Small Change by Roan Parrish 99 cents! One of my favorite reads of the year!

   Small Change by Roan Parrish

Ginger Holtzman has fought for everything she’s ever had—the success of her tattoo shop, respect in the industry, her upcoming art show. Tough and independent, she has taking-no-crap down to an art form. Good thing too, since keeping her shop afloat, taking care of her friends, and scrambling to finish her paintings doesn’t leave time for anything else. Which … is for the best, because then she doesn’t notice how lonely she is. She’ll get through it all on her own, just like she always does.

Christopher Lucen opened a coffee and sandwich joint in South Philly because he wanted to be part of a community after years of running from place to place, searching for something he could never quite name. Now, he relishes the familiarity of knowing what his customers want, and giving it to them. But what he really wants now is love.

When they meet, Christopher is smitten, but Ginger … isn’t quite so sure. Christopher’s gorgeous, and kind, and their opposites-attract chemistry is off the charts. But hot sex is one thing—truly falling for someone? Terrifying. When her world starts to crumble around her, Ginger has to face the fact that this fight can only be won by being vulnerable—this fight, she can’t win on her own.

Off Campus By Amy Jo Cousins Free! Great Book!

   Off Campus (Bend or Break Book 1) By Amy Jo Cousins

Everyone’s got secrets. Some are just harder to hide.

With his father’s ponzi scheme assets frozen, Tom Worthington believes finishing college is impossible unless he can pay his own way. After months sleeping in his car and gypsy-cabbing for cash, he’s ready to do just that.

But his new, older-student housing comes with an unapologetically gay roommate. Tom doesn’t ask why Reese Anders has been separated from the rest of the student population. He’s just happy to be sleeping in a bed.

Reese isn’t about to share his brutal story with his gruff new roommate. You’ve seen one homophobic jock, you’ve seen ’em all. He plans to drag every twink on campus into his bed until Tom moves out. But soon it becomes clear Tom isn’t budging.

Tom isn’t going to let some late-night sex noise scare him off, especially when it’s turning him on. But he doesn’t want any drama either. He’ll keep his hands, if not his eyes, to himself. Boundaries have a way of blurring when you start sharing truths, though. And if Tom and Reese cross too many lines, they may need to find out just how far they can bend…before they break.

After Midnight by Santino Hassell 99 cents! or Kindle Unlimited

    After Midnight by Santino Hassell

Two decades after war ravaged the nation, one of the last remaining metropolises thrives on a currency of sex, drugs, and lies.

Gordon Frost is a survivor. He outlived all of his friends after bombs decimated the hardscrabble neighborhood he grew up in, and he made it through the orphanages and crime-ridden slums that followed. With few prospects for the future, Gordon carved out a niche for himself in the expanding drug trade of Lexington, PA. It’s not pretty, but it’s his, and it beats the skin trade he was involved with before. But a classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time results in a brush with death, going by the name of Adam. Afterward, the life that once seemed good enough isn’t quite the same.

Adam Blake is an assassin on the brink of being terminated by the very organization that controls him. He completed his mission, but not without being seen. With his secrets in danger of being exposed by Gordon, Adam knows he should kill the smart-mouthed redhead, but finds himself intrigued by the troublesome civilian instead.

When Gordon’s knack for finding trouble combines with the dangerous consequences of Adam’s indecision, their worlds intertwine in an explosive way.

Trigger warnings: Graphic sex, violence, and drug use.

Something Permanent (Middle of Somewhere #2.1) by Roan Parrish Review

Something Permanent (Middle of Somewhere #2.1) by Roan Parrish 4 Stars!

A Valentine’s Short Story!

Review

If you are a fan of this series (and if you aren’t what is wrong with you!), this is a must read.

It is a near perfect peek in on Colin and Rafe and David and Rex on Valentines Day. We also get a little visit with Ginger and Christopher. The best.

The joy and humor in the book is about just how socially and romantically awkward the brothers, David and Colin are. It is everything.

It is also moving as Colin pushes through his panic to love Rafe. Sweet.

I wish the short story had let us see a little more of Rex and David but it was really great as is.

Go download it from the authors website.

Stood Up (The Family Jules Book, #3) by Sean Ashcroft Review

     Stood Up (The Family Jules Book 3) by Sean Ashcroft 3 Stars

Riley Jules has been in love with Brent Morrison since they were fifteen years old. He always thought the day of Brent’s wedding would be bittersweet, but he couldn’t have predicted that Brent’s fiancée would leave him standing at the altar.

