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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A Little Bit Like Love by Brooke Blaine: Blog Tour, Review and Excerpt

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A Little Bit Like Love, an all-new sexy STANDALONE MM romance from Brooke Blaine is available NOW!

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A Little Bit Like Love by Brooke Blaine

Publication Date: July 27th, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Romance/MM Romance

What if you had everything in the world you wanted…except the man you’d left behind?

Jackson Davenport, the charismatic, strait-laced heir to the Davenport fortune, has a secret. One he’s been hiding since he graduated from South Haven all-boys academy—and that secret’s name is Lucas.

When a work trip takes Jackson back to his old stomping grounds, memories of the year he shared with Lucas come crashing to the surface. With growing pressure from his father to settle down and take over the family business, Jackson knows he’s on borrowed time, and sets out to find the free-spirited daredevil he once knew.

But Lucas isn’t the same man he was eight years ago.

One night. A shattered heart. And an endless parade of nameless faces. Lucas Sullivan is South Haven’s ultimate playboy, a reputation he’s honed since the only boy he ever loved left without a trace. To the world, he’s brash and confident, an in-demand artist who spends his days designing one-of-a-kind pieces and his nights as king of the downtown scene.

Many have tried and failed to get past the barrier he’s carefully constructed, but it’s the shy, studious boy he once coaxed out of his shell who still haunts him.

Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe it was lust. Or maybe…it was a little bit like love.

WITH THE NOTE from Principal Stewart crumpled in my fist, I stalked away from his office, away from the words I knew would haunt me forever.

“I’m sorry, Jackson. Your father is quite…insistent you return to Connecticut immediately.”

Immediately…immediately… With every echo of that word through my mind, my heart battered my chest, the ache to rip itself free of my body a plea I was helpless to honor.

There was only one reason he would’ve demanded I leave South Haven before the end of classes next week. My father had been adamant I receive the best education his money afforded, choosing to ship me down to south Georgia to attend the most prestigious all-boys academy in the country. I’d done him proud, rising to the top of my class, and I’d been practicing my salutatorian speech for days. Skipping out on graduation and the pomp and circumstance and recognition that came with it? Out of the question. Which could only mean one thing.

He knew. Somehow he knew.

That was the only explanation for the letter in my hand, for the abrupt dismissal this late in the evening and this close to the end of the school year. My father hadn’t gotten to where he was by being stupid or blind, and I’d seriously underestimated how many eyes and ears had been watching me during my four years. Although it would’ve only been the whispers over the last few months that piqued his interest, only the last eight that he would’ve had any reason to give me a second thought.

And that reason wasn’t a what—it was a who.

The halls of the St. John’s dormitory were silent when I entered, all the students down at the mess hall for dinner, followed by the final bonfire of the year. So there wouldn’t be anyone around to see me sneak down the hall to where I knew I shouldn’t be going but couldn’t help myself. My feet seemed to move of their own accord, the countdown to my utter devastation causing me to pick up the pace. The private plane would arrive in a handful of hours, giving me just enough time to pack my things, but there was no way I could leave without a goodbye. Not going to happen.

I wasn’t ready. I was supposed to have more time. As a cold sweat of panic seized me, I balled the letter tighter in my fist and chucked it into one of the trash bins as I passed.

Screw my father. Screw the life he’d set out for me, the one I was destined to live and hate with every fiber of my being. I wanted to bottle up every one of his expectations and throw the blasted thing out at an angry sea to swallow up and tear apart instead.

I wished it could be as easy as that. I’d been able to fool myself into a sense of freedom, but the cell door was about to smash shut on every dream I’d let myself have these past few months.

His private dorm was at the end of the long hall, last one on the right, and I rapped on it twice fast, waited a moment, and then repeated the pattern that we used for each other. A few seconds later, the door swung open, and seeing the sole object of my daily and nightly thoughts standing there in front of me with a mixture of surprise and delight in his eyes made me think that coming here had been a mistake. It was only going to sink the dagger in farther.

“Hey…I thought we were meeting la—” Lucas’s words cut off and the smile curling his lips fell as he got a good look at my face. “What’s wrong?”

You should tell him. Tell him what’s going on and that it isn’t your fault. Look him in the eye when you tell him you can never see him again.

A shooting pain tore through my chest as I realized what this goodbye actually meant. I wasn’t saying I wouldn’t be seeing him for the next couple of days or weeks. When I left South Haven’s campus in the early hours of the morning, I wouldn’t be seeing him again…ever.

God, can I do this? Break his heart as well as mine?

