Saturday, September 30, 2017

Audio book Review: All In by Ava Drake

From The Blurb:
In crime, like in love, there can be no half measures…. 
Fashion model Zane Stryker needs money—badly. At almost thirty, his glory days are behind him, and he needs capital to start over. When his luggage is switched with a bag containing contraband he’s forced to deliver, it’s either the worst thing that’s ever happened to him… or the best. 
Enter Sebastian Gigoni, formerly of the British Special Forces, who has to decide just where Zane’s loyalty lies and why. Sizzling attraction erupts between them, but that doesn’t mean they can trust each other. They double down in a race for their lives—and their love—but are their purposes at odds? As they struggle to reconcile their goals, their consciences, and the needs of their hearts, one thing is clear—they must go all in or give up altogether. 
Listening Time: 6 hrs., 8 min.

Karen's rating:

Sometimes we just can't like everyone...

'All In' is the third book in Ava Drake's 'Wild Card's' series and the 38th book in Dreamspinner's 'Dreamspun Desires' and I have to admit I wasn't exactly 'all in' on this one.

I liked the story line well enough. Zane Stryker is a fashion model who's career is on the downslide now that he's fast approaching 30 and with his return to New York he's hoping to score some runway jobs that will fund his retirement. What he's not hoping for is what happens and that's getting detained at customs with a suitcase devoid of his clothes and containing contraband of unknown origins and  a handsome but strange man demanding that he trust him if Zane wants to get out of the mess he's suddenly found himself in.

Sebastian Gigoni is retired British Special Forces and when he's asked to retrieve Zane and the contraband suitcase from the airport what he doesn't count on is the complications that are involved...things like trying to figure out where Zane's loyalties lie and what to do with the attraction that seems to be developing between the two men.

Audio Book Review: Unquiet by Melanie Hansen

From The Blurb:
Loren Smith has been in love with Eliot Devlin almost his entire life. During their turbulent childhood and teen years, Loren didn’t always understand Eliot, and sometimes he could be a challenge, but Eliot was the only one to ever truly ease Loren’s deep loneliness and accept him. When Eliot’s increasingly erratic and self-destructive behavior culminates in a suicide attempt at seventeen, Loren is devastated. 
Upon meeting again by chance nine years later, Loren is enjoying a successful career as a police officer while Eliot’s life has been a constant struggle for stability. In and out of mental hospitals, with a rap sheet a mile long, he continues to be buffeted by the twin storms of mania and depression. Loren’s love and protectiveness for Eliot are deeply ingrained in him, however, and their feelings for each other are quickly rekindled. 
Loren has issues of his own he’s dealing with, and trying to understand and cope with Eliot’s bipolar disorder isn’t easy. They believe they’re meant to be, and Eliot brings a fulfillment to Loren’s life that no one else will ever match. But as they both come to realize, love by itself can’t cure all. 
Listening Length: 10 hours and 32 minutes

Karen's rating:

This one absolutely gutted me...

I don't think I've ever read a book where a couple deserved a 'happily ever after' more. "Unquiet" is the third book in Melanie Hansen's 'Resilient Love' series and I've enjoyed each of these stories so very much but this one...damn, it seriously broke my heart. It's one of the few books where I can honestly say I think I spent at least as much time crying as not. Sometimes it was happy tears...other times not so much.

We first met Loren in 'Signs of Life' book #2 in this series. He's the former boyfriend of Kai, who was one of the MCs in that story and while he and Kai are very good friends who still care for each other a lot. What they share is a strong and secure friendship and they've each moved in. Kai's story was in 'Signs of Life' and at the end of it we were given the indication that Loren was going to go after the man who held his heart.

Loren and Elliot have been friends all their lives and they've loved each other that long. Unfortunately love's course is never easy and when one of the people involved is a cop and the other deals with mental health see Elliot is bipolar...if you're not familiar with this condition...take a minute before reading this book and remember google is your friend. I was fortunate in that because I've worked in health care for over 15 years, during that time I had the experience of working with several clients who were bipolar and the one thing I know from that experience is that it takes an incredibly strong person to be the partner of someone who's bipolar and it takes an even stronger person to not just survive being bipolar but to thrive, to make a good and productive life for themselves and that's what Elliot wants but it's not easy. It's so far from easy there aren't even words.

Blog Tour: Hot Off The Ice by A.E. Wasp


Meet the men of the Seattle Thunder.

They're hot on and off the ice.