With his best friend hurting, all Riley can think of is how desperately he wants to comfort Brent–but then one thing leads to another, and before he knows it, they’re falling into bed together. It seems like a one-time thing, but…

Maybe Riley’s feelings aren’t so one-sided after all.

Brent’s had a lot go wrong in his life–his parents dying, being left to raise his little sister alone, and now being humiliated in front of all of Hope Springs–but maybe the one good thing he could have is Riley.

That is, if he could just get Riley to stay in one place for more than five minutes.

Can Riley and Brent grab hold of their moment and keep each other close?

 

Review

I was very much looking forward to this last book in the Family Jules. As much as I like Riley and Brent, the book drags.

They need to talk more and the side plot of why Brent was jilted. I like the Brent is kind but the romance unspools slowly. A bit more talking would improve the love story.

 

Best LGBTQA+ Romances of 2017

I have already featured many of the wonderful books published this year with LGBTQA+ characters on my other Best of 2017 lists.

However, I did such a massive read of books with queer characters this year that I have some more really amazing books to recommend to you as must reads.

I avoided a great deal of LGBTQA+ romance in the past (only reading maybe two or three a year)  because of my discomfort with the objectification of gay male sexuality by heterosexual women for heterosexual women’s consumption. Male Male being called a genre instead of a sexual or romantic pairing bothered me and the rise of the popularity of Male Male out of slash fiction didn’t feel right either. The stated reasons some straight women liked the reading about or writing about two (or three)  heroes seemed misogynistic to me as well. (See the thread following this interview of some women writers penning gay romance from All About Romance in 2014.) Also, as in the larger LGBTQA+ community, gay men are at the center of queer romance reinforced power dynamics of whose voice matters in not good ways.

As bisexual (maybe pansexual, this term wasn’t in common use in the 1990’s when I was figuring out my sexual identity) cis woman married many years to a  cis male heterosexual partner, I have been “out” for a long time and active in my queer community at different levels. But bi  erasure is a thing and as any LGBTQA+ person knows coming out again and again is exhausting and the phobias within our own community painful. Go figure that hands down one of my favorite books of the year was Roan Parrish’s Small Change with a bisexual foul mouthed heroine and an amazing bearded sweetie pie hero.

So, what changed? Why did I start reading LGBTQA+ in such large numbers this year? Partly, I think, its because the writers of LGBTQA+ shifted and became more diverse themselves and then more diverse in the characters in the last few years. Male, transgender, bisexual, asexual, authors started publishing in larger numbers or at least in a a more visible way. Authors also found their way to writing these romances from a wider variety of paths and thus the kinds of plots and styles increased. I also did a ton of queer theory reading along side these romance books because I am a big old knowledge nerd and had a ton fun of fun learning ideas that have come to prominence since I last spent time studying the subject. I particularly loved discussions around  romantic orientation and the fine work of the Asexual Visibility  and Education Network.

I started out my reading glom with bisexual, lesbian, gender fluid, transgender, and asexual characters.  I, then, followed these authors into their other books which often had more common male male gay pairings. I liked the chance to explore new relationship dynamics and plots. I love finding new to me writers.  I became curious about the “classics” and read those.  I found so many thoughtful and gifted writers. My concerns still linger and I have stumbled into books and writers that are a huge NOPE for me but that happens in any pairing and sub genres (don’t get me started on Nazi “heroes”).

I think the election and the utter threat to my community day after day, policy after policy, tweet after tweet, is what ultimately compelled me to make a commitment to really go all in with LGBTQA+  characters in romance.  I wanted to do anything I could to lend my support emotionially and financially to those of us under threat and I wanted to do it in a hopeful proactive way.  I wanted not to erased.  Also, I needed to find a place of safety, power, acceptance and love for my LGBTQA+ community and in my romance community. So, I sought comfort in happily ever after and the joy of love and being loved.

So many, many books were bought and loved.

Here are some of my favorite LGBTQA+ Romances published in 2017.

My lists are never in any particular order.

Heart Stop by Radclyffe A great procedural and romance. My Review!

Jay “Flash” Reynolds has a brilliant future as a trauma surgeon until a truck on a rainy night changes her life. Assistant chief medical examiner Olivia Price is more at ease with the dead than the living―at least the dead never lie. All she needs to do is listen to their stories. What she doesn’t need is a surly new resident who would rather be somewhere else.

