Thursday, May 28, 2020

Audio Book Review: Falling For My Roommate by Garrett Leigh

From The Blurb:
Listening Length:  5 hrs., 40 min. 
Falling for his roommate gives ex footballer Micah the second chance he deserves, and what could be better than loving your best friend? 
I’m a broke ex-football player with a bum leg and PTSD. Last summer, I had two choices: the streets, or find a cheap room to rent in the city. I chose the second option, which landed me with a brand-new problem, cos I hadn’t banked on my roommate becoming my best friend. Or that before long I’d find myself head over heels in love with him. Trouble is, even if Sam likes me back, I ain’t fit to be no one’s boyfriend. I don’t know how. All I do is wade through every precious moment and hope that he doesn’t regret the day he ever met me.
I’m a gay book nerd with no business falling in love with hunky athletes. Micah is the dictionary definition of beautiful, inside and out, he just doesn’t know it. And he definitely doesn’t know I’m ridiculously in love with him. The embarrassing kind of love. 
He’s all I can think about. 
But it’s not as simple as loving someone who doesn’t love me back. Micah is damaged goods—at least, that’s how he’d put it. The world has chewed him up and spat him out, and he thinks he deserved it. That he’s still the battered mess he was a year ago. 
I want to shake him, and shout in his face that he’s not. To force the truth on him and make him believe in himself the way I do. But I can’t save Micah. One day, perhaps he’ll realise that he already saved himself.

Karen's rating:

There are some stories best read, some that are amazing on audio and then...

there are those that work incredibly well in either format and Garret Leigh seems to consistently achieve this with her stories.

I read Micah's story back in April of this year when it was first released and I knew back then that if there was an audio release that I wouldn't hesitate to revisit it in audio format.

"Falling For My Roommate" is a story of starting over, second chances, finding love, comfort and healing.

Of course it goes without saying that I've already reviewed this story and I admit I'm not above borrowing from that review in my efforts to once again explain why and how much I've enjoyed this audio book.

Blogtour: Calling Your Bluff by Saxon James

Calling Your Bluff Banner

Calling Your Bluff 

by Saxon James

Love's Gamble Series, Book 2

Calling your bluff
ZaneFour years ago, I met Liam Holdsworthy.Hot, snarky, and hiding behind a sadness I couldn’t place. I wanted him, even back then. There were only two problems.One, I was deeply closeted.And two, he was dating my best friend.Now I’m retired from the NFL and openly out, there’s nothing to stop me from getting my gay on.When Liam comes back into my life, and I find out he’s single, I’ll find any reason to spend time with him. That’s how I created a list of gay first experiences I coax him into helping me with.But I don’t just want his help.I still want him.

Liam After leaving a long-term relationship with a closeted NFL player, I went through a string of guys trying to find the one. None of them were boyfriend material, let alone the forever type.I’m looking for a guy to come home to. Someone serious and down to earth.I’m definitely not looking for Cooper Zane.Yet, I can’t shake him, and not only because I’m helping him with his big bi bucket list. Every time I see him is like a shot of adrenaline to my system, and I’m always left wanting more.I need Mr. Serious, and Cooper’s the least serious person I’ve met.He’s newly out.He’s never had a relationship.And most importantly, he may be retired, but he’s not done with football.He’ll do anything to get it all back. And I’m not prepared to be relegated to the sidelines ever again.

