3.5 Stars, G.B. Gordon, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Janet, Riptide Publishing

Review: When to Hold Them by G.B. Gordon

Title: When to Hold Them (A Bluewater Bay Novel)

Author: G.B. Gordon

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 213 Pages

At a Glance: There is a complicated bit of character building that is skillfully done by the author, though I did have some issues with the time jumping around, and days passing with the POV changes.

Reviewed By: Janet

Blurb: Doran Callaghan doesn’t know when to fold ’em. His gambling has landed him in debt and in jail, and now it’s got him stuck in the sticks in a reintegration program. He wants to turn his life around, but old habits come knocking, and some creditors are harder to shake than others.

Xavier Wagner cares more about the National Park he works in than the people around it, until a stranger awakens desires he didn’t know he had. Doran’s natural submissiveness turns Xavier’s ideas of how to treat a lover upside down. But Doran doesn’t seem to know about boundaries—or even to have any—and Xavier’s not sure that Doran will say no if he needs to. Which means someone’s going to get hurt.

While Xavier struggles with his principles, Doran’s past comes calling. Trusting each other is suddenly a matter of life or death, but Doran has to decide whether counting on Xavier—or himself—is a gamble he’s willing to take.

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Review: When to Hold Them is another great story in the Bluewater Bay universe. Gordon is not a writer that I am very familiar with, and I can only hope there are more books coming from this author soon. This book grabbed my interest very quickly, and kept surprising me along the way. I loved that the focus was not pretty, and clearly showed the physical surroundings and glorious nature of this fictitious town.

The concept of a youthful (former) gambler, who is struggling so hard to get ahead, is unique. We really have to work to see his value, as he doesn’t see his own worth very well. Actually, we see both Doran and Xavier through the other’s eyes so much clearer than how they perceive themselves, and that is a complicated bit of character building that is skillfully done by the author. I didn’t mind the alternating POV, as it was clear who was speaking at all times. The problem for me was time jumping around, and days passing with the POV changes. I had to concentrate more on the individual paragraphs of the story to ensure that the flow was not interrupted.

The mystery based plot kept me enthralled as it unfolded with lots of conflicts and twists and turns. Events were explained very well, and the relationship between the MCs progresses in such a way that the reader is rooting for them long before they’re a couple, because we can see that they would work and could be happy before they can see it themselves. I enjoy being given that assurance by an author, as I feel it draws us into the story and keeps us invested in the outcome.

I think that one of the hardest things to do as a writer is to keep the continuity of tone in a multi-authored universe, while having set points of interest, or previously described characters appear in the current story, and stay believable. This is a strong draw for me personally, and was successfully accomplished while presenting a unique book in the universe for our enjoyment. Kudos to the author for a welcome addition to this particular universe. I look forward to trying more of G.B. Gordon’s work in the future.

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Cover Reveal, L.A. Witt

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Rain Shadow by L.A. Witt

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Title: Rain Shadow
Author: L.A. Witt
Series: Bluewater Bay
Length: 192 Pages
Release Date: October 19, 2015
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Blurb: Jeremy Rose came to Bluewater Bay to work as Anna Maxwell’s bodyguard, not to escape his increasingly bitter relationship with his estranged kids. He just wants to focus on his job and be alone for a while. He’s done with love, especially now that three years after his long overdue divorce, he’s got a front-row seat to the rapid deterioration between Anna and her girlfriend. Cynical doesn’t even begin to describe him.

Then Anna and Leigh’s attempts to reconcile put him in the crosshairs of marriage counselor Scott Fletcher. Scott’s exactly what Jeremy needs right now: gorgeous, hot, horny, single, and 100% uninterested in a relationship. The problem is, too much no-strings-attached sex—and too much time in each other’s company—inevitably builds emotional connection.

Except Jeremy refuses to seek counseling for his broken family, and Scott refuses to get seriously involved with men who work dangerous jobs. They both need to realize they can only hide for so long from the pain they came here to escape. They must face their pasts before they lose their shot at a happy future.

Pre-Order Rain Shadow at Riptide Publishing

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L.A. WittAbout the Author: L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut . . .

Connect with L.A.: Website || Author Blog || Personal Blog || Twitter: @GallagherWitt || Facebook || Goodreads

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week!

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Welcome, friends, and many thanks for stopping by to see what we have in store for you in the week ahead!

We’ve got such a fun-filled and busy week in store for you that I’ve had to open up my calendar on Saturday and Sunday just to bring it all to you, and I’m happy to do it too.