Two women, one with a damaged body, the other a damaged spirit, challenge each other to dare to live again.

 

 

Deep Edge (Harrisburg Railers Book 3) bRJ Scott  & V.L. Locey  Ice Skating and Hockey romance. Great series! My review to come. 

Trent Hanson is a figure skating phenom adored by millions around the world. His whole life has been dedicated to the sport he loves even when the sport – and his own family – have turned against him. From the playground to the Olympics to his parent’s living room, Trent has fought against bullies and homophobes to be the out and proud gay man he is. But the constant fighting has left Trent tired, lonely, and skittish. All those fears will have to be shelved though when he’s hired to spend the summer working with the Harrisburg Railers ice hockey team. Who would have guessed that the man fate has decided to pair him off with is Dieter Lehmann, all-around sex god and a man who seems to have everything to prove and doesn’t care who he hurts to get what he wants.

Dieter has spent too many years languishing in the minors, and a secret addiction to prescription painkillers means his career is in a downward spiral. His ex is blackmailing him, and he’s close to walking away from it all. But when he’s called up in the run for the Stanley Cup to cover injuries he has a taste of what it’s like playing in the NHL, and he realizes that a place on the Railers’ roster is what he wants more than anything. More than listening to his heart, and even more than caring for the infuriating figure skater who gets under his skin. When he crosses the line to get what he wants, he knows he has lost his way. He has to change, but is it too late for both his career and any chance he might have at love?

Block and Strike by Kelly Jensen Compelling look at biphobia and starting over. My review to come.

Jacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.

Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years, and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.

Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.

Rim Shot by  Skylar M Cates Must read New Adult Sports Romance! My review to come!

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.

Color of You by CS Poe Witty and lyrical. A great romance. My review to come!

Bowen Merlin— yes, that’s his real name—accepts a position in the quaint town of Lancaster, New Hampshire, as the high school band director. He leaves New York City for the snowy countryside of New England just in time for the holidays. With class, homework, after-school activities, and a surprise Christmas concert to plan and rehearse, Bowen is plenty busy. And since he’s never had much luck with romance, factoring in time to find Mr. Right isn’t a priority….

Until he meets the proprietor of Snowy Ridge Apple Orchard, Felix Hansen. Suddenly, true love seems like a possibility for the first time in Bowen’s life. The two are a perfect match and fill the skipped beats of each other’s hearts. But as wonderful as Felix seems, he’s harboring scars that could end their budding relationship when someone in town goes to great lengths to sabotage their careers.

If Bowen is to survive the holidays, he’ll need to lean on old friends and new, convince Felix he’s worth any hardship, and prove they can come out of the catastrophe stronger if they do so together.

Starting from Scratch  by Jay Northcote  Wonderful New Adult romance with a sweet and hot love story. My review!

Starting over isn’t easy, but Ben is ready to live his life as the man he was always meant to be.

Ben is transgender and back at university after hormone treatment and chest surgery. His new housemates have no idea about his history and Ben would prefer to keep it that way. He’s starting from scratch and his life is finally on track, except in the romance department. The idea of dating guys as a guy is exhilarating but terrifying, because if Ben wants a boyfriend he’ll have to disclose his secret.

Sid is drawn to Ben from the moment they meet. He normally gets what he wants—in the short term at least. Ben’s guarded at first, and Sid’s not used to guys rejecting his advances. He eventually charms his way through Ben’s defences and helps Ben on his journey of sexual awakening.

It doesn’t matter to Sid that Ben is trans. He’s attracted to the whole person, and isn’t worried about what is—or isn’t—in Ben’s pants. They’re good together, and both of them are falling hard and fast, but Ben’s insecurities keep getting in the way. If Sid can convince Ben he’s committed, will Ben finally be able to put his heart on the line?

At Attention (Out of Uniform)  by Annabeth Albert  A great series! This is a wonderful age difference military romance,  My review!

Lieutenant Apollo Floros can ace tactical training missions, but being a single dad to his twin daughters is more than he can handle. He needs live-in help, and he’s lucky a friend’s younger brother needs a place to stay. He’s surprised to see Dylan all grown up with a college degree…and a college athlete’s body. Apollo’s widowed heart may still be broken, but Dylan has his blood heating up.

