The Foxling Soldati by Charlie Cochet: Release Day Review and Giveaway

Foxling Toka has served the Soldati king for centuries, and now he attends to the kingdom’s cherished Soldati prince. It’s a position of honor, and as Toka helps the once-human prince adapt to their magical realm, he finds joy in their friendship. He also grows bolder in his encounters with Rayner, Soldati warrior and the king’s second. But the laws are clear: servants and Soldati are not permitted to mate. It doesn’t matter that Toka lost his heart to the dashing cad long ago.

Rayner never imagined he would fall in love with a servant, but the clever and beautiful foxling has ensnared him, and he resents the regulations keeping them apart. When an arrogant and spiteful king visits from a neighboring realm, Rayner is in danger of losing everything. But Soldati warriors don’t surrender, and he intends to fight all the harder to keep Toka where he belongs—in Rayner’s arms.

Title: The Foxling Soldati
Series: Soldati Hearts: Book Two
Author: Charlie Cochet
Release Date: August 16, 2017
Category: Fantasy: Urban Fantasy; Paranomal: Angels & Demons; Paranormal: Werewolves/Shapeshifters
Pages: TBD (Novella)

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Welp, that didn’t turn out like I thought it would.

Let me explain. I tend to shy away from fantasy books in general and shifter stories specifically. I’m not sure why. But this is an m/m and has a historical feel, so I gave it a try. What’s the worst that can happen?

Toka is a playful shape-shifting foxling who lives in the Soldati realm which is ruled by tiger shifters. It’s a nice place, actually: everyone seems to be happy and gets along, the king, Khalon, is easy going with a sense of humor, humility and since finding his fated mate, Riley, is pretty much in honeymoon mode 24/7. Toka’s lot in life is to be a servant, but the Soldati treat their servants (though let’s be honest, they’re slaves) kindly and respectfully. Rayner is the king’s sexy, tiger-shifting right-hand man whose (mutual) interest in Toka goes from flirtation in Book 1 (The Soldati Prince) to physical almost right away here. Pair up a tiger-shifting warrior with a lean twink-like foxling and you’re going to have some sexy times.

Toka and Rayner’s flirtations grow more heated and draw them closer together, physically and emotionally. Toka is just… so sweet, and I always like to see a big, tough alpha like Rayner show his soft, gooey center trying to please his little fox. There’s a bit of angst about whether this coupling is a fun distraction or true love — but it hardly matters because there’s a stupid ancient rule on the books that forbids Soldati and servants to mate. So, while the two can fool around all they want, they can never legally, officially, or openly pledge themselves to each other. Doesn’t that make you so mad? Me too.

The real trouble starts when the Soldati are visited by the king of a neighboring realm who is, essentially, a bear-shifting bully whose desire for revenge against Rayner fuels an uproar amongst the Soldatis and pits long-time friends — and new lovers — against each other. Toka finds himself in an intolerable situation and Rayner has to decide how far he will go, how much he will give up to keep Toka with him.

This is a short, sweet read and the short format naturally requires a sped-up lust-to-love-to-angst-to-resolution timeline and that may not be for everyone. Cochet’s writing is quick and to the point, and the plot flows smoothly. There are light hearted moments, the characters are drawn well and I’m mad, sad and a bit angsty along with them at times. There’s threat of rape and a couple of beatings that take place. Still, things may be a little too happy-happy for some, but I think it worked here for me because of the short-length format (Do not give me 800 pages of happy-happy). I liked Riley, the king’s husband, a lot and while you don’t need to read his book (The Soldati Prince) first, you do need to read it. DO IT. I knew I would get an HEA (because otherwise I would break things) but a little detail at the end made me even happier. So, while I shy away from shape shifting books in general, I was pleasantly surprised in how much I enjoyed this book and the series. Looking forward to reading more Charlie Cochet.

3.75 pieces of eye candy!


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Out of the Shadows by K.C. Wells: Release Day Review and Giveaway

Can he step out of the shadows and into love’s light?

Eight years ago, Christian Hernandez moved to Jamaica Plain in southern Boston, took refuge in his apartment, and cut himself off from the outside world. And that’s how he’d like it to stay.

Josh Wendell has heard his coworkers gossip about the occupant of apartment #1. No one sees the mystery man, and Josh loves a mystery. So when he is hired to refurbish the apartment’s kitchen and bathrooms, Josh is eager to discover the truth behind the rumors.

When he comes face-to-face with Christian, Josh understands why Christian hides from prying eyes. As the two men bond, Josh sees past his exterior to the man within, and he likes what he sees. But can Christian find the courage to emerge from the darkness of his lonely existence for the man who has claimed his heart?

Title: Out of the Shadows
Author: K.C. Wells
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 250

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Josh, residential handy-man and gardener for a set of apartment buildings, has a new job to do. Instead of working in the garden, he’s been asked to do some remodeling in these outdated apartments. New bathrooms and kitchen cabinets, and tiles, it’s going to be hard work. I didn’t understand why he was expected to do it all himself, but he seemed up for it and enjoyed the work. His first day on the job, he thought he was alone, nobody seemed to be home, though after a full day of working, he found the tenant was actually just locked in his room and preferred to talk through doors or texts. He knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what. People had been talking about the elusive tenant, giving him idea’s of the kind of person he might be. How wrong they were.

Christian’s life is in his apartment. He never leaves, he never sees people. It’s just him and the insurance job he does from home. An accident from almost a decade ago has left him scarred and disfigured and naturally, he’s pushed everyone away and stayed hidden. Even when he checks out the hot gardener that works in his garden. Little does he know, the man who’s been hired to redo his apartment, IS the hot gardener. Talking through the door seems silly, but he wouldn’t dare let the man see what he looks like.

Until one day, he does. Josh is amazing. He’s patient and kind and everything Christian needs him to be. He doesn’t pretend to not see the scars, but they don’t bother him a bit. I like how he didn’t pretend to not see them, or try to downplay what I’m sure is a serious thing for Christian. He didn’t brush off his anxiety about going out and about, he just worked around it. He nudged him instead of pushed and was so understanding when Christian was uncomfortable. He was really very sweet and of course Christian fell for him, who wouldn’t? Little did he know, the time he spent with Christian, he was falling for him too.

I love hurt/comfort stories. I love the realness of stories like these that have obstacles that aren’t arbitrary or baseless. This one was sweet and slow burning and when these two came together, from friends to lovers, it wasn’t forced or rushed. I loved that.

Although I thought the dialogue was often times cheesy, and I’ve never seen any straight friends act like teenage girls gossiping like Josh’s friends. I liked them as well. I wouldn’t mind reading stories about all of them as well. Overall, it was a very sweet read and I’m glad I didn’t pass it up.

4 pieces of eye candy for me.


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The Charlatan’s Conquest by Vivien Dean: Exclusive Guest Post, Review and Giveaway

With love and ghosts, the challenge is figuring out what’s real.

