4.5 Stars

Illegal Contact (The Barons, #1) by Santino Hassell 4.5 Star Review!

   Illegal Contact (The Barons) by Santino Hassell 4.5 Stars!

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…

Review

Yea! So good! Yea! Gavin and Noah are awesome and watching them fall in love is a joy.

This is a great sports romance with so much couple time. We get a “cabin”romance with two detailed and complex heroes.

Everything about this book shines. The writing is excellent as is the cast and the romance is swoony.

Gavin works hard and is admirable and watching his character develop is pure pleasure. Noah is really great and his internal conflicts are realistic and compelling.

They are a wonderful couple. I really like how Hassell gives us a bisexual hero and full build contemporary world.

If you like Marina Zapata’s The Wall of Winnipeg and me, you will love this book.

 

 

Infamous (Famous, #2) by Jenny Holiday 4.5 Star Review!

   Infamous by Jenny Holiday 4.5 Stars!

All that up-and-coming musician Jesse Jamison has ever wanted is to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. When a gossip website nearly catches him kissing someone who isn’t his famous girlfriend—and also isn’t a girl—he considers the near miss a wake-up call. There’s a lot riding on his image as the super-straight rocker, and if he wants to realize his dreams, he’ll need to toe the line. Luckily, he’s into women too. Problem solved.

After a decade pretending to be his ex’s roommate, pediatrician Hunter Wyatt is done hiding. He might not know how to date in the Grindr world, how to make friends in a strange city, or whether his new job in Toronto is a mistake. But he does know that no one is worth the closet. Not even the world’s sexiest rock star.

As Jesse’s charity work at Hunter’s hospital brings the two closer together, a bromance develops. Soon, Hunter is all Jesse can think about. But when it comes down to a choice between Hunter and his career, he’s not sure he’s brave enough to follow his heart.

Review

nfamous is a great friends to lovers romance with all the pleasure of the Rock Star theme as well.

Jenny Holiday hits all the right notes with this touching romance about Jesse, the rock star, and Hunter, the doctor.

Watching them become such close friends while crushing on each other is a joy. I love how Hunter’s life as a doctor is shown to be as complex and important (maybe more in some ways) than Jesse’s famous job as a singer and songwriter.

Jesse makes a choice early in this book not be out as bisexual in exchange for getting the agent he wants/needs to make his band successful. He also fears being out in terms of the damage it might due to his ability to make a living in music. Hunter won’t be with another closeted man.

The conflicts is realistic as is the way there two men fall more and more in love until something has to give.

It is a slow burn romance with a number of compelling elements outside the romance.

I just loved Hunter and Jesse and the connection they had.

I am not sure that the last flash of drama was needed or that Jesse wouldn’t have told Hunter that he was bi and the agreement he had made with his agent and that kept it from being a 5 Star read for me but every other moment made this a shining gem of a love story.

Can’t wait for more in the series!

I was given this book for my honest review. So, there you have it!

Cherry Bomb (Mercury Rising, #2) by Samantha Kane 4.5 Star Review!

     Cherry Bomb (Mercury Rising Book 2) by Samantha Kane 4.5 Stars!

Officially, Turnstiles billionaire CEO Brian Curland is in Mercury to set up a new data center. Unofficially, he’s using this trip to re-evaluate his life, because for a man who has everything, he’s feeling pretty empty.

He could buy any car he wants. But no, he had to rent a piece-of-crap Chevy—which is now broken down on the side of the road. When he’s rescued by a sexy local, Brian does what he always does. Go for what he wants, even if it’s just temporary.

Evan Michaels stops to help because that’s what good guys do. He grew up in Mercury, eventually becoming minister of the local Unitarian church. Though everyone knows him, being gay and being in a gay relationship are two different things. He wants Brian, but their affair has to be secret or he can’t play.

When Evan unleashes his long-suppressed sexuality, Brian is more than up to handling the heat. Yet even though they fall hard for each other, it might take the whole town to convince them it’s a forever kind of love.

Warning: Contains an inexperienced minister, gay comic-book role play, dirty dancing in antebellum mansions, and some very naughty fireworks. Protective gear recommended.

Review

Dang, I really like this series! The writing is spot on on, setting and the world compelling, the characters complex and the romance hot, tender and complex.

So, I love me some clergy heroes. LOL. I enjoy them because it means they have thought carefully about and invested in the spiritual (what are we all here for) aspects of their life. Evan is just amazing. Human and loving and strong.

I like grown ups in my romance too. Brian and Evan are both grown and they talk and they acknowledge their shortcomings and the barriers to their relationship.

There wasn’t much I didn’t love about this book. I am not sure how many times I will reread it which is why it isn’t a 5 star but this is a great couple. I can’t to read the next book in the series and would really love more books after that.

Goodbye Paradise (Hello Goodbye #1) by Sarina Bowen 4.5 Star Review

Review:

Goodbye Paradise - Sarina Bowen

Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home. 

In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world. 

But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves. 

It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.

Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires. 

Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels? 

 

Review

 

4.5 Stars

 

I love Sabrina Bowen’s writing and we get to see her really shine here with the story of Caleb and Josh.