Universal Link


Promo 1

Promo 4


Seeing the way Liam’s face lights up when we meet has me brimming with unearned confidence. I pull him into a quick, one-armed hug, wishing I could feel him against me a little longer, before we turn to the menu.
“I’m starving.”
“You must work up an appetite getting all sweaty with those hot football players.”
“Hey,” I say warningly, pointing at his face. “Enough from you. I’m the only player you’re allowed to think is hot.”
He blinks at me innocently. “I thought you said you weren’t a player anymore?”
“Still stands,” I grumble as he steps forward to order a hamburger. I almost snort. That’s barely an appetizer.
After I order a double with everything we stand off to the side and wait. He’s quiet, but there’s a soft smile curling the corners of his lips that I’m sure I can get to follow through. “I wonder what will happen right here, exactly one hundred years from now.”
His eyebrows jump. “Right here?”
“Yeah, in this exact spot. Will people still be waiting on burgers? Will it be a park? An underground sinkhole? Will people be chilling on hover boards, or will they beam the food to wherever they are?” I finally look over at him. And I was right, the a smile has split his face.
“Maybe aliens,” he adds.
“Or a meteor.”
“Or nothing.”
I really, really shouldn’t smile at the concept of nothing. “That took a turn. You have a dark mind in that pretty head.”
“We can’t all be perpetual sunshine.”
“Eh.” I run a hand through my hair. “I’ve had my fair share of storms.”
Our orders are called which thankfully derails that line of conversation. Last year was the hardest one of my life. First Mom’s cancer, then my ankle. I’m determined never to go through something like that again.
“Tell me about your job,” I say. Hanging out with Liam is way more fun and interesting than I would have guessed. And even as I get to know him better, the pedestal I’ve put him on keeps getting higher.
We find a table and chairs outside the burger place and take a seat in the late afternoon sun.
“Ah. My job.”
His tone gives me pause. “I thought you liked it?”

Blogtour: Full Moon Fever by Elizabeth Black

Full Moon Fever 
by Elizabeth Black 
Genre: M/M GLBT Paranormal Shifter Romance 

William Shakespeare said All the world’s a stage, but he hadn’t counted on shifters under a theater’s hot lights. Lovers Sam Hightower and Grant Newsome live for the stage. Although they have enjoyed the wanderlust of traveling theater for many years, each has grown tired of the road and wants to settle down. They also have a secret. As shifters and no part of any pack, they are lone wolves in every sense of the word. The full moon brings out the beast in them. 
Even though their work as gaffers—lighting techs—puts them in contact with a large variety of willing, sexy men and women to share their love, they prefer men. They find a dancer, Luke Pearce, who makes their blood run hot, but Luke has a secret of his own to test them. Add scenic artists and lovers Charlotte and Lina to the mix, and you have a wild and sexy fivesome.

To spoil their fun and to their surprise, Sam and Grant discover another shifter in their midst, but this young person is so inexperienced and terrified she could expose them to the human hunters and get them killed. How can Sam and Grant protect themselves as well as the people they love? 

Thank you for hosting me on your blog today. Have you ever wondered about the antics that go on behind the scenes in movies, TV, concerts, and stage? Is entertainment really a hotbed of sexy excitement? It's no accident I set my GLBT paranormal erotic romance Full Moon Fever on stage. I worked as a union stagehand back in the 1980s, primarily as a gaffer, which is a lighting technician. I had the honor and sheer enjoyment of working lighting for the movies Die Hard With A Vengeance and 12 Monkeys. I also volunteered for community theater, but I was paid to work as a gaffer. I volunteered to act and do makeup, including prosthetics like making wounds and scars. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

ARC Review: The Footman by S.M. LaViolette

From the blurb:

Lady Elinor wants nothing to do with love. Her arranged marriage—and one glorious but ill-fated kiss with a handsome footman—cured her of any romantic notions she’d ever entertained. Now a widow, all Elinor plans to do is rebuild her life—without a man in it. She certainly has no intention of falling for the charming and entirely too tempting American who seems so determined to win her favor …

Stephen Worth is no longer the impoverished footman who lost everything because of the impulsive actions of a reckless young lady. Having reinvented himself long ago, his sole focus now is revenge. He’ll do whatever it takes to extract a pound of flesh from all who wronged him so long ago. And if that means ruining the lovely Elinor in the process? So be it.

But it’s not long before Elinor finds herself drawn to Stephen despite her best intentions—and before Stephen starts to wonder if maybe a life with Elinor is worth more than his revenge. Can Stephen and Elinor overcome their painful pasts and take a second chance on love? Or is the cost of trust simply more than they’re willing to pay?

Heather's rating:

I'm a huge, huge Minerva Spencer/S.M. LaViolette fan, and I read everything she writes. She delivered another riveting romance with The Footman that was nearly impossible to put down.

The Footman doesn't pull any punches. If you don't like your main character doing some very morally questionable behavior and having to redeem himself with chapters of intense grovelling, then this book might not be for you. I happen to like those scenes where a character royally screws up and then has to beg for forgiveness. Bring on the grovel-porn! The male main character was relentless in his quest for revenge, and I found it all to be an intensely compelling read.

I loved the female MC, though it was painful to read what she had gone through in her life. I admired her so much, and I lauded her desire to be a physician and help others, despite her physical limitations. She was so interesting and so strong.