Book Title: Country Boy: Hot Off the Ice #2

Author: A. E. Wasp

Cover Artist: Ana J. Phoenix

Release Date: September 21

Genre/s: Contemporary Romance, gay romance, steamy, sports, hockey

Length: Words: 80K

#2 Robbie & Paul

countryboy finalBlurb

Sometimes the toughest thing to have faith in is yourself.
The first time Paul Dyson met Robbie Rhodes, they ended up naked in Robbie’s bed. The last time they met, on the ice the morning after, Paul punched Robbie in the face and called him something he’d rather not repeat.

Two years later, they’re teammates on the Seattle Thunder hockey team.

Being gay is wrong, unnatural, and there is no room for them in his world. Paul’s heard that his whole life. So when it hits him that he is gay, he does the only thing he can: he shoves himself so deep in the closet he would need a map to find his way out again.

When the chance to fulfill his lifelong dream comes along, Paul can’t say no, even if it forces him to share hotel rooms with the only man he can’t resist. It doesn’t take long for Paul to give into temptation and find himself falling in love with his brilliant, caring teammate.

But as much as he cares for Paul, Robbie is finding it harder and harder to justify hiding who he is. It goes against everything he was taught was right. He feels like he has a duty to come out to the public. He’d be the first out gay pro-hockey player.

If Paul wants to be with Robbie, he will have to turn his back on his family and everything he’s believed in. If Robbie wants to be will Paul, he’ll have to do the same.
It’s going to take them a lot of faith to find their way together in this shiny new world.

Country Boy is a love story about figuring out who you are, who you want to be, and how to get there. It contains sweet hockey plays, a 1976 Corvette Stingray, fancy underwear, and the journey of a lifetime.


Buy Links


Shivering, he went in the living room in his boxers. Robbie’s blankets looked warm, and Paul wondered if Robbie would mind if he wrapped one around himself to warm up. He sat tentatively on the edge of the folded down futon and ran his hands over the soft comforter, an oddly intimate gesture.
Robbie raised one eyebrow when he caught sight of Paul sitting nearly naked on his futon. “Mr. Dyson, I’m not that kind of a boy,” he said archly. He threw a pair of pants and a gray t-shirt at Paul.  
Blushing, Paul shook out the clothes. The shirt was a Bemidji Chargers’ t-shirt with Robbie’s last name on the back. He held it up and made a face.
“Tough luck,” Robbie said with a laugh. “It was the only clean shirt I had left. Count your blessings.”
Paul tried to hide his trembling hands as he pulled on the shirt and sweatpants. All he could think of was how kissing Robbie had made him feel. His lips tingled, raw from the cold, the pressure, and the scrub of Robbie’s end of the day stubble.
He was twenty-two years old, had been with more than a few girls, but he felt like a fourteen-year-old virgin.
Sure, it wasn’t quite his first experience with a guy. He pushed that memory down deep. Six-feet-deep.
But even that time hadn’t been like this. Lending a friend a hand in the middle of the night was one thing. But kissing? Especially kissing like that? Soft and sweet? The kind Paul secretly ached for? That was gay.
And so, apparently, was Paul, despite how often he had prayed to God not to be. Evidence A? He wanted to kiss Robbie again, right now. So, how could he make that happen?
Suddenly Robbie was up in his space, a hand on his chest, pushing him down to the futon. “I lied. I am that kind of a boy.” He climbed onto the mattress, straddling Paul’s lap.
Oh. Okay. Paul’s heart jack-rabbited as he swung between terror and elation. He lay there, eyes wide and arms gripping the comforter that was as soft as he’d thought it would be.
Everything he was feeling must have shown in his eyes, because Robbie stopped, his palm flat against Paul’s chest. The grin slipped from his face. “Are you okay?”

Release Blitz: As Sure As The Sun (Accidental Roots #4) by Elle Keaton

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Length: 64,000 words
Cover Design: Cate Ashwood

Accidental Roots Series 

Storm Season (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
No Pressure (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK 
Spring Break (Book #3) Amazon US | Amazon UK


The universe is trying to tell Sacha Bolic something. A fire escape collapses under him, he lands in crap, and a killer barely misses his target... all in the same few seconds. And that's on top of a long list of mishaps and job dissatisfaction. Not one to ignore signals when they're shoved in his face, Sacha retires and uses his savings to buy an old building in Skagit, Washington. With a little help from DIY videos, he’s going to bring it back to its former glory. And, yeah, it’s a metaphor. If he makes one change, others will follow…

Seth Culver avoids entanglements, romantic or otherwise. Who needs them? He’s learned the hard way that people betray you or leave. Still, Seth finds people compelling. He kind of collects them, learning their secrets before letting them go their own way. His commitment to no commitments may have met his match in Sacha. Handsome and hot, Sacha seems to offer a permanence that scares Seth more than anything ever has. Seth will have to decide if he’s going to grab it by the balls or keep watching from the sidelines.

