The Virgin Manny by Amy Lane: Release Day Review

virginsynopsisGrowing up and falling in love…

Sometimes family is a blessing and a curse. When Tino Robbins is roped into helping his sister deliver her premade Italian dinners when he should be studying for finals, he’s pretty sure it’s the latter! But one delivery might change everything.

Channing Lowell’s charmed life changes when his sister dies and leaves him her seven-year-old son. He’s committed to doing what’s best for Sammy… but he’s going to need a lot of help. When Tino lands on his porch, Channing is determined to recruit him to Team Sammy.

Tino plans to make his education count—even if that means avoiding a relationship—but as he falls harder and harder for his boss, he starts to wonder: Does he have to leave his newly forged family behind in order to live his promising tomorrow?

Title: The Virgin Manny
Series: The Mannies
Author: Amy Lane
Release Date: January 1, 2016
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 228

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denise review

One of my favorite romance tropes is the virgin. It totally takes me back to the Harlequin romances I read as a teenager, that were “oh so dirty” at that time, and I had to read under the covers with a flashlight.

Amy Lane‘s version, the Virgin Manny is such a fantastic entry with this trope. Tino is such a family man, really doing everything he can to make his family proud of him, helping whenever he can, and graduating college was so important to him. Finding a way to do it debt free was not in his plans, but when Channing steps in to request help, Tino finds the offer to good to refuse.

Seeing their relationship grow, and seeing Tino realize that “life is what happens” when all your plans are just that, plans, allows him to become an even more solid presence for his family, as well as Channing and his nephew. Even as he sees plans for family members change, he wrestles with change, but still is able to focus on the important things in life.

Tino’s family was great. I loved them all. And the “bad person”…totally gets what is deserved. THAT is a happy ending. 😉

4 pieces of eye candy

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Catching Heir by Julia Talbot: Guest Post & Release Day Review

perf4.250x7.000.inddsynopsis

Is he in love with an old hotel—or its new owner?

Professional snowboarder Cullen Patrick is successful and kinda famous. So when he inherits an old Colorado hotel from an unknown relative, he really should leave well enough alone.

Matt Nathanson has been managing the Treeline Estates since college. He loved the elderly former owner, and he stands to inherit the place if no one claims it in the next week. Of course, Cullen shows up, and Matt thinks it’s time to move on. He doesn’t want to like Cullen, no matter how engaging the guy is, or how hunky.

Cullen has grand ideas for the Treeline, but he doesn’t want to implement them without Matt, and he’s not sure he’s ready to give up snowboarding. Can Matt convince Cullen that putting down roots is worth it… and maybe catch his heir at the same time?

Title: Catching Heir
Author: Julia Talbot
Release Date: December 1, 2016
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 220

Guest Post

The Snowboarder in My Past

Hey, y’all! I’m Julia Talbot, and I here to talk about my newest release with Dreamspinner Press, Catching Heir.

The novel is about a professional snowboarder who inherits an old hotel in Colorado. When Cullen gets there, the manager, a hot, if stodgy, man from Texas, thinks he’s about to inherit the hotel, instead. Matt is surprised and angry when he realizes Cullen intends to stay, but we all know hope isn’t lost! This is romance, darn it!

So, when I decided to write a snowboarder, I knew I would have to do some research to see what and who was current in the world of extreme sports, but I also knew some things never change, so I could call upon personal experience.

I lived in Colorado for ten years, and in most of that time, I was a circulation manager at a college library, a small university on the Western Slope, which is what they call the area west of the continental divide. In Grand Junction, you have very few entertainment choices unless you’re “outdoorsy”. Hiking, mountain biking, skiing, rafting, snowboardng… These kinds of activities are super available, and to a man or a woman, most of the eighteen to twenty-one year old kids who worked for me were totally into them.

I had one student in particular, let’s call him Braden, who was a snowboarder. A damned good one from what I could tell, mainly from what the girls said about him. He was obsessed with snowboarding, and when he wasn’t shredding out there in the snow, he was thinking about it, or talking about it, or practicing for it on his skateboard. Braden was the laziest worker I had, and he was never embarrassed to call in sick if there was fresh powder.

If I let Braden work nights, as we were open until eleven pm, I would come in the next morning to security footage of him sliding down the handrail of the atrium stairs standing up or flying past the camera at the front desk on a rolling office chair, feet together, knees bent, hands out for balance.

He made me laugh all the time. The neat thing about Braden was how he knew everything there was about snow and ice. He knew that the closer you were to the coast, the better the snow, so ski areas in Idaho and Nevada, then Utah, then Colorado were preferable. He knew what local slopes, which in Grand Junction could be everything from Vail to Telluride, including the tiny Powderhorn just up the road on Grand Mesa, would be like in any given conditions: wet snow, dry snow, sheet ice. All of it. He was quick to tell me that it was the lift ticket that cost so darned much, and when I gave him one I won to Telluride from a vending machine, attached to a bottle of diet Coke, he was ecstatic, and he brought me back a t-shirt that read: If you can read this, flip my Jeep back over.

