Thursday, June 30, 2016

ARC Review: My Busboy by John Inman

From The Blurb:
Robert Johnny just turned thirty, and his life is pretty much in the toilet. His writing career is on the skids. His love life is nonexistent. A stalker is driving him crazy. And his cat is a pain in the ass. 
Then Robert orders a chimichanga platter at a neighborhood restaurant, and his life changes—just like that. 
Dario Martinez isn’t having such a great existence either. He needs money for college. His shoes are falling apart. His boyfriend’s a dick. And he has a crap job as a busboy. 
Then a stranger orders a chimichanga platter, and suddenly life isn’t quite as depressing. 
But it’s the book in the busboy’s back pocket that really gets the ball rolling. For both our heroes. That and the black eye and the forgotten bowl of guacamole. Who knew true love could be so easily ignited or that the flames would spread so quickly? 
But when Robert’s stalker gets dangerous, our two heroes find a lot more to occupy their time than falling in love. Staying alive might become the new game plan.





Karen's rating:





'My Busboy' is the second book that I've read by this author and while I loved 'Shy' for me this one was just ok.

This is the story of Robert Johnny an author who seems to be experiencing  a bit of writer's block. With his 30th birthday on the horizon, his friend Chaz, who apparently seems to be suffering from a case of unrequited love for Robert decides that they need to go out to dinner to celebrate this auspicious occasion. It's at Robert's favorite Mexican restaurant that we encounter the incredibly beautiful Dario.

I say incredibly beautiful because Robert spends most of the book telling us how gorgeous and sweet and nice and attractive and beautiful and sexy and on and on and on Dario is with his cognac colored eyes and acorn colored skin and dark, silky lustrous hair and on top of all this he smells good too.  Yes, this was probably my strongest point of contention about the book. I got it Dario was incredibly attractive, I had this figured out after the first 4 or 5 times I'd been told, what can I say apparently I can be a little dense at times you'd think I would have clued in after the first couple of times but nope, I'm going to claim it took 4 or 5 which only leaves me to wonder how many times other people need to be told because seriously there are considerably more references to Dario's unparalleled beauty.

Ok, enough about Dario let's talk about the other things that kept this from being what I believe was a story that had the potential to be awesome. Robert's age, yep, the man turned 30 not 40 or 60 or 100 just 30. Dear god Robert get over it and move on with your life before it passes you by and you suddenly find you are 60 or 100 and by the way 60...not so old either, of course I say this as someone who's fast approaching this digit. This combined with the fact that he perpetually kept obsessing over Dario's age which was 21. Ok, I freely acknowledge there was a significant age difference difference, but not an unparalleled one to be sure. Hell my dad was 11 years older...never mind bad example. Still 9 years if you really care about the person just accept it or end things and move on...stop whining about what can't be changed.

Next we have the whole friendship with Chaz. The guy is in love with Robert or more like he wants what he can't have. Robert and Chaz have hooked up in the past and the magic just wasn't there for Robert and in his defense I do believe he's made Chaz abundantly clear on this issue, however, he does like Chaz as a friend and he values the friendship. Unfortunately Chaz has a bit of trouble dealing with this, however, there comes a point in the story at which for me it became abundantly clear that Chaz's 'unrequited love' really was more a case of 'I just want what I can't have' and that's all I'm going to say on that topic other than I actually enjoyed this part of the story.

Now let's talk Robert and Dario. For the most part I have to admit I found Robert to be borderline obnoxious, I just didn't warm up to him at all. I did however, like his cat, Clutch. That's right the cat's name was Clutch, if there was an explanation for his name, I have to admit. I missed it but I liked Clutch. He had definite personality as most cats do. Dario was in fact a sweet young man and he was by no means a pushover or any kind bimbo or gigolo. He was in fact an intelligent young man who was attending college and working towards a degree in Veterinary Medicine, so definitely not a gold digger either. While there were moments when Robert and Dario worked for me and I could see them as a couple there were times as well that I just didn't feel the love so the relationship for me was a hit and miss thing.

The only other issue that I had that was a bit of a WTF moment when "we interrupt this story to bring you a personal service announcement about why reviewers write bad reviews and the merit or lack thereof, of said reviews." Insert PSA here...we now resume our regularly scheduled story. In truth there were portions of this that I actually agreed with, things that I could care less about and things that might have been left out and/or added in, but most importantly it played no integral role in the story and furthered nothing for me.

ARC Review: What Remains by Garrett Leigh

From The Blurb:
Web designer Jodi Peters is a solitary creature. Lunch twice a week with his ex-girlfriend-turned-BFF and the occasional messy venture to a dodgy gay bar is all the company he needs, right? 
Then one night he stumbles across newly divorced firefighter Rupert O’Neil. Rupert is lost and lonely, but just about the sweetest bloke Jodi has ever known. Add in the heady current between them, and Jodi can’t help falling hard in love. He offers Rupert a home within the walls of his cosy Tottenham flat—a sanctuary to nurture their own brand of family—and for four blissful years, life is never sweeter. 
Until a cruel twist of fate snatches it all away. A moment of distraction leaves Jodi fighting for a life he can’t remember and shatters Rupert’s heart. Jodi doesn’t know him—or want to. With little left of the man he adores, Rupert must cling to what remains of his shaky faith and pray that Jodi can learn to love him again.



