just wants a guy who loves all of him and appreciates his feminine form too.

At the local LGBTQ center where Alex regularly volunteers, he meets Dal Sayer, an officer of the Milwaukee PD. Because he’s been rejected one too many times, Alex doesn’t trust the huge cop and the interest he shows in him, but once Dal sets his mind on something, he goes all out. Pushing aside his preconceived notions, Alex opens up just a little and soon caves.

From their first date—while dealing with his father’s failing health and his parents’ demands for him to settle down and have children—Dal never takes his eyes off his goal of making Alex his. But proving to Alex he isn’t like all the men who couldn’t see him for who he truly was and only wanted to hide him away is harder than he thought.

Dividers

Review:  Temptations of Desire is the third book in the Desires Entwined series but can easily be read as a standalone. I would strongly suggest reading all the books in this series, though, because the characters are fantastic.

Alex is a beautiful young man who’s dealt with a world full of hurt and hate because he isn’t always what he seems. Alex is also Lexi, a gender fluid gay man who is as comfortable looking masculine as he is appearing very feminine. He’s been this way since he was a young teen, and it caused his father to beat him, almost to death, and dump him on the street many miles away from home. Now he has his life together, and the only thing he really desires is to find someone who loves all of him, both as Alex and as Lexi.

Dal is a young police officer who is the brother of Rhys from Desire’s Guardian. While he doesn’t consider himself gay, he is bisexual and admits he loves seeing a beautiful woman just as much as a sexy man. One night while out, he spies a beautiful young woman but before he can speak with her, she disappears. Then, while helping at the local LGBTQ center, he meets Alex and Dal is smitten. He likes everything about Alex, even without really knowing him, and it just makes him want to get to know Alex more.

Alex is not as receptive to Dal at first, but that’s not to say he isn’t attracted to him. Alex is attracted to the big, strong young man, but Dal also trips Alex’s previous fear of large men. Because Alex is so slight, he’s been pushed around and abused by quite a few big men before, and that doesn’t lend to him trusting that Dal won’t hurt him. Eventually, Alex softens toward Dal and they go out, but Alex is still afraid of what Dal’s reaction to Lexi will be. The decision to share Lexi with Dal is taken out of Alex’s hands entirely by accident, but Dal’s reaction isn’t what Alex expected.

The major conflict in this story really revolves around Dal and his family. With his dad sick, he becomes very vocal about Dal not being allowed to be gay, too. That one of his sons must get married and provide the next generation. This really causes Dal to become conflicted because his family is everything to him and with his dad ill, he wants to make everything better for him. On the other hand, he’s in love with Alex and doesn’t want to hurt him either. So, he’s torn in two and hates that his family is putting this on him.

I have to say that I have loved all three books in this series. All have been very well written, with wonderfully strong characters. However, Alex/Lexi really and truly stole my heart and won’t give it back. Both as Alex and Lexi, he shows different sides of himself. As Alex he is confident in his abilities as a chef, and as Lexi, he’s strong and sexy, and that isn’t always something he feels as Alex. Lexi allows Alex to walk a little taller, be a little bolder, and to feel free and comfortable in himself.

The author really couldn’t have crafted a better character than Alex/Lexi. Add in the storyline of Alex’s past history and the relationship with Dal, and this just made Temptations of Desire one of my favorite books so far this year.  I hope everyone takes the time to discover this phenomenal character set in this wonderful story. And once done with this story, go back and read the rest of the series!

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4.5 Stars, Cat Grant, Genre Romance, New Adult, Reviewed by Chris, Self-Published

Review: A Year in the Life by Cat Grant

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Title: A Year in the Life (Courtlands – The Next Generation)

Author: Cat Grant

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 284 Pages

At a Glance: This was a very well written story, with strong characters going through honest emotions, feelings, and life changing events.

