Empathy for a Killer by Sarah Masters: Pre-Release Day Review

Finding a killer isn’t easy, but someone’s got to do it…

Detective Burgess Varley is called out to view a dead body. It isn’t one of the best things about his job—but putting killers away for the rest of their lives? Now that’s one of the best. Problem is, the victim has something in her mouth that has always scared Burgess—something that links him to the killer without him even knowing it. And that link is more than Burgess might be able to handle.

Detective Shaw Carter, Burgess’ partner for several years, loves Burgess in ways he perhaps shouldn’t. Or ways that Burgess won’t accept, anyway. But Shaw isn’t one to back down from a challenge, and as well as being by Burgess’ side on the hunt for a killer, he has his own mission to accomplish—getting Burgess to admit they’re meant for each other. It won’t be easy, but by God, he’s going to give it a try.

With Burgess and the killer learning things about themselves, their lives, and each other that they previously hadn’t known, life—and death—is about to become serious. Murder plagues both of their pasts, committed during their childhoods when they’d been innocent little boys who’d had no idea they would feature so heavily in each other’s later years. When they hadn’t known that their very existence is because of one man—the man they both mourn.

Amazon

Pride Publishing

Kobo Books

 

First, I have to say that I think the publisher mislabeled this book. In addition to “crime and mystery”, “thrillers and suspense” and “gay”, they also have it marked erotic romance, and loaded into Amazon’s Gay Romance category. There is only one sex scene in it (and not really graphic at all) so erotic romance seems out, and although there are romantic elements, and confessions of love in this book, that is not the main theme of this book. However, all that being said, that has nothing to do with the writing of this book.

I don’t normally read books like this, crime, suspense, thrillers, all of those are on my do not read list, but something about this called to me when I saw the blurb, and the cover that made me pause. I wasn’t sure where this book was going to take me, but I know that as usual I was hoping for a happy romance. Well Ms. Masters threw me for a loop!

Burgess and Shaw definitely find love. They honestly have been in love for a long time, it just took a little impetus to get Burgess to admit that he needed Shaw as much as Shaw needed him. You could see their relationship, as detective partners, romantic partners and friends through the small interactions throughout the book. They loved, supported and trusted each other without fail, without question.

The title of the book, Empathy for a Killer, made you believe that you might want to have empathy for this killer, but as a good upstanding citizen, there was no chance that would happen, right? Wrong! You do feel empathy for this killer, as you see his pain and tortured life through his eyes. From his childhood of abuse to how he deals with the voices that begin talking in his head after 16 long years. This reader cried a little for him, and really wanted, almost would have begged, for the ending that I got. It was a perfect way to bring it full circle, and find some peace for a tortured man.

Burgess had such a difficult path to face through this investigation (I will not spoiler this!). He faced choices, hard decisions, and even more challenging was finding that someone you loved was not the person you thought they were. That pedestal can be pretty high, and when someone falls from it, hearts break, pain ensues, and nothing will ever be the same.

Although this type of book would not normally be my first choice of what to read, I really (enjoyed may not be the right word here 🙂 ) was enthralled in the story, and as it became more complex I had a hard time putting it down so I could attempt to do real life things. Well done, Ms. Masters.

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.

Mature Content by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell: Blog Tour, Exclusive Guest Post, Excerpt and Review

 

My life plan is to be brutally honest all the way to the bank. Don’t believe me? I run a popular YouTube channel called TrashyZane, and my claim to fame is oversharing about every aspect of my personal life. Sometimes while tipsy. Not everyone loves my style, but I have a long history of icing out people who can’t handle me. I have no time for judgmental foolishness.

Except, apparently, when it comes to Beau Starr. His channel is the polar opposite of mine, and so is he. Wholesome, inspirational, and clean-cut. Everything about him should turn me off, but when we hook up following a confrontation at a convention, my world flips upside down. Not only does Beau Starr turn me on, he uses the exact combination of dirty talk and roughness needed to turn me out.

But we still hate each other. I think.

Mature Content

By Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

Cyberlove Series

Book 4

Amazon  | BN | kobo | iBooks | Indigo | Angus & Robertson Book World | Mandadori Store

“You want to talk now that Ian is gone?” Jesse asked knowingly.

I flicked the seam of my pillow. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You’re being weird, and I’m not sure if it’s because of Zane or something else.”

“It’s not because of Zane. Well, some of it is, I guess.”

“Ah.” He grinned. “Does that mean there is a thing with Zane?”

I stood up and ran my hands through my hair, which had a life of its own due to the amount of grease in it. “Fine, yes. Okay? We fucked at NerdCon. It was amazing, but we still hate each other, so it’s not happening again.”

Jesse’s eyes were huge. “I’m…not sure what to say right now?”

I wasn’t either. All our lives, I’d been the bossy one, the leader, and Jesse had been the follower. I was the ambitious one, the person with answers and advice. And now the shoe was on the other foot. Jesse had a career and a happy life, and I was a goddamn mess. But maybe I’d always been a mess. I was just excellent at covering it up with a smile.

A lot of people ask us about our co-writing process in terms of big picture stuff–plotting, who writes which characters, how do we decide who writes which scene. So, when Two Chicks Obsessed asked us to write about our process, we decided to take it down to the nitty gritty. A day in the life of Megtino. As well as a glimpse at the future of the series.

Megan: I usually wake up every day to a message on gchat from Santino that says “Blah.”

Santino: No, sometimes I say “I hate today” or “Why do I have to have a job?”

