5 Stars, Jennifer Wright, Paranormal Romance, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Athis Dey by Jennifer Wright

Title: Athis Dey (Finding Home: Book Four)

Author: Jennifer Wright

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 206 Pages

At a Glance: Jennifer Wright has written a fabulous series, and I cannot wait to see what is set for these men in the future.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: Is it truly better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all?

In Larken’s case, he isn’t so sure. He did love someone, then he lost them, and it hurt like hell. Now, Larken has to figure out how he’s going to get over it and find love once more. Then again, does he even want to care for someone so strongly for a second time? He’s had his heart broken once, and he fears it’s too soon to open up to someone else. But how can he really deny the new feelings that are growing inside him?

Khale, on the other hand, has yet to fall in love at all. It’s something he’s wanted his whole life, and now he finds that it may be within his grasp. Khale could love Larken with all his heart—he can see himself with the warrior for the rest of his life. But Khale also yearns for Vardel to finally accept him as his son, and this wanting misguides him, leading him into trouble. Now he needs Larken’s help—he needs the man he’s fallen in love with to save him, but he fears his secrets and possible betrayal will have ruined his chance of ever finding happiness.

Dividers

Review: I have been a fierce fan of this series since the first book was released. I love the alternate universe setup and the Dragun and Vampire war. Each book in the series has given us a small yet significant bit of information to piece together the story. This book seems to be more focused on the relationship of Khale and Larken, though. Now, I have no problem with this at all. After the outcome of book three, I felt that Larken kind of deserved to have a book totally centered on him. Once I got to know Khale better, I felt the same way about him. These two tortured souls earned a HEA, but make no mistake, Ms. Wright didn’t make it an easy trip to that HEA.

Larken ended up in a downward spiral when he lost the man he loved. He found solace in drugs and meaningless sex. As we all know, these crutches can only last for so long before we have to truly face our demons. When Larken travels with his leader, he finds the one thing that could make facing those demons worth the heartbreak.

Khale is a man who suffers silently, and has suffered his entire life. From the moment of his birth his father has hated him, and nothing Khale does can change that. He just hasn’t realized that fact. When he meets Larken, he finds the thing he hasn’t even known he was looking for. Larken and Khale share one night together, and for this one night of perfection, Khale pays a very large price, one he has paid before.

When Khale pulls away from Larken to appease his father, Larken doesn’t know the suffering the man has endured, and he takes it as another rejection. Unfortunately Larken and Khale are going to be spending a lot of time together when Khale and his warriors accompany Larken and his warriors back to the coven’s stronghold after the coven is setup by the Council. What ensues is a push and pull between the men that results in them falling head over heels in love, but will that love be enough to overcome Khale’s longing for his father’s approval? Will he be able to stand strong on his own, and love the man Larken is, without worrying what his father will think?

This story is chock full of some racy sex scenes, some very tender loving moments, and plenty of action to keep you on your toes. There is a pretty large secret revealed about one of the Draguns, and this secret leads to what could be the end of Larken and Khale’s fragile beginning.

Jennifer Wright has written a fabulous series, and I cannot wait to see what is set for these men in the future. The characters in this series are very tough warriors, and they are all fairly messed up emotionally. The beauty of these books is the way in which love helps to heal them, but at the end of the day they have to heal themselves before their love can grow.

I would highly recommend this entire series, but it definitely needs to be read in order from book one.

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4.5 Stars, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jackie, Self-Published, Silvia Violet

Review: Coming Clean by Silvia Violet

Title: Coming Clean

Author: Silvia Violet

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 230 Pages

At a Glance: Silvia Violet has done a wonderful job, as usual, with this story.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: An unexpected inheritance lands Jeremy a large house and plenty of money to take a sabbatical from his job teaching poetry at a small college. He intends to sell the house and take off on a new path to discover what he wants out of life. Then he meets Connor. The attraction he feels to a man so different from himself is no less shocking than his change in financial circumstances, but Connor is in the closet and Jeremy wants a life lived out in the sun.

Connor is a former Force Recon Marine who runs a housecleaning business. When he’s hired to get Jeremy’s house market-ready, he’s startled by how attracted he is to his client despite their many differences. But his past, especially his final mission, weighs heavily on him. He’s not certain he can be the man Jeremy needs, but no man has ever made him want to take a risk like Jeremy does.

Dividers

Review: If there is one thing I can’t resist it is a plot with a military man. Make him a man struggling with his past and his present, and that just makes me melt. Throw in a slightly nerdy bookworm who makes it an opposites attract story, and I am SOLD.

Jeremy is a lit professor who just inherited a large home and enough money to give him the opportunity to take a sabbatical to write a novel. Unsure whether he wants to keep the home or not, Jeremy decides to hire a cleaning company to get the house ready in case he does decide to sell.

Enter Connor. When Connor returned to the civilian sector, he found that he could put his cleaning skills to use. With the help of his best friend’s sister, he opens a cleaning service and through word of mouth, his company is hired by Jeremy.

When these two meet there is instant chemistry, but, unfortunately, Connor has lived his whole life in the closet, and Jeremy is most assuredly out and proud. This leaves Jeremy wondering if Connor is even gay, and Connor trying to decide if he can risk leaving his closet for the man who flips all his switches.

There are a few things holding Connor back, the biggest of those things being his best friend and fellow ex-Marine, Mario. Luckily Mario’s sister Sabrina gives him some great advice, and maybe sets up a situation or two to push Jeremy and Connor together. And while Jeremy’s best friend David isn’t too sure about Connor in the beginning, he does eventually come around and when he joins forces with Sabrina, sparks begin to fly.

These two guys couldn’t be more different, but they seem to mesh very well. They have just enough in common to complement each other. Their differences are enough to keep things interesting for sure. When things seem to be going well for them, some miscommunications lead to the two of them almost losing everything they ever wanted. To fix things, Connor has to decide if his closet is as comfortable as Jeremy’s bed, and Jeremy has to decide if he can be patient enough with Connor’s gradual coming out.

Coming Clean was a fun story to read. I loved Jeremy’s character. There is just something about a nerdy professor type falling in love with a former Marine. The only thing better than that is that same former Marine falling right back.

The supporting characters in this story were very entertaining, and the fact that they wouldn’t let the two men screw up a good thing when they saw it was perfect.

Silvia Violet has done a wonderful job, as usual, with this story. Reading about a hardened Marine falling in love over Shakespeare was very sweet. I would love to be able to revisit these two in the future. They truly brought a smile to my face, and this is definitely a book I would re-read when I needed a pick me up.

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5 Stars, Ai Press, D.H. Starr, Genre Romance, New Adult, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Wrestling With Passion by D.H. Starr

Title: Wrestling With Passion

Author: D.H. Starr

Publisher: Ai Press

Pages/Word Count: 247 Pages

At a Glance: Wrestling With Passion is a great continuation to Scott and Derek’s story.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: Scott and Derek’s epic passion continues into sophomore year with new challenges to face and overcome. There is one problem: How can you fight an adversary you can’t see?

Derek has always helped others, often placing himself in risky situations. Scott has lived with instability his entire life, moving from place to place, never able to set roots. Surviving the obstacles set in place by Scott’s unloving father and overcoming the threat of an unstable fellow student their freshman year, they start their second year of college believing they’ve overcome all of the barriers blocking their future happiness.

All that changes when a troubled student, Tim, enters their lives. Derek can’t help but reach out to the drug-abusing freshman. Scott can’t suppress the paralyzing fear of losing Derek, the one stable thing in his life. As they compromise their own internal needs in an effort to support each other, resentment builds and guilt festers.

Is this new obstacle, the demons that live deep inside each of them, the one that might tear them apart?

Dividers

Review: I have loved following Scott and Derek since they met in their senior year of high school. It was great watching Derek grow and come into his true personality with the love he finds in Scott. Scott, though, was a little trickier to like. But, once he finally came clean about everything in his life, he quickly became an all-time favorite character. When the boys went away to college, they faced some of the same growing pains all couples face, but they came through it stronger than when they began.

With the summer almost over, and Derek and Scott getting ready to head off to college for their sophomore year, they take a short weekend trip to have some alone time before the pressure of wrestling and classes and all the other time consuming tasks begin. During this trip, the boys share everything: their hopes and fears and, of course, plenty of smexy times. There are promises made, and both of them feel more secure together than ever.

The first day back at school brings their dorm-mate, Tim, into their lives, and it seems that is where the problems begin. After the issues Derek had their freshman year, after reaching out to someone in need, they are both leery of getting too close to this troubled young man. This situation by itself wouldn’t be a problem, but throw in Scott’s fear of losing anyone else in his life, and Derek’s feelings that Scott is trying to change him, and it leads to some troubled times for our two favorite guys.