Reviewed By: Chris

Blurb: A campus flu outbreak, complicated by a freak October blizzard, brings Cornell seniors Seth Thompson and Bilal al-Mansoori together. Three days spent waiting out the storm at Seth’s snowbound apartment leads to an unexpected mutual attraction—and a hot night under the covers, which quickly deepens into a true emotional bond…

Plus, a world of problems for Bilal, an Iranian Muslim. Despite his homeland’s harsh laws and even harsher punishment for homosexuality, Bilal can no longer deny who he really is: A gay man falling in love for the first time.

Seth’s gentle manner and passionate lovemaking bring Bilal more joy than he ever thought possible. Yet, despite the lovers’ growing happiness, Bilal’s haunted by guilt and shame left over from his strict upbringing, and the sad realization that he’ll never see his family in Iran again.

Speaking of families, it’s time for Bilal to meet Seth’s…

Eric, Nick and Ally. Ten years later, this committed triad is still as deeply in love as ever, but even commitment comes with challenges…

Is there room in this non-traditional family for Bilal? His future with Seth may depend on it.

Dividers

Review:  A Year in the Life is best read as a continuation of the original series due to the main characters being heavily featured in this book. You may be able to read it as a standalone, but much of the backstory for the characters will be lost.  A Year in the Life also contains the short story In From the Cold, which introduces us to Seth and Bilal.

Sick and oh so miserable, Seth Thompson ends up going to the campus clinic so he can make it through his upcoming exams. While there he admires the very handsome and also very sick Bilal al-Mansoori. Both see each other but don’t really acknowledge the other, until they end up meeting again at the pharmacy, and then again as Seth heads back to his apartment. He ends up helping Bilal, who is so ill he’s almost delirious. Seth brings Bilal home with him, where they end up stuck inside during a snow storm. Seth shares his home, medicine and eventually body heat with Bilal, which ends up as something more than just comfort.

Bilal, however, ends up scared because he’s Iranian and Muslim and can’t acknowledge his feelings or desires for another man. This drives Bilal away from Seth at the first break in the storm, and back to his own isolated side of campus. This doesn’t stop his growing attraction to Seth but because of Iran’s laws, it forces him to deny himself the possibility of more.  Eventually he ends up having to see Seth again, and their desire and attraction explodes.  Seth and Bilal end up seeing where their attraction will go, but still are fearful of Bilal’s father and the other students from Iran finding out about them.

The story, continuing into A Year in the Life, shows Seth and Bilal working through a relationship. Bilal comes out to his sister, and his sister ends up sharing her secrets with him in return. The boys share Thanksgiving together with Seth’s family, which ends up being more stressful then they expected. Seth is surprised by what he feels is opposition from his father, and pushes back at them a few times. It leaves them deciding to share Christmas alone in New York City together. Unfortunately plans ended up changing, and they ended up with Seth’s family again, which was a very interesting event.

I’d previously read the original Courtland series and wasn’t sure where this next generation might take the story. I’ll admit I loved Seth and Bilal more than Eric, Ally, and Nick’s story. There is something very honest, and even unguarded, in the relationship between Seth and Bilal. Part of it could be Bilal’s being frightened by what could happen if his father or the Ministry could do if they learn he’s gay. Another is just the natural exploration of the growing bonds between Seth and Bilal. Seth’s strength in standing up to his father, Nick, that Bilal is his future and his heart, is one of the best showcases of the character.

This was a very well written story, with strong characters going through honest emotions, feelings, and life changing events. The author created both characters as strong in their own way, and didn’t compromise on either characters’ development. A Year in the Life is definitely one of my top new adult genre books so far this year. I highly recommend it for fans of the author’s previous works. I would also recommend this for fans of the m/m new adult genre, and for those that prefer characters with more realistic relationship growth and problems.

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4 Stars, Garrett Leigh, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Reviewed by Chris

Review: Bold by Garrett Leigh

Title:  Bold (Blue Boy: Book Three)

Author: Garrett Leigh

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 143 Pages

At a Glance: I definitely recommend reading this entire series because all the books are enjoyable reads

Blurb: Dancer Kai is the sweetheart of Blue Boy Studio. Cute and petite, he’s the slender bottom every top loves to pound. But nothing is ever quite as it seems, and beneath his golden curls and giggles lies something else…an edge no one can quite put their finger on.