Megan: Okay, you’re right you mix it up sometimes, haha. But that’s how our co-writing day starts! That’s our morning greeting. Gchat is our main method of communication because it’s easy and the app works. Usually Santino writes at night, and I write during the day. So every morning is a little bit like Christmas, because I get to wake up and see what magic he did while I was sleeping. I then send him messages like, “THAT WAS SO GOOD. HOW DARE YOU.”

Santino: And then I secretly read her scenes at work and send more messages like “Why do I have to work?”. LOL

Megan: We do plot ahead of time, but we talk through every scene just to make sure we’re both on track with the emotions of our characters. We have changed the plot of…all four books I think. As in, the plot we started out with changed as we drafted because our characters weren’t following that path. So we check in with each other before just about every scene. So before I dig in that day, we’ll take each other’s pulse. I’m usually feeling inspired and excited based on his last scene, so I’m ready to go. 🙂

Santino: I think my favorite part of our process is after it all comes together and I can reread it in its entirety, because day-to-day I get excited for every scene, but then by the middle or end it’s all fragmented in my brain so I’m like “is this coherent and fun for anyone else?? Because clearly we think it’s great!”. We both have those moments, and it’s nice to be able to kind of vent our worries and angst to each other. And then reassure each other.

Megan: It’s definitely hard when I have to write a book on my own. Like, where’s my partner? I need to brainstorm with someone! What’s kind of funny about this series is that it’s rather meta. It’s all about MCs who meet online, and we write the whole series in Google Docs while conversing on Gchat.

Santino: Exactly. I think that’s why the books resonate with so many people, though. Most people in romancelandia have met like-minded online via various different forms of social media, and those relationships have transitioned to long-lasting friendships, partnerships, and more. It’s also why we decided to keep the series going. We almost stopped at book 3, and then we had several conversations about whether we should wrap it up with book 4 since this kind of closes out the story arc that began with Kai and Garrett.

Megan: Right, and then because we can’t help ourselves, we brainstormed an idea for book five, so we guess there’ll be more Cyberlove along the way. 😀

TCO: OH YEAH!!!! Now that is awesome news!!! Thanks for stopping by Megtino.

Holy smokin hot! Like oh mah gawd. Anyway…

I kind of love opposites attract when they have something big in common. Here it was youtube. Other than that, and that they were both openly gay- Zane and Beau could not be more different. And it was awesome. While it was a bone of contention to begin with- squeeky clean Beau versus TrashyZane, they started to realize that maybe they had more in common than they thought. See first sentence of review.

I have to say, this series made me really glad I have a teen at home so I knew all of the lingo already. Otherwise, you could easily spend some time looking things up. Big plus for me and it all fit with the story, but I honestly don’t know if that would be a turn off for others.

Above and beyond the steamy hotness, there was a good story. That is essential to me. Keeping careers alive and moving forward, branding, cattiness in the business, etc. It was really interesting to read all that goes on behind the scenes of having a successful youtube channel.

Both Zane and Beau were likeable even though you want to smack each of them at different points in the story.

There were several different conflicts in the story, and honestly I couldn’t really figure out how he was going to get through it. So they way it did wrap up was done really well.

Being that this was a co-written book, one of the biggest markers for me is if you can tell that one author wrote one character and the other author wrote the second. But honestly, I could not tell at all. The story telling was seamless.

There are quite a few appearances by characters of previous books, and although it can be read as a stand alone, I really would start at the beginning. They are all worth a read.

4.5 pieces of eye candy

ABOUT SANTINO HASSELL:

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.

Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

www.santinohassell.com

Santino@santinohassell.com

Twitter: @santinohassell

https://www.facebook.com/santinohassellbooks

https://www.goodreads.com/santino_hassell

Amazon Author Page

 

ABOUT MEGAN ERICKSON

Megan Erickson is a USA Today bestselling author of romance that sizzles. Her books have a touch of nerd, a dash of humor, and always have a happily ever after. A former journalist, she switched to fiction when she decided she likes writing her own endings better.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her very own nerdy husband and two kids. Although rather fun-sized, she’s been told she has a full-sized personality. When Megan isn’t writing, she’s either lounging with her two cats named after John Hughes characters or… thinking about writing.
For more, visit meganerickson.org

Website: www.meganerickson.org

Amazon Author Page

Twitter @MeganErickson_

IG: https://www.instagram.com/meggiejoknows/
FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1440306062901719/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/authormeganerickson/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mrsmeggiejo/

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 Struggle Within by Tyler May: Quick Review

Through Ryan’s trials, there are three different perspectives: a best friend watching from the outside, a lover desperate to get in, and his own mind.
His struggles were theirs. He just didn’t know it.
A tragic accident changed Dr. Ryan Jacobs’ life and freed him from a past he thought he’d never escape, but with that freedom came the realization: he could escape the man, but would be bound to the torturous battle within his mind. Fighting for control of his thoughts, he lived recklessly in a life of addiction and the next good time. Wearing a mask of deception, and hiding it beautifully behind his playboy ways, he fooled himself into thinking this was the real him, but he couldn’t fool everyone.
Dr. Michael Jonas considered Ryan more than just a friend, he was his family. With the support of his wife, Michael held Ryan’s hand, listened to him cry, and helped him through the hardest events of his life. He could see through the fake smiles and playboy attitude, seeing his best friend for the man he really was. After Michael’s wife had given birth to their first child, Michael vowed never to let pain affect his family again, Ryan included. But Michael carried his own burdens and watching Ryan struggle was harder than he thought. It tore him apart, silently, until there was only one choice. Save his best friend before it was too late.
As a high-powered attorney, Jayson Alexander thrived on easy thrills both in his professional and personal life, but when his heart broke the rules, he had no choice but to break it and run from the pain. Obsessive about controlling his own life, he set goals and rules and tried to ensure his own happiness, but life had a different plan. So he sought out answers and took on a case that would eventually change everything. He was drawn to Ryan from the moment he laid eyes on him. With a magnetic connection he couldn’t deny, he found Ryan irresistible, but he found out quickly the connection was more than physical. Jayson wanted Ryan, but how could he fight the demons Ryan’s mind was creating and stop them from pushing him away?
Ryan built a force field around his heart, vowing after that tragic day, no man would be allowed close enough to ever hurt him again, but with the support of his best friend and the man he loved, could Ryan beat The Struggle Within once and for all?