Blogtour: Secrets And Scrabble series by Josh Lanyon

Secret at Skull House 
Secrets and Scrabble Book 2 
by Josh Lanyon 
Genre: M/M Cozy Mystery 

Ellery Page is back--and poking his elegant nose into trouble again! 

Unlike everyone else in Pirate's Cove, Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, reigning Scrabble champion, and occasionally clueless owner of the village's only mystery bookstore, is anything but thrilled when famed horror author Brandon Abbott announces he's purchased legendary Skull House and plans to live there permanently.

Ellery and Brandon have history. Their relationship ended badly and the last thing Ellery wants is a chance to patch things up--especially when his relationship with Police Chief Jack Carson is just getting interesting. But then, maybe Brandon isn't all that interested in getting back together either, because he seems a lot more interested in asking questions about the bloodstained past of his new home than discussing a possible future with Ellery. What is Brandon really up to?

Ellery will have to unscramble that particular puzzle post haste. Because after his former flame disappears following their loud and public argument, Ellery seems to be Police Chief Carson's first--and only--suspect.

***This story contains no on-screen sex or violence 

from Chapter One

Murder is fun.
At least, a lot of otherwise nice, normal people seemed to think so.
Having recently gone through the ghastly experience of finding a body in
his bookshop—oh, and of being suspected of murder—Ellery Page was
less thrilled by the notion of violent death. He couldn’t deny it was good
for business, though.
Something about the idea of murder in a mystery bookstore really
captured people’s imagination. True, a third of the tourists wandering into
the Crow’s Nest this beautiful sunny June morning were there specifically
to see Where It Happened. But because they felt a little guilty for their
ghoulishness, they almost always bought a couple of books before they
left. So while business wasn’t booming, it had certainly picked up.
Which was a good thing because Ellery’s screenwriting career was
going nowhere fast. He glanced down again at the latest rejection letter
from his agent.
The worst part was, while the rejection stung—rejection always
stings, even when you’re getting rejected by people you would reject—he
just couldn’t get too worked up about it. Not on such a beautiful day.
And it was a beautiful day. Like a painting by one of those 19th
century artists who went in for seaside postcards of gentlemen in straw
hats and striped one-piece bathing suits and ladies with—well, frankly,
Ellery was more interested in the gentlemen.
Anyway, really nice weather. The sky was a soft and languid blue,
swirled with clouds as filmy as smoke. The sand sparkled, the water
sparkled, the sunlight sparkled. Brightly colored boats bobbed in the
harbor, flags snapping in the sea breeze.
The only thing that could have made it better was if it had been
Saturday rather than Monday. The weekends meant more visitors to Buck
Island, and more visitors meant more business, and Ellery was going to
need more business—a lot more business—to keep the Crow’s Nest sailing
along. Seeing that Ronny had no interest in pitching Night Chess to
The scenes are void of meaningful or compelling conflict.
What did that even mean? Well, okay, Ellery knew what it meant, but
he didn’t like conflict. Not in his movies and not in real life.
Conflict arrives, is instantly resolved, and the narrative course
continues unaffected.
Ellery muttered, “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
The bells on the front door jingled merrily as Mrs. Nelson swept in.
Ellery’s heart sank.
Hermione Nelson was a heavyset woman in her late sixties with
startlingly blue eyes, hair as red as a rusty battleship, and a small,
pinched-looking mouth that gave the impression that the effort of keeping
her thoughts to herself was starting to give her heartburn. Except, she
never kept her thoughts to herself, so…
Mrs. Nelson was under the impression she was Ellery’s best customer,
and she would’ve been if she didn’t return three quarters of everything she
“Ellery, this book was a complete waste of my time. I can’t believe
you recommended it.” Mrs. Nelson reached the wooden counter, fished
around in her patchwork bag, and thrust a battered copy of The Better
Sister by Alafair Burke at him.
“I’m sorry. It made pretty much everyone’s Best Of lists for 2019.”
Ellery took the hardcover, wincing inwardly at the sight of folded page
“I don’t want to read about nasty people.”
“Well, we’re a mystery bookstore,” Ellery pointed out. “Safe to say, at
least one character in every book is going to be kind of nasty.”
Mrs. Nelson was not amused. “I like my murders to happen to nice
people. What about that new one from Joanne Fluke? I think I might like
“I’m not sure we have any copies le—”