No…no, I couldn’t tell him. He’d look for me, find me, and there was no telling what my father would do if that happened. The letter had been my old man’s warning. Disobeying his orders would mean consequences neither of us were prepared for.

“Jackson?” Lucas’s voice dropped low, and then he looked past me out into the deserted hall. When he didn’t see anyone to blame on my current state, he frowned and waited for an answer.

The words didn’t come, though, so I stood there staring at him, taking a mental snapshot that I’d store away in a place no one could find and destroy. His black hair was casually tousled, and I knew him well enough to know he’d worried his hands through it, maybe wondering if I wouldn’t follow through on our plans tonight. He wore a simple grey t-shirt and low-slung jeans on his long and lean frame, and the swirl of black tattoos he’d recently inked on his tanned skin could be seen peeking around his right bicep before disappearing from view behind the thin material of his shirt. He was striking, both in looks and personality, and to say I hadn’t been expecting the force that was Lucas Sullivan when he’d transferred to the academy eight months ago was an understatement.

Quite simply, I’d been lost to him the first time I laid eyes on him.

Forcing myself to shake off my dread, I said, “I’m okay,” and tried to believe it for his sake.

“Well, you look like hell.” He leaned against the doorway, one of those charming half-grins cocking up one side of his lips. “Hell on wheels, anyway. What’d you do, run all the way here?”

Not too far off there. I didn’t even remember crossing campus to get to his dorm until I was in front of the building.

When I didn’t laugh at his teasing, Lucas’s expression fell again and his brows pulled down, a crease forming between them as his eyes, the color of a stormy sky, gave me a thorough once-over, looking for the source of my pain. He was silent for a long moment, but he must’ve seen something he didn’t like, because he stiffened and his jaw clenched. Then he took a deep breath and let it out in a rush.

“Tell me.”

“Tell you what?” I asked.

Lucas shook his head, his arms going over his chest. “I’m not helping you out here. If you came here for a reason, get out with it.”

Did he know? He couldn’t. I’d only just found out myself, and… No. There was no way. “It’s…complicated.”

“Complicated?”

“Yes.”

Lucas gave a humorless chuckle. “Jackson Davenport, I knew you were scared, but I never took you for a coward. If you don’t want to do this, you can man the hell up and tell me to my face.”

“What are you… I’m not…” I ran my hand over my face, struggling to understand the conclusion he’d come to for why I was standing at his door. My lack of a poker face had put him on the defensive. He thought I was here to reject him. An idea so completely unfathomable to me that it made my stomach turn thinking about it. “Lucas…you’ve got this all wrong.”

“Do I?”

“Yes. I’m not here to—“ I almost said “end things with you,” but I didn’t want to lie to him. I never had and I never would. Instead, I said, “Fight with you. I don’t want to fight.”

“Then why are you here, Jackson?” he asked, and my gaze fell to his lips. I’d tasted those lips only a few times, not nearly enough to quench a starving man’s hunger. All these months I’d wasted, warring with myself in my head, never letting myself have the thing I wanted most. And now I was down to a matter of hours. It wasn’t enough, not nearly enough. But it was all I had, and I wasn’t wasting another second.

If I couldn’t tell Lucas how I felt about him, then I’d show him.

Finally.

Irrevocably.

And starting now.

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A Little Bit Like Love is a good read beach type read (especially because of where it’s located…oh and that hot scene IN the water). Fairly low on angst, it allows the reader to enjoy some time with a second chance love, lost through no fault of their own.

These two men found each other in high school, then forced apart, find each other again 8 years later. Very different men, they still clearly have strong feelings towards each other. The issues between them were fairly predictable for the story, but still enjoyable to see how the unpredictable Lucas reacted to having the very predictable Jackson come back into his life.

The scene at Gram’s grave hit me hard in the feels. Lucas’ love and respect for his Gram was so obvious, and to have Jackson be there and appreciate that time, and have them come away from it better was very satisfying. As well, as the scene with Jackson’s father, that was more than satisfying.

An enjoyable read, although likely not a re-read. The secondary characters of Shaw and Bash were very well written and fleshed out.  I am definitely looking forward to the more gritty feeling book 2, which is Shaw’s book. That one is probably going to be a man who butts heads hard with his future man.

(Free in Kindle Unlimited)

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2h40Ltx

Amazon International: myBook.to/ALBLLebook

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You could say Brooke Blaine was a book-a-holic from the time she knew how to read; she used to tell her mother that curling up with one at 4 a.m. before elementary school was her ‘quiet time.’ Not much has changed except for the espresso I.V. pump she now carries around and the size of her onesie pajamas.