When I needed to write Cullen, my snowboarder, I put a lot of Braden in him. The humor and the snow knowledge, the slang like “asspass” and “Shred”. (Asspass is when you fall on your butt and slide.) I also played the what if game. What if Braden had been a child prodigy at his sport. What would he be like if that was all he’d ever done.

I hope I did him justice in the little parts of Braden that I used to build Cullen. And wherever Braden is right now, I hope he’s well on his way to a righteous snow dump so he can bust it down the hill.

Find Cullen and Matt in Catching Heir, my new Dreamspun Desire from Dreamspinner Press.

XXOO
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deanna review

What a great read. Julia Talbot is a new author to me and I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Matt is just days away from claiming ownership of The Treeline, a hotel he has worked hard to maintain for years when Cullen, the deceased owners grandson is found and ownership reverts to him. Cullen is a professional snowboarder and never wanted to own a hotel.

Ben, the previous owner wrote a clause in the hotel trust that Matt could never be fired for any reason. His job was and always would be secure at The Treeline. Cullen and Matt will have to work together to ensure the success of The Treeline while Cullen still has his snowboarder’s life to contend with. Along the way feelings are developed and both want to make their arrangement a little more permanent.

I loved his! It was a sweet, low angst read. I loved the progression of the relationship between Cullen and Matt. It felt real, with everyday obstacles and little to no drama.

4 pieces of eye candy

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meet the author

Julia Talbot lives in the great Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Samhain Publishing, Dreamspinner Press, and Changeling Press. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at www.juliatalbot.com

www.juliatalbot.com
@juliatalbot on Twitter
https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor

 

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The Senator’s Secret by K.C. Wells: Release Day Review

senators

synopsis

Politics, puppy dogs, and passion, oh my!

When his Republican opponent outs him with a photo in a Facebook post, Senator Samuel Dalton doesn’t have many options open to him. It doesn’t matter that the photo is totally innocent. He has no choice but to come clean… until his staff suggest putting a spin on it that leaves Sam reeling.

Sure, he’ll end up with a lot of sympathy, not to mention the possibility of more voters from the LGBT community, but it still seems a pretty drastic solution.

Now all they have to do is persuade Gary, the other man in the photo, to play along. It sounds so easy: convince the constituents of North Carolina that he and Sam are engaged.

No big deal, except for the fact that they’ve only just met….

Title: The Senator’s Secret
Author: K.C. Wells
Release Date: September 1, 2016
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 220

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deanna review

I am mad at everyone for not telling me about KC Wells before now. Where have I been?? This was the sweetest, most entertaining story I have read in a while.

Sam, Senator for the good state of North Carolina is so deep in the closet only one of his closest friends knows that he’s gay. He doesn’t have a boyfriend or even a lover, choosing to channel all of his time and energy into politics.

Gary has just been accepted to Vet school and works part time for Sam’s re-election campaign. In a moment of celebration, Sam gives Gary a congratulatory hug on his acceptance to vet school and someone from the opposing campaign snaps a picture trying to spin it that Sam is hiding secrets from his constituents.

In a moment of insanity, Sam and Gary agree to Sam’s campaign manager’s crazy idea to pretend that the two are together, in fact they are engaged. Hilarity ensues as the two get to know each other, are followed by a photographer, and meet Sam’s parents.

Sam and Gary quickly realize they aren’t really pretending and that this thing just might be real, no matter how it started out.

Love. That’s the only way I can describe this book. I love it. There was a refreshing lack of drama between Sam and Gary, no matter how chaotic things began. There were so man laugh out loud moments. I found myself enjoying this book so so much and wondering how I had not read KC Wells before this.

Sam’s mom, oh my god. She’s hysterical. She’s my hero. Cherry flavored lube, I don’t need to say anything else.

Dinky, the rescue pup was responsible for more than one of my laugh out loud moments.

I loved all of the characters so much I find myself wishing for a sequel or a spin off. I really don’t think I could love this book anymore, there isn’t one thing I would change about any of it. Perfection!

5 pieces of eye candy

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Marriage of Inconvenience by MJ O’Shea: Exclusive Guest Post, and Excerpt

perf4.250x7.000.inddsynopsis

Lights, camera, lies.

Kerry Pickering has a problem. As a publicist for Hollywood bad boy Jericho Knox, it’s Kerry’s job to keep Jericho in the news. So far, Jericho’s partying and public escapades have made it easy. But Jericho has a secret, and when that secret is revealed in the most spectacularly disastrous way, it’s up to Kerry to spin it.

The team decides the best course of action is to make the public fall in love—with Jericho’s secret committed relationship. The one that doesn’t exist. Yet.

The team wants someone they can trust. Someone in the inner circle. That someone is Kerry. But what will happen when Kerry realizes that for him, the romance is no longer pretend? Can Jericho love him back, or is he just playing a role?

Guest Post

MJ’s Tropes of the Summer

Hey Everyone!!