Release Blitz: Lighting The Lamp by K.R. Collins

Title: Lighting the Lamp
Series: Sophie Fournier, Book Three
Author: K.R. Collins
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: May 25, 2020
Heat Level: 1 - No Sex
Pairing: Female/Female
Length: 100100
Genre: Contemporary Sports, LGBTQIA+, Contemporary, sports, romance, lesbian, bisexual, demisexual, ice hockey, coach, teammates, slow burn

Add to Goodreads


Entering her third season, Sophie Fournier has almost everything she wants. She’s the captain of the Concord Condors, she’s roommates and linemates with Elsa Nyberg, the elite Swedish winger she’s wanted to play alongside since the Zurich U-Tourney.

There are two major things she’s missing, though. She doesn’t have her next contract lined up, and she still hasn’t won the Maple Cup, hockey’s most coveted prize. If she wins the Cup, she’ll have leverage going into her contract negotiations. And, in case she needed more motivation, this is Benoit Delacroix’s final season as a Concord Condor, and she’s determined he won’t retire without lifting the Cup.


Lighting the Lamp
K.R. Collins © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
The 2013 draft in Orlando, Florida marks the third one Sophie’s attended. She made history in 2011 when she was the first woman drafted into the North American Hockey League. Last year, she was given the honor of selecting Elsa Nyberg for her team, the Concord Condors.

This year, Sophie’s responsibilities are fewer, but she’s still here representing the League. Unlike other players, who watch the draft from their couches or receive alerts while on the beach or touring wine country, Sophie is here in a crisp black pantsuit, a red pocket square her only flash of color.

She’s here so the Commissioner can lay a heavy hand on her shoulder and lean in for pictures to prove how progressive his league is, as if one woman among hundreds of men is progress. Well, it is progress, but it isn’t nearly enough.

There will be more women drafted today and tomorrow, and Sophie’s confident at least one of them will play against her this season. She refuses to hope Elsa will keep her promise and make the jump from the Swedish Hockey League to the NAHL this year, but she has high expectations for Alexis Engelking.

The American is slated to be drafted high. Lenny Dernier, infamous for his rants on The National Sports Network, is already wringing his hands over her upcoming inclusion among hockey’s best. Once, forgetting she was mic’d up, Engelking dropped an f-bomb on live television. Dernier accused her of being “a terrible role model for our Canadian children” as if every Canadian who has played the game is an angel.

Indianapolis files on stage to make the first selection of the draft, a long procession of middle to upper-aged white men in suits. The TVs behind the stage show Engelking sit up straighter in her seat as if she’s anticipating her name being called. Her hair is chopped short, jagged angles as sharp as her cheekbones.

A different camera shows Chad Kensington, another American, slumped in his seat. His blond hair is parted to the side and slicked to stay there. His mother elbows him, and he makes a half-hearted attempt to sit up straight.

“Thank you, Orlando, for hosting us today,” Indy’s owner says. The crowd, predictably, cheers. When he thanks the Commissioner, the crowd boos, also predictable. Sophie doesn’t remember the Commissioner facing constant heckling when she was younger, but he’d made himself no friends when the League ground to halt during the 2010-2011 season.

Indy’s owner steps aside so his grandson, a cute kid with chubby cheeks and a Renegades ball cap on his head, can step up to the mic. They have to lower it for him, and the boy checks the cards in his hands before he looks over his shoulder. His grandfather smiles encouragingly. “Um, first overall, the Indianapolis Renegades select Chad Kensington.”

Kensington stands up and shoots the nearest camera a pair of finger guns. His smile is as greasy as his hair. Sophie’s seen enough tape to know he’s talented, but he struts up to the stage as if he thinks the League should be grateful to have him. His suit is too big in the shoulders and too long in the leg as if he expects to grow into it. He’s dwarfed by the men on stage; the only ones he’s taller than are the owner’s two grandkids. He taps the brim of the grandson’s hat. The owner’s granddaughter hides behind the man who Sophie assumes is her father.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

ARC review: ACE by Angela Chen

From the blurb:

An engaging exploration of what it means to be asexual in a world that's obsessed with sexual attraction, and what we can all learn about desire and identity by using an ace lens to see the world

What exactly is sexual attraction and what is it like to go through the world not experiencing it? What does asexuality reveal about consent, about compromise, about the structures of society? This exceedingly accessible guide to asexuality shows that the issues that aces face—confusion around sexual activity, the intersection of sexuality and identity, navigating different needs in relationships—are conflicts that all of us need to address as we move through the world.