She is the author of Flash Point, a romantic suspense standalone, as well as the co-author of the erotic series, A Desperate Man, with Ella Frank. The latter has scarred her conservative southern family for life, bless their hearts. Licked, a romantic comedy, will be released November 11th, 2015 and is the first in the L.A. Liaisons series.

If you’d like to get in touch with her, she’s easy to find – just keep an ear out for the Rick Astley ringtone that’s dominated her cell phone for ten years.

Ella Frank

Connect with Brooke:

Newsletter-http://eepurl.com/brxPkP

Website- http://www.brookeblaine.com/home

Twitter- @BrookeBlaine1

FB- https://www.facebook.com/BrookeBlaine.Writer/

FB Street Team- www.facebook.com/groups/TheBrellas/

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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)

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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.

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Chasing Destiny by Megan Erickson: New Release Review and AWESOME Guest Post

Some live on memories…

Almost dying during a pack uprising has a way of shaking things up. I’m no longer Mr. Laid Back now that there’s an itch under my skin I can’t scratch.

On a volunteer mission that goes beyond the walls of our compound, we enter the territory of a pack long thought dead, and find ourselves on the business end of their spears.

What I’m not prepared for is what I find within their walls—The one shifter I never thought I’d see alive, the one I’d mourned twice, the one I’d always loved. He is alive, and if I have anything to do with it, he’ll stay that way. But he’s got secrets, and exposing them could lead us to an enemy worse than the bloodthirsty undead shifters wanting to kill us all…

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Oddest things I found while researching for the Silver Tip Pack series:

  1. Don’t search Etsy for werewolf. Don’t do it! I thought I’d mosey on over there to see if they had any cool things for giveaways and instead I came away with the knowledge that someone, somewhere, makes werewolf dildos. I never needed to know that, and I don’t think I’m a better human for it.
  2. There are a million YouTube videos about werewolf shifting. This one is a great compilation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfUrSodTwDw There is even one entitled “Man shifts into werewolf live on camera.” Okay. Sure, Jan.
  3. I need to thank the Underworld movie franchise for their lychan special effects because they have provided me with endless gifs to promote these books. Thanks Underworld producers! http://gph.is/28VF6yy
  4. Plumbing! My characters might be shifters, but the have working toilets and showers.
  5. Building supplies! My packs live in fortified compounds. I had to figure out how they’d build these compounds, and what they would use. Also farming. Dystopian writing is hard, but fun. 🙂

Okay, I seriously don’t read paranormal wolf/shifter, etc books, and I REALLY don’t read dystopian, cause well…I don’t know, I just don’t. However, with it being Megan Erickson, and with the above guest post, how could you not? I mean really…I had to!

And I loved it. I need to just stop judging a book by…well what I think it will be like. 🙂

Chasing Destiny, being book 2 in the Silver Tip Pack series, can be read as a stand alone (and since I didn’t read book 1, I can vouch for that). The author does a great job explaining the things you (likely) would have learned in book 1 that you need to know. And I was able to follow along, and get to meet, and fall in love with all the characters.

This is a second chance love (if being young teenagers when you lose your first love counts) between Bay, the brother to the Silver Tip Pack leader and Nash, the man who everyone thought was dead.

What an emotional punch when these two see each other again. Bay never stopped thinking that Nash was out there, and never stopped wanting him back. Meanwhile Nash did everything he could to keep himself away, knowing it would likely kill him to stay away and everyone he loved if he considered returning. His mind told him to stay away, but his heart and his mate would not let him go, and that was the emotional punch the reader takes as they read this. There is so much love between these two, no matter how hard Nash tries to deny it, and push it away, for the betterment of everyone, it can’t be denied, and we are fortunate enough to come along as Bay fights for Nash, until Nash is strong enough to fight for himself. *Spoiler* Nash gets there, but it takes a HUGE revelation for him to do it, and the reader will love every second of it.

So, here’s what I learned…that there better be a book 3, because I want to know what happens to Bay and Nash as they continue on their path, and there might be a couple others in the pack that I definitely want to follow into their HEA’s.

Once again, Megan draws me in, as she always does, and I don’t want to leave…except now I have to go read one of her series I haven’t yet… 🙂

4 pieces of eye candy

 

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Runner by Parker Williams: Release Day Review and Giveaway

Matt Bowers’s life ended at sixteen, when a vicious betrayal by someone who he should have been able to trust left him a shell of himself, fighting OCD and PTSD, living in constant fear and always running. When he buys a remote tract of land, he thinks he’s found the perfect place to hide from the world and attempt to establish some peace. For ten years he believes he’s found a measure of comfort, until the day a stranger begins to run on Matt’s road.