Karen's rating:





I find myself wondering "If I took away the memories of the love I have... 
What Remains...and is it enough?

Try to imagine, if you will, suddenly having your memories of your entire life for the past five years wiped out, gone in the blink of an eye. Honestly, you can try but whatever you're imagining is probably only a fraction of what it's really like. I know I've been there and thankfully for me the memory loss only lasted for a few hours and yet over 25 years later the thought of it can still reduce me to tears...tears of fear that it could have lasted much longer and tears of gratitude that it didn't. Ironically the memory of those few hours are still so vivid for me and the thought of sitting there in a hospital bed not really knowing who I was, who my husband was or if I was even married and that I had a child. Things that I would have told you in a million years nothing could ever, ever make me forget and yet in the blink of an eye something happened that did just that it made me forget everything that I held most precious in this world...now try to imagine those years getting stolen from you again. Look at your husband and your children and think who are these people? Why are they here? Do they know me? Do I know them? Will they hurt me? and yes, don't forget the most important questions...who am I? and what's happened to me? Imaging not being able to answer those questions...any of them.

In 'What Remains' that's exactly what Garrett Leigh does. She shows us what can happen when one person's world is ripped away in an instant and the people he loves are left to try and help him find a new reality.

Jodi and Rupert are basically living the life. They met by accident and what started as a friendship with a strong dose of attraction turned into love. Life couldn't be better...well, maybe Rupert's ex could fall off the face of the earth but other than that everything's pretty idyllic. They've got each other, Rupert's daughter, Indie who they both adore. Jodi's ex and current BFF, Sophie. They've made a home together in Jodi's loft. What more could they ask for everything's perfect...until it isn't. In one unguarded moment for Jodi it's all gone. He doesn't remember who Rupert is what they're suppose to mean to each other or Indie and what the hell when did Sophie stop being his girlfriend?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

ARC Review: Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2) by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell

Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2)
Blurb:
After a decade of serving in the Army, everyone still expects me to be Dominic 'Nicky' Costigan--the skirt-chasing player. They don't know I've been spending my days trying to figure out my post-military life. Including how to pick up guys.

When I meet Luke on a hookup app, he makes it clear it's for one-night only. That's fine with me, because I'm down to see what this silver fox can do. But after I arrive at his doorstep, it doesn't take long to realize we have serious chemistry, and we end up meeting again.

He's got more walls around his heart than a military base, but I think he's as addicted to me as I am to him. He can't resist me for long. I mean, who can? Except Luke's rules exist for a reason, and when I test his limits, things get complicated. Maybe too complicated.




Todd's rating:




Hell, yes! Erickson and Hassell are kicking ass and taking names in their new series of heroes finding, fighting for and claiming their happily ever afters.

This second book in this series is every bit as good as the first, with not a single niggle to report, which has me thrilled and looking forward to the series hopefully continuing for several more books.

At 27, Dominic has just finished 8 years in the Army and is floundering with what to do next with his life. In the meantime, he's living in his parents' basement and working the deli counter in the family business, alongside his verbally abusive father.

But after recently embracing his bisexual side, Dominic's one immediate goal is to get himself some online dick, compliments of Grindr. And, gay goddess willing, soon!

Enter Luke, a gruff 39 y.o., ex-military, divorced, father of two teenagers, who spends his weekends searching for the perfect piece of ass. But only to use, once, then quickly show to the door. No repeats. Ever.

Then Luke hooks up with Dominic and all of his rules begin flying out the window, one after the other, beginning with two peanut butter sandwiches.

These two were like a cuddly, energetic pup constantly leaping on an ornery older dog, with the older dog continually snapping at the pup, over and over, then the next thing you know, you look and they're snuggled up together, like two peas in a pod.

Except the 'snuggling' mostly consisted of Luke nailing Dominic to the mattress. And the wall. And the floor. Then Luke wasn't kicking Dominic out afterwards anymore.

The guys do get their HEA, but not until after multiple rounds of family drama, resulting in [spoiler removed] but the story felt real and all too believable, without being buried in angst.

Other than the smoking hot sexiness, my very favorite part of the story was the banter, both on Grindr and in person.

ARC Review: A Second Harvest by Eli Easton

A Second Harvest (Men of Lancaster County, #1)
From the blurb:


David Fisher has lived by the rules all his life. Born to a Mennonite family, he obeyed his father and took over the family farm, married, and had two children. Now with both his kids in college and his wife deceased, he runs his farm alone and without joy, counting off the days of a life half-lived.

Christie Landon, graphic designer, Manhattanite, and fierce gay party boy, needs a change. Now thirty, he figures it’s time to grow up and think about his future. When his best friend overdoses, Christie resolves to take a break from the city. He heads to a small house in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to rest, recoup, and reflect.

