Fate Heats Things Up by Sarah Hadley Brook: Release Day Review

Scott Dwyer meets hot, new fireman Adrian Campbell in an embarrassing incident one evening and can’t stop thinking about him. While bartending at the local hangout for Station 39, he sees Adrian with his colleagues about once a week. He thinks Adrian might be interested in him, too, but every time they find a chance to talk, something gets in their way.

When a rash of arson fires begins the same week Adrian starts at the station, the rumors fly about whether or not he is responsible for them.

Things are heating up in town, but will they heat up between the two men as well? Will Fate ever allow them to be together?

Release Date: September 18, 2017
Category: Erotica
Genre: Contemporary
Word Count: 15600
Sex Content: Explicit
Pairing: MM
Orientation: Gay
Identity: Cisgender

Amazon

Nine Star Press

Kobo Books

This was a short novella, you could almost have called it a short story, but it did have a good amount of story in it. Scott and Adrian seem to spend weeks eyeing each other, considering talking to each other, maybe asking each other on a date, but then never do. In fact, I found myself wondering why Adrian-who seemed to be the more dominant of the two-never asked Scott for his phone number. He kept having to leave for a fire call, and yet didn’t stop and say, let me get your number, and I’ll text you. But it definitely increased the tension between the two, seeing if the other was genuinely interested.

In the meantime, the backstory of Adrian being new to the area, and people starting to wonder if he was responsible for the string of arson fires that had begun the same week he started was a big conflict for Scott to deal with. Scott kept “forgetting” to tell Adrian that he had overheard someone say they thought it was him. In fact, I’m not sure if he ever actually told him he’d overheard that conversation.

For a short story/very short novella length book, it was worth the time invested. I wouldn’t call it erotica, per the category, but definitely had sexy scenes in it. All in all a satisfying story.

3 pieces of eye candy

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

Whitecott Manor by Emma Jane: Blog Tour, Exclusive Author Interview, Excerpt and Giveaway

TitleWhitecott Manor

Author: Emma Jane

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 11, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 65300

Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, NineStar Press, LGBT, contemporary, British, paranormal, intrigue, family-drama, ghosts, friends to lovers, humor

Add to Goodreads

 

Alistair Ellis is the proud gardener for beautiful fifteenth-century Whitecott Manor, in England’s West Country. His life changes forever following a gas explosion at the manor, in which his boss—and love of his life—dies. However, his boss hasn’t exactly gone for good and Alistair still finds himself involved in conversations with the deceased.

Circumstances improve when he meets Noah, the handsome dog groomer for the manor’s new owners. Although there are some issues: Noah is already engaged and Alistair suffers from cynophobia—an acute fear of dogs!

Do you have any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?

Read a lot. Join writing groups or writing forums online. Listen to other people when they tell you something you’ve written isn’t very good, even if you don’t agree with them.

 

If you could travel forward or backward in time, where would you go and why?

Maybe back to the 60s because I’m a massive fan of The Monkees! Or the 1920s because I love the fashion, but I wouldn’t want to stay in that time.

 

We’ve all got a little voyeurism in us right? If you could be a fly on the wall during an intimate encounter (does not need to be sexual) between two characters, not your own, who would they be?

Does it have to be a novel? Probably Ash and Darian from Alexis Hall’s Glitterland.

 

If I were snooping around your kitchen and looked in your refrigerator right now, what would I find?

Half a tray of dog food. Almond milk. Apple juice. Some homegrown tomatoes from my uncle. Some fat balls I made for the wild birds. And not a lot else! Most of my food is either in the cupboards or the freezer.

 

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

Telekinesis because I’m horribly lazy.

 

If you could trade places with one of your characters, who would it be and why?

Probably Arthur from Whitecott Manor. He’s quite well off and basically gets to do what he likes!

I loved the setting of this book, an old manor in England, beautiful gardens as far as the eye can see. It makes you think about old Harlequin romance novels, and traveling to these places to see them yourself. A great location to have a grand romance.

Alistair was kind of a mess emotionally, but in a sweet way. Concerned about his job, after his lover, the owner dies (and then “haunts” him), having a difficult time dealing with his father since the death of his mother, and navigating a world where he is gay in a very small English village. He meets Noah the dog groomer, who he is very taken with at first sight…except for the whole phobia of dogs thing. He also really seemed to care about those around him, going out of his way to help others, and even being open to his father finding a girlfriend.

I liked these two main characters, even with all of Alistair’s issues. However, I did think that there might have been too much going on in this book. There were quite a few different conflicts in this book that seemed to pop up, then would fade into the background while another would pop up, until one of the others came to the forefront again. It didn’t make the book confusing, it just made it very busy. It was hard to feel like the romance of Alistair and Noah was a focus when there were so many other conflicts that would become the focus.

The side characters were very well written, including Emmett (the dead lover/owner) who was all about his fashion choices. Those made me laugh every time!

A well written book and characters, but definitely a bit crowded in the story.

3.5 pieces of eye candy

Whitecott Manor
Emma Jane © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Once I was aware of the cuts, they stung like a bitch. I should’ve worn gloves, really, but it’s so much easier not to. I was almost finished anyway, and the Harpers’ rose borders were nearly ready. They’d look beautiful when they flowered in the summer—they always did. White and red rose blooms flanked the path to the tennis court. I just had one last bush to prune and then I could stop for a cuppa. The cuts were itching now too, right where the thorns had snagged and ripped my skin. I sucked the flesh between my thumb and index finger, tasting blood and mud, and stood there, secateurs in hand, watching the house.