Is Kai bored? Or does he crave something more?

Blue Boy Studio is under new ownership. Veteran porn star Jude has seen it all before, and with the help of Kai’s mentor, Cam, they figure Kai needs a change. Enter Matthew, a fellow dancer and the newbie on the block.

Kai isn’t impressed. Matthew is hot, but Jude and Cam’s plans seem beyond his reach. Can Kai really do…that? He doesn’t believe it, but with Matthew along for the ride, it’s time to be bold and find out.

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Review: I’m a fan of Garrett Leigh’s, and somehow I’d missed this series. How, I’m not sure. So I started with this book but as you can see, it’s the third book in the series. I don’t recommend diving in like I did in the middle because the characters and storyline from the previous books are part of the books that follow. Start with the first book in the series and work up to this one; you’ll be much less confused.

That being said this was probably the best one for me to jump in on out of order as I really liked Kai and Matthew. Kai is the kind of toppy bottom that I enjoy reading about because he definitely is not a shy boy, and he unabashedly enjoys sex and dancing. However, that doesn’t mean he wants the same thing all the time. He’s feeling a little bored and not into the scenes like he was before. Not sure quite what he’s looking for, though. He feels a little like he’s at loose ends until he talks to Cam. Even then he’s still not sure that’s what he wants to do.

Enter Matthew, a newbie on the team, both to scene work and dancing. He’s sweet, a little bit innocent, a touch of geek, and definitely who Kai needs in his life.  While Kai may be able to show Matthew what it’s like to be in a wildly HOT scene. Matthew is able to show Kai that he’s not a loser or stupid because he didn’t finish school. They both seem to bring out the better parts of each other until Kai decides to freak out a bit and blow things up (no, not literally).

Having read other books by Garrett Leigh, this series is slightly different because they aren’t the deep, dark human aspect stories like Slide or Rare. They’re solid, character driven personality stories that showcase the not so bright and shiny side of life. That is something this author excels at, she has a wicked way with making her characters truly relatable, regardless of their situations.

I definitely recommend reading this entire series because all the books are enjoyable reads.  I’ll still admit that Kai and Matthew are my favorites, though, just because they both have that sweetness they try to hide deep within.

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4 Stars, Carina Press, Eileen Griffin, Genre Romance, Nikka Michaels, Reviewed by Chris

Review: In the Raw by Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin

Title:  In the Raw (In the Kitchen: Book One)

Author:  Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 209 pages

At a Glance: A really solid, highly enjoyable story that I’d consider reading again

Blurb: If you can’t take the heat…

James Lassiter has had a crush on fellow culinary student Ethan Martin for three years, but has never had the guts to make a move. Putting himself out there is hard, especially when under the thumb–and wallet–of his overbearing parents. Now that bad boy chef Ethan–who is always vying with Jamie for best in class–is struggling with the pastry course, Jamie suddenly has a reason to reach out.

Ethan doesn’t mean to be an ass–okay, so mostly he does–but even though he’s secretly hot for Jamie, he sure as hell doesn’t want help with pastry. Ever since his dad walked out, Ethan has been the one to hold things together and he’s done fine on his own. Except that he can’t get his cake to rise.

Jamie could be the answer to what Ethan’s been missing his whole life–someone to depend on. But with the two competing for the same scholarship, things suddenly get too hot to handle. And if Jamie finds the strength to go for what he wants, he isn’t about to settle for what he needs.

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Review: There is something utterly HOT about a man who really knows his way around food, and not just by eating.

Jamie and Ethan are fellow culinary school classmates in the same year, competing for the same elite scholarship. While Ethan is phenomenal at crafting a savory meal, when it comes to the intricacies of pastry, well, he is at a major loss and needs help. His help comes in the form of Jamie, by way of Ethan’s sister, Claire. With Ethan struggling over the pastry class, Claire ends up partnered with Jamie. She deviously works with Jamie to get Ethan to accept his help with figuring out what he’s doing wrong with the delicate pastries.

