Jumping In by Cardeno C: Quick Review with Giveaway

jumping insynopsisWhen love’s on the line, the brave jump in with both feet…

Small town cop Clint Rivera can’t catch a break. His ex of two weeks is suddenly getting married, his dogs tore up his furniture, he’s getting evicted, and he’s out of beer. When he decides to solve his alcohol shortage by going to his ex’s engagement party, Clint winds up too drunk to drive himself home.

Enter gorgeous deputy mayor Hawk Black, the man who constantly shows up unexpectedly and sends Clint’s body and mind into a tailspin with nothing but his whiskey voice and blue eyes. After months of patience, Hawk can finally seduce the man he’s been craving.

Clint’s day might not have started out well, but Hawk’s going to make sure it ends with a bang, preferably in bed. He’ll show Clint some rewards are worth the risk. With love on the line, Clint will need to decide if he can open his heart, tear down his shields, and jump in with both feet.

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deanna review

I’m a huge Cardeno C fan so I usually jump to read any books that are released. In true CC fashion, this book did not disappoint.

Small town sheriff, Clint Rivera is having a run of bad luck. He’s just returned to town after a bad breakup and a two week vacation at the lake to find his ex, Ewan Gifford is engaged to a woman and throwing the engagement party of the year. Clint heads home to lick his wounds only to find the dogs have eaten the couch, he’s being evicted because the landlord sold to a developer and he’s out of beer.

Taking care of pressing matters first, Clint heads to the engagement party for the free alcohol and runs into the sex deputy mayor, Hawk Black. Since Clint has been drowning his sorrows in alcohol all night he isn’t fit to drive himself home and Hawk jumps at the chance to offer a ride.

Hawk has been lusting after Clint for months and finally sees his opening. Not one to let a chance pass him by, Hawk goes on the offensive with one goal in mind. Win over Clint Rivera.

Love this story. The characters are relatable, the plot line realistic and entertaining. This could easily be turned into a full length novel. Hint hint.

4 pieces of eye candy

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jennifer

Okay… I’m Jumping In on the 6th book and don’t realize how I haven’t read any of these before when I adore this author!

Clint is a cop in a small town, just getting back from a camping trip in the woods to get over a bad breakup with a man who insisted they stay hidden. When he gets back, everything that can go wrong, does go wrong and an already terrible day is made worse, by an invitation to said exes wedding… to a woman, just two weeks after they broke up. Which means, he must’ve been seeing her when they were together.

Hawk Black has had his eye on Clint since the second he laid eyes on him. Uprooting his whole life on a glance, he’s been patiently waiting to make his move on Clint; the day he gets back from his camping trip, he gets his chance. Now, I know a lot of people are leery about insta-love, but…. I’m a sucker for it, when it’s believable. I loved these two, especially together.

Hawk is sweet and romantic and he knows what he wants and is intent on getting it. Clint needs a little more convincing but a weekend with Hawk showing him what life could be like if he stopped fighting the inevitable, it didn’t take no time for him to fall for Hawk as well… afterall, he was already insanely attracted to him and had been since he laid eyes on him as well.

The only problem I had with this, was that it wasn’t longer. But, alas, it was a novella, so I knew it wouldn’t be. I loved it though… I need to go back and get the others of this series, I already know I won’t be disappointed.

5 pieces of eye candy from me!

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Rough Edges by Cardeno C: Quick Review includes Giveaway

rough edgessynopsisKyle has an unwelcome crush on his nemesis Brent. Brent has a welcome crush on his friend Kyle. As it turns out, the line between a friend and an enemy doesn’t have to be a line at all.

Born on the wrong side of the tracks to the wrong family, Kyle Potter has spent his life clawing his way toward a better future. When he gets the perfect job at the perfect firm in perfect Los Angeles, Kyle is sure there are only blue skies ahead. And then he meets perfect Brent Haralson.

Born with a silver spoon to a well-established family, Brent Haralson has never been interested in leveraging his connections. Friends, success, and dates come easily to Brent and rejection isn’t something he has to deal with in life. And then he meets perfect Kyle Potter.

Kyle despises his unwelcome crush on his lazy, arrogant nemesis. Brent welcomes his feelings for his stubborn, brilliant friend. As it turns out, the line between a friend and an enemy doesn’t have to be a line at all.

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deanna review

As expected from Cardeno C this novella is perfection!

Kyle Potter as had to claw and scrape to earn every single thing he has. Brent Haralson was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. They are attracted at first sight but Kyle can not let go of the fact that Brent has no job or direction in life while he’s busting his ass to make ends meet.

When a stroke of bad luck leaves Kyle without a job and a home, Brent offers up his spare bedroom until Kyle can get back on his feet. Kyle begrudgingly accepts the offer and begins to see a completely different side of Brent.

Is it possible that he has been wrong about Brent this whole time?

Amazing story. Great life lesson. Never judge a book by its cover. The characters and the storyline were well developed. I read it one sitting, I couldn’t put it down.

4 pieces of eye candy

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jennifer

Ok, I’m kind of on the fence about this one.

I’m a huge fan of this author, I love her stories and the families and friendships. But I found that I couldn’t really forgive Kyle, he was suuuuuch a stuck up jerk!
See, he and Brent had met through mutual friends, but when Kyle found out that Brent was a trust fun baby and didn’t have to work, he pretty much wrote him off. He treated him awful.
Like he was a bum because he didn’t have a job, then didn’t care to take the time to get to know him and maybe find out when he was about, aside from not having a job.

Brent was caring and compassionate and patient and a lot more forgiving and tolerant than I would’ve been. I wanted to lay Kyle out several different times. He took it all in stride though.
I mean, I can understand Kyle being envious, having had to work so hard his whole life and kept getting slapped down by life; but none of that was Brent’s fault and the way he treated him was just… unjust and unfair.

Having lost everything, yet again, Brent offers his guest room and instead of being grateful, he was still bratty and rude, even though he accepted it. I don’t remember ever even reading a thank you.
Over time though, when he got his head out of his butt, he did start letting his guard down and he and Brent started getting along. The sex started off, almost clinical and formal but it was kinda hot at the same time. I didn’t feel any connection between them, really and I felt bad for Brent more often than not. He seemed to be a glutton for punishment.
In my opinion, he was the only redeeming quality of this story. I just don’t think this one, was really for me. Not bad, by no means, it’s a good, enemy-to-lovers story.
I guess I just couldn’t get over Kyle and his resentment.

3 stars from me.

3-pieces of eye candy

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12 Days of Kissmas: Cardeno C : Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaways

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TCO is so excited to bring you 12 Days of Kissmas. We have 12 of your favorite authors ahead over the coming days, bringing you beautiful pictures of men kissing that the authors have chosen themselves, along with exclusive posts, excerpts, and giveaways. The idea sprang from a conversation with an author that just turned into a “what if…”, and when I started asking a few authors, they immediately said they were in. Make sure you enter the giveaways, as there are lots of them! Thanks for stopping by, and a HUGE thank you to all the authors for their generosity, and loving spirit. Happy Holidays to everyone!

Guest Post

Favorite Kisses

I’m thrilled to participate in Two Chicks’ Twelve Days of Kissmas. I’m by far more a reader than I am a movie/TV watcher but I thought it’d be fun to touch on both types of kisses today so I’ll share a kissing excerpt from my book In Your Eyes and some movie/TV kissing scenes suggested by readers in my Facebook Group. What’s your favorite book, movie, or TV kiss?

  1. Just a Question of Love (Juste une question d’amour) – Laurent and Cédric. Watch on YouTube.
  2. Shelter – Zach and Shaun. Watch on YouTube.
  3. Glee – Kurt and Blaine. Watch on YouTube.
  4. Shadow Hunters – Magnus and Alex. Watch on YouTube.
  5. Days of Our Lives – Will and Neil. Watch on YouTube.
  6. Torchwood – Jack and Ianto. Watch on YouTube.
  7. Spartacus – Agron and Nasir. Watch on YouTube.
  8. Maurice – Maurice & Alec. Watch on YouTube

 

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excerpt

Excerpt from In Your Eyes by Cardeno C.

“I don’t understand what’s happening,” I confessed.

“Yes, you do. Stop thinking. Just feel.”

Before I could deny his assertion or ask what he meant or explain that using my brain was important, he closed the gap between us and pressed his lips against mine.