He returns every day, an unwelcome intrusion into Matt’s carefully structured life. Matt appeals to the local sheriff, who cannot help him since the jogger is doing nothing wrong. Gradually, after tentatively breaking the ice, Matt begins to accept the man’s presence—

But when the runner doesn’t show up one day, it throws Matt’s world into chaos and he must make the hardest decision of his life.

Title: Runner
Author: Parker Williams
Release Date: July 28, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 200

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This new book from Parker was such a creative premise to write from. To write from the perspective of Matt, with all his trauma, and his extreme OCD really draws in the reader. I honestly was hooked from the very first page.

Matt, having been through such a trauma literally turned everyone and everything away, including his family. What a tragic start to young adulthood. And to not have any human contact, and not search any out, what a sad existence. On top of it, he didn’t even venture outside his own set of books, almost as if time literally stopped for him from that moment on.

I loved how Charlie came into his life. Not with any forcefulness, merely a presence who ran by his home…for months, allowing Matt to see him not as a threat, but almost as a part of the landscape outside his window. Happening at the same time every day, in the same direction, until one day he doesn’t, and Matt’s world turns upside down even more.

Their relationship took time, and I loved the fact that finally Matt was able to face his demons, fighting through every step of the way, because he wanted to be there, not merely because Charlie wanted him to be there.

At the end of the book, I found myself confused, not quite understanding the timing of how things happened, and in fact, I thought things happened in a different order. It left me wondering if I had missed a piece or if a chapter was moved.

In the end, though, I really enjoyed this book, and I loved the way Matt kept fighting to find himself back in the world, with his family, with his love, and mostly with the person he wanted to become. Well done.

4.5 pieces of eye candy


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Peepshow by Clare London: Release Day Review with Giveaway

Ever wanted to spy secretly on other people’s lives?

Ken doesn’t have a choice: his student summer job is manning the CCTV screens for the new central London shopping mall. But instead of spotting criminals or vandals, he becomes fascinated by a cute waiter from the local bistro who sneaks out to the backyard for his break—and plays sexy to the camera.

Is he an old friend, or just an anonymous exhibitionist? Should Ken be excited by this naughty peepshow, or will people think he’s a voyeuristic pervert? Poor Ken’s confused and thrilled in turn. It’s like living in one of the movies he’s studying at university. He knows the man can’t see him, yet Ken feels a connection of some kind. It all encourages Ken to continue with his guilt-ridden Waiter Watch.

Ken bears the suspense as long as he can, until a chance meeting and an abortive blind date provide the explanation to the secret assignations. But will this guide Ken to a real-life chance of romance?

First Edition published by Amber Quill Press/Amber Allure, 2013.

Title: Peepshow
Series: London Lads: Book Four
Author: Clare London
Release Date: July 26, 2017
Category: Contemporary, Perchance to Dream
Pages: TBD (Novella)

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Okay, I will admit, I truly enjoyed this short novella! It was a little like crack. So much fun!

Fairly simple concept. Ken spies someone while working who captures his attention, and seems to be “eyeing” the camera, just for him. He is intrigued, and although he thinks it’s wrong to be as intrigued as he is, he can’t help but be fascinated.

He finally gets to meet his guy, and turns out he really was doing it just for him, because he had been wanting him for several years.

This was just a fun novella. No real angst (unless you count Ken’s angst at the handy in the security office 😉 ). What I enjoyed the most though…was Ken’s snarky internal monologue. As a university student in film, he clearly had tons of time watching movies, and quite often had an internal movie quote for every situation, from Forest Gump to Star Wars. They made me laugh every single time.

I had not read any of the London Lads stories prior to this one, but now I want to go read all of them! I enjoyed her writing so much.

4 pieces of eye candy


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The Rhubarb Patch by Deanna Wadsworth: New Release Blast, Release Day Review, Excerpt and Giveaway

City boy, sci-fi novelist, and recovering pushover Scott Howe doesn’t know what to expect when he inherits his grandmother’s house outside the quaint village of Gilead, Ohio—but it isn’t an enormous bald man in nothing but tighty-whities and orange rubber boots shouting at him to keep his weed whacker away from the rhubarb patch.