This is MJ O’Shea talking about one of my favorite subjects… romance novel tropes 😉 I have a few tropes that I’ll always love (best friends to lovers… probably not a shock if you’ve read my books) but some come and go and I have a few that I’m totally digging at the moment!

Rivals to lovers Oh yes. Give me the athletes who want to beat each other in the arena but fall for each other off of it. There isn’t a ton of it out there but I’m definitely feeling the Olympic spirit haha!

Secret Identity Always but especially working for me right now. Is he a spy? Is he royalty? Is he a vampire… I love that moment of discovery for the other character and I never get tired of reading, or writing it. Double points if neither main character is aware of who/what one of them is and they both find out during the course of the book.

And lately I’ve been into Secret Babies. That’s become a thing. Again, I love that moment when the character finds out he’s been a father all this time and he didn’t know it. It’s satisfying to see the emotion that he goes through.

Marriage of Inconvenience actually doesn’t have any of these things…but I do love a good fake relationship to love story too. The building chemistry, the is he or isn’t he? I had a ton of fun writing it.

Here’s a tiny bit from that book! Kerry the publicist slash new fake fiancé is about to make his first formal show…

* * * *

One thing he didn’t expect was… this. He was in his room at Jericho’s house, with Tara and Abby hovering nearby examining him, acting as stylists. They’d brought over a suit earlier, one that had been painstakingly tailored to play up every one of his best assets and probably cost more than a couple months of his rent. The suit was dark charcoal gray with tiny ecks of an almost shimmery pale gray and the shirt underneath was a vibrant fuchsia that they’d chosen because of how it would show off his pale skin and dark hair.
“You look gorgeous, babe,” Tara said. “Everyone’s going to drool.”
“What’s Jericho wearing?” he asked.
“Black and white with a pocket square to match your shirt.”
“Seriously?”
Tara grinned. “Yes. We want to present a cohesive team with you two. It’ll be romantic.”
“You don’t think it’s corny?” Kerry thought it was corny.
“No. You two will be perfect together.”
Kerry wasn’t so sure about that. They were pretty much toxic together, no matter what the public seemed to see in carefully set up pictures. They could pull it off one snap at a time, but how the hell were they going to act like a loving, comfortable, engaged couple live, on video, for the entire length of the red carpet?
“You ready?” Jericho asked from the door.
Kerry nearly swallowed his tongue. Jericho always looked hot, annoyingly so, but with a suit and his hair pulled back so perfectly, he looked like a god. Kerry hated that he was so attracted to him. At least in his moments of weakness.
“I’m ready.”
As ready as I’m going to be.

* * * *

That’s all!! Thank you for letting me stop by! I’ll leave my social media links below  I’m always up for a chat.

xoxo
MJ O’Shea

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meet the author

MJ O’Shea has never met a music festival, paintbrush, or flower crown she can stay away from. She loves rainstorms and a perfect cup of tea, beach days, music, bright colors, and more than anything a cozy evening with a really great book.

She is from the Pacific Northwest. While she still lives there and loves it, MJ has the heart of a wanderer. She she puts all her dreams of far off places and extraordinary people in her books.

Except for every once in a while when she does what all travelers have to do on occasion…come home.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/mj.oshea.5

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MjOsheaSeattle

Newsletter: http://mjoshea.us10.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=cf725443b37465a7944d0374c&id=b3844350e4

 

 

 

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The Greek Tycoon’s Green Card Groom by Kate McMurray: New Release Blast and Guest post

greek

synopsis

Marriage gets less convenient when love is involved.

It started simple: Ondrej Kovac marries Archie Katsaros so Ondrej can stay in the US, away from his judgmental family in eastern Europe. Archie marries Ondrej in exchange for the money to bail out his failing company. It’s a fraud neither man is convinced he can pull off.

But as Archie introduces Ondrej to New York society and Ondrej proves his skill in the office, they start to discover a connection between them. Can they overcome the rocky foundation their relationship was built on, meddling immigration agents, gossip columnists determined to out their deception, and an aggressive executive set on selling Archie’s company out from under him? Only if they can prove to each other their love is worth fighting for.

Title: The Greek Tycoon’s Green Card Groom
Author: Kate McMurray
Release Date: July 15, 2016
Category: Dreamspun Desires, Contemporary
Pages: 218

Guest Post

 

My high school best friend lived overseas for three years between undergrad and law school. He’d done a summer program in Europe between junior and senior year and fell in love with the city he’d lived in. When he went back for his three-year stint as an ex-pat, he fell in love with a man.

Shortly after he moved to New York for law school, we had coffee and he explained that his boyfriend was having trouble getting a visa to stay in the U.S., so they were rendezvousing in England, somewhere they could both meet without risk of deportation, every other month. My friend had gotten a job against the rules of his program, which forbid first-year law students from working because it distracted from studying, so that he could afford to fly to England a few times a semester.

That was unsustainable; my friend wound up finishing law school in London. He and his now husband set up a life there. It sounds grand and romantic, but it’s complicated by the fact that my friend had been accepted at one of the best law schools in the country, located close to his family and friends, but the love of his life was on the other side of the ocean. If the Defense of Marriage Act had not still been the law of the land, the story might have played out differently. When the U.S. Supreme Court finally did make marriage equality a reality for every American, my friend already had a life and a home in Europe.

