Monday, December 11, 2017

ARC Review: Out For the Holidays: An Out Novella by Cara Dee

Out For the Holidays: An Out Novella
Blurb:
I’m not saying Henry jinxed us when he chose to send out two hundred holiday cards stating we were going to have a blissful Christmas at home…

Before we knew it, our peace and quiet went out the window, and we were headed to Mexico for a photo shoot my agent had neglected to tell me about. Of course, we had to deal with the man who didn’t want us to be together, and then we ended up back in LA, and we had to figure out what was going on with my brother, and, and… Okay, deep breaths. FYI, Philadelphia is nowhere near our home in northern Washington. Additionally, I wonder how Viagra really works, and what’s it gonna take to get a proposal around here?

Honestly. I’m not saying Henry jinxed us, but I’m writing the damn card next year.

Warning: This story contains more sugar than the cookies you leave for Santa, and it's chock-full of greetings and updates from other characters written by Cara, titles including Noah, Home, Path of Destruction, Uncomplicated Choices, and more.

(A 40k words long Christmas-themed sequel to Out. Not a standalone.)




Jewel's rating:




​​Note: Out For the Holidays is not a stand alone story. If you have not read Out, you'll want to read that one, first.

I've read a lot of Christmas stories, lately, and to tell you the truth I'm kind of wanting to see the back end of this holiday. I was mildly concerned that because of Christmas burnout, I wouldn't enjoy the last Christmas story in my line-up (this one). I should not have been concerned. Out For the Holidays is a wonderful holiday story!

Like Out, Out For the Holidays is told entirely from Zach's POV. And just like Out, I loved being inside his head.

I can't get enough of these guys! Zach and Henry are just so damn special. I love their chemistry, their dedication to one another, their banter, their scorching hot smexytimes...just, all of it.

Book Review: Healing by Stevie Woods

From The Blurb:
With Audin's life in danger, Tener is willing to take the ultimate risk. 
Two men, who were once best friends until they parted following a blazing row, meet up again bychance years later. Both men have experienced much during their years apart and life has tempered them. 
Even though Tener is now a healer rather than the doctor he ought to have become, and Audin is an engineer working for an authoritarian government department, they discover they still have much in common. When Tener discovers Audin's position has placed him at risk, they find themselves working together in the fight against a corrupt and increasingly dangerous government. 
This title is a re-release.

Karen's rating:




Audin and Tener haven't seen each other since college and their last encounter really didn't end well...they parted ways less than amicably. Neither man thought they would ever see each other again.

So needless to say when Audin walks into Tener's office looking for a healer both men are more than a little surprised. Audin quickly realizes that this is an opportunity that he never thought he'd have...a chance to make things right and maybe even have Tener back in his life again. Audin's not alone in how he feels and both men soon agree that they want to fix things, they care about each other and neither is willing to pass up a chance to be back in the other's life.

While their reunion was purely happenstance it's also very fortuitous for a government resistance group that Tener belongs too and that Audin sympathizes with.

Review Tour: Love Happens Anyway by R.J. Scott



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Length: 42,500 words approx.



Blurb
Hiring a boyfriend for Christmas; what could possibly go wrong?

Derek is facing yet another Christmas where his life feels out of control. He has a new career that doesn’t feel like his, and parents who would just love to see him settled down. All he needs is a temporary buffer for the parties he has to attend, and for his parents to leave him alone. Enter, Luke.

Luke is twenty-thousand dollars short for the renovations on Halligans; his family’s bar in New York’s Financial District. A favor for a buddy has him agreeing to play the part of boyfriend to a guy with more money than sense.

But when the spirit of Christmas works its magic on the two men, and they begin to fall for each other, Derek runs scared, and Luke needs space.

It doesn’t matter what obstacles you throw in the way of love, or how much you run in the other direction, because, when you’re least expecting it, whether you want it or not, love happens anyway.