As usual D.H. Starr takes us on a journey with Scott and Derek, both of them having to dig deep and be up front with each other about their deepest, darkest fears. Once they lay all their cards out on the table, though, it seems like they are better than ever. Wrestling With Passion is a great continuation to Scott and Derek’s story. I truly love the fact that these two haven’t just had an easy path to happiness, but have had to work hard to get where they are today. Their sexual chemistry is off the charts, and the love they feel for each other is one that seems to be able to overcome any obstacle that comes their way.

The believability of their relationship, and the fact that their love leaps off the page, is the direct result of the author’s writing ability. With every one of his books I read, I am more and more impressed with the way he brings his characters to life. His characters always seem to be able to overcome anything that comes their way, and what I appreciate most is that the obstacles they face are very believable and not contrived or over the top.

I completely adore Scott and Derek and if you haven’t read their story yet, I highly recommend getting to it right away. Begin at the beginning and love these boys just like I do. I don’t know what is next for them, but I will be first in line to witness it.

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4 Stars, Amber Allure, Genre Romance, KC Kendricks, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Hot August Comes by KC Kendricks

Title: Hot August Comes

Author: KC Kendricks

Publisher: Amber Allure

Pages/Word Count: 24000 Words

At a Glance: One thing the author does well is give us a HFN ending that hinted at a HEA.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: Leo Corbin shook the dust of Westfall off his shoes to pursue opportunities among the bright city lights. When his mother suddenly dies, Leo returns home to settle her estate. His grief at her passing quickly turns to shock at what she left behind and rekindles old questions about the identity of his father.

Harrison Wade stuck by his father to help run the family farm. Life for a gay man in Westfall has limitations, but Harrison knows how to make the best of them. When Leo Corbin returns to town, Harrison’s quiet existence tilts. Leo is the guy who put an end to the high school bullying Harrison endured so many years ago. Harrison quickly discovers his old boyhood crush on Leo has matured into an adult attraction.

As the mercury rises, Harrison and Leo’s friendly buddy arrangement heats up. When hot August comes to Westfall, they discover home is more than where a man hangs his hat. It’s where he gives his heart.

Dividers

Review: I hadn’t read a KC Kendricks book in a while, so when I saw Hot August Comes up for review, I snatched it up. I have always loved this author’s characters, and I wasn’t let down this time.

The story begins with Leo Corbin returning to his hometown to bury his mother and settle her estate. Not only was her death sudden, but Leo realizes, too late, that he may not have been the most attentive son in her final years. When he left Westfall, he never planned to stay away forever. It just kind of seemed to happen.

On his first day in town, he sees that not much has changed since he left, except for the fact there is now a bar downtown that wasn’t there before. When he ventures in to have a cold one, he runs into Harrison Wade. He doesn’t remember Harrison, but the man sure does remember him.

Harrison Wade was picked on in school, and there wasn’t much he could do about it. He suffered through it until the day Leo saved his bacon at the bus stop. Leo had no idea he’d changed a guy’s life that day, but it was something Harrison would always remember.

When these two meet up again in Westfall, there is an instant spark of attraction, and they can’t do anything but act on it. With everything that is going on in both of their lives, it isn’t an easy road to love, though, that’s for sure. While Leo’s sorting through all his mother’s possessions, he comes across an item that could very well answer the question of who his father is. Add that to the surprise Leo got when going over his mother’s accounts, and the mystery just seems to get bigger and bigger.

Harrison has his very own demons to contend with. After his mother passed away, his father took to the bottle to take the pain away, and Harrison has taken over the parenting role in their relationship. He is working a job he doesn’t love, and feels like he will never get out of Westfall.

Over the course of the story, Leo and Harrison seem to take two steps back for every step forward, until they both come clean about the issues in their lives. This story was definitely a tale of overcoming your fears, facing your past, and living in the now.

I loved both of these characters and thought they fit together very well. One thing the author does well is give us a HFN ending that hinted at a HEA. The story was just too short to make the HEA believable, and I like that it wasn’t forced. Leo and Harrison are on their way to happiness, and I loved being there with them for the beginning of their journey. These guys are a wonderful couple, and I hope we get to see them continue their journey sometime soon.

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4.5 Stars, Cardeno C., Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jackie, Self-Published

Review: Where He Ends and I Begin by Cardeno C.

Title: Where He Ends and I Begin

Author: Cardeno C.

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 289 Pages

At a Glance: I just have to stress the fact that I love this book .

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: Aggressive, physical, and brave, Jake Owens is a small town football hero turned big city cop who passes his time with meaningless encounters believing he can’t have who he really wants: Nate Richardson, his best friend since before forever. Thoughtful, quiet, and kind, Nate is a brilliant doctor who has always known who he is and has never been able to shake his crush on loyal, courageous, straight Jake.

After a passionate night together, Nate realizes Jake isn’t as straight as he assumed, but he worries that what they shared was a fluke, a result of too much closeness for too long. For Jake, the question isn’t how they ended up in bed together because he has always known that Nate holds his heart, it’s how he’ll convince Nate that he wants and needs to stay there.

Dividers

Review: I think I have to begin this review with a PSA. You see, I am an unashamed total fangirl of Cardeno C. I mean, I think Cardeno C. could write the phone book and I would pre-order it. ‘Kay? Got that? Well then, it should be no surprise to you that I love the entire Home series. My favorite of the series is The One Who Saves Me, but this book was definitely a very close second. There is just something about the connection between Nate and Jake. It’s like destiny and fate got together and made these two men for each other. Those kinds of books are like my crack, just sayin’.

You see, Nate and Jake have been the other half of one another since before they were born. Their mothers were best friends, and they decided to have their children at the same time. So, Nate and Jake were born on the same day, grew up next door to one another and when it was time to be grown ups and move away, they did that together too. As just friends. Why, you ask? Well, when Nate came out early, Jake was supportive, but he was also doing every willing female within a one hundred mile radius, or so it seemed. So Nate figured Jake was straight, and he would just do his best to find love and try to remember that Jake was not an option. Until he was.

Once all of their misunderstandings and miscommunications were resolved, it was like they were given license to have sex. Lots and lots of sex. I guess they were making up for lost time. In between bouts of sex, there was a great love story too. These two were soul mates after all. They experienced a love most people only dream about, and I loved reading it.

These two men not only found each other, but they found a family. Some of this family has been there the whole time, and some of it comes in along the way. There are moments of doubt from Nate and some moments of bravado and territory claiming from Jake, but, overall, this is just a great love story.

Now. We all know very few books are perfect, and this one is no exception. So, yes there was A LOT of sex. Maybe more than the story needed, but I am not going to complain too much about that. The dual point of view didn’t bother me too much, but it can get a tad redundant when entire conversations are repeated verbatim. And, last but not least, the ending was almost too easy. I know, I know. It’s romance and they are supposed to ride off into the sunset, but it isn’t always that simple.

With all that said, though, I just have to stress the fact that I love this book. This series was like crack for me, and I would highly recommend a binge read of the whole thing if you are in the mood for reading some great love stories with guys who are soul mates, fated mates, or some other kind of lovers with their stories written in the stars. It may not always be 100% believable, but boy, does it make me happy.

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Joel Skelton, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Beneath the Palisade: Justice by Joel Skelton

Title: Beneath the Palisade: Justice

Author: Joel Skelton

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 298 Pages

At a Glance: Joel Skelton has once again done a wonderful job of showing how mutual attraction can become love.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: Despite a spirited inner debate pitting right against wrong, Owen Grady is lured off a forest trail by a handsome stranger. Just as he is about to surrender to an urgent desire, Owen realizes he is making a mistake and attempts to leave, but the rejected man wrestles Owen to the ground and discloses he is a cop. Wrongly accused of sexual misconduct, Owen seeks legal help.

Ambitious young lawyer Brent Burns is a junior partner at Burns & Callahan, a law firm located within the Men’s Center in Two Harbors, Minnesota. He takes on Owen’s case, determined to prove him innocent. But Brent can’t possibly predict the obstacles on the bumpy road to an acquittal—not the least of which is an ethical taboo involving his heart, which threatens to defeat him before he ever sets foot in the courtroom.

Dividers

Review: I have been reading the Beneath the Palisade series since the first book came out, and I have loved the writing style and the characters since the very beginning. I always felt for Brent. When his prior relationship ended, I always felt he was more hurt than he let on. In this book I was hoping he would find some happiness.