But he was very much on my mind when the law changed. And he was on my mind when I started writing a book about a gay green card marriage.

Because that’s a thing you can have now.

It’s one of those tropes you see on TV or in books that plays out in predictable ways: two people enter into a marriage of convenience so that one of them can stay in the U.S., despite risking getting caught by Immigration. And there’s always a scene where Immigration does a home visit and nearly catches the lie.

I researched it, and it turns out that there are too many green card marriages for Immigration to actually check up on all of them, so the reality is that, although marriage fraud is illegal, a lot of people who enter into such arrangements are probably not caught. But large sums of money being exchanged do tend to catch the attention of Immigration.

Anyway, there’s some reality in those old silly tropes, and I tried to be conscious of it as I wrote. Hopefully the book is mostly just fun, though.

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meet the author

Kate McMurray is an award-winning romance author and an unabashed romance fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with base­ball. She has served as President of Rainbow Romance Writers and is currently the president of the New York City chapter of RWA. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Website: http://www.katemcmurray.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/katemcmwriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katemcmurraywriter

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Ace in the Hole by Ava Drake: Release Day Review DSP

ace

synopsis

Surveillance, seduction, and extra-dirty politics.

Christian Chatsworth-Brandeis has a problem. A huge one. The US senator he works for has run away with his latest mistress on the eve of a make-or-break fund-raising event, and it’s up to him to cover his boss’s irresponsible tracks.

Stone Jackson, the senator’s new bodyguard, looks enough like the senator that, with some extensive grooming, he might pass for Senator Lacey. Christian and Stone hatch a plan to fool everyone by substituting Stone for the senator, but Miami madness and the incendiary heat between them are throwing obstacles in their way. It’s a race to find the senator and pull off the con of the century before the attraction between them spins completely out of control.

Title: Ace in the Hole
Series: Wild Cards
Author: Ava Drake
Release Date: July 1, 2016
Category: Dreamspun Desires, Contemporary
Pages: 216

denise review

This was my first book by Ava Drake, although if you look on Amazon, you might find it is her only book (at least there). 🙂 But I would not have known that it was her first book. Everyone knows I love the Dreamspun Desires series. Always reminds me of taking two hours to finish the dinner dishes as a teenager, because I was reading with rubber bands around the paperback, then having to move it page to page. Yep, I did it. Don’t judge.

Nevertheless, great job by the author, and Dreampspinner Press to get this book out so well. The plot was fun, sexy and high drama. These two alpha males, Stone and Christian easily melded together to find the right go-ahead for themselves. Both wanting control, yet, willing to give up control to the other. There was a need on the part of the reader to suspend disbelief a bit that Stone was able to pass himself off as a famous senator, but everyone has a doppelganger, don’t they?

The secondary characters were well done as well. The illustrious politican’s wife was great, and I loved how she moved herself forward despite the challenges brought on by her husband. And Christian’s grandmother! If I had one wish, it would be to have had more of his grandmother, at least one more scene (Ava, would you like to write a bonus scene to post on Two Chicks? Hey, I can ask, right?)

The climax was well done, and fairly unexpected, at least the who-done-it part. And I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. Read it practically in one sitting.

It sounds like this might be a series, and if so, I will put my hand up and be willing to suffer and beta read book 2. 🙂

Great job by the author, and I can’t wait to read more of what’s ahead.

4.5 pieces of eye candy

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Undercover Boyfriend by Jacob Z. Flores: Release Day Review DSP

undercoversynopsis

Two men, one lie, and a whole bunch of trouble.

Marty Valdez is in serious trouble. His sister’s wedding is around the corner, and everyone expects to meet Marty’s super-successful underwear model boyfriend—whom Marty invented. Now Marty has to produce a half-naked hottie or suffer the worst humiliation of his life.

FBI agent Luke Myers is in serious trouble. He’s been working undercover to take down a dangerous drug cartel, but his cover’s blown and he needs to disappear. Luckily, a geeky yet intriguing comic book artist gives him the perfect opportunity. Luke just has to pretend to be his boyfriend, and pretending is what he does best. But between Marty’s mother and his ex, Luke might’ve bitten off more than he can chew, and Marty’s knack for finding trouble might ruin more than just his sister’s wedding.

Title: Undercover Boyfriend
Author: Jacob Z. Flores
Series: One Fine Day
Release Date: June 15, 2016
Category: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 236

deanna review
Holy cow! I couldn’t put this book down, I ignored the huge pile of laundry calling my name and read this in one sitting.

When Marty broke up with his worthless ex he invented a new boyfriend, underwear model Tim to keep his family off his back. With his sister’s wedding quickly approaching he is getting pressured by him mom to bring Tim.

Luke is trying to claw his way out of a blown undercover assignment when he runs into Marty at a bar. Needing to lie low for a while Luke agrees to masquerade as Tim to help out Marty.