Software engineer Cruz Guthrie needs money for his sister’s cancer treatments. He needs it so badly he’s willing to stand in for a ghost hunter friend and investigate a millionaire’s supposed specters. It should be an easy gig—after all, nobody thinks the haunting is real.

Neurological researcher Brody Weber is furious that Cruz would take advantage of Brody’s father. But his mind changes when spirits manifest—and he realizes Cruz genuinely wants to help. When they learn the paranormal activity centers on Brody, Cruz is willing to fight to free Brody from the entities determined to make his life miserable. With a little help from friends and family—both living and dead—they must figure out why Brody is attracting spirits and how to banish them. Only then can they pursue a future together.

Title: The Charlatan’s Conquest
Series: Phantom Fixers
Author: Vivien Dean
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Category: Paranormal: Ghosts/Spirits, Dreamspun Beyond
Pages: 216

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

By Vivien Dean

Thank you so much for letting me stop by today! My name is Vivien Dean, and I’m excited to have a release in the debut month of Dreamspinner’s new line, Dreamspun Beyond. It’s nerve-wracking, I’ll admit. I’ve wanted to have a solo title with Dreamspinner for over three years now. The reports from my author friends who published with DSP were nothing but glowing, and I itched to be a part of it. Plus, the covers were gorgeous, and who doesn’t love getting graced with pretty art? So when Dreamspun Beyond was announced, I jumped at the chance. I had been lucky enough to collaborate with Rick Reed on the Dreamspun Desires line, but this would be all on my own, without any filters, without Rick to help me along. Now, I’m not exactly a newbie. I’ve been writing and publishing romance for over a decade. But first impressions only happen once, and I always strive to present the best I can, especially in my work.

First impressions also play vital roles in our stories. It doesn’t matter if characters haven’t met before the story starts or if they’ve known each other for years. Those initial thoughts on the other person, as well as the interactions, can shape how the relationship progresses. Two strangers bumping into each other in a coffee shop have a specific dynamic. Two men who’ve been best friends since kindergarten will bring a completely different perspective to a budding romance. Those first moments matter, whether we see them on the page or not.

In “The Charlatan’s Conquest,” my two heroes, Cruz and Brody, don’t even know the other exists when the story starts. Cruz first meets Brody when Brody storms into a meeting Cruz has with Brody’s father about getting rid of the ghosts haunting the family house. Cruz is already on edge because he feels like a bit of a faker since he’s not a real ghost hunter, so his first instinct is to keep everybody calm so he can stay in control of the situation.

But crashing the meeting and finding this gorgeous guy sitting on the couch with his dad isn’t Brody’s first impression of Cruz. Actually, he’s already formed an opinion before he steps foot in the house. He’s convinced Cruz is a scam artist, which is why he raced to intervene, but when he arrived, this was what greeted him:

Another car was in the circular drive in front of the three-story brick house. Brody pulled up behind it with a frown, his gaze fixed on the vehicle as he got out of his own. It was a dark blue Volvo station wagon, at least twenty years old, with a dozen stickers on its rear bumper. A yellow ribbon for children’s cancer with words of support surrounding it. A rainbow-colored peace symbol. A variety of slogans like I’m not speeding. I’m qualifying and My other car is the Batmobile and Sometimes I wrestle with my demons. Sometimes we just snuggle.

Brody snorted at the last one. He could tell this gay-rights supporter/speed freak/comics-loving ghost hunter a thing or two about demons.

I wanted Brody’s first impression to be very distinct. It’s also fairly accurate in a purely superficial way. Cruz decorated his bumper in stickers that meant something to him, and the chaos of all the messages and colors is perfectly on point with the vibrancy and diversity in Cruz’s life. Brody learned a lot in a single glance, even though he didn’t understand the importance of all of it. It subverted his expectations, which ultimately made it easier for Cruz to gain his trust.

If I had bumper stickers on my car—and the fact that I don’t says something about me, too, whether I like it or not, haha—mine would probably be as diverse as Cruz’s. One for my kids being honors students. Some type of pride emblem. One that says, “Hostile 17 owes me kittens.” The list would likely be huge. My Flex would look like a Nascar car covered in ads. Except not, because, well, it’s a Flex.

What first impression would people get from your (real or imaginary) bumper stickers?

Paranormal stories are not usually my books of choice. With just a few exceptions, I have always been more of a contemporary romance, life in the current plane of reality kind of reader. But The Charlatan’s Conquest intrigued me from the second I read the blurb. Not just because it was part of a new line by Dreamspinner Press, but also because the ghost part, that has always been a bit of a fascination for me, and within the gay romance genre, those books are few and far between.

I immediately liked Cruz. He was a responsible guy, with a family that was strange, but helped to create him into the person he was. His connection to his family made him even more likable, especially his younger sister, who even while she was sick couldn’t help but try to find Cruz the right boyfriend.

Brody, well, he took a little getting used to. The reader could see that his concern was that his father was being swindled, and having spent so much of his life on the other side of things with his father, he wanted to make sure there was not one more thing that would go bad. Brody for years didn’t realize that all the hauntings that he refused to acknowledge were actually brought through him.

Once these two connected and worked through how the hauntings were happening, and what was the root cause, it was easy to see how these two men could work together to try to find the right way to get rid of them, and allow Brody to find a happy place for the first time in his life. Seeing a man who spent his years from the time his mother died until he was able to rid himself of these demons in a terribly unhappy place was tragic, and explained so much about his life, and even his skepticism.

Brody and Cruz fit well together, but even more, they were able to be strengths for each other, as both had their own demons (literally and figuratively) to work through, but needed each other to balance everything out. They were definitely ying to yang for one another. Giving and taking as needed to deal with the enormous and frightening tasks that they had to deal with.

What a satisfying ending, not just to the story, but to how it was dealt with. With ghost and paranormal stories, whatever the author dreams up could be somewhat realistic, or it could be so off the charts out there that the reader has a hard time believing that it “could” happen in a parallel universe. In this case, it felt like something that really could happen in that alternate world.

I really enjoyed this one, and highly recommend! 4.5 pieces of eye candy

 

VIVIEN DEAN is a firm believer that love doesn’t care about gender. That’s why her titles encompass both GLBT and het, erotic and sweet, as well as a wide variety of genres. After growing up in the snowy and isolated Midwest, she went off in search of her creative muse. She performed on stage, wrote and directed indie films in Orlando, then met her British soulmate online. One wedding, two children, and ten addresses later, she resides in the Bay Area where it’s easy to indulge in her favorite pastimes—good theater, great movies, and amazing food.

Vivien is a four-time EPIC eBook Award winner and collaborated with Pepper Espinoza to write as Jamie Craig for five years.

CONTACT VIVIEN

Website: www.viviendean.com

E-mail: vivien_dean@yahoo.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/vivien.dean.3

Twitter: @VivienDean

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The Long and Winding Road by TJ Klune: Release Day Review and Giveaway

Family is not always defined by blood. It’s defined by those who make us whole—those who make us who we are.

And here, at the end, Bear and Otter will be tested like they’ve never been before.

