5 Stars, Genre Romance, Keira Andrews, Reviewed by Sammy, Self-Published

Review: Valor on the Move by Keira Andrews

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Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Valor on the Move

Author: Keira Andrews

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 250 Pages

At a Glance: Valor on the Move has it all: action, intrigue, romance, and a glimpse at the turmoil and fears surrounding coming out to the world.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Growing up gay in the White House hasn’t been easy for Rafael Castillo. Codenamed “Valor” by the Secret Service, Rafa feels anything but brave as he hides in the closet and tries to stay below the radar in his last year of college. His father’s presidency is almost over, and he just needs to stick to his carefully crafted plan. Once his family’s out of the spotlight, he can be honest with his conservative parents about his sexuality and his dream of being a chef.

It’s definitely not part of Rafa’s plan to get a new Secret Service agent who’s a walking wet dream, but he’s made it this long keeping his desires to himself. Besides, it’s not like Shane Kendrick would even look at him twice if it wasn’t his job.

Shane’s worked his way up through the Secret Service ranks, and while protecting the president’s shy, boring son isn’t his dream White House assignment, it’s an easy enough task since no one pays Rafa much attention. He discovers there’s a vibrant young man beneath the timid public shell, and while he knows Rafa has a crush on him, he assures himself it’s harmless. Shane’s never had room for romance in his life, and he’d certainly never cross that line with a protectee. Keeping Rafa safe at any cost is Shane’s mission.

But as Rafa gets under his skin, will they both put their hearts on the line?

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Review: Keira Andrews’ Valor on the Move is a fast paced and tender m/m romance wrapped up in a mystery full of political intrigue. Like this author’s other works, this story is fairly flawless and the May/December trope is very well written and completely believable.

Rafael is the youngest child of the President of the United States. Having literally grown up in the public eye, and received both its admiration as well as the harsh and almost bullying personal critique that happens to every person in the spotlight, Rafa has remained aloof, exceptionally quiet, and never rocks the political boat like some of his sibling have during their father’s term in office. “Valor,” as Rafa is code named by his security detail, is also nicknamed the “mouse” and rightfully so. Years before, as he was entering college, Rafa’s father took a stand with the Republican Right, who put him in office based on his stance against marriages defined as anything other than between a man and a woman. At that time, on the cusp of coming out to his family, Rafa was devastated to realize he would have to remain closeted, at least until the term of office was up. Using his best friend, who is also a closeted lesbian, as a beard, no one suspected that he was anything other than a “normal” young man with a girlfriend.

When budget cuts predicated that the secret service detail in the White House change so that agents could be assigned to the front-runners in the upcoming election some few months hence, Shane Kendrick finally gets the assignment he had been dreaming of—guarding a family member of the President. While his true goal would be protecting the man in charge, his son would do for now, while Shane continues to move up in the ranks. Openly gay himself, it did not take long for Shane to uncover Rafa’s secret; however, agents never involve themselves in the lives of those they were sworn to protect—it would compromise their effectiveness to serve. But one late night invitation by Rafa morphs into more, and before Shane can even fully understand what is happening, his heart is more than a little interested, and Rafa is head over heels in lust with his Secret Service agent.

Let me begin this review by saying with absolute conviction that this is one of the very best May/December romance tropes I have ever read. With eighteen years dividing Shane from Rafa, and the younger man’s incredible naïveté about relationships, in general, as well as being a virgin, this story had all the potential to be sappy and false. Quite the opposite happens here under the deft and creative hand of Keira Andrews. Instead, we are given a tightly woven action adventure novel, with a tender and evolving romance on the side. Never losing sight of the fact that this is a novel full of political maneuverings and fraught with the danger one associates with being the first family in a world where kidnapping and murder are rampant, Valor On the Move manages to weave both action and romance into an incredibly entertaining story.

Rafa is so intent on just finishing his stint in the fishbowl his life has become that he never accounts for potentially falling in love with the person who has vowed to “protect and serve”. Shane is so busy evading the grief and guilt over losing his parents to a horrendous home fire that the last thing he is looking for is a romantic entanglement with someone nearly two decades his junior. And yet, fate throws these two together and the romance that develops between them is some of the finest storytelling I have ever read. Richly detailed and well researched information on how the safeguarding of the White House members happens, every facet of the inner workings of the Secret Service men and women rang true, lending this novel an air of authenticity that made it even more exciting to read.

The inner turmoil we are privy to as we watch the relationship grow dangerously intimate between Shane and Rafa was so palpable. Rafa could have come off as whiny and just too young despite his age of twenty-two, and yet the strength he has to continue his lie when all he desires is the freedom to live a life free of the closet makes him multi-dimensional and fascinating. The pain he feels over his father’s political betrayal is just heartbreaking to endure as you read how deeply it wounded him and nearly shattered their relationship.