Marty has a knack for finding trouble and Luke and Marty find their trouble might be intertwined. Both will need to survive long enough to solve Luke’s case before it’s his last.

This story was quirky and funny and supremely entertaining. The plot was fast paced and interesting without any plot holes. I was truly entertained from the first page to the last, I laughed out loud several times. While there were many characters between Marty’s family and the FBI it was easily distinguishable and I wasn’t ever left confused because the characters were well developed and relevant to the story.

This is my first read by Jacob Flores but it won’t be the last.

4 pieces of eye candy

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The Cattle Baron’s Bogus Boyfriend by Nicki Bennett : Release Day Review, Exclusive Guest Post and Giveaway

cattlesynopsis

It might be a sham to his boss, but it’s all too real to him.

Administrative assistant Jonah Hollis has nurtured a hopeless crush on his boss, millionaire cattle rancher Lincoln Courtwright, ever since he started working for him. But hope is kindled when Linc and beautiful rodeo star Melissa Cutler break up just weeks before the biggest event of the Dallas social season, the Cattle Baron’s Ball, and Linc asks Jonah to accompany him in her place.

Is it all a ploy to make Melissa jealous? Can Jonah fit into Linc’s world? It takes some encouragement from his roommates and his best friend, Caylee, for Jonah to agree. Before long, Jonah dares to believe Linc might just feel something for him… until interfering family and a series of misunderstandings threaten his fragile dream of happiness.

Title: The Cattle Baron’s Bogus Boyfriend
Author: Nicki Bennett
Release Date: May 15, 2016
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 216

denise review

The Dreamspun Desires series is full of sweet, a little sexy, and a little angsty books that hit you in the feels. The Cattle Baron’s Bogus Boyfriend is no exception to this rule. It has what so many of the old Harlequin romances had, a sweet virgin, and a strong sexy cowboy who means business.

There were a few misses in this book, chances at showing growth in the characters, and that did pull the overall rating down somewhat.

What I did enjoy though was that although there was the “evil step-mother”, there were glimpses into her caring loving nature. This was the same with all the characters. Even with the stress and anxiety that they had created amongst themselves, they showed that they cared about the people around them, often with the small things, such as Jonah ordering lunch for Linc, or Linc going out of his way to make sure that Jonah was safe and healthy, even when their misunderstandings drew them apart.

The HEA that these two fought for had a winding road through Caylee, but I honestly loved how they found that happy ending. It seemed so true to how I would have expected Jonah to react to something like that.

3.75 pieces of eye candy

3.75-pieces of eye candy

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Guest Post

Secondary Characters

Part of the fun of writing for me is creating secondary characters to help tell the story. The Cattle Baron’s Bogus Boyfriend is told from the point of view of Jonah Hollis, who has a secret crush on his boss, millionaire cattle rancher Lincoln Courtwright. Or a not-so-secret crush, at least to Jonah’s friends in Dallas. Secondary characters, in the form of his roommate Wes and their neighbors Aidan and Sammy, help to reveal information about Jonah without relying on long paragraphs of internal monologue or data dumps of backstory.

The person who knows Jonah best is his childhood friend Caylee Lynch, but Caylee is still back in their hometown of Oktaha, Oklahoma. Though she has an important role to play, we don’t meet her except in references from Jonah until almost halfway into the story. In the meantime, we get to know Jonah through his interactions with Linc at the office and with Wes, Sammy, and Aidan at home.

Jonah’s socializing with his friends shows us that though he’s lived in Dallas for over eighteen months, there’s still more than a bit of the farm boy left in him. Though he’s not the type to draw attention to himself, and he prefers to avoid conflict, he also isn’t a pushover and doesn’t hesitate to put his foot down when he has to. But Wes is a good enough friend that he won’t let Jonah get away with fooling himself about the depth of his feelings for Linc, even when he doesn’t want to admit them to himself.

In creating these characters, I gave them each their own personality and backstory, even if only a part of this makes its way into the novel. Wes is a foodie with aspirations to become a chef. He has a wicked sense of humor, a taste for witty T-shirts, and mixes a mean cocktail. He’s a devoted friend who seems happy to be single, but a part of him hopes for the same kind of relationship Jonah does. Aidan and Sammy are a committed couple but also a study in opposites. Sammy is a willowy, creative—sometimes flamboyant—vegetarian, while Aidan is a more practical, meat-and-potatoes-type guy who has to bring Sammy back down to earth at times. Not all of this may be explicitly revealed in the story, but defining them in my mind made them real people for me and informed their dialogue and actions in a more natural way.

Ideally, a well-crafted secondary character should leave the reader feeling they know him but also want to learn more about him (or her). Maybe that’s why spin-off stories are so popular!

excerpt

“Are you just getting off work?” Wes asked. The bar was small enough that he could mix the drink order and still talk with Jonah. “What did that slave driver of a boss of yours have you doing this late?”

