Saturday, May 31, 2014

ARC Review: Bottoms Away by Etienne

Bottoms Away (About a Bottoms) - Etienne

Chris Bottoms is glad to be home from undergoing the first of two surgeries that will free him from the ostomy bag he’s been wearing for more than a year. He’s anxious about the upcoming second surgery, but life is keeping him on his toes.

The bank hierarchy is clearly grooming Chris’s partner, Mickey O’Donovan, vice president of a mega-bank, for a promotion. That doesn’t help reconcile the family who turned their backs on Mickey for not going into the family business. To make matters worse, Chris's little brother's abusers are still out there, and that makes Chris angry. He and Mickey are raising Ted now. Between dealing with spiteful relatives and doing their best by a hurt ten-year-old boy, Chris and Mickey wonder how much more reality they can take.

Chris's second and final surgery can't come soon enough. Both men are looking forward its most important side-effect—Chris will once again be able to enjoy prostate massage—but not until three months after the surgery.

Sandra's rating:

Well, Book 3 finally clicked with me. I am now used to the writing style this author has, and this book worked. This is not a romance novel, and I didn't expect one going in. The genre is more gay fiction than M/M romance, so keep that in mind.

Chris and Mick are still together, living in Avondale, with Chris' little brother Ted whom he adopted, and the book opens with Chris being released from the hospital (where book 2 ended) after his surgery to fix his, well, bottom. If you've read Bottoms Up or Bottoms Out, you'll remember that Chris had his rectum removed in the first and struggled with the consequences of it for most of the second.

The story continues here seamlessly, as we find out more about Chris' road to recovery, Ted's continuing visits to the child psychologist and the efforts Chris sets in motion to bring those men to justice, as well as their daily life as a family, with their friends and work and all the things that happen.

The narrative is still on the dry side, and the dialogue still feels a little stilted, but as I said above, I've gotten to the point where I expected it, and no longer let it distract me from following these men's story.

As far as the plot goes, it flowed easily and believably, and while the author still on occasion makes Jacksonville sound more awesome than it is, I could see that he must remember it fondly from his time living here. Specific locations are accurately described, though I must again slightly object to calling JTB "Turner Butler" Blvd. - I have never heard it referred to that way.

Again, this is not a romance novel, and as such, any bedroom action takes place off page. It's mentioned, but only in the narrative and with suggestive dialogue, however there is no description of any sexy times in this book. While the men certainly engage in sexual contact, we do not get to participate by reading about it. Which didn't bother me at all, but might other readers.

What continues to bother me about this series is the lack of depth and lack of emotions in the writing which is sometimes difficult to take, especially when it came to such issues as child abuse, general unfairness and the very serious issue of Chris' surgery aftermath. I'm also still having a hard time believing (without proof of any kind) that a Catholic hospital such as St. Vincent would employ an openly gay man. This is just my perception, though, so don't put too much stock in that.

Release Blitz: Redeemed by L. Chapman


Megan’s life has been anything but simple. She’s always lived amongst chaos, and for once, she just wants it all to stop. After years of lies and agony, will anything work out for her?
In this heart-gripping third installment of the Believe series, watch Megan discover love again, and not just any love, but one worth fighting for, one that makes her feel different, cherished, wanted, and treasured. For Megan, Mark is the one to give her all of that and has brought a new meaning to her life and a new reason to live.
The old saying, "Nothing comes easy in life," holds true to this story, which is packed with unexpected twists and turns. For Megan and Mark, it pushes their love to new heights. Will the love they share for each other keep their relationship strong, or does Megan’s string of erroneous luck run out?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Kindle Weekly Deals~ Week of 5/24/14- 5/30/14

The "Dark Hunter" Collection by Sherrilyn Kenyon- Adult, paranormal romance~ Price drop to $19.99!

"Connected" by Jolyn Palliata- Adult, paranormal romance~ Price drop to $0.99!
"Something Like Summer" by Jay Bell- M/M, YA, contemporary romance~ Price drop to $0.99!
"Given the Circumstances" by Brad Vance- M/M, contemporary romance~ Price drop to $0.99!
"Liam Davis & The Raven" by Anyta Sunday- M/M, contemporary romance~ Price drop to $1.99!
"Only For You" by Genna Rulon- NA, contemporary romance~ Price drop to FREE!
"Flat-Out Love" by Jessica Park- YA, contemporary romance~ Price drop to $2.00!
"Bound to the Highlander" by Kate Robbins~ Adult, historical romance~ Price drop to $0.99!
"Almost" by Anne Elliot- YA, contemporary romance~ Price drop to $0.99!
"Werecat: The Rearing" by Andrew J. Peters- M/M, paranormal romance~ Price drop to $0.99!