There’s an instant reaction between Jamie and Ethan because both have noticed the other in both good and bad ways. Ethan is a bit of a bad boy, he’s got ink, and major attitude that annoys the ever living hell out of some of his Chefs, his sister, and definitely Jamie. Jamie is the well put together kind of guy that normally irritates the hell out of Ethan, but he’s attracted to him even if he doesn’t want to be attracted.

While the heat moves from simmer to burn for our sexy chefs, the competition between them for the scholarship in Paris heats up. I’ll share that the book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, which sets up the second book in the series.

This was the first book I’ve read by this writing team, and I’d definitely look for more from them. I really enjoyed Ethan and Jamie as characters, and the few secondary characters were well written. I’d have loved to see more interaction with Jamie and his family and maybe known a bit more about Ethan and Claire’s past. Otherwise, this was a really solid, highly enjoyable story that I’d consider reading again.

I’d recommend this for all those who love a man that knows how to cook, looks sexy in an apron, or sports a bit of the bad boy image with ink. Also, must love that bad boy and sexy chef attitude.

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4.5 Stars, A.M. Arthur, Carina Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Chris

Review: Stand By You by A.M. Arthur

Title:  Stand By You

Author:  A.M. Arthur

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 189 pages

At a Glance: solid, well-written storyline with flawed but redeemable characters

Blurb: Three months after his rescue from an abusive boyfriend, twenty-two-year-old Romy Myers has landed his first legitimate job, bussing tables at his friend’s new coffee shop. The job has brought him some stability after years of abuse have left him feeling damaged and broken. He’s working hard on his panic and social anxiety, and those things are often tempered by the big, burly presence of Brendan Walker.

From the moment ex-football player Brendan helped rescue Romy from his ex’s abuse, he’s wanted to protect him. And he does, from a distance, with joking text messages, a new gym routine to toughen him up and a genuine friendship. So far it’s been easy, but Brendan’s feelings aren’t just friendly anymore…

When an argument spirals out of control, a hot and heavy make-out session causes Romy’s friendship with supposedly straight Brendan to reach a new level. The last thing Romy wants is to fall for another guy who could potentially shatter him, but Brendan also wakes up a part of him he thought had been destroyed by violence, his heart.

Dividers Review:  This is the third book in the Belonging series and because the stories are interconnected, it’s best to read them in order.

We met Remy briefly in the first book in the series, and saw his rescue from his ex’s traumatic abuse in the next book, Maybe This Time. Remy was lucky that he has friends who were brave enough to come help him escape from his ex and give him that second chance to find his way. That doesn’t mean Remy isn’t affected by what happened, though. In fact, he feels more lost than ever. Remy is suffering from serious anxiety, and even PTSD, but he’s determined to power through it. Starting work in the café helps him at first, but his friendship with Brendan is really what helps Remy.

Brendan is one of my favorite characters in this series, even though at first we really don’t know much about him other than he helps with Street Feed. He’s a solid, good guy, though, and that shows on the day they rescue Remy. His strength and even-tempered nature help Remy and eventually, they develop a solid friendship. Remy turns to Brendan and is able to talk to him more than any of his other friends. Brendan, in turn, is the only person who is able to calm Remy down when his anxiety or PTSD flares. Eventually their strong feelings develop into more than just friendship, and it causes them to examine themselves for what they really want next.

I have always liked Remy, even at the brief views of him in the first book, No Such Thing. He was snarky and hiding how alone he was, but he made you want to just wrap him up, take him home and cuddle with him. Brendan, though, was the one I was excited to see as one of the leads in this book. His solid strength and compassion really came through in the last book, even though he wasn’t on-scene much of the time. I was seriously cheering these two on by the time things got hot and heavy, because they both deserve to be happy and have someone that’s there for them.