Through interviews, cultural criticism, and memoir, ACE invites all readers to consider big-picture issues through the lens of asexuality, because every place that sexuality touches our world, asexuality does too.

Journalist Angela Chen uses her own journey of self-discovery as an asexual person to unpretentiously educate and vulnerably connect with readers, effortlessly weaving analysis of sexuality and societally imposed norms with interviews of ace people. Among those included are the woman who had blood tests done because she was convinced that "not wanting sex" was a sign of serious illness, and the man who grew up in an evangelical household and did everything "right," only to realize after marriage that his experience of sexuality had never been the same as that of others. Also represented are disabled aces, aces of color, non-gender-conforming aces questioning whether their asexuality is a reaction against stereotypes, and aces who don't want romantic relationships asking how our society can make room for them.

Heather's rating:

I'm always striving to grow as a person and expand my knowledge base, and the one area of queer spectrum that I probably need the most education in is asexuality. I've read nearly two dozen romance books with asexual characters, but I've never read a non-fiction book about asexuality until now.

As someone who is far removed from the asexual world, I was really interested to learn more about asexuality from a more nuanced perspective. And I was really impressed by how Angela Chen approached the topic. Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex is a dense, diverse, queer, feminist, and interesting book on asexuality and it's cultural, personal, and historical significance.

I had never considered some of Angela Chen's talking points before. For example, she goes into details about how feminism and asexuality intersect, and how the focus on sexual liberation and therefore the heightened emphasis on more sex and more partners somehow became linked to being more "feminist" in many people's minds.

Blogtour: The Hideaway Inn by Philip William Stover

Please say hello to Philip William Stover with

The Hideaway Inn

Seasons Of New Hope #1

High school wasn’t the right time or place for their relationship to grow, but now, fifteen years later, a chance encounter changes both of their lives forever.

No one in the charming river town of New Hope, Pennsylvania, needs to know that Vince Amato plans on flipping The Hideaway Inn to the highest bidder and returning to his luxury lifestyle in New York City. He needs to make his last remaining investment turn a profit…even if that means temporarily relocating to the quirky small town where he endured growing up. He’s spent years reinventing himself and won’t let his past dictate his future.

But on his way to New Hope, Vince gets stuck in the middle of nowhere and his past might be the only thing that can get him to his future. Specifically Tack O’Leary, the gorgeous, easygoing farm boy who broke his heart and who picks Vince up in his dilapidated truck.

Tack comes to the rescue not only with a ride but also by signing on to be the chef at The Hideaway for the summer. As Vince and Tack open their hearts to each other again, Vince learns that being true to himself doesn’t mean shutting down a second chance with Tack—it means starting over and letting love in.

In The Hideaway Inn, Philip William Stover begins the story of a diverse group of characters finding love without boundaries and across the Seasons of New Hope.

Length: approx. 64,000 words / 288 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Imprint: Carina Press (Carina Adores)
On-Sale: May 26, 2020

That summer Vinny would come by and see me almost every day, usually with a new book. I loved hearing him talk. He described the spiritual journey of Siddhartha, the complicated plot of King Lear and even read some of James Baldwin’s poems to me that were so riveting I almost hammered my finger to a post. At school I was in a class called “Reading Foundations” and even I was smart enough to know it was for kids who were barely passing. I never felt dumb around Vinny. He treated me like I was just as smart as he was and after hanging out with him for a few weeks, I started to believe it.
Being alone with Vinny was easy. We were so different but also had so much in common. My mom died when I was a kid and he never knew his father. I never talked to anyone about not really having many memories of her and wanting more. He only had a single picture of his dad and never wanted to know more. We fit like opposite pieces of a puzzle that click when joined. Being alone together at the edge of the farm felt like freedom. But when the fence was done and school started, the world shifted back to where it was and whatever we had evaporated.
A small-town high school is a network of territories with strict borders. Vinny didn’t belong anywhere and it made his life miserable but it made me admire him more because he didn’t need to. He did what he wanted, how he wanted to do it.
My life felt like an endless list of obligations. I followed some script then and I don’t even know why or where it came from. I had to place at the meets, have the hottest girlfriend, drink like an animal at parties on the weekends. These things were expected of me or I expected them of myself. At the time I couldn’t tell the difference. I couldn’t imagine a life being anything other than the one that was already attached to me, but meeting Vinny put a crack in that heavy iron chain.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Blogtour: Timberline by Skye McNeil