It was a fifteenth-century manor—a beautiful listed building made from warm-yellow stone. It’d been revamped inside, a strange mixture of modern and ancient, and was currently—unfortunately, in my opinion—on the market. I didn’t want it to sell; I didn’t want to lose my job. The Harpers assured me that whoever bought the place would keep me on but, well, it wasn’t down to them.

I took my hand from my mouth and watched as the estate agent led a middle-aged couple from their car—some sort of old classic; light blue with a soft-top—to the front of the manor. Even at this distance, I could see the look on their faces as they gazed up at the building before entering. They loved it already. Everybody did; it was such an impressive place. Bloody hell, I’d buy it if I had a spare eight million lying around.

I glowered to myself and turned back to the last bush, reaching into the branches to snip it into some sort of order. I cut myself on another thorn and swore impatiently.

“Language.”

I turned to see Mr Harper—Emmett—watching me. He stood there, smiling, his hands tucked in the pockets of his ridiculous purple corduroys. He always reminded me of Colin Firth, though he didn’t look particularly like him. He was a similar age, I suppose, and had that same clipped accent and no-nonsense manner.

I tossed rose clippings into my wheelbarrow. “Sorry. It’s these roses. They’re full of thorns.”

“Ah, the roses. Yes. I thought perhaps you’d spotted Mr Daniels showing the Scrantons around.”

“Scrantons?”

“Mr and Mrs Scranton. I don’t know their first names, and I don’t care. Lottery winners, apparently.”

I scratched at my cheek with the edge of my thumbnail and then wiped the back of my hand across my brow. “You really want Whitecott Manor bought by lottery winners?” I asked. It wasn’t really any of my business, but I didn’t want to see the place sold on yet again because the Scrantons squandered all their money and ended up bankrupt within a year.

Emmett shrugged. “My dear, I don’t care who buys it as long as they cough up the money. You know I can’t afford to keep the place.”

I knew. Emmett was swimming in debt. His daughters—all five of them—had now moved out and he had to pay for everything on his own since his wife had left. Old Mrs Harper, Emmett’s mother, lived in the house with him, but she was in her eighties and, I think, had about as much money as he did. They wanted to move to a little cottage somewhere, with a nice granny annex and a garden that didn’t require much attention. Certainly not enough attention to take me with them.

I hadn’t said anything. Emmett came and put his hand to the small of my back. “Whoever ends up here would be mad to let you go. They can see how beautiful the gardens are.”

I nodded and stared into the rose bush.

“And you’re beautiful,” he added. “Who would not want you around?”

“You don’t need to flatter me.” I snipped at the bush and tossed branches into my wheelbarrow.

Emmett chuckled and moved away. “Cheer up, Alistair! You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. I’m off to take Mother her tea.”

I watched him stroll back to the house as if he didn’t have a care in the world. I’d miss him most of all. Well, maybe he wouldn’t move far. I’d probably still see him around—at the local fair or plant show perhaps. Besides, house sales took ages; I knew that from experience. If the Scrantons bought the place, it’d be a while yet before they moved in. And if they decided they didn’t want a gardener—if—then I had plenty of time to look for a new job. I could always audition for the X Factor and see where that got me—Emmett said I had a great singing voice, and I’d often dreamed of performing on stage.

I picked up the wheelbarrow and went to empty the clippings on the compost heap. I was just trundling back to the roses when I spotted the estate agent leading the Scrantons out into the gardens. I’d make myself scarce; I didn’t want to have to smile politely while they stood and gawked, so I downed tools and headed to the potting shed.

The cabbage seedlings were coming on nicely, I noticed, but my beetroots were depressingly small. I’d never had much luck with beetroot. They never grew much larger than rat testicles. I shrugged out of my overalls and tied the arms around my waist, singing an Elvis track softly beneath my breath.

I’d just reached for a watering can when an almighty bang made me jump out of my skin. The windows blew out the front of the manor, followed by tongues of fire licking the frames. I stared, heart frozen and mouth open. Then my heart started again, blood thumping in my ears. I threw open the shed door and ran.

“Emmett!”

I dashed towards the building, pulled open the door, and hurried down the hall to where the explosion had come from—the kitchen. Flames crackled in the room, red and angry and louder than I would’ve expected. Smoke and heat billowed outwards, and I coughed and covered my nose. My eyes watered.

“Emmett!” I yelled again.

Something crashed—maybe part of the ceiling falling—and I took a step to go after Emmett when somebody grabbed my arm and hauled me back.

“Mr Harper’s in there,” I shouted at the estate agent, fighting the man’s vice-like grip. “Emmett! Emmett!

The estate agent pulled me away, forcing me bodily back down the hall and outside. He was speaking—shouting, I think—but I yelled too, my voice hoarse, and I couldn’t hear him, couldn’t see, couldn’t… Emmett.

Sirens screamed in the distance, and then I saw the lights flashing through the trees that flanked the lane beside the manor. Fire engines arrived in a cacophony of noise and colour. The estate agent held me in a bear hug, and all I could do as firefighters jumped from their vehicles was stare at the flames roaring from the broken windows.

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


Emma Jane has been writing stories since primary school, some of which still survive in notebooks in her dad’s attic, and wanted to be an author as soon as she realised it was a possible career choice and ‘Pony’ or ‘Ninja’ weren’t viable options.

Her first short story, Club Freak, about an anonymous woman’s determination to find her husband’s killer, was published by Park Publication’s Debut magazine in May 2009. Since then, she has gone on to write many short stories and poems for various small presses and has achieved an Honourable Mention in the 2011 Writers of the Future competition.