In Justice, the story begins with a young teacher, Owen Grady, getting led astray while birdwatching. What started out as a little fun in the woods, turns scary and then criminal rather quickly. When false allegations are made against Owen by a well respected local police officer, he knows he has to find a lawyer to help him save his reputation and his job.

Enter Brent Burns, recent law graduate and junior partner at the local Men’s Center. Brent fell in love with the law while working for a large law firm in the city. When he graduated from law school, he was given an opportunity to start out well in a firm by a long-time friend and former employer. When Owen brings his woes to Brent’s door, it sets off fireworks, but not always the good kind.

Owen and Brent set out to prove Owen’s innocence. Along the way, there are some roadblocks of the very best kind and the very worst kind. As usual with this series, it takes all the men from the Palisades Cabins coming together to help out a friend. Some feelings end up getting hurt, but in the end it seems this little makeshift family is no worse for the wear, and they have one more member to bring into the fold.

Joel Skelton has once again done a wonderful job of showing how mutual attraction can become love when the two people involved learn to communicate and take their time getting to their HEA. This book does show some strain between friends, and for a bit, you may wonder how in the world they will ever make it through. That is where the family part comes in. These men, along with some great female characters, show how a close-knit group will have your back, while also showing you the error of your ways.

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1.5 Stars, Amber Allure, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jackie, Shawn Bailey

Review: Silence by Shawn Bailey

Title: Silence

Author: Shawn Bailey

Publisher: Amber Allure

Pages/Word Count: 22000 Words

At a Glance: This book just doesn’t tick any of the boxes of a great read.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: When Andrew Lansky, a mild-mannered erotic romance writer, receives a phone call from his mother, his life suddenly changes. His old friend Richard Julian has been killed in a car accident in Mississippi, and the news devastates Andrew. He hasn’t seen Richard in more than nine years. He had always planned to call him, but never did, and now he would never see him again.

With Richard gone, deaf twenty-four-year-old Brett Julian has lost the last member of his family, leaving him all alone in his world of silence. As another wicked twist of fate, Richard’s old friend Andrew shows up for the funeral and repast, awakening long-dormant feelings within Brett.

After reconnecting with Andrew and confessing his hidden desires for the man, will Brett finally have a chance at happiness? Or will his life get messed up again because his deafness keeps him from hearing what Andrew’s love has to say?

Dividers

Review: After reading the blurb for this book I was intrigued and just had to read it. I liked the idea of Brett crushing on his brother’s friend and then being reunited years later. I also like that there was a pretty good age difference between them.

Andrew and Richard were great friends but had fallen out of touch. When Andrew finds out that Richard died in a car accident, he goes home for the funeral. While he’s there, he’s reunited with Richard’s younger brother Brett, and he is instantly attracted to him.

Brett is deaf and very self-sufficient, but without Richard, he doesn’t need the large house they shared, so Andrew offers for Brett to move in after he sells his house. Their mutual attraction doesn’t take long to catch fire, and before they know it they’re in a relationship…or are they?

Richard’s ex-boyfriend Troy is trying to get close to Andrew, and Brett’s friend James is putting the moves on him. Right about here is where the story lost me. Andrew and Brett have said they are in a relationship, and Andrew is clear that he isn’t interested in anything but friendship from Troy. On the other hand, Brett is giving the green light to James while being “in a relationship” with Andrew.

Silence just all around didn’t do it for me. I never felt like Andrew and Brett were on the same page in what they wanted or expected from one another, and I didn’t feel the romance in any of it. I would be interested in reading more from this author in the future, but this book just doesn’t tick any of the boxes of a great read.

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3 Stars, Cate Ashwood, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Thirty Things by Cate Ashwood

Title: Thirty Things

Author: Cate Ashwood

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 210 Pages

At a Glance: This book just didn’t do it for me.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: All their lives, Finn and Nate have been inseparable, sharing everything, and when a childhood accident left Finn broken, Nate stood by his side as all his other friends left. After all their years together, there’s one secret Finn still hasn’t revealed: he has been in love with Nate since they were eight years old. Hiding his feelings for twenty-one years—terrified of what might happen if Nate ever found out—has been difficult, but losing his best friend would be worse than living with a bad case of unrequited love. Unfortunately for Finn, Nate doesn’t make it easy.

Nate believes there are some things that just have to be done before your thirtieth birthday. As a gift to Finn, he plans an adventure to check off a list of thirty things to experience before hitting that milestone. Starting in Crawfordsville, Indiana, they tour the country, trying new things and meeting interesting new people. Nate’s having the time of his life, but he can tell Finn is holding something back. As the days count down, navigating the back roads suddenly seems easier than figuring out where their relationship is heading.

One thing’s for certain. There will be no turning back.

Dividers

Review: Cate Ashwood is one of my go-to authors when I want a feel good read with just the right amount of angst. When I saw this book on the list for review, I was excited and couldn’t wait to read it. I mean, really, who doesn’t love a great friend-to-lovers story that includes a super-cool road trip?

The book begins by laying out Finn and Nate’s relationship. Basically, these two have been best friends since they were eight. Since then, Finn has had a severe case of unrequited love for Nate. Finn has kept a lid on his feelings the entire time they have been besties, but it’s getting harder for him as time goes on.

When Finn decides to put some space between himself and Nate, right before his thirtieth birthday, he is shocked when it seems Nate is doing the same thing. The last thing Finn expects is for Nate to be putting space between them also. It turns out there isn’t any terrible reason for this space, just Nate planning a great surprise for Finn’s big three-oh. The two friends are going on a road trip! The best part of this road trip is the fact there are thirty envelopes for Finn to open, one for each day of the trip, basically. Personally, I thought this was an ingenious idea for a birthday trip. Finn and Nate got to do so many fun things they may not have done otherwise. Color me a bit jealous on that one.

The biggest shock to Finn comes early on in the trip…Nate kisses him! The kiss, of course, leads to more, and soon they are in a full on relationship. Up to this point I was completely loving this book. Unfortunately, what followed didn’t really work for me. Now, the writing was wonderful, but I just didn’t feel like the characters were consistent with their personalities from the beginning.

Nate is a details guy, made clear by the to-the-smallest-detail planning he did for the trip, but he and Finn don’t talk about what’s going on between them at all, until Finn flips his lid and they get in an argument. Also, after twenty-some years of friendship, Nate is just now telling Finn he is either gay or bi? Seemed strange to me. Add in the fact that Nate brought home women to have sex in the room right next door to the man he professes to have loved for years? It just didn’t jibe for me.

The premise of Thirty Things was great, the writing was definitely good, but unfortunately I couldn’t get past some of the characters’ behaviors to really enjoy the story. There were some great parts to this novel, and even a little forgiveness for a nemesis from Finn’s youth. I am still a huge fan of Ms. Ashwood’s work, and I will definitely be reading any books she writes in the future, but this book just didn’t do it for me.

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, John Inman, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Payback by John Inman

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Title: Payback

Author: John Inman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: In true John Inman style, the tension gradually grows in Payback until it reaches an action packed climactic end.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: When Tyler Powell’s life is torn apart by an unspeakable crime, the need for vengeance takes over. Every moment of every day, as he tries to pull his shattered existence together again, it’s all he can think about—revenge.

Will he give in to his rage and become the very thing he hates most? A killer?

Only with the help of Homicide Detective Christian Martin, the cop in charge of his case, does Tyler see the possibility of another life beginning—the astounding revelation of another love reaching out to him. A love he thought he would never know again.

Will he let that love into his life, or is he lost already? Is payback more important to Tyler than his own happiness? And the happiness of the man who loves him? Tyler is determined to find a way to exact his revenge without sacrificing all hope for a future with Christian, but it will be difficult—if not impossible—and in the end he might be forced to make an unbearable choice.

Dividers

Review: John Inman has written books that have made me laugh, cry, and even believe in ghosts, so when I got the opportunity to review this book I was ecstatic. I was hoping this one would live up to my expectations and WOW! did it ever.

The story begins by showing us the love Tyler shared with his partner. This was not just a run of the mill, small kind of love. No, this was a full on, love of his life, can’t live without him type of love. Tyler’s world is turned on its axis by a vicious hate crime very early in the story, and my heart just shattered for him. I can’t imagine waking up in the hospital only to find out my reason for living is gone. This is exactly what happened to Tyler. The following weeks and months were a true test for Tyler. One of the only things that got him through it was a cautious friendship with Christian Martin, the detective investigating his case.

Christian is a homicide detective and takes his job very seriously. When he catches Tyler’s case, he takes it very personally and promises that he will solve the crime and get justice for the two men. The worst thing for Christian is the attraction he feels for Tyler. He knows he can’t act on it, so he settles for friendship, and he does his best to keep Tyler from completely shutting down.

