Addiction

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.

Original post:
northamericanwordcat.booklikes.com/post/1500286/louder-than-love-love-steel-1-by-jessica-topper-5-star

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!

Original post:
northamericanwordcat.booklikes.com/post/1502148/takes-two-to-tackle-santa-fe-bobcats-3-by-jeanette-murray-review

All Work: Workaholics in Romance Novels

I would love to see more romances address work as an addiction.

Here are some Romances that feature Workaholic leads. These books vary from hard working, work as an excuse not to feel, to work as an destructive force.

Do you have a love story you like that deals with work as an addiction?  Let me know!

My lists are never in any particular order. Enjoy!

41+5ZDsKmfL._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_1. The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie

Daisy Flattery is a free spirit with a soft spot for strays and a weakness for a good story. Why else would she agree to the outrageous charade offered by her buttoned-down workaholic neighbor, Linc Blaise? The history professor needs to have a fiancée in order to capture his dream job, and Daisy is game to play the role. But something funny happens on their way to the altar that changes everything. Now, with the midnight hour approaching, will Daisy lose her prince, or will opposites not only attract but live happily ever after?

 

 

 

 

51A9lRwQBAL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_2. Turning Up the Heat by Laura Florand

After eleven years of marriage, Léa Laurier knew her husband. Knew how he could take on responsibility for a world-famous restaurant, a wife, and her two teenage siblings at nineteen years old and never falter, never tire. Knew his drive and his ambition, that took him to the stars. Knew how brilliant his gray eyes looked when they met hers for just one moment across a host of cameras. She didn’t know why she was so tired. She didn’t know why she needed to just get away. For a while. Maybe a week or two. A month. She’d be back.

After eleven years of marriage, international superstar chef Daniel Laurier knew his wife. Knew how she could lavish caring on everyone, her siblings, his staff, and most especially him. Knew the way her face lit up when he won yet another television contest, and the way she hugged him for it. Knew how her hair smelled when he sank into bed exhausted at one in the morning. He didn’t know what to do when he came home from a consulting trip to find she’d disappeared to remote South Pacific island: I just needed to get away for a little while. A week or two. I’ll call you.

As the whole solid world under his feet turned into a sandcastle in the tide, Daniel knew only one thing: whatever was wrong with his marriage or his wife, he wasn’t losing her. So as a top chef, he did the one thing he always knew how to do: turn up the heat.

 

 

514Zf7np66L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_3. Kissing Mr. Scrooge by Kary Rader

Maddie Timms’s workaholic, type-A boss is forcing her to accompany him on a business trip where she’ll miss Christmas at home, but it might just be worth disappointing her family if she can convince the tall, dark, and sexy humbug to embrace the season…and her.

 

 

 

 

519lD+bGa8L._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_4. The Courting Campaign by Regina Scott

Emma Pyrmont has no designs on handsome Sir Nicholas Rotherford—at least not for herself. As his daughter’s nanny, she sees how lonely little Alice has been. With the cook’s help, Emma shows the workaholic scientist just what Alice needs. But making Nicholas a better father makes Emma wish her painful past didn’t mar her own marriage chances.

Ever since scandal destroyed his career, Nicholas has devoted himself to his new invention. Now his daughter’s sweet, quick-witted nanny is proving an unexpected distraction. All evidence suggests that happiness is within reach—if only a man of logic can trust in the deductions of his own heart.

 

51CHluv6HvL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_5. Wolf Flight by Vivian Arend

Tad Maxwell’s workaholism serves to keep his bush-pilot company in the air, and his inner werewolf in check. In the two years since he discovered his heritage, he’s resisted the longing to test the power of his wolf side. It would mean compromising his human principles.

Then Missy Leason re-enters his life. Ten years ago, their teenage attraction never went beyond hand-holding. Now their chemistry is off the charts, pushing him closer to the step he’s not sure it’s safe to take, especially with a human.

But Missy is more like Tad than he realizes. She’s wolf too, and a wolf pack is a dangerous place to have secrets. Missy’s Alpha has sniffed out her carefully hidden Omega powers. Her first response: run from the corrupt Alpha’s plan to make her his mate. Step two: get to Tad, and hope like hell his untapped powers are strong enough to negate her own.