The feelings were already there—locked away, hidden, but there. His kiss led them out from the darkness where they were buried and showed them the light of day. He felt so good, so right, touching my face, smoothing his soft lips over mine, teasing my tongue into his mouth and letting me taste him. Before I knew it, I was reaching for him, tangling my fingers in the sides of his hair, and holding on to him, keeping him close, keeping us connected.

Without separating our mouths, he rolled on top of me and wedged himself between my thighs. I whimpered and felt him smile in response. All the while, he kept kissing my lips and petting my face. It was amazing—the warm caress of his skin, his scent surrounding me, the sound of him breathing. For the first time in my life, I was where I was meant to be, who I was meant to be. I was whole.

Gasping, I jerked back and stared at Korban. It wasn’t supposed to be possible. It shouldn’t have made any sense. And yet, suddenly, everything made sense and anything seemed possible.

“You’re my mate,” I rasped. “My true mate.”

“Yes.” He beamed, the sides of his eyes crinkling. He moved his fingertips over my eyebrows, my cheekbones, my nose, my lips, and my jaw while he gazed at me reverently. “And I am so very lucky.”

meet the author

Find More Information About Cardeno C. Here:

Website

Blog (shared)

Twitter

Facebook Profile

Facebook Group

Instagram

Pinterest

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Short Bio: Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset.

Heartwarming Stories. Strong Relationships. Forever Love.

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giveaway

For a chance to win a copy of In Your Eyes by Cardeno C, leave a comment about her blog post. What is your favorite kiss?

 

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Not a Game by Cardeno C. : Blog Tour, Excerpt and Giveaway

Not a Game

synopsis

An accidental meeting and a misunderstanding lead to a life-altering connection.

An accidental meeting and a misunderstanding lead to a life-altering connection.

A new job, a new city, and hopefully a new life. When chubby gamer Oliver Barnaby receives a job offer from the best boutique game developer in the country, he leaves his family and his less than spectacular existence in Oklahoma without a second’s hesitation. Determined to change more than his career and his geography, Oliver implements a plan to finally land a boyfriend. Step one is improving his skills in the bedroom.

A life that looks perfect on paper, but feels empty in reality. Attractive, successful, charismatic Jaime Snow has a life other people envy. His already booming business is growing. He isn’t lacking in friends. And he has no trouble finding a date. But there’s an emptiness in Jaime’s heart and a hole in his life that only the right man can fill.

An accidental meeting, a misunderstanding, and falling in love. When Oliver and Jaime end up at the same bar at the same time, they each see something they want in the other. Going to bed together that first night is easy. Building the lifetime relationship they both desperately crave will require trust, time, and a little misunderstanding.

Amazon / All Romance eBooks / Amazon CA / Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble / iTunes / Kobo / Smashwords

excerpt

 

Chapter 1:

He had chosen the bar because of its name: The Bookstore. It was clever and unusual and he had laughed internally at how happy his mother would be if he told her he was spending time at the Bookstore instead of in front of his computer. Oliver’s entire life, she had mourned the fact he wasn’t a reader, and even though he had now moved two thousand miles away from their home in Oklahoma City, she still sent him books she was sure he’d love. Maybe someday he’d open one of them.

For now, he glanced down at the only book he had read countless times and adjusted it at the edge of his table to make the spine as visible as possible. The title—Coding—wasn’t as clever as the bar name, but the information and the way it was phrased had clicked perfectly in Oliver’s brain when he was a college freshman. He had long since moved past the information inside, but the textbook was the closest thing he had to a security blanket, so he had held onto it through four years of progressively more complicated computer science classes, three dead-end computer repair and technical support jobs, and a move to Seattle to finally, finally, live his dream developing video games. When he had to pick a way to identify himself to the stranger who would guide him on the last phase of his journey toward living the life he had always wanted, the first thing that came to Oliver’s mind was the book that had started it all.

With the spine facing the bar and walkway and his glass empty, Oliver had nothing left to do but wait or get his phone out to play a quick turn on Clash of Clans. He reached into his pocket almost before his brain had formulated the thought. A quick glance at his screen confirmed it was still twenty minutes shy of eight o’clock. Oliver prided himself on timeliness, something his father had drummed into him since he was a boy, and after two months in Seattle, he hadn’t yet gotten a handle on how long it took to get anywhere, so he had erred on the side of caution and ended up arriving half an hour early.

In his head, his mother lectured him about playing on his phone when he should be paying attention to people, but he was twenty-eNot a Game Printight years old, and she was too far away to see him, so he ignored her and tried to lose himself in a game. Besides, taking his mind off why he was in that bar would stop him from falling headfirst into an anxiety attack, and even his mother would agree that was a good thing in a social setting. Not that she would ever have the chance to know about his plans that evening, because, despite how close they were, this was one activity Oliver absolutely would not share with his family. Or anyone else for that matter.

Nerves rising, he scratched his upper back through his shirt with one hand and his thigh with the other. Recognizing what he was doing, he forced his hands away before he broke the skin. Hoping for a distraction, he jerked his gaze toward his pop when, suddenly, from the corner of his eye, he noticed someone moving in his direction. Instinctively, Oliver grabbed the glass and scrunched over it, using the act of sipping from a straw as a shield to keep himself from staring at people who inevitably didn’t notice him. But when the man didn’t veer away and instead came closer, Oliver glanced up and realized the stranger was looking right at his book. Which meant he was either coming to tease the chubby nerd for having a textbook at a bar on a Friday night or…

Oh my God. This is him. Oliver kept his head down but couldn’t stop himself from flicking his gaze back and forth between his still empty glass and the approaching man.

Older than Oliver, but not too old, broad shoulders, light eyes, short dark hair, and a sculpted face. The man stopped right next to the table, waited for Oliver to look up, and then said, “Interesting reading choice.” He tapped the top of the cover and tried to meet Oliver’s gaze.

Even though this was one situation where Oliver couldn’t be rejected or laughed at, he still struggled to speak to such a handsome man, and he definitely couldn’t make eye contact with him. And now that he was close enough for Oliver to see him clearly, he definitely knew that was true. He set his gaze on the man’s chin and took in his features.

The dark hair was brown but it had strands of chestnut at the top and flecks of silver in the sideburns, which extended to the bottom of his earlobe. The light eyes were green, a pale shade that still managed to look warm. And the broad shoulders topped a chest so muscular that it stretched the black T-shirt he wore underneath a well-fitted jacket. This guy was fantasy material, and Oliver couldn’t believe he had gotten so lucky.

“Is this book yours?”

“Yes,” Oliver said hoarsely and then cleared his throat. “It’s mine.”

The man’s forehead crinkled. He tilted his head to the side and stared at Oliver.

At first, the odd look discomforted him, but then Oliver remembered the social etiquette classes he had been forced to attend in middle school, and he realized where he had gone wrong.

“Please have a seat,” he said, raising his hand toward the empty chair across from him. Though his voice still shook more than he would have liked, it was a bolder invitation than he usually gave. Of course, usually men didn’t approach him, especially incredibly handsome men, and usually people didn’t want to hang out with him, and usually he didn’t look up escort services and set up a meeting. So today was anything but Oliver’s usual.

“Thanks.” The man pulled back the empty chair, sat, and then scooted it forward. “I’m Jaime.” He reached his hand out.

Oliver glanced down at the hand, blinked, and then remembered his manners. “I’m Oliver.” He wiped his sweaty palm on his jeans, took Jaime’s hand, and shook it. “Oliver Barnaby.”

Oh crap. Was giving his last name in this situation a bad idea? Oh well. If everything went as expected, Oliver would be spending time alone with this man, which would put him at more risk than sharing his name. He had made reservations at the hotel upstairs, which was expensive and not completely secure, but it had to be safer than bringing a stranger to his apartment.

“So, Oliver Barnaby.” Grinning, Jaime glanced at the book and arched his eyebrows. “What are you doing here with this?”

Straight to the point. In Jaime’s line of work, being direct made sense, but Oliver wasn’t skilled at holding an articulate conversation with a live human so he fidgeted in his seat. “Well, uh…” He gulped.

“Late night study session?” The comment was teasing, but the tone held no malice and Jaime’s expression, while most definitely amused, wasn’t cruel.

“Sorry. I’m being silly.” Oliver shook his head. “We both know why we’re here so—” He drew in a deep breath. “I’m not sure how much he told you.” He frowned and thought back to the brief phone call he’d had with the man from the ad. “Actually, I don’t remember how much detail I gave him other than saying I needed someone experienced.”