Karen's review:






This cover totally matches the story on this one; both were adorably cute and just so much fun to read.
Derek feels like his life is spinning out of control. He’s feeling like the job he has is neither the job he was supposed to get or the one he wanted, he’s at odds with his parents and feels like they’re constantly trying to marry him off. If he could just catch a break, put a little distance between him and the rest of the world.
Derek finds his buffer in the form of Luke…a former fireman who’s in need of twenty thousand dollars to finish paying or the renovations to on Halligans, his family’s bar in NY’s Financial District. So, when Luke’s friend asks him for a favor…a favor that will bring in Luke’s much needed money. Luke finds himself reluctantly agreeing to be Derek’s pretend boyfriend for the holidays…4 dates that’s all he needs to get through and then he’ll have the money he needs…what could possibly go wrong with just 4 dates?
What neither Derek or Luke is prepared for is that things would go right…so much righter than either man is prepared for as they find that not only is there a definite attraction between them but as they get to know each other they’re also finding that they like each other.
I admit I was fairly certain that I was going to enjoy this one before I even opened the book…the author is R.J. Scott, and for me that pretty well makes it a done deal. For me Luke was the perfect person for Derek. He saw past Derek’s exterior with his pretense of confidence in an effort to cover his insecurities. Luke saw a talented man that he knew he could both like and respect. For Derek, Luke was his dream man come to life.
One of the things about this story that really captured my attention was the relationship dynamics between Derek and his parents. So often in stories the relationship between adult children and their parents are portrayed as either being good or not good but for Derek and his parents that’s not the case. Derek loves his parents and they love him and are supportive of him, but Derek doesn’t see it this way and that’s largely due to a communication issue or more accurately a case of miscommunication. Which for Derek is a more common event in his life than it needs to be because of the defensive barrier he’s built around himself.
Luke’s efforts to get past Derek and his fa├žade of confidence has a trickle-down effect on Derek’s life allowing him to re-evaluate his interactions not just with Luke but a lot of the other people in his life…colleagues, friends and his parents.
For me the fake-boyfriend to boyfriend premise of this story was well done. It was sweet, and not only did we get to see the relationship develop between these two, but we got to find out a bit more about each of them, their past, their present and what they wanted for their future.

‘Love Happens Anyway’ is an enchanting holiday story and while a lot of the issues stem from miscommunication it’s not intentional or surrounded by any over the top angst or drama and the icing on the Christmas cake for me in all of this was the ending…I loved the ending. It was sweet and filled with the joy of the holidays…definitely recommended for anyone wanting a sweet holiday story filled with fun, cheer and two sexy men who make the holiday just that much brighter.

** A free copy of this book was provided by Signal Boost Promotions as part of the review tour in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. **




December 6 - Xtreme Delusions, Valerie Ullmer, The Way She Reads, Gay Media Reviews
December 8 - Lelyana's Book Blog
December 11 - Hearts On Fire Reviews, Millsy Loves Books, My Fiction Nook
December 13 - Mirrigold:Mutterings and Musings, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, BFD Book Blog, Nicole's Book Musings, MM Good Book Reviews
December 15 - Jim's Reading Room, Making It Happen, Padme's Library, Sexy Erotic Xciting, Wicked Faerie's Tales and Reviews
December 20 - Dog-Eared Daydreams, Book Lovers 4Ever, Au Boudoir Ecarlate, Wicked Reads
December 22 - A Book Lover's Dream, Bayou Book Junkie




Excerpt


I knew Marcus was six-two, just a little taller than me. I knew he had blue eyes, and dark hair with red tones in certain light. He had a brother, but they didn’t see each other much, being that his brother was in the Navy. His parents were retired in Florida, but they’d had Marcus and his brother Adam late in life. Marcus was twenty-nine, same as me with only a few months separating our birthdays, and he was a firefighter. Oh, and he was a good, kind man who was thoughtful all the time and treated me like a prince.

“That’s such a shame. Anyway, how are Marcus’ kittens?” Mom asked. I pulled myself back to what she was saying. It was never good to not pay full attention to anything Mom said, otherwise you’d end up agreeing to all kinds of things she’d throw at you when your defenses are down. I loved her dearly but she was sneaky like that.

Which is how I got myself into this mess with Marcus in the first place.

“They’re fine.”

“Did he find good homes for them?”

Blogtour: An Unlocked Mind by KC Wells and Parker Williams



Title: An Unlocked Mind
Series: Secrets Book #2
Author: K.C. Wells and Parker Williams
Genre: M/M Romance Light BDSM
Release Date: December 11, 2017 


Rob Daniels is determined to prove to himself that his brother Alex got it wrong. Alex believes he found love through BDSM; Rob is certain that’s not possible. He even makes several visits to a London club to prove his point. But when he attends the grand opening of Secrets, Rob gets a shock, one that has him fleeing, vowing never to return—until he does… and runs into the brick wall that is Dom Vic Prentiss. As first meetings go, theirs is a disaster. 
The more time he spends around Rob, the more convinced Vic becomes of two things—one, something is eating away at Rob, and two, he’s looking for something. Every instinct tells Vic to help him, but trying to unlock the secrets hidden in Rob’s mind requires a key. All Vic has to do is find it. Because maybe then he’ll get to see the real Rob, the man who’s scared to let go….