But life in the country is boring despite glimpses of the hunky silver fox next door. When Christie’s creativity latches on to cooking, he decides to approach his widower neighbor with a plan to share meals and grocery expenses. David agrees, and soon the odd couple finds they really enjoy spending time together.

Christie challenges the boundaries of David’s closed world and brings out feelings he buried long ago. If he can break free of the past, he might find a second chance at happiness.


Heather's rating:






I honestly start drooling as soon as I hear that Eli Easton has written a new book. You've got me going all pavlovian, Eli!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, why do I bother trying other authors when Eli Easton just nails it every time?! Her books + me = A WET DREAM!

I honestly didn't even read the description for this one when I requested it. All I saw was ELI-FREAKIN-EASTON and that gorgeous cover, and I KNEW I needed it. She simply writes the stuff that I love to read, and I knew I could trust her to deliver.

I was pleasantly surprised when I finally read the synopsis. A closeted Mennonite farmer in his 40s with what I can only assume to be a rocking', hairy body with stocky muscles and... *don't mind me dreaming over here*. Oh yeah, and he meets an out and proud city boy roughing it in the country while searching for inspiration and a change of pace. I was tooooootally down.

Blogtour: No Master by Christine D'Abo




Please say hello to Christine D'Abo and 

No Master 

Bounty - Book 3





Blurb:

No man in the galaxy inspires more fear than Korbin, the Admiral of the Black. His life as leader of the biggest pirate band in space leaves little room for trust, so when Korbin’s second-in-command disappears without a trace, he suspects the worst.

Zain Strand has left his life as a sex slave behind and risen within the pirate ranks. But he abandons it all to rescue an old friend from recapture by the slavers—even if that means a suicidal confrontation with his old master. He doesn’t expect Korbin’s arrival, doesn’t want Korbin’s help . . . but Korbin gives Zain no choice.

Posing as master and slave to infiltrate a slave auction, Korbin and Zain embark on a journey of lust that rapidly reveals their deeper feelings. When Zain’s old master discovers their ruse, Korbin must do everything in his power to save both their lives and their newfound love.


---
Publisher’s note: While books #1 and #2 in the Bounty series should be read in order, this book stands alone and can be read without the first two.

This title is an edited second edition, previously published in 2011.




Hello, my name is Christine d’Abo! Thank you so much for having me here on the blog today.


There’s something special about the last book in a series. In the case of my Bounty series, I wanted to explore a character that held more power than some of the previous characters. Korbin, the Admiral of the Black is the de facto leader of the space pirates; a dangerous man who is not to be trifled with. The only man to come close is Zain, the Admiral’s second in command and the one person who knows all of his secrets.


Too bad for Korbin, Zain has more than a few secrets of his own.


I loved playing with the master/slave dynamic with these two men. The power exchange in their professional lives becomes confused when they must take things to the next level. Zain’s past as a freed sex slave makes every interaction with Korbin painful when they are forced to pretend to be master and slave. It forces them to confront their feelings for one another, something they wouldn’t otherwise have done.


Not to mention the sex.


Did I mention the sex?


Yeah…it’s pretty hot. ☺

I hope you enjoy the final tale in the Bounty series.





Get the book:




Meet the author:

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ARC Review: Snakes Among Sweet Flowers by Jason Huffman-Black

Snakes Among Sweet Flowers
From the blurb:

Two-time ex-con Camden Sanders has decided that Hog Mountain—an isolated community on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia—is the perfect place to continue running small scams without the threat of more prison time. But there are a few problems with this plan. One is the neighborly citizens of Hog Mountain thwarting his dirty dealings at every turn with their kindness. Another is Jackson Rhodes, a closeted Hog Mountain police officer who can see right through Cam’s good ol’ boy act and plans to catch him red-handed despite the attraction they both can feel. But the biggest problem of all is that Cam’s past is threatening to catch up with him, and it could mean trouble for more than just himself.



Heather's rating:





As I'm seeing dozens of 5-star reviews for this book, I can't help but wondering what I'm missing. I mean, I enjoyed this story, but I'm not raving over it like some of the other reviewers.

I love a book that features an antihero, and that is certainly what we have here. Cam is a small-time crook who moved his con to a rural town in the hopes of escaping his enemies and starting over. He isn't looking to reform his bad boy ways, and at the start of the story, I promise you that you will want to smack him. He begins the book as a callous man, and I really enjoyed watching him slowly transform into something... maybe not softer, but more caring. I liked the overall story arc a great deal, even if I had some issues with how the ending went down (melodrama, alert!).

Blogtour: Sparkles by Michael Halfhill




Please welcome Michael Halfhill and 

Sparkles 

Jan Phillips #3






Blurb:

A life cut short; unsolved robberies plaguing Philadelphia’s Jeweler’s Row; a cryptic message scrawled on a paper napkin; a Romanov prince; a young man held captive in Iran; a terrorist cell bent on revenge; and an opera company due to mount a rarely performed production of Handel’s Alexander’s Feast. What do these have to do with Jan Phillips?
One plunges Jan into a prolonged sadness. One leads him on a race to prevent a nuclear disaster. One offers Jan the promise of renewed love. One leads him to reluctantly wield his power as a Mundus master. One is bent on shattering thousands of lives beyond repair, while one unknowingly holds the key to the mystery that has baffled Philadelphia’s finest. Follow Jan as he untangles this Gordian knot that will alter his life in a way he never thought possible.