Here’s what we have on tap:

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Monday – Kicking off our week, we have Marie Sexton as our guest today to help us celebrate the countdown to GayRomLit 2015

Joining Marie will be author Hayden Thorne, doing a little bit of her own celebrating of the release of her YA Historical Fantasy novel Desmond and Garrick (Book Two)

Tuesday – We have another two fabulous authors with us today. First up is Mickie B. Ashling to chat a bit about her new novel Forged in Trust

Next up is L.A. Witt, who’s joining us to talk about Running with Scissors (the book, not the “don’t run with…”) :-)

Wednesday – Today we have author and editor Denise Wyant with us today to share an excerpt from the just recently released anthology Apple Bites, a blend of M/M and M/F shorts, ranging from sweet to spicy

We also have another edition of “Genre Talk” with Carole Cummings coming up today, featuring Luchia Dertien in the spotlight

Thursday – We’re kicking off today with a cover reveal from Riptide Publishing for the next new book in their popular Bluewater Bay collection

We’ll also have author Joe Cosentino with us to talk about his new book Shooting Star

Friday – And starting a busy day today, we’ll have author Rhys Ford with us to do a little celebrating of her own, for the release of Sloe Ride, Quinn Morgan and Rafe Andrade’s story in the Sinner’s Gin series

We’ll also welcome author Morticia Knight as our second guest of the week in the Countdown to GayRomLit 2015

And Rayna Vause will also be here to chat about her new novel Demon of Mine

Saturday – Today we have author Sandrine Gasq-Dion joining us on the blog tour for her new book Fret

Sunday – Author T.M. Smith closes out our week on the tour for her new book Fame and Fortune

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And that does it for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jules, Riptide Publishing

Review: The Deep of the Sound by Amy Lane

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Title: The Deep of the Sound (A Bluewater Bay Novel)

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 308 Pages

At a Glance: Simply put, this is a gorgeous story.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Cal McCorkle has lived in Bluewater Bay his whole life. He works two jobs to support a brother with a laundry list of psychiatric diagnoses and a great-uncle with Alzheimer’s, and his personal life amounts to impersonal hookups with his boss. He’s got no time, no ambition, and no hope. All he has is family, and they’re killing him one responsibility at a time.

Avery Kennedy left Los Angeles, his family, and his sleazy boyfriend to attend a Wolf’s Landing convention, and he has no plans to return. But when he finds himself broke and car-less in Bluewater Bay, he’s worried he’ll have to slink home with his tail between his legs. Then Cal McCorkle rides to his rescue, and his urge to run away dies a quick death.

Avery may seem helpless at first, but he can charm Cal’s fractious brother, so Cal can pretty much forgive him anything. Even being adorkable. And giving him hope. But Cal can only promise Avery “until we can’t”—and the cost of changing that to “until forever” might be too high, however much they both want it.

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Review: I was just going back through my notes and highlights, trying to decide where to begin with this review, but there are just SO many. So, so many memorable lines, moments, images, scenes… Amy Lane is one of my absolute favorite authors – a definite auto-buy – and The Deep of the Sound is another perfect example of why that is.

I’ll start out with Cal, who I love ridiculous amounts. First of all, Cal McCorkle is one of the best character names I’ve come across in a while. I loved it so much, in fact, that I went and researched it a bit. (I’m a dork. I know.) The full name, Calladh, or Caladh as you’ll see it frequently, is both Irish and Scottish – in this case, Scottish, as Cal’s dad was a Scot – and in the old Scottish it means…wait for it…Harbor. How perfect is that?!?! Trust me. It’s so perfect.

Cal’s very being is bound to the water; he finds his peace out on the Sound, fishing in his father’s dory every morning that he can. Sure it’s a necessity, he desperately needs the money from selling the fish he catches to keep his family afloat, but for him, it’s as much a necessity for his sanity as anything else. And Cal’s sanity is hanging precariously in the balance. Desperately trapped by duty, as the blurb suggests, Cal has almost completely lost himself.

I can’t imagine how strong Cal must have had to be to get through the last six years, taking care of his great uncle Nascha and his brother Keir. Living with someone with Alzheimer’s is not easy. Living with someone with the combination of mental illnesses that Keir has to deal with is not easy. Both of them together??? I can’t imagine. When Nascha is on his meds, he’s fantastic. He’s once again the dear uncle that Cal remembers from his childhood. Keir, on the other hand, is a handful, even on his cocktail of medications.