Due to strong sexual content and language, The Struggle Within is intended for mature readers 18 years of age or over.
Trigger warning: The Struggle Within may contain a subject matter that is sensitive to some readers as it deals with domestic abuse, self-harm, and addictive behavior. The author asks that the reader please take these warnings seriously and requests discretion be advised.

 

Amazon

 

This could have been a very difficult read based on the subject matter. And honestly, at times it was. But the way the story was told made it so much more “readable”.

We begin when Ryan meets the charismatic Calvin. We get a brief fast forward of their relationship and hints of abuse. That part of the story ends with a declaration from Calvin that they were moving so that he can take a position at a different hospital.

Fast forward. We go from a emotionally and physically beaten down Ryan to a seemingly happy doctor having sex in quiet hallways of a hospital. I was thrown for a minute, but I kept reading and it made sense.

By not only telling the story from three different points of view- Ryan, his best friend Michael, and his new love interest Jayson, but also using flash backs of his time in the relationship with Calvin, make it so that the story doesn’t crush you. Because it really could. Had it been told strictly chronologically, I don’t know how many could have gotten through it. And it really wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting.

If absolutely nothing else, I hope that this book creates awareness of something that I am sure few think about. But yes, there is abuse in non-hetero relationships. It isn’t talked about much for the same reason a husband in a hetero relationship probably wouldn’t admit to abuse by his wife. But it is out there, far more prevalent than we think.

We do, luckily, get a happily ever after. I am not adverse to sad endings at all. But this book needed it. Because we really need to know that Ryan is going to be ok.

Also take the time to read the personal stories and poems at the beginning and end of the book. So powerful.

 

Pieces of Candy: 4 1/2 

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

Their Life As They Live It (Persepctives #4) by A.M. Arthur: Exclusive Excerpt and New Release Review

Bernard “Bear” Henson is a blessed man. He is happily married to the love of his life, he co-owns a successful business, and his grown son is desperately in love with a wonderful partner. But Bear knows all too well how precarious that happiness is, so he lives every day with love in his heart and gratitude for everything he has—especially his husband Richard Brightman. Richard has been HIV-positive for thirty years and every new day is a gift.

When Richard becomes unexpectedly ill and is rushed to the hospital, Bear braces for his beautifully constructed life to come crashing down. A hard-won life full of ups and downs, illnesses and setbacks, love and anger, and a lot of regret for how certain things went down. Certain things involving Bear’s alcoholic ex-wife Debbie and the start of Bear’s relationship with Richard. But the past can’t be changed, only remembered and studied.

As Richard fights for his life, Bear reflects on the last thirty years of their entwined lives. College days, his shotgun wedding to Debbie, his unexpected feelings for Richard, and the proudest moment of Bear’s life: the birth of his son Gabriel. Bear’s life with Richard is woven with love, heartache, regret, joy, and everything else in between. They’ve overcome every obstacle that’s come their way, and they’ll overcome this new illness, too. Period. Bear simply isn’t ready to live his life without Richard in it.

Note: This is the fourth book in my Perspectives series, and while it can be read as a standalone, readers will have a much richer concept of these characters if you’ve at least read book two, The World As He Sees It. Warnings for spousal abuse (not between the two heroes) and cheating.

 

Amazon

  

….1990

Certain things were impossible to forget: the way it felt when you broke your leg falling out of a tree at age eight; your first real, meaningful kiss; a spanking so harsh you really could not sit comfortably for the rest of the night. Along with those things, Bear could now file the sight and sounds of a woman giving birth.

Eighteen hours in labor, six of which Bear had tried to sleep away in an uncomfortable chair, so he could be there for everything. He was eager to meet his daughter or son. They’d both agreed to wait and be surprised—one of the few things they’d agreed on in the last nine months. Ever since she verified yes, she was pregnant for real, and then yes, he was the father, their lives had been a series of dramatic compromises.

“You can keep sucking your boyfriend’s dick if I get to name the baby.”

“Go see your boyfriend whenever, but you come home to our bed every night.”

“Miss this appointment because you’re with him, and I’ll disappear with your kid.”

Mostly Bear was compromising and it kept him trapped between two worlds: the world of raising his child with Debbie and the world of loving Richard. It stressed him out, and even while Richard had adjusted to his meds and started gaining weight, Bear was losing weight. Not sleeping. Working himself to death to provide for his family—and according to Debbie, he never, ever did enough.

But then she was finally in labor, and she was pushing. Bear let her squeeze the shit out of his hand, while he watched a head of dark hair emerge, sticky and wet, followed by a perfect little face. Shoulders and arms. And then the baby was out, nether parts hidden by scrunched up legs.