Excerpt:



Getting to Know You


Jan snuggled against Stephen’s chest. The fire had died to a few cinders, and the room had become chilly. The snow had stopped. The wind that had wiped the windowpanes clean had died away. Bright stars burned holes through the black, predawn sky. The new lovers, occupied as they were in pleasuring one another, hadn’t noticed the fire, or the snow, or the sky.
“Jan? Are you awake?”
Jan smiled. “I’m awake. I don’t want to fall asleep.” Jan scooted up and kissed Stephen softly. “I’m afraid if I do, I’ll find that all this will have been a dream.”
“It is real, isn’t? I mean we are…?”
“Yep. We’re what ever we want to be.”
“Jan, you can tell me to mind my own business if you want… I mean, you know about my background, but I don’t know much about yours, except of course that you’re a lawyer, and a…”
Jan stirred. Old feelings, some hurtful, some beautiful, welled up in his heart. He shifted so he could look Stephen in the eye. “I’ll give you the basics. Then we can fill in the details as we go along, okay?”
“I’m all ears.”
Jan thought a while, then he began, “I was raised in a rough working-class neighborhood. My father worked in the Philadelphia Naval Yard, painting ships. With three girls and two boys to feed, he barely made enough to cover expenses.  I was just twelve when he committed suicide. Suddenly I was the man of the house. Imagine, I wasn’t anywhere near being a man, and there I was, with people telling me I had to take care of my mother. My father’s best friend from school days was a teaching priest at Saint Dominick’s Academy. He took pity on us and managed to get my sisters and me into school there. Then when I was eighteen I met Tim Morris. He held the same office I do now in Mundus. We became lovers. He was a lot older than I was. Then one day one of Tim’s associates, who had met my mother, asked Tim if he could date her. Tim didn’t see a problem. Well, there was a problem. First he didn’t ask how I felt about it, and second, there was a hit out on this man. The hit man was clumsy. He missed his mark, and killed my mother instead. You see what I meant earlier about there being danger?”
Stephen looked serious, but said nothing. Jan continued, “I blamed Tim. Later I met a woman at Saint Joe’s College. I persuaded myself that I loved her, and we got married. Not long after we married, we began arguing…. We fought every day for the next three years. We were divorced. By the time I finally admitted to myself that I’d left Tim to get back at him, it was too late… Tim had died. I inherited his law firm, and the North American Mundus master’s chair.”
Stephen squeezed Jan’s hand. “My god Jan, that’s awful. How did you survive it?”

Blogtour: Daniel & Erik's Super Fab Ultimate Wedding Checklist by K.E. Belledonne




Please say hello to K.E. Belledonne and 

Daniel & Eric's Super Fab Ultimate Wedding Checklist 





Blurb:

When Daniel gets caught up in the demands of a cheeky wedding planning app, his fiancĂ© Erik grows frustrated with his preoccupation with adhering to heterosexual traditions. Will Daniel’s groomzilla ways give them the wedding of their dreams, or ultimately lead to their relationship’s demise?














Excerpt:



“I think Aurora is disappointed in me.”
“What?” Erik rubbed at his eye. It wasn’t even early morning, judging by the weak light coming through the blinds from the streetlights. “Who?”
“Aurora. The wedding planning app.” Daniel lay on his back, wide awake and staring up at the ceiling.
“The wedding planning app is not a sentient being. It has no feelings or opinions.”
“I feel like she's judging me. I’m sorry if I woke you up.”
“Oh my god, go to sleep.”
“I can't. I'm never going to sleep ever again.” Daniel tugged the blanket higher up his chest, folding his arms over it and exhaling heavily.
“You're being dramatic.”
“I've got too many things buzzing in my head. There's too many things I'm going to forget to do.”
“I thought that's why you had that damn app, so you don't have to remember anything; it's all right there saved on your tablet.”
“Yes, but I have to remember to put everything in it. Daniel rolled over. She doesn't just know everything—”
“A: She is not a she. It is an it. B: What are we doing tomorrow?”
“Oh my god, what is the point of sharing the app calendar if you're never going to look at it?” Daniel wailed.
“I look at it. It's just crammed so full of everything that I have no idea what's going on when.”
Daniel blew out his breath. ”Look, I know you don’t like the calendar. We’ve been over that, but I don’t know how else to keep track of all of these appointments and deadlines.”
“I told you, we could color-code them, or something,” Erik rolled to his side and punched at his pillow.
“Aurora doesn’t give you that option.”
“Well, it should.”
“I agree, but there’s nothing I can do about that.” Daniel bunched his pillow up under his head. “Tomorrow, we have four appointments to meet with caterers: two in the morning, two in the afternoon.”
“Why so many in one day?”
“It's the only day we both have available this week, and I am not going to make any decisions about the food at our reception without you there to discuss it.”
“Seriously, you could just make a choice, and I'll live with it.” Erik rolled over.
“I don't want you to just 'live with it,' Erik. Daniel tried to keep his voice neutral, but failed. This is our wedding. I don't want you to just 'live with it.’”
“Why are you getting so worked up about it?”
“We only get one chance at this. Everything needs to be perfect.”
“You're going to drive us both crazy, you know that, right?” Erik tugged the blankets back up over his shoulder.
“Well, then, we'll both be crazy.” Daniel squinted up at the ceiling. He was so tired of making these decisions. Why were there so many options? Why were there so many decisions? The planning was getting on Erik's nerves; he was getting on Erik's nerves. Erik was getting on his nerves. They were both just a pile of irritated nerves because the to-do list didn’t seem to be getting any smaller.
Daniel’s phone chimed with another notification from Aurora.
New Private Message from: MommyMargie.
His mother probably had another ludicrous suggestion for the reception, or a passive-aggressive reminder of the hymn that she and his father had had played at their wedding, that their grandparents had had played at their wedding and that she expected to hear at his wedding. Or maybe his parents had decided to paint the living room green. Who knew?