“Experienced?”

“Uh-huh. Because, uh.” He looked at Jaime’s handsome face and once again lost the power of speech.

He hadn’t thought through how the escort agency would interpret his request but now he realized they had taken it to mean Oliver wanted someone a bit older. As luck would have it, older men were very much Oliver’s type. Or they would be if he had a type. Someone probably needed to go on actual dates rather than just fantasize about them before he could say he had a type.

“Oliver?”

Oliver blinked.

“You were saying you needed someone experienced?”

“Right.” He bobbed his head. “See the thing is, I didn’t hire you for sex.”

There was no missing the shock that crossed Jaime’s face.

“That didn’t come out right.” Oliver quickly backtracked. The last thing he wanted was for Jaime to think he was being stiffed because then he’d get up and walk out and Oliver would have to start his search all over again. The odds of finding someone as attractive and nice as Jaime to teach him were so low they rounded to zero. “I know what escort means and I’m all set to pay you. I have the money.” He patted his pocket and said an internal thank-you for his new company’s generosity. “What I meant was that I don’t want to have sex with you.”

Jaime chuckled and arched his eyebrows, but he didn’t say anything.

“Ugh.” Oliver shook his head. “I didn’t mean that either.” He raised his hand and moved it up and down in Jaime’s direction. “Look at you. Obviously, I want to have sex with you. But it’s not about eating the meal, it’s about learning to fish, you know?”

“I think I’m getting the picture, but why don’t you fill in the details?” Jaime lowered his voice. “And try to keep the whole paying for sex thing out of it.” One side of his lips rose in a crooked smile. “We are in public after all and not everything is legal in Washington.”

Oh God. Oliver jerked his head from side to side, checking to see if anyone was close enough to hear him. The bar wasn’t big and there were a decent number of customers, so someone probably had. He leaned forward, his belly squishing against the table. “Do you think people will call the police? Should we leave?”

“No and”—Jaime’s smile shifted from amused to wicked—“eventually. But first, tell me about learning to fish.” Jaime settled into his chair and crossed his arms over his chest, his biceps giving the gray suede jacket a workout. “I assume we aren’t talking about the great outdoors, so what exactly are you hiring me to teach you?”

When he had come up with the idea to hire an escort, Oliver had focused on how much it would cost, where to do it, and what he’d be able to squeeze into one night. He had also spent a decent amount of time second-guessing his plan. But he had never considered how he would explain what he wanted to the man he paid to help him.

“Do you guys have like, uh, confidentiality requirements?” Oliver asked.

Jaime arched his eyebrows. “Confidentiality?”

“Yeah.” Oliver bobbed his head. “What I tell you has to stay between us, right?”

“Well.” Jaime’s mouth turned up at the corners and then he licked his lips, coughed, and said, “I’m not a psychiatrist or an attorney, so there’s not a licensing board out there keeping me honest, but I’ll give you my word to keep this just between us. How’s that?”

After considering the response and his alternatives for a couple of seconds, Oliver said, “That works.”

“Glad we got the preliminaries out of the way.” Jaime smiled. “Tell me what you need, Oliver.”

When he said Oliver’s name, Jaime’s voice dropped, going deeper and raspier. The tone sent a pang through Oliver’s gut and reminded him why this man got paid to do what he did. That made what Oliver had to say even more humiliating, but he didn’t want his life in Seattle to be like his life in Oklahoma, so he pushed through the shame and forced himself to speak.

“I’m pretty sure I’m bad in bed and I want help with that.” He bit his lip. “Real help. Not what people brag about online.” He had read endless blogs and subscribed to chat rooms, but loath as he was to admit it, the internet didn’t have all the answers.

Looking surprised, Jaime blinked a few times, cleared his throat, and then said, “Why do you think you’re bad in bed?”

That question was easy to answer. “My ex told me.”

The good-natured, amused expression disappeared from Jaime’s face. “Your ex sounds like a dick. Find someone else and forget about him.”

“That’s just it. I can’t find someone else.” Realizing he sounded whiney, Oliver took a moment to breathe. He sat up straight, rolled his neck, and then ruined his attempt at looking confident by slumping. “People never like me in real life. I’m twenty-eight and Ted was the only guy who’s ever been willing to sleep with me. That was four years ago.” His voice shook. “I need help.”

“Hey.” Jaime’s eyes softened, and he leaned forward, curling his hand around Oliver’s forearm. “It’s going to be okay. I promise.”

Jaime’s touch was ten times more potent than his voice, and suddenly, Oliver wanted to follow through on his plans for the night because of something entirely unrelated to learning and improving himself. He stayed perfectly still, letting the pleasurable feelings wash over him until Jaime removed his hand. And then the floodgates opened.

“I just moved to Seattle in August. Did I tell you that already? I want things to be different here. I got this great job making lots of money, and I have my own apartment, but that’s not enough. I’m going to join a gym so I can lose weight, because I know guys aren’t going to be interested in me like this.” He waved his hand up and down beside his too fat, too flabby body. “I’ll never be good-looking like you, but hopefully exercise will help, and I can diet too and then maybe someone will be interested, but then what? At some point we’ll end up in bed and then he’ll never want to see me again.” He took a deep breath, his heart racing. “That’s why I hired you. I need to get better, so if I actually find someone who’s interested, I can hold on to him.” He squeezed and released his hands and stared at Jaime, hoping he’d understand.

“All right,” Jaime said calmly. “I hear you and I’m not turning you down.” He looked at Oliver meaningfully, only continuing after Oliver nodded in understanding. “We can get out of here and do this, but before we do, I want you to know that not every guy is into gym bunnies or twinks. You’re really good-looking, Oliver.”

“You’re getting paid to say that,” Oliver mumbled, dropping his gaze from Jaime’s eyes. Even that part of him was attractive—layers of green far more interesting than Oliver’s own boring brown.

“No, I’m not.” Jaime’s jaw ticced as he spoke, and he sounded so firm that Oliver would have believed him if he hadn’t found the man through an escort ad.

“It’s fine,” Oliver said. “I’m past worrying about being pathetic for paying for sex.” He sighed and dragged his fingers through his hair, hoping he wasn’t making the too long strands stick out in weird directions. “Actually, it helps. I’d never have the nerve to talk to a guy like you in real life, even if it was just to answer a question about directions or something.” He rolled his eyes at his own shortcomings. “Knowing you can’t laugh at me or judge me or turn me down makes this better.” It made it possible. “That’s all I need. Don’t worry about the fake compliments.”

“It wasn’t fake.”

Of course it was. Oliver was good-looking in the same way the bar was a bookstore. But that didn’t matter and Jaime sounded angry, so Oliver stopped arguing and refocused the conversation on the reason they were both in the Bookstore that wasn’t actually a bookstore. “I reserved a room upstairs in the hotel.”

Jaime pulled his eyebrows together and narrowed his eyes and, for a horrible moment, Oliver was sure he had changed his mind and he was about to leave. Oliver was about to plead for another chance, but then Jaime’s face smoothed and he rose from his chair.

“Lead the way, Oliver. I’m looking forward to”—he dragged his gaze over Oliver’s body, his expression unlike any Oliver previously had seen directed at him—“fishing with you.”

denise review

Not A Game by Cardeno C : Release Day Review

4-pieces-of-eye-candy

meet the author

Cardeno C - Logo

Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever- after sunset.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

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

Not A Game by Cardeno C : Release Day Review

not a gamesynopsis

An accidental meeting and a misunderstanding lead to a life-altering connection.

A new job, a new city, and hopefully a new life. When chubby gamer Oliver Barnaby receives a job offer from the best boutique game developer in the country, he leaves his family and his less than spectacular existence in Oklahoma without a second’s hesitation. Determined to change more than his career and his geography, Oliver implements a plan to finally land a boyfriend. Step one is improving his skills in the bedroom.

A life that looks perfect on paper, but feels empty in reality. Attractive, successful, charismatic Jaime Snow has a life other people envy. His already booming business is growing. He isn’t lacking in friends. And he has no trouble finding a date. But there’s an emptiness in Jaime’s heart and a hole in his life that only the right man can fill.