“It’s a boy,” the doctor announced. “A very healthy looking baby boy.”

Bear’s heart surged with more love than he thought possible at the sight of his perfect son’s squirming body, the sound of his cries. The nurse let him cut the cord, and then the boy was taken away to be cleaned up. Bear watched every single movement, every action, desperate to hold his son in his arms.

He looked down at Debbie, who was quietly crying. And not happy tears. He knew her well enough. Those were…unhappy tears? She’d been hoping for a girl, but their son was perfect. No need to cry.

“All right,” said the nurse holding the baby. “Mom?”

Debbie shook her head no. Undaunted by her odd reaction, Bear held out his arms. The nurse gently deposited the most perfect human being on the planet into his arms. The baby’s eyes were shut, but he emitted soft, smacking sounds. Tiny fingers grasped for something. Bear took in every single detail of the bundle in his arms.

“He’s beautiful,” Bear said. “My God, he’s perfect. Debbie, you did good.” He couldn’t look away from his son, while the doctor dealt with the afterbirth and a few stitches for tearing. That had to suck balls.

“Have you discussed names?” the nurse asked.

“A little,” Bear replied. He was so happy to have this precious baby in his arms, he didn’t care what name Debbie came up with. “It’s Debs’s choice.”

Still a little teary, Debbie said, “Gabriel. His name is Gabriel Aaron.”

“Gabriel Aaron,” Bear repeated. “It’s just about perfect, Debs. You wanna meet him?”

She wiped her cheeks, then nodded. As gently as he could, Bear eased his precious burden into Debbie’s arms. She still looked troubled, but who couldn’t smile at that pretty baby? “He looks like you,” she said.

“You think?”

“I do. He’s our son, Bernard. Our son.”

“Yeah.”

“Ours.” Her sharp tone caught his attention, and then it pissed him off.

He’d left her room twice since they arrived, both times to call Richard and give him an update. Gabriel was biologically Bear’s, but Bear was in love with Richard, and he wanted to share as much of this experience as possible with the man. He wanted Richard to meet his boy as soon as he could, and Debbie knew it. No matter what compromises Debbie demanded from Bear, Richard would be a part of his son’s life.

“You okay for a while so I can make some calls?” Bear asked. “Little Gabriel’s got two sets of grandparents who want to know he’s here.”

“Yeah, we’re fine.”

Bear pressed a supportive kiss to her sweaty forehead, and a loving one to Gabriel’s, then went in search of the nearest pay phone. He had plenty of change in his pocket in anticipation of today’s announcement. And he did exactly what he said he’d do: called her folks first, with all the vital information. They weren’t the nicest or most supportive people in the world, and he understood why Debbie had wanted to get away. But they mostly liked him, because he took care of Debbie, and they took the news well.

The official story they’d given the family was her first “pregnancy” had miscarried, but she’d “miraculously” gotten pregnant again a few months later. Everyone bought it, and it kept the complicated reason private. Waiting on Debbie hand and foot had also kept the particulars of their relationship—and likewise, his relationship with Richard—a secret from Bear’s family. They’d been proud of him for stepping up and marrying her, like any good Catholic would, but they’d breathe fire and brimstone if they ever found out about Richard. His parents and brother Pete would turn on him, and Debbie knew it.

She knew it, and she manipulated the hell out of him.

Bear’s parents were thrilled with the news. His father, especially, loved that there would be another Henson to carry the family name. They promised to pass the news to his brother. Then Bear made the third, but most important phone call.

“I have a son,” he said the moment Richard picked up the phone.

“Oh, baby, I’m so happy for you.” Richard whooped over the line. “How long have you been at the hospital? You must be exhausted.”

“I am but it’s okay. It was worth it to see Gabriel born.”

“Gabriel. It’s a lovely name.”

“It’s perfect. He’s an angel. I can’t wait for you to meet him.”

“I can’t either, as long as his mother allows it.”

Bear growled. “She doesn’t get a say in this. You are going to meet my son.”

“I look forward to it. You sound completely worn out.”

“I’ll get some sleep soon, I promise. I needed to hear your voice, tell you the good news.”

“It’s amazing news. You’re going to be a great father, Bear, I know it. You have so much love inside of you.”

“You’d be a great dad, too.” Bear didn’t dare voice the nebulous future he’d entertained more than once: him and Richard together, raising Bear’s child as a couple. Happy, the three of them.

Richard coughed softly. “Even I wasn’t gay, that wouldn’t be possible anymore.”

“Hey, medicine is advancing every day. Someday they’ll find a cure, I know it.”

“I hope so. For now, love your son. Support your wife. I love you.”

“Love you back.”

Bear reluctantly hung up, and his quarter clunked down with all the others. He could probably waste time making a few more calls, but the most important people knew. The gossip grapevine would take care of the rest. His boss said to take all the time he needed, but as soon as he got Debbie and the baby home and settled, he had to go back to work at the gym.

For now, he returned to the delivery room to bask in the amazing thing that was his perfect, beautiful son, Gabriel Aaron Henson.

Oh how I loved this book.

First, I have pretty much loved ALL of AM Arthur’s books. She has several different series but they all live in the same world and there is always a bit of cross over. Which I just think it so fun. Second, I have wanted Richard and Bear’s story for a long time. As the dad’s to the main character in a previous book AND the owners of a gay club frequented across series- I wanted their story. And we got it.