The old building harbors a secret from the past. A box of inconsequential belongings hidden for decades hints at lives imagined but not lived, reminding them both there are no guarantees in love, or this thing called life.

A standalone in the Accidental Roots series.


“I brought treats,” Seth said after admiring the results of Sacha’s overnight labor’s. He held up a small white paper bag, the kind pastries come in. “Fresh out of the oven.” In his other hand he held a dented silver thermos. “And coffee. Lots of it.”

“Danish?” Sacha reached to snatch the bag out of Seth’s hand, but the asshole jerked it out of range.

“Ah, ah, ah. You must want these pretty bad. What are you willing to do for one?” Seth teased, a wicked gleam in his eyes.

Seth looked good enough to eat, and Sacha was a starving man in more ways than one. Without thinking, Sacha moved toward Seth. Their chests were touching while Seth still held the bag of pastries out of reach. Seth’s breath was hot against Sacha’s cheek; his pupils dilated, reducing his irises to a strip of chocolate brown.

“Oh yeah?” Seth cocked his head to the side, exposing more of his neck. Seth smirked and the pink tip of his tongue swept out, moistening his lips. “I dare you.”

Friday, September 29, 2017

ARC Review: The Half Wolf by Jay Northcote

The Half Wolf
Mate, family, pack, home… can Quinn and Kellan have it all?

Quinn grew up feeling out of place in the small town he calls home. Yearning for something he can’t name, he’s always felt different but never known why.

Kellan is part of a nomadic shifter pack. When they set up camp in the woods near Quinn’s town, the humans are unwelcoming and suspicious of the newcomers. The moment Kellan catches sight—and scent—of Quinn, he knows Quinn is special. But for the first time in his life, Kellan can’t trust his instincts. Quinn is human, and Kellan is a wolf shifter, so how can they ever be mates?

Their bond is instant and exhilarating. It breaks Quinn’s heart to know their relationship can only be temporary. Love isn’t enough when pack law forbids shifters to mate with humans. Tension explodes between pack and humans, and when Quinn discovers a shocking truth about himself that changes everything, he fears he’ll have to choose between the only life he’s ever known and the man he loves.

Jewel's rating:

The Half Wolf is a fantastic first foray into the shifter genre! Though there was a little too much detail, at first, about mundane things, like the dog jumping up on the bed and putting groceries away and Tash getting ready for her date (and the massive amounts of TMI from her), I soon settled into the story of Quinn's self discovery that he is far more than he ever thought.

In the universe that Jay Northcote has created, shifters and humans are well aware of each other and have a rather tense relationship. The author has mentioned that this story is a not-so-subtle metaphor for his own self-discovery and I am glad he decided to tell this story.

The Half Wolf is a story of self-discovery. About family. And about finding acceptance, both from yourself and from the people around you.

Quinn's parents are both dead. His father died before he was born, and his mother soon after his birth. He was raised by his aunt Ruth, and she has always been accepting of those that are different -- including shifters, so Quinn grew up being taught that shifters are people, too, and they should not be treated as less-than.

Audio book review: Just Like Cats and Dogs by B. A. Tortuga

From The Blurb:
If there’s one thing Sam knows for sure it’s that you can never go home again. As a feline shifter who grew up in a family of wolves, he’s used to being a freak. He stays in the city and tries to get his family to visit him, but when a loved one passes away, Sam has to go back to the New Mexico desert for a last goodbye. 
Gus only comes back to the pack at gathering time, once in a blue moon. He’s usually a wanderer, but he’s with the pack when Sam comes home. Gus and Sam have never gotten along, but this time around Gus is surprised by the attraction he feels for this new, slinky version of his high school nemesis. 
Sam and Gus may not be able to resist each other, but finding time to be together and overcome their differences might be too much for them, especially when danger lurks just around the corner, and all around the world. Can cats and dogs live to learn together, or are Gus and Sam destined to fail? 
Listening Time: 6 hrs., 43 min.

Karen's rating:

I've read more than a book or two by B.A. Tortuga but 'Just Like Cats and Dogs' is my first shifter book by this author and 'damn, what was I thinking?' I loved this book. It was fun and entertaining and there was a story here...a serious kept me interested story.