An accidental meeting, a misunderstanding, and falling in love. When Oliver and Jaime end up at the same bar at the same time, they each see something they want in the other. Going to bed together that first night is easy. Building the lifetime relationship they both desperately crave will require trust, time, and a little misunderstanding.

denise review

If you want an angst filled, nail biter of a story, Not A Game isn’t the book for you. However, if you want what I think is Cardeno C‘s specialty, a romance set in the real world, with characters that you can relate to, then this book is a great choice!

Oliver is a chubby game developer who decides to move across the country to start a new job, and a new life, and decides to press the reset button on his love life by getting lessons on loving from a male escort. In walks Jamie, and they begin a misunderstanding that Jamie is loathe to correct until he can figure out how to do it and keep Oliver in his life.

I really enjoyed getting to know Oliver, and all his quirks. Everything was a numbers game for him, down to figuring out the number of people attending a party. Logic and forthright understanding was how Oliver worked through his life. If he could quantify it, or explain it rationally, then he could understand it, and move on. However, if it made no sense, then his nerves ballooned, and he would shut down. This was so true to how many people deal with every day life situations. It was just one more reason to love the character of Oliver.

Jamie was so sweet and loving, caring for Oliver as much as he could, showing him how important he was, and how attractive he found him. He let Oliver know that his size was desirable to him, not a turn off, emphasizing it when Oliver needed it most. Jamie showed himself to be the boyfriend that Oliver needed and wanted.

I would have liked to see a bit more of a conflict, to see how these men dealt with issues that needed resolution. There were a couple things that I thought needed to be resolved, for Oliver’s comfort level to be where he needed it to be to be comfortable in his relationship with Jamie. However, a sweet read like this doesn’t necessarily need conflict to be enjoyable, and leave the reader wanting the HEA that came at the end.

And of course, we have a great setup to see what is ahead for Jack, as he ventures back into the world of dating after 8 years of a broken heart. Looking forward to that, because CC will no doubt give us what we are craving.

4 pieces of eye candy

4-pieces-of-eye-candy

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Audio Tour Strong Enough & Love at First Sight by Cardeno C : Reviews

SE & LAFS - tour header

Strong Enough: Family CollectionStrong Enough

  • Written by: Cardeno C.
  • Narrated by: Ezekiel Robison
  • Length: 6 hrs and 43 mins

LISTEN TO AN AUDIO CLIP

synopsis

When a casual hookup turns into the potential for love, staid Spencer realizes he wants to build a life with vibrant Emilio.
When 22-year-old Emilio Sanchez sees handsome Spencer Derdinger walking by his construction site, Emilio makes it his goal to seduce the shy professor. Getting Spencer into bed isn’t difficult, but Emilio soon learns that earning the trust of a man deeply hurt will take time and patience. With a prize like brilliant, sweet Spencer on the line, Emilio decides he is strong enough to face the challenge.
Spencer is surprised when he’s approached by the gorgeous construction worker he’s admired from the safety of his office window. Acting spontaneously for the first time in his 38 years, Spencer takes Emilio home. When the casual hookup turns into the potential for love, Spencer realizes that if he wants to build a life with Emilio, he’ll need to be strong enough to slay his personal demons and learn to trust again.

US / UK / iTunes

ebook links
denise review
I enjoyed this book quite a bit when I read it the first time a year ago. Spencer, a sweet man who has been hurt by love more than once, shy and insecure. Meanwhile Emilio, young, but confident, and willing to go after the man he wanted as soon as he saw him. Emilio is one of my favorite characters that CC has written. Despite his age, Emilio knows his mind, knows what he wants, and isn’t afraid to go after it. He’s all the things that Spencer needs in his life.
As much as I enjoyed the book when I read it, I loved it even more when I listened to Ezekiel Robison’s audio version of the book. His narration has gotten better and better as he has done this series, and my enjoyment of his narration of this book was off the charts. He was great, including accents and voice changes that worked well for both main characters.
The story of these two men was sweet, and sexy, and really touched your heart as you learned all that Spencer had been through, and that Emilio only cared about taking care of Spencer, and helping him to heal and love. These two, such opposites, attracted in the best way possible. They filled holes that the other didn’t quite realize they had.
Story: 4.5 pieces of eye candy
4.5-pieces-of-eye-candy
Narration: 4.5 pieces of eye candy

4.5-pieces-of-eye-candy

Love at First Sight: Home Collection, # 4Love at First Sight

  • Written by: Cardeno C.
  • Narrated by: Alexander Collins
  • Length: 7 hrs and 10 mins

LISTEN TO AN AUDIO CLIP

synopsis

The moment naïve, optimistic Jonathan Doyle glimpses a gorgeous blue-eyed stranger from afar, he believes in love at first sight. Unfortunately, he loses sight of the man before they meet and then spends years desperately trying to find him. Just as he is about to give up, Jonathan gets a break and finally encounters David Miller face to face.
Successful, confident David turns Jonathan’s previously lonely life into a fairy tale, giving him more than he ever imagined. But the years spent searching were hard on Jonathan, and he’s terrified his young son and scandalous past will destroy his blossoming relationship. For David and Jonathan to build a future together, they’ll both have to dig deep: David for the courage to share himself in a way he’s never considered and Jonathan for the strength to tell the truth.

US / UK / iTunes

ebook links
denise reviewOnce again, the Home Series by Cardeno C has found a way to capture my heart with another story about how life goes awry, but there is that one person who helps make it all better. Jonathan was such a sweet man who honestly wanted nothing more than to be loved. He didn’t have grand expectations of ruling the world. He wanted to be loved completely by the navy blue eyed man, from the moment he saw him. Surviving the intervening years was a challenge for him, one that is only slightly discussed in the book, until he meets back up with David in Emile City, holding back his secrets.
Meanwhile, David was living his life with short relationships where the most random things would cause a breakup, because he hadn’t found what he was looking for. When they finally found each other, they clicked. They just worked together, even having different lives and goals, they worked as a couple. Their focus was on each other, and of course Samuel, and quickly finding a life together.
Alexander Collins, as always, does a great job of narrating. Because so many of the books in this series I have only read through Alexander Collins’ narration, his voice is now synonymous to the Home Collection for me. I’m not sure I would read them again, because I have enjoyed his narration so much.
Story: 4 pieces of eye candy
4-pieces-of-eye-candy
Narration: 4 pieces of eye candy
4-pieces-of-eye-candy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cardeno C - Logo
Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever- after sunset.
Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

giveawayWin an Audible book of your choice from author Cardeno C. !!

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

Cardeno C Audio Blog Tour: More Than Everything and The One Who Saves Me

MTE - TOWSM - tour header

 More than Everything Audiobook

More than Everything: Family Collection

    • Written by: Cardeno C.
    • Narrated by: Ezekiel Robison
    • Length: 7 hrs and 46 mins

LISTEN TO AN AUDIO CLIP

 

synopsis

Time might not heal all wounds, but with two motivated and strong-willed men on a campaign to win him back, Charlie will get more than he ever thought possible.

As a teenager, Charlie “Chase” Rhodes meets Scott Boone and falls head over heels in love with the popular, athletic boy next door. Charlie thinks he’s living the dream when Scott says he feels the same way. But his dreams are dashed when Scott unexpectedly moves away.

Years later, Charlie meets brash and confident Adan Navarro, who claims all he wants is a round between the sheets. After eight months together, Charlie is convinced Adan returns his love. But when the opportunity comes to be open about their relationship, Adan walks away.

Time passes and life moves on, but when Charlie learns the only two men he’s ever loved are now in love with each other, his heart breaks all over again. Scott and Adan tell Charlie they want him back, but Charlie doesn’t know if he can trust two people who have hurt him so deeply. Time might not heal all wounds, but with two motivated and strong-willed men on a campaign to win him back, Charlie will get more than he ever thought possible.

US / UK / iTunes

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denise reviewI hadn’t read this story, prior to listening to the audio book, merely because I rarely read menage. My brain doesn’t always wrap around three people being able to find happiness together. Not that I think it can’t happen, but just that often things like jealousy and growing pains are often glossed over. However, I need not have feared with CC writing this one.

This wasn’t a “normal” menage story. Three people connecting at the same time, etc, etc. No this was about two very distinct men, falling in love with the same person, then finding a way to push that man away, and finding each other later in life, before they were able to re-connect with their first love once again.