Scott has never met anyone like Phineas Robertson: homesteader, recluse… Republican. A tender—if unlikely—friendship grows over the summer while Phin and his schnauzer, Sister Mary Katherine, teach Scott about life in the country and the grandmother he never knew. Opposites attract, but widower Phin worries his secret will send Scott running faster than his politics, and Phin isn’t convinced he deserves a second chance at romance.

Scott is convinced—rural life, and his one-of-a-kind, older neighbor is the future he wants. Before he can settle in, his mother drops a bombshell that strains their already tenuous relationship, and a cousin who believes he is the rightful heir to the property puts Scott in danger. It’ll take a lot of compromises, and even dodging a few bullets before they’re out of the weeds, but nurturing something as special as true love always takes hard work.

Title: The Rhubarb Patch
Author: Deanna Wadsworth
Release Date: July 24, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 284

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Chapter One

“What the…?”

A big, bald man in nothing but orange rubber boots and tighty-whities streaked across the yard toward Scott Howe, waving his hands and shouting.

The high-pitched whir of the weedwacker shredding through the grass and thick, leafy weeds growing along the edge of the small barn went silent when Scott released the handle. Popping out his earbuds, he blinked hard, unable to believe his eyes.

“Stop! Stop!” the man in his underwear shouted. “You’re killing the rhubarb!”

Instinctively, Scott placed the weedwacker in front of him, wielding it like a knight brandishing a sword against an attacking dragon.

At five eight, Scott wasn’t exactly a small guy, but he wasn’t taking any chances.

“Stop, dammit!” The man flailed his arms above his head.

Then Scott registered his words.

Keeping the weedwacker in front of him with one arm, he raised the other in truce. “I stopped!”

Scott divided glances between the crazy man and the bits of grass and dark green leaves. All kinds of weeds grew around his late grandmother’s property, making the yard look like crap. Whether he decided to stay or sell the place, it needed a major spring cleanup.

 

“What the hell are you doing?” The man came to a halt, all but shoving Scott out of the way. He knelt on the ground and began pushing aside the grass. “Dammit, you probably killed this one!”

What’s he talking about?

Scott took a step away as the man in his underwear and orange garden boots hopelessly muttered under his breath, gently picking up the curly green weeds.

“Hey, man, I’m sorry.” Scott brushed his arm across his forehead before sweat ran into his eyes. “I didn’t know this was your property. The realtor told me my property line was five feet past this barn.”

The man stared, bright blue eyes scrunched with incredulity. “It’s not my property, but it is my rhubarb. Nancy and I’ve been growing it for years.”

Scott flinched. “Oh, you knew my grandmother?”

“Yes, she was my best friend, and you just killed some of our rhubarb.” His voice hitched, a twinge of desperation in his eyes.Not in anger but a deep, profound sadness that a hot wash of shame down Scott’s back.

“I’m sorry, but….” He paused, not wanting to sound like a stupid city boy coming out to the country. “But what’s rhubarb?”

Still on his knees, the peculiar man sat back on his haunches. Scott glanced at the guy’s lap, then darted his gaze back up before he noticed the faux pas—but not before taking note the guy was packing some real heat in those less-than-brand-new underwear.

The man gestured to the shredded weeds. “That’s rhubarb. Well….” He pursed his lips. “It was rhubarb.” His broad shoulders slumped, the golden hairs of his chest sparkling a little in the morning sunshine.

“I’m sorry,” Scott said again. “Are you sure I killed it?”

He shook his head and flicked at the plant waste. He straightened a few curly leaves hidden among the shredded ones, but they collapsed. “This one’s done for.” He glanced down the twenty-foot length of the barn. “Thank God I saw you before you killed all of it.”

Getting a little annoyed at this hulk of a man, Scott leaned on the weedwacker, his other hand on his hip. “Hey, I’m sorry you planted stuff on Nancy’s property. But how was I supposed to know? I just inherited this place, and I don’t even know what rhubarb is.”

Those piercing blue eyes scoured Scott from head to toe, then back again. “I suspect you’re Scott.”

He knows my name? “Yes, I am.”

“Well, Scott, I’m Phineas Robertson.” He flipped a thumb over his big shoulder. “That’s my house, and this here’s my rhubarb patch.”

“Hello, Phineas.” He gave the man a courteous nod, wondering if he should’ve called him Mr. Robertson, though he couldn’t be much older. But the guy had a big presence, an authority about him—even in his underwear—that could not be denied.

When Phineas remained quiet, Scott grew awkward. “I’m sorry I weedwacked your rhubarb. Are there any other plants of yours growing on my property?”

Shit, that sounded kinda snotty.