Keir’s problems are many, and complex, and Keir is very dark. I imagine he must have been a difficult character to write, but Amy wrote him with guts and honesty. He can be very intimidating and scary, yet at times also endearing. It’s no secret that he loves his family, but there were times when that darkness came through that it was extremely scary for poor Cal. He is constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. So, when Avery Kennedy comes crashing into their lives, and almost immediately finds a way to connect and communicate with Keir, Cal can’t help but start to fall for him.

Avery is so wonderful. Just such a good egg. He’s sincere and driven and somewhat naïve, though charming and sweet. I love that he had the balls to get out of his horrible situation in LA, and simply decide to start his life over. There was nothing for him in his old life – shitty, uncaring parents and an asshat user of an ex-boyfriend – but he has everything to look forward to in Bluewater Bay. Especially when he meets Cal. Sigh. I love him and I love them together.

The writing in this book is spectacular. It’s heavy on the emotion, as you would expect from an Amy Lane book; it will absolutely tug on all of your feels. I just wanted to hug the shit out of Cal constantly. He and Avery get their moment, though, and the way that it all comes about in the end is pure perfection. The reverence with which Amy describes the Puget Sound, and her description of the fictional town, is also fantastic. The Puget Sound is an amazing place. Living in the area, I was particularly fond of the setting of this book. The Pacific Northwest truly IS breathtakingly beautiful, and Amy does a spectacular job of portraying its majesty.

The Deep of the Sound will stick with me for a long time. Cal and Avery, climbing out of their respective hopeless situations together, saving each other, will stick with me as well. Simply put, this was a gorgeous story.

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5 Stars, Anne Tenino, Genre Romance, Reviewed By Carrie, Riptide Publishing

Review: Wedding Favors by Anne Tenino

Title: Wedding Favors (A Bluewater Bay Novel)

Author: Anne Tenino

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 318 Pages

At a Glance: This is a great journey back to the world of Bluewater Bay – the more I read of this small town the more I want to visit someday!

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Lucas Wilder’s best friend is a traitor. First, Audrey moved back to their hick-infested hometown, Bluewater Bay, and now she’s marrying a local. His own brother, in fact. And as her man of honor, Lucas gets coerced into returning for an extended stay. Although, between his unfaithful ex-boyfriend and his artist’s block, going home isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Even if the best man is Gabriel Savage, Lucas’s first crush, first hookup, and first heartbreak.

The only reason Gabe hasn’t been waiting for Lucas to return to Bluewater Bay is because he never thought it’d happen. Not that it matters now that Lucas is back—Gabe’s still a logger who’s never been anywhere (Canada doesn’t count), and Lucas is now a famous sculptor who’s been everywhere twice. Plus, there’s that shared past.

When Audrey asks Lucas to make her wedding favors, the only place to set up a kiln is at Gabe’s tree farm. Soon, they pick up where they left off twelve years before, then blow past it, discovering why neither of them forgot the other. Now they have to choose how much of their history they’ll repeat, and what future they’ll make together.

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Review: Bluewater Bay: a small logging community in Northwestern Washington State, with a history of being sleepy, backwoods, and quaint. At the beginning of the Bluewater Bay series, this fictional small town is overrun by a new television series about shifters called Wolf’s Landing. This small town has been the same for a hundred years but is suddenly awash with Hollywood – people, cars, stars, and business. The first few books let us meet some of these stars and the men they choose as partners. The last few books have moved away from the TV show angle, and we are getting a chance to meet some of the local people who have called this town home their entire lives. The great thing about this series is that each book is written by one of eleven award winning, popular LGBTQ authors, each giving you new viewpoints and stories with fresh perspectives.

Anne Tenino’s Wedding Favors is about Lucas Wilder, an artist who grew up in Bluewater Bay and, of course, couldn’t wait to leave after high school. The thing he did keep from his hometown is his best friend Audrey. Audrey is wonderful and a genuine friend – someone who supports Lucas in everything he does or tries, even if she doesn’t agree with it. We all need an Audrey in our lives.

Lucas is a little self-absorbed. And that’s putting it mildly. He also has precious few people who understand him – who see him for who he really is underneath the persona he has crafted for the outside world. Lucas is an artist and has a tendency to get lost in his head, thinking about his sculptures or just second guessing everything about himself. If he had to count the people he thought truly knew him, he would say just one – his best friend Audrey; not family or even his husband of several years, whom he is divorcing. And now, Audrey is getting married – to his brother of all people – and opening a dress shop in Bluewater Bay. Of course, he has to go back. He has to support Audrey and his brother and be the Man of Honor – which leaves his brother to choose Gabriel Savage as his best man. Little does Lucas know, but Gabe knows the real Lucas too. Being his brother’s best friend let Gabe study and crush on Lucas for years. After an intense sexual encounter in high school, right after graduation, Gabe let Lucas go to be the star artist he knew he would be.

