Addiction

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.

Danced Close (Portland Heat, #6) by Annabeth Albert Review

  Danced Close (Portland Heat Book 6) by Annabeth Albert 4 Stars!

Newly clean and sober, Todd’s taken a shine to his job at Portland’s most talked about bakery. It’s not just the delicious desserts they sell, but the tasty treats who keep walking through the door. That certainly includes Kendall Rose, a wedding planner with eyes the color of brown sugar and skin to match. Todd doesn’t try to hide his attraction to Kendall’s elegant confidence and unique style, even as he worries about exposing the secrets of his past.

For Kendall, the attention is just part of the anything-goes Portland he’s grown to love. But he’s still looking for that special someone who will embrace all of him—including his gender fluidity. So he takes a chance and asks Todd to be his partner in a dance class leading to a fundraiser. When the music starts and he takes Todd in his arms, Kendall is shocked at how good it feels.  Turns out taking the lead for once isn’t a mistake. In fact, it might be time to take the next step and follow his heart . . .

 

Review

I love this series and it is best read in order to enjoy it to the fullest.

I really don’t want this to be the last book in the series. I like this world of small business a great deal.

This romance takes on addiction, recovery, and gender but does so with a light and lovely touch.

Both heros has a lot of growing to do and it is a pleasure to witness their individual journeys as will as there one as a couple.

I enjoyed the dancing in this book the most. I love the sneaky skills of the younger hero.

Very good.

Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell Review

Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs Book 1) by Santino Hassell

Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens, to teaching in one of the city’s most queer-friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.

Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.

When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years.

 

Review

Santino Hassell is a wonderful writer with great dialogue, great turns of phrase, and intersting characters.

That said, I could not settle into this book. I wanted to wack Micheal up side the head so often. I wanted him get get it together much earlier in the book so the real work of a real relationship could begin.

I am very interested in his brother’s book but this book and its angst on high just irrated me.

Out of Nowhere by Roan Parrish Review

 Out of Nowhere by Roan Parrish  4 Stars! 

The only thing in Colin Mulligan’s life that makes sense is taking cars apart and putting them back together. In the auto shop where he works with his father and brothers, he tries to get through the day without having a panic attack or flying into a rage. Drinking helps. So does running and lifting weights until he can hardly stand. But none of it can change the fact that he’s gay, a secret he has kept from everyone.

Rafael Guerrera has found ways to live with the past he’s ashamed of. He’s dedicated his life to social justice work and to helping youth who, like him, had very little growing up. He has no time for love. Hell, he barely has time for himself. Somehow, everything about miserable, self-destructive Colin cries out to him. But down that path lie the troubles Rafe has worked so hard to leave behind. And as their relationship intensifies, Rafe and Colin are forced to dredge up secrets that both men would prefer stay buried.

 

Review

Oh boy. Colin is a hot mess. Internalized homophobia, anger management, self harm, alcohol abuse, cruelty, clueless…

And yet I root for him anyway. I would advise Rafe against dating him (Rafe is a wonderful social justice crusader with humility and self awareness. He is sexy as hell.) but this ain’t my romance.

Roan Parrish is a wonderful writer. This book takes on issues of social justice in terms of LGTBQ kids and the prison pipeline for men of color. The setting and exploration of working class life is excellent.

I may not always like Colin but he is real. Made of a place, time and neglect. I want him to have love and healing.

I would have liked more healing to happen in the book. That man needs to get clean and to find a therapist and support group. The lack of these elements make me worry for him and Rafe long term but Colin changed and grew and settled into himself and its a really good book.

Wake Up Married Serial, Episodes 1 – 6 by Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths

4.5 Stars!!!

Episode One: Will & Patrick Wake Up Married

After a drunken night of hot sex in Vegas, strangers Will Patterson and Dr. Patrick McCloud wake up married. A quickie divorce is the most obvious way out—unless you’re the heir of a staunchly Catholic mafia boss with a draconian position on the sanctity of marriage. Throw their simmering attraction into the mix and all bets are off!

Episode Two: Will & Patrick Meet the Family

Meeting the family is challenging for every new couple. But for Will and Patrick, the awkward family moments only grow more hilarious–and painful–when they must hide the truth of their predicament from the people they care about most. Throw in the sexual tension flaring between them and you’ve got a recipe for madcap laughs and surprisingly heartwarming feels.