Check back next week for more deals!!

ARC Review: The Silence of the Stars by Kate McMurray


A Spin-off of The Stars that Tremble

Sandy Sullivan has gotten so good at covering up his emotions, he’s waiting for someone to hand him an Oscar. On the outside, he’s a cheerful, funny guy, but his good humor is the only thing keeping awful memories from his army tours in Afghanistan at bay. Worse, Sandy is now adrift after breaking up with the only man who ever understood him, but who also wanted to fix him the way Sandy’s been fixing up his new house in Brooklyn.

Everett Blake seems to have everything: good looks, money, and talent to spare. He parlayed a successful career as a violinist into a teaching job at Manhattan’s elite Olcott School and until four months ago, he even had the perfect boyfriend. Now he’s on his own, trying to give his new apartment some personality, even if it is unkempt compared to the perfect home he shared with his ex. When hiring a contractor to renovate his kitchen sends Sandy barreling into his life, Everett is only too happy to accept the chaos… until he realizes he’s in over his head.

Dani's rating:

Sandy is Mike's BFF from book 1. He's a contractor hired to remodel Everett's kitchen. Everett, who just broke up with a long-term boyfriend, is a friend of Gio's (now engaged to Mike). Ev is a violinist and comes from a cultured, educated, well-off family. Ev is Upper East Side Manhattan. Sandy is not.

This book can be read as a standalone. Mike and Gio are around, but the plot mostly revolves around Sandy's PTSD. Sandy is an Army vet. He doesn't think he has PTSD, but he received a medical discharge from the Army and has nightmares and occasional flashbacks (sounds like PTSD to me).

Sandy is certain no one can put up with his messed-up head for long. He doesn't even want to sleep over at Ev's place because he doesn't want Ev to see him in the throes of a nightmare.

And while Ev is great and comforting, he worries he's getting in too deep and that Sandy might get violent and unpredictable.

There was nothing wrong with this book. The characters were nice, fairly ordinary guys who meet, go out, and actually talk about their relationship. They kiss and hold hands. There is almost no angst, no breakups or misunderstandings. And the ending is as delectable as a cupcake with extra frosting.

However, this book was...well, it was bland. There was almost no steam: a couple short scenes is all. There was talk of kink (uniforms! tool belts!), but that never happened, at least on page.

ARC Reviews: Sharp Love (Gambling on Love 2) by Ava March


London, 1822 William Drake has lived among thieves, bastards and beggars all his life, doing what's necessary to survive. As a young orphan, that included looking after his best friend, Jack Morgan. But as they grew older, Jack took the honest path, leaving Will behind to fend for himself the only ways he knows how.

When an unsavory errand for his employer brings Jack back to London's underbelly, he needs Will's help. It's there, among the alleys they ran through as children, that the love he's always felt for Will returns. As their nights together grow hotter, Will discovers something new about his old friend—Jack's need to serve extends into the bedchamber.

Will has never fully abandoned his dream of escaping London with Jack. But what could the Duke's driver want with a dishonest cheat like him, beyond a bit of rough sex? It takes the gamble of Will's life to find out if he can win Jack's heart.

Dani's rating:

This shouldn't be a shocker, but I am an Ava March fangirl. Historical fiction in the M/M genre can be so depressing (real, yes, but I prefer not to have my soul ripped out of my body), yet March manages to make her stories believable and shiny. I've read (and loved) nearly all her books, but All in with the Duke (Gambling on Love 1) holds a special place in my heart.

Because Max. And Tristan. And whips. And chains. And that damn scene in the park.

Sharp Love overlaps with the first book. When Max, the Duke of Pelham, returns to London to seek out his lover Tristan and begs him to return to the country, Jack, as Max's faithful driver, goes with him. Max is worried about Tristan living in a shanty room in a disreputable part of town, so he has Jack serve as Tristan's bodyguard. There are several scenes in book 1 that we saw from Max or Tristan's perspective that we now see from Jack's perspective, which makes me want to reread book 1 immediately. Now I know what went on behind those closed doors!