Get the book:


    



We were able to ask Kat a few questions!

1. What is the biggest thing people think they know about your subject/genre that isn’t so?

Monday, June 27, 2016

ARC Review: Snakes Among Sweet Flowers by Jason Huffman-Black


Blurb:
Two-time ex-con Camden Sanders has decided that Hog Mountain—an isolated community on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia—is the perfect place to continue running small scams without the threat of more prison time. But there are a few problems with this plan. One is the neighborly citizens of Hog Mountain thwarting his dirty dealings at every turn with their kindness. Another is Jackson Rhodes, a closeted Hog Mountain police officer who can see right through Cam’s good ol’ boy act and plans to catch him red-handed despite the attraction they both can feel. But the biggest problem of all is that Cam’s past is threatening to catch up with him, and it could mean trouble for more than just himself.



Jewel's rating:




Second chances. Not at love, this time, but life. And sometimes, you don't even realize you want to change, until you find yourself doing it, anyway. And that is what I loved about Snakes Among Sweet Flowers.

Camden Sanders thinks he doesn't have much of a conscience (he also lies to himself). He does have lines he won't cross, though, and because of that, Cam decided he needed a change of scenery, STAT. He's charming, but still looks like (and is) a bad boy. His specialty is small time cons. When he moved to Hog Mountain to open up his own garage, he fully intended to take advantage of what he saw as small-town backwater people. And he starts out doing just that. However, once he starts getting to know the people, it gets harder and harder to do what he has always done. Of course, it doesn't help matters that a hot cop is watching him like a hawk.

Jackson Rhodes would be the hot cop that just doesn't trust the Cam. Jackson just knows the man is up to no good, and he'd be right. But even more distressing to Jackson, is the attraction he feels toward Cam. Jackson is firmly in the closet, with no plans to ever come out. Part of Jackson, I think, also wanted to give Cam a chance to prove himself, and that surprised no one more than Jackson.

Release Day ARC Review: Anthony (Survivor Stories #4) by J.P. Barnaby

Anthony (Survivor Stories, #4)Blurb:

Aaron Downing worshiped his mother. She saved his life. She did everything for him. But Anthony Downing has a different perspective. He sees the woman who tossed him into a basement for eight long years and forgot he existed. When Anthony decides he’s done being invisible, he packs up and heads for Detroit to stay with his Internet friend Jay, but fate intervenes.

Brendan Mears lost everything the day the man with a gun came into his father’s store. Now, he’s tethered to a business he can’t manage and a brother who resents him.
Different in all the ways that matter, Anthony and Brendan struggle to overcome their psychological obstacles, until a crushing betrayal sends them running for cover and each other.


My rating:





As with "Ben", when this book became available as an ARC, I asked the author whether she thought I could handle it. Because I'm a wimp, and I know I can't read "Aaron" or "Spencer", for reasons.

But she assured me I would be just fine, and I was.

Anthony is Aaron's little brother, moved to the basement with the middle brother Allen when Aaron returned home after being rescued from the man who abused and tortured him. There is thankfully no explicit violence in this book pertaining to Aaron's story. But living in the basement changes Anthony profoundly.

For many years now, even though Aaron has long since gone off to college, and is now living with Spencer, Anthony has been basically ignored, neglected, abandoned, and thinks that nobody cares about him. It's all about Aaron. And now Allen has gone off to college too.

So Anthony has resorted to alcohol and pills to numb his pain, and it is thus that we meet him in this book, on his way to another party with his friend Chase. I say friend, because that's how Anthony thinks of him.

Then Chase does a horrid thing to Anthony, and it's the straw that breaks the camel's back. Anthony wants to leave. Leave his crappy town and his crappy life and his dysfunctional family.

But Anthony is still just a dumb and impulsive teenage boy, and then he does a really dumb and impulsive thing. Actually, it's a series of dumb things, out of desperation and pain. I won't go into detail here so I don't spoil things for you.