“Mr. Courtwright isn’t a slave driver!” Jonah was quick to protest. “He didn’t ask me to work late, and when he got out of his meeting, he told me I shouldn’t have stayed.” It’s not like he had anything more important to do, Jonah thought, except for the two nights a week he attended the business class he was taking at El Centro community college.

Wes walked the drink he’d been making to the other end of the bar and started mixing another before answering. “So why did you stay, then? I know you’ve got the hots for him, but if he was in a meeting, you didn’t even get to spend the time with him.”

Jonah flushed, but before he could issue a denial, Wes wagged a finger at him.

“And don’t try to tell me you don’t have the hots for him. I’ve spent too many nights listening to ‘Mr. Courtwright said this’ and ‘Mr. Courtwright did that.’ I like the guy I work for too, but I don’t talk about him constantly.”

“It doesn’t matter how hot he is,” Jonah muttered. “He’s straight. I stayed late to order gifts for his girlfriend to make up for him missing dinner with her because he was working late.”

“You need to forget about him and come out with Aidan and Sammy and me tomorrow night instead,” Wes declared, setting the drink he’d been mixing in front of Jonah. “Try that and tell me what you think.”

“You know I’m not much of a drinker,” Jonah said. “I don’t really like the taste of alcohol.”

“That’s why you’re the perfect taste-tester,” Wes replied. “If you like it, I know I’ve got a winner.”

Jonah picked up the glass of icy liquid and sniffed it. He could smell citrus and a hint of something else, though he couldn’t tell what it was. “What’s in it?”

“I’ve been experimenting with making some vodka infusions. That one’s basil with lime juice and a bit of grapefruit juice, topped off with sparkling water. What do you think?”

Jonah took a small sip and then a larger one. “I like it. It’s tart and refreshing, especially on a hot night like this.”

“Great! If Mr. Stefanotis likes it, maybe he’ll put it on the menu.” Wes grinned. “It’s not working in the kitchen, but it’s a start.”

Jonah grinned back. Wes Paterson didn’t look like anyone’s idea of a traditional chef. His spiked hair was currently dyed a deep blue, though he changed its color every month or so—Jonah didn’t think he’d seen its natural color in the year and a half they’d lived together. He was wearing a colorful flowered shirt that didn’t hide the tattoos on his arms, and both ears and an eyebrow sported piercings. Despite his appearance, he was the best cook Jonah knew, even better than his mother, which was saying something. He was also the kindest person Jonah knew, except maybe for his best friend, Caylee, back in Oktaha. Not many people would take a total stranger under his wing the way Wes had when Jonah first arrived in Dallas.

“So what’s good for dinner tonight?” Jonah asked, turning to look at the blackboard near the front door that was the restaurant’s only menu. While a few offerings, like the three-pepper mac and cheese and the fried chicken, were mainstays, the rest of the menu depended on what produce was fresh and what Manny, the head cook, felt like making that day.

“Aidan raved about the brisket tacos, and Sammy had the mushroom quinoa risotto.” Aidan Jacobs and Samuel Tanner lived in the townhouse that made up the other half of the building he and Wes shared, though the four of them were in and out of each other’s space so much they might as well have all been living together.

“Are they here? I didn’t see them at a table when I came in.”

“They went to do some shopping, but they said they’d be back before closing time.”

Jonah decided on the fried green tomato BLT on whole-grain toast from Lembas Bakery, a local shop owned by a lesbian couple who made amazing breads and pastries. He was just finishing up the last of the homemade potato chips that came with the sandwich when Aidan and Sammy arrived, carrying bags from Urban Vintage, a clothing store down the street.

“Jonah!” Sammy said loudly. “Tell me you did not come here straight from work. You’re giving gay men a bad name, dressed like that.”

“What’s wrong with the way I’m dressed?” Jonah asked. He didn’t think his khakis and pale blue dress shirt looked bad, though maybe they’d gotten a little wrinkled between the long day and the heat.

“Have we taught you nothing, child?” Sammy waved a hand to indicate his and Aidan’s attire. Jonah thought the rich purple V-neck Sammy wore contrasted beautifully with his dark skin, while Aidan’s green-and-white paisley accented his pale complexion and red hair, even though neither of them were shirts he’d be comfortable wearing. “It’s too late to take you shopping now, but I’m coming to look through your closet before we go clubbing tomorrow night. If we can’t find anything fit to be seen with you in, you can borrow something from one of us.”

“I wouldn’t fit in anything of yours,” Jonah pointed out. He certainly wasn’t heavy, but Sammy was half a head taller and at least twenty pounds lighter than he was, while Aidan was built like the construction worker he was.

“Sure you would,” Aidan said. “They just wouldn’t hang on you the way most of your shirts do. You’ve got a good build. You ought to show it off.”

Tight-fitting shirts weren’t very practical for working on a farm, but if Jonah said that, he knew they’d just remind him he didn’t live on a farm anymore. And he didn’t have to dress to hide the fact that he was gay anymore either. But that didn’t make him any more eager to wear clinging shirts and skintight jeans to attract attention in the clubs Sammy and Aidan wanted to take him to. “Maybe I’ll just skip tomorrow night.”