Sunday, December 10, 2017

ARC Review: Out for the Holidays by Cara Dee

Out For the Holidays
Blurb:
I’m not saying Henry jinxed us when he chose to send out two hundred holiday cards stating we were going to have a blissful Christmas at home…

Before we knew it, our peace and quiet went out the window, and we were headed to Mexico for a photo shoot my agent had neglected to tell me about. Of course, we had to deal with the man who didn’t want us to be together, and then we ended up back in LA, and we had to figure out what was going on with my brother, and, and… Okay, deep breaths. FYI, Philadelphia is nowhere near our home in northern Washington. Additionally, I wonder how Viagra really works, and what’s it gonna take to get a proposal around here?

Honestly. I’m not saying Henry jinxed us, but I’m writing the damn card next year.


Todd's rating:




Okay, I just have to say it. I may or may not have a huge crush on Zach. He's totally my flavor of "not quite right," but in the very best way. : )

This semi-short, holiday read took place about a year and a half after the events in "Out," showing their relationship going as strong as ever, which I loved.

Zach has been modeling the entire time, but he's starting to fray around the edges a bit from all of the scheduling pressures and time away from Henry.

So they both decided to take the entire month of December off, devoting more time to one another and their families, to help recharge their depleted internal batteries.

Except, oh boy, did fate have much different plans for them.

Audio Book Review: SPUN! by J. L. Merrow

From The Blurb:
An ill-advised encounter at the office party leaves David Greenlake jobless and homeless in one heady weekend. But he quickly begs work from his ex-boss and takes a room in Shamwell with easygoing postman Rory Deamer. David doesn’t mean to flirt with the recently divorced Rory—just like he doesn’t consciously decide to breathe. After all, Rory’s far too nice for him. And far too straight. 
Rory finds his new lodger surprisingly fun to be with, and what’s more, David is a hit with Rory’s troubled children. But while Rory’s world may have turned upside down in the last few years, there’s one thing he’s sure of: he’s straight as a die. So he can’t be falling for David . . . can he? 
Their friends and family think they know all the answers, and David’s office party hookup has his own plans for romance. Rory and David need to make up their minds and take a stand for what they really want—or their love could be over before it’s even begun. 
Listening Time: 7 hrs. 44 min.

Karen's rating:




We first met David in 'Out' and I liked him so when I found out that he was one of the MCs for this series I simply couldn't resist.

In 'OUT' David pursues Mark, who was his boss and he has a bit of a crush but not being the object of David's affections things stop before they get started, however, David and Mark do remain friends of a sort and when David's world begins to crumble after he gets caught in an indiscretion at work and the friend he's moved in with when he looses his apartment as a result gives him a not so subtle hint that it's time to move on. Desperate and not knowing where else to go David turns to Mark for help.

Mark offers him a job helping to set up his fledgling business and then helps him to find a place to live...enter Mark's friend, Rory.  Rory's straight but he doesn't have a problem with someone who's gay and a boarder to share the expenses would be good. So suddenly Rory has a roommate and he thinks he might like this idea.

Rory's kids like David and so does Rory. As David and Rory spend time together and get to know each other they each discover that they really enjoy spending time together and Rory finds that as well as David's company, he just likes David...he likes how he looks.

I liked that this wasn't an insta-love relationship. David and Rory spent time together as roommates and friends getting to know each other, doing things together. Rory was uncertain about himself and I liked that we got to spend page time with Rory as he examined his life and his choices trying to sort out how he felt about David and what he wanted for himself and for him and Rory in terms of a relationship.

While Rory's looking at himself we also get to see David as he begins to realize that he's attracted to Rory, who isn't someone that David would typically be interested in but the more time David spends with Rory the more he realizes that he really likes Rory the person and he likes what he sees when he looks at Rory the man.

Audiobook ARC Review: The Lightning-Struck Heart by T.J. Klune

The Lightning-Struck Heart (Tales From Verania, #1)From the blurb:

Once upon a time, in an alleyway in the slums of the City of Lockes, a young and somewhat lonely boy named Sam Haversford turns a group of teenage douchebags into stone completely by accident. 
Of course, this catches the attention of a higher power, and Sam's pulled from the only world he knows to become an apprentice to the King's Wizard, Morgan of Shadows. 
When Sam is fourteen, he enters the Dark Woods and returns with Gary, the hornless gay unicorn, and a half-giant named Tiggy, earning the moniker Sam of Wilds. 
At fifteen, Sam learns what love truly is when a new knight arrives at the castle. Sir Ryan Foxheart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed. 
Naturally, it all goes to hell through the years when Ryan dates the reprehensible Prince Justin, Sam can't control his magic, a sexually aggressive dragon kidnaps the prince, and the King sends them on an epic quest to save Ryan's boyfriend, all while Sam falls more in love with someone he can never have.
Or so he thinks. 