As the case begins to grow cold, with no new leads, the veil of depression begins to lift for Tyler. But depression is then replaced by anger and a deep need for revenge.

While Tyler is on the brink of becoming a vigilante, he also begins to acknowledge he is starting to have feelings for Christian. As they begin to slowly test the waters of a new relationship, Tyler ends up doing something that could end them before they even start.

In true John Inman style, the tension gradually grows in Payback until it reaches an action packed climactic end. The journey, however, was the focal point of this book and it was amazing.

I can’t count the number of times I cried while reading this book. It was such a realistic portrayal of the grieving process, and I felt like I could have been living this story instead of just reading it. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next from John Inman.






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5 Stars, BA Tortuga, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Ever the Same by BA Tortuga

Title: Ever the Same

Author: BA Tortuga

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 256 Pages

At a Glance: Ms. Tortuga has yet to write a book I haven’t loved, and this one is no exception.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: Audie Barrack is in it up to his elbows with a sick calf when his son’s school calls. Seems Grainger has gotten into yet another fight. When he walks into the principal’s office, he’s shocked to find his son has been fighting with a little girl named Randi.

A little girl with one blind dad and one dad who recently passed away.

Goddammit.

Dixon has lost his sight, his career, and his husband. Thank God for his brothers, Momma and Daddy, and his little girl, or he would simply give up. The last thing he needs is for Randi to start trouble at school, especially trouble that puts him in contact with another dad who might expect him to be a functional human being.

Dixon is struggling to live as a blind man, Audie is terrified someone might see he has a closet to come out of, and everyone from the school to both men’s families is worried for the men and their children. Unless they get themselves together and commit to change, neither of them stands a chance.

Dividers

Review: As a parent to two beautiful young ladies, I can attest to the fact that our children manage to bring not only joy to our life, but they also introduce us to people we may never have met any other way. This is exactly what was depicted in this story. At the beginning of Ever the Same, single dad Audie Barrack goes to a meeting at his son’s school and finds out that his son was in a fight. Not only is fighting out of character for his son, but he was fighting with a girl.

When Audie meets the little girl’s father, he is struck dumb by the long haired, tattooed, musician. Only after accidentally insulting the man does he find out he is blind. Dixon lost his husband and his sight in a car accident a year ago, and his daughter is having trouble adjusting. This trouble manifests itself through her fight with Audie’s son Grainger.

The two fathers, Dixon and Audie, begin to work together to help their kids get along, and at the same time, they find they have a lot more in common than they might have thought. Eventually they begin dating, and it doesn’t take long before they move into a more intense, serious relationship. Things are moving along well until each of their families try their best to throw a wrench into the works, and make the men begin to doubt their relationship.

Audie is a horseman and Dixon is a musician. Audie likes the country and needs wide open spaces, while Dixon wants nothing more than a studio and a mixing board to make his music. They will ultimately have to find some common ground and make some sacrifices if they want their relationship to last.

Once again BA Tortuga has written a fabulous story with lively, believable characters. I loved how there were realistic problems, realistic solutions, and some truly entertaining character interaction in this book. One thing that wasn’t in this book was any unneeded angst for angst’s sake, and I have to say it made the book just that much better.

Ms. Tortuga has yet to write a book I haven’t loved, and this one is no exception. The plot moved along at the perfect pace. The relationship between Audie and Dixon developed slowly, but in my opinion, it was handled beautifully and was believable. On a side note, I feel the children in this book were written spot on. They didn’t overtake the story, but they were definitely integral to the plot.

I would highly recommend this title, and I would love to see these men, and these kids, again sometime in the future.

TNA_Signature_Jackie






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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Melanie Hansen, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Everything Changes by Melanie Hansen

Title: Everything Changes

Author: Melanie Hansen

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Melanie Hansen has done a great job with this book.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: What happens when friendship catches fire?

Former Marine and lower-leg amputee Carey Everett keeps a grueling schedule of counseling fellow war veterans and their families. The injury he received in Afghanistan forces him to rely on a reserve of strength he didn’t even know he had. A much deserved vacation will let him reconnect with his best friend, who saved his life and has been there for him through devastating injury and painful recovery.

Part-time EMT and aspiring singer Jase DeSantis has been in love with Carey for years, but he’s come to accept that his straight friend will never be able to offer more. Jase fills his days with band rehearsals, ambulance shifts, and willing groupies, all while trying to cope with debilitating PTSD.

A week of sun, fun, and music in San Diego changes Jase and Carey’s lives forever when their relationship takes an unexpected turn. Jase has been longing for that change, but it leaves Carey reeling with confusion. As Jase fights to hold things together, Carey deals with doubts, fears, and his own preconceived notions about labels and the true nature of love.

Dividers

Review: I am not always a huge fan of the “gay-for-you” story. Now, having said that, I can enjoy a well written love story, and this was definitely a well written love story.

Carey Everett and Jase DeSantis have been the best of friends for years. Jase is most definitely an out and proud gay man. Carey Everett is a self-proclaimed straight man. Even though this information has been on the table since the beginning of their friendship, Jase has been in love with Carey for years. He has done his best to accept the fact there may never be a love story for the two of them, and he doesn’t want to lose his best friend, so he takes what he can get from Carey and is as happy as he can be about it.

A long overdue visit to San Diego brings Carey into Jace’s world, and things begin to change between them. Carey is having feelings he hasn’t wanted to put a name to for a while, and this throws him for a loop. Jase is leery of doing anything romantic with Carey because he doesn’t want to ruin the dynamic they have shared for years, but he also doesn’t want to miss what could be his only chance for love with the man of his dreams.

These two men begin a journey together, some of it smooth sailing, and some of it hits some pretty rough seas. Not only is Carey trying to adjust to being in a relationship with a man for the first time, but both men suffer from different forms of PTSD.

This is not an easy road for either man, and it isn’t always sunshine and roses, but there is a well-earned HEA. I have to say, that makes a book a great read for me. I like the fact Carey doesn’t just accept all of his feelings and move full steam ahead with Jase. I like that fact Jase lets Carey have time to wrap his head around things. It just makes the story feel more realistic.

Melanie Hansen has done a great job with this book, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store from her next.






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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jackie, Skylar M. Cates

Review: Here For You by Skylar M. Cates

Title: Here For You

Author: Skylar M. Cates

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 234 Pages

At a Glance: I truly can’t recommend this book enough.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: Life is a thread connecting us. One pull and it all unravels.

Cole Gannon arrives in the seaside town of Ocean Vista to work as a bartender and finally find a place to belong. Determined to make a home for himself, Cole lives happily with his four colorful roommates, whom he considers brothers. The only problem is Cole’s attraction to Ian Stark—a guy all wrong for him. He wishes he didn’t keep running into the sexy lawyer.

Ian knows Cole is attracted to him, but the younger man keeps him at arm’s length. It only makes Ian more determined to be with Cole and learn all his secrets. But while Ian has built a successful law practice, he hasn’t done too well with relationships.

When a sudden and devastating tragedy occurs, it shatters Cole’s world and throws Cole and Ian together in unexpected ways. In an instant, everything between them changes forever.

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Review: I have read every book Skylar M. Cates has written, and I have always been a big fan of her work. This book, however, struck a chord with me. I have a soft spot for damaged men, and this book is just chock full of them. Cole has no real family to call his own so he has built himself one. With his roommates he has found the one thing that was denied him in his childhood.

Cole is definitely attracted to Ian, and Ian is well aware of that fact. Ian just can’t figure out why Cole turns him down each and every time they run into each other. What Ian doesn’t know is that one of Cole’s roommates is totally hung up on Ian, and Cole won’t go there because he doesn’t want to hurt his friend and roommate. However, when Cole is going through a terrible tragedy, he ends up turning to Ian, and Ian is there for him wholeheartedly.

Now, that doesn’t mean that these two just fell in love and drove off into the sunset together. Ms. Cates wouldn’t make it that easy for us.

Ian realizes that he is going to have to work hard to keep Cole. Not because Cole doesn’t care for him but because Cole doesn’t feel like he deserves someone like Ian. Cole is a bartender, Ian a lawyer. Cole shares his place with four other people to make ends meet, while Ian has a beautiful home all to himself. Those are just two of the differences between them, and Cole feels the differences are insurmountable.

Once these two begin to get their act together, everything else starts falling apart. The family Cole has created for himself begins to show cracks, and it seems like he could end up having to choose between Ian and his family.

I have always loved Skylar M. Cates’ books, and this one could be her very best yet. Ian, Cole, and Cole’s family of choice just draw you in from the very beginning. Each of these men have a tough past, and this has brought them all together. Just like blood relations, there are good times and bad times.