There’s a knock at the door from a little girl who has nowhere else to go.

There’s a phone ringing, bringing news they do not expect.

There’s a brother returning home after learning how to stand on his own.

As these moments converge, all of their lives will change forever.

Beginning in Bear, Otter, and the Kid and continuing in Who We Are and The Art of Breathing, TJ Klune has told a saga of family and brotherhood, of love and sacrifice. In this final chapter, the events of the past pave the long and winding road toward a future no one could have imagined.

Title: The Long and Winding Road
Series: Bear, Otter, and the Kid Chronicles: Book Four
Author: TJ Klune
Release Date: August 11, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 346

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I feel like I knew this was coming and I still wasn’t prepared for it. How do you? How do you prepare for the end of something you’ve felt so invested in for so long? Something that impacted your life a great deal, even though they were fictional people in a fictional world ? I wasn’t ready… I’m still not.

Probably be mild spoilers, though I’ll try not to… Beware of that now ….that was your warning!

In this one, we start out looking in the past… we see a lot that went on in the time gaps, from Bear’s POV. Ty’s addiction, man, that was a tough one. It was so very well written and explained. My heart broke for both of them, but Tyson…reliving it all from Bear and Otter… I just loved the realness of it all. The reality of it and how much it hurts the people who love you. I wasn’t expecting that. Then, we go on another journey we didn’t get to see in other books. How they decided and how it affected each of them. There’s so much I could, and that I wanna say here. I wanna gush and ramble and cry, because I did a lot of all of that, while reading it… And I’m not being dramatic; especially if you’ve followed this imaginary family from the beginning, you can’t not help but get invested in their fictional little lives and want the absolute best for them, always. All of them, even Creed, who I gotta be honest, drives me a little crazy.

Then, we get to the present…. Izzy… I worried about her after Ty left her last book. That effing cliffhanger… I mean, spoiler if you haven’t read it.. sorry, but if you haven’t then why are you jumping ahead? Go back and read it!

So, Izzie…and Bear and Otter and their amazing news. Then Ty and Dom and Anna and Creed, and everyone is all here. Ty is getting settled into his life where we left him, Dom and Ben… things are good with everyone finally, and we’re on the road to preparing for their future and the greatness they’re getting. It’s a hard road… hard and funny and taxing and emotional… everything you’d expect with this family. But through everything, they always have each other…They’re one giant team, right? Bear and Otter, there isn’t anyone alive that loves as much as those two do… they have an endless amount and it’s so fun to read about. I loved every single second…. Even if I did wanna throttle Otter for just a split second. I love how everything was handled and how Bear can be the serious one when he needs to be. His heart to heart with Izzie had me a mess….I was happy to see him be the calm one, when it counted. When he needed to be, he had several heart to hearts in here….They were even coherent…mostly 😛

And then everything that they’d worked so hard for, everything that had been leading up to this moment…. Happened…. And F if I didn’t fall in love with all of them even more all over again….

Now, the future…the future is perfect. Although I hated to see it end… it ended perfectly… in the best place. Everyone was in the best place. Happy and healthy and together. Kids and family, love and extended hippy family. It couldn’t have ended better. I’m sad, really that it’s over… I’ve been following this series for what seems like ever and we’ve been through a lot with them… a whole lot. But we got everything we needed by the end. Everything to make it okay to say goodbye to. I hope we do get a glimpse at everyone later, maybe in brief cameo in a Paul and Vince book, or possibly if Kori/Corey gets a book, which I beg to all that is Holy that, that will happen.

Although it’s time to say goodbye to everyone, I feel better knowing I can come back and revisit them any time I want to….I give this series AND this story… ALL the sunshine points!

5 stars from me. And even though I may be a little biased, I was given this story with the promise of an honest review… If you follow my reviews at all,  I am nothing but honest… perhaps a little dramatic at times too, but always honest. If you loved any part of this entire series. You won’t want to pass this one up. It’s perfect.


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Barrel Proof by Layla Reyne: Blog Tour, Review, Excerpt and Giveaway

FBI agents Aidan “Irish” Talley and Jameson “Whiskey” Walker can’t get a moment’s peace. Their hunt for the terrorist Renaud seems to be nearing an end, until a fire allows him to slip through their fingers—and puts Jamie’s life in danger. When Jamie is nearly killed, Aidan learns how many forms loss can take.

Aidan says I love you just moments before learning that Jamie’s been keeping a devastating secret about Aidan’s late husband. How quickly trust and love can go up in flames. When Aidan requests a solo undercover assignment, Jamie hopes Aidan will find a way to forgive him.

But the explosions are far from over. Aidan’s cover lands him in the heart of the terrorist’s conspiracy, and Jamie will have to put his life, his career and his freedom on the line to save the man who has become his entire world. Partners, always is a promise he intends to keep.

A heart-pounding, romantic conclusion to the Agents Irish and Whiskey series.”

Barrel Proof

Layla Reyne

Series: Agents Irish and Whiskey #3

Publisher: Carina Press (HQN)

Release Date (Print & Ebook): August 7, 2017 (Ebook and Audiobook)

(Audiobooks of Single Malt (AIW1) and Cask Strength (AIW2) also releasing August 7, 2017)

Length (Print & Ebook): 189 Pages (Ebook); 6hr, 30mins (Audio)

Subgenre: M/M Romantic Suspense 

This book features: Book 3/Trilogy Conclusion. Angst, Action, Romance, HEA

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Quotes about the book (or others in the series):

From Single Malt:

“Sexy, smart and suspenseful – this book has it all.” –HelenKay Dimon, author of Mr. & Mr. Smith

“With sharp writing, compelling characters, and an engaging plot, Single Malt is the M/M romantic suspense series I’ve been waiting for.” – Santino Hassell, award-winning author of the FIVE BOROUGHS series

“Single Malt is full of explosive chemistry, captivating characters, and edge-of-your-seat suspense. A must read for any romantic suspense fan!” — Megan Erickson, USA Today Bestselling author

Early reviews about Barrel Proof:

RT Magazine – 4.5 Stars, Top Pick:

Barrel Proof is the third and final book in the Agents Irish and Whiskey series. After two books that follow the formation of a heated M/M romantic relationship, Barrel Proof starts off with a climax as secrets are revealed and the romance is tested. … Fans of the series will be equally challenged and delighted by the twists and turns Reyne takes. The book flows into a more action-oriented focus as the plot progresses, but Reyne ends the romance with just the right amount of heft to keep any reader of romantic suspense and M/M romance delighted. 

Night Owl Reviews – 4.5 Stars, Top Pick:

Layla Reyne finishes her trilogy with an absolute bang! As sorry as I am to say goodbye to this fabulous pair I couldn’t have enjoyed their ending more.

The Romance Reviews – 5 Stars, Top Pick:

BARREL PROOF is the emotional, high impact, AMAZING finale to the Agents Irish and Whiskey series.