Every touch with Missy is hot, hot, hot, but even finding out she’s pure wolf doesn’t solve Tad’s dilemma. Is she using him, or are they truly destined mates? Only one thing is certain. He will defend her to his last breath–on his terms. Even if it means losing his life.

 

 

41tmB8liESL._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_6. Making It Last by Ruthie Knox

A hotel bar. A sexy stranger. A night of passion. There’s a part of Amber Mazzara that wants those things, wants to have a moment—just one—when life isn’t a complicated tangle of house and husband and kids and careers. Then, after a long, exhausting “vacation” with her family, her husband surprises her with a gift: a few days on the beach . . . alone.

Only she won’t be alone for long, because a handsome man just bought her a drink. He’s cool, he’s confident, and he wants to take Amber to bed and keep her there for days. Lucky for them both, he’s her husband. He’s got only a few days in Jamaica to make her wildest desires come true, but if he can pull it off, there’s reason to believe that this fantasy can last a lifetime.

 

51s2744gFLL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_7. Forever and a Day by Jill Shalvis

ove can happen in a heartbeat… Grace never thought she’d be starting her life over from scratch. Losing everything has landed her in Lucky Harbor, working as a dog walker for overwhelmed ER doctor Josh Scott. But the day his nanny fails to show up, Grace goes from caring for Josh’s lovable mutt to caring for his rambunctious son. Soon Grace is playing house with the sexy single dad…

With so many people depending on him, Josh has no time for anything outside of his clinic and family – until Grace arrives in town. Now this brainy blonde is turning his life inside out and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “good bedside manner”. Josh and Grace don’t know if what they have can last. But in a town like Lucky Harbor, a lifetime of love starts with just one day…

 

51ELPZU-g7L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_8. Just This Once by Rosalind James

Everyone needs to be rescued sometimes. 
Everyone but Hannah Montgomery, that is. She just needs a vacation. Three weeks in New Zealand to sort out her life, figure out what she wants, seems just right. Oh, and to relax. She should definitely put that on the agenda. She certainly isn’t looking for a sexy fling with a professional rugby player, no matter how attractive he is. Hannah doesn’t do casual. But maybe just this once …

As much as he’s shared with Hannah, Drew Callahan has kept one very big secret: that he’s the captain of the All Blacks, New Zealand’s international rugby team, not to mention the best-known rugby player on earth. And learning the truth, now that she’s back home again, has made Hannah warier than ever. Drew knows that she’s right for him. But how can he convince her to let down her guard enough to explore what they could have together?

51H0SKS5RWL._SX286_BO1,204,203,200_9. Embraced by Love by Suzanne Brockmann

osie and Cooper were one of those couples everyone envied: gorgeous, successful, and so deeply devoted. Even though Josie tended to work too hard, putting in long hours to lift her fledgling company off the ground, and Cooper could be wild and unpredictable, the two complimented one another. It seemed their love would last forever.
But sometimes love just isn’t enough. When a tragic accident leaves Josie and Cooper with two young children to care for, their bond will be tested. Now the pressures of their commanding careers are compounded by the needs of the children, and they find themselves drifting further and further apart. They will have to work to find the way back to each other, to the incredible passion that was once at the center of lives–and still burns deep in their hearts.

51KpAQOFINL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_10. Icebreaker by Deirdre Martin

Good thing high-powered attorney Sinead O’ Brien has a rule about never dating clients. Because Adam Perry, the newest star of the New York Blades-and her newest client-has her headed for the penalty box. If only she could prove he’s just another jock…

Adam’s been charged with assault after a borderline hit on another star player, but off the ice he’s a private, no-nonsense guy who knows the Blades are his last shot at Stanley Cup glory. Assembling her case, Sinead tries not to get distracted by Adam’s dazzling good looks or strong work ethic, but she quickly discovers that there’s a wounded man under that jersey, and she’s starting to fall for him-hard.

Now Adam’s having trouble focusing on the goal with Sinead in his sights. And Sinead is tempted to break her ‘no dating clients’ rule. Can they play on their newfound feelings without penalties?

Vote for the best of the best on my Goodreads list:  All Work: Workaholics in Romance Novels