Cole and Ian are very interesting, almost in an opposites attract kind of way. Even though they both had a not so happy childhood, they have led completely different lives, but I feel this just makes them a couple that is easier to root for.

I won’t tell you how it all ends, but I will say I am DYING for the next book. I truly can’t recommend this book enough.






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5 Stars, Bailey Bradford, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jackie, Totally Bound

Review: Belt Buckles and Cowboy Boots by Bailey Bradford

Title: Belt Buckles and Cowboy Boots

Author: Bailey Bradford

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 208 Pages

At a Glance: I loved Belt Buckles and Cowboy Boots and can’t wait to see what’s next from Ms. Bradford.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: Colby thought he’d never let anyone close again after being betrayed by everyone he loved, but one closeted, stubborn oilfield worker with a penchant for dressing like a cowboy seems determined to out himself and win Colby’s heart. It’s as if Hunter Talamentez walked right out of Colby’s fantasies and into the convenience store where Colby works.

But Hunter is closeted, and he’s never considered changing that. He’s got his homophobic cousin with him, a family that he knows won’t support him if they know the truth about who he is and a job where being out could get him hurt. He resigned himself to spending his life alone until he gets to know Colby. Then he embarks on a journey with Colby that will change their lives if only they both find the strength to take a few chances.

Nothing comes easily, and learning to give from the heart when that heart has been shattered twice before might be more than Colby is capable of. He isn’t sure about having more than a fling with Hunter, yet he can’t seem to stay away from the man, either. What was meant to be one night together turns into more, and Colby loses his ability to keep Hunter at the safe distance he’d wanted.

Dividers

Review: Bailey Bradford is a go-to author for me when I need a good shifter story. I love her writing style, and her imagination is a thing of beauty. It turns out that she is pretty damned amazing when it comes to writing contemporary romance as well.

Colby has lived a lonely life since coming out to his family. Not only was he thrown away like yesterday’s garbage, but he can count his friends on one hand. Living a solitary life has never bothered Colby in the past, but recently he’s been thinking that there has to be more to life than what he is living right now.

Enter Hunter Talamentez. Hunter is an oilfield worker with a religious mother who would never accept his homosexuality. With those two strikes against him, he believes he is destined to have only furtive hookups and no chance of a real relationship. When he and his homophobic cousin stop at the local convenience store, he meets Colby. Even though he knows it isn’t a good idea, he just can’t walk away. Hunter and Colby begin a “friends-with-benefits” arrangement that quickly becomes more for the both of them. Over the course of their courtship, they both learn some long overdue lessons and realize what is most important.

Colby has more love and support in his small town than he ever realized, and Hunter also finds out he may have more support than he believed. The two men definitely have some hurdles to overcome to get to a HEA, but they are dedicated to getting there, and the trip was fantastic.

Getting through their story was rough at times, but I loved Colby’s strength. Hunter may have been bigger and stronger, but Colby was definitely the backbone of their relationship. Hunter fed off Colby’s strength and in the end, it gave him the fortitude to live his life as he wanted to, and that made them even stronger as a couple.

I loved Belt Buckles and Cowboy Boots and can’t wait to see what’s next from Ms. Bradford. I will be reading it for sure.






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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Lane Hayes, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: The Wrong Man by Lane Hayes

Title: The Wrong Man

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count:

At a Glance: The Wrong Man is a fabulous journey that I am so very pleased to have taken.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: Successful owner of an upscale boutique in fabulous West Hollywood, Brandon Good swears by his personal edict to “live in the present.” After a bad breakup, he agrees to dog-sit to keep his mind off his ex. Never did he expect the dog to belong to a man from his past, the only man to ever truly break his heart.

When Jake Westley relocates to join the WeHo fire department, the last thing he anticipates is reuniting with his secret high school love. Thrilled with the prospect of reconnecting with Bran, Jake feels no guilt in using his charming old dog as an unwitting matchmaker. As he and Bran rekindle their friendship, it becomes clear the intense attraction they once felt is stronger than ever. But as hard as they try to leave the past behind, painful memories resurface. Bran will have to confront his fears and consider the possibility that the man he swore was absolutely the wrong one might be perfect after all.

Dividers

Review: Normally when I read a book with a “past hurts” storyline, there is a definite right and a definite wrong. In this story there really wasn’t; there was a lot of gray. What Jake did was hurtful, but it was far from the worst he could have done to Brandon. However, when we are in high school everything is magnified and seems like life and death. What we do with our past hurts and how we grow from them is how we know we are growing up.

Brandon Good seemed to me like he still had some growing up to do. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I LOVED Brandon in the first book, and I loved him even more in this book. Having said that, though, it was heartbreaking to see him hold onto the pain from his past so tightly that it kept him from living a full life now. It was obvious from his first interaction with Jake that they both still had plenty of deep feelings for one another. Even though Jake was more than willing to begin again with Brandon, it seems that Brandon has a few concerns about being anything more than friends with Jake.

Jake is just out of a relationship and has a new job at the WeHo fire department, and he is determined to use every weapon in his arsenal to win back Brandon’s trust. It seems the way to Brandon’s heart goes directly through Jake’s dog.

Both Brandon and Jake spend most of the book falling in love with each other without even realizing it. It was so much fun witnessing these two go along with blinders on, where their relationship was concerned. Every time they would begin to get close to real “feelings,” Brandon would run scared and Jake would let him, right up until Jake just couldn’t do it anymore, and he basically decided if he couldn’t have all of Brandon, they just weren’t going to work out.

Brandon was a little slow on the uptake when it came to his feelings for Jake, but when the truth hits him in the face, it could be too late. He has to learn to forgive youthful mistakes and also realize that he may not have been totally blameless in the situation.

The struggle these two went through was not only credible, but I bet some of us know people who may have lived this book. I loved both of these characters, and yes, the dog was great! I clicked with the characters completely, and I found myself switching sides of the battle every once in a while. But, by the end of the book I was just cheering for a HEA.

The road these two men had to travel to get to their HEA was at times sweet and sugary, and at others painful and heartbreaking, but The Wrong Man is a fabulous journey that I am so very pleased to have taken. I hope there will be more books to this series because so far they have both been fantastic.






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4.5 Stars, Extasy Books, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jackie, Scarlet Blackwell

Review: Rescue Me by Scarlet Blackwell

Title: Rescue Me

Author: Scarlet Blackwell

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 284 Pages

At a Glance: All in all I loved this story, but it won’t be for everyone.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: After a near fatal car crash leaves him scarred both physically and emotionally, Matt Harmon finds the solitude of his huge, lonely house too much to bear. Hiring nurse James Hayden to look after him seems like the best idea for Matt, whose fierce independence has been compromised by his injuries. The two men clash from the start as James struggles to help Matt rebuild his shattered body and heal his crushed soul. The bond they form is forged in fire and ice, and the wounds they inflict on one another can only be erased by Matt’s admission that he can’t live without James’s loving touch. Will Matt realize too late that James is the only one who can rescue him from himself?

Dividers

Review: WOW! That was the first word that entered my mind when I sat down to write this review. In her usual style, Ms. Blackwell has given us two polar opposite characters, and yes, one of them is a real JERK. For me, that makes the book just that much better. I like it when the story isn’t full of hearts and flowers one hundred percent of the time. There is something to be said for redeeming a character like Matt, especially when he appears to be completely irredeemable at points in the story.

Now, I got where Matt was coming from. I can’t imagine how I would react to his situation. He has never had a loving, healthy relationship before, so when he and James begin to grow closer, it wasn’t so shocking that Matt would screw it up royally! I believe it is a testament to Scarlet Blackwell’s writing skills that I was actually happy for James and Matt by the end of the book. That doesn’t mean there weren’t times where I felt James should have run for his life and never looked back. Thankfully he didn’t, though, because watching Matt turn into an actual human being was absolutely wonderful.

Did Matt get a little “sweet” at the end? Maybe. Did I care? NO! I think James earned himself some sweet after the emotional and physical road he went down with Matt. This story will push your boundaries, that’s for sure. There were times I almost couldn’t finish the story, but I soldiered on, and I am happy for it.

There was some angry physical times between Matt and James, but I don’t feel as though they were anything more than growing experiences between the two men. I wouldn’t consider it abuse, so it shouldn’t push any trigger buttons.

All in all I loved this story, but it won’t be for everyone. If you are going to read this one, be sure to pull on your big girl, or boy, panties and buckle up for a wild ride.