Phineas put his hands on his hips, his fur-dusted belly rounding out. “No, just the rhubarb.”

Feeling bad for sounding like a jerk, because Phineas was clearly distraught about the plants, Scott nodded. “Okay, so maybe you could show me what I can and can’t trim out of this section.”

Hopefully the offer would create a neighborly truce.

“Yeah, that’s a good idea.” Phineas fixed his gaze on the shredded rhubarb, though to Scott it all looked like weeds.

I’m gonna have to google rhubarb.

Phineas climbed to his feet. “Here, let me show you what parts you can pull. I haven’t gotten around here to trim it up, what with the funeral and everything.”

So Phineas had attended Nancy’s funeral. Well, that was more than could be said for Scott.

Phineas towered a good six inches over Scott, and almost all of that burly frame was bare and exposed. Scott gestured to his state of dress—or lack thereof. “You sure you don’t wanna put on some pants first?”

Awareness of being clad only in underwear and orange garden boots dawned bright across Phineas’s face. Glancing down, he gave a rather sheepish smile, which made him very appealing all of a sudden. “Yeah, I should probably do that.” He stood there for another moment before taking a few steps away. Then he paused, pointing at Scott. “Don’t cut anything until I get back.”

“I won’t.”

Then he stomped off rather proudly in his underwear and boots, tossing out over his shoulder, “If you weedwack the asparagus along the fence, you’ll regret it.”

Scott shook his head and laughed.

While Phineas walked away, Scott surveyed the three-acre property that had literally fallen into his lap.

Feathery clouds streaked the pristine sky as if an artist’s brush had smeared a blue canvas with a wash of white. Everything was greening up with spring. The cute white farmhouse he’d inherited looked cheery, though it needed some work. It was connected to a one-car garage by an overhang, and the peaked roof with two dormers gave the two bedrooms upstairs odd slanted ceilings. Not in the best shape, nor the worst. Flowers already popped up in the mulched beds around the house and garage—a sign of brighter things coming my way, maybe?

Smiling to himself, Scott flipped over a dirty old five-gallon pail by the corner of the barn. He took his iPhone out of his pocket and sat down. After unlocking the screen, he opened the Facebook app.

Nobody will believe this.

Since moving into the house three days ago, he’d been entertaining his Facebook friends and fans online with Country Updates. That was the only writing he was getting done these days, much to his editor’s chagrin.

Country Update #4: You guys will never believe what just happened! I was weedwacking at the farm and suddenly I see this big, bald guy wearing nothing but his white skivvies and big rubber orange garden boots barreling towards me! LOL I guess he’s my neighbor. He’s been growing rhubarb along the barn, but I just weed whacked some. Whoops! LOL Now will somebody tell me what the hell rhubarb is? #truthisstrangerthanfiction #cityboyinthecountry

This was actually my first Deanna Wadsworth read, and I didn’t realize it until midway through the book. I’d been following her on twitter, etc for a while, but for whatever reason hadn’t quite gotten to read one yet, so I was excited to read this one.

I definitely had mixed emotions with this book. I loved the storyline. Scott moving to the tiny village of Gilead, Ohio to start his life over after inheriting his, previously unknown to him, grandmother’s house. With that idea, he needed to work on becoming a new person. Someone who didn’t give over his entire personality to the man he was with, re-creating the pattern every time, the one he learned from his mother.

Meanwhile, Phin was such a generous man, a true heart of gold who had lost so many loved ones in his life, and just wanted to spend his days in his garden with his sweet Sister Mary Katherine (cutest name for a dog ever!). Yet, he didn’t hesitate to develop a friendship with the City “Mouse” who moved in next door.

This story was a very slow burn. These two men developed a good strong friendship, long before anything romantic actually took place. And that was exactly what they needed, for both of them. Scott, so he could learn more about himself, what he wanted, what he needed, and what he liked. Phin because he needed to finish morning the loss of his partner, as well as his best friend. By the time, they actually kissed (and so much more that night!), there was no doubt they were in love.

One of the issues that I had with the story was the length. I found myself skimming more than once. There were some very long descriptions of places, canning processes, etc that seemed to lengthen the story unnecessarily. Although it was a critical part of Phin’s life, even a cathartic process for him as he grieved, it felt like it was dragging the story in places. At 4700 locations, it was a long book anyway, with a lot of story to tell with these two men, so it felt a bit forced.