 

They have always been friends. They live in a polygamist cult. They have been cut off from the wider world though Caleb has more access as he gets to go into town for supplies.

They are in love with each other though Josh is a bit clueless as to the fact the Caleb returns his feelings.

 

This is a sweet romance and a triumphant one. Josh and Caleb fight hard for happiness. They escape, they adjust, they act on their love, they make a life for themselves. More interesting to me is the working out of rank and power dynamics after leaving those set by the cult.

 

 

Caleb, to me, would have a bit more culture shock than he does but it is a small annoyance. I love how we stay with this couple deep into a hard earned HEA. Yea!

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Too Stupid to Live (Romancelandia Book 1) Anne Tenino 4.5 Stars Review

Review:

Too Stupid to Live: Romancelandia, Book 1 - Riptide Publishing, Tobias Silversmith, Anne Tenino

t isn’t true love until someone gets hurt.

Sam’s a new man. Yes, he’s still too tall, too skinny, too dorky, too gay, and has that unfortunate addiction to romance novels, but he’s wised up. His One True Love is certainly still out there, but he knows now that real life is nothing like fiction. He’s cultivated the necessary fortitude to say “no” to the next Mr. Wrong, no matter how hot, exciting, and/or erotic-novel-worthy he may be.

Until he meets Ian.

Ian’s a new man. He’s pain-free, has escaped the job he hated and the family who stifled him, and is now — possibly — ready to dip his toe into the sea of relationships. He’s going to be cautious, though, maybe start with someone who knows the score and isn’t looking for anything too complicated. Someone with experience and simple needs that largely revolve around the bedroom.

Until he meets Sam.

Sam’s convinced that Ian is no one’s Mr. Right. Ian’s sure that Sam isn’t his type. They can’t both be wrong…can they?

 

Review

This isn’t a perfect book but its delightful and if you are a romance novel nerd like I am it is a must read for the meta commentary on the genre, the love of the gerne, and the playfulness Plus, it is a sexy romantic love story.

 

Same and Ian. I love that Ian isn’t attracted to Sam at first because he is shallow but really more because he isn’t attuned to himself yet. A great deal of this book his Ian’s journey to become emotionally connect to himself and others after having lived a closeted life and believed the cultural lies told by hyper masculinity.

 

His journey is moving as his is falling deeper and deeper in love and lust with Sam. I am so happy Ian is already seeking therapy and continues to do so as the plot develops. I love his relationship with his cousin and the developing relationships with the people at his new job.

 

He tries and grows and does great romantic gestures and emotionial bravery and this makes him a wonderful deserving hero for Sam even when he struggles.

 

Sam is everything I love. A nerd, socially awkward bookworm with great friendships and a loving heart. He is super smart and his thinking of the world through romantic novels themes is at once funny, charming, and wise. He is brave and takes risk as Ian learns. Sexy as hell.

 

This is a well plotted book with great charters and love you can believe in. I liked the second book in the series much better after reading this one and can’t wait for a third book.

 

The flaws are slight really. A weird lack of setting in an extra place. Western US not California. We never get to see Same as a grad student, writer, and teacher…just as a reader, friend, and waiter. This leaves some depth out of the novel that matters.

 

This will be a long time comfort read for sure. I am resisting the urge to reread right now!

Original post:
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Cherry Pie (Mercury Rising, #1) by Samantha Kane Review

      Cherry Pie (Mercury Rising Book 1) by Samantha Kane 4.5 Stars!!

You can go home again—if you can get a foot in the door.

A year after packing and moving from L.A. to Mercury, North Carolina, John Ford still hasn’t adjusted to the heat. Or to life without his long-time partner. As he fixes up the old house he bought, the quiet becomes his only companion, and he’s content with that—until a deep-voiced stranger plants himself under a tree across the street.

Eight years ago, Connor Meecham left someone behind in that house—himself. Now he’s back to find the man he used to be, before drugs and prison sent his life careening off the tracks. But it’s not his mother’s face peering through the window any more. It’s a man who seems as lost as Conn himself.

When John learns what the house—and the dying town—mean to Conn, he finds himself opening the door to his heart. Just a crack. But it’s enough to get mixed up in a world of emotions as complicated as the recipe for the perfect cherry pie. Where one misstep can turn something sweet and juicy into one hot mess.

Review

Given the iffy title, I wasn’t expecting a great deal out of this book and was really pleasantly surprised.

I knew the love story would hot because Samantha Kane is an excellent erotic writer who uses sexy times to deepen the connection between characters. And the book has that loveliness for sure but this romance is also emotionial rich and sexy.

Many themes are at play here but the one I think is exceptionally well down is returning to your Hometown. Connor as been in recovery for two years and out of prison for more than a year. He decides to go home (its been the the better part of a decade) to reclaim the parts of himself, heal others, and build himself anew. He has to deal with the fact that someone has bought his family home, his mom has passed while he was serving time for possession and selling sex (though the charge was changed to vagrancy), reckon with how the town has changed, pick up old connection, forge new ones and find work. He left town as a golden football star in a small Southern town. He returns as a much better man in recovery, mindful, out about his sexuality and his past.