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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Jacob Z. Flores, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Please Remember Me by Jacob Z. Flores

Title: Please Remember Me

Author: Jacob Z. Flores

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 256 Pages

At a Glance: A story like this makes me believe in love and second chances and all the reasons I like to read romance novels.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: Successful lawyer Santi Herrera couldn’t be happier with the direction his life is taking. Not only is he on track to becoming a partner in his law firm, but he’s planning his wedding to Hank Burton, a south Texas contractor who has made a name for himself despite his humble beginnings. The introverted, lone wolf Santi and the friendly, outgoing Hank complement each other perfectly. From the moment they laid eyes on each other, they were hooked, and as far as Santi and Hank are concerned, a happily ever after is their destiny.

But fate deals them a devastating new hand.

A construction accident leaves Hank with severe head trauma and brings him precariously close to death. When he finally awakens, Hank doesn’t remember Santi or the love they shared for the past three years. Santi faces the greatest challenge of his life. Can he respark a flame his lover can’t recall? And can he stop the diverging paths that fickle fate charts between them?

Dividers

Review: I have been a loyal reader of Jacob Z. Flores for a while now. I love his books that have a funnier slant, his angsty “rip-your-heart-out” love stories, and his dystopian story as well. I am not usually seduced by a book cover. Normally I couldn’t care less what a cover looks like. When I saw the cover of this book, though, I was mesmerized. I just HAD to read the story that inspired that cover, and I am so very glad I did.

Santi and Hank’s story is told through the first person narrative in the present, and through flashbacks. I know flashbacks don’t always work for some people, but this time they really, really did. I’d swear I could feel the love pouring off the pages of this book, not to mention the heat that these two men generated between them.

I can’t imagine having the person I planned to spend the rest of my life with wake up in a hospital and not have a single clue who I am. The pain and heartache it would cause is just not something I have ever come close to experiencing. The author did a fabulous job of getting Santi’s emotions across clearly, and I found myself crying for him on more than one occasion.

Over the course of the book we get to see them both before and after Hank lost his memories. Their beginning was magical, but the hurts Santi went through during the aftermath really tore at my heart. Thinking the man you love with everything in you believes he is in love with someone else…ugh, GUTTED.

With some very entertaining secondary characters, this story was a total hit for me. I love a love story and this was definitely love. A story like this makes me believe in love and second chances and all the reasons I like to read romance novels. Finding perfection once is a gift, twice it’s a miracle. Mr. Flores has made me believe in miracles.






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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Jaime Reese, Reviewed by Jackie, Self-Published

Review: A Restored Man by Jaime Reese

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Title: A Restored Man (The Men of Halfway House: Book Three)

Author: Jaime Reese

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 363 Pages

At a Glance: This book, as well as the others in the series, is just amazing.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: Cole Renzo thinks his greatest challenge is to behave for the remainder of his term at Halfway House. Until he meets his new boss, Ty Calloway, a man who ticks off every box on Cole’s list of interests.

A sought-after restorer and customizer of exotic and collectible cars, Ty had enough confidence to command what he wanted in life, until one fateful night changed everything. Almost two years later, he’s slowly rebuilding his life with great control. He’s defied the odds and works tirelessly to be the man he once was—but he still feels broken.

Cole’s candor and unfiltered personality awaken Ty’s barely-remembered desire to greet each new day with a smile, while Ty’s unwavering acceptance of Cole’s quirks and brash humor makes Cole feel as if he fits in for the first time in far too long. When a nemesis threatens Ty’s personal restoration and the things he holds dear, Cole is determined to protect their relationship, even if that means sacrificing everything he’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ty will have to let his guard down, surrender control, and admit he needs Cole first, even if that puts himself at risk of breaking beyond repair.

Dividers

Review: Oh man, when I saw A Restored Man on the “Coming Soon” page, I was so very excited. I have loved The Men of Halfway House series since the very beginning. When Cole made his first appearance in the series, he seemed like a total trouble maker. I was looking forward to reading this so I could find out more about this character. I just knew he had to have hidden depths, and boy was I right.

Cole Renzo has turned out to be one of my favorite characters of the year. On the surface he is just a car stealing, ADHD-having wild man. Once you scratch at the surface a little, though, you get a whole other view of the man. He is a whiz at just about anything that has to do with cars, he is completely devoted to his family, and he has a thing for beanies.

Ty Calloway has offered Cole a job in his shop during his stay in the halfway house. Ty is a premier auto restorer and mechanic who has had it pretty rough lately. An accident has left him scarred, both physically and mentally. Add in an opportunistic criminal, and Ty is on the edge of a breakdown. Little does he know that Cole could be the answer to questions he hasn’t even thought to ask himself.

Jaime Reese has once again put pen to paper and worked some major magic between two men who are somewhat cracked but not wholly broken. Cole is a man who grew up in a close knit family, but tragedy put him on a course of self-destruction that landed him in jail and eventually, in the Halfway House. Ty’s life was almost identical. He had great parents, a loving brother, and a killer career. The difference is when tragedy struck Ty, he just shut down. No acting out for him.

From the moment these two meet there are sparks, but they have a metric ton of baggage to sort through before they can even think of a HEA. Luckily for us, the author did a fantastic job of walking us through their journey. I loved getting to experience the highs and lows right alongside Ty and Cole. Cole’s family was a treat and Ty’s brother, well, he was…interesting. I am hoping he’ll be getting his very own story soon. I am sure it will be a page turner as well.

This book, as well as the others in the series, is just amazing. I am completely in love with all the characters, and I can’t wait to see where Ms. Reese will take us next.






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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Jay Northcote, Reviewed by Jackie, Self-Published

Review: Passing Through by Jay Northcote

Title: Passing Through

Author: Jay Northcote

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 121 Pages

At a Glance: I would definitely recommend giving Passing Through a read.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: Leo is a lonely workaholic with no time for romance in his life. His job in London takes all his energy and commitment. When he goes to Cornwall to stay with his terminally ill uncle, Edwin, love is the last thing Leo expects to find.

Tris lives in a cottage on Edwin’s land. Gay, but still half in the closet, he and Leo bond over their affection for Edwin, and the pull of attraction between them proves too strong to ignore. In Tris’s arms, in the wilds of Cornwall, Leo finds a peace he’d forgotten existed.

On his return to London, Leo finds himself grieving for more than just the loss of his uncle. When some unexpected news gives Leo the chance to return to Cornwall, he’s afraid it will be too late to rekindle things with Tris. But having learned much from his stay with his uncle, Leo doesn’t want to look back and wish he’d done things differently.

It’s time to seize the day—if it’s not already too late.

Dividers

Review: I am an unapologetic fangirl of Ms. Northcote’s books. To say I was excited to see a new book out would be a huge understatement. Passing Through was very well written and the characters were entertaining, but I almost felt there were too many irons in the fire on this one.

Leo was a great character with flaws, but none too big that you couldn’t overlook them. He was a workaholic that let his personal relationships fall by the wayside when he let his job take precedence over everything else. When his favorite Uncle Edwin is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Leo decides to spend some quality time with Edwin before there isn’t any time left. What Leo didn’t expect was to find on this trip was Tris.

After having his life turned upside down, Tris rented a cottage from Edwin and helped the man out while getting his own life back together. Coming to terms with his sexuality later in life, Tris has found he’s had to redefine himself and what is left of his family. Leo is a bright spot in a dim part of his life, but it appears this will only be temporary.

When Edwin’s time begins to run short, he seems to be able to finally share his past and his life story with Leo and Tris. The revelations these two men are witness to, make them take stock of their own lives in a way many of us don’t get the opportunity to. Both Leo and Tris will have to decide what is most important to them, and find a way to go after their own elusive happily ever after.

I loved the premise of this story. Uncle Edwin, funnily enough, was my favorite character in the entire book. As his life was coming to an end, he did everything he could to help his beloved nephew see what is most important in life. He confessed everything he’d kept secret for years, in hopes that there could be a different, if not better, outcome for Leo. Honestly, this man was an undercover yenta, and I loved every minute of it.

The love story between Leo and Tris seemed to take a back seat at times in the book, and that was okay, for the most part. I believe their love story was a subtle one, it almost seemed as if Edwin was more of an MC at times, and I loved him for it. Don’t get me wrong, Tris and Leo did have a great story, and it was told well, but it never seemed to be in sharp focus.

Even without the angsty love story I have come to expect and love from Jay Northcote, I would definitely recommend giving Passing Through a read.






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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Reviewed by Jackie, Whitley Gray

Review: Crash Pad by Whitley Gray

Title: Crash Pad

Author: Whitley Gray

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 77 Pages

At a Glance: Whitley Gray does a fabulous job with character development and giving me what I look for in a story.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: Physician Remy Marshall has two loves: Emergency Medicine and running. Work doesn’t leave much time to meet guys, and most seem more interested in his bank account than him. With a week off to train for a marathon, Remy plans to make the most of his precious vacation. The last thing he needs is a distraction.