Collegiate Peaks Book 1 
by Skye McNeil 
Genre: Contemporary Romance, RomCom 

Best-selling romance novels are Jessamine Davis’s life. Well, editing them at least. Her own love life is far from a fairytale. Just when she thinks nothing could put her New York City lifestyle on hold, she receives an unexpected wedding invitation.

Asher Whitaker is a swoon-worthy romance author, but his writing stalls, so he takes a part-time job at a local coffee shop. When a gorgeous woman asks him to pretend to be her boyfriend for a wedding in Colorado, his writer’s block suddenly dissipates.

Wedding shenanigans and trying to pass off a faux relationship lead Jessamine and Asher to discover a stronger connection than either expected.

Can love under false pretenses stand a chance? 

His body eased as the water heated up. Grabbing the solitary shampoo bottle in the shower, Asher scrubbed the soap over his short hair. His mind was almost clear of all thoughts of Jessie when he heard a loud knock on the door. Thinking it was a figment of his imagination, he lathered his body with soap. Another rap on the door made him sigh. “Yeah?”
“Sorry, but I forgot my brush,” a small voice called, closer than he expected.
Pulling back the shower curtain, Asher found Jessie already in the bathroom. Her eyes were downcast as she looked for the lost item. “Oh.” He searched the small bathroom with his eyes but didn’t spot the hairbrush.
“Found it,” she called, retrieving the brush before looking up. Jessie’s eyes widened when her gaze flittered to him. “Damn.”
It was then that Asher realized he was stark naked, save the suds dripping down his body. Not bothering to correct the mistake, he couldn’t help but tease her. “Did you find all you’re looking for?”

ARC Review : The New Normal by L.J. Hayward

The New Normal (Gold Coast Collage, #1)Blurb :

Brian Stagliano’s life should be pretty sweet right now. Two of his closest friends are getting married, and he’s taking a new, exciting step in his career as a doctor. Most amazing though, his best mate has been given the all clear from cancer. But Brian’s normal has just been tipped A over T and the friendship he’s relied on for years is in danger. All because of five little words.

Andrew Fitzroy should be on top of the world. The cancer that’s haunted him is gone. He can finally get on with his life—except he doesn’t know what that life is anymore. Is he brave enough to come out as bisexual? Should he pursue architecture or stay in construction? Either way, Andrew knows happiness won’t be his until he has what his engaged friends have—love, joy, passion. So, he says those five little words to Brian—I’m in love with you.

Friends since childhood, Brian and Andrew have always been closer than brothers. Best mates. Nothing could ever tear them apart. Except for those five little words. Now, Brian’s not sure about so many things—their friendship, his own desires—and the foundation Andrew’s built his world on feels like its crumbling. But if they manage not to destroy everything they have together, Andrew and Brian might just find a new normal with each other.

Christelle's rating:

The New Normal is a “friends-to-lovers” MM romance, relationship-oriented.

When the story starts, we are introduced to a group of six close friends, meeting for a drink: Carly and Troy, twins, James and Elle, soon to be married and Brian and Andrew, friends since their childhood, currently sharing a house. For Andrew, that night is a bit overwhelming: he has just been declared “cancer-free”, result of a fight he went through with the unfaltering support of Brian, and seeing James and Elle being so happy together, he needs to tell Brian that he had been feeling more friendship for him for quite a while.

This is the starting point for a lot of revaluations and confessions for Andrew, for Brian but also for the whole group of friends, on a lot of point of view: sexuality, career moves, friendship,…No angst, but some drama.

It’s well written…after all, it’s L.J. Hayward…But it felt too crowded for me, with all these friends, some drama that frankly eluded me, many talks about labels, a few “too many quick-appearing and quick-solved” twists”. For me, it overshadowed the romance and I didn't find the “intensity of feels” between the 2 MCs that I was expecting and looking forward to, after experiencing this “whoa” intensity from L.J. Hayward’s former characters.