In 2014, writing as Emma Jane, she signed her first publishing contract for not one, but two novels. Otherworld formerly published by Torquere Press, and Shuttered by Dreamspinner Press.

Website | Twitter

Tour Schedule

9/11 Books,Dreams,Life

9/11 Drops of Ink

9/11 The Novel Approach

9/11 Happily Ever Chapter

9/11 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

9/12 Stories That Make You Smile

9/12 Southern Babes Book Blog

9/13 Love Bytes

9/14 Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

9/14 Two Chicks Obsessed

9/14 Erotica For All

9/14 Bayou Book Junkie

9/15 MillsyLovesBooks

9/15 A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

Save

Save

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

Silken by Isobel Starling: Audiobook Review and Excerpt

Matthew Fisher loved being a dancer, but his ten-year ballet career came to an abrupt end with a knee injury. He had to find a new way to make a living, and luckily, his sister was friends with Annabelle Ramsay-Aiken, only daughter of property magnate Sir James Aiken. She arranged an interview, and six months on the job training saw Matthew stepping out as a real estate agent for Aiken Luxury Lettings. Now, instead of stretching at the barre, Matthew spends his days inspecting the vacant London homes of their rich and famous clients.

Losing his dance career had left a huge hole in Matthew’s heart, and to fill it Matthew began a Tumblr blog dedicated to his fetish for wearing lingerie. He wanted to give his followers the impression he lived a charmed life, so decided to use A.L.L properties as locations for erotic photo shoots.

One of his online followers presses all of Matthew’s buttons, and a long distance, online Dom/sub relationship develops between them. But when the relationship suddenly moves from online fantasy to real life… can Matthew really submit?

N.B – This story contains graphic descriptions of gay sex, BDSM, and cross-dressing

Amazon

Audible

 

Matthew sauntered into the large open plan lounge of the corner apartment, overlooking West India Docks.  The tip-tap of his footfalls on polished marble echoed in the clinical, white-walled expanse of the room.  West India Quay was in the redeveloped dockland area of Canary Wharf, in the Borough of Tower Hamlets, East London.  The area was renowned worldwide as the new financial heart of London, populated by big business and luxury high-rise living.  The lower twelve floors of the block at West India Quay were a Marriot Hotel, and upper twenty-one floors were privately owned apartments.

Bright afternoon sunlight threw darts of blinding illumination across the rectangular lounge room.  To Matthew’s left, there was a seating area that would not look out of place on the set of Mad Men—a low-slung retro black leather Carluccio suite consisting of a couch and two imposing armchairs bisected by a dark teak coffee table.  Natural timber side dressers and occasional tables hugged the interior walls, adorned with modernist stone sculptures, empty vases, and an array of framed pictures charting the growth progression of a man who went from baby to child, to teen and then to his graduation in the images.  Matthew wondered who he was… he was kinda cute!  A series of ostentatiously large, colorful, Damien Hirst splatter canvases were displayed on the walls, and on the opposite side of the room, the dining area faced a view that, on a good day, would lead the eye down river to the majesty of Tower Bridge.

Matthew stepped through the sunlight shafts and shadows on the floor, unbuttoning the gray suit jacket that hugged his torso as he walked.  He pushed the jacket aside, placed his hands on narrow hips, and paused by the window.  He took in the view over the River Thames to the white bulbous tent of the O2 Arena on the opposite bank of the river.  The Thames, as per usual, looked like dirty dishwater yet the expanse of London from high-up in the Docklands skyscraper was surreal.

Matthew let out a long, tired sigh, and then absently stretched his arms above his head, enjoying the feeling of his tight muscles burning and relaxing.  He folded his body and gripped his ankles, stretching his spine.  Then, he straightened, and as naturally as taking a breath he moved into the fifth ballet position.  The bare expanse of marble floor was so seductive.  It invited him to leap and travel sinuously across it.  He turned in a graceful arc on the ball of his right foot, and then took a gazelle leap forward, grimacing as he landed feeling the sharp twinge in his left knee.  “FUUUCK” his loud, frustrated roar echoed in against the high ceiling.  As he bent over and rubbed at his knee he wished he’d worn his knee brace, he knew he was just deluding himself by not wearing it, but sometimes his knee felt okay, and it was good to feel ordinary again.

Matthew felt so betrayed by his body.  It had taken more than a year for him to come to terms with his decision to stop dancing but his heart still yearned, ached for it, and he supposed it would until he took his final breath.  But he couldn’t live on broken dreams with empty pockets.  He knew how lucky he was not to have to walk with the aid of a stick.

Matthew continued, his limp a little more pronounced until the twinge subsided.  He inspected the open plan lounge, noting that thankfully, none of the sculptures or wall artworks had been stolen or damaged since Mr. Martinez signed the tenancy agreement.  A.L.L had been experiencing a few problems with security and the cleaning contractor for this particular building.  It began with below standard domestic cleaning service and then escalated to a series of art thefts.  His boss believed the two things were linked, and so Sir James had found a new security contractor, but the cleaning contractor had a second and final chance.  The cleanliness of the apartment was therefore on top of Matthew’s checklist.

He strode into the bright, streamlined kitchen, removed his suit jacket, and then hung it over a high back stool at the breakfast bar.  He palmed his iphone and logged into the A.L.L. website app to begin his status report.  Matthew took a peek in the refrigerator in case there were any nasty surprises, but the scent of detergent hit his nose, and it was empty, not even a bottle of Evian in the chiller cabinet.  The cupboards contained only dried foods and a couple of cans of soup.  The dustbin was clean, and there was nothing unpleasant lurking in the waste disposal.  Tick.