The author really packs on the teenage angst, from a boy who feels broken and useless and thinks that nobody gives a rat's ass about him. JP Barnaby shows the reader how a single horrible act can have massive ripple effects and can destroy many lives.

Things could have gone terribly wrong for Anthony, but he's ever so lucky when his car dies in front of a liquor store and is found by Patrick Mears, who owns the liquor store with his brother, Brendan.

I liked Patrick a lot. He was straight-forward but kind, and he gave off that great big brother vibe. He seemed trustworthy from the start, and even offers Anthony a job.

There's a history of violence in the Mears family too, you see, the repercussions of which affect both Patrick and Brendan, and I think Patrick saw that Anthony was in way over his head.

I liked Anthony's snark - once he came out of his shell, he was a great kid, and I enjoyed reading him, even though he had a lot yet to learn.

But learn, he does, as time goes by, and as Patrick and Brendan and Anthony figure out how to deal with their individual pain, and start to realize that working together makes them stronger, not weaker.

The author does a fabulous job letting us see into all the main characters' heads, and their actions and reactions make sense within their characterizations. It turns out that Anthony and Patrick have something in common - they both live with the repercussions of what violence has wrought upon their families. They share the exhaustion of walking on eggshells around their brothers, the constant fear that the slightest thing might set them off. In some way, they bond over that, as strange as that may sound.

I also wondered if Patrick didn't see Anthony as a way of redemption, someone whom he could help when he couldn't help his own brother. He helps Anthony build a life for himself, find friends, carve out a niche that fits him.

When Brendan and Anthony get closer, there's a lot of miscommunication and jealousy in play, something that in romance books often is overdone, but in this case totally worked. It fit their characters, especially Brendan, who hates that he can't leave his house, another ripple effect from the aforementioned violence, and doesn't think that Anthony would want him.

At this point, I was rather upset with Brendan and Anthony both for being stubborn and emo. I could understand why they acted the way they did, but man, it made me mad.

ARC Review: Fierce & Fabulous (Sassy Boyz 1) by Elizabeth Varlet



Blurb:
The first book in a scorching new male/male series by Elizabeth Varlet. Behind the Sassy Boyz's seductive smiles and sinful dance moves are desires that will leave readers breathless.

Fitch Donovan never thought a lap dance could change his life, but from the moment the gorgeous dancer’s lips touch his, his world comes screeching to a halt. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t shake the desire that rocks him to his core. He’s longed for this passion all his life—he just never dreamed he’d find it with another man.

Sharing a soul-shaking kiss with a straight boy is the kind of drama Ansel Becke just doesn't need. Spotlights aren't made for two and Ansel prefers to keep things on a one-night-only basis. So when Fitch shows up asking for an encore, Ansel knows he should send his gorgeous ass packing.

Though Ansel tries to pretend that what's between him and Fitch is far from fabulous, there's something about the big, burly contractor that makes Ansel's world sparkle in a way no amount of glitter ever could. And Fitch will do whatever it takes to convince Ansel that when the thing you need most in the world falls right into your lap, you’d be a fool to let it go.


Dani's rating:




I heart the Sassy Boyz! This book was so much better than I expected.

Let's start with: FITCH.

Everybody needs a Fitch in their life. Fitch, who has just taken over his family's construction business, has only ever been attracted to women, but the moment he lays eyes on Ansel, he's a goner.

Fitch struggles a bit with his attraction to a man, but his sister is gay, which makes it that much easier to admit that no one pushes his buttons like Ansel.

And then there's ANSEL.

Ansel is sultry and femme. He loves lipstick and high heels. And he moves like spun silk.

But being beautiful and androgynous isn't easy. Ansel's mom slapped him the first time she caught him wearing her clothes, and the abuse never stopped. Insecure and damaged, Ansel hides behind snark and alcohol.

This isn't a slow burn story, but it feels like one. The first time Ansel & Fitch meet, Ansel gives Fitch a slow-grind lap dance; the second time is all fast & hard. Ansel is terrified of falling in love, but Fitch can't let Ansel go.


Blogtour: Mud, Movies, Bullets, and Bulls by B.A. Tortuga




Please say hello to B.A. Tortuga and 

Mud, Movies, Bullets, and Bulls 





Blurb:

Four men in need of a helping hand….

When a cowboy finds he has grit in all the wrong places, what is he to do? Meet the man of his dreams, of course. But what will save two cowboys from getting bogged down in the mire?

An ex-rodeo cowboy who hates working with Hollywood actors meets a movie star who is looking for something real. Will they get a happy ending, just like in the movies?
A redneck ends up injured and stranded, and his old friend comes to the rescue. It’s the old story of the one that got away. What will they do to keep each other in their lives—and will it be too late?
A professional bull rider is starting to feel his age. When he’s injured far from home and his career is threatened, it’s up to his best friend to step in and point out the other options. Both men have plans—but will they include each other?



Did you know there are cowboys in Hawaii?