Now, this isn’t necessarily an easy book to read because of the trauma and issues that Remy ends up going through, but to see the end result when you hit that final page is well worth it. This book fits well with the other two in the series, and I have to say is just as addictive as the other books.  That makes these books very easy to pick up and read over and over again.

A.M. Arthur has quickly become one of my go-to authors for that solid, well-written storyline with flawed but redeemable characters. Her characters really are the backbone of all of her stories. Their ability to overcome what life throws at them and find that happiness at the end of the storm is what keeps me coming back for more.

I recommend this book for those that love a good story with flawed characters who can pull through what life throws at them.

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4.5 Stars, Audio Book, Cardeno C., Giveaways, LLC, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Chris, The Romance Authors

Audio Review and Giveaway: Blue Mountain by Cardeno C. – Narrated by Sean Crisden

blue mountain audio coverTitle: Blue Mountain

Author: Cardeno C.

Narrator: Sean Crisden

Publisher: The Romance Authors, LLC

Run Time: 3 hours 38 minutes

At a Glance: A must listen

Blurb: Exiled by his pack as a teen, Omega wolf Simon Moorehead learns to bury his gentle nature in the interest of survival. When a hulking, rough-faced Alpha catches Simon on pack territory, he tries to escape what he’s sure will be imminent death. But instead of killing him, the Alpha takes Simon home.

A man of action, Mitch Grant uproots his life to support his brother in leading the Blue Mountain pack. Mitch lives on the periphery, quietly protecting everyone, but always alone. A mate is a dream come true for Mitch, and he won’t let little things like Simon’s rejections, attacks, and insults get in their way. With patience, seduction, and genuine care, Mitch will ride out the storm while Simon slays his own ghosts and Mitch’s loneliness.

Add it to Goodreads: goodreads-button

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Review:  I can easily admit I’m pretty addicted to reading CC’s books, so the fact that I enjoyed listening to this one shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. I enjoyed it even more due to the very awesome narrator, Sean Crisden. He was able to capture that truly growly, gruff voice that I had in my head for Mitch, and the slightly snarky, yet weary voice of Simon. Also as the story moved on and Simon became more comfortable with Mitch, Sean was able to convey that by adapting Simon’s voice to fit that new confidence.

We have two very solid characters in Mitch and Simon. Mitch is not a typical Alpha, because he’s not heading his own pack. He’s content being his twin brother’s Second in Command but still shows his Alpha tendencies. He’s kind of a scary character to those that don’t know him well, and his height/size and gruff demeanor would be intimidating to a smaller person or shifter. Mitch is also very lonely and craving his own mate. Watching his brother be happy with his Alpha female and their cubs makes Mitch long for his own Mate.

Simon is the complete opposite of Mitch. He’s smaller, almost slight from CC’s description. Part of that is how he and his mom have lived since they were thrown out from their pack when Simon was a young boy. Simon’s seen and experienced the worst possible actions within the shifter community. Because Simon is a gay male Omega, others have seen this as their free ticket to abuse him. For the most part the story ghosts over this part of Simon’s life, but it does leave a mark within Simon. He doesn’t trust other shifters, let alone someone like Mitch, who is very large, very powerful, and Alpha.

Watching Mitch and Simon learn each other, seeing Simon gradually accept that Mitch is different, and that he’s attracted to him, is the part of the story that made me love this book. I loved seeing the playful sides to both men once they opened up to each other. It was also really sweet watching Simon want to make Mitch happy by cooking for him and meeting him at the door when he got home. I’m totally a Simon girl in this book, he caught me, and I would love to see way more of him in future books in the series.

The little things in a Cardeno C. book are always what really pulls me in. I am never let down by reading one, the characters always fit the story, and they are always well written. There was nothing about this story that didn’t work and I liked that CC made it different from the Mates series. The mythology of shifters and their mating is not the same as in the Pack series and more along the lines of a traditional werewolf pack.

Check out this new series from Cardeno C. If you’re already a fan, it’s a must read/listen. If you’ve never read this author’s work before…well, what better way to start than with a brand new series with sexy, growly shifters.

