To Touch You by Cardeno C. Release Day Review


“His name is Salvatore Rossi. He’s a vampire. And he’s my true mate.”

By not relying on anyone except himself, Salvatore Rossi escaped a dead-end existence and reached the height of corporate success. But just when he has everything he always wanted, fate throws Salvatore a challenge he can’t solve alone and a young wolf shifter comes to his rescue.

Since childhood, Yoram Smith’s family was certain he would grow to become Alpha and save their beloved pack from its slow demise. When the time comes for a new leader, Yoram is forced to juggle his duty to care for a splintering pack with his duty to care for an absent mate, and his own strength suffers.

Being turned into a vampire didn’t alter Salvatore’s life philosophy: if you don’t rely on anyone, nobody can let you down. But when the boy who saved his life becomes a man who needs his help, the icy vampire must find his humanity.

Title: To Touch You
Author: Cardeno C.
Publisher: The Romance Authors, LLC
Genre: Gay romance paranormal (shifter/vampire)
Series: Mates (each book is a standalone about a different couple)
ISBN: 9781942184690
ASIN: B072KY67NL
Cover Artist: J.K. Hogan
Release Date: May 4, 2017

Word count: 66,181
Page Count: 260

 

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Goodreads

 

I have been waiting for another Mates book for probably close to two years now and hot damn was it worth the wait.

Salvatore Rossi is on the fast track with his career. He has no time for friends, family or relationships. Then a chance meeting with a 7 year old boy in an alley in Miancarem sets his life on an entirely different course. His only salvation is choosing the long life of a vampire over the decidedly shorter life of a cancer riddled human.

Yoram Smith is a strong wolf, and he’s known since he was seven years old that he has a true mate out there. He’s even met the man, but as the years go on and Yoram grows into an alpha wolf he begins to wonder if his mate will ever come to him. 27 now, he hasn’t seen his mate in a decade with no signs of the man. He feels like he’s about to come apart at the seams now that he’s the Alpha and he’s being pulled in a million directions with no relief in sight.

Salvatore has made it a point to stay away. He doesn’t do any kind of relationship and he doesn’t understand the “true mate” thing everyone keeps telling him about. What he does know is that the pull to be near Yoram is getting harder to deny. When he can’t take it anymore he makes the trip from Vegas to Miancarem. He doesn’t expect to find his mate about to unravel at the seams. The stress of juggling pack needs with his own needs are wearing him down.

Sal and Yoram will need to work together to get the pack to embrace change and their relationship while learning to trust each other with their own needs.

This book was amazing. When Sal and Yoram were apart my heart was breaking for Yorry. You could feel the despair and hopelessness hop off the page at you. It made me want to throttle Sal for being so damn stubborn. Once they got it together, hot dog the chemistry was off the charts. If this is where the Mates series ends, it was a great story to end with.

“I’ll gladly give up forever to touch you.”

How does your heart not melt?!?

5 pieces of eye candy

Author Website: http://www.cardenoc.com/en/book/to-touch-you

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

Until Forever Comes by Cardeno C: Quick Review and Giveaway

A sensitive wolf shifter and a vicious vampire challenge history, greed, and the very fabric of their beings in order to stay together until forever comes. Plagued by pain and weakness all his life, Ethan Abbatt is a wolf shifter who can’t shift. Hoping to find an honorable death by joining his pack mates in a vampire attack, Ethan instead learns two things: draining his blood releases his pain and his wolf, and he has a true mate – a vampire named Miguel.

Over four centuries old, strong, powerful, and vicious, Miguel Rodriguez walks through life as a shadow, without happiness or affection. When a young shifter tells Miguel they’re true mates, destined to be together, Miguel sends him away. But Ethan is persistent and being together comes so naturally that Miguel can’t resist for long. The challenge is keeping themselves alive so they can stay by each other’s side until forever comes.

Amazon

 

I love this shifter series and each book keeps getting better and better.

Ethan is the weakest wolf in the pack. His whole life he has suffered from weakness and chronic pain. He goes out with his pack to attack a coven of vampires hoping to at least die honorably so he stops being a burden to his family and his pack. The night doesn’t go as planned and Ethan discovers while he is pretty seriously wounded the process of releasing blood helps relieve his pain. He also finds his mate, a 400 year old vampire named Miguel.

Wolf shifter blood is poisonous to vampires, but oddly Miguel feels a pull to feed from Ethan. When Miguel discovers that they are mates he sends Ethan back to his pack. Ethan won’t take no for an answer, deciding that the fates made him with too much blood so that he could sustain his mate.