Hey y’all. I’m BA Tortuga and I write about cowboys – from working ones to redneck broke-dick ones to rodeo ones. ;-)

Did you know they have cowboys in Hawaii? I know, right? No one thinks cows when they think of paradise, but they arrived in the late 1700s. Longhorns, in fact! (Hook ‘em!) Well, a predecessor of the modern longhorn. Horses arrived in 1805. But it was in the 1830s that the cowboy culture boomed. A man named Parker contracted a bunch of what we know as Mexican vaqueros, who brought boots, saddles, and the know how to work the cattle and horses in a profitable way.

These cowboys were called “paniolo” and the tradition survives to this day on ranches like the Kahua Ranch.

I found about this wonderful culture years ago when a bullriding tour I follow went to Hawaii for a big exhibition. I was fascinated by the idea of green breaking horses in chest high salt water. Easier for the horse to carry weight, easier for the cowboy because the horse can’t buck as much. I was also stunned to learn the paniolo used to swim cows out to rowboats three or four at a time, then row them out to ships to deliver them to markets.

Talk about saltwater cowboys.

Blogtour: Dark Blood by Caleb James



Please welcome Caleb James with 

Dark Blood 






Blurb:

Handsome, brilliant, and surrounded by good friends, twenty-three-year-old medical student Miles Fox has a secret. It's not that he's gay, though he harbors a crush on his straight best friend, Luke. Miles, like his grandmother Anna, possesses the healing gift, an ability she's made him swear never to use or divulge, lest horrible things befall those he loves. It happened to her when her family was butchered by Nazis.
It all goes to hell when Miles heals a terminally ill father on a New Orleans cancer ward and wakes to find himself on a locked psych unit. Worse, news of the healing miracle has spread. For millennia, its carriers have been hunted by those who would steal it. Dr. Gerald Stangl and his teenage son, Calvin, know what Miles possesses. They, like their predecessors, will stop at nothing to take it, including kidnap, torture, and murder. As the Stangl's noose tightens, Miles and Luke are trapped in a death match, with stakes higher than they could ever imagine.





A Caleb James Ramble on Heads in Jars and Why You Should Consider Medical School
By: Caleb James, Charles Atkins, & Dr. Atkins
Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but here’s the deal. Writing is work. It pays poorly—the average author makes less than ten-thousand dollars a year—and people don’t understand why you don’t just give your books away. “Books are so expensive, couldn’t you give me a free one?”  As a well-published author, I can tell you that getting to the point where writing pays the bills is a trek. True, there are some who hit it out of the ballpark the first time at bat, but they’re quite rare, and whenever I meet one, it takes all I have to not bash them over the head and toss them in a dumpster.
So thank God—Goddess if you prefer--I went to medical school. Which among other things, gave me scads of rich experiences—such as a year in gross anatomy cutting apart a human body. Other than serial killers, who gets to say that? Plus, there’s that night I opened up the stainless steel box in the corner of the lab to find a dozen or more heads in various stages of dissection. I’ve used that memory in a number of books including Dark Blood—check out the cover. Nothing like heads in a jar to perk the reader’s interest. All thanks to the fabulous illustrator/artist/author and general bon vivant Alan M. Clark.
But back to why writers write, or at least why this one does. I have to. I don’t go more than a day without writing, and to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I skipped a day. Oh wait, it was a couple years back and I had flesh-eating bacteria crawling up my leg. I was in excruciating pain, deathly afraid the drugs wouldn’t work, and hobbling around the house with a carved wooden Mardi Gras death-head walking stick. Seriously, who keeps canes around? It was all very Game of Thrones. Fortunately, it did not end with either my head on a pike or my leg getting sawed off.
For me writing is a passion. Folks often ask, which I would give up first, being a doctor or being a writer? While I try to stay political and not piss off the Gods who saw fit to get me through premed and med school, I’d ditch the doctor thing first. To make it all work I’ve structured my life—and have done so for the past twenty years—to be spent half writing and half doing something medical. At present I’m the medical director for a community agency in Connecticut that works with people who have severe substance use and mental health problems. In fact I wrote a textbook on the subject, though quite possibly not the sort of thing for my Caleb James fans.
For the savvy reader, you’ve caught the connection between the psychiatry thing and my books. In Haffling, Alex’s mother has schizophrenia, and it takes all he has to keep sister Alice and himself out of the clutches of various social-service agencies… not to mention a mad fairy queen who turns into a giant fairyfire spitting salamander. In Dark Blood, my villain, Dr. Gerald Stangl, is my Nazi-lineaged psychiatrist. He’s the one putting those damn heads in jars. So yes, everything is connected. The butterfly beats its wings and a fairy is born in some addled author’s head.
In fact my entire writing career, starting as Charles Atkins, then Dr. Atkins (books on psychiatric stuff), and now Caleb James has closely followed my clinical work. My first thriller—The Portrait (St. Martin’s Press)—had a hero with manic depression. From there I was working with a lot of children who’d been referred by school systems and juvenile court, which led me to write Risk Factor (St. Martin’s Press) in which I let the reader see how you too can turn your child into a murderous sociopath. It was my nod to Frankenstein.
So while every writer must find their own path, here are my keys to success so far—and I’ve had well over a dozen traditionally published books, hundreds of articles and blah blah blah. I’m even on the volunteer faculty at Yale. If you want to write books, set aside some time every day to do it. If having a roof over your head and food in your belly are also important, find a career that pays the bills, doesn’t suck your soul dry, and adds fuel to your creative fire.  