It’s been eight years since the teenage Dylan followed Apollo around like a lovesick puppy, and it’s time he showed Lieutenant Hard-to-Please that he’s all man now—an adult who’s fully capable of choosing responsibility over lust. He can handle Apollo’s muscular sex appeal, but Apollo the caring father? Dylan can’t afford to fall for that guy. He’s determined to hold out for someone who’s able to love him back, not someone who only sees him as a kid brother.

Apollo is shocked by the intensity of his attraction to Dylan. Maybe some no-strings summer fun will bring this former SEAL back to life. But the combination of scorching desire and warm affection is more than he’d expected, and the emotion between them scares him senseless. No fling lasts forever, and Apollo will need to decide what’s more important—his past or his future—if he wants to keep Dylan in his life.

Illegal Contact by  Santino Hassell A great sports romance with compelling characters! My Review! 

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…

Back Piece (Skin Deep Inc.) by L.A. Witt   Great shy hero military romance. My Review!

Colin Spencer is a tattoo artist with a past he’d prefer to keep a secret. Actually, he has a few secrets that he’d rather people didn’t know about, which is why Colin doesn’t do commitment. But when a shy sailor approaches him at the gym, Colin finds this guy pushing all his buttons.

Growing up in a conservative family, then escaping with the Navy, Daniel Moore is an unsure virgin who feels like he can’t share his true self with anyone. Seeing Colin—and his tattoos—at the gym are the sign Daniel needs to finally get those tattoos he’s always wanted, and maybe try his hand at flirting.

As Colin and Daniel spend more time together, their awkward hesitations turn into a deep passion neither expected. But with both men harboring secrets, will their relationship be able to survive their insecurities and become something beautiful?

Coach’s Challenge by Avon Gale This is such a great series. Wonderful romance between a coach and a player.  My Review!

It’s been decades since blackmail forced Troy Callahan to retire from playing professional hockey, and he’s built a successful career behind the bench. When he’s offered the opportunity to coach the Asheville Ravens—the most hated team in the ECHL—he’s convinced that his no-nonsense attitude is just what the team needs to put their focus back on hockey. But Troy is disheartened when he finds that the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression. And it only gets worse when Shane’s rough good looks give Troy inappropriate thoughts about a member of his team, even if Shane’s set to retire at the end of the season.

Shane’s career in the majors never quite took off. Wanting to quit on his own terms, Shane agrees to a one-year contract with the Ravens and finds himself playing for a coach who thinks he’s an aging goon and with a team that doesn’t trust him, the coach, or each other. Despite his determination to not get involved, Shane unwillingly becomes part of the team… and is just as unwillingly drawn to the gruff out-and-proud coach. As the Ravens struggle to build a new identity, Shane and Troy succumb to the passion that might cost them everything.

Amazing Books on My Other Lists Already!

Aftermath by E. Davies Review

  Aftermath by E. Davies 3,5 Stars!

I’m off the market for a few months.”

Santa Barbara fire chief Jace Williams has found rock bottom. Suspended from work while a fatality is investigated, unable to escape dreams about that day, distant from his family, he has nowhere to turn for consolation. He just got the divorce judgement from his cheating husband, but he’ll only be a single man in six months’ time, thanks to California law. How did his perfect, organized life turn into this disaster?

“You boys make each other happy.”

As messy and spontaneous as Jace is tidy, Charles Bryan comes across as carefree, which is why he instantly dislikes Jace. A former self-harmer, he still needs the adrenaline rush of hang-gliding, so he teaches it and practices as a hobby, in between visiting his aging father. His dad keeps asking when he’ll bring back Justin, his ex… and he’s never had the heart to tell him he dumped the abusive bastard years ago. But it’s easy to hide a lot with a smile, and he follows a whim into reserved Jace’s arms.

“Against the odds, I like you.”

Despite their clashing personalities, they have a lot in common under the surface. Planning a wedding together gives them both something to do… and someone to tease. When Charlie’s dislike of strings and Jace’s reluctance to commit until the divorce is finalized give way to growing affection, neither of them know what to do. They didn’t expect to find the one at the best, yet worst, possible time. Is this what real love feels like?

 

Review

This is an opposites attract romance between two men who have been closed off in different ways. It is a lovely story in which they can’t seem to help falling in love with each other.

Jace is going through a painful divorce. Charlie is dealing with his ill parent.

They both have jobs which define them and they find each other and comfort each other and banter and heal.

Good stuff! I hope there is more in this series.