Episode Three: Will & Patrick Do the Holidays

A couple’s first holiday season is always a special time. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are magical when you’re in love. Too bad Will and Patrick’s marriage is a sham and they’re only faking their affection for each other. Or are they? Sparks fly in this episode of the Wake Up Married serial. Will the sexual tension between Will and Patrick finally explode in a needy night of passion? Or will they continue to deny their feelings?

Episode Four: Will & Patrick Fight Their Feelings

Will and Patrick have embraced adding hot sexy-times to their fake marriage, but as their emotions deepen, they confront whether or not they want to be more than friends-with-benefits. The heat is high (and occasionally kinky) as Will and Patrick struggle to accept their mutual affection.

Episode Five: Will & Patrick Meet the Mob

Patrick has finally accepted that he’s in love with Will, but his newfound determination to do something about that runs up against his father-in-law’s mobster plans. Will must face the truth about his family before he can fully come to terms with his feelings for Patrick. And Patrick has to decide if this whackadoodle world is something he truly wants to be part of forever.

Episode Six: Will & Patrick’s Happy Ending

Sure, Will and Patrick are in love now, but they weren’t when they got married in Vegas. For Patrick, that’s no problem, but Will can’t shake his doubts that a relationship started through coercion can ever become the real deal. Since the Molinaro crime family has reversed their position on divorce, Will and Patrick have a chance to rectify their drunken mistake. But is divorce the right choice for them?

Review

This book has all the cat nip. It is a sheer joy to read as it plays with tropes through hyperbole and reversals while mixing in powerful psychological depth.

It is at once silly and moving with a grand love story at its heart.

It would have been a 5 Star read for me but its a Serial (I hate them with all my heart) and there is some sex aftermath body stuff that happens repeatedly and is just a bit ewww for me in the way that it is described.

There is a lot of silly here that makes it fun. We have a strangers marry Vegas while drunk fun with opposites attract joy through in. They have to stay married because of an inheritance clause from the Mob family of Will who is much younger than the Patrick. Fun!

And yet each of these standard (and great in my opinion) is explored at the same time with emotionial truths. Will was drunk that night because he was relapsing in his alcoholism after getting dumped by his long time boyfriend via a phone call. The book does a beautiful job with addiction, recovery, and family made more compelling because Patrick is a neurosurgeon and looks at addiction biologically.

The mob family stuff show layers of recklessness and disfunction of Will’s family. Will has diabetes and the book details the daily life of such a disease. Will’s last relationship was awful and Patrick’s gruff but steadfast treatment and care and eventual love of will is a wonderful display what love should be. He respects and treasures Will.

Patrick is his own gruff, arrogant, funny mess. I don’t want to give to many spoilers as to why but he has a hard time with so much feeling and yet…he is the very best. The friendships he develops are their own awesome love story.

There is a joy in this book too that while internalized homophobia does come up they fact that gay marriage is legal means that everyone in the book simply looks at their marriage as a marriage.  The end.

This is just such a wonderful read with so much healing and love. Read it.

I Want You to Want Me (Rock Star Romance, #2) by Erika Kelly Review

3 Stars

Derek Valencia finally has the success he’s worked so hard for. His band is touring its debut album and great reviews are rolling in. But when pictures of him tossing naked groupies off a balcony go viral, it’s damage-control time. He’s assigned a “babysitter” whose sole job is to keep him out of trouble.
Violet Davis swore she’d never work in the music industry again, but being a minder for a rock star will earn her enough to pay off the mortgage on her wildflower farm. And for a girl brought up in the foster care system, owning her own home means more to her than anything.

Though at first the two bang heads, the rocker and the farm girl soon grow close and realize that they make sweet music together. But can a girl who craves the stability of life on a farm really make it work with a man whose life is spent on the road with his band?

Review

I like a great deal about this book but I dislike about the same amount.

I love how competent the heroine is and the very real portral of how foster care system shapes her. I think it is intersting how her job as a minder grew out of her emotionial intelligence gained in the system.

The hero’s self esteem struggles are also interesting. I like the close look at addiction and denial in the other characters as well as group dynamics.