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Cardeno C.About Cardeno C.: CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Chris, Rhys Ford

Review: Down and Dirty by Rhys Ford

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Title: Down and Dirty

Author: Rhys Ford

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I cannot recommend this book highly enough

Blurb: From the moment former LAPD detective Bobby Dawson spots Ichiro Tokugawa, he knows the man is trouble. And not just because the much younger Japanese inker is hot, complicated, and pushes every one of Bobby’s buttons. No, Ichi is trouble because he’s Cole McGinnis’s younger brother and off-limits in every possible way. And Bobby knows that even before Cole threatens to kill him for looking Ichi’s way. But despite his gut telling him Ichi is bad news, Bobby can’t stop looking… or wanting.

Ichi was never one to play by the rules. Growing up in Japan as his father’s heir, he’d been bound by every rule imaginable until he had enough and walked away from everything to become his own man. Los Angeles was supposed to be a brief pitstop before he moved on, but after connecting with his American half-brothers, it looks like a good city to call home for a while—if it weren’t for Bobby Dawson.

Bobby is definitely a love-them-and-leave-them type, a philosophy Ichi whole-heartedly agrees with. Family was as much of a relationship as Ichi was looking for, but something about the gruff and handsome Bobby Dawson that makes Ichi want more.

Much, much more.

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Review: So, I have to admit that this was the very first Rhys Ford book I have ever read. I know, I know I should have read her before this one, but somehow I was a dork and totally didn’t dive into her books. Well, let me tell you, this book cured me of that, and I binge read this series and then her Sinners series right after I read this book. That brings me to the next point; while I didn’t have an issue with having missed the first books in the series, I don’t recommend diving into Down and Dirty like I did. The stories are all interconnected, and this falls in line after Dirty Laundry (book #3) and during Dirty Deeds (book #4), so read the magic that is Cole and Jae-Min first. Once finished with them, you can come over and roll in the sexiness that is Bobby and Ichi.

Bobby is an ex-cop and also Cole McGinnis’s best friend. He’s been there for Cole since Cole left the police force, and helps Cole with his investigations. He tends to get in as much trouble as Cole, usually right alongside of Cole. He’s also newly ‘out of the closet’ and tends to be a bit of a manwhore. Bobby is totally okay with that description and even is unabashedly open about loving sex and not wanting a relationship. Then Bobby spies with his wandering eye, Cole’s little brother Ichiro, and all bets are off. He’s hit with that BOOM of instant attraction for his best friend’s brother.

Then there is Ichiro, who breaks the model for sexy as hell. While he may be Cole’s younger brother, he’s definitely his own person. He grew up in a very strict Japanese home, but is covered in tattoos and is opening his own tattoo studio. He’s such a sweet yet mischievous man, with a wicked grin but also not used to the life his brothers’ lead. Cole’s antics, in particular, about kill Ichiro every time Cole gets hurt or in trouble. Jae-Min has definitely found his BFF in Ichi, though. Then Ichi meets Bobby, and he’s hit just as hard as Bobby is with attraction.

Down and Dirty is different than the other books in the series, as it’s not as action oriented. It does still focus on events in Dirty Deeds, but they’re mostly offstage instead of the primary story. The focus is on Bobby and Ichiro’s developing relationship, and their relationships with Cole and Jae-Min as things get deeper.

What drew me into this story are the characters. Rhys Ford has major skills developing her characters and the right story to fit them. I can’t tell you how she does it; I just know that her characters rock, the story flows perfectly, and the end result is a book that I wanted to re-read the moment I finish it.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough because for me, all the elements worked perfectly. If you like the Cole McGinnis series, you must read this book because it’s Bobby and Ichi, after all. Otherwise, grab this entire series because you’ll be missing out on a fantastic group of characters and one hell of a storyline.