This seemed to me to be a very good channeling of what a relationship like this would look like. Adan and Scott didn’t seem to fit together, despite being partners for a good period of time before they reconnected with Charlie/Chase and tried to bring him into their partnership. Charlie was their center, they just didn’t know it until they found him again. It felt realistic to me that something was missing in their relationship, and until they brought Charlie (and his family) into the fold.

I appreciated that CC did not make this an instant reconnection. It took time, months for Adan and Scott to convince Charlie that this was what they wanted and needed. It wasn’t an insta-re-love, if you will. Charlie had been hurt badly by these two men. For him to fall back in love with not one but both men would take time and patience on their part, which they were willing to give.

The narration by Ezekiel Robison has gotten better as he has moved through the Family series. His first book in this series was a challenge for me to listen to, the narration just didn’t work for me. However, he has become a stronger, more varied narrator as he’s continued through this series and I really enjoyed the range he portrayed in More Than Everything.

Story – 4.5 pieces of eye candy4.5-pieces-of-eye-candy

Narration – 4 pieces of eye candy

The One Who Saves Me AudiobookThe One Who Saves Me: Home, Book 6

  • Written by: Cardeno C.
  • Narrated by: Alexander Collins
  • Length: 6 hrs and 45 mins

 

LISTEN TO AN AUDIO CLIP

 

synopsis

At 14, Andrew Thompson and Caleb Lakes become best friends. As the years pass, they stand by each other through family trauma, school, and the start of their careers. They share their first sexual experiences, learning and experimenting, and they talk each other through countless dates and breakups.

Decades of trust and loyalty build a deep and abiding friendship, one that surpasses any relationship in their lives. But when the parameters of their unique friendship change, neither man knows how to break out of their established roles to build something new. After all, boyfriends come and go, but best friends are forever.

US / UK / iTunes

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denise reviewThis was my first read of The One Who Saves Me by Cardeno C. I’ve been slowly making my way through her entire Home Story collection, and enjoying learning the lives of all the men in Emile City. I’ll admit to being slightly confused in the prologue, because it was foreshadowing for much much later in the book.

I loved the relationship of Drew and Caleb. These men began as teenage friends, and continued their friendship through their entire lives, sharing their sexual experiences with each other, both as young men, and later, between boyfriends, and time spent in different cities.

There was a lot of sex in this book. A lot! And it made sense for these men, who settled into a routine with each other when they were unattached in some way. But there was also a lot of friendship. You knew that no matter what, these men would be there for each other through thick and thin. When their parents disappointed them, when they kept trying and failing at relationships, they were always there for each other. Until they realized that they wanted to be with each other more than anyone else. Then their magic could begin.

In some ways this was my favorite book so far of the Home collection. The friendship that really had no bounds for these men just did it for me. And in other ways, it was my least favorite, for a reason that I likely have never used before. There was too much sex. Okay, I really never say that. EVER! But it seemed that every chapter there was sex, and although this author can write some fantastic and super hot sex scenes, there were times where I just didn’t want any sex, I just wanted the connection between them.

In the end, though, I really appreciated how connected these men were, in all ways, and was happy to see them finally realize that being together was where they would fit the best.

The narration of Alexander Collins never ceases to make me happy. He has such range, and talent for creating voices for the characters that I haven’t heard in his other Emile City characters. The differences between these two men could be noticed immediately, merely by his tone of voice. Great job once again, Alexander!

Story – 3.75 pieces of eye candy

3.75-pieces of eye candyNarration – 4.5 pieces of eye candy

4-pieces-of-eye-candy2

meet the author

Cardeno C - Logo

Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever- after sunset.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

giveaway

Win an Audible book of your choice from author Cardeno C. !!

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

Cardeno C. Multi-Audio Book Tour

 

Cardeno Multi Audio tour - header

 

Jesse's Diner AudiobookJesse’s Diner: Hope, Book 2

    • Written by: Cardeno C.
    • Narrated by: Paul Morey
    • Length: 2 hrs and 49 mins
    • Unabridged Audiobook

LISTEN TO AN AUDIO CLIP

Two men with a shared history and a mutual attraction must be honest with themselves and each other so both their dreams come true.

Quiet, unassuming Tanner Sellers spends his time running a diner in Hope, Arizona. Not particularly social, 22-year-old Tanner keeps to himself and enjoys his simple life, but he longs for someone to call his own. In his most secret fantasy, that someone is sexy Steve Faus. But Steve is his friend’s father and mentor’s widower and therefore off-limits.

Despite some challenges, 39-year-old Steve Faus has had a good life. He’s extremely successful at work, has a great relationship with his college-age son, and lives in a wonderful town. Eighteen months after losing his partner, the one thing Steve lacks is someone to share his life with. If Steve is honest with himself, that someone is the young man he has known and cared about for years. Steve and Tanner want one another; all they need is a little push in the right direction to make both their dreams come true.

US / UK / iTunes

ebook links

All Romance eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon CA / Amazon UK

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The Half of Us AudiobookThe Half of Us: Family Collection

    • Written by: Cardeno C.
    • Narrated by: Ezekiel Robison
    • Length: 6 hrs and 29 mins
    • Unabridged Audiobook

LISTEN TO AN AUDIO CLIP

Short-tempered, arrogant heart surgeon Jason Garcia grew up wanting a close-knit family, but believes he ruined those dreams when he broke up his marriage. The benefit of divorce is having as much random sex as he wants, and it’s a benefit Jason is exploiting when he meets a sweet, shy man at a bar and convinces him to go home for a no-strings-attached night of fun.

Eight years living in Las Vegas hasn’t dimmed Abe Green’s optimism, earnestness, or desire to find the one. When a sexy man with lonely eyes propositions him, Abe decides to give himself a birthday present – one night of spontaneous fun with no thoughts of the future. But one night turns into two and then three, and Abe realizes his heart is involved.

For the first time, Abe feels safe enough with someone he respects and adores to let go of his inhibitions in the bedroom. If Jason can get past his own inhibitions and open his heart and his life to Abe, he might finally find the family he craves.

US / UK / iTunes

ebook links

All Romance eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon CA / Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Smashwords

Something in the Way He Needs AudiobookSomething in the Way He Needs: Family Collection

  • Written by: Cardeno C.
  • Narrated by: Ezekiel Robison
  • Length: 7 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

LISTEN TO AN AUDIO CLIP

Controlled Asher didn’t expect to fall for free-spirited Daniel, but they’ll find what they desperately need in one another.

Police captain Asher Penaz’s staunch professionalism bleeds into his home life, down to his neatly pressed attire and Spartan apartment. He enjoys being in charge and in control, so his sudden and powerful attraction to the lighthearted, free-spirited Daniel Tover throws him for a loop. In his entire life, Daniel has never gotten what he needs, so he moves to the next place, the next job, the next attempt to find something worth staying for, always landing at the top of his game, but never feeling like he belongs.

The chemistry between Asher and Daniel sizzles, but with all that fire comes the risk of getting burned. As both men struggle to learn themselves while getting to know each other, the lines of desire and control blur. If Daniel and Asher can walk through the flames together, they might find what they desperately need.

US / UK / iTunes

ebook links

All Romance eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon CA Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Smashwords

Where He Ends & I Begin AudiobookWhere He Ends & I Begin: Home Collection, Book 3

  • Written by: Cardeno C.
  • Narrated by: Alexander Collins
  • Length: 7 hrs and 55 mins
  • Series: Home, Book 3
  • Unabridged Audiobook

LISTEN TO AN AUDIO CLIP

Aggressive, physical, and brave, Jake Owens is a small town football hero turned big city cop who passes his time with meaningless encounters believing he can’t have who he really wants: Nate Richardson, his best friend since before forever. Thoughtful, quiet, and kind, Nate is a brilliant doctor who has always known who he is and has never been able to shake his crush on loyal, courageous, straight Jake.

After a passionate night together, Nate realizes Jake isn’t as straight as he assumed, but he worries that what they shared was a fluke, a result of too much closeness for too long. For Jake, the question isn’t how they ended up in bed together because he has always known that Nate holds his heart; it’s how he’ll convince Nate that he wants and needs to stay there.

US / UK

ebook links

All Romance eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon CA / Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Smashwords

meet the author

Cardeno C - Logo

Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever- after sunset.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Red River by Cardeno C : Blog Tour, Excerpt and Giveaway

red-river-cardeno-csynopsis

Two Alpha shifters join together to lead their pack and build a family.