Jamie Sutton is new to the area. He hopes to make a fresh start after leaving an abusive relationship with an orthopedic surgeon. He’s got a new job as a massage therapist and wants to meet some nice guys. Against his better judgment, Jamie decides the best way to meet a cute rollerblader he’s seen in the park is on wheels.

With attention on his watch and not where he’s going, Remy crashes into Jamie and fractures the first-time rollerblader’s ankle. Jamie has no one to help him after the injury; Remy proposes Jamie stay with him. Jamie is reluctant, but it’s a better option than staying with the odd guy in the neighboring motel room. As the two get acquainted, Jamie’s past comes calling. Remy discovers the prize he really wants isn’t a medal in a marathon, but the man right in front of him.

Dividers

Review: Crash Pad is my first experience with a Whitley Gray book. The blurb sounded so fun and cute that I just had to read it despite the fact that it was a rather short story. I am not usually a fan of the short story because I almost always feel like there’s something missing. In this story, though, I truly felt like I got the total package.

I absolutely loved how the two MCs met in this book. Poor Jamie was actually trying to pick up someone else when a distracted Remy smacked right directly into him. Pure genius! When Remy sees where Jamie is staying, he takes the man home and from there, the relationship between them sparks out of control.

Unfortunately Jamie has some unresolved issues in his past, and boy do they come a-knockin’! In a weird six degrees of separation thing, Remy and Jamie find that they have a lot more in common than a strong attraction.

Whitley Gray does a fabulous job with character development and giving me what I look for in a story. As is usual when I read a story that hits my happy place, it was over way too soon. But, I didn’t feel there was anything missing, which is all too common for me with short stories. There is plenty of happy, there was just enough sad, and there was also tons of funny. What more could I ask for?

I would love to read more about Jamie and Remy, and if not, I will still be giving Whitley Gray another read and another and another…






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3 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Michael Murphy, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Mano’s Story by Michael Murphy

Title: Mano’s Story

Author: Michael Murphy

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I feel like this was more of a biography of Mano’s life than it was a romance novel

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: Sequel to Little Squirrels Can Climb Tall Trees

Mano and Jake, friends since childhood, are each the brother that the other never had, hermanos. It doesn’t matter that Mano is gay and Jake is straight. They have each other’s backs. When he grows weary of being used as a pawn by his parents as their marriage collapses, Mano moves in with Jake’s family.

Jake and Mano both need a chance to start over, so they move to Hawaii and work for Jake’s uncle, Mano working as a lifeguard. In his free time, Mano explores his sexuality and finds he has no shortage of men in his bed. But after watching his parents’ relationship disintegrate, Mano guards his heart and keeps it strictly sexual.

Determined to become self-sufficient, Mano returns to college while still working full-time. When he meets the man of his dreams, he’s too scared and unsure of himself to pursue him. For years he went out of his way to avoid getting close to a man, so now when he wants to, he doesn’t know how. With the encouragement of Jake and others, Mano searches for the courage to go after what he’s always really wanted.

Dividers

Review: I read the first story in this series and I liked it, so when I saw this book on its way, I was completely sold on it. Mano was a fun character in the previous book, and I couldn’t wait to get to know him better.

Mano was raised by parents who weren’t technically abusive, but worse than that, they were inattentive to extremes. When Mano’s finally had enough, he moves to Hawaii with his childhood best friend Jake, and they get a fresh start with jobs at a hotel owned by Jake’s uncle. Mano loves his job as a lifeguard, but he knows he wants more out of life.

Soon after arriving, Mano decides he wants to stretch his legs in the gay sex scene. Being new to the area, he has no problem meeting plenty of men, but none of them are the one he wants to keep. Eventually Mano gets his act together and enrolls in college. Everything seems to be going great for Mano, but he realizes that the bar hook-ups aren’t enough anymore. When he spots his dream guy in the local bar he is too intimidated to approach him, but luckily dreamboat’s friend spots Mano’s interest and does him a solid by setting up the first meeting for him. From that point on we follow Mano, Jake, and their significant others through their ups and downs. Joseph and Kyle from the previous book played a wonderful part in Mano’s Story, and ended up being like family for Mano when he needed it most.

This was a good story and I truly loved Mano’s character, but I feel like this was more of a biography of Mano’s life than it was a romance novel. I feel like I missed out on some of the most important parts of a budding relationship. There were so many opportunities to flesh out the romantic side of the story, but I feel like they were all missed.

I am not saying that this was a bad story, it was actually very well written, and I loved the characters. I would read more from this author in the future, but I would definitely hope for more romance.






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5 Stars, Genre Romance, N.R. Walker, Reviewed by Jackie, Self-Published

Review: Red Dirt Heart 4 by N.R. Walker

Title: Red Dirt Heart 4

Author: N.R. Walker

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 308 Pages

At a Glance: If you haven’t read any of the books in this series, I would recommend you set aside a weekend and devour them all.

Blurb: Moving from a Texas ranch to an Australian Outback station was a life changing decision for Travis Craig. Though it wasn’t really a decision at all. Something in his bones told him to go, though he had no clue as to why.

Until he met Sutton Station’s owner, Charlie.

Loving Charlie shouldn’t have been easy. The man was stubborn, and riddled with crippling self-doubt. No, it shouldn’t have been easy at all. Yet somehow, falling in love with Charlie was the easiest thing in the world.

Loving him was easy. Living with him, teaching him how to love in return and, more importantly, how to love himself, was not.

But Travis knew all along it’d be worth it. He knew the man with the red dirt heart was destined to be his. Just like he knew the red dirt that surrounded him was where he was supposed to be.

In the final instalment of the Red Dirt Series, we see Charlie through Travis’ eyes. We see how much he’s grown and how much he loves. We go back to Texas with them, and we see Charlie get everything he truly thought he never deserved.

Red Dirt Heart 4 is Travis’ story.

And this is the story of not just one red dirt heart, but two.

Dividers

Review: Oh man, my heart is hurting so badly right now. I feel like I have just come to the end of a long journey and honestly, I know I have. From the moment I was introduced to Charlie and Travis, I knew this was going to be an epic love story, and N.R. Walker proved me correct over and over again.

In this, the final book of the series, we venture out of the outback to visit Travis’s family in Texas. We get to see another side of Charlie, the insecure side that he doesn’t show often, and the complete and total devotion he has to Travis. We get to see where Travis is from and meet the people who shaped his life before he showed up in the Australian Outback.

Travis and Charlie also found themselves admitting to dreams they hadn’t admitted to anyone, even each other, before. We get an update on all of our favorite characters around the station and even get to meet a few new ones. We get a new glimpse into the heart of Charlie, and I for one was in awe of the depths of this man’s feelings and his charitable nature.

I feel that the author did a fabulous job with the epilogue of this book also. I mean, let’s be honest—she could have written at least two more books to cover the ground she did in the longer epilogue, but I find that I loved the idea of giving us an almost novella length epilogue. It gave us a wonderful accounting of what happens to our favorite characters over the years and a heartwarming glimpse into their future without having to create unnecessary and exhausting conflict. We got to just see them happy and settled into their lives. In my opinion, that is the definition of a happily ever after.

I can’t think of anything that would have been a better ending to a wonderful series. I am actually content to leave the boys where we did in this book and that doesn’t always happen at the end of a series. If you haven’t read any of the books in this series, I would recommend you set aside a weekend and devour them all.






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5 Stars, Charlie Cochet, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Jackie, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Rise & Fall by Charlie Cochet

Title: Rise & Fall (THIRDS: Book Four)

Author: Charlie Cochet

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 236 Pages

At a Glance: This is one you don’t want to miss

Blurb: After an attack by the Coalition leaves THIRDS Team Leader Sloane Brodie critically injured, agent Dexter J. Daley swears to make Beck Hogan pay for what he’s done. But Dex’s plans for retribution are short-lived. With Ash still on leave with his own injuries, Sloane in the hospital, and Destructive Delta in the Coalition’s crosshairs, Lieutenant Sparks isn’t taking any chances. Dex’s team is pulled from the case, with the investigation handed to Team Leader Sebastian Hobbs. Dex refuses to stand by while another team goes after Hogan, and decides to put his old HPF detective skills to work to find Hogan before Theta Destructive, no matter the cost.