Miguel tries to keep distance between them, but the pull is too strong. Now Ethan and Miguel will need to work together to protect Miguel from a few rogue vampires and to help Ethan leave his pack and start a new life with Miguel.

I love the characters in this one. Ethan is a sweet as Miguel is vicious. They are the perfect balance to each other. I love that Miguel can be so caring and loving with Ethan and in a second turn into a vicious fighter the next.

The story is well developed and entertaining. This is my favorite book in the series. The audiobook is well done as well.

 

Pieces of Candy: 5

Cardeno C is giving away winner’s choice of any of the first three books in the series. Leave a comment and let us know your favorite thing about shifter/paranormal books.

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

Wake Me Up Inside by Cardeno C: Quick Review

A powerful Alpha wolf shifter and a strong-willed human overcome traditions ingrained over generations and uncover long-buried secrets to fulfill their destiny as true mates.

Regarded as the strongest wolf shifter in generations, Alpha Zev Hassick is surprised and confused by his attraction to his best friend. His very human, very male best friend. A male shifter has to mate with a female shifter to keep his humanity, so shifters can’t be gay. Yet, everything inside Zev tells him Jonah is his true mate.

Maintaining a relationship with the man he has loved since childhood isn’t easy for Jonah Marvel, but he won’t let distance or Zev’s odd family get in their way. When unexplained ailments begin to plague Jonah, he needs to save his own life and sanity in order to have a future with Zev.

Zev and Jonah know they’re destined for each other, but they must overcome traditions ingrained over generations and long-buried secrets to fulfill their destiny.

Amazon

 

I love a good shifter book and this one takes the cake.

Zev has grown up being groomed to be the Alpha of his pack. A very powerful Alpha at that. Shifter lore states a wolf mates with another wolf of the opposite sex. It’s the way it has always been, so Zev is very confused when he is attracted to his male, human best friend Jonah. Something deep down tells Zev that Jonah is his mate.

Jonah and Zev have grown up together, been best friends forever so it only seem natural that things would progress romantically. Jonah is determined to keep their relationship strong, even when he’s away at college. When Jonah is plagued with weird ailments that can’t find a reason for, he tries to stay away from Zev until he can figure out what’s going on. In the end he runs to Zev because they are always stronger together than apart.

Together Zev and Jonah work to uncover what could be going on and discover that the Fates are never wrong and Jonah was made just for Zev.

Sigh. I love this story. Their connection is so beautiful,so pure and full of happiness and love. I have read this story so many times, their aren’t many authors that can pull off this level of chemistry and make it seem so effortless.

The story itself is entertaining and I couldn’t put it down. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve read it, each time is like the first time.

 

Pieces of Candy: 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.

Rough Edges by Cardeno C : Audiobook Review

Kyle 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.

Amazon

Audible

Kyle has had to fight tooth and nail for everything he has in life. Nothing has come easy for him and because of that he carries a pretty big chip on his shoulder. He can’t stand people born to money that don’t have to earn it and meeting his buddies friend Brent proves his point.

Brent was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. He was born to money, raised to enjoy the finer things in life, and spends his days lazing about. At least these are the things Kyle thinks he knows about Brent, and takes an instant dislike to him.

When Kyle’s hard work and dedication at work finally turn into a promotion that allows him to put a down payment on a condo he finally feels like he’s made it. He’s accomplished his goal, then in one second it’s all taken away. When the chips are down Kyle has no one to turn to until Brent offers a helping hand.

Kyle borrows Brent’s spare bedroom until he can find a new job and get back on his feet. Over the first few weeks he’s there Kyle starts to realize that there is more to Brent than he first thought. He might not be the spoil rich kid he thought he was. When Kyle realizes what Brent is doing with his free time each day he finds out that old prejudices can blind you from seeing some great right in front of you.

I love a great enemies to lovers story, even if they were only enemies in Kyle’s head. This is a great story about a man finding that through his narrow and intolerant views of people he could be missing out on something great. The characters were well developed and interesting. The story, as always was perfection.

The narrator was good. This was my first time listening to Kevin Chandler. He infused just enough snark in his voice to bring Kyle to life for me. It was great.

Overall an enjoyable listening experience.

Pieces of Candy: 4

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

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.

buy now

Amazon

 

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

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.

buy now

Amazon

 

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

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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

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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.

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
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Narration: 4.5 pieces of eye candy

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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
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Narration: 4 pieces of eye candy
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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.