Also, there were a few unresolved issues that I would have liked to have had follow up on. (I won’t give them because it would be a spoiler.) However, that being said, sometimes life doesn’t always resolve all the issues, and that is one of the things that I did really enjoy about the book. Sometimes life gives you differences that are unresolved and you have to learn to incorporate those into your life.

If you are looking for a sweet love story (with some definite HOT spots), I think you will enjoy it.

3.5 pieces of eye candy

Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. She has served multiple board positions at her local RWA chapter and is the current President 2017 for Rainbow Romance Writers of America. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. She loves music and dancing, and can often be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.

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You can also find her young adult alter ego, K.D. Worth FacebookTwitter

Buy Deanna’s books at Dreamspinner Press, Decadent Publishing or at any reputable eBook seller like Amazon

Social Media Links:

Website: http://deannawadsworth.com

Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/deanna.wadsworth.9

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Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4264579.Deanna_Wadsworth

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/deannawads/

Amazon Author Central: http://.www.amazon.com/author/deannawadsworth


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Uncomplicated Choices by Cara Dee: Random Review

When life gave you lemons, you learned who stayed and made lemonade with you. Or something to that effect. And the day Ellis Hayes kidnapped me—or, he borrowed a yacht and didn’t know I was on board—he’d definitely been handed too many lemons.

We faced a dilemma when I woke up hungover in the middle of the ocean. He needed to get the hell out of town to do some soul searching and decide whether or not to divorce his wife, and I needed to get back on land because humans didn’t belong on the water. There was also better cell service on land, and I had my four-year-old daughter on vacation in Paris to check in with.

Then I remembered I wasn’t a complete tool. Ellis wasn’t doing all right, and we were practically family. I had to stay and make lemonade with him. Of course, me being me, seemingly un-dateable and complicated, I had to develop feelings for him, too.

 

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The first book I ever read by Cara Dee was Aftermath, a book about two men who survive a five month kidnapping, only to find that they need and want only each other. (If you haven’t read that book, I highly encourage you to. It is truly amazing. In fact, I may need to go re-read it now that I am reminding myself of it. 🙂 )

Anyway, since that was my first book of Cara’s, I had some idea how strongly she writes from a character’s perspective. The character’s are not often living their “normal” lives, but some sort of different existence that makes falling in love, possibly with the “wrong” person a challenge, yet it feels so right.

Uncomplicated Choices is another such book. I’ll put this right out front, and this could be a spoiler…Ellis is married, to a woman, at t the time that he and Casey begin their relationship. However, it works in this book. I didn’t AT ALL feel like Ellis was cheating on his wife. It worked in this story, because Ellis is trying to find himself, outside of a marriage that went sour so long ago.

Casey was really a fantastic character. First, he was snarky AF. I loved that. He was snarky when he was speaking to Ellis (or anyone else for that matter), and he was snarky in his head. It worked for him. He was able to find the humor in so many situations that others would not, and I absolutely loved that about him. He was a great father, and it was as obvious how much he loved his daughter. She was the light of his life, and didn’t care who knew that, or if that was a stereotype that didn’t match what he “should” be doing.

Both men work on themselves throughout the book, even as they work on finding a relationship that works together. Ellis began the book being “elusive”, yet along the way was able to learn to talk through his feelings, and communicate with Casey as their connection grew. Casey, meanwhile, needed to learn that he was loveable, despite all the bad experiences he’d had with people thinking he was not worthy. Seeing these two men connect with each other, while connecting with their own thoughts and feelings made for a reader experience that went above “falling in love with someone else”. They were able to fall back in love with themselves, as well.

My one issue with the book was that although it was “mostly” a stand alone book, there were periods where I was lost. People were introduced or mentioned that likely had a previous book in this series, or possibly a book ahead that I had no knowledge of, and there was little explanation. This left me wondering if this was a necessary mention, or just a one off comment that would not come up again. Several people I had to infer who they were based on the people who were in the room, and still wasn’t sure I knew who they were. Although this happens often in books in a series, usually there are some descriptions as to how they fit in to the situation to help the reader understand in the event they hadn’t read the previous books. This didn’t happen with several of the characters who were not even in place in the book, but merely brought up in conversation. This did not detract from my enjoyment of the story of Casey and Ellis, however, it did leave me wondering if I was missing a big piece of a story.

All in all a well done book, by an author that I just love to read. 4 pieces of eye candy.

 

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You Never Know by Mary Calmes: Release Day Reviews with Giveaway

Hagen Wylie has it all figured out. He’s going to live in his hometown, be everybody’s friend, explore new relationships, and rebuild his life after the horrors of war. No muss, no fuss is the plan. He’s well on his way—until he finds out his first love has come home too. Hagen says it’s no big deal, but a chance encounter with Mitch Thayer’s two cute sons puts him directly in the path of the only guy he’s never gotten out of his head.