John is new to town and healing from the grief of losing his partner.

Class, age , and power difference play out in this romance is a powerful and healing way. They are emotionial equals and the joy of this book is in watching John and Connor fall in love and become partners.

The small town stuff is great and there are some wonderful secondary characters.

The writing is superb. Emotionially compelling, realistic (with the fantasy of less homophobia than there might be and John being really rich), and sexy.

Can’t wait for the next in the series.

Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances Book 5) by Avon Gale 4.5 Star Review!

   Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances Book 5)  by Avon Gale  4.5 Stars!

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.

Review

This is a charming romance where likes attract and the likes are sarcastic, competitive, gruff, grumpy, witty, loving, argumentative, stubborn hockey heroes with explosive chemistry.

We have two grown up men who fall in love and lust with each other and a great sports story about turning around an awful team and taking homophobia and sexism on.

There is never a lack of communication or trust as Shane and Troy move from lust to love.

They are wonderful for each other and all kinds of little details make this romance a charmer and light hearted.

This is one of the best consistently great series I have read in a long time.

The wider circle of people we are already know gets just enough screen time and we get some wonderful new cast members.

I love River and Ben and I have been hunting around to see if they already have their own romance because I need to read it now! Matty is due a love story and Alani better get her some. I suggest a female hockey player that joins one of the teams, please.

So good!

 

 

A New Man by P.D. Singer 4.5 Star Review!

Review:

A New Man - P.D. Singer

Senior year of college is for studying, partying, and having fun before getting serious about life. Instead, Chad’s days are filled with headaches and exhaustion, and his fencing skills are getting worse with practice, not better. Then there’s his nonexistent love life, full of girls he’s shunted to the friend zone. Is he asexual? Gay?

Grad student Warren Douglas could be out clubbing, but his roommate is better company, even without kisses. He’s torn up watching Chad suffer, gobbling ibuprofen and coming home early on Friday nights. If Chad weren’t straight, Warren would keep him up past midnight. They’re great as friends. Benefits might answer Chad’s questions.

A brief encounter with lab rats reveals Chad’s illness—he needs surgery, STAT, and can’t rely on his dysfunctional parents for medical decisions. Warren’s both trustworthy and likely to get overruled—unless they’re married. “You can throw me back later,” Warren says, and he may throw himself back after his husband turns out moody and hard to get along with, no matter how much fun his new sex drive is. Surgery turns Chad into a new man, all right…

…but Warren fell in love with the old one.

 

Review

 Phew. This is a great book with a wonderful premise which I don’t want to spoil.

 

A grand  friends to lovers and marriage of con but between lovers tropes.

 

Then, there is fencing, science, Colorado, body image, sexuality, and masculinity layered into a compelling romance between two super smart and kind heroes.

 

Really great!

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Daily Grind (Takeover, #4) by Anna Zabo 4.5 Star Review!

Review:

Daily Grind (Takeover) - Anna Zabo

Brian Keppler, owner of Ground N’At, the coffee shop beneath SR Anderson Consulting, doesn’t have time for a relationship. His most recent girlfriend broke up with him because he’d become married to his shop, which is falling apart without his favorite barista, Justin.

As he struggles to stay afloat, the arrival of handsome British high-tech whiz Robert Ancroft becomes another complication. Rob quickly becomes a fixture at the shop with his sharp wit and easy charm, and Brian soon finds himself looking forward more and more to Rob’s visits—to the point where his heart skips a beat when he walks in.  

But will Brian be able to come to terms with his previously unexplored sexual identity and find happiness now that he has a chance?

 

Review

Wow. Runs around clapping! I found a great gifted new to me writer. 

Ana Zabo creates nuanced grown characters who I adore watching fall in love and then work to have a loving relationship. 

I have so many favorite things about this book. It gets all the details just so, This is a full world with lively and complex heroes.

We get a romance that deals with what it means to grown up working class and with addicted parents and be successful, what it means to be bisexual in your late 30’s through this era cultural change, small business ownership, coffee and third spaces, being a workaholic…

Brian is a workaholic. and Rob is workaholic. in recovery but with more resources than Brian. This is the core conflict in the book. Brian can be very annoying but it the true to life kind of frustration that you feel with people you love that have an addiction or point of view problem.

The love story is lush and comforting and sexy. Rob and Brian get a great deal of couple time as well well as time to make their own arcs. All the characters in this book matter and nothing is simplified. The setting is great. 

So well written! I ordered all the rest of the books in the series and can’t wait for more. A great love story. 

Original post:
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At Attention (Out of Uniform, #2) by Annabeth Albert Review

     At Attention (Out of Uniform) by by Annabeth Albert 4.5 Stars! 

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 if he wants to keep Dylan in his life—his past or his future.

 

Review

I love this book because I adore these heroes and watching them fall in love is a joy.

There is a bonus for me as this book is set in San Diego, where I live, and Albert does a wonderful job placing little Easter Eggs for those of this that love this city.

Each hero has his own journey and I really like how they find equity and respect despite the age difference and very different outlooks and experiences.

Just one of the pleasures of this book is watching a crush turn into real love.

We get a great cast of characters and a very moving and sexy romance.