Heather's rating:







My original review from 2015 of the book can be found here.

Previous rating: 3.5 stars
Audiobook re-read rating: 3.5 stars for the story, 5+++ stars for the narration = 4.5 stars overall

*I'm going to focus the majority of this review on the audio portion. If you want to read a more detailed review on the story then check out my previous review of the ebook.*

Now, I've said this before and I'll say it again- I'm a HUUUUUUGE T.J. Klune fan. HUGE. I've read nearly everything he has written (I might have missed one book), and I've never given him less than 3.5 stars. He is one of my favorite authors of all time, but this series... yeah, it didn't quite work for me the first time around.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

ARC Review - Thirty-One Days and Legos (Ranger Station Haven) by S.A. Stovall

Thirty-One Days and Legos (Ranger Station Haven)
Blurb:
A Ranger Station Haven Christmas Novella

Park rangers Carter and Owen Williams have decided to expand their family and adopt two brothers—boys they rescued a year before when they tried to escape the foster system and flee to Canada. After completing their parenting classes, Carter, a reserved man who enjoys the simple life, swears he’ll be the best father possible. His patience is tested, however, when one brother adopts a cat out of the snowy Voyageurs National Park and the other brother refuses to talk about what’s bothering him.

Owen wants to make sure their first Christmas together is a special one, and he decides all of December should be a celebration. He has an activity planned for each of the thirty-one days, but none of them seem to go off without a hitch. The cat has fleas, the boys need to attend a court hearing, and Carter is more than a little overwhelmed.

But Carter is 100 percent determined to make his new family work. He just has no idea how…



Todd's rating:




 Last year's short holiday read, "Ranger Station Haven", was one of my favorites of Christmas 2016, so I was stoked to hear that this follow-up story was happening and immediately requested it.

In this new story, stoic Carter and ever-cheerful Owen have decided to adopt two of the young runaways that they helped rescue last year.

From page one, Carter immediately began displaying his eternally-pessimistic attitude and, with few exceptions, he never really stopped. He was the Ebenezer Scrooge in this particular holiday tale.

But Owen was there to keep reminding him that he needed to relax and try not to take everything so seriously, which was refreshing.

Audio book Review: A Destiny of Dragons

From The Blurb:
Listening Time: 16 hrs. 40 min.
Once upon a time, the wizard’s apprentice Sam of Wilds got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam’s been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Justin they will be best friends forever. 
Life is good. 
Until it’s not. 
Because Vadoma, the leader of the Gypsy clan and Sam’s grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side. 
And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv. 
Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam’s true cornerstone. 
The first book in the DESTINY FUCK YEAH! Trilogy (because sometimes, having a destiny is the stupidest thing ever).

Karen's rating:




If you thought the e-book was good...

You really, really need to listen to this one on audio...

When this was first released back in June of this year I read it...there was no way I was waiting any longer for more Sam, Knight Delicious-face, Gary, Kevin and Tiggy and I loved it the story was all kinds of epic and awesome and I distinctly remember writing a rather effusive review...pictures were included, here's the link if you're curious...
Review: A Destiny of Dragons

Michael Lesley was the narrator for 'A Destiny of Dragons' and while I was totally enchanted with his narration in 'The Lightening Struck Heart' (TLSH) the first book in this series...I'm pretty much convinced that with the second book Mr. Lesley has exceeded my expectations. While I would have loved being able to listen to 'TLSH' again before jumping into the second book time just didn't permit that luxury but Michael Lesley's recreation of the voices for TJ Klune's unique characters in this series easily and effortlessly took me back to Verania with all it's magic and intrigue.

While I've listened to roughly 160+ audiobooks and I've become far more comfortable with what does or doesn't work for me in this format. I still don't profess myself to be any kind of an expert on anything other than what I like or love as the case might be in this instance. I truly couldn't imagine anyone else capturing the feel of this story better than Mr. Lesley has.