Matthew headed down the hallway and perused the first double bedroom which had that untouched hotel room vibe about it.  He didn’t believe anyone had even slept there, so nothing to report.  He went to the next room on his list, the master bedroom.  Now, this room did smell like it had been lived in.  The subtle aroma of masculine musk and floral perfume in the air a week after the tenant had departed proved that the cleaner had not aired the bedroom as per instruction.  Further evidence that corners were cut was found in the en-suite bathroom.  Dried toothpaste in the sink, and hair in the shower plug hole.  Tut, tut, tut.  Matthew shook his head.  He would indeed have words with the domestic services manager about this oversight.

Matthew had never met the tenants, Mr. Martinez, or his wife, but a silver framed photograph stood beside the bed on a nightstand.  He picked the frame up and stared at a sun-kissed smiley image of a couple, the man standing behind the woman, his arms wrapped tightly around her slim waist.  Matthew’s brows rose in admiration; Jack Martinez was a silver fox.  He appeared to be in his late forties and had white, gray close-cropped hair and silver stubble clinging to the jaw of a disarmingly handsome face.  His skin had a golden tan, and his eyes were azure blue.  A wide wolfish grin spread across Matthew’s face and his brows arched salaciously.

“Well, well, Mrs. M, your husband is quite a catch”, he said out loud.  He stared at the gorgeous, perfect couple for a moment and wondered if the image was of generic models that came with the frame or if this delicious specimen of manhood, Jack Martinez was real.  He must be real; after all, they’d spoken once on the phone the week before when Martinez gave Matthew instructions on what needed to be done at the apartment when he departed.

Matthew wore a wicked smirk as he recalled the man’s whiskey worn American timbre.  It was the kind of voice that made his balls ache with lust.  God, he really did need to get laid, but that would not be happening anytime soon.  Matthew’s Dom had forbidden it.  That was one of the ground rules of their online D/s relationship.  Neither would take other lovers, and Matthew had given control of his orgasms to his Dom.  He would not come unless Austin82 permitted it, and then the man wanted to see the evidence.  Luckily, the message Matthew had received on entering the apartment had been from his Dom, giving him permission to come that day so he would be getting some relief.  The voice and photograph of Jack Martinez meshed together in his mind, making one hell of an alluring image.  Matthew placed the frame back onto the nightstand.  He knew he would put that image to good use later.

Matthew turned to study the bedroom, which had a classy, oriental infused interior design with accents of cream, black, and silver.  He enjoyed fantasizing about the lives of his clients.  On opening the doors of the slide-robes, he saw a small selection of garments.  The lack of clothing was not unusual as this was not a permanent residence by any means.  There were business and casual clothes for him and stylish feminine clothing for her.  Veronica Martinez was slim, her choices were expensive and timelessly classy, as were Jack’s, just as Matthew had expected for the couple in the photograph.

A seamless pane of floor to ceiling, heat reflective glass acted as the outer wall of the room, displaying stunning bird’s eye views of the British capital.  A king–sized bed overloaded with a scatter of designer cushions atop a black silk coverlet dominated the space.  To Matthew’s right, a door led to the en-suite, and then, to the left, his eyes fell on the large ebony, lacquer work, chinoiserie style dresser that sat opposite the bed.  He ran his finger along the top to check that the cleaner had at least dusted and then placed his phone on the surface.  Matthew had chosen to inspect this particular apartment because it was the only one on his list that day where the clients were a couple.  He hoped he was not wrong about Veronica Martinez.  With a mischievous glint in his eye and a sudden flush of covert guilt, Matthew gave a testing tug on the shiny brass ring handles of the top drawer.  It silently slid open.  He peeped inside, and his breath caught as he exclaimed a drawn out “Ohhh.”  Matthew’s heart swelled.  He saw, to his delight a drawer filled with neatly arranged lingerie.

“All that silk, satin and lace.”  He murmured dreamily to himself.  Matthew licked his lips, and his pupils dilated with the excitement of seeing such a wonderful collection of feminine underwear.  His fingers brushed over the lingerie.  It was all purchased from the most expensive designer labels, Fox and Rose, Agent Provocateur, Bourdelle, and Myla.  Matthew was at once head-over-heels in love with what he saw.  The silk and Chantilly lace garments were red, black, dusky pink, emerald green, purple, and turquoise—all of his favorite colors.  It was like they had been chosen just for him, and not for Veronica Martinez.  He picked up a pair of red lacy French knickers and let the fabric fall through his fingers.  He moaned out loud, and his dick throbbed.  His fingers smoothed over the floral lace design and as he stretched it over the back of his hand, he marveled at the beauty of it.  Matthew bought the garment to his cheek and rubbed the knickers against his clean-shaven skin.  It was so sensual.  The feeling of the soft fabric against his flesh made his suit trousers suddenly feel… restrictive.

Matthew’s interest in lingerie began when he was training in Russia.  He’d loved wearing tights since he was a child, and from the moment he started training in classical ballet he was drawn to being around the girls, with all the froufrou, netting, ribbons, and figure-hugging Lycra.  His girlfriends would let him sneak into their dressing room to chat.  They had no idea that he had an alternative agenda for being there—which was to savor the slow sensual drag and stretch of gossamer on shapely calves and thighs as the dancers pulled stockings over taut flesh.  He didn’t want to fuck any of them, oh no, he’d known from his teens he was all for the boys and got pleasure of a different kind from watching them.  But watching the female dancers dress was a near religious experience.  It was the ritual of dressing, the look of the fabric, the way it enhanced the line and shape of their limbs, and way it stretched and clung to the form that he found so very erotic.  He’d known then he’d wanted that silken fabric against his own skin.