Heart-breaking and heart-fulfilling, this book is the perfect finale to the series, and Layla Reyne now has a brand new reader completely addicted to her work. Without a doubt, absolutely recommended by me.

 

Aidan put one knee to the bed, swung the other over Jamie’s lap, and cupped his cheeks in his hands, drawing him in. It wasn’t the lip smashing, teeth clashing kiss Jamie was used to from Aidan. It was slow, devouring, and tinged with the unmistakable taste of goodbye.

Afraid ratcheted up to terrified.

“Baby,” he murmured against Aidan’s lips, the one word trembling.

“Shh, Whiskey.” Aidan pulled back enough to yank off his shirt, then started back in for another kiss. Jamie stopped him, holding his face slightly away and forcing his gaze.

Goodbye was in his eyes too.

Jamie shot past terrified to devastated. “No,” he breathed, barely a whisper.

Aidan shook off the hold and drove a hand into his hair, pulling Jamie in for another melancholy-laced kiss. So little light, so much darkness, and as Jamie ran his tongue along Aidan’s, the tang of tequila and whiskey.

Slow, like the kiss, Aidan’s hands began to rove, as if he were memorizing the texture of his hair, the scruff covering his jaw, the breadth and width of his shoulders. A cool palm flattened over his tattoo, over his heart. The touch was gentle, not the usual digging pressure of Aidan’s fingers.

Bidding farewell.

A whimper escaped Jamie’s lips. His heart was at war with itself. He needed to retreat, to beg and plead with Aidan to stay and give him another chance, but if his partner’s mind was made up, there’d be no changing it now. And if he tried, if he argued, he might not get this last kiss, this last chance to make love to the man who would forever carry his heart, wherever his life went.

Without him.

Conceding the inevitable and accepting the disaster of his own creation, Jamie admitted defeat and surrendered.

Barrel Proof is the final installment in the Agents Irish and Whiskey series by Layla Reyne. This is not a standalone book, so you’ll forgive me if I delve a bit into the first two books, Single Malt and Cask Strength. You can’t read book 3 without having read books 1 & 2 and only a sadist would read 1 & 2 and not read this — amirite?

Book 1 establishes a bit of the background of Irish and Whiskey themselves, their mutual, growing attraction and the subsequent consummation of their relationship as they work on their first case together. I love when two heroes cannot stop thinking about each other and succumb to their out-of-control physical desire. Book 2 continues their FBI partnership and romance as Irish insists on them being “casual” as he tries to fend off his growing feelings for his partner. They’re both concerned with breaking Bureau rules by entering into a romantic relationship, but Irish in particular is afraid of falling in love and being widowed again, something he doesn’t think he could live through a second time. But a case involving Whiskey’s past as a college basketball star brings up jealousies on both hero’s parts. I know, I know. “Jealousy”, as a rule is, yanno, bad, but … love me some angst — and its resolution! To see Irish come around from their status as casual is very *sigh* worthy.

There’s also the overall arc of the action part of the series, that being terrorist Renaud whose anger at being thwarted in Book 1 has put Irish and his friends, family and coworkers in the cross hairs as Renaud takes his revenge. But there’s more, isn’t there? Irish and Whiskey’s boss, Mel, has discovered that Renaud’s plans started long before any of them ever thought, and his list of victims — past, present, and future — grows. Mel has also enlisted Whiskey’s help in uncovering details of the death of Irish’s husband (Mel’s brother) and his partner, an investigation that is being kept from Irish.  I’m sure that won’t come to bite him in the ass anytime soon.

Book 3 continues the action just about where Book 2 left off, with the guys heading to retrieve their boss Mel from a secret mission she’s on in Cuba. A mission which ultimately leads back to Renaud and, that secret I mentioned before? Yea, that gets out of the bag and throws another road block in the still-budding relationship between our two heroes. Can our guys work this out? Probably… Assuming they can live out the week because in the meantime, Renaud is upping his game: Bombs, kidnappings, destruction of world markets, systems hacking, mistrust and betrayal — it’s all on tap here.

This book does not drag, it’s action, action, action — of all kinds. The financial and tech plots are satisfying and thorough; Layla Reyne did some research that’s for sure. For me, though, it’s always about the ‘ship! At this point in the series, our guys are established and we know how they feel about each other. While the revelation of the secret does take our guys down different paths for a while, they don’t hurt each other with cruel words or actions. They own how they feel about each other and I never doubt these feelings, even if they have to step away from each other for a while. I feel very satisfied at leaving these two at the end on the new path their personal and professional lives have taken.

I liked the secondary characters a lot here: Mel, Danny, Irish’s brother, Whiskey’s best friend Cam and even an ex from Irish’s casual period in Book 2 turns out to be a good, likable guy. The writing is solid, action packed and the romance is a nice balance of angst, feels and hot, hot, hot. I hadn’t read the first two books when I decided to review this book, so I did a mini-marathon read. These books are about 62,000 words, so novella length. For fans of the Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban, you’ll feel at home in this series; it’s what drew me to these books in the first place. There were similarities between Irish and Whiskey’s world and Ty and Zane’s. FBI agents, check. Two alphas, one slightly older, check, check. Widower, check. A cyber guy, check. Little bit of a rocky start. But is that all a turn off? No way. These two guys, their histories and the trouble they find themselves in are unique and really only once in a while did I make a note and go “Aww…Ty!” So, if you love T&Z (me!) you might find a new book boyfriend couple to hang out with for a spell.

4 pieces of eye candy for this book and the series.

 

Author Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs.

Author Tagline:

Adrenaline-Fueled Romance

Author links:

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Permanent Ink by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn: Blog Tour, Exclusive Guest Post, Excerpt, Review and Giveaway

At twenty-three, Poe Montgomery is going nowhere. He still lives in his father’s basement and spends most of his time tagging with his friends. When an arrest lands him in debt, Poe accepts the front desk job at Permanent Ink, the tattoo shop owned by his father’s best friend, Jericho McAslan. Jericho is nearly twice Poe’s age, but with his ink and prematurely graying hair, he quickly takes the starring role in Poe’s hottest fantasies.

Jericho is known for his ability to transform poorly designed tattoos into works of art, but he was once as aimless and misdirected as Poe. Wanting to pay it forward the way someone once did for him, Jericho makes Poe his apprentice and is determined to keep things strictly professional. Easier said than done when Poe makes his interest—and his daddy kink—abundantly clear.

Jericho can’t resist Poe or their intense chemistry for long. But between the age gap, tension with Poe’s father, and Poe’s best friend calling him a sellout, they’ll need to ensure they’re both on the same page before they can rewrite their rocky start into something permanent.

Riptide Publishing

Amazon

Hi! This is Piper Vaughn and Avon Gale and we’re here today to talk about our sexy new contemporary romance, Permanent Ink, in which the worlds of street art and tattooing collide when a silver-fox tattoo artist falls for his much younger apprentice – who also happens to be his best friend’s son.