Richard and Bear’s story is told in a series of flashbacks while Richard is in the hospital recovering from an illness. This could have felt abrupt and forced, yet it is seamless. We go all the way back to the beginning- when they first met and became college roommates. Some of the flashback stories are long, some not so long. But all of them perfect.

And those flashback stories gave *me* some serious 80’s flashbacks.

Their romance that began as a friendship was so beautiful. I am kind of a sucker for older characters who have been together for a long time and have been through a lot. And boy did they go through a lot. Nothing was overly dramatic or for shock value. It was swoony without being saccharine, and sexy without being raunchy.

When you know that there is a happily ever after because you’ve seen it in other books in the series, but can’t wait to read it and see what happens- that is a good book and a great story.

 

Pieces of Candy: 4.5

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

A Worthy Man by Jaime Reese: Blog Tour, Review, Excerpt and Giveaway

Author: Jaime Reese
Genre: M/M Romance
Release: May 2, 2017
Photographer: Eric McKinney of 6:12 Photography

A story of two men and the boundless love that forever changed them. 


Vannguard Shaw has spent the last ten years serving a life sentence and adjusting to the ache of solitude. He accepts his fate, a sacrifice for the only man he ever loved and the one person who saw beyond his rough edges.

Drayton grew up with a trust fund and pre-planned future, but an unexpected encounter one night forces him to abandon everything and start from scratch. He is now a self-made man and developer of one of the most sought after electric exotic automobiles in the world with a fortune greater than that of his birthright. Yet, he’d surrender it all—again—for the only man who’s still ever-present in his heart.

After a decade and entirely too much distance between them, Vann is suddenly released back into a world that has been nothing but cruel. Drayton never lost hope they would once again reunite and pick up where they left off, but Vann’s stubborn nature and repeated encounters with a heartbreaking world prove to be a challenge.

Vann needs to tap into his fighting spirit’s reservoir of strength and hope life doesn’t punish him for taking a chance. Only then will he realize his own value and feel worthy enough to finally have Drayton’s heart. And their chance at forever.

* Although part of a series, this full-length novel can be read as a stand-alone. *Word count: 124K


“Emotionally, beautiful and inspiring” – Amanda L Amazon Reviewer

“A great addition to this series. One of the most romantic books I’ve read this year.” – Bayou Book Junkie

“Overall…Their story is beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring, sexy, and moving.” – Two Book Pushers

There are a lot of second chance love stories out there in the world. But I really don’t know that I’ve read one like this. One of them knowing where the other is (prison) and working to get him out. And the other having no idea what is going on- until he is released. Right into the arms of his first love and the man he went to prison for.

Oftentimes with this trope there is a lot of push and pull. One character pushing the other toward reconciliation and the other fighting it tooth and nail. Instead, we found two men who were separated by a decade and a lifetime of experience,getting to know each other all over again, falling in love all over again.

Both of them are so SO damaged- but they don’t use that against each other. Vann tries to use his damage- quite often- as a reason that Dray should walk away. Vann has accepted his lot in life- forever the ex con who will never be as good as Dray. But he doesn’t feel sorry for himself. It is more of a realist attitude. And while it could have gone overboard with the platitudes of Dray reassuring Vann- it never happens. He reassures him, he loves him, he is THERE for him. Which is exactly what Vann needs.

There was also a whole story line about what Drayton had been doing with his life for the past ten years and how he was trying to draw Vann into that life. Some of it was a bit of a stretch for me- but it also reinforced what kind of men they were, Vann refused to have anything handed to him and Dray wasn’t going to buy his love or trust.

Matt and Julian feature fairly prominently (as they should since Vann is staying at their halfway house) and we got some great cameos from previous characters.

There is a slow build of sexual tension since they don’t get much alone time at all in the beginning. What they do get is seriously hot. When they get alone time- whew! Have a fire extinguisher handy.

This is a must read that can be a stand alone- but you should really read them all. Excellent writing, great characters and a moving story.

Favorite Line: “The only positive of being away from you for so long is that now I get to enjoy falling for you all over”

4.5 pieces of eye candy

 

“C’mon,” Drayton said, tugging Vann by the hand. After breakfast and a countertop quickie, they had immediately returned to the bedroom and had been hibernating there since. He had no objection to spending all day in bed, but he had a surprise for Vann and couldn’t stand waiting any longer. “I want to show you the rest of the house.”
“But I like the bedroom.”
Drayton chuckled, pulling him up with more force. “We can come back after.”

“Fine,” Vann grumbled, finally sitting up on the bed with a dramatic pout.


“You’re cute when you don’t get your way.”

“Cute enough to stay in bed?” He waggled his eyebrows and petted the bed. “It’s really soft.”
Drayton leaned in and gave Vann a chaste kiss, jerking back quickly to avoid his grasp.

 

Vann’s laughter filled the room. “Damn. You’re still super-fast.” He reluctantly stood and stretched his arms over his head.

 

Drayton’s lips parted, enjoying the flex of muscles.

 

“Like what you see?” Vann asked, delivering a cocky grin as he seductively licked his lower lip. “Let’s get back in bed—”
Drayton threw his head back and laughed. “You’re still persistent as hell. C’mon. I want to show you something.”

 

“I want to show you something too.”

 

“This is important.” Drayton crossed his arms. “We can skim the other rooms but there’s one that’s special. It’s…yours.”

 

Vann sobered. “You’ve given me enough to cover every event for the rest of my life and then some. I don’t want—”
“It’s also for me. I’ll watch you while you use the room.”