Who doesn’t love a wildflower farm?

What I did not like is how long it took the hero and heroine to evolve. They really needed to at least say out loud how they thought this thing between them might or might not work and then try. Given who they are they would stumble but this would be a much better book if they just adulted a little in terms of communication.

We get horrible drama instead which makes both of them undatable.

And the other band members are such wankers. Which is fine but there is all this talk of how close and what a family they are.

We have some good moments of recognition of wankerness but I needed way more.

There is too much red haze lust in here which gets in the way of plot for me.

So…. Calix looks like a great character and is up next but I am not sure I can take all the side stuff and more lack of TALKING.

In Touch (Play On Book 1) by C.D. Brennan Review

Sexy. Passionate. Fierce.

Irish rugby star, Padraig O’Neale, has fecked up his life and is one angry man. When caught using a banned substance for his back pain, Padraig is excused from both his provincial club and the Irish International team. Right before World Cup selection. Out of choices, his agent convinces Padraig to play for a small American club in Michigan. Just until things settle down. But when Coach asks the team physical therapist, Gillian Sommersby, to help the newest Blues player with his issues, Padraig finds himself trying every wacky treatment out there from stinky salves to music to yoga. Like her therapies, the therapist herself is a bit…odd. The cute college grad in Converse and glasses doesn’t seem all that impressed with Padraig’s celebrity status, nor gives a shite about his excuses. As it turns out, she might be exactly what he needs…

 

 

3 Star

Review

I like the mood of this book in terms of how the writer deals with grief, addiction and passion for one’s profession.

The heroine is dedicated to her job as a physical therapist integrating new methods into her practice. She is grieving the loss of her brother to addiction.

She is a lot hippy and the hero is not.

The hero is an Irish rugby player struggling with a addiction on pain pills and his denial.

There is a great deal of passion between them and they struggle with communication but they both grow a great deal.

The rugby details are finely drawn.

The romance could end with more emotionial bravery but this is a compelling read and I am looking forward to reading more in the series.

Never Enough by Roxie Noir Review

4.5 Stars!!

It’s a simple enough transaction.
Marisol needs the money, and I need a nice girl to parade in front of the cameras.
No feelings. No strings. No falling for anyone.

I’ve been clean for months, but my record company’s not satisfied. Apparently it isn’t enough to only kick a heroin addiction – they’re insisting that I find a girlfriend as well.

If I don’t, they pull Dirtshine’s massive record deal.

It’s supposed to show that I’ve changed my ways, that I’ve turned over a new leaf, all that rubbish. But I’ve had it with suit-wearing wankers telling me what I’m to do, so I’m on the verge of telling them to go f*ck themselves.

And then she shows up.

Marisol locks me out of my own concert by accident. She’s wearing a suit at a rock show, searching for her lost law school textbook, has no idea who I am…

…and for the first time in years, I’m hooked.

She’s smart, driven, and utterly gorgeous. The sort of girl who earnestly believes in following the rules and hates when others don’t.

I’m a huge rock star, recovering addict, and general f*ckup.

Our relationship is for show, and that’s all. But with every smile, every laugh, and every breathtaking glance at her curves, I want her more.

Two months is all we agreed to. But it’s never going to be enough.

Review

I picked this book up because of my crazy “I can’t get enough Rock Star Romance” problem

It was really, really good. The “oh no I am going to read all this writer’s back list” kind of good.

Noir manages to make me trust her as a Romance writer because she never chooses the easy way out while dealing with fun themes and balance to dark and the light with enough complexity to the characters and the relationship to make for a really satisfying love story worth reading again and again.

The premise of a pretend relationship is silly but I love this troupe because I adore making strangers deal with each other and have to kiss. So sue me. lol

The theme is really well done with the truth of pretend media relationships making if more believable, the hero’s wanting choice in the matter, and the why the heroine agrees. Noir also messes with this theme in inventive ways that make the book a joy.

The Rock Star theme is handled with depth adds realism and conflict and characterization. The hero is in recovery for heroin addiction and it is a struggle. He is newly sober and his past and present and process deeply impact the relationship with the heroine as they would. This is realistic and moving look at what it means to be an addict, the scars of it, and the how it impacts others. I love this part of the book. There are little moments here and there such as Gavin’s relationship with his band mates and something that a new band members does that could have been richer but this aspect of the book is really a treasure.