Friday, December 8, 2017

ARC Review: Eight Nights in December by Keira Andrews

Blurb:
Orphaned Lucas figures spending the holidays with his obnoxious roommate’s family in New York City is better than staying alone on campus upstate. He ends up sharing a room again, this time with his roommate’s brother, Nate. Geeky photographer Nate isn’t at all what Lucas expects. In fact, he’s incredibly sexy—especially when he invites Lucas into his darkroom...

They hide their attraction during Hanukkah celebrations, but behind closed doors, Lucas and Nate can’t keep their hands (or mouths) off each other. Nate’s only looking for a bit of holiday fun, and amazing sex with a hot virgin definitely fits the bill. Yet as the candles burn, Nate and Lucas begin to realize eight nights will never be enough.

This gay holiday romance from Keira Andrews features secret trysts, new adult angst, spinning the dreidel, and of course a happy ending.


Dani's rating:


This is an utterly romantic, heartwarming story that revolves around the eight nights of Chanukah.

So many stories celebrate Christmas, and I'm good with that. I don't begrudge anyone their faith or traditions, but it's nice to see Chanukah included.

Keira Andrews does an admirable job showing the spirit of Chanukah: the lighting of the menorah, the delicious (and not even remotely fattening because HOLIDAYS) fried food, the family togetherness. It all felt very authentic to me as a secular Jew.


Audio book Review: Wolfsong by TJ Klune

From The Blurb:
Listening Length: 18 hours and 40 minutes 
Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left. 
Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road. The little boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the little boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the little boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane. 
Ox was seventeen when he found out the little boy’s secret and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega. 
Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces. 
It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.

Karen's rating:




This is full of pine cones and candy canes, epic and awesome...
“Ox? Ox! Do you smell that?”
I sniffed the air. I didn’t smell anything other than the woods. “I smell trees,” I said.
He shook his head. “No, no, no. It’s something bigger.”
There are moments...moments that define things and give clarity. For me that moment when Ox meets Joe defined this audio book for me. Once again the perfect narrator has been matched to one of TJ Klune's books. 

I so loved this book when I read it, as I've expressed in my review of the e-book and here's the link for that...Review: Wolfsong

Kirt Graves has taken a story that I loved I mean really, truly loved. 'Wolfsong' was on my Top 10 Favorite Reads for 2016 and for everything that I loved about the book the audio book has truly enhanced it that much more. While this isn't my first time listening to a book narrated by Kirt Graves without hesitation I can say this is my favorite audio book that he's narrated and not just because of the story. While I've enjoyed the other books Mr. Graves has narrated this is the story that's effortlessly drawn me in and held me in its grasp from start to finish. 

While all of the voices that the narrator created worked for me. It was Joe and Ox's voices that I absolutely loved...especially young Joe's voice. Mr. Graves captured the expressiveness of Joe's voice perfectly with all of his youthful exuberance and Ox's thoughtful and methodical contemplation of things was conveyed perfectly with every world that he spoke and had it just been these voices that I connected with it would have been a good story but I was also quite taken with Gordo, Elizabeth, Mark, Thomas and the other pack members. While the bad guys...well trust me their voices conveyed the darkness that their hearts contained as well.

Review Tour - Secret Santa - Jay Northcote




Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 38,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design




Blurb
Keeping secrets is never a good way to start a relationship

Theo hardly has time to date. Between work and caring for his four-year-old son there aren’t many hours left over. He’s lonely though, so he joins a hook-up app and starts chatting to a guy called Luke. Luke seems friendly and they arrange to meet. Theo doesn’t mention that he has a child. It’s early days and he’s worried about putting Luke off before they get to know each other.

Luke is currently working as Santa at the local shopping mall. He figures Theo never has to know. Christmas will be over soon and Luke will move on to a new, less embarrassing job. He’s surprised when Theo and a little boy visit Santa one afternoon. Theo doesn’t recognise Luke, and Luke realises he’s not the only one with a secret.

Despite misgivings on both sides, they start dating, and the chemistry is amazing. But as Christmas approaches their secrets pile up like colourful packages under the tree. If they’re not careful, they’ll lose the best gift of all—each other.







Karen's review:






Theo’s a single dad who really doesn’t have time for relationships between sharing parenting duties with his son’s mom and working as any parent especially any single parent knows there isn’t a lot of time left in the day…mind you that doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t like a relationship, but Theo’s not a hook-up kind of guy and it’s hard to find someone who wants a relationship when you’ve got a 4 year old, so when he starts chatting on-line with a guy named Luke putting it out there that he’s a dad logically doesn’t seem like it should be the first things he tells Luke about himself. Not that he’s not going to tell him but maybe he could just give them a little time for Luke to find out some other stuff about him first.
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