What went on is Jack and Will. As close as brothers but yearning to be lovers, these men, both orphans, grew up together in poverty. But while Jack chose to work at the stables, Will turned to gambling and giving furtive blowjobs in the back alleys of London. Jack judges Will. He knows Will has a quick mind and thinks Will can do better. Will loves Jack and wants him forever, but he'll take him for a fortnight if that's all he can get.

Oh, there was angst and sexual tension galore. I wanted to shake both MCs and make them talk, but they both skirt around the issues. Jack is afraid of his deepest desires, afraid of being left. Neither man trusts the other enough to lay it all on the line. Jack needed some sense slapped into him. He really hurts Will, but it takes losing Will to make Jack finally open his eyes.

Cover Reveal: The Dark Seduction of Miss Jane by Amanda McIntyre

The Dark Seduction of Miss Jane 
By Amanda McIntyre

A scandalous betrayal sets Miss Jane Goodwin on an unexpected journey to London to pursue her dream of being the first female investigative journalist, but she soon finds herself in a hotbed of murder and controversy. Seduced by the passions of a mysterious lover and stalked by a madman, tensions mount as Jane falls prey to her desires, only to discover a deadly secret that threatens more than just her trust in men.
Inspector Randolph Mansfield is one of Scotland Yard’s elite, battling the dark secrets of his past while trying to solve a rash of grisly murders threatening to mar Queen Victoria's Jubilee. His respite is the anonymity he finds in the decadence of a private gentleman’s club, until a determined American journalist goes undercover in search of her stalker and he finds the lines between protection and passion blurred. But as tensions heat and her life is threatened, he must choose whether to reveal his true identity at the risk of losing her trust and his career.

Release Date: 
July 11, 2014


Thursday, May 29, 2014

ARC Review: Hard Time by Cara McKenna

Hard TimeFrom the blurb:

Annie Goodhouse doesn’t need to be warned about bad boys; good sense and an abusive ex have given her plenty of reasons to play it safe. But when she steps into her new role as outreach librarian for Cousins Correctional Facility, no amount of good sense can keep her mind—or eyes—off inmate Eric Collier.

Eric doesn’t claim to be innocent of the crime that landed him in prison. In fact, he’d do it again if that’s what it took to keep his family safe. Loyalty and force are what he knows. But meeting Annie makes him want to know more.

When Eric begins courting Annie through letters, they embark on a reckless, secret romance—a forbidden fantasy that neither imagines could ever be real…until early parole for Eric changes everything, and forces them both to face a past they can’t forget, and a desire they can’t deny.

Heather's rating:

The number of times that a M/F contemporary works for me are few and far between. I often get cheese-ball alerts, tropey-tropey nonsense, ridiculous female MCs, and boring or over-the-top stories. With the number of mixed reviews on this one, I was certainly prepared for the worst. However, this story shocked the hell out of me. I very nearly loved it.

The first part of the book was fan-freaking-tastic. Though the attraction between Annie and Eric bordered on insta-love, the slow seduction of the love letters back and forth between them were literary gold. It was very hot and very romantic, and I adored them (glares at husband and forces him to write me love letters). There is a TON of build-up, tons of sexual tension, and I loved the easy sensuality of it.

For a lot of readers, the story went downhill at around 50%, which is when everything gets more "real" so to speak. I however, loved the story even after that point, even after things veer away from this hot "forbidden love" type of relationship to something more mundane. Though I found parts to be overlong, I liked the progression of the story even if I found Annie to be a bit naggy at times.

My favorite character, by far, was Eric. Eric is no alpha male. He is a beta hero, through and through: Insecure enough to be vulnerable without being desperate, romantic enough to be endearing without being too mushy, and manly enough to be sexy without being grunty-neanderthalish. I loved his willingness to please and his quiet nature. I almost could have seen this morphing into a Domme kind of book if the author had been so inclined, but I like the direction that Cara McKenna took with it.

I think this stands out among the M/F contemporaries that are out there. It was a pleasantly surprising, sexy-as-hell story.

**Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

Buy this book: Penguin, Amazon, Kobo, All Romance

Thanks for reading my review!!

ARC Review: All of Me by Cardeno C.