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5 Stars, Audio Book, Charlie Cochet, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Chris, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Audio Review: Hell & High Water by Charlie Cochet – Narrated by Mark Westfield

Title: Hell & High Water

Author: Charlie Cochet

Narrator: Mark Westfield

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 10 hours 6 minutes

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: When homicide detective Dexter J. Daley’s testimony helps send his partner away for murder, the consequences—and the media frenzy—aren’t far behind. He soon finds himself sans boyfriend, sans friends, and, after an unpleasant encounter in a parking garage after the trial, he’s lucky he doesn’t find himself sans teeth. Dex fears he’ll get transferred from the Human Police Force’s Sixth Precinct, or worse, get dismissed. Instead, his adoptive father—a sergeant at the Therian-Human Intelligence Recon Defense Squadron otherwise known as the THIRDS—pulls a few strings, and Dex gets recruited as a Defense Agent. Continue reading

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3 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, R.A. Kaitland, Reviewed by Chris

Review: King of Me by R.A. Kaitland

Title: King of Me

Author: R.A. Kaitland

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 33 Pages

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: Cast out of his clan of shifters and with no family of his own, Anton Cedwell wants nothing more than to be accepted by his partner Sean’s family when the two of them visit over Christmas. But Sean’s powerful father, Flavius, isn’t happy his son chose a shifter as a mate, and Sean is hiding secrets from Anton. When Sean is attacked by rival weres, Anton hopes Sean’s family will finally see the depth of his commitment and how far he’s willing to go to protect the man he loves.  Continue reading

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4.5 Stars, Felice Stevens, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Reviewed by Chris

Review: A Walk Through Fire by Felice Stevens

Title: A Walk Through Fire

Author: Felice Stevens

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 239 pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: Years after running away from an abusive foster family, Asher Davis still struggles with the guilt of leaving his foster brothers behind. He’s climbed to unimaginable heights as a ruthless, high-powered attorney, creating a life of power and control. He takes whatever and whoever he wants. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Charlie Cochet, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Chris, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Rack & Ruin by Charlie Cochet

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Title: Rack & Ruin

Author: Charlie Cochet

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 206 pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: New York City’s streets are more dangerous than ever with the leaderless Order of Adrasteia and the Ikelos Coalition, a newly immerged Therian group, at war. Innocent civilians are caught in the crossfire and although the THIRDS round up more and more members of the Order in the hopes of keeping the volatile group from reorganizing, the members of the Coalition continue to escape and wreak havoc in the name of vigilante justice.  Continue reading

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Raine O'Tierney, Reviewed by Chris

Review: Bowl Full of Cherries by Raine O’Tierney

Title: Bowl Full of Cherries

Author: Raine O’Tierney

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 214 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: Porker, Fatty, Tons-of-Fun: Crowley Fredericks has heard it all. He’s dropped a lot of weight since his high school days, but he’s still a big guy, and the painful words and bullying follow him. Rejected—again—because of his size, Crowley is starting to think that maybe love just isn’t meant for huskier men. Continue reading

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Morticia Knight, Reviewed by Chris, Totally Bound

Review: Rockin’ the Alternative by Morticia Knight

Title: Rockin’ The Alternative

Author: Morticia Knight

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 60 pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: The chance of a lifetime and the touch of a rock god are offered to music journalist Bryan Gallagher on the same day. Embracing one is easy, but resisting the other is harder than he’d anticipated—especially since Bryan has never been with a man.

It could be his dream assignment. Aubrey King, the legendary god of alternative rock music has requested to meet with journalist and writer Bryan about penning the star’s memoir. Aubrey and his dark, angsty songs are the reason Bryan was inspired to become a leading rock journalist. His obsession for his career has alienated the women in his life, but Bryan doesn’t care. What really matters to him is the music.

Aubrey King has been out of the music scene for almost ten years—ever since his alternative rock band, Falling in Stereo, broke up. Questions about his sexual preferences have always surrounded him, and now that he’s ready to make a solo comeback, he wants to tell his story, his way. He’s followed journalist Bryan Gallagher’s career for a while and believes that Bryan’s obvious passion for music mirrors his own. He loves his writing style, but is also enraptured by the boyishly handsome writer.