Co-writing: How to work through the disagreements

I’m very happy to report that writing Permanent Ink was smooth sailing all the way! Piper and I are very good at talking through things, and we spent a lot of time initially just hammering out the details before we started writing the narrative. We came up with a pretty extensive outline for each chapter, making sure we knew what would happen and how each character would react. Then, when we were writing our individual scenes, we could consult the document – or each other. We’d send more than a few messages that would say things like, “Hey, if Jericho did this, what would Poe say?” Or, we’d leave notes in the document with that line highlighted and “Feel free to change if this doesn’t work for you.”

I think the most important thing is that we both had a really good understanding of our characters right at the outset. Also, neither one of us are bothered by constructive criticism, so if Piper said something like, “Hey, I don’t think this works here because x,” I had no problem rethinking the scene – and vice versa. You sort of know going in, I think, that there’s going to be a lot of discourse and tweaking things as you adjust to writing someone else’s character!

Another thing we did that was super helpful was have writing weekends together. This meant that we could hole ourselves up somewhere (in this case, the Country Inn and Suites in Springfield, IL) and write, which allowed us to get through a large chunk of the narrative. It wasn’t always perfect (okay, lies – Piper’s scenes are always perfect, mine are messy af) but it was there, and we could build off each chapter and just keep going. It made finishing up the last few chapters separately a breeze, and by then we were in our characters’ heads enough to start editing and making sure the voices/depictions matched.

I think the thing we had to talk through the most was the title! I remember we went out for sushi after we signed the contract with Riptide to celebrate (Piper was at my house visiting and to start the project), and I’m pretty sure all my suggestions were terrible pun names. We wanted the name of the book to be the name of the tattoo shop, so you can imagine where I went with that. Eventually Piper suggested “Permanent Ink” and it was so perfect, that pun or no, we knew it was the title.

Also she let me name that coffee shop Perkatory, so I was happy 😊

 

I took another pull from my beer, letting my tongue linger on the lip of the bottle.

Jericho’s eyes darkened. He stared for a second before making a noticeable effort to tear his attention away. His gaze slid to the side, and his brows knitted together. I wouldn’t let him ignore me, though. I stepped closer, invading his personal space, and he met my stare again.

“That means a lot coming from you. I know how good you are.” I meant the words, even if my motivation for saying them wasn’t entirely pure. I smiled at him, peering up through the dark fall of my hair, letting my interest show.

His lips quirked.

This close, I could feel his heat through the thin material of his navy T-shirt. This close, I could see the green striations in his hazel irises. This close, I could smell soap and musk and the faint scent of beer on his breath.

I wanted to touch him so bad it was as if my hands had turned to iron and his skin had suddenly been magnetized. It felt like a fucking compulsion.

Without thinking, I kissed him.

Jericho froze at the contact. But I surged forward, crowding him back against the counter and licking at the seam of his lips, inviting his tongue out to play. Jericho gave into me with a quiet sound, a muffled groan that made my cock stiffen.

I got enough of his taste to make me crave more, enough time to think “hell yeah” and start to consider humping his hard thigh—before a loud, shattering noise broke the silence and made us jump apart.

I realized I’d dropped the beer bottle and a puddle of golden liquid was spreading across the linoleum at our feet. “Oh shit.”

Jericho stared at me, his mouth still wet from mine. “Fuck.” His gaze went from me to the broken glass on the floor. “Fuck. That should not have happened.” He snatched the roll of paper towels from the holder on the counter and started spreading a few on the floor to sop up the beer.

I watched him, trying to swallow past the sudden tightness in my throat. He was so focused on the mess it was obvious he didn’t want to look at me.

“I’ll go get the cleaning stuff,” I announced.

Jericho’s jerky nod was my only answer.

I went to the small utility closet across the hall and briefly thudded my forehead against the wood.

“Shit.”

I hoped I hadn’t just fucked up my apprenticeship.

I hoped I hadn’t made things super fucking awkward.

And more than that, in spite of knowing it was probably wrong to want him—he was my boss, my mentor, my dad’s best friend—I wished I hadn’t dropped that stupid bottle.

So this was my first foray into “daddy kink”. And really, it is a good training wheels still on intro to it. And while it was fairly vanilla and pretty well done- I don’t think this particular kink is for me. BUT, I still really enjoyed the book.

Poe is a brat. Straight up early 20’s brat. I have nightmares about my own teen becoming Poe. Oy. But I would say that he is what every Gen X and above refer to as a spoiled Millenial. And he really isn’t spoiled, he just wants to paint graffiti murals with his best friend, work as little as possible and skate. Too bad he keeps getting busted for the graffiti,

Jericho- Poe’s dad’s best friend- has an offer. Poe can work for him and move up to interning as a tattoo artist. A pay it forward deal after someone helped Jericho years ago. And so it begins.

Some of the things I really enjoyed about this book- watching Poe slowly shed his brat shell and become more and more interested in tattooing. Seeing how it is art; how it is unique and personal to every person. Watching him grow that was was my favorite part.

The chemistry between Poe and Jericho was pretty hot. They danced around each other for a bit, which I always like. I’m not a big fan when they immediately jump into bed or there is insta love. Jericho really struggled with his attraction to Poe.

The secondary characters fit in really well with the story. Especially Blue, Poe’s best friend. After finishing the book I cannot wait for his story! I won’t say with whom, because I am not a spoiler.

3 1/2 pieces of eye candy 

About Avon Gale

Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal Midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert, and will never say no to candy.

At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.

Connect with Avon:

 

About Piper Vaughn

Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, sci-fi, she loves them all (and has an over-two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She’s an avid tea drinker, a hockey fanatic, a vintage typewriter collector, and loves to travel so much she has “wanderlust” tattooed on her ankle and dozens of countries on her bucket list. Recently, she discovered the world of nail art and realized she’s pretty handy with a paintbrush—as long as it’s a miniature one.

As a bisexual and Latinx person, Piper takes great pride in her heritage. She grew up in an ethnically diverse neighborhood and strives to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. She currently resides in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband, son, and a cat that has Piper wrapped around her little paw. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life … even if it’s only in a book.

Connect with Piper:

 

To celebrate the release of Permanent Ink, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Amazon gift card and a “Poe” coffee mug! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on August 12, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

The Valentine’s Day Resolution by Ava Hayden: Release Day Review and Giveaway

Huxley carries invisible scars from a near-fatal car accident. He sleepwalks through a job at his father’s company, marking time until he can quit and pursue his own dreams.

Everything changes the moment he makes eye contact with a stranger while riding to work. It’s as if he’s been shaken out of his stupor, and Huxley vows to find the man.

Thanks to a thieving ex-lover, Paul’s florist shop is on the brink of closing down. He needs to milk Valentine’s Day for all it’s worth—and the irony that a day dedicated to love might help undo the damage of a failed relationship is not lost on him.

When Huxley finds Paul at his shop, both men feel an instant attraction. Before long, they’re falling hard, but Huxley holds back. If Paul knew all the baggage he’s carrying, he might run.

Paul’s gut tells him Huxley is hiding something. Huxley looks like a keeper, but Paul can’t go through another disastrous romance.