Matthew picked up another pair of emerald green silk panties.  He sniffed the panties, but they smelled of nothing like they had never been worn and never been washed with household detergent.  As he inspected the collection, he discovered that it was, in fact, all brand new, and nothing had been worn.  He found that odd.  Veronica Martinez must be mad to have abandoned this treasure trove of pretties, unworn, unloved.  Whoever she was, Matthew found her lack of respect for the garments a little disappointing, but no matter.  He was in a naughty, dirty mood, he was alone, and there were so many pairs of panties to choose from.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. I had not read anything else by Isobel Starling, so her writing was new to me, and this was a fun surprise!

This novella was a little bit of everything wrapped into one story, and some of those bits were things I hadn’t read in any other book previously.

First, I absolutely LOVED one portion of the story for its realism. I won’t say what the mistake was, but the Dom in this story made a mistake, a big one, and with it, his sub didn’t even use a safeword, he literally just left. And the Dom not only admitted his mistake, but apologized, and said he wasn’t perfect. That was so refreshing to read! How often in BDSM romance novels is the Dom portrayed as someone who doesn’t make mistakes, doesn’t apologize, etc. This was such a great thing to read, and I actually found myself cheering a little…even while I was sad that the MC’s went through it.

Second, an online D/s relationship, although it may be something that is done quite often, it certainly isn’t something I had ever read about, and I found it fascinating. It allowed these two MC’s to explore their own interests, as they learned from and with each other. Again, so refreshing to read, as it was outside of the box of a “normal” BDSM story.

I loved Matthew. I loved that he owned his kinks, and enjoyed every second of it. It made him sexy and allowed the reader to just enjoy him as a person, as well as a sub.

Meanwhile, sexy silver fox Jack, Matthew’s Dom, knew what he wanted, and was confident enough to go after it. Even when he made his mistake, he owned up to it, and did what he could to repair the damage. And oh my, was that a hot scene later. Whew!

My heart just blew up at the end, Jack’s assistance to Matthew was so heartfelt and loving, and I wanted to just stay with these two. I would love to see more of these two sometime. I feel like there is much more to tell about these two…hint hint…

Gomez Pugh’s narration was well done. I really love it when narrators use accents when they are reading a story. It draws me in so much more, and he did a fantastic job with both his American and British accents. Well done!

Story: 4.5 pieces of eye candy

Narration: 4.5 pieces of eye candy

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

Calm by K. Evan Coles & Brigham Vaughn: Release Day Review

A love worth the wait.

When Riley Porter-Wright comes out as bisexual and confesses his feelings for Carter Hamilton, it severs their friendship. Carter’s rejection forces Riley to move on and he’s shocked to learn Carter’s marriage has fallen apart.

Overwhelmed by his failure as a husband and father, Carter misses Riley, but feels guilty for disappearing after Riley’s coming out. After Riley extends an olive branch, the former friends agree to repair their relationship.

Slowly, Carter pieces together a new life. He admits his attraction to men, and confesses his feelings for Riley. Leery of Carter’s initial rejection, Riley turns his focus on a new man, Will Martin.

Riley and Carter’s renewed rapport intensifies, and Will becomes insecure. Will’s resentment increases until he issues an ultimatum, forcing Riley to refocus his energies away from Carter.

Disappointed, Carter fosters new friendships with men like Jesse Murtagh. Aware of the changes in Carter’s life, Riley is uncomfortable knowing Carter has moved on.

Carter and his ex-wife, Kate, navigate new waters as their children learn their parents are dating other people. Will can’t deal with his jealousy and ends his relationship with Riley.

Unattached for the first time in years, Riley and Carter slowly transition their friendship into a relationship. Carter comes out and leaves his job, accepting the reality of being disowned.

Riley and Carter go public with their relationship, but worry the fallout will affect their families. Drawing strength from each other, they meet the challenges of being an out couple head on.

General Release Date: 12th September 2017

Pairing: MM Book Length: Super Plus Novel

Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Gay

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Kobo Books

 

I will be the first to tell you that when I read Wake, I did not give it a great rating. I was pretty upset at the fact that it basically had a cliffhanger, and there was no information in the ARC that there would be a book 2. (The author responded to my review post stating that there would be a follow up book.) I liked the MC’s, but that cliffhanger just threw me for a loop.

Calm, book 2, is the book that finishes the story for Carter and Riley, best friends from the first day of college, and definitely was a long road for these two to get to their HEA. Riley begins a relationship with a friend of Natalie’s. Meanwhile, Carter and his wife divorce, and work through the new and winding road of exes relearning to be friends, while still parenting two children.

As Carter and Riley drift back into each other’s orbits, they begin to be friends again. This is important for these two men, and honestly is what later is able to drive them into a romantic relationship. As they learn to be their own person without the other (and their ex-wives), they also learn to be friends again, who are there for the other when things become difficult. This was a crucial aspect of their relationship, and carries over later into the beginnings of their romance.

I will say that I was a bit disappointed how long it took to bring Carter and Riley to their romantic relationship. It felt like Riley’s relationship with Will, including sex scenes, was a larger portion of the book than his eventual relationship with Carter. Of course, in the end, after all the pain these two had been through, once the reader was there, it was heartwarming and satisfying, to see how they interacted with each other, as well as with Carter’s children.

The authors do a wonderful job showing us all the characteristics of the events and locations in the book. Their writing is seamless from one author to the next, and gives very rich descriptions that help the reader feel they are in the room with the MC’s.