Nice light read, though, with some good sexy times: I read it quickly with no efforts. And I expanded a bit my “Australian” vocabulary, a positive point for me.


ARC of “The New Normal” was generously provided by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Get the book :

Buy Links are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with this book, author or bookseller listed.

Thanks for visiting our blog and I hope you enjoyed my review !

Release Blitz: The New Normal by L.J. Hayward


The New Normal 

by L.J. Hayward

 A Gold Coast Collage Novel, Book 1

Brian Stagliano’s life should be pretty sweet right now. Two of his closest friends are getting married, and he’s taking a new, exciting step in his career as a doctor. Most amazing though, his best mate has been given the all-clear from cancer. But Brian’s normal has just been tipped A over T and the friendship he’s relied on for years is in danger. All because of five little words.

Andrew Fitzroy should be on top of the world. The cancer that’s haunted him is gone. He can finally get on with his life—except he doesn’t know what that life is anymore. Is he brave enough to come out as bisexual? Should he pursue architecture or stay in construction? Either way, Andrew knows happiness won’t be his until he has what his engaged friends have—love, joy, passion. So, he says those five little words to Brian—I’m in love with you.

Friends since childhood, Brian and Andrew have always been closer than brothers. Best mates. Nothing could ever tear them apart. Except for those five little words. Now, Brian’s not sure about so many things—their friendship, his own desires—and the foundation Andrew’s built his world on feels like its crumbling. But if they manage not to destroy everything they have together, Andrew and Brian might just find a new normal with each other.



Hello! I’m L.J. Hayward and you may know me from the Death and the Devil series, MM romantic suspense about a spy and an assassin. Now I have a new story for you all, the first book in a series of MM contemporary romances set in my home city of the Gold Coast, Australia. The series is called Gold Coast Collage and book one is “The New Normal”, about Brian Stagliano and Andrew Fitzroy, best friends since they were kids. They’ve shared a lot of ups and downs, including the Big C, and now they’ll have to fight to survive the next one as well—the one where Andrew tells Brian that he’s in love with him.

Please enjoy this exclusive excerpt from the first chapter of “The New Normal.”
Cheers, L.J.
Picture 1

Brian Stagliano leaned on the bar in Tots—Top of Tedder Bar and Grill, to the uninitiated—and watched the bartender pull the last of his beers. The guy tilted the frosted glass just right, forming a perfect foam head, then set it down on the tray holding the rest of Brian’s order.
“That’ll be forty-two dollars.”
Wincing, Brian tapped his card on the wireless EFTPOS machine. Carly and her expensive cocktails. He might be a doctor now but interns didn’t get paid a whole heap.
However, tonight was all about celebration and that wouldn’t happen until everyone had their drinks. Tray in hand, Brian wove his way through the crowded tables to where his friends had set up for the evening. Tots, a rooftop bar on the north end of Tedder Ave, looked out over the trendy street of boutiques and restaurants, with its paved road, twinkling lights and footpath greenery. Tall apartment buildings blocked the view of the ocean, but Brian could smell it when the breeze came in from the east or north.
“What is taking so long?” a loud voice called, catching his attention. “Dying of dehydration here.”
Smirking at James, Brian set the tray down on the table with his friends around it. “Blame Carly. She’s the one who made the bartender google the recipe for her cocktail.”
Carly took her tall glass of cloudy apple juice doctored with spirits Brian had never heard of before and stuck her pierced tongue out at him.
“Cosmo for Elle.” Brian handed out the rest of the drinks. “Cider for Troy, beers for me and James. And finally, a tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, no added sugar, for Mr. My Body is a Temple.”
Across the table, Andrew took the glass in one hand, flipping him the finger with the other.
“Love you, too, mate,” Brian said sweetly as he sat.
“Sneer all you want, Bri Bri.” Carly winked as she used the pet name Brian hated. “You just wish you looked as good as Andrew.” She squeezed the firm biceps prominently displayed beside her as Andrew rested his elbow on the table. “I think this is the best arm here.”
James and Troy scoffed at her claim, getting into a bulging biceps battle, and Andrew, blushing to the roots of his dark-blond hair, put his arm down. Brian couldn’t help but smile at his best friend as he dodged out of the way of the other guys thrusting flexed muscles at each other. Troy and James worked as stunt jet-skiers at the H2GO water park so they were incredibly fit—and competitive.
Carly had a point though. Andrew did look good, from the fresh crop of blond curls on his head, to the new bulk of muscles on his arms and chest. The smile that had disappeared for so long was starting to make semi-regular appearances. One flashed over his mate’s mouth now as he caught Brian’s gaze, brown eyes sparkling in the lights of the bar. Yeah, he looked worlds better than he had six months ago, when chemo and depression had waged joint wars on his body. Brian had seriously worried at times that he was going to lose him. But he hadn’t and here they were, with everything in the world to celebrate.
On that thought, Brian raised his glass. “Okay, let’s toast.”
His friends all groaned but hoisted their drinks. James slopped some of his beer over the side of the glass and Elle shoved a couple of napkins at him to clean up the mess. 
“Can’t take you anywhere,” she muttered.
James leered comically at her. “Any excuse to keep me at home and all to yourself.” 
Elle snorted, but her lips turned up in a little smile.
Troy pretended to throw up in his mouth. “It’s disgusting to watch. Who invited them?”
Carly rolled her eyes at her twin brother. “Who invited you, Debbie Downer?”