Sam's a feline shifter who grew up in a family of wolves...I know that right there tells you this is not your usual shifter story, right? If you're thinking poor Sam never stood a chance at fitting in you've pretty well nailed it, but in spite of that Sam's got family. His momma loves him, his brother Grey (who happens to be a wolf shifter and by the way Grey's blind) loves him, his sister Helena (and I apologize if I got this name wrong, I suck with names) anyways, Helena's got the heart and spirit of a wolf...she just can't shift and then there's Gus...Gus who is Sam's best friend's brother and the bane of Sam's existence or at least he was when they were younger  but things have changed. Sam's all grown up and somehow Gus just can't stop noticing.

I just loved, loved, loved these two their snark and banter was simply adorable and at times hilariously funny...
"Hey Puss."
"Yeah Pup."
That's right this is how these two talked to each other...only better...way better!

I was totally taken with these two from the word go. I loved how Gus wanted to take care of Sam, once he accepted that Sam was his mate he was willing to do whatever it took to get his mate back and then to make a life where Sam could belong...where Sam was truly part of the pack. Didn't matter what you could shift into or who you were if you weren't willing to run with Sam you could move on and you truly have to read the story to understand just how important this is and why.

Blogtour: Rim Shot by Skylar M. Cates

We're delighted to welcome Skylar M. Cates with 

Rim Shot 

Pets Tales

I’m an animal lover. Ever since I was a girl, I had the need to help animals. So it is no surprise that animals often appear in my books. The was a deodorant-chewing retriever in The Guy from Glamour, a hurt Great Dane in A Guy’s Thanksgiving, a stray cat named Romeo in Exposed…Actually, I’m not sure that I ever write a story without at least a mention of a cat or dog! I might have to branch out and do some more exotic pets: Guinea pigs, snakes, or fish.

I have a dog at home too. She’s a rescue who used to be so fearful she refused to get in the car or take a walk. I used patience and kindness (and some chicken) to get her over some of these early issues. She’s my best companion now, my little shadow.

After I adopted her, I worked at her rescue for some time writing blogs about the various dogs. If my husband didn’t keep me in check, I’d bring them all home. My new release, Rim Shot, has an important story about a cat. Although the cat is from Kyle’s childhood memories, the story he tells is one of my favorite parts of the book that is not between the main characters directly, but it reveals a great deal about Kyle. I believe even long after a pet has left us, they can still trigger heartfelt memories.

Who gives us comfort? Who makes no judgements?

Our pets.

The role of an animal in a novel can allow characters, ones who might be normally shy or tough especially, to express their hidden emotions. Some of my favorite scenes have revolved around the hero with his or her pet.

Lately in my own life, Hurricane Irma impacted on my area, and I have been horrified by some of the stories of animals tied and left in the storm. I’m currently deciding if we have the room and time for a second dog or a cat. I’d love to help one of these animals in need.

Giveaway: for a chance to win an e-Book from my backlist, tell me about your favorite childhood pet? Or can you mention a favorite scene with an animal and a hero?

Thanks for hosting me!

About the book:


Can college roommates go from friends to lovers?
Kyle: I’m confident that with hard work, my position as point guard can carry me from rural Indiana to the NBA. I also know I’m attracted to guys, but admitting it might disappoint my father, who is all I have in this world. I have big dreams, so I’ll stay in the closet. As long as my life remains scandal-free, I have a shot. 
Micah: My large family can’t spare the money to help with my education, but that won’t stop me from studying medicine. I needed to get out of the house I was sharing with my ex before I went insane. Luckily, I heard about a guy looking for a roommate. Living with a straight jock won’t be easy, but it’s a chance I’m willing to take.

Get the book:

About the author:

Blogtour: Rank & File by L.A. Witt

Please say hello to L.A. Witt with 

Rank And File 

Anchor Point #4 


Senior Chief Will Curtis is as straitlaced as they come. While his fellow Sailors have partied their way through their enlistments, he’s had his eye on the prize—making master chief and retiring after thirty years of service.

Lieutenant Brent Jameson is a Navy brat turned Annapolis grad. He’s lived and breathed the military his whole life, and he knows he’s destined for great things—once he’s done paying his dues at the bottom of the ladder.

When their paths cross, both men know better than to give in to temptation, but that doesn’t stop them. It also doesn’t keep them from coming back for more, even though being discovered would sink their careers. Something has to give—Will can retire, Brent can resign, or they’ll both face court-martial.

But there’s also the option neither wants to acknowledge: jump ship and walk away from each other instead of ending their careers over a fledgling relationship. And they should probably decide before they fall in love.

Except—too late.

Get the book:

About the Anchor Point series:

Welcome to Anchor Point!

Nestled on the northern coast of Oregon, this small town is home to Naval Air Station Adams. On base, you’ll find freshly minted Sailors who’ve just graduated boot camp, salty officers counting down till retirement, grounded pilots who’ve landed behind desks, and everyone in between—and they’re all looking for love. Well, not all of them, but that won’t stop love from finding them.