Gabriel Savage is tied to the land. He is descended from the original pioneering families who started this logging community, and would not live anywhere else. He is connected to it – loves it – breathes it. Gabe is determined to get Lucas to stay this time; he let the one man he has loved for twelve years get away last time, and he is determined it won’t happen again. When Audrey asks Lucas to create her wedding favors, Gabe offers his farm as a place for Lucas to create his sculptures and set up a studio.

Their lives begin to intertwine once more, and the journey is colorful, with great supporting characters who keep us entertained with witty dialogue that keeps the self-discovery Lucas must go through from being too heavy. Lucas reconnects with everyone in his life, from his family to his friends, and discovers that by embracing what he thought he would never want, he gets the best of both worlds – a great guy, a great workshop – a place to call home. This is a standalone book, all the Bluewater Bay stories are, but they all stay centered on this wonderful town and the people who live there.

Read them all, you won’t be disappointed!

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Heidi Belleau, Rachel Haimowitz, Reviewed by Janet, Riptide Publishing

Review: The Burnt Toast B&B by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz

Title: The Burnt Toast B&B (A Bluewater Bay Story)

Author: Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 241 Pages

At a Glance: This whole series gets better with each book.

Blurb: After breaking his arm on set, Wolf’s Landing stuntman Ginsberg Sloan finds himself temporarily out of work. Luckily, Bluewater Bay’s worst B&B has cheap long-term rates, and Ginsberg’s not too proud to take advantage of them.

Derrick Richards, a grizzled laid-off logger, inherited the B&B after his parents’ untimely deaths. Making beds and cooking sunny-side-up eggs is hardly Derrick’s idea of a man’s way to make a living, but just as he’s decided to shut the place down, Ginsberg shows up on his doorstep, pitiful and soaking wet, and Derrick can hardly send him packing.

Not outright, at least.

The plan? Carry on the B&B’s tradition of terrible customer service and even worse food until the pampered city boy leaves voluntarily. What Derrick doesn’t count on, though, is that the lousier he gets at hosting, the more he convinces bored, busybody Ginsberg to try to get the B&B back on track. And he definitely doesn’t count on the growing attraction between them, or how much more he learns from Ginsberg than how to put out kitchen fires.

The Bluewater Bay series can be read in any order

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Review: I expected a lot from this book before I even started it. I love the universe it is written in already, and I was looking forward to another visit with the folks of Bluewater Bay. These authors simply blew me away.

The premise is simple. We meet Derrick, who is the owner of a Bed and Breakfast he has inherited but doesn’t want, who is really a logger (albeit currently laid off), and that is a much more fitting job for a manly man to hold. Ginsberg is a stunt double for the lead actor in Wolf’s Landing, the television production that has taken over Bluewater Bay, but is temporarily out of work with a broken arm and needs a cheap home to recover in for about 8 weeks.

The comedy of errors in perception that follows is simply fun, but the undercurrents that we learn about are engrossing. This conflict the authors have created flows throughout the story, with new details and tangents added in each chapter. Both characters were built in layers of dialogue and actions that revealed more of their depths and desires, and caused the reader to be completely invested in their story. I truly raced through the book, eager to see where they were going and how they would resolve their individual situations and get together for a HEA.

Although the premise of the story is simple, the reality of it is not. Derrick’s search for his own identity, and his ownership of that, is such a contrast to Ginsberg’s surety of who and what he is that we, as readers, feel a torrent of emotions throughout the book. We are curious with Derrick, annoyed at him, and finally pleased with him as he grows stronger. But we also commiserate with him as he continuously rubs up against the much more extroverted nature of Ginsberg. I found myself laughing out loud at the book. I oohed and ahhed and omg’d. I found myself totally engaged by the story and the nature of the topics within it.

I won’t spoil the book for others, but I will say the authors presented their characters in such a realistic manner that they impressed me greatly.They normalized a topic that is anything but, and gave me hope. I loved the ending of the story; it was very funny, but apt in the circumstances, and completely demonstrated Derrick’s growth of character. It was also very good to see familiar characters from a different point of view that stayed within the boundaries of a multi-authored universe. This whole series gets better with each book. Sincere kudos to both authors for taking the promise of a good story and turning it into a great reality. I loved it.