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Re-release Spotlight: The Player's Protege by CJane Elliott

Please welcome CJane Elliott with 

The Player's Protege

Campus Connections #2

Thank you to Sandra and My Fiction Nook for having me on today to share about the re-release of The Player’s Protégé, the second story in the Campus Connections series. It features Jerry, the cynical best friend of Eric from The Kinsey Scale, and Arlo, a sweet, inexperienced guy for whom Jerry becomes a mentor.

Jerry can teach Arlo to play the field, but can Arlo teach Jerry to play for keeps?

When his college friends bet cynical Jerry that he can’t turn innocent Arlo into a player, Jerry steps up to the challenge. But what happens when Arlo decides all he wants is the unattainable Jerry and Jerry starts to want Arlo in return?

Jerry survived a gay childhood in Texas by being fierce and fabulous. At college he’s known as a player and keeps his heart so guarded he’s forgotten he has one. He’s confident he can prove his friends wrong and teach Arlo to be a stud like him. But despite his armor, Jerry finds humble Arlo so sweet and enticing he soon runs the risk of losing the bet—and his heart. 

Arlo kicks butt as a Tae Kwon Do black belt, but he’s been dumped by his only boyfriend and needs help getting himself out there. Enter Jerry, player extraordinaire and happy to provide him with some hands-on coaching. Jerry encourages him to ask for what he wants in life, something Arlo struggles with. The struggle deepens when Arlo discovers that what he truly desires is Jerry.

This is a re-release of a previously published novella without any substantial changes. The cover art has been updated.

Get the book:

“What?” His older sister never bothered with niceties. Jerry found it soothing.

“I’m fucked.”

“Hold on.” Denise called out to someone, “Brandon, no calls until I say so. Thanks.” She came back on the line. “How are you fucked? In a good way or a bad way? Although I’m assuming it’s bad if you’re calling me.”

“I actually have recently been fucked in such a good way that now I’m royally fucked in the worst possible way. You need to stop me before I do something very stupid.”

“Why? So you got yourself a hot lover? I fail to see the problem, Jerome. And get to the point. If you were a client, I’d be charging you big bucks for my time.”

Along with being the only one Jerry trusted to help him get his head out of his ass, Denise was also the only one who got to call him by his given name.

“I will do my best to summarize. The problem’s name is Arlo Barnes. He’s a farm boy and a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. I’ve been hired by Tyrone to be Arlo’s sexual consultant, because he wants to get out there after being dumped by his one and only boyfriend.”

“So? Piece of cake. Why wasn’t this a fifteen minute consultation? And what does fucking have to do with it, unless you crossed about fifty million boundaries and fucked your client?”

“Er, well…. Actually, he fucked me. Twice.” Jerry could hear Denise’s umbrage in the silence and hastened to explain. “See, one of his problems is he’s never topped because his boyfriend wouldn’t bottom, and he felt awkward about it. So I volunteered to give him some, uh, hands-on coaching.”

“That was stupid and blurred the lines. It would have been totally unethical if you were, like, his therapist or a professional life coach or something. But I’m taking it he’s not paying you for your expertise?”


“Well then, if it was agreed on between you, and he got the experience he was looking for, what’s the problem?”
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