When Valentine’s Day arrives, will they have anything to celebrate?

Title: The Valentine’s Day Resolution
Author: Ava Hayden
Release Date: August 2, 2017
Category: Contemporary, Holiday
Pages: TBD (Novella)

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

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This was a sweet holiday read (although I did wonder why it came out in August versus around Valentine’s Day, but it was still a lovely insert into summer). The Valentine’s Day Resolution did not have a lot of angst, but definitely brought a few tears to the eyes, especially as you saw what Huxley had been through in the previous year.

One of the things that I liked most about Huxley was not just that he was trying to deal with his issues surrounding his car accident, but also that he was trying to grow himself as a person, and a man running a successful company. He realized that he had been sleepwalking through his position since he started, and really wanted to find a way to make a difference in the work lives of his employees, as well as the company as a whole. Healing as a person was important to him, but becoming a manager that could be relied upon, and be seen as forward thinking was important to him as well, and he worked on that nearly as hard as trying to get past his accident.

Meanwhile, Paul himself was working on whether to allow Huxley in, to trust him, after learning he trusted the wrong person in the past, and it created such a devastating position for his shop. I didn’t necessarily agree with his method of dealing with things, as sometimes it seemed he was trying too hard to do everything himself, and not allowing those that cared for him to help. In the end that lack of trust made things more of a challenge for him to get through the tough spots, and almost lose his new love.

I really enjoyed, though, the big “final” scene. I loved how it brought all their issues together, clicked them off one by one, and of course brought them to their HEA. But it was dealt with in a very unique way (in fact one of the MC’s was not in that entire scene, which was very creative).

3.5 pieces of eye candy


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Trust With A Chaser by Annabeth Albert: Release Blitz, Release Day Review, Excerpt and Giveaway

TitleTrust with a Chaser

Series: Rainbow Cove, Book 1

Author: Annabeth Albert

Publisher:  Annabeth Albert

Release Date: 08-01-2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 75,000

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Law Enforcement, Small Town, May/December

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One hot cop. One bar owner out for redemption. One smoking-hot summer fling destined to leave scorch marks…

Mason Hanks has returned to Rainbow Cove, Oregon with one goal in mind: turn the struggling coastal community into a thriving LGBTQ tourism destination. Step one is transforming an old bar and grill into a gay-friendly eatery. Step two? Don’t piss off Nash Flint, the very hot, very stern chief of police who’s not so sure he’s on board with Mason’s big plans.

Nash Flint just wants to keep his community safe and enjoy the occasional burger in peace. He’s not big on change nor is he a fan of Mason’s troublemaking family, especially his rowdy older brothers. But Mason slowly wins him over with fantastic cooking and the sort of friendship Nash has been starving for.

When their unlikely friendship takes a turn for the sexy, both men try to steer clear of trouble. Nash believes he’s too set in his ways for Mason, and Mason worries that his family’s reputation will ruin any future with Nash. Burning up the sheets in secret is a surefire way to crash and burn, and discovery forces a heart-wrenching decision—is love worth the risk of losing everything?

Trust with a Chaser is a 75,000 word stand-alone gay romance with a May/December theme, a hot law-enforcement hero, opposites attract, plenty of sexy times, and one hard-fought, guaranteed happy ending with no cliffhangers.

Amazon – Kindle Unlimited

Chapter One

Mason

When Adam stepped inside the glorified closet I was using as an office, eyes all twitchy and hands wringing a bar towel, I knew I wasn’t going to like what came out of his mouth.

“Sheriff Sexy just walked in. He’s your problem.”

Fuck. I squeezed my eyes shut and took a deep breath. “Please don’t call Police Chief Flint that. He might hear, and I’m pretty sure he’d find a citation for you. And I am not bailing your ass out.”

“You’re just worried that one of these days you’re going to slip up and call him that.” Adam grinned at me. This was an old argument—he’d been calling Flint that stupid nickname since we were in high school. The hard-nosed cop wasn’t one to cut teen drivers any slack—especially if they were in any way associated with the name “Hanks.” “Anyway, you know he freaks me out. I’ve got no idea what he wants—all our permits are in order, right?”

“Of course.” Standing, I grabbed the folder with the permitting paperwork. I prided myself in the organization I was bringing to the bar and grill that I co-owned with Adam and our friend, Logan. Flint wouldn’t find anything to complain about, not with me in charge. “I’ll go deal with him. You go back to the bar in case we get a rush.”

Adam snorted. Despite it being opening weekend, traffic had been embarrassingly light. We’d worked for weeks transforming the old tavern—a Rainbow Cove institution for decades—into the newly renamed Rainbow Tavern. The gay-friendly bar and grill was our vision for pulling our sleepy little coastal town into the twenty-first century. Logan had crafted a new menu of upscale bar food ready to go, and Adam had innovative drinks specials at the ready. All we needed were customers. And to not run afoul of Nash Flint on our first day of operation.

Flint was a Rainbow Cove institution himself—born and raised here, same as Adam and me, but unlike me, he’d never left, sliding into his father’s shoes as police chief and apparently fitting the role as easily as a pair of broken-in jeans. He’d been Officer Flint last time I’d seen him, almost ten years prior.

Guess I could have seen him had I come down for Freddy’s trial, something I still felt niggles of guilt over, and I told myself that was why my stomach fluttered on my way out to the tavern’s dining room. Unlike Adam, I’d never found Flint particularly…

Sexy. All my thoughts fled as I took in the man sitting in front of the plate-glass window. He dwarfed the small wooden chair, one of dozens that Adam and I had painted bright colors. Broad shoulders stretched the confines of his uniform shirt, biceps bulging under the short sleeves. His cut-glass jaw was firm as ever, as were those hard hazel eyes. But what had been frankly terrifying to my teenaged self made my twenty-seven-year-old libido sit up and take serious notice.

Flint blinked as I approached, head tilting to one side. I’d been getting a lot of that since I’d been back in town. “Mason…Hanks?”

“The one and only.” I stuck out my hand. “What can I do for you, Chief Flint?”

He returned my handshake with a sure grip, only a moment’s hesitation. I guessed he wasn’t all that used to shaking hands with a Hanks. Oh well. I was out to prove to the whole damn town that I wasn’t like my father and brothers, and if I had to start with Flint, so be it.

“Nice place you’ve got here.” His eyes swept around the renovated room—restored antique bar on the far wall where Adam wasn’t bothering to conceal his nosiness, dance floor beyond that, colorful tables and chairs in the front of the bar, only a handful occupied despite the dinner hour.

“Thanks. Our permits are all in order.” I held out my folder. “Liquor license is on top.”

He waved the folder off. “Not worried about that.”

No? Then why the heck was Flint in my establishment? “Good. We’re on the up-and-up. You won’t have trouble from us—”

“Glad to hear it,” he said levelly, eyes skeptical, reminding me that I was, after all, nothing more than a Hanks. “Cheeseburger?”

“Pardon?”