 

“Hmm.” Vann pursed his lips. “Okay, you’ve got my attention.”
After a little more bargaining, Drayton finally lured Vann out of the bedroom and down the hallway. He opened the door to his office and stepped inside. “This is the room I’m usually in when I’m here.”
“Not anymore.”
He chuckled as they exited the office. They walked down the hall to the room he’d had converted into a gym.
“Damn, this is nice.” Vann checked the different weight options and looked at each of the machines.
“You’ve got everything here for all types of routines. And if you don’t like the view, you’ve got a TV.”
“The view’s beautiful.”

 

“Whatever we need to change out or add, we’ve still got space. I do a lot of thinking while I’m on the treadmill, so we’re not getting rid of that.”

 

Vann chuckled. “Okay.” He walked over to Drayton and leaned in for a slow kiss.
“Mmm. What was that for?”
“Is this the room I’ll use while you watch me? I promise I’ll make you sweat too.” 
 Jaime Reese is the alter ego of an artist who loves the creative process of writing, just not about herself. Fiction is far more interesting. She has a weakness for broken, misunderstood heroes and feels everyone deserves a chance at love and life. An avid fan of a happy ending, she believes those endings acquired with a little difficulty are more cherished.

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Darkest Hour Before Dawn by Charlie Cochet: Release Day Review with Giveaway

darkest hoursynopsis

THIRDS Team Leader Sebastian Hobbs and Chief Medical Examiner Hudson Colbourn are as much in love now as they were nearly seven years ago when a tragic event on the job destroyed their relationship. The two drift together only to be pulled apart time and time again. When Hudson draws the interest of dangerous enemies, both within and outside the organization, Seb wants nothing more than to protect the man who still means everything to him.

As life-and-death events, an uncertain future, and startling truths draw Hudson and Seb to each other yet again, they must make a choice: trust their love and take strength from what they share, or lose what matters most… for good this time.

Title: Darkest Hour Before Dawn
Series: THIRDS: Book Nine
Author: Charlie Cochet
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Category: Mystery/Suspense; Paranormal: Werewolves/Shifters, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 224

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denise review

What can I say about the THIRDS world that I haven’t said previously? Charlie Cochet has created an alternate world that is steeped in so much realism, grit and humor that sometimes it is hard to remember that I don’t really know these men. (On a side note, someone PLEASE pitch this book series for a TV series!!!!)

So, back to my review. I went into this, anxious for the HEA for Seb and Hudson. The THIRDS Nerds have been waiting a long time to see these two finally find their way back together for good. It was definitely worth the wait. The obvious love between these two has been there since the first moment we met Hudson. Seb’s devotion to the British man has never wavered, and continues to be just as strong through the book.

Every single time I read one of Charlie’s books, I am completely surprised by something. Like blown away, wasn’t expecting that at all, surprised. This time as I began reading Darkest Hour Before Dawn, I initially thought, this will be a sweet, second chance at love story. And it was a second chance at love story, but rather than sweet, I would use the word intense to describe the book. There was so much happening here, that just when you thought “oh, now they will get their HEA”, Charlie hit you with another surprise from left field. Nothing that this family couldn’t handle, but definitely a stretch to continue on.

And the surprise that you always get at the end of any THIRDS novel, well this one has been a long time coming, and the ramifications will be long lasting and far-reaching. This touches everybody in the Unit Alpha family, and beyond.

If you are looking for a lot of Dex and Sloane, Ash and Cael, or Calvin and Hobbs, you won’t see a lot. This was definitely a story about Seb and Hudson, as it should have been. But you definitely get a few glimpses of all your favorite THIRDS characters, which make you itch wondering where they will all be going next.

My love for this series has not ebbed one bit. It continues to be fresh and different from book to book, and character to character. I have no idea what Charlie has in store for all these men coming up, but I honestly cannot wait to find out.

Now, excuse me, because I just finished this book, and I am going to go read it again, just in case I missed anything. 😉

5 pieces of eye candy

MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE – CHARLIE COCHET IS A FREAKING GENIUS.

Gahhhh – I have never loved an author or a series more than Charlie Cochet and her THIRDS Series. Darkest Hour Before Dawn is book 9 in the series. I have yet to find a series that compares to the THIRDS series with it’s exciting and jaw dropping plots, sexy Alpha men and world building like no other. The way Cochet intertwines each book in the continuation of the story is poor freaking genius.

DHBD is Seb & Hudson’s story about second chances. We met them in book 1 where we get bits and pieces of how they were once a mated a couple but are no longer together. I was intrigued from the beginning about what happened and how each one is coping with not being together.

Cochet does an outstanding job in giving us a piece of them as we watch them come full circle. The writing is superior and the ongoing plot will once again make you wonder how Cochet keeps coming up with the twist and turns. The story will keep you engaged and captivated until the very end. AND….of course Cochet ends it with a WTF moment and goes out with a bang. We get a little bit of everyone & everything and of course Sparks is sneaky as always.

As usual, I will be over here waiting for the next book and I hope this series never stops. I love the world Cochet as created with all the sex, secrets and lies. I am on the edge of my seat wondering what will happen next.

If you have not started this series I hope you will give it a try.

If you are #THIRDSNERD like me I hope you love Seb, Hudson and their story as much as I have.

Another outstanding book for Charlie Cochet.

FAVORITE LINE: “Whatever happens, whatever storms come our way, I will be here, holding your hand, facing it with you.”