On the whole, this is a satisfying completion to the epic journey of these two, from best friends to soul mates and future husbands. I will admit, I would love to see a book 3 with a certain secondary character with a snarky attitude, and an aversion to monogamy. 🙂

3.5 pieces of eye candy

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

Survival Game (Men of London Book 9) by Susan Mac Nicol: Release Day Review


Since his true love died, paramedic Eric Kirby has been living a half life, but when he meets purple-haired Kyle Tripper, Eric’s heart is jolted into a whole new rhythm.

HANDLE…

Kyle Tripper has led an interesting life. Currently the manager of London’s famous Club Delish, he used to be a croupier extraordinaire in Las Vegas. But not everything in that life was so glamorous; his ex was a piece of work. Now gun-shy, Kyle hopes there is someone special out there for him, and secretly wishes it’s luscious paramedic, Eric Kirby.

WITH CARE

Every day Eric Kirby goes through the motions. Yeah, he saves lives, and, sure, he makes a difference, but he doesn’t feel it anymore – not since he lost his one true. But, when he meets wild, flamboyant Kyle Tripper and learns there’s a skittish, apprehensive man beneath the bold façade, the best of Eric’s protective nature kicks in, and opens his heart to a new love.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Kobo Books

I’ve loved this series from book 1, Love You Senseless with Eddie and Gideon, and have read each book since. The entire series is varied in characters, yet are all interconnected in some way. The reader will often be treated to a quick slice of life on the characters they’ve read and loved before, while still keeping the focus on the characters in the current story. Survival Game, being book 9 in the series could easily have been just another story, but once again, the uniqueness of the characters, and their stories, sets it apart.

Susan Mac Nicol loves to write broken men, really broken men. And these two have had events in their past love lives that would have left many people, not only broken, but completely shattered. Yet these two men found a way to get their lives back and be able to find some love on the way. One of the things that I appreciated about this book was that their healing was not “because of the love of a good man”, but rather from hard work, time, some therapy, and allowing those that loved them to continue to support them through their difficulties. The bonus was that they could support each other as they continued to heal and fell in love at the same time.

One of my favorite things about Sue’s books is that she puts such an element of realism in her books. A character isn’t just sad because they lost someone close to them. There is anger at being left in such a sudden way, survivor’s guilt for having lived through it. Or when a trauma happens it doesn’t just magically go away because you are not near the source of trauma any longer. Lingering effects continue and those effects are addressed realistically. This is evident with both Eric and Kyle.

There were definitely some areas where I laughed out loud (the “healing” calendar is one of those areas, watch for it), but on the whole this was a story where two men needed to spend time coming to terms with where their lives were, and where their lives could converge. I desperately wanted them to have their HEA because they deserved it after the suffering they both endured. I especially wanted it when I was crying at their individual stories.

4 pieces of eye candy

 

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

Finding Mr. Wrong by Charlie Cochet: Release Day Review with Giveaway

He’s nobody’s definition of Mr. Right—but that might make him perfect.

Matthew Hart is heir to the family fortune and owner of Hart & Home. When a near-death experience has him fretting over the future, he decides he needs a husband, and not just any husband—an appropriate man to protect the Hart legacy. The last thing Matthew expects is to cross paths with Jax Foster, his first love and the boy who crushed his heart when he disappeared.

Jax is unlikely to make Matthew’s list of suitable candidates. Bad boy, vagabond, deep in debt, with a father who can’t keep out of trouble, Jax has nothing to offer—except his heart and a second chance at the romance they never got to explore.

Title: Finding Mr. Wrong
Author: Charlie Cochet
Release Date: September 1, 2017
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 218

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Dreamspinner Press

Kobo Books

 

Second chance romance is one of my favorite tropes. Finding a love, then losing it, only to find it again, while trying to rebuild the lost trust just hits all the feels for me. Finding Mr. Wrong by Charlie Cochet hits all those notes.

Jax disappeared from Matthew’s life, without a word, after being his guiding light during high school. When he is “found” by some meddling friends and family, Matthew initially is determined not to let Jax back in. As he learns why Jax disappeared, their trust begins to be rebuilt, but of course the course of true love is never steady. 🙂

Matthew has a bit of a panic attack once he realizes he could have died, and the company he runs could fall into the wrong hands. As they work back towards each other, it is easy to see how Jax is torn between wanting to do what’s right by his father, and wanting to live a life where he is able to just complete his art. Jax’s story was heartbreaking. He’d spent literally his entire life covering for a father who was weak, and allowed his son to protect him, rather than the other way around.  Honestly, the reader wants to kick Jax’s dad out, but in the end, it is understandable that he couldn’t do anything but help him get out of the next mess.

The Dreamspun Desires line was brought about as a set of stories that harken back to the old Harlequin romance days, where tropes like babies that were previously not know about, or families that break couples up, or where unseen forces tear loves apart, and this book falls right in that line. A little dark, but with a love that stayed true for both men through the time that they had been apart. This quote even hits a little on that old Harlequin trope:

“Honey, I might not be able to have his babies, but wouldn’t stop me from trying.”

I am enjoying this entire line, and really anything by Charlie Cochet I will read, so win-win.

4 pieces of eye candy


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Stalking Buffalo Bill by j. leigh bailey: Release Day Review and Giveaway

A smitten coyote isn’t the only one stalking Buffalo Bill.

A buffalo walks into a cafe. Sounds like the start of a bad joke, but for coyote shifter Donnie Granger, it’s the beginning of an obsession. Donnie is a little hyperactive and a lot distractible, except when it comes to William. He finally works up the nerve to approach William but is interrupted by a couple of violent humans.