Shane is so lonely, so horribly guilt ridden that the very weekend he was to be with his parents, he chose to pursue his career over his mother’s birthday celebration. When they are lost to a house fire that would claim their lives, Shane is devastated. He carries all that pain and remorse deep inside, so when he promises to always keep Rafa safe, the declaration rings with sincerity and makes the events that unfold in the novel even more realistic.

Valor on the Move has it all: action, intrigue, romance, and a glimpse at the turmoil and fears surrounding coming out to the world. I found this novel to be an outstanding piece of m/m fiction from beginning to end, and I highly recommend it to you.

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You can buy Valor on the Move here:

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Love Lane Books, Reviewed by Angel, RJ Scott

Review: Texas Wedding by RJ Scott

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Texas Wedding (Texas: Book Seven)

Author: RJ Scott

Publisher: Love Lane Books

Pages/Word Count: 216 Pages

At a Glance: A fantastic and emotional conclusion to Jack and Riley’s story.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Faced with the life changing prospect of a yes vote from SCOTUS on the issue of same sex marriage, Riley and Jack realise they have decisions to make. Add in some distressing family news and the very real possibility that old secrets may resurface, and this last book in the Texas series pulls together as many threads as the boys can manage to handle.

But through all the ups and the downs, children, family events, laughter, and tears, there is nothing as special as the forever love between these two men.

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Review:  When you want to learn to read, you start with the ABCs. When you want to learn to sing, you start off with Do, Re, and Mi. When you want to enjoy a fantastically well written, fully fleshed out story, then you read RJ Scott’s Texas Series.

I mainlined this series just to read this final book. It took me two days to read through all seven books, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of each and every story. Thank you, RJ Scott, for this series. I loved every word of it. I will miss Jack and Riley and all of their ever-growing family. Even with the teaser of another series set in this verse, Texas Wedding is the ending of Jack and Riley’s story, but that seems a short and sad way to say it. This book was so much more.

Jack and Riley’s story is a love affair that spans five years, and it has enough drama, romance, sex, love, realism and a happy ending in each book to appeal to everyone. I think that you can’t speak about one book without talking about them all, because they are that connected, but each is a standalone greatly enriched by each sequel.

The SCOTUS decision, which spurred this book’s creation, was just as emotional to read here as it was to see it in the newspaper headlines. I love that Scott had the characters react differently to the decision because, once again, realism in fiction is a wonderful thing.

Seven books and not once did I get tired or bored with Jack and Riley. I literally fell in love with just about everyone involved. I hated the bad guys with as much passion as I had love for the good guys. Each experience these two MCs had happen to them felt real to me, and the characters dealt with it realistically. The secondary and side characters were just as formed and detailed as the MCs.

This trend lasted throughout the series, and it was excellent to have the characters respond like real people. Because, in a way, Jack and Riley are real. They are every couple that deals with their jobs not being conducive with being a couple, but they make it work. They are parents that get frustrated with their children, but they do their damnedest to make certain those same children have everything they need. They have tragic things happen to them, in spite of having money, and they still work through their problems one day at a time.

Jack and Riley love just like everyone else, no matter their gender or orientation. Which I think is how it should be. Their relationship didn’t need the justification of the SCOTUS decision, but it was enhanced because of it.

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You can buy Texas Wedding here:

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2 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, K.A. Mitchell, Reviewed by Karen

Review: Put a Ring on It by K.A. Mitchell

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Amazon US

Title:  Put a Ring on It (Ready or Not: Book One) 

Author:  K.A. Mitchell

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Page/Word Count:  204 Pages

At a Glance:  I’ve really enjoyed other books by K.A. Mitchell, but unfortunately, this one just didn’t do it for me.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb:  Kieran Delaney-Schwartz—adoptee, underachiever, and self-professed-slacker IT guy—lives his under-the-radar life by the motto: Don’t try, don’t fail. His adopted siblings are all overachievers thanks to his driven, liberal parents, but Kieran has elected to avoid disappointing anyone by not getting their hopes up. He’s coasting through his early twenties when he’s hit head-on by Theo. The successful decade-older Broadway producer sweeps him off his feet for a whirlwind thirteen months that are pretty sweet, until it all comes screeching to a halt on Valentine’s Day, with an unexpected proposal via an NYC Times Square flash mob.

Now everyone wants in on the wedding, except the grooms….