So pull up a barstool, grab a beer, and get ready for some sea stories as these men in uniform—or not—navigate the waters of love and life in the military.

Anchor Point stories can be enjoyed in any order. Hop in wherever you'd like!

Readers: What do you want Anchor Point 8 to be?

So Anchor Point is going to be eight books total. Books 5 and 6 are being edited as we speak. Book 7 is in-progress.

Which brings us to book 8.

I have a mile-long file of military ideas, and I’m tooling around with a few of them, but I realized that I want to make the last book in the series special. I want to write it for you, the readers.


Tell me:

What do you want to see in a military romance?

What have you been dying to read, but haven’t found? What’s your favorite military trope? Do you like officers? Enlisted? Older? Younger? Bright-eyed new recruits? World-weary salty Sailors? Shipboard? Landside? Pilots?

Basically, what is your dream Anchor Point story?

The details:
  • NAS Adams is home to a small group of ships including an LHD Amphib ship (like the USS Bataan), a supply ship, a harbor patrol unit, and some smaller vessels, plus several squadrons of aircraft including the Super Hornet and some cargo planes.
  • All military personnel on NAS Adams are Navy, though the amphib ship does take on Marines from another base when it deploys.
  • No SEALs here, I’m afraid! At least, not any active teams. Former SEALs are fair game.
  • Nearby bases include Lewis-McChord (Army and Air Force), Subbase Bangor/Naval Station Bremerton/Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Naval Station Everett, and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, all of which are in Washington State and are 3-5 hours from NAS Adams. Portland is about 2-2.5 hours away.
  • Don’t forget civilians! Civilian contractors working on-base, locals working out in town, etc.

This is the final Anchor Point book, so I want to pull out all the stops and make it what you, the readers, want! If I choose your idea – whether it’s your trope or your dream character – your name will appear on the acknowledgments page of Anchor Point 8, and you’ll receive a personalized signed paperback when the book is released in July 2018.

But what if someone else has already mentioned your idea? That’s okay! You can second, third, or fourth a nomination, and you’ll still be on the list. Just be sure you include your name and a valid email address!

Bring it, y’all. Tell me who you want to see fall in love next in Anchor Point!

Tell us in the comments or connect with Lori via her website or blog!

About the author:

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Author Of The Month - Brent Hartinger - Grand Finale

Welcome to our Grand Finale celebrations for the amazing 

We started this month-long celebration with Russel Middlebrook, so it's only fitting to end with him, specificially the Futon Years. We'll also take a look at the spin-off with Otto Digmore. Additionally, we have our author interview, plus one more chance to win one of his books!

First up, The Thing I Didn't Know I Didn't Know


"I guess this was what they meant by a loss of innocence. Who knew?"

Russel Middlebrook is twenty-three years old, gay, and living in trendy Seattle, but life isn't keeping up with the hype. Most of his friends have a direction in life—either ruthlessly pursuing their careers or passionately embracing their own aimlessness. But Russel is stuck in place. All he knows is that crappy jobs, horrible dates, and pointless hook-ups just aren't cutting it anymore.

What's the secret? What does everyone else know that he doesn't?

Enter Kevin, Russel's perfect high school boyfriend. Could rekindling an old flame be the thing Russel needs to get his life back on track? Or maybe the answer lies in a new friend, an eccentric screenwriter named Vernie Rose, who seems plenty wise. Or what the hell? Maybe Russel will find some answers by joining his best friend Gunnar's crazy search for the legendary Bigfoot!

One way or another, Russel is determined to learn the all-important secret to life, even if it's a thing he doesn't even know he doesn't know.