While William—don’t call me Bill—is currently a professor, he once worked undercover against an international weapons-trafficking ring. Before he can settle into obscurity, he must find out who leaked his location and eliminate the thugs. He tries keeping his distance to protect Donnie, but the wily coyote won’t stay away.

It’ll take both Donnie’s skills as a stalker—er, hunter—and William’s super-spy expertise to neutralize the threat so they can discover if an excitable coyote and a placid-until-pissed buffalo have a future together.

Title: Stalking Buffalo Bill
Series: Shifter U
Author: j. leigh bailey
Release Date: September 1, 2017
Category: Paranormal: Werewolves/Shifters, Mystery/Suspense, Dreamspun Beyond
Pages: 220

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Dreamspinner Press

Kobo Books

 

This new Dreamspinner Press line, Dreamspun Beyond, would not normally be my cup of tea. I don’t read much paranormal, shifters or things that run contrary to normal contemporary romance. However, for some reason this series has pulled me in a few times already. Stalking Buffalo Bill is the second book in this line that I have read, and I really enjoyed it!

I loved that the author took the actual physical characteristics of the animals that the MC’s shifted into and incorporated them into their personalities. Donnie was very excitable, quick, loyal, and rather tenacious when it came to what he felt was important. Meanwhile William, a buffalo, more stoic-as I would imagine a buffalo to be, never having seen one-a college professor, and a man who didn’t seem to really get ruffled much, and wanted to protect Donnie by not allowing him anywhere near the problems that he was dealing with.

Donnie made me laugh…he found his mate, and like a wily coyote, would not let him out of his sight. He knew what he wanted, didn’t care that his family didn’t approve of his life choices, and held on tight to his choices. I highlighted so many of Donnie’s thoughts:

“I was protecting my mate from those who would do him harm. It was all very…alpha. How cool was that? Holy shit. Did I just think mate?”

“I turned away from the monitors and realized–again–that I was naked. ‘Really, William, could you bring my clothes in? I’m sure my arguments will be much more valid if my junk isn’t hanging out.”

“Then he smiled, which made my fingers go number, so I dropped my fork. ‘Cause I was smooth like that.”

This book was a fun read from beginning to end for me. It never had me looking to see how far I was in the book, and when it would end. I just kept reading and enjoying. And that is exactly how you want to be reading a book! I’m looking forward to more books in this new line from DSP, and if j. leigh bailey were to write another installment in this world, well, I would be quite happy to read it. 🙂

4 pieces of eye candy


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Midlife Crisis by Audra North: Blog Tour Spotlight, Release Day Review and Giveaway

Cam McGhee grew up like any other small-town Texas farm boy: he played football, went to church every Sunday, and married his high school sweetheart. But thirty-five years after he said “I do,” Cam finds himself nursing a beer in a gay bar, thinking about what might have been.

Dave Montoya is confident, self-assured, and cautiously single. But when he meets shy, uncertain, and clearly-still-not-out Cam in a coffee shop in Austin, his reservations about getting seriously involved again disappear. Cam is everything he’s looking for in a partner . . . almost, anyway.

No matter how much Dave wants him, and how good they are together, Cam can’t bring himself to fully embrace the life he was meant to live. After all, when his secret finally gets out, he faces the very real possibility of losing everything that kept him going for the first fifty years of his life, just like he’s feared for so long. But with a little faith—and a lot of love—his dream of living fully, truly, as himself might finally be within reach.

Amazon

Riptide Publishing

This book intrigued me from the beginning for several reasons. First, how often do we see an m/m romance with characters that are people of color, and then on top of it, they are over the age of 50?!?!?!? These are quite often anomalies in the romance genre, much less gay romance, and having them addressed so prominently in the story was fantastic. And the author did both of those sides of the main characters justice. Addressing all the aches and pains that come with aging, and even having one MC come from a town of all African Americans in Texas, made their journey seem more realistic, falling in love at an age where most people think that people are settled with a partner.

In fact, Dave HAD been settled with a partner, for a number of years, until that partner had his own midlife crisis, and moved on. Cam, meanwhile, was married for 35 years to a woman who died the previous year. He had always known he was gay, but never felt he could be in the tiny, all African American town he lived in. Falling in love was never in Cam’s plans, but finally kissing a man was, as we find in the opening scene. Cam went to Austin to find himself, or possibly to see what he could do to be who he wanted to be for a time.

I understood Cam’s hesitance to move forward with the life that he wanted to lead, but it was frustrating as a reader to understand his continued look at his “old life” as something he needed to get back to, and one he couldn’t move forward from. He’d spent his entire life in the closet, finally moves forward with finding a new love, then makes himself choose between (and this isn’t a surprise since she is called this by her brother) his selfish spoiled daughter who is appalled that her father is gay, versus the man who he fell in love with, and who had had nothing but undying patience for Cam’s slow coming out.  Cam had spent his entire life lying to everyone around him, making sure they all had their needs met, and finally his own were being met and he decided to give it up when his daughter threw a tantrum.

Of course, there is an HEA, so Cam gets his man back, and his children approve, but it still seemed like there needed to be more of a challenge on Dave’s side (although his sister Jacqui did a good job of pushing back on Cam).

One piece that was especially telling for how Cam continued to allow everyone to dictate his entire life was the short snippets of his life with LaVerne, through the years. Although it didn’t necessarily show growth of the character, it did show how he continued to be caught in the spiral he began in high school.

All in all, a sweet story, with a man who took care of everyone but himself first, who deserved a happy ending more than most people.