“Absolutely not!” Wes interjected. “You deserve a night out after working late today. And besides, the best way to get over your crush on your boss—your straight boss, as you pointed out to me yourself—is to find someone who is interested in you.”

meet the author

Growing up in Chicago, Nicki Bennett spent every Saturday at the central library, losing herself in the world of books. A voracious reader, she eventually found it difficult to find enough of the kind of stories she liked to read and decided to start writing them herself.

Visit Nicki at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011754789784&fref=ts

E-mail: nickibennett1@gmail.com

giveaway

Nicki has generously offered to giveaway an e-book copy of The Cattle Baron’s Bogus Boyfriend or any of my backlist titles to one randomly selected comment to this post. So, tell us what you like best about cowboy stories.

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

Unstable Stud by Ariel Tachna Release Day Review and Guest Post

perf4.250x7.000.inddsynopsisHorses were his passion, until he laid eyes on his boss.

Eighteen months ago, tragedy struck Bywater Farm when a riding accident killed Clay Hunter’s lover and traumatized his prize horse, King of Hearts. Clay and King lingered in limbo, surviving but not really living, until a breath of fresh air in the form of Luke Davis, a new groom in the stud barn, revives them both.

When a fall from King’s back sends Luke to the emergency room, Clay watches the shaky foundation of their budding relationship tumble down. Can Clay really love a jockey again, or will his fear of losing another man he loves keep them apart for good?

Title: Unstable Stud
Series: Lexington Lovers
Author: Ariel Tachna
Release Date: April 15, 2016
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 204

Guest Post

Going Home

I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, but I haven’t lived there, not really, since I was eighteen. It hasn’t even been my official permanent address since I was twenty-three. (We won’t discuss how many years ago that was.) And yet when you say “home,” Lexington is still what comes to my mind. It’s also what comes to mind when you say a number of other words.

Horses.

Racing.

Stables.

Those were the words Elizabeth said to me not quite a year ago when we were first discussing the Dreamspun Desires line and my possible contribution to it. It would perhaps have been more logical to set the book in Texas, where I live now, instead of setting it in Lexington, where I haven’t lived in a number of years, but people don’t ride the same in Texas as they do in Lexington. It’s a horse culture, but it’s not my horse culture. My horse culture is English saddles, three-day events, Thoroughbred auctions, and Derby Day. (No, not Kentucky Derby Day. Nobody in Kentucky needs to specify which Derby we’re talking about because really, in our world, there’s only one.) Big hats, fancy parties with betting pools, the race on every TV in sight. That’s my horse culture. In Texas you can barely find it on TV at home, much less out in a bar or restaurant. Sacrilege!

Bywater Farms, the horse farm in Unstable Stud, is a Kentucky horse farm through and through, an amalgam of a couple of different farms I spent quite a bit of time on when I was younger, but ultimately a true racing farm with hot-blooded stallions kept separate from the mares, in stalls that are nicer than some houses I’ve seen, with heat in the winter and fans or even air conditioning in the summer. They each have their own paddock, because everyone knows stallions don’t play nicely with each other. They have their own equipment, their own grooms, and their every whim catered to because their bloodlines are golden and their sperm is worth thousands or even tens of thousands per ounce.

This is the world Clay Hunter has grown up in, fallen in love in, and lost his lover in. He’s jaded and heartbroken and used to being as universally recognized and revered as his horses. And then there’s Luke Davis. Stable boy, not even a groom when the book starts. He’s a literal muckraker, cleaning up after the stallions because at least that lets him be with the horses. He’s poor, has only a high-school education, and grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. He has no place in Clay’s world except to get rid of the detritus left behind by the beautiful beasts he adores.

This is the horse world I grew up in, the one that still calls to my soul. Yes, writing a book set in a town I know, but from twenty years ago, is a challenge, but it couldn’t be set anywhere else. Fortunately for me, my family is still there, and my mother is tickled every time I ask her a question. You’ll see more of her and her input in A Matchless Man, which comes out in October, but for now, enjoy Unstable Stud!

Thank you, Two Chicks Obsessed, for hosting a stop on my blog tour, and thank all of you for reading. Leave a comment with a horse-related entry to be eligible to win an ebook of your choice from my Dreamspinner publications.

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ARe

denise review

I’ve really enjoyed the Dreamspun Desires series so far, and Ariel Tachna’s book in this category was another one I enjoyed. Luke was a sweet, kind, gentle man who just wanted to pay the bills left behind by his mother and find someone who would love him. Meanwhile, Clay still mourning the tragic accident that took his partner allowed Luke to take on the care of King, his partner’s horse.

This book was a very slow burn, first kiss at about 70%. It harkened back to the sweet Harlequin books that rarely went much further than a consummation with a virgin bride. I enjoyed the sweetness of it, as that is what I have come to expect from this series.

However, there were areas of the book that I felt could have been expanded, questions that I thought should have been dealt with or answered. Those things left me feeling like the book was somewhat unfinished. They reached their HEA, but as a reader, I was left somewhat unsatisfied with how things were glossed over, or left unanswered.