And then, standing in the middle of the massive fresh sushi section, I saw Kevin.
I literally caught my breath. I'd never done that before, so I didn't even know what it felt like (a cross between a gulp and a choke).
He wasn't riding in a white limousine like Richard Gere in Pretty Woman, but it didn't matter. I was flooded with feelings of affection—I was drowning in a whole goddamn lake of them.
I was watching him, but he didn't see me, just like before. But this time he was barely ten feet away, and there was no crowd for him to get lost into. In other words, there was no chance of him getting away.
Do I want to talk to him? Once we talked, I'd have to accept whatever came next. Like, if his reappearance in my life didn't make everything wonderful again.
Truthfully, that kind of nonsense was a lot easier to accept when Kevin was mostly in the abstract, not when he was standing right in front of me with his neatly trimmed black beard. That was something new—he hadn't had a beard before. He filled out his shirt more now, and his pants too, but both in very good ways. And he hadn't worn glasses before either.
But even so, I couldn't make myself walk over to him. My pulse was pounding, but the blood didn't seem to be going anywhere. The warm feeling suddenly turned cold. I was remembering our break-up, how petty it was, what a dick I'd been. Would he remember that? Would he hold it against me?
I turned to leave.
At the same time, he turned toward me.
"Russel?" he said.
I looked back.
His face was warm and friendly and open. He was drowning in all the same feelings I'd been having only a few seconds earlier—I could tell. He hadn't remembered why or how we'd broken up, what a dick I'd been. Or maybe he did, but it paled compared to everything else he felt about me.
"Kevin?" I said, acting surprised, like I hadn't just been watching him for three minutes straight.
"How are you?"
He really was happy to see me. His face was blossoming like a flower.
"I'm good," I said.
He stepped toward me, and I stepped toward him. We hugged, loosely, a little awkwardly. He had absolutely filled out, and it was definitely in a good way. I think he was wearing cologne, but I didn't get a good sense of it, or of his own scent, over all the crazy smells of the store.
He pulled back from the hug first, then I pulled back.
"So you're living in Seattle now?" I said.
"I am. I moved back just a couple of months ago. I work for Amazon."
"Oh, God, don't tell me you're a 'brogrammer'!" There were two kinds of guys who worked in tech in Seattle: geeks and "brogrammers"—basically, jocky frat-type guys who've realized that tech is where the big bucks are. And it went without saying that Kevin was no geek.
Kevin laughed. "No, not tech. I actually work for IMDb—they're owned by Amazon. Editing."
"Kevin Land is an editor, huh? Who knew?"
"Turns out there's hope for us dumb jocks after all. What about you? What do you do?"
I told him about my two jobs. When it came to winning him back, I wasn't sure which was the better strategy: puffing up the jobs to make them sound more impressive than they were, or making them sound really pathetic and I was a complete lost wet puppy in need of rescuing. I couldn't decide, so I just told him the truth (which, unfortunately, was closer to "lost wet puppy in need of rescuing").
Kevin listened and smiled. He'd whitened his teeth at some point in the last three years—probably professionally, in a dentist's office, not with those stupid Crest Strips that I'd used (that had barely made any difference I could see).
"It's pretty great, isn't it?" Kevin said.
"What?" I said.
"I don't know. Seattle in the summer. Being out of college. Life. Everyone says the future is shit, but it doesn't feel that way. Does it?"
"No, it doesn't," I said, and I was mostly telling the truth again, even if the only reason the future felt bright to me right then was because I was starting to think there was a real chance that Kevin and I would get back together again.

Get the book:


Book two in the series, Barefoot In The City Of Broken Dreams 


“There was no way moving to Los Angeles was going to make me give up my soul. After all, I’d already seen all the movies about Hollywood. I knew how things worked.”

Twenty-four year-old Russel Middebrook and his boyfriend have moved to Los Angeles so Russel can try to make it as a screenwriter.

Almost right away, in a forgotten old house off of Sunset Boulevard, Russel meets Isaac Brander, a once-famous film producer who is convinced he can turn Russel’s screenplay into a movie.

Russel knows that success can't possibly come this easy. After all, most of Russel's Los Angeles friends are so desperate to make it that it's downright scary. His ex-boyfriend, Otto, is trying everything to become an actor, and Daniel, the sexy neighbor, doesn't even need a casting couch to get naked.

So what’s the catch with Mr. Brander? Could it be that movies about Hollywood don’t tell the whole truth? But what does that mean for Russel’s soul?