“That Ringer kid didn’t see fit to give me a menu, but I’m trusting you all offer something approximating a burger? Salad, no fries, and an iced tea.”

“You want to order?” I was still struggling to keep up with him.

“This is a food establishment, right?” He shook his head as if he hadn’t expected more from me, and that rankled.

“Of course.” I crossed the room in long strides, grabbed an order pad from the bar, ignoring Adam’s gaping. As soon as I returned to Flint’s table, I added, “Anything you want. On the house.”

“None of that.” He sighed like my very existence was tiring. “Got my meals from the old tavern for years. They kept a tab open for me.”

“We can do the same—”

“Let’s see if you can cook first,” he said, voice drier than yesterday’s toast. “I thought I’d come by, check the place out.”

“Appreciated,” I said and meant it. Business, any business, was good, but people in Rainbow Cove trusted Flint. If he gave us the seal of approval, more locals might give us a try, make us less dependent on the tourist trade that we were going after. Tourism took a while to build, and our grand plans of making Rainbow Cove an LGBTQ travel destination weren’t going to happen overnight. We needed every customer we could get, Flint included, even if he was the unlikeliest of allies.

“You still haven’t brought me a menu.” He shook his head. “But whatever you’ve got passing for a burger is fine. Nothing vegan though.”

“We’ve got local grass-fed beef, third-pound patty on a brioche bun with a pesto mayo and local gouda. Or—”

“I reckon that will do fine.” Flint always had a bit more country than coastal in his voice. Not Southern, but you could tell he was rural Oregon through and through, and I liked the slow, deep rumble of his words. What I didn’t like, however, was the implication in his tone that he wasn’t expecting much from us.

“Sure you don’t want fries? We have hand-cut sweet potato as an option with a chipotle dipping sauce. As far as salads, I’ve got side, Caesar, spring berry and pecan—”

“I’m on duty here. Kind of pressed for time. The burger and a side salad are fine. I don’t need anything fancy.”

Yeah, well, maybe I want to give it to you. I quashed that thought, same as I had the one about how hot he looked in his uniform. Wanting to impress Nash Flint wasn’t going to get me anywhere.

“I’ll put a rush on it.” I made a note on the order pad, not that it was really needed since Logan hardly had a packed house to worry about.

As I walked over to the window to put in Flint’s order, I noticed more than one table giving him curious glances. Hell, maybe I was wrong about any business being good business. Last thing I needed was Flint scaring away what few customers we had. Not that he was known as a gossip or anything like that, but he was awfully…old school. Traditional. The last kind of guy you’d expect to find at a gay bar, that was for sure, and even though we were attempting to attract a mixed clientele, he stood out.

Annabeth Albert never fails to hit me in the feels, and in the case of Trust with a Chaser, she sure did it. Not quite as I expected though, sometimes. 😉

Mason…what a sassy man. At first, I thought he was just a sweet guy with a messed up family (which he absolutely was), but he was also confident and brash, and didn’t take no for an answer. I loved that about him. He was okay with taking the lead and pushing some of Nash’s limits, always knowing when exactly to stop pushing and sit back and wait.

Nash, meanwhile, he was a tough nut to crack. I found myself wanting to yell at him quite a bit throughout the book (see? definitely feels!). He was so focused on his job, and how his deceased father would have reacted to him having an out relationship with a man, that he had been miserable for nearly 40 years, rather than living his own life. I definitely could see where the author was going with this, and I can imagine that someone in that situation would have been so challenged! But it was hard for me sometimes to read how much it must have hurt Mason to have Nash keep turning away from him, sneak out the door, not acknowledge their relationship.

There are so many ways that an author can make you feel things, sometimes in ways you don’t necessarily want to feel. So much of the relationship with these two was spent in hiding, and deeply in the closet, that a part of me wanted to tell Mason “go find someone who will love you!”. And yet, I could see how much pain it caused Nash to turn away every single time. So she made me feel: love, anger, a little throat punch-ey 🙂 but in the end, I was rooting for these two. Nash came through in such a wonderful way, and really worked to win the love of his man, and it made for a very satisfying HEA.

4 pieces of eye candy

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

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The Teddy Bear Club by Sean Michael: Release Day Review with Giveaway

Two lonely men. One perfect family.

Aiden Lake adopted his institutionalized sister’s two daughters, and he’s a good dad. He works nights on websites and gets in his adult time twice a week at the Roasty Bean, where he meets with other single gay parents.

Devon Smithson wants to be a good dad now that his sixteen-year-old sister asked him to babysit her newborn… three months ago. But he’s overwhelmed with the colicky baby. An invitation to the daddy-and-kid gatherings at the café is a godsend. The pot is sweetened when his friendship with Aiden develops into more—maybe even something that can last.

But the mother who kicked Dev out for being gay wants to get her claws into the baby, and she doesn’t care if she tears Dev, Aiden, and everything they’re building apart in the process.

Title: The Teddy Bear Club
Series: The Teddy Bear Club
Author: Sean Michael
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 208

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

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Hot dads with their kids, is there anything cuter?

In this one, we have Aiden, who with his friends, Logan and Zach have a weekly routine to meet up for coffee for a little “dad-date” kind of thing. Just a little group to get away and have some time with other adults, as a mother, I can 100% relate to. Dev, is the new guy to the group and brand new dad to his sisters abandoned baby. She just up and left him without a trace, leaving Dev to figure out how to do this dad thing on his own. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to, because Aiden, with his two little girls, invite him into their home for play dates and adult conversation. It starts off as a platonic friendship but soon turns into more, the more they get to know each other and spend time with each other. Plus, all the kids get along really well, Bee (Aiden’s daughter) and U- short for Unicorn (Dev’s new son), are roughly around the same age, so I can imagine how difficult that would be, but handy, as I loved having kids close together.

Unfortunately for Dev, his sister disappeared, so getting custody of U before his homophobic mother caught wind that he had him, was proving pretty difficult. Luckily, Logan’s a lawyer and set to work on it pretty quick.

I loved these two together because it all seemed so real. The dynamic wasn’t perfect between them, Dev brought some baggage and needed help, which he wasn’t afraid to ask for and Aiden was wasn’t afraid to offer it. It was a story of friendship first that turned into more. I liked that it wasn’t just, “hi, nice to meet you, we both have kids and you’re hot so I love you”… I enjoyed reading about their every day stuff and them getting to know each other and got used to being a family, together. The dialogue was a bit cheesy at times but it works for these two. I really enjoyed it.

I would’ve liked to seen some karmic justice served up on the mom who was seriously, a terrible person, but other than that. It ended on a good note and I wouldn’t mind reading more about Dirk, Logan and Zach. <Heavy hinting here> J

4 pieces of eye candy from me!