 

Audra North is a contemporary romance author of more than twenty romances, including the Stanton Family series, the Hard Driving series, and the Pushing the Boundaries series. She is the owner and publisher of Pink Kayak Press, which focuses on the publication of diverse romance works. Winter Rain, a Pink Kayak Press anthology, won a gold medal in the 2015 Independent Publisher Awards.

Audra enjoys speaking to writing groups and at industry conferences. She is also an avid jogger and loves running marathons. She has three children and lives with her family outside of Boston.

For more about Audra, and to sign up for her newsletter, visit audranorth.com.

Connect with Audra:

To celebrate the release of Midlife Crisis, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 2, 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.

Rule Breaker by Lily Morton: New Release Review with Giveaway

Is it really wrong to want to murder your boss?

Dylan has worked for Gabe for two years. Two long years of sarcastic comments. Two long years of insults, and having to redo the coffee pot four times in the mornings to meet his exacting standards. Not surprisingly he has devoted a lot of time to increasingly inventive ways to murder Gabe. From stabbing him with a cake fork, to garrotting him with his expensive tie, Dylan has thought of everything.

However, a chance encounter opens his eyes to the attraction that has always lain between them, concealed by the layers of antipathy. There are only two problems – Gabe is still a bastard, and he makes wedding planners look like hardened pessimists.

But what happens when Dylan starts to see the real Gabe? What happens when he starts to fall in love with the warm, wary man that he sees glimpses of as the days pass?

Because Gabe is still the same commitment shy, cold man that he’s always been, or is he? Has Dylan had the same effect on Gabe, and has his solid gold rule of no commitment finally been broken? With his heart taken Dylan desperately needs to know, but will he get hurt trying to find the answers?

From the author of ‘The Summer of Us’ comes another scorchingly hot romantic comedy, showing what happens between two men when rules get broken.

Amazon – Kindle Unlimited

Okay, you know a book really hit you when you are still talking about it, still posting on social media about it, and still posting quotes from it days after you read it. And that is how I feel about

Rule Breaker by Lily Morton. I haven’t read anything by her, and received a review request on it. I thought, “looks kind of funny, and I need that right now…sure.”

 

Wow! Was I wrong. It made me giggle out loud (on an airplane no less!). I highlighted multiple passages (if I highlight, and I don’t often, it might be one or two passages). And I savored it, by taking a couple days to read it, because I didn’t want it to end.

These two men bring the snark. The emails at the beginning of each chapter are hilarious. Here’s one example:

To: Gabe Foster

From: Dylan Mitchell

Due to your temper tantrum over my spilling coffee on your laptop, I am taking an early lunch. Would you like me to bring you something back? Maybe the blood of a virgin, or eye of newt?

Dylan and Gabe are hilarious throughout the book, and that just made it so much better for me as a reader.

However, there were also a lot of feels. I cried at more than one part. (Lily, I do not like crying when I am reading, just saying…it’s okay, I will forgive you this time.) Dylan had such a soft heart, and it was so obvious how much he loved Gabe, while Gabe was so stand-offish, with good reason, and just would not allow anyone close to him. Pushing Dylan away more than once with his hurtful actions and words. It was hard to see these two butt up against each other, and both walk away practically bleeding, yet you knew they were perfect for each other, once they got their heads out of their arses (it is set in London, so have to use ‘arse’).

The second half of the book was more painful than humorous, but still had plenty of spots of humor. In the end though, this book worked so well for me, on so many levels. I don’t often mark things as a re-read, and I haven’t given a 5 pieces of eye candy rating in months. Both of these are happening with Rule Breaker, and I am glad for it. Now, I will have to sneak back and read Lily’s other romantic comedy, The Summer of Us.

Lily Morton has offered up a $5.00 Amazon Gift Card to a commenter on this blog post. So, tell us, do you enjoy reading romantic comedy books?

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 Shore Thing by A. R. Barley: Release Day Review with Giveaway

Sunburned Delaware native Dale Seward spends his summers wrangling lifeguards and cracking crabs. His winters are a whole lot colder.

Nico Travelli’s never even seen the ocean, but when his family’s plans for him get derailed, he realizes his future in their upscale Italian restaurants might be over, and it’s time for something new. He’s hypnotized by his first look at the Atlantic—until a wave takes him out. Luckily, Dale’s there to pull him to safety.

Dale knows better than to fall for a summer person, but that doesn’t mean he can’t show Nico a good time. Between the ice cream cones and the put-put golf, these two lonely hearts soon find themselves in over their heads.

But when Nico is tempted by a second chance at the life he always thought he wanted, will he be brave enough to give it up for the possibility of true love with Dale? And what does the sexy lifeguard do during the winter? In a state as small as Delaware, secrets are bound to come out.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

Title: The Shore Thing
Author: A. R. Barley
Release Date: August 23, 2017
Category: Contemporary, States of Love
Pages: 104

Amazon US

Amazon CA

Amazon UK

Dreamspinner Press

Kobo Books

 

This short novella from an author that I had not read before, was a quick but enjoyable read. Nico was a little naive, while Dale had spent his life in the area, and consequently knew everyone in town, and they knew him. I really enjoyed Dale showing Nico (and me) around his great state of Delaware. That was one of the best aspects of this story. Seeing all the different areas of a small state, and all the fun things that someone visiting could do. It also allowed the reader to get to know Dale, who kept himself a bit at a distance, since he knew better than to fall for someone who was just there for the beautiful summers, but would be gone as soon as the cold winters came.

I loved seeing how the conclusion came about, with Nico’s family and how he would address finding the life he wanted to lead. It was a cute short story with lots of side characters dropping in and out, and seeing how two people decide what they really want to do with their lives, as separate people, and as a couple.

3.5 pieces of eye candy


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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