Santa Monica is located near the beach, so we eventually made our way over to Palisades Park, which is this walkway at the top of a bluff looking out over the water. From there, you can see the Pacific Ocean, and also down to the Santa Monica Pier, which is one of those old-fashioned amusement parks with rides and carnival games and food stands that sells hot dogs and cotton candy.
The night was warm, but the breeze off the water was cool and soothing. It smelled like the ocean, and the eucalyptus trees in the park, and popcorn from the pier.
It was incredibly romantic, and Kevin and I had said before that we were going to have a romantic night out.
So why didn't it feel romantic? Was the romance really dead in our relationship? I'd thought that had been a joke.
"That's where they filmed a bunch of movies," I said, prattling on, pointing down to the pier. "Forrest Gump, The Sting, Ruthless People."
Kevin didn't say anything.
"Hannah Montana: The Movie," I said.
He looked at me and smiled. "Sorry," he said. "I'm being a dud."
"What's up?"
He stepped to the guard railing and looked out over the bluff. "I don't know."
"You're still thinking about dinner," I said, "aren't you?"
"Sort of."
"I wonder what that was all about. I mean, it was Gina, yeah. But it was Regina too — the two of them together. I can't imagine our being like that."
"We wouldn't," Kevin said. "We'd break up if we ever treated each other like that."
This was true. Like I said before, Kevin doesn't put up with shit. But it was still weird, hearing him say this out loud.
"Well, there you go," I said.
"But that's not even what's bugging me," he said. "It's not about them, it's about this city. There's something wrong here. You can feel it."
"What do you feel?"
He thought for a second. "The desperation." He turned to look at me. "You know? It's all around us. You can feel it in everyone we meet. You can taste it in the air, like salt off the ocean."
Part of me wanted to go back to quoting John Hughes movies.
Kevin had surprised me. This wasn't what I'd been feeling at all. But I knew what he was saying. It was the dark side to this city, the opposite of everything I'd been thinking before. I thought about all the people I'd met so far — Gina, Regina, Otto, Kyle, Rodney, even Mr. Brander and the other producers. They all desperately wanted something: namely, success in an industry where success was insanely elusive. The entertainment industry really wasn't like other professions. It was so much more competitive. If you go to med school or law school, you usually end up a doctor or a lawyer. Maybe not everyone, but most people, at least if you finish.
But in the entertainment industry, most people don't make it. There's even a famous statistic among screenwriters: given all the screenplays that get registered every year with the Writers Guild of America, you actually have a better chance of winning the California State Lottery than you do of selling your screenplay to a movie studio.
"I think the desperation is just part of the city," I said. "Like palm trees and taco trucks. The stakes are high, because this is the big time. People are pursuing their dreams. Make it or break it. Isn't that a good thing? Isn't it like, I don't know...the Olympics?"
"It seems like it broke Gina and Regina," Kevin said.
"That's not the city," I said. "That's them."
"Is it?"
"Kevin, I'm serious. Los Angeles isn't going to break us. You don't need to worry about that."
He didn't say anything, just kept staring out at the water. The neon lights on the rides of the pier down below us flashed on his face — green and red and blue and yellow.

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And third, rounding out the trilogy, The Road To Amazing


“I think gay guys like weddings more than anyone. And it's not because we want to destroy marriage, like some people say. It's because we really, really want to get married!"

Russel Middlebrook is gettin' hitched!

The wedding is taking place in a remote lodge on an island in Puget Sound. Russel and his husband-to-be have invited all their close friends to spend the whole weekend together beforehand.

And for the first time in his life, Russel is determined to not be neurotic, and not over-think things.

But that's before things start going wrong. Who expected a dead killer whale to wash up on the beach below the inn? And what's this about a windstorm approaching? Then there's the problem of Russel's anxious fiancé, who is increasingly convinced the whole thing is going to be a disaster.

Meanwhile, the wedding is taking place near the ruins of a small town, Amazing, where, a hundred years earlier, the people supposedly all disappeared overnight. Why does it feel like the secret at the end of the road to Amazing has something to do with Russel's own future?

Can Russel's friends Min, Gunnar, Vernie, and Otto somehow help him make it all make sense?


Before long I realized I'd come to the end of the road to Amazing, to the little apron of land around the cove, the former location of the town of Amazing. I spotted the tops of the rocky ruins poking up from out of the rustling ferns. Even so, everything looked so different in the wind.
I looked up at the promontory to the left of the cove, the giant crag that faced the water. Through the wind and the needles, I saw someone standing at the top of the rock.
Kevin. He'd come to Amazing after all. I liked that I'd been able to predict it, like I'd been able to predict all the things he'd say in that bachelor party game the night before. I might have been a shitty amateur detective overall, but at least when it came to Kevin, Veronica Mars had nothing on me.
He was looking away, staring out over at the water.
There was something strange about him, something that had drawn my eyes to him even through the storm, and it took me a second to realize what it was.
All around him, everything moved: the ferns and plants and tree branches — even the tree trunks were swaying against the sky, a lot more than I would have expected. But Kevin wasn't moving at all. He stood there, legs spread, braced against the ground. He was the one solid thing in a never-ending wash of movement.
I climbed toward him, up the too-steep trail, through the plants and exposed dirt. Then I stood next to him amid those trees and ferns. I sensed that Kevin knew I was there with him, but he didn't turn to me, and I didn't turn to him. Instead, we both stared out at the sky and water — the clouds churning in front of us, the white caps in the water below us, everything a thousand shades of grey. It was somehow incredibly loud and completely quiet at exactly the same time.
We didn't speak, just kept standing there. Could we have spoken over the roar of the wind and the crash of the water? I wasn't sure, but I still didn't know what I wanted to say, and I guess Kevin didn't either. Even now, we didn't look at each other. I only saw him out of the corner of my eye — his handsome profile, his close-cropped hair barely blowing in the wind.
Why did we stand like that? For one thing, it was a pretty awesome sight, with so much to look at. The world smelled of salt and pine, fresher and cleaner than anything I'd ever known. From the waves crashing against the rocks below, a mist swirled in the air before us.
But there was something else going on. Somehow Kevin and I were a part of this incredible sight, but also apart from it, and that felt good, like it was the two of us against the storm.
Finally, still without saying a word, with the world raging all around us, we turned to each other.
I looked into Kevin's eyes, but I wasn't sure if I saw stillness or the storm — I think somehow it was both.
Then we were kissing. He tasted like the churning ocean — full of life.