I did like the relationship between the two MC’s, as well as their relationships with the secondary characters. I just wished for a little more development.

3.5 pieces of eye candy.

1-3.5 pieces of eye candy

excerpt

“Is Mr. Hunter as handsome in person as he is on TV?”

So much for not talking about his reaction to his boss. “Yes,” Luke said simply, hoping that would be the end of it.

“Don’t give me that, young man,” Mrs. Twitchell scolded. “I’m old, not dead. I know how these things work. He’s gay and single, and so are you. There’s no reason for you not to have noticed him.”

“He’s also my boss and completely out of my league,” Luke reminded her. “I may be single, but that doesn’t make me interesting to a man like him.”

“A man like what?” Mrs. Twitchell pressed. “Lonely because his partner died almost two years ago? Or maybe afraid to trust again because all the news ever talks about is how much money he has? Oh, or maybe ostracized by at least half the horse world for being gay in the first place? Have I forgotten anything?”

Luke squirmed in his chair, trying to formulate a reply. The waiter brought their steaks before he could decide what to say. Luke hoped the distraction would allow him to change the subject, but Mrs. Twitchell had the bit between her teeth. “You didn’t answer me.”

“I think he is lonely,” Luke said, “but he’s used to cultured, powerful men like him who know which fork to use and which wine to pair with what dish. Men who have a different suit for each day of the week and a full wardrobe for the change of seasons. I watch the news too, and I hear how people in his circles are judged. I wouldn’t last ten minutes at his side. They’d crucify me and take him with me.”

“There’s nothing those men know that you couldn’t learn given a little time, and there’s nothing they have that you couldn’t have with a little money,” Mrs. Twitchell said with a dismissive wave of her fork. “But I’ll tell you what they don’t have, most of them. They don’t have your passion for the horses in your care. They don’t have your compassion for those less fortunate than you. And they don’t have the kind of heart that has you taking an old woman out to dinner rather than going out for a night on the town when you’ve surely earned it. If you’re right—and I’m not saying you are—but if you’re right, you’re better off without someone like that. But here’s the other thing I know: that horse you spent today taking care of would be a liability in most people’s books. He’s unrideable and barely even useful as a stud. And yet Mr. Hunter kept him. That should tell you something about the kind of man your boss is, no matter what face he shows to the world.”

 

 

meet the author

When Ariel Tachna was twelve years old, she discovered two things: the French language and romance novels. Those two loves have defined her ever since. By the time she finished high school, she’d written four novels, none of which anyone would want to read now, featurinariel bio picg a young woman who was—you guessed it—bilingual. That girl was everything Ariel wanted to be at age twelve and wasn’t.

She now lives on the outskirts of Houston with her husband (who also speaks French), her kids (who understand French even when they’re too lazy to speak it back), and their two dogs (who steadfastly refuse to answer any French commands).

Visit Ariel:

Website: www.arieltachna.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ArielTachna

E-mail: arieltachna@gmail.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.

Forgive and Forget by Charlie Cochet: Release Day Review

forgive and forgetsynopsisHe’s hot. He’s dangerous. And he can’t remember anything.

As the owner of Apple’n Pies, Joe Applin leads a quiet, uneventful life, content to spend his days serving customers who come from all over to eat his delicious homemade pies. Along with his motley crew—Bea, Elsie, and Donnie—Joe couldn’t be happier in his little kingdom of baked goods and java.

Experience has taught Joe that love is overrated—and at times dangerous. He has no intention of repeating past mistakes. But then he meets a mysterious, handsome man with amnesia, and Joe can’t deny something sweet is in the works. He isn’t one to take risks, not with his heart and certainly not with his life, but the more time he spends with the man he knows as Tom, the closer he is to losing both.

Title: Forgive and Forget
Author: Charlie Cochet
Release Date: April 1, 2016
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires, Mystery/Suspense
Pages: 194

deanna review

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and while the idea of amnesia has been done many times I didn’t find this book predictable at all.

Joe Applin stumbles across an injured man in his neighbors garden and begs Joe not to call the police or take him to the hospital. When the stranger comes to in Joe’s apartment he can’t remember who he is or where he has come from.

The two work together over the coming weeks in Joe’s pie shop trying to help “Tom” remember who he is. Tom knows someone has hurt Joe badly, so if he is going to make a move he needs to be sure of himself and confident so he doesn’t send Joe running. Joe needs to decide if he can let go of his painful past and give Tom a chance, even though he’s sure Tom will run for the hills once his memory is restored.

When Tom’s past comes knocking Joe must decide if he’s going to run or stand and fight for Tom.

I really enjoyed this story. Once I stared it I wasn’t able to put it down. Dinner didn’t get made, laundry didn’t get done. I had to know who Tom really was and I wasn’t disappointed. The story has a steady build up which remain interesting and fun. This one is definitely going into the re-read pile!

4 pieces of eye candy

4-pieces-of-eye-candy1

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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.