Bryan finds pushing his fanboy nervousness aside is difficult when Aubrey finally stands before Brian. He’s amazed at how little Aubrey has changed—his intense gaze, his unique style and his still youthful looks epitomize the star he’s always been. But Aubrey’s vulnerability when he sings and shares the deeply personal lyrics of a new song triggers something in Bryan that he never knew was there. The need to give himself to Aubrey, to let the rock god do to him what he’s never before desired a man to do.

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Review: Rockin’ The Alternative is a short story of around 60 pages. I’ll admit that I usually stay away from stories this short because it can be hard to develop a connection with the characters. I did not have that problem with this story though. Bryan immediately jumped off the page as someone I’d be friends with in real life because of our mutual love of music. When he gets the chance to interview one of his idols, he flips between utter fanboy and trying to be professional.

Aubrey King is looking to jump back into the music scene, but it’s been 10 years, and he’s got a little bit of a story to share first. He’s also orchestrated Bryan interviewing him, as he’s followed his writing career for a while. Oh yeah, he’s also very attracted to Bryan even though he’s never met him in person.

This is a story that even though it happens in a very short timeframe, the couple just worked. Between their love of music, their own vulnerabilities, and the attraction that’s almost instantaneous, even though Bryan considers himself straight, they connect and simply work. There is a lot of sexy heat between these two characters; enough that I wished the story had been a full length novel.

Rockin’ The Alternative is a novella you need to give a try because you’ll be surprised how much you like the characters. If you love your rockers, or are a music geek, fanboy, or fangirl, I can’t recommend this story enough.

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Meg Harding, Reviewed by Chris

Review: Quite a Spectacle by Meg Harding

Title: Quite A Spectacle

Author: Meg Harding

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 56 pages

Rating: 4 stars

Blurb: Max moved away from his family to be with Michael, and his family never got over it. Now, for the first time in almost a decade, he’s going to return to London for the Christmas celebrations. He’s confident his family will welcome Michael with open, loving arms. At least that’s what he tells himself. Continue reading

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4.5 Stars, Genre Romance, L.A. Witt, Reviewed by Chris, Samhain Publishing

Review: The Walls of Troy by L.A. Witt

Title:  The Walls of Troy

Author:  L.A. Witt

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 255 pages

Rating: 4.5 stars

Blurb: Just when the pieces begin to add up, danger blows them all apart…

MA1 Iskander Ayhan’s orders are simple: stay with Admiral Dalton’s son as a plainclothes bodyguard while the kid attends university classes. So typical—a high-ranking officer abusing Navy resources for unnecessary security. Continue reading

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Jay Northcote, Reviewed by Chris

Review: Nothing Special by Jay Northcote

Title:  Nothing Special

Author:  Jay Northcote

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 187 pages

Rating: 4 stars

Blurb: Noah thinks he’s nothing special. Average height, a bit on the skinny side, and cute but rather geeky, he’s relentlessly ordinary. He certainly doesn’t expect to be noticed by Sol, the gorgeous dark-haired stranger Noah sees on his commute home most days. But when Noah’s friend, Dom, persuades Noah to take a huge risk in a bid to get Sol’s attention, things turn out better than Noah dared to hope. Noah and Sol start dating, and much to Noah’s surprise, his feelings seem to be reciprocated. Continue reading

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Piper Vaughn, Reviewed by Chris

Review: Hook, Line, & Sinker by Piper Vaughn

Title: Hook, Line, & Sinker

Author: Piper Vaughn

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 181 pages

Rating: 4.5 stars

Blurb: When they were teens, Castor McCormick was the bane of Blake Kowalski’s existence. Their mutual animosity led to summers filled with rivalry. Now, nearly two decades later, Cas is moving back into the neighborhood to live in his grandmother’s old house. Blake tells himself he isn’t interested in seeing how snarky little Cas grew up, but when his mother dupes him into visiting his former nemesis, he finds out “pretty” can evolve into “sexy as hell” on the right man. Continue reading

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