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And now book one from the spin-off series, The Otto Digmore Difference 


“Road trip!”

Otto Digmore is a 26-year-old gay guy with dreams of being a successful actor, and he’s finally getting some attention as a result of his supporting role on a struggling sitcom. But he’s also a burn survivor with scars on half his face, and all indications are that he’s just too different to ever find real Hollywood success.

Now he’s up for an amazing new role that could change everything. Problem is, he and his best friend Russel Middlebrook have to drive all the way across the country in order to get to the audition on time.

It’s hard to say which is worse: the fact that so many things go wrong, or that Russel, an aspiring screenwriter, keeps comparing their experiences to some kind of road trip movie.

There’s also the fact that Otto and Russel were once boyfriends, and Otto is starting to realize that he still might have romantic feelings for his best friend.

Just how far will Otto go to get the role, and maybe the guy, of his dreams?


The shower turns off, and Russel steps out of the bathroom, and I realize I haven't read a word in the script in who knows how long — that I've been thinking about Russel the whole time. I have a hard-on, but I'm pretty sure Russel can't see, and won't see, not unless I have to get up out of bed for some reason.
Russel stands at the sink by the bathroom, combing his wet hair, then brushing his teeth. I'm pretty sure he isn't noticing me, so I peek over at him. He's got a towel wrapped around his waist again, but the towels in this motel are a lot smaller than the ones at that expensive hotel in San Diego, so they cover a lot less. They're thinner too, so things leave more of an outline. Is he not wearing underwear again?
Finally, he takes off the towel, putting it on the rack on the wall, and I see he is wearing underwear — his green briefs. I try not to look, but I do take a quick glance at his bulge, which somehow seems bigger than when we were teenagers. But that was so long ago, so many years, that I can barely remember what he'd looked like even back then. And we'd been together at an overnight summer camp, so it's not like we'd been able to have sex in well-lit areas anyway. Mostly, we'd snuck away at night, to swim naked in the lake and to have sex on the beach and other hidden places.
Russel moves toward the bed, and I feel like an idiot leering at him, and I look back at the script. But I can smell him, freshly-showered, even over the cloying scent of motel disinfectant. Russel smells different from the smell of him and Kevin together, back in their apartment — still lemony, masculine, but sweeter. I can also smell that he's put on Gold Bond again, and it's all kind of driving me crazy.
Russel pulls back the bedspread, then leaps onto the bed like a little boy, bouncing around, still in his underwear. Since he's making such a big show of it, I feel like I can watch him more openly now, and I do, even though I make a point not to look directly at his bulge. Still, there's always his abs, biceps, calves, and hairy chest. I smile watching him, because I can't imagine any of the hip, oh-so-cool cast members from Hammered doing anything so silly and innocent.
Finally, he falls backward, still on top of the covers, and I'm still trying to avoid looking at the bulge in his briefs. I'm also wondering if he's teasing me. But then I realize that no, that's not it at all, that he doesn't think of me that way anymore, that from his point of view we're just good friends. He's still thinking about Kevin, the guy he was sweet-talking on the phone a few minutes before.
And that's okay, because it's not like I'd ever act on my attraction to Russel or anything. He's with Kevin now — I was at their wedding a little over a week ago — and I wouldn't ever do anything to get between them. I'm not thrilled that Russel doesn't see me in a sexual way, that he obviously thinks of me only as a friend now. But it's not like how it is with other people, how no one ever sees me in a sexual way, because I know that Russel once did think of me that way, back when we were boyfriends at summer camp, and it had been really real.
As I lay there in the bed next to him, I can't help but realize something that I've never quite understood before — something I know I can never tell him.
I'm still a little bit in love with Russel Middlebrook.

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