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One Plus One by P.A. Friday: Release Day Review, Excerpt and Giveaway

James Cape has been in love with his mother’s best friend Laurie since James was sixteen and Laurie an inaccessible twenty-six. When he’s turned down flat by the older man just after his nineteenth birthday, James’s best friend Al encourages him to forget Laurie and find someone else. And James tries, he really does. But can he cope with his feelings for Laurie, his best friend’s home-life problems, and the deteriorating health of his father, all at the same time? And will Laurie ever notice the young man who’s right in front of him?

TitleOne Plus One

Series: Maths, Book Two

Author: P.A. Friday

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date7/31/17

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 40400

Genre: Contemporary, gay, bi, age gap, friends to lovers, grief, slow burn

Goodreads Link

NineStar Press

Amazon

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Excerpt from Chapter One

James Cape was fourteen years old when he realised he was gay, fifteen when he came out to his best friend, and sixteen when he realised how he’d recognised he was gay in the first place. He’d thought he’d ‘just known’ until his mother’s friend Laurie came over one day with his new boyfriend, Kieran—the first boyfriend he’d ever bothered bringing round—and James had felt his heart explode with jealousy and rage. Kieran couldn’t have Laurie. Laurie belonged with him.

The longed-for relationship wasn’t—quite—as inappropriate as it might have sounded. Laurie was his mother’s friend, yes, but he wasn’t his mother’s age. Gillie, James’s mum, was thirty-nine; Laurie, twenty-six. They’d met online when James was about nine and had made friends over the next year, despite the age gap. When Gillie had discovered that Laurie was a student at the university she herself taught at, she’d invited him over, and he’d become a regular visitor. To start with, James hadn’t been much interested—the gap between ten years old and twenty was a big one, and James had been more interested in playing with Al, his best friend both then and now. Between them, the pair had teased and hassled and joked around with Laurie, treating him as something between a friend and an older brother; but as the years had passed, James’s feelings towards Laurie had changed. He just hadn’t realised quite how much they had changed until Laurie turned up with Kieran by his side.

It wasn’t as if Laurie had never had boyfriends in the past. He had. But he’d never brought them over to James’s house before, and that made all the difference. When Laurie had been at James’s house, he hadn’t belonged to anyone else. He’d been theirs. With Kieran there, the dynamic was different—spoilt. Al, also over for the weekend—as usual—cocked a knowing eyebrow at James’s moodiness and dragged him out for a long walk.

“You don’t like the boyfriend,” Al said when they were in the woods and miles from anywhere. Trust Al to get straight to the point.

James shrugged. “Bit of a wanker, that’s all. Laurie could do better.”

“Mm.” Al didn’t sound convinced. “D’you remember telling me that you weren’t interested in Laura Fielding because Mary MacDonald had bigger tits?”

“What?” James looked at his best mate in bewilderment. “That was nearly two years ago. Why are you bringing that up again?”

“You weren’t interested in Laura Fielding because she was a girl, and you weren’t interested in girls,” Al said bluntly. “By the way, I’m still pissed off it took you nearly a year to tell me you were gay. You can’t have thought I’d give a toss.”

“You’re still the only person who knows,” James pointed out.

James and Al’s school was not the sort of place where it was safe to be ‘out’. James had no intention of telling anyone else about his sexuality until he’d left. Telling Al was different—Al was Al. And he was quite right; James knew he could tell Al anything and Al wouldn’t care. You could say what you liked about Al—and most people did—but he was intensely loyal. To James, at any rate. When it came to relationships, it was a different matter. Unlike James, Al liked girls and had a steady stream of girlfriends, but none of them lasted longer than a month before he got itchy. Usually it was considerably shorter.

“They get so clingy,” Al had complained. “They want stuff.”

“That’s called dating,” James had told him unsympathetically.

He was amazed anyone still agreed to go out with Al, but there was something about his best friend. He had a strange sort of manic charm, and his very unpredictability seemed to draw people in. However, that was a different matter. Why Al had gone back to harping about old news, James couldn’t imagine.

“Thing is,” Al said, scuffing the last of the autumn leaves with his shoe—the woods didn’t seem to have cottoned on to the fact that it was March, “it didn’t have anything to do with Mary MacDonald.”

“Al, you’ve lost me.”

Al—so very like James to look at in some ways: dark-haired, regular features, similar body shape, albeit several inches shorter—looked seriously at his friend.

“It’s not Kieran you don’t like,” he said. “It’s Laurie having a boyfriend.”

“He’s had boyfriends before,” James said defensively.

“Ah. Hasn’t brought them home, though, has he? Different thing altogether.”

James shrugged petulantly. “I just think Kieran’s an idiot, that’s all.”

Al knew when to stop—usually. “Whatever you say, mate. Just…don’t piss Laurie off by being too rude to his guy, you know? Probably a bad plan.”

Which, as James admitted and worked by, was a sensible idea. But when Laurie turned up a fortnight later alone, James couldn’t help his heart lifting.

This is a contemporary college-age romance focusing on 19-year-old James, who’s in his final year of high school. James realized he was gay, and in love for the first time, at 16 when his mother’s best friend Laurie brings his new boyfriend over. James is jealous and realizes his hatred for Laurie’s boyfriend stems from James actually wanting Laurie for himself. Aww! Been there done that, James!

Okay, don’t freak out: James’ mom is near 40, but Laurie is a much younger 26. Whew! So, while right now these two aren’t quite age appropriate, one day soon a 10-year gap could be doable. James pines away for Laurie, but in the meantime, he’s got a life to lead. His loyal friend Al pretty much lives with James and his family under sad circumstances, his father has advanced MS, and his mom … is kind of cool, actually. The bulk of the book shows James as he progresses through his university years: making friends, finding (and breaking up with) romantic partners, moving in with friends at school, deciding what he wants to do after he graduates. He continues to think about his first love Laurie, hoping one day they can take their new budding friendship to a romantic level. Will James’ patience pay off, or will he find someone else while he’s waiting?

There are some nice relationships in the book. I love that the mom can have not only a guy bff but she has a likable husband that Laurie calls friend, too. Al is sweet and affable, though his parents essentially don’t care about him. Al, who is bi-sexual, wants no parts of a serious relationship and has multiple romantic partners. He seems genuinely happy with that, so no judgement here. James is just a regular guy who likes and gets along with his parents and his pseudo-brother Al.

The story doesn’t drag and is a quick read. I admit my surprise in a few places. A romantic/sexual relationships James enters into and then how that relationship is completed. We also didn’t really get to know Laurie very well at all and I was surprised that James still thought about him after so much time has passed. It didn’t disappoint me exactly, I just wasn’t sure which way the story would end until it was, well, near the end. The story has a few somewhat graphic sex scenes with a happy, if not abrupt, ending.

3 pieces of eye candy

P.A. Friday fails dismally to write one sort of thing and, when not writing erotica and erotic romance of all sexualities, may be found writing articles on the Regency period, pagan poetry, or science fiction. She loves wine and red peppers, and loathes coffee and mushrooms.

Email: penfriday@gmail.com

Website: http://www.penelopefriday.com

Twitter: @penelopefriday

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/penelopefriday

Other books by this author

All About the Boy

Maths Series

Love Plus One


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