Part of the Dreamspinner Press Daily Dose "Mended" Anthology 2014

Bonded by their parents before they were conceived, Abel Nasa and Zakai "Kai" Berura adored each other since they were children. As teens, the two future Alphas took the next step in their bonding process and vowed to remain true to one another until Kai came of age. But when tragedy struck, Abel felt betrayed and ran from Kai instead of completing the mating bond.

Years pass with no contact between the two, but Abel never stops yearning for the man who was supposed to lead by his side. When Kai returns, broken and on death's door, Abel must look past what he saw and trust his heart so they can fulfill their destiny and merge their packs.

Dani's rating:

I absolutely loved Control, which CC co-wrote with Mary Calmes, so I was anxious to read this book. Because this story was written with the intent of including it in the Dreamspinner Mended anthology, it is quite short: around 55 pages, a long short story, if you will, not quite a novella.

I really liked the premise of two Alphas who are mated by family ties to be co-rulers of their joint packs, and CC is a wonderful storyteller. The story was so easy to sink into.

Abel, the older of the two wolf shifters by five years, is the narrator here. Abel was bound to Kai before Kai was even conceived; their bond was always meant to be. They adored each other even as children, but on Kai’s 18th birthday, when their mating was meant to come full circle, Abel witnessed something that shattered his heart. And ten years later, he’s still suffering, even as he tries (unsuccessfully) to put Kai out of his mind.

I liked both Kai and Abel. Abel worked well as the narrator. He obviously covered his bruised heart with a rough exterior. And I always love the idea of two Alphas meant to be.

I wish the conflicts in the story were more fleshed out. I would have liked a longer explanation, for example, of how Kai’s stepfather "kept" Kai for a decade when Kai was the true Alpha. Why didn’t Kai say anything on his 18th birthday when Abel came to see him? Just one word could have saved both the men so much heartbreak and pain.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

ARC Audiobook Review: Chase in Shadow by Amy Lane

Chase in Shadow (Johnnies, #1)
From the blurb:

Chase Summers: Golden boy. Beautiful girlfriend, good friends, and a promising future.

Nobody knows the real Chase.

Chase Summers has a razor blade to his wrist and the smell of his lover’s goodbye clinging to his skin. He has a door in his heart so frightening he’d rather die than open it, and the lies he’s used to block it shut are thinning with every forbidden touch. Chase has spent his entire life unraveling, and his decision to set his sexuality free in secret has only torn his mind apart faster.

Chase has one chance for true love and salvation. He may have met Tommy Halloran in the world of gay-for-pay—where the number of lovers doesn’t matter as long as the come-shot’s good—but if he wants the healing that Tommy’s love has to offer, he’ll need the courage to leave the shadows for the sunlight. That may be too much to ask from a man who’s spent his entire life hiding his true self. Chase knows all too well that the only things thriving in a heart’s darkness are the bitter personal demons that love to watch us bleed.

Heather rating:

*Audiobook edition*

Amy Lane's Johnnies series?

Bring on the Motherf-ing angst!

I mean this is Amy "rip-your-heart-out" Lane we're talking about! I love when she tears me to pieces. I'm an Amy Lane specific masochistic. I was like, "DO YOUR WORST! I'm ready!"

Somehow I read all of the other books in the Johnnies series before this one, the one that started it all. In fact, Dex in Blue was my first Amy Lane. The characters from "Chase in Shadow" are mentioned over and over in the other two books in the series, so I had a VERY good idea about the tidal wave of angst that this book would send my way.

When I saw that the audiobook was up for review, I jumped right on it. I'd heard about Sean Crisden for ages among audiobook buffs so I couldn't wait to get my grabby hands (err, ears) on it.

I'll talk a little about the narrator first. While I don't think that Sean Crisden has a particularly sexy voice, he does have silly-putty vocal chords that he can bend any way his heart desires. He managed to make each Johnnies character instantly recognizable, which is a HUGE thing with audiobooks. Some voices I loved more than others. Chase's voice was a little nasally for my taste but I got that that was the voice that Sean envisioned for the character so I didn't mind it. The intonations were good, the reading was good, and, all in all, I think that Sean Crisden did an excellent job.

Now on to the story itself. I loved the intensity of Chase and Tommy's relationship. I didn't mind the quick jump to love as much as I usually do and I thought that there was a ton of passion between them. I got them as a couple and I think that Amy Lane did a great job of showing them both as flawed but empathetic people.

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