5 pieces of eye candy

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Bonfires by Amy Lane: Release Day Review with Giveaway

bonfiressynopsisTen years ago Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron George lost his wife and moved to Colton, hoping growing up in a small town would be better for his children. He’s gotten to know his community, including Mr. Larkin, the bouncy, funny science teacher. But when Larx is dragged unwillingly into administration, he stops coaching the track team and starts running alone. Aaron—who thought life began and ended with his kids—is distracted by a glistening chest and a principal running on a dangerous road.

Larx has been living for his kids too—and for his students at Colton High. He’s not ready to be charmed by Aaron, but when they start running together, he comes to appreciate the deputy’s steadiness, humor, and complete understanding of Larx’s priorities. Children first, job second, his own interests a sad last.

It only takes one kiss for two men approaching fifty to start acting like teenagers in love, even amid all the responsibilities they shoulder. Then an act of violence puts their burgeoning relationship on hold. The adult responsibilities they’ve embraced are now instrumental in keeping their town from exploding. When things come to a head, they realize their newly forged family might be what keeps the world from spinning out of control.

Title: Bonfires
Author: Amy Lane
Release Date: March 24, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 280

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denise review

I love Amy Lane’s books, although I haven’t been brave enough to read her really angsty stuff. I don’t want to end up in a fetal position on the floor in my house wondering how I will go on. 🙂 But Bonfires seemed like a good middle ground between Amy’s super angsty and her sweet and light-hearted works. A good middle ground it was.

It is very seldom that I get to read a book where the characters are about the same age as I am. Generally they are between 25 and 35, so this was a fantastic change of page. Both characters were mid to late 40s, with teenagers still in the house, and some kids having already left home. And for both men, this was a second chance at love.

I loved the fact that it wasn’t insta-love. These men had lived in the same town for years, seen and talked to each other at multiple events. It merely had become time for them to live their lives again, rather than having their lives ruled by their children. Don’t get me wrong, the kids definitely interfered. Finding the time or place to have adult sex was rather funny to read, because you could see that happening in your own life, with your own kids.

There were definitely some HUGE surprises in this book, some the reader doesn’t see coming, as Amy Lane books are often wont to do. In the end, though, it was about two men finding a second love, and figuring out how to manage time, their jobs and life in general. They found it, but they worked hard at it, knowing it wasn’t easy.

Amy also threw in one of my favorite things to find. To me, it is almost like an Easter Egg. She didn’t solve all the problems. There were still unresolved issues within this new family, and realistically that is exactly what happens in life. Too often with romance novels, everything is wrapped up neatly, no stone is left unturned, and all issues have been settled. Not here! She left a couple things unsettled, and that is okay with this reader!

4.5 pieces of eye candy

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Thick & Thin by Charlie Cochet: Release Day Review includes Giveaway

thick-and-thinsynopsisIn a matter of days, Dex has been kidnapped, tortured, killed, revived, become half Therian, offered the chance to become a spy, and accepted a proposal to marry his jaguar Therian boyfriend, Sloane Brodie. It’s been a lot to take in, and although Dex is still trying to wrap his head around everything that’s happened, he knows he has to move forward.

After the events of Smoke & Mirrors, Dex and Sloane find themselves in one of the most frightening situations of all: revealing the truth to their Destructive Delta family. When the dust settles, nothing will ever be the same, and it’s up to Dex to prove that in the face of change, the one thing that will always remain the same is family.

Title: Thick & Thin
Series: THIRDS: Book Eight
Author: Charlie Cochet
Release Date: February 1, 2017
Category: Mystery/Suspense; Paranormal: Werewolves/Shifters, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 95

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denise review

Every time I read something by Charlie Cochet, I am so impressed. She continues to amaze me with the depth she adds to all her work, whether its a THIRDS novella or her holiday series. Thick & Thin is no exception. It isn’t just the depth of the characters or emotions that are so impressive. The depth of the stories are so multi-leveled that although these COULD be read as stand alone, a reader would miss so much of the setup for future, from beginning to end.

To start Hell & High Water with Dex, and learning quickly in that book that his parents were killed in the riots, when he was only 5 years old, to then come full circle to Thick & Thin, and get a better understanding of what actually happened takes planning, plotting and more planning. In book 2, you see set up that comes to fruition several books later, and so on.

With Thick & Thin, Charlie takes a short novella, packs a super punch, leaves the reader hanging (only slightly), and wanting more of what is ahead for the entire family of Destructive Delta. In addition, this was a necessary component to the series. Although people have been dying for the next book, this was needed to prepare the reader for what was coming. Her completion of one or two story arcs, in a 95 page novella, and setup for Seb and Hudson’s book is such a great balance of loving what you’re reading, and wanting what is ahead.

Sometimes in a book series with so many books, the reader can get bored, and move on, yet there is absolutely no chance this reader (or most) is moving on, and the second I get my hands on book 9, I will be hiding away from the world so that I can soak up every word of it.

Not a single spoiler! You NEED to read this! That is all. 🙂

4.5 pieces of eye candy

4.5-pieces-of-eye-candy

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Sight Unseen by Susan Mac Nicol with Nicholas Downs: Release Day Blitz and Review

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Sometimes we don’t see love coming

Based on an idea from L.A. producer and actor, Nicholas Downs, Susan and Nicholas have developed a story straight from the heart.

In a gripping tale of lovers fighting against the odds comes a story of universal appeal about rejection and acceptance and finally finding what is real and true.