Commitment, loyalty, and strength aren’t enough to make Wesley Stone’s birth pack accept an Alpha with a physical imperfection, even if it’s a meaningless mark. Putting the safety of his pack above his own wellbeing, Wesley trades himself for another Alpha and agrees to mate with a stranger in a mysterious, insular pack.

Alphas from Jobe Root’s family have led the Red River pack from the first day shifters walked the earth. Now the time has come for Jobe to fulfill his destiny, but to do that, he needs his mate by his side. Spiritual, easygoing Jobe reveres Mother Nature and trusts in fate, yet he can’t help being nervous about how his mate will react to his new life in Red River, his new life with Jobe.

Two Alphas with contrasting personalities, different upbringings, and divergent beliefs come together for the good of their packs. But to stay together, Wesley and Jobe must see beyond the surface and embrace every facet of themselves and their union.

Heather's Review

Red River by Cardeno C was definitely a bit of a departure for me. It’s not often that I will pick up a shifters book, but I have yet to read anything by this author that I haven’t enjoyed so I gave it a chance.

Wesley wants desperately to be the alpha of the Purple Sky pack. He spends much of the early portion of the book bemoaning the fact that the pack will never accept him as their alpha because of a birthmark. For someone who reads shifters frequently, this may not seem odd, but I will admit that it was very bizarre to me. As was the fact that his uncle seemed to agree with the pack because you would think he would want a family member to succeed him. But, Wesley does what a good alpha should do and accepts his uncle’s compromise as a way to do what’s best for his pack.

Jobe’s pack, the Red River pack, is the polar opposite of Purple Sky, or at least it seems through much of the book. Instead of struggling to survive, they’re thriving. Instead of believing an alpha doesn’t have a fated mate, they very much believe an alpha couple is the way to appease Mother Nature. Don’t worry if you’re rolling your eyes right now, Wesley does plenty of that as well.

While I did enjoy the book, I do wish a bit less time had been spent on Wesley’s angst over being shunned by his own pack and more given to the way of life at Red River. There are a few scenes where you see him interacting with his new pack, but nothing that left me confident that they had accepted Wesley as one of their own. Again, maybe that’s simply something that’s not meant to be questioned, but I wish we’d have seen more of his internal transformation from being bitter and reluctant about being pawned off to a new pack into one of their leaders.

Then there was everything dealing with Brian, the alpha who was traded to Purple Sky as a suitable leader. There were so many loose ends with him it frustrated me.

For the most part, I did enjoy Red River. I’m not sure I’ll run out to buy Blue Mountain, the first book in the series, but that’s more because the book hasn’t converted me into a shifter fanatic.

1-3.5 pieces of eye candy

Red River - header

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Prologue

“You’re only twenty-three. Give it time.”

Wesley Stone reached for the volume dial on the cracked dashboard and turned it to the right. Maybe if he could make the music loud enough, it’d drown out the voice in his head.

“You’re only twenty-three. Give it time.”

Time for what? There weren’t any other Alpha wolves in the Purple Sky pack, so everyone knew Wesley would eventually be leading them. What exactly were they waiting for?

“You’re only twenty-three. Give it time.”

Unfortunately, the sound in his head was louder than any rock song. He turned the knob again. He could concede that twenty-three was young to be a pack Alpha, but it wasn’t too young. And his uncle Paul was already sixty, well past the age when Alphas normally handed over the reins. It was time for him to transition leadership to Wesley.

“You’re only twenty-three. Give it time.”

He raised the volume and wished, not for the first time, that his old Civic had a better sound system. Wesley had spent three hours a day in that car during the four years he had driven back and forth to the nearest college. Getting a degree had been his uncle’s idea. He had said it would give Wesley extra credibility, but very few people in their small pack went to college, so they weren’t impressed with Wesley’s hard work and newfound knowledge about environmental engineering.

“You’re only twenty-three. Give it time.”

Memories piled up of those long days: waking up early, driving away from his pack and the woods into a concrete jungle, attending classes in huge buildings, holing up by himself in the musty library, and then driving home and falling into bed exhausted, only to do it all again the next day. And for what? If anything, the time away had put even more distance between him and the shifters he should be leading.

“You’re only twenty-three. Give it time.”

Once Wesley was truly their Alpha, they were certain to see his strength, his devotion, his skill in leading them, and they’d know the mark on his skin didn’t matter. Maybe then the pack would respect him.

“You’re only twenty-three. Give it time.”

Of course, for Wesley to be Alpha, his uncle would first have to step down. At six feet, one inch in height with a muscular one hundred eighty-five pound frame, Wesley had the advantage of size and youth over his uncle. If the man kept clinging to the position, Wesley could challenge him for it and he was bound to win. But at what cost?

His uncle, though not as strong as he had been during his youth, was a good Alpha and he had always treated Wesley well. His mother would be horrified if he went against her beloved brother, and the pack was already wary of Wesley, so taking the position by force wasn’t likely to endear him to them. Winning in a challenge against his uncle might earn him the position of Alpha, but he’d lose the respect of everyone who mattered, himself included. He had no options, no solutions. He was stuck waiting.

“You’re only twenty-three. Give it time.”

The radio knob he had turned yet again, snapped off in his hand.

“Dammit!” Wesley yelled in the empty car.

The music was already on full blast so he couldn’t hear himself, but his throat felt the strain. For that matter, so did the rest of him. His heart raced, his lungs worked overtime, and his muscles stretched so tightly they could have snapped at any moment. He needed a way to release the tension and frustration, and when he glanced out the windshield at the streets he had been blindly driving past in his effort to put space between himself and the maddening conversation he’d had with his uncle, he found the perfect solution: a human bar.

Most shifters had fated mates, but Alpha wolves needed to focus on their pack, not a mate, so instead of settling down with one wolf, they gave their energy to their pack and sated their bodies with shifters who weren’t yet mated. Wesley had a mirror so he knew he was attractive and there had been no shortage of admiring glances and come-ons from the humans at his school, but he hadn’t been receptive to their advances because he dedicated all his remaining free time and energy into socializing with his pack. Unfortunately, the shifters who should have been falling all over themselves to get attention from an Alpha gave him a wide berth because of the scar he’d carried since birth. As he jerked the wheel and skidded into the parking lot, the last thing Wesley wanted was to focus on wolves who held him at arm’s length.

The scar, though large—the oddly textured skin bisected his stomach from just under his bellybutton to the top of his groin—didn’t keep him from shifting quicker than others, running faster, or being stronger. When he’d scuffled with other wolves as a youth, he had always come out on top, demonstrating his strength and proving that his skin anomaly should be irrelevant. But shifters were animals as well as people, and animals perceived an abnormality as a weakness, so to them, the scar mattered.

In a bar full of drunk humans, though, it wouldn’t matter. They’d notice his strength and appreciate his appearance. They’d want him even with his clothes off. And in that moment, Wesley desperately needed a reminder that, as an Alpha shifter, he was revered, not excluded. Even if it was from people who had no idea he was an Alpha or that shifters existed.

***

As it turned out, Wesley’s decision to focus on his pack and his education rather than engage with humans meant he didn’t have a full understanding of their drinking holes so he had missed whatever clues denoted the bar as one catering exclusively to men. Or, more specifically, men who enjoyed the company of other men. In fact, he had been there for half an hour already, downing one beer after another in an attempt to calm down, when he first became aware of the absence of women and, shortly after that, the way some of the men interacted with one another.

His gut reaction was to get up and leave before anyone noticed him and considered his presence at a gay bar yet another difference that made him unworthy of serving as Alpha. But then he remembered that he was far from the Purple Sky pack lands at a human bar where nobody would recognize him, so he sat back on his stool, ordered yet another drink, and considered his options.

Between his time away from his pack and the hesitancy shifters exhibited around him, Wesley didn’t have the level of sexual experience befitting his status as an Alpha wolf, and the experiences he had managed to acquire all involved women. In truth, he found the males in his pack as attractive as he did the females, but he had never approached men because he hadn’t sensed interest from any and, even if he had, he would have worried about exhibiting any trait that some people considered less than optimal.

But none of these humans knew him and, given where they chose to spend their evening, none of them would think lesser of him for being with another male. He was already willing to deviate from his usual rule about sleeping only with shifters, why not take the opportunity to sample something else he’d likely never try again—sex with a man. With that decision made, Wesley curled his fingers around his pint glass and raised it to his lips as he turned around and surveyed his surroundings.