The heroine, Marisol, is great. I love the nuances of Los Angeles where she as lived all her life (and I have lived there too) that come with her character. The impact of being a child of Guatemalan immigrants, a first generation college/law student, and the complexity of striving is so well done. She is comfortable with her self, very smart, and intellectually and emotionially curious. She often struggles with the right thing to do and does the best she can. I wish her sister and parents were a bit more present in the book and she had a close friend other than the one she is drifting away from but on the whole she is a fully realized person with her own goals and drives and this is why the hero loves her and we do as well.

The book is a slow burn but when they do get together the chemistry is off the hook. It is a super sexy book and yet Noir deals directly with the hero’s sexual past and the conflict around that as well.

There is a well earned happily ever after and I hope we get to stay in this LA World with other books.

Louder Than Love (Love & Steel #1) by Jessica Topper 5 Star!!!!!

Review:

Louder Than Love - Jessica Topper

It’s been over three years since a train accident made a widow of Katrina Lewis, sending her and her young daughter Abbey back to the suburban town of her youth…the only place that still makes sense. Lauder Lake is the perfect place to hide and heal.

Recluse rocker Adrian “Digger” Graves survived the implosion of his music career, but his muse has long lain dormant. Until Kat hires him to play at her library—not on the basis of his hard rock credentials but rather, because of the obscure kids’ TV jingle he wrote years ago. In a case of mistaken identity, Adrian stumbles into the lives of Kat and her comically lovable daughter.

Using tattoos as a timeline, Adrian unfurls his life for Kat. But as the courtship intensifies, it’s unclear whose past looms larger: the widow’s or the rocker’s. Will their demons ever rest, or will they break these soul mates apart?

 

 

Review

 

I discovered this book when someone listed it as a comfort read and I thought I can always take comfort in a rock star.

 

Oh. This book. I love character driven romance and this love story is wonderful in the complexity of the characters and the rich development of who they are apart, together, and with the people in their lives.

 

The book is achey dealing with grief of all kinds, trust, past mistakes, current mistakes with hope and risk pushing the plot forward.

 

The characters are both grown with complete lives, interests, talents, strengths, and failings so the intersection and opportunity of their falling in love is pretty special.

There is just right tension but the heroine does frustrate me a bit when she holds back too long but then so does the hero. They are flawed and yet tactically real and loving.

 

The book is also a love letter to New York City.

 

There could be more reckoning with the addition past of the hero but this is quibble because really a what could be more joyous the an British metal post punk rocker? That accent, oy!

 

I really loved so much about this book and will for sure be keeping on the shelf for when I want to be comforted by a wonderful romance.

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Takes Two to Tackle (Santa Fe Bobcats, #3) by Jeanette Murray Review

Review:

Takes Two to Tackle: Santa Fe Bobcats Series, Book 3 - Jeanette Murray, Carly Robins, Tantor Audio

Football player Stephen Harrison has hit rock bottom—he’s fresh out of rehab, lost too much weight to be an effective offensive lineman, and has no support system in place. The Bobcats staff suggests he get a life coach to keep him sober and get him back into playing shape, but Stephen says his girlfriend will help. Too bad he doesn’t have one…

Luckily for Stephen, he does have a housekeeper. Margaret has always dreamed of starting her own elite cleaning service, and the money Stephen offers her to play the part of girlfriend is too good to pass up. But while Mags is helping Stephen bulk up and get ready for training camp, she can’t seem to block the feelings crashing into her heart. And one night of passion will pull both of their heads out of the game…

 

Review

 

This is the first book I have read in this series and my first book by this writer and I really enjoyed it.

 

The love story deals with addiction in a thoughtful caring way. It is a great sports romance. And the friends to lovers theme is well done.

 

Stephan is a wonderful hero with none of the alpha male man ho issues I dislike. He talks about his feelings. He has to as part of his recovery and has friends.

Mags is a wonderful working class heroine with her own support network and dreams. She is great.

 

Their relationship is honest and tender.

 

There, for me, is some silliness in the end which isn’t needed if they would talk to each other sooner and then we would get more after time as a couple that would make the book better but very good fun and love overall.

 

I recommend!

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