With a lengthy and painful recovery ahead of him, the last thing Sloane needs is his partner out scouring the city, especially when the lies—however well intentioned—begin to spiral out of control. Sloane is all too familiar with the desire to retaliate, but some things are more important, like the man who’s pledged to stand beside him. As Dex starts down a dark path, it’s up to Sloane to show him what’s at stake, and finally put a name to what’s in his heart.

Dividers

Review: It is a well known fact that I am highly addicted to Charlie Cochet’s THIRDS Series and all the extremely fabulous characters she has brought into my life. The first three books have centered around Dex Daley and Sloane Brodie, while letting us get to know the rest of the team members and their stories in a peripheral way. Honestly, I thought we had pretty much finished Dex and Sloane’s romance in the last book, but boy was I wrong.

With Brodie in the hospital, Dex makes it his new mission in life to track down the people responsible for putting him there. When Lieutenant Sparks pulls the entire team off the case, Dex has to decide if he wants to go it alone or if he wants to pull in a little help from his friends.

Just like with all the other books in the series, there is plenty of action and humor. The one new thing we get in this book is a glimpse into Dex’s mind we haven’t had before. Things he thought he had put behind him come back to take up space in his head. Thankfully Brodie is there to help Dex, and the two men end up closer than either of them thought they ever could be.

Aside from Dex and Brodie’s romantic entanglements, we also got a glimpse into Cael and Ash’s relationship, or lack thereof. Surprisingly, Calvin and Hobbes make a very memorable appearance as well.

In my opinion, this is the best book in the series so far. We got to see so much more of the serious side of Dex and Sloane both. Neither one of these men are known to share their feelings often, but when they do, WOW, they really do.

I am already starting a countdown to the next book. I may even be doing a tad bit of whining, but don’t tell anyone. I feel Charlie Cochet left Dex and Brodie in a great spot, and I am desperately looking forward to see what is next for Destructive Delta (crossing my fingers for Cael and Ash’s story next, but I can’t imagine I would be disappointed with whatever comes my way). One new character was introduced at the end of the book, and I can’t wait to see what role Old Betsy is going to play for Ash and Brodie.

So, if you haven’t read this series yet, I would tell you to hurry up and get reading. This is one you don’t want to miss.






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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Nick Wilgus, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Stones in the Road by Nick Wilgus

Title: Stones in the Road

Author: Nick Wilgus

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 350 Pages

At a Glance: I hope this isn’t the last we hear from Wiley, Jackson, Noah and their crazier-than-they-should-be family.

Blurb: When his snobbish future in-laws travel all the way from Boston to visit, wise-cracking Southerner Wiley Cantrell learns that gay marriage is not without its disadvantages. Occupied by concerns over the health of his special needs son Noah, a meth baby who was not expected to live and who is now on the cusp of puberty, the antics of Wiley’s outrageous would-be mother-in-law and severely conservative father-in-law strain his relationship with Jackson Ledbetter, a pediatric nurse who poses problems of his own. As their respective families meet and greet, each just as meddlesome and inflexible as the other, North meets South and the fireworks and cultural misunderstandings are plenty.

A tornado blows through the small Mississippi town where Wiley’s mother lives, wrecking his mother’s house and leaving their lives in disarray. Then Jackson’s secret drug addiction comes to light, and Wiley and Noah are devastated. With so many stones in the road, Wiley and Jackson find their dream of becoming a real family falling apart. Though Wiley relies on humor to cope, he’ll need something more to keep his happily ever after from slipping away.

Dividers

Review: Oh man, I just don’t even know where to start with this book. I absolutely adored the previous book, Shaking the Sugar Tree, and my heart almost stopped when I saw there was a sequel coming out.

It’s two years from the time we last saw Wiley, Noah and Jackson. Wiley and Jackson are still engaged, they all still living together, and yes, they are still dealing with Wiley’s crazy but loveable family. Since it seems these two are going to make it together for the long haul, Jackson’s parents decide to come down for a visit to vet the soon-to-be son-in-law. This makes Wiley a little nervous, but Jackson is about to lose his mind.

Add in the fact that Wiley’s family is not any more accepting of his relationship with Jackson than they were two years ago, and you just know that you are going to be in for a wild ride. After the initial shock of meeting Jackson’s parents, I started to realize what the woman was doing, and I have to say I kind of fell in love with her. She was crass, definitely, but I simply adore a person who tells it how she sees it and uses stone cold logic to get her point across. All the while, she couldn’t care less who she offends as long as the outcome is the right one.

On the surface it seems like all the men have to worry about is getting this visit out of the way, but that just so happens to be the calm before the storm, literally. Wiley’s biggest fear comes to life when child protective services is called on him, and it brings his nightmare to life when the investigation reveals Jackson’s secret that could tear their family apart. Add in the fallout from a tornado that tears through their life, and Wiley finds himself at the end of his rope. Circumstances cause him to question everything he believed he was doing right, and put him on a path that could lead to him being alone in the world. He will have to learn to trust again, not only in Jackson but in himself also.

Even though this book is chock full of some very serious moments and issues, there is still that vein of humor that was present in the first book. I caught myself laughing out loud when Wiley and Jackson’s mom start going back and forth with each other, and we certainly can’t forget Papaw’s own personal brand of crazy. Nick Wilgus has taken a small town country boy and written him with determination, humor, and just enough humanity to make me believe I could head on down there and visit with Wiley and this motley crew of characters.

I hope this isn’t the last we hear from Wiley, Jackson, Noah and their crazier-than-they-should-be family. That would surely be a shame since I don’t feel like I have heard all they have to say. I highly recommend this book, and if you haven’t read Shaking the Sugar Tree, make sure to check that one out first.






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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jackie, Sandrine Gasq-Dion, Wilde City Press

Review: A Healing Man by Sandrine Gasq-Dion

Title: A Healing Man (Men of Manhattan: Book Five)

Author: Sandrine Gasq-Dion

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 150 Pages

At a Glance: Sets us up beautifully for the next couple of books in the series

Blurb: Dario Ramos thought he’d left the fighting behind in the war zone when a life-threatening injury sent him home. But a certain Irishman crossing his path everywhere he went convinced him that his biggest battle might be ahead. Tiernan Callahan is a bigoted jerk. Ramos finds himself constantly in the man’s orbit, even in a city as big as New York. The wounded warrior knows all about pain and loss — and that sometimes anger is the only form of release. When Tiernan once again crowds Ramos’ space, his eyes are opened to the possibility of other forms of release.

Tough NYC cop Tiernan Callahan is still mourning the death of his beloved youngest brother, Mason. Fearing his close-minded family’s reaction, the young soldier never got to tell them his secret — that he was gay and engaged to the love of his life. Tiernan is surviving on anger and guilt. When he continues to run into Dario Ramos, who continues to push his buttons, something inside him snaps. Suddenly, anger isn’t the only emotion he feels.

Two very different men, still trying to heal: Can they come to an understanding and heal each other?

Dividers

Review: It is hard to believe but this is already the fifth book in Sandrine Gasq-Dion’s “Men of Manhattan” series. I’ve been reading it since book one and have to say that this is one of my most anticipated books of the series. I’ve loved Ramos since he was introduced in the earlier books. On the other hand, I loathed Tiernan from the moment I was introduced to him. I have to admit that I didn’t know if Ms. Gasq-Dion was going to be able to sell me on Tiernan as a love interest, but I am happy to say that all of my doubt was just downright silly.

All of Tiernan’s faults were thought to be because he is homophobic. When the truth of Tiernan’s anger began to unfold in this story I found myself doing the unthinkable: feeling sympathy for his sorry behind!

Ramos is just…Ramos. He’s sarcastic, flirty, funny and protective of the ones he loves. His one liners were, as always, epically funny.

What began as a story of two men who hated each other on principal, turns into a story of two men who hate to love each other and man, that is totally sexy.

Ramos is a “take life as it comes” kind of guy, living in the gray areas of life. Tiernan is a by-the-book cop who has lived his life the way everyone expects him to. When these two immovable forces meet, it is inevitably going to cause an earthquake, and what an earthquake it is. These two had the temperature rising when they finally got together and WOW did they get it together. Heat wasn’t the only thing these two shared, though. It seemed like they just GOT one another. Tiernan accepted Ramos just the way he is, and Ramos saw the real Tiernan when no one else could. They really did seem to be made for one another.

It was so much fun to see the usual cast of characters again and we get to meet a few new guys who are sure to turn some of these men inside out. Danny, Tiernan’s new partner on the force, is AMAZING, and all I have to say is that he should never be allowed to spend any time alone with Slater. That would surely be the start of the apocalypse.

As with most of her books, Sandrine Gasq-Dion has set us up beautifully for the next couple of books in the series and if they are anywhere near as good as this one, they will be totally fantastic.






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