The bar wasn’t big or crowded, so it didn’t take long to catalogue the available humans. Unfortunately, he was the only person alone so the obvious choice of who to approach wasn’t possible. Those people seated in pairs exchanging touches, he immediately dismissed. Although Alpha wolves rarely had mates, they realized the value in their pack members finding their other halves and therefore didn’t approach mated wolves for sex. Humans didn’t have that same bond, but Wesley saw no reason to seek out a man who was already with someone else, so he instead focused on the larger groups and tried to determine who among them was unmatched. The process wasn’t as easy as he would have expected because, unlike the humans in his university classes, the people in the bar were as touchy with one another as wolf pups, perhaps due to the alcohol they’d been consuming.

After a few scans of the room, he noticed a small blond watching him. When Wesley settled his gaze on him, the other man’s lips turned up in a shy smile. Wesley looked him over, his Alpha senses useful given the dim light and distance between them. The human was well-groomed, attractive, and based on the way he stared at Wesley, clearly interested. His search criteria met, Wesley rose from the stool, intending to make his way over to the man to implement his plan of setting his frustrations aside, at least for one night.

But before he could take a single step toward his target, something, or rather someone, in his peripheral vision caught his eye. Twisting his head to the side, Wesley squinted toward the large metal door at the front of the bar and assessed the new arrival. He looked to be about the same height as Wesley, his hair was dyed a brash green and it stuck up in odd angles, there was something shiny in his right eyebrow—a piercing—and his pants were bright red. Everything about the man’s appearance should have put Wesley off because he had always preferred smaller and milder sexual partners, likely stemming from his dominant Alpha nature. Maybe it was due to the alcohol flowing through Wesley’s body, but despite the new arrival’s height and colorful appearance, he captured Wesley’s attention so thoroughly that he couldn’t look away.

Within seconds, the man’s gaze met Wesley’s and his eyes widened, first in surprise and then in excitement. Without hesitation, he moved toward Wesley, ignoring everything and everyone in the room. The show of desire was exactly what Wesley needed to soothe his feelings of rejection from his pack and he easily forgot about the blond at the other end of the bar as his heart raced in anticipation of spending time with the intriguing new man.

“Hi,” he said as soon as he was within arm’s distance of Wesley.

Despite his unorthodox appearance, the man in front of him managed to push almost all of Wesley’s buttons. Almost because he didn’t have the wild, warm, comforting scent natural in shifters. But everything in the bar smelled unfamiliar—liquor, sweat, stale cigarettes, and musk—so Wesley had already resigned himself to ignoring his sense of smell for the night.

“Hello.” Accustomed to socializing only with shifters he’d known his whole life, Wesley considered what he could say to a prospective human conquest. He could try a pickup line, but the only ones that came to mind were from cheesy movies and there was no way he was asking the guy if he came there often.

“Wow,” the man said appreciatively as he flicked his kohl-lined eyes from Wesley’s face to his feet and back up again. “You’re more gorgeous than in my fantasies.”

Relieved they were both in the bar for the same reason and he wouldn’t have to play games or wait to get to the point of the evening, more tension bled from Wesley. He even managed to chuckle.

“My fantasies generally involve fewer clothes.” Wesley rested his palm over the human’s chest and moved his thumb back and forth over his T-shirt covered nipple. “Want to get out of here so I can show you what else they involve?”

“Sure.” A flicker of hesitation crossed the human’s face. “Do you want to…get some tea and talk?”

Oh, no. Conversation was a bad idea because the constant stresses regarding his role within his pack had exhausted Wesley and he didn’t trust himself not to accidentally say something that would strike a human as unusual. That aside, he hadn’t come to the bar to make friends. He had come to get laid without worrying the entire time that his bed partner was looking at his scarred stomach and judging him as unworthy to lead. He had seen the appreciation and interest in the green-haired man’s eyes from the moment he spotted Wesley and he wasn’t going to let them move backward.

“Actually, I don’t.” He slid his fingers up to the man’s neck, wrapped his hand around it, keeping his hold gentle, and walked them toward the door. “I want to take you home.”

Swallowing thickly, the man bobbed his head. “Okay. You live close by?”

As they stepped out into the cool night air, Wesley shook his head and then blinked away the sudden spinning in his head. “No.” He pointed at his car with the out-of-state license plate. “I meant we should go to your place.”

The man stayed silent for several long seconds, his brow furrowed and his eyes seemed to examine Wesley’s face. “I’m not from around here either,” he finally said. “But I can get a hotel room and—”

“That’s perfect.” Wesley grasped the man’s elbow and led him toward a hotel at the end of the street. “A night in a hotel is exactly what I had in mind.”

***

Unable to completely shake his concern over being seen and judged for getting involved with a male and a human, Wesley hung back while his new friend got a room. The silence continued as they walked up the stairs and down the dimly lit hallway and a frisson of unease trickled over Wesley’s spine, as if he was overlooking something.

Unable to identify any potential problem aside from his choice of bed partner for the evening, Wesley reminded himself that even an Alpha deserved a night when he could think about his own needs rather than those of his pack. And in that moment, Wesley wasn’t sure he could do right by his pack unless someone touched and looked at him with desire rather than apprehension.

“Hey, whatever it is, it’ll be okay.”

The softly spoken words snapped Wesley back to the present. He must have been lost in his thoughts longer than he realized because they were standing inside the hotel room, the door clicking shut behind them.

“I’m fine,” he said reflexively.

“You sure are,” the other man said as he pointedly dragged his gaze up and down Wesley’s body.

They hadn’t turned the light on so he doubted the human could actually see him, but the sentiment rekindled his earlier desire.

“Glad you think so.”

“I need to kiss you.” The comment was whispered just before careful hands cupped Wesley’s face and soft lips pressed against his own.

The action wasn’t aggressive per se, but Wesley was accustomed to leading all interactions so it caught him off guard. Instinct had him grabbing the man’s wrists even as desire caused him to part his lips and open himself to the kiss. The human’s flavor was richer than Wesley would have expected, more potent. It sharpened his arousal and fogged his brain.

Seemingly having the same reaction, his companion moaned. With their mouths pressed together and their tongues tangling, they stumbled deeper into the room, blindly found their way to the bed, and fell onto the mattress. All thoughts of asserting his power flew from Wesley’s brain as they rolled from one side of the bed to the other, their bodies writhing together. The replacement of soft curves with hard muscles pleased him soul deep, as did the hard ridge of arousal sliding against his thigh. Nothing had ever felt so right, so necessary, and Wesley wondered how he had gone his entire life without it.

As they moved together, the human skated his hands from Wesley’s cheeks to the sides of his head, tangling his fingers in Wesley’s curls and taking the kiss deeper. Wesley clutched at the sinewy body against him and thrust his hips, the friction necessary. Lightheaded from the lack of oxygen and the influx of hormones, he wasn’t aware of how he ended up on his back with an unexpectedly strong body on top of him, but his legs reflexively spread, making room for the human to get closer.

“So good,” he whispered as he grazed his lips across Wesley’s jaw. He flicked his tongue over Wesley’s earlobe and rolled his hips, causing his erection to slide against Wesley’s balls and shaft.

Needing more of that sensation, Wesley tilted his pelvis up and, before he knew it, a hard dick was rutting against his butt. Although the layers of clothing prevented them from making actual contact, Wesley could feel the friction in his sensitive channel and his hole flexed in reaction.

Taking the receptive role during that evening’s hookup hadn’t been on Wesley’s agenda. So despite his body’s seeming hunger for that very thing, he would have taken control of the situation and gotten onto more familiar footing—one in which he led the interaction—but then hot hands rolled his shirt up and reached for his stomach, his scarred, imperfect stomach, and the only thing Wesley could think to do was flip over and press his shame onto the mattress where it couldn’t be seen.

Interpreting the change in position as a request, the human rocked his hips against Wesley’s ass and asked, “You want me to fuck you?”

Although that position would allow him to keep his belly hidden, Wesley could have accomplished the same thing in other ways or he could have let the human see his scar. While he might not find the textured skin appealing, a human wouldn’t assume that a less than perfect body meant a less than perfect leader.

“Yes.” Wesley’s own response surprised him, but the truth was, hiding his scar was only a small part of why he’d rolled over. The main reason was because he was swamped with an urge to know how the hard ridge rubbing against him through clothes would feel skin to skin and, even more, how it would feel pressing into his body.