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synopsis

Tragedy brings together a reserved but brilliant sculptor and an outgoing gallery owner, friends whose love was sidetracked but was always meant to be deeper.

BLINDSIDED

SoCal natives, Nate and Cody have been friends since childhood. Both knew they were different—and the same. At seventeen, a stolen weekend in the Florida Keys drove their connection deeper and hotter than either could imagine. They were meant to be together. Then, for reasons only Nate knows, suddenly they weren’t.

They’re still friends. Best friends. But they’ve moved on and found other partners. The yearning remains, however, despite the long-ago secret that drove them apart, when tragedy strikes, both men find themselves in the dark. They must grope their way back to who and what they are…which they will find in each other’s arms. Sometimes, losing one’s sight can open one’s eyes—and heart.

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Click “want to read” and add to your TBR shelf

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BOOK TRAILER

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sNjNYnBUq0

Heather's Review

From the moment you start reading Sight Unseen, you know it’s not going to be a fluffy story. It’s heartbreaking to see Nate in the moments after his life is forever changed. As if that isn’t enough, the man who should’ve been there for him…isn’t.

Luckily, Nate has Cody. Cody is the best friend who refuses to let Nate give up– on his passion or on himself. At times, he pushes too hard, but it’s because he loves Nate and knows he won’t be happy if he’s still missing a huge chunk of his life.

This is not a steamy, sexy read. It’s a love story. A beautiful, if at times painful, story of two men who love one another falling in love with each other. It’s definitely in the re-read folder on my Kindle!

4.5 pieces of eye candy

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SIGNING NEWS

Author Susan Mac Nicol is going to the States.

Would you love to meet International Bestselling Author Susan Mac Nicol & L.A. producer and Hollywood Actor Nicholas Downs? Now is your chance!!

It’s a dream come true for Sue and she’s honoured to be signing Sight Unseen with Boroughs Publishing Group and actor Nicholas Downs at this conference from 25-26th March.

If you’re interested in attending this signing, either as an author or a reader, here is the link.

https://caldreaminwriters.com/

The 2017 conference will be at : Embassy Suites in Brea, California.

Address: 900 E Birch St, Brea, CA 92821

There will also be a very special signing event at The Abbey, an iconic gay club in West Hollywood. Nicholas and Sue will be there to enjoy the evening, meet fans of both their genres in film and publishing and be available to sign books, chat and have some fun. If you’re in the area, please pop down and see them, they’d no doubt love to see you.

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This is the room they’ll be signing in, isn’t it fabulous. It’s the Cabana Bar.

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CONNECT WITH SUSAN & NICHOLAS

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Twitter: @SightUnseenPR

Instagram: @sightunseenla

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Sight-Unseen-The-Project-1547502492221078/

Susan

www.susanmacnicol.net

Nicholas

www.nicholasdowns.com

Susan Mac Nicol Author Page
https://www.facebook.com/authorsusanmacnicol/

Nicholas Downs Fan Page
https://www.facebook.com/Nicholas-Downs-97159977384/

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Walking on Thin Ice by Jocelynn Drake: Release Day Review and Giveaway

walking-on-thin-icesynopsis

It’s not easy for Spenser Roland to admit it, but he needs help. Christmas is just a few days away, and he can’t face the idea of showing up to his family’s gathering alone … again. They want to see him happily settled, but Spenser doesn’t date. He can’t risk it if he wants to protect his family. But one unexpected night with Evan Scott has him thinking that maybe he can strike a deal that will make his family happy and give him a little holiday cheer as well.

Evan never should have accepted a ride home from the sexy-as-hell corporate executive, but he’s proud that he stuck to his guns. He’s done with the one-night stand game. He wants something real. Something that lasts. But when Spenser returns, asking him to pose as his boyfriend over the weekend at a Christmas celebration, Evan is sure he’s lost his mind.

But he can’t say no.

Maybe it’s the shadow of loneliness in Spenser’s bright blue eyes that’s too much like his own. Or maybe it’s his heart-stopping smile.

Either way, Evan knows he’s on thin ice with Spenser, risking his own rules and heart, but Spenser is worth the risk.

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denise review

When I was sent the ARC for Walking on Thin Ice, I literally did a little happy dance at my desk. 🙂 I have enjoyed the writing of Jocelynn Drake (and her co-author in the Unbreakable Bonds series, Rinda Elliott) since I discovered Shiver, and had been looking forward to reading Jocelynn’s version of a happy holiday story. Of course, it was not without its share of drama, and I enjoyed every second of it! 🙂

When we first meet Spenser, he is a busy corporate man, on the prowl for a one night stand, and not at all used to the word no. Meanwhile Evan says exactly that to Spenser, because he has come to a place in his life where he believes that he is worth tomorrow with someone.

One of the things I enjoyed about this book was that, although Spenser was serious about not dating, and had no real intention of getting involved with anyone ever, he let go, and had fun with Evan. They laughed, had fun with Spenser’s family, and just relaxed. Clearly something Spenser needed, when his entire life was about protecting the family he clearly adored so much.

Getting to know Spenser’s family was a great bonus, as well. His family was so loving, so accepting, and united in their support of each other. I loved seeing that there was just a happy family, and were more than willing to open their hearts to a new family member.

The author can write some smoking hot sex scenes, so don’t think this is all fun and frivolity. You will not want to be reading some of these scenes on your commuter train. 😉

I highly recommend this book, it is definitely a re-read holiday novel for me. I really hope to catch up with this family again!

4.5 pieces of eye candy.

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