Mitch returned for three reasons: to raise his sons where he grew up, to move his furniture business and encourage it to thrive, and to win Hagen back. Years away made it perfectly clear the young man he loved in high school is the only one for him. The problem? He left town and they have not talked since.

If Hagen’s going to trust him again, Mitch needs to show him how he’s grown up and isn’t going to let go. They could have a new chance at love… but Hagen is insistent he’s not reviving a relationship with Mitch. Then again, you never know.

Title: You Never Know
Author: Mary Calmes
Release Date: July 21, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 200

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Hagen Wiley… knew he had the love of his life when he was sixteen years old.

Unfortunately, life happens, especially when you’re young and stupid and I hate so badly that he got hurt like he did. The phone call between the two guys, just about gutted me. But here it is, 17 years later, and the love of his life is back, with his adorable two kids and they’ve come to claim Hagen.

Unfortunately, again, Hagen’s had a lifetime of heartbreak and getting hurt that he doesn’t just not trust Mitch, but he doesn’t trust any guy.. Which is a good thing, because we see him with a FWB, who all the sudden wants more…. Even though he’s a liar and kinda douche, I did kind of feel sorry for him before I knew all that. I’ve known what it’s like to lose the love of your life and then I’ve been on Ash’s side where I wanted someone to want me but they couldn’t, because of the love they had for someone else. I wouldn’t want to be in either of those positions, ever!

I loved Hagen, he’s so forgiving, much more so than I would be, ever….especially with how badly Mitch hurt him and how many times Ash lied to him… he just forgave… they said sorry, he said, okay. With Mitch, it was a little harder for him to win back his trust… not as hard as it should’ve been, because I think he needed to have to prove himself…. But, there was no denying that he loved Hagen… no doubt at all. It was in everything he did. I loved that for Hagen.

So, overall, this is just another amazing story from Mrs. Calmes; one that I couldn’t wait to read and now I’m sad that I’m finished with it. I get so sucked in to each of her stories to a point where, I want to wish them so hard to be real so I can see such amazing love between two people. I feel that way about all the guys in her stories, every single one.

So, I’ll end this with 5, well, well, well deserved stars and I’ll go ahead and declare my impatience for literally anything else she writes, ever!

Don’t skip it, you’ll love it.

I love the idea of high school sweethearts reuniting after they have experienced life a little. They’re not as naive and they know who they are and what they want from life. So, with that story line and the added bonus of Mary Calmes being the author, I knew going in this was going to be a great story.

Hagen and Mitch dated in high school. They had plans to go to the same college and see where Mitch’s promised NFL career took them. Life got in the way, Mitch went to college and Hagen joined the Army. Hagen has returned home needing to heal both his body and mind from the war. His leg needs mending and he needs to get a grip on his PTSD. Mitch has lived his whole adult life in the closet due to his football career. He married a woman and had two children, but after a hip replacement and a trip to rehab he can’t continue to lie to himself. Armed with a divorce and two small children, Mitch heads back to his hometown to raise his boys and to win back the love of his life.

Hagen has long since forgiven Mitch for changing their plans. What he has no intention of doing is picking up where they left off all those years ago. Hagen is just getting his life back to normal and he doesn’t want to disrupt that with bringing Mitch back into his life. It seems that fate has something to say about that and throws Mitch and his adorable boys right into Hagen’s path. Hagen stands no chance again Mitch’s boys and before you know it Hagen is spending time with Mitch and his family. Hagen needs to decide whether he can trust Mitch with his heart a second time or if he needs to tuck tail and run before he gets too attached to all three of them.

Love, love, love! I love stories with kids, especially when the kids are as cute as Brandon and Ryder Thayer. The kids play an important part in the story, making Hagen realize that he wants to be a father. The kids are well adjusted and make Hagen realize that by trusting his heart to Mitch he gets a chance at fatherhood that may not have been a possibility before.

The town of Benson is a great setting for this story and I am hoping that there are a few more stories in this setting. I would love for Ash to get his happily ever after and remain friends with Hagen.

The characters are well developed, their backstories are perfect; no too vague and definitely not too over the top. Hagen was cautious without being whiny and Mitch pursued him with confidence that didn’t come off as cocky or entitled.

There isn’t anything I didn’t like about this book. It was everything I have come to love and expect from Mary Calmes.

5 pieces of eye candy

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