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5 Stars, Aleksandr Voinov, Genre Romance, L.A. Witt, Reviewed by Janet, Riptide Publishing

Review: Lone Wolf by L.A. Witt and Aleksandr Voinov

Title: Lone Wolf: A Bluewater Bay Novel

Author: L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 358 Pages

At a Glance: The authors manage to raise their own bar with this book

Blurb: Hunter Easton is screwed. Fans, producers, and his agent are all chomping at the bit for the next book in his wildly popular Wolf’s Landing series, but he’s got epic writer’s block and is way behind deadline. Then he reads The World Tree, a fanfic novel by his online friend “Lone Wolf.” It isn’t just a great story—it’s exactly what the series needs.

Kevin Hussain is thrilled when “Wolf Hunter” wants to meet up after reading The World Tree. When Wolf Hunter turns out to be Hunter Easton himself, Kevin is starstruck. When Hunter tells him he wants to add The World Tree to Wolf’s Landing, Kevin is sure he’s being pranked. And when their online chemistry carries over—big time—into real life, Kevin is convinced it’s all too good to be true.

The problem is . . . it might be. The book deal, the sex, the money—everything is amazing. But fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and Kevin is left wondering if Hunter really loves him, or just loves his book.

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Review: This is the fourth book in a universe built around Bluewater Bay, a small oceanside town in Oregon, and a TV production that is being filmed in the town. Each book focuses on a separate couple, but the cast of characters intermingle throughout the books, and that is one of the best parts of reading a universe series, for me. When an author can successfully bring secondary characters into their own stories, and add depth to the readers’ awareness of the characters, then they have displayed their own talents well. L.A. Witt and Alexsandr Voinov do this very well in Lone Wolf.

We are introduced to Hunter, the author of the original books that the TV series is based on, and Kevin, a young, geeky fanboy of the books. They have developed a friendship online while hiding behind avatars in the fan group for the books. Kevin is the administrator of the site, and writes fanfic that he shares with Hunter. Of course, he doesn’t know who Hunter really is. This leads to the two men meeting in real life and therein lies the story. I don’t like to write spoilers for the books I review, but I must say the glimpse into the life of an author and the behind the scenes look at publishing, editing, and promotion was amazing. I loved it and I feel so much more sympathy for my favourite authors who might complain of edits in their inboxes now. In terms of this story, though, it solidified the two MCs for me, made them real and allowed the progression of their relationship to resonate. In a good romance novel, we must feel a connection to the characters, and the authors deliver in this one.

The conflicts that arise are real stumbling steps for a relationship, the walls that each man has, and the softening of the barriers between them, are carefully laid out and explored. Layers are added to the characters as they interact with others, both recurring in the series and newly introduced to us, in a very convincing way. The power of this book comes from the emotional connection that grows between Hunter and Kevin, as well as the joy they find in their physical relationship. These two authors are well known for their erotic stories, but I think they have managed to raise their own bar with this book. The alternating POV they use is an effective tool to emphasise the conflict between the characters, and it works seamlessly to highlight the development of the relationship and adds elements of humor and depth to the book. The reader was gifted with an awareness of the character that adds to our connection to them. The plot, pacing and tone of this book are solid; the authors have taken an unbelievable situation and made it work. This is not a fairy tale, it is a romance, and it left me wanting more… More in the series, and more glimpses of Hunter and Kevin.






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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Riptide Publishing, Z.A. Maxfield

Review: Hell on Wheels by Z.A. Maxfield

Title: Hell on Wheels (Bluewater Bay: Book Three)

Author: Z.A. Maxfield

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 250 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Nash is the reliable one in the Holly family, the guy everyone counts on to keep things going. His genius twin brother is off at university, so Nash runs the family’s auto repair business and cares for his partially-paralyzed little sister while his crackpot father invents. His life seems mapped out for the foreseeable future, however much that might chafe. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, L.B. Gregg, Reviewed by Lisa, Riptide Publishing

Review: There’s Something About Ari by L.B. Gregg

Title: There’s Something About Ari

Author: L.B. Gregg

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 95 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Buck Ellis’s future seems pretty damn bright. With a full college scholarship in hand, he’s going to ditch Bluewater Bay and pave the way for his kid brother Charlie to do the same. The only fly in Buck’s ointment is his ten-year addiction to his best friend since second grade, his true love, and his Achilles heel: Ari Valentine, Mr. Least Likely to Succeed. Continue reading

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