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Book Review: Body Rocks by A.M. Arthur

From The Blurb:

Everything is finally falling into place for Trey Cooper: his band has been accepted into one of the biggest music competitions in the country…too bad their drummer just quit to play with XYZ, their biggest rival. When Trey has a mind-blowingly hot hookup with a mysterious violinist, Trey definitely plans to see him again – just not on stage as a member XYZ. 
Dominic Bounds’ time to make his musical dreams come true is running out. If something doesn’t happen fast, he has to head home to find a real job. This competition is his last chance, and Dom needs to come out on top – but he never expected to fall for his rival. As Dom and Trey risk everything to begin a secret affair, there’s no denying their chemistry is off the charts – but could their band rivalry turn their romance into a one-hit wonder?



Karen's rating:




Do you like angst? I mean serious over the top, oh-my-god-when-will-it-end angst? No, well then this is not the book for you or probably the author for you because her books contain more angst than conceivably possible. I kid you not. While I neither want or need over the top angst in my books all the time for whatever reason I occasionally feel the need to read a book that pushes the limits in this regard and this is one of my go to authors when I feel like being angst ridden and this book definitely delivered in that department.

'Body Rocks' is the story of Trey Connor and Dominic Bounds. Trey belongs to an Indie Rock group called Fading Daze and Dominic plays with the group XYZ. Trey and Dominic first meet when Dom performs at an open mic night at the bar where Trey works. Their attraction is instantaneous and neither is aware of who the other one is, but this is short lived when Trey tells Dom the story of how they've been selected to perform at Unbound the music competition that's going to give some lucky musicians their big break, if they find someone to replace their recently defected drummer who now belongs to the band XYZ...the enemy. Dom could confess who he is at this point...but...nope doesn't happen.

Throughout the story we are given a veritable laundry list of issues that our MCs and some of the secondary characters have to deal with. For the most part this is pretty much the norm for this author so I knew this going into the story and truthfully have no real issue with it. Not all of these issues occur on page, several of them in fact occur prior to the story but have some impact on events that occur during the story. I'm not going to go into specific details of all the issues presented by this story because truly this review would become considerably longer than I have time to write and you have time to read. My friend Vivian described it as 'a social issues whack-a-mole' in her review. Which for me is such an accurate description because as fast as one issue was dealt with another popped up, just like those little mole heads you hit with the hammer when playing whack-a-mole...see it works.


What I didn't like and what kept this from being a better than ok read for me was the conversations. I found I couldn't decide if I was at a pep rally or a self help conference...Dr. Phil would have been proud. I was finding myself incredibly bored at times. Also my pet peeve about the use of the word babe or baby as a term of endearment reared it's ugly little head. A quick count showed that this occurred approximately 32 times and that was excluding any uses of the word in a non-endearment form (this added about 6 more to the count).

While it didn't necessarily bother me, I was a little put off by the music that was supposedly representative of what an Indie Rock artist would either play or listen to. I just had a hard time believing that it would be artist such as Katy Perry, Beyonce, Bruno Mars and Evanescence. Don't get me wrong personally I enjoy these artist. I love the song 'My Immortal' but I think maybe if there'd been some Arcade Fire, The Cardigans, Teagan and Sara, Radiohead, The Killers, Imagine Dragons. These are all successful Indie Rock bands that are just a google away and I find it a little doubtful that a band wanting to get into this genre wouldn't listen to those who have already made it in the industry and perform music more in sync with the style of these bands than someone like Bruno Mars or Taylor swift who are more mainstream pop...it's not a right or wrong it thing it just would have felt more realistic to me that a performer would immerse them self more into the music genre that they wanted to succeed in.

Audiobook Review: Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Him (Him #1)From the blurb:

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died. 
Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever. 
Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend...and a big one to learn about himself.



Heather's rating:






Him, HIM, HIIIIMMMMMMMM!!!

Easily one of my favorite books from this year. Easily. And raise your hand if you are surprised??

*crickets*

This book was aaaammmmmaaaazzziiiinnnggg!

I started listening to this book on a road trip with one of my friends, and let me tell you, that car got STEAMY. This book is HOT, and when I got home from the trip, I spent the next five hours listening so I could hear how it ended!

The audio for this book was really, really excellent, and a good audiobook always bumps up my rating and improves my feelings about a story. There are two narrators for this story, Teddy Hamilton, who did the voice of Jamie Canning, and Jacob Morgan, who did the voice of Ryan Wesley. I preferred the narration of Jacob Morgan for his sexy, understated performance, but both guys did a PHENOMENAL job. There was so much emotion, so much talent in their voices that I KNOW that both of these guys will be on my audiobook radar. Why don't more M/M authors (or M/F, for that matter), use them!? These guys are A-team material!

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