Solid Education by Bianca Sommerland Review

   Solid Education (Higher Learning Book 1) by Bianca Sommerland 2 Stars 

Gage Tackett comes off as a bad boy—detached and maybe a little dangerous. Definitely not Vet Sciences Professor Derek Paulson’s type. Which he tells himself, repeatedly, every time the other man attends his class.

Until the day he looks over to see Gage’s seat is empty.

When Gage arrives at Derek’s veterinary clinic with a frostbitten stray dog, the lines of their teacher/student relationship are blurred. Derek realizes his most difficult student has a few things to teach him.

Things he’s more than willing to learn.

 

Review

Well, the dog is great but I never get over what a jerk Derek is to Gage.

Professor shouldn’t treat students that way and I don’t mean the falling in love thing. He is just cold and unreasonable.

However, I did love the way Gage resolves the teacher student thing without drama and how he goes after what he wants. There is also a nice epilogue.

Afterglow by E. Davies Review

    Afterglow by E. Davies 3.5 Stars!

Chris Black, a firefighter in Santa Barbara, is finally out and trying to make up for lost time. He has no trouble finding men, but their first dates end behind his bedroom door. Nobody sticks around except his ex, who leaves him feeling rotten after every booty call. Being passed over for a promotion thanks to his loud mouth is another blow. Most of all, it’s coming home to an empty house that’s wearing down his optimistic spirits. Answering a cry for help sends him straight to the side of a man who’s his opposite, but everything he wants.

“No more me. Good.”

The last glimmer of hope for Ash’s future vanished when he came home to find his now-ex, drugs, and four guys in their living room. With nobody by his side, in a hotel room in the small hours, the fog of depression lifts and pushes Ash into action at last. Standing on the balcony railing, he sees a glimpse of freedom and takes a step toward it. Seconds later, his body and spirit broken, Ash is pretty sure he’s died after all when he sees a gorgeous stranger fighting to keep him alive.

“I’m safer on the ground.”

When Ash falls through his porch on the way home from the hospital, Chris can’t resist offering his guest room. Ash will get the help he needs to adjust to his new limits, and Chris will get a friend, even if he wants more. The close quarters push them both to realize life is brighter and more fleeting than they knew. Each man faces danger from within and outside. Can they make it through the flames to fall in love?

 

Review

Ash is in a very bad emotionial state when Chris meets him. Even though, it seems like a horrible idea to get involved with him, Chris offers him a place to stay and they fall in love despite being really different people.

I enjoyed this ‘I love you as you are” romance. There are parts that are rushed over for the kind of character exploration I like best but I liked Chris’s sunny honesty and Ash’s willingness to let him in.

Afterburn by E. Davies Review

   Afterburn by E. Davies 3.5 Stars! 

Santa Barbara firefighter Liam Knight is in hot water for showing up late after chasing yet another pretty guy into bed. It’s just an accident—Liam’s never let hookups get in the way of work before. He only agrees to therapy to keep the chief happy. When he bumps into a pretty guy working in the craft store below his apartment, Dylan seems like the perfect thing to relieve Liam’s stress… until he catches Liam’s interest and protective instinct, not just his eye.

“I’m not good enough for him.”

The only thing Dylan Waters needs less than the distraction of love is the alternative medicine his mother wants to foist him into. He’s juggling part-time jobs at a therapy office and craft store while attending college to become an art therapist. Worse, he’s about to transfer to a huge campus, but his childhood left him afraid of crowds. When hunky firefighter Liam blusters into his PTSD knitting support group, Dylan spots the familiar signs of a man hiding from his past, but he can’t stop thinking about him.

“It was nothing. I thought I was over it.”

It’s more than fleeting attraction between them, but Dylan’s stubborn fear of help and Liam’s low self-esteem are a deadly combination. When it all goes up in smoke, they only have themselves to blame. Can Liam get to Dylan in time to save him and the one relationship that could make him believe in love?

Reviews

I was a little reluctant to start this series at it seemed a little darker in terms of the characters’ issues, however, this book and others turned out to be uplifting tales about loving each other imperfections and struggles and all.

Liam is a firefighter who isn’t doing well well but doesn’t really know it. I like how the book deals with the hypersexual aspect of PTSD and how for once the hero gets therapy.

Dylan has his own struggles with panic. They meet and starting dating and it is a lovely journey in a great setting in Santa Barbara.