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Review: When I read the blurb for this book, I was really excited. I’ve enjoyed other books by K.A. Mitchell, but unfortunately, this one just didn’t do it for me. I found that I didn’t really like any of the characters…well, maybe not that I didn’t like them as much as I felt no connection to them. There have been a lot of books I’ve read where I found myself not liking a particular character, or even a main character, but I almost always come around. There is usually some kind of explanation behind the actions that turns it around for me, but I just didn’t get that with this book.

We are introduced to the four friends in the Prologue, and as I read on, there was nothing about them, other than a loyalty between them, that appealed to me. The back and forth about the marriage decision seemed to drag on, with no real explanation as to why the characters were acting the way they were, and the brief mentions of how they felt didn’t really put it into perspective for me.

There isn’t any real backstory about Theo and Kiernan’s relationship prior to the proposal, either, and it was hard for me to understand what it was they saw in each other. I didn’t feel invested in their relationship and kept waiting for everything to come together, but, in the end, Put a Ring on It just didn’t work for me.

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You can buy Put a Ring on It here:

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Giveaways, RJ Scott

Character Interview and Giveaway: The Texas Wedding Blog Tour with RJ Scott

Texas Wedding Banner

We’re so pleased to welcome author RJ Scott to The Novel Approach today, on the Texas Wedding blog tour. Enjoy RJ’s guest post, an interview with Robbie, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win a $15 Gift Card at Amazon or ARe, winner’s choice, and two additional runner-up opportunities to win an e-book from RJ’s backlist.

Good luck!

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In Texas Wedding there is a moment towards the end that will make sense if you read the book. However, I wanted you to see what five characters thought of the main couple Jack and Riley, and Sean decided to help by interviewing them.

Texas Wedding is only possible because SCOTUS supported same sex marriage. Thank you SCOTUS. Love is love.

RJ

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Robbie took the offered seat. If he had a choice he wouldn’t be here at all. The idea of talking about himself or opening up his heart for any reason scared the shit out him.

“You okay?” Sean asked.

How did he answer that loaded question? Not for the first time he wished Eli was in here with him.

“Yeah,” Robbie lied instead.

“And you’re okay with this interview?”

“It was all explained, go for it.”

“I just want your thoughts about Riley and Jack.”

Robbie had spent the last few days wondering what the hell to say when it came to his turn in front of the camera.

“Jack’s a good boss,” he began. Tick one in the list of things he was going to say. “And he loves horses. He’s a cowboy in his heart.” That sounded a lot more flowery than he’d intended.

Sean nodded his approval. “Like you,” he said, and pressed a hand to his chest. “A cowboy inside here.”

“Yeah. And Riley, him and Jack are happy.” Robbie shifted uncomfortably in his chair. Since falling in love with Eli things had changed in his life. He could admit to having emotions, he could be honest and let some of those sentiments free. He just didn’t want to say the wrong thing and ruin this whole damn video.

“What about their family. Tell me about them.”

Robbie brightened. Now that he could do. “Their eldest, Hayley, she’s a sweetheart, and the twins, Connor and Lexie, they’re so alike in some ways and so different in others. I remember when the twins were born, and when Max moved to live here. Max has autism; he’s a special kid, and Jack and Riley are the best parents.”

Sean sat back in his chair. “So do you have a message for the viewers of this film?”

“That Jack and Riley, and the kids, are a family.”

Sean tilted his head, clearly expecting more.

Robbie cleared his throat. “What else do I need to say. Family is everything and there is a whole lot of love in that house. Never seen two men more in love, and they love their kids, and they’ll be together forever.”

That was a lot more flowery than he’d thought he’d manage.

“Thank you,” Sean said.

“Am I done now?” Robbie was once more incredibly uncomfortable. Eli was going to have a field day with this when he saw it. Never seen two men more in love? What the hell made him say that? When he only had to see him and Eli in the mirror to see the same love.

Robbie and Eli’s story begins in Texas Heat

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Texas 7Blurb: Sometimes Riley and Jack have to be the ones to fight other people’s battles and stand up for what is right.

With the life changing prospect of a yes vote from SCOTUS on the issue of same sex marriage, Riley and Jack realise they have decisions to make. Add in some distressing family news and the very real possibility that old secrets may resurface, and this last book in the Texas series pulls together as many threads as the boys can manage to handle.

But through all the ups and the downs, children, family events, laughter, and tears, there is nothing as special as the forever love between these two men.

The full book list:

Book 1 – The Heart of Texas

Book 2 – Texas Winter

Book 3 – Texas Heat

Book 4 – Texas Family

Book 5 – Texas Christmas

Book 6 – Texas Fall

Book 7 – Texas Wedding

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RJ ScottAbout the Author: RJ Scott has been writing since age six, when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies. She was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.