This night away from the pack was, if not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, at least a rare one, and Wesley didn’t know when, if ever, he’d have another chance to have sex with a man without repercussions. Even if he found out a male pack member was interested in him, Wesley could never take the submissive role during sex. But the pack wasn’t in their hotel room and the human he was with wouldn’t think him a weak Alpha for relinquishing control because he had no idea Alphas, or shifters in general, existed. So when firm hands grabbed Wesley’s butt and massaged the muscled globes, he told himself to relax and enjoy the sensation rather than flipping over and taking the lead.

“I need to get these pants off and feel your skin.” The human’s voice had gotten huskier, sexier. He pressed his chest to Wesley’s back and kissed his nape while he circled his arms around Wesley’s waist and fiddled with his button and zipper. All the while, he continued humping against Wesley’s butt, reminding him what they’d soon be doing.

By the time Wesley’s pants were unfastened and yanked down to mid-thigh along with his underwear, his body shook and all he could think about was having more friction, more touches, more everything with the man above him.

“Yes,” he hissed when a gentle hand made its first contact with the bare flesh of his ass. He kept his shoulders down and raised his backside up, the vulnerable position completely unfamiliar but in that moment, right. “I want you.” Those words didn’t convey the intensity of what he felt. He’d had no idea his sense of isolation within his own pack had gotten so acute, but it must have. There was no other explanation for why a simple touch from a stranger burned him from the inside out.

“I want you too. More than you know.” He rucked up Wesley’s shirt the rest of the way, exposing his entire back, and then kissed, nibbled, and licked his way across the suddenly sensitive skin. While his mouth worked, his hands kept busy, caressing Wesley’s thighs and hips, until he eventually cupped one of Wesley’s cheeks, pulled him open, and then dipped his fingers into Wesley’s crease and explored the never-before-touched channel.

“Oh.” Wesley gasped, surprised by how much he enjoyed that sensation. He spread his legs farther apart, opening himself as much as he could.

“It’s hard to make myself get up, but I need to go see if they have something slick in the bathroom.” He pressed his finger against the puckered skin of Wesley’s hole and moved it in circles, giving Wesley pressure but not penetration.

A completely foreign noise slipped from Wesley. It sounded like a whimper, but he didn’t whimper so it must have been something else.

“Hold that thought, okay?” He licked a swath from the bottom of Wesley’s butt cheek to the base of his spine. “I’ll be fast.” The mattress squeaked as the man jumped off the bed.

If he had been left in that position long enough for the lust to clear from his mind, Wesley likely would have called off the entire encounter, or at a minimum changed the rules of engagement. But within seconds, the mattress dipped and Wesley was gifted with the now-comforting sensation of a warm body blanketing him.

“I found a little bottle of lotion. It’s probably not as good as lube, but it’ll do.” The finger came back, this time slippery and wet. “You’re so hot here.” He pushed against Wesley’s pucker again, continuing the pressure until he slipped his fingertip inside. “So hot,” he said huskily, pressing deeper.

Moaning, Wesley relaxed his muscles, opening himself to the surprisingly erotic sensation of another person inside him. When the finger grazed his prostate, his soft moans turned into hoarse gasps. “Oh lord.”

“I hope those are happy sounds because I need to feel this tight heat on my dick.” The human gently pulled his finger out and then slid it back in, wiggling it from side to side. “So smooth and soft.”

The sensations set fire to his body, robbing him of words. “Uh-huh.” It was the closest Wesley could come to assuring him that he wanted to continue. “’S good.”

“The best,” the man said, sounding awed. A brush of lips against his back and then the finger disappeared.

Wesley looked over his shoulder and squinted in the dark. The human was kneeling behind him, drizzling lotion on his erection. “This should be enough,” he whispered as he tossed the bottle aside. He flattened one hand on the small of Wesley’s back, keeping him in place, and circled the other around the base of his own cock, holding himself steady as he approached his target.

Wesley had never had anal sex with the women he’d taken to bed so he didn’t know if the act was supposed to hurt, but as the heated shaft pierced his core, all he felt was relief and pleasure. He pressed his forehead to the mattress and closed his eyes, blocking out all distractions so he could revel in the sensation.

“More,” he mumbled, the word slipping out without his permission. “Want you to fill me.”

“Ungh.” The groan from behind him sounded equal parts pained and turned-on. “I will.” The steady slide into him continued until crinkly pubic hair brushed against his ass and then the human draped his chest over Wesley’s back, wrapped his arm around his waist, and caressed his stomach. “I’ll fill you completely.”

His malformed span of skin had never been an erogenous zone—how could it be when Wesley did everything he could to hide it—but when the warm, strong palm made contact with his scar, Wesley’s arousal spiked impossibly higher.

“Oh!” he shouted in surprise and then he groaned. “Yes.”

“You feel so good.” The human licked and mouthed Wesley’s nape as he pumped in and out of his hole and slid his hand from side to side over his scarred stomach. “So right.”

Though he didn’t touch Wesley’s dick directly, the back of his hand brushed across it when he moved it over Wesley’s stomach. That, added to the friction from the soft sheet, was enough to bring him to the precipice.

“I’m close,” Wesley rasped, jaw clenched and lungs working overtime.

“So am I.” Teeth scraped over his shoulders and neck as the thick cock continued stretching him, warming him from the inside. “Wish I could do this forever. Don’t want to stop.”

“Me too.” For the first time in his life, Wesley wasn’t thinking about his pack, about his role as Alpha, about the obligations he was born to fulfill; he thought only of the elation overwhelming him. He rocked back, meeting the man’s hips as he thrust forward. “Lord, me too.”

Time stood still, Wesley’s mind clear of anything except the strong body above him, inside him, and then he fell over the edge, his seed shooting onto the mattress as he shouted in joy.

“Yes!” The man moaned behind him and then his hot breath ghosted over Wesley’s cheek. “Yes.”

Wesley twisted his head to the side and their mouths met in a fierce kiss—lips, tongues, teeth, and passion. When their bodies were spent, their balls empty, and their hearts slowing, the kiss gentled, the touches softened, and Wesley found himself pulled into another man’s arms for the first time. Instead of pulling away now that the haze of lust had waned, he pushed closer, holding tight to the person who had given him a soul-deep sense of satisfaction he had never experienced and hadn’t thought possible when he had driven off the Purple Sky pack lands in a fit of anger only hours earlier.

Tangled in Wesley’s arms, the human fell into a deep sleep. Wesley held him, feeling unexpectedly protective of the stranger, but, he supposed, he likely was projecting his need to protect his pack onto the human. So far, his uncle had denied him the role of Alpha and the pack had held him at arm’s length. But if he wanted to be their leader, he’d need to be patient and give them time to see that a surface scar didn’t alter his strength or his ability to provide for them and keep them safe.

With the reminder of his obligations in the forefront of his mind, Wesley sighed and pulled away from the human. Neither of them had removed their clothes completely, so he doubted the man would be cold, but he tugged the edge of the blanket up and covered him as best as he could anyway. “Thank you,” he whispered and then he brushed aside the green hair, kissed the sleeping human’s forehead, and quietly left the room, forcing himself to keep the memory of the perfect night behind that closed door so he could focus on his responsibilities.

meet the author

Cardeno C - Logo

Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever- after sunset.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

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Holiday Roundup: Authors and Reviewers Picks

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Who doesn’t like Holiday reads? We asked some of our favorite authors and our own reviewers what their favorite holidays reads are, and some of the answers caused us to rethink our own answers. The good thing with holiday reads is that there are so many to go around, and its just the perfect time to sit back with a glass of wine or hot cocoa and spend the night with a couple of delicious men…on paper of course! 🙂

Let us know what your favorites are!

found at the library

Denise: Found at the Library by Christi Snow

if only in my dreams

Morgan: If Only In My Dreams by Keira Andrews

SleighRide300Heather:  Sleigh Ride by Heidi Cullinan

dickensFelice Stevens: The Dickens with Love by Josh Lanyon

great miracleCardeno C: A Great Miracle Happened There by Kim Fielding

Cover-Audio-He-Completes-MeSloan Johnson: He Completes Me by Cardeno C

against the grainMichelle: Against the Grain by Charlie Cochet (for the Thanksgiving scene!)

dreaming of snowJessie G: Dreaming of Snow by Teodora Kostova

 

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