With over seventy titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.

Her goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

Email || Website || Twitter || Facebook || Library Thing || Tumblr (some NSFW photos) || Pinterest

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
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Dreamspinner Press, Rick R. Reed

Rick R. Reed Now Pronounces This Book “Legally Wed”


“Society is always taken by surprise at any new example of common sense.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson


Title: Legally Wed

Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 216

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Love comes along when you least expect it. That’s what Duncan Taylor’s sister, Scout, tells him. Scout has everything Duncan wants—a happy life with a wonderful husband. Now that Seattle has made gay marriage legal, Duncan knows he can have the same thing. But when he proposes to his boyfriend Tucker, he doesn’t get the answer he hoped for. Tucker’s refusal is another misstep in a long line of failed romances. Despairing, Duncan thinks of all the loving unions in his life—and how every one of them is straight. Maybe he could be happy, if not sexually compatible, with a woman. When zany, gay-man-loving Marilyn Samples waltzes into his life, he thinks he may have found his answer.

Continue reading

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Videos

“Even as I hold you, I am letting you go.” – Alice Walker

I’m sure so many of you have already seen this video since it went viral last month, but it bears watching. Repeatedly. Though, sadly, I must say if you’ve seen it before, or are watching it now, it’s likely because you believe in its message and not because you’re a DOMA supporter whose heart and mind will be changed by the images on your computer screen.

I often wonder what would happen if even one person who believes that marriage is the sacred right of heterosexuals were to sit down and watch this, then took a moment, one selfless and reflective moment, to ask themselves the questions, “What if this was me? What if I was the one who was being forced to say goodbye to the person I love seventeen times over the course of the past six years? What if I was forcibly separated by thousands of miles of ocean and the narrowest of minds from the person I should be going to sleep next to every night and waking up with every morning, because it’s the promise we made to each other?” Would it become impossible for that person to continue to believe that the right to equality, not solely in the language of the laws of our country but also in the far more eloquent language of human compassion, is a right that belongs only to a select few rather than to every man and woman, simply because of an ideal that’s been taught, in spite of millennium of social evolution, as a collective fact rather than a speculative theory?

I’d like to think that hearts and minds can be opened to change by letting each other’s lives play in the key of love, and not limiting those lives and loves to those that look exactly like our own.

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Ramblings

DOMA – A Demonstration Of Massive Absurdity

Today and tomorrow, March 26 and 27, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments and weigh considerations that, provided these men and women whose job it is to promote justice for all, will fall on the right side of history and bring same-sex couples into the fold of equality that I, and everyone like me, takes for granted.

It is my fervent hope that these nine justices will see DOMA for the hypocrisy that it is; that it’s nothing more than a prejudicial forum based in the irrational fear that same-sex couples being recognized under the law as husbands and wives will somehow be detrimental to the sanctity of my marriage, when, if DOMA were truly concerned about the state of marriage in this country, they would see that their focus would be better concentrated on why 50% of heterosexual couples don’t seem to hold the vows of marriage and all the legal benefits it offers in such high esteem.

My husband and I both are supporters of marriage equality because when it comes down to it, there is no single entity or focus group on this planet that needs to defend what we’ve built over the past twenty-plus years. The only two people who need to defend my marriage are my husband and me. We neither need nor want the so-called protection this group seems to feel obliged to offer on our behalf because, let’s face facts: This isn’t the defense of marriage; it’s the defense of the right to use religion as a basis for hatred and superiority. It’s not sanctity, it’s sanctimony, and I hope the Supreme Court sees it for what it is.

We and our three children have been a family for more than two decades, and we will continue to be a family long after everyone is allowed to marry the person they love, regardless of whom they are.

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Ramblings, Videos

Grab Some Tissues And Watch…Just…Watch

I don’t surf the net much. Hell, I don’t even watch television much. I’m too busy reading, so I may be the last person on the planet to have seen this video. Okay, maybe not the last, but nearly three-million people have seen this video before me, so yeah, I’m a little slow on the uptake.

This is the story of two men, one from right here in Indiana, that should cause everyone who opposes Gay Marriage to sit back and take a good long look at that position, though based on some of the comments on YouTube, the ignorant and bigoted are still determined to out themselves publicly, every chance they get.

This story is tragic and heartbreaking but has also become the catalyst for a project by Hollywood producer Linda Bloodworth Thomas that one can only hope will advance the march toward equality for everyone who wants to formally commit themselves to the person they love.

Shane and Tom’s story is difficult to watch, but well worth the time:

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