The Struggle Within by Tyler May: Quick Review

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pieces of Candy: 4 1/2 

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Past the Breakers by Lucie Archer: Release Day Review, Guest Post and Giveaway

Casey North lost everything when his restaurant burned to the ground: his hopes, his dreams, his reason for living. With nothing tying him to LA, he packs up and moves back to his hometown of Land’s End. He takes up residence in a beach house and attempts to shake the depression he’s fallen into after his life collapsed. There’s just one tiny problem: the ghost haunting his kitchen.

Myles Taylor wasn’t always trapped in the Between. One minute, he was about to propose to his boyfriend of five years as they sat out on their surfboards, and the next, he woke up on the beach to find his long-dead uncle walking toward him. After his shock fades,he must learn to navigate his new reality as he searches for a way to move into the Great Beyond. But first he must deal with the man who’s invaded his territory.

With Myles tied to the beach house and Casey unwilling to leave it, the two must learn to cohabitate as the lines separating them begin to blur. They grow closer than either expected, but what will become of them once Myles finally escapes the Between?

Title: Past the Breakers
Author: Lucie Archer
Release Date: May 15, 2017
Category: Paranormal: Ghosts/Spirits
Pages: 220

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Hey guys! Thanks for having me. On a previous tour stop, I did a top 5 list of surf destination from Myles’s POV, and to avoid Casey feeling left out, I thought I’d offer up one for him as well. Since he’s a chef, I asked him for a list of his favorite foods, and here’s what he said. (*Warning: you may not want to read this on an empty stomach.)

Casey North’s top 5 Favorite Foods (in no particular order):

  • Lobster

Casey can’t remember the first time he had lobster, but he imagines it left quite an impression. They didn’t eat it much growing up, but he always requested it for his birthday or special occasions. Most kids probably preferred pizza or hot dogs, but he likes to think he was born with a sophisticated palate. He’s eaten it so many ways from bisques to lobster mac and cheese, but nothing beats cracking into a freshly cooked lobster tail, dipping it in a rich butter sauce, and going to town.

  • Fish

Fish has a special place in Casey’s heart, particularly Pacific halibut. He has fond memories of going down to the pier with his father on Saturday mornings, casting a line, then taking home their catch of the day to prepare and cook. It’s one of the few happy memories he has of his father and something that helped form his love for cooking. And it’s healthy, blah, blah, blah, but the deliciousness helps to mask that.

  • Cheese burgers

This should be self-explanatory. Nothing beats a big, juicy burger piled high with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, fried onions, and a nice dollop of mayo—side of fries optional. He loves making his own at home and likes to experiment with different meats, cheeses, and unique flavor combinations, but the best burger he ever had was in New York at this greasy spoon, hole-in-the-wall, all-night diner whose name he was too drunk to remember.

If he ever found the place again, he doubts it would live up to the legacy it left on his taste buds. Yum!

  • Mango

He doesn’t know when mango cemented itself as one of his favorite foods, but he loves to cook with it. Its sweet and succulent flavors compliment fish really well, so mango salsa heaped on top of grilled halibut makes his mouth water just thinking about it.

  • Ice Cream – Mint chocolate chip

This one needs no explanation, but he does have a fond memory of tiptoeing out of his room one night to sneak himself a bowl only to find his sister Rachel with a spoon of it showed in her mouth and a look on her face that could only be described as deer in the headlights. They made a habit of late-night ice cream socials until their mother walked in on them and grounded them both. But it was worth every delectable spoonful.

I rarely give 5 pieces of eye candy ratings anymore. The book has to leave a strong mark on me, be a book I would re-read, and hit me in the feels right from the get go (at least that’s usually how the 5* books go). The book does not have to be perfect. It can have editing errors. It can have little things that aren’t completely resolved. It can even challenge my basic sense of reality. However, if it doesn’t make that indelible impression, then it isn’t a 5* read for me.

Past the Breakers is the first one in recent memory for me. I have loved “ghost story” type romances since I read Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Devereaux back in, *cough cough*, well, a very long time ago. 🙂 Something about a love that transcends space, time, the physical plane, and our normal take on what is real and what isn’t always has been. Finding a book that can do that, and do it well, that’s even more rare. Lucie Archer‘s book did this for me.

First, I love that Casey was going through such a hard time. Overweight, without a job, or even his passion of cooking as a balm, he was so depressed and anxious, it was a wonder that he was able to be open to hearing Myles. Yet he was, and Myles came at a time when Casey needed his companionship, his focus and his love the most. Casey allowed himself to fall in love, despite all the odds against him falling in love with a ghost.

Meanwhile, Myles…talk about heartbreaking! What should have been the best day of his life, proposing to his boyfriend becomes the worst day when he dies and is stuck in the Between. He does get to see the most important man in his life, his uncle, from time to time, and that in itself was heart-wrenching, because you could see the bond they had had when Joe was still alive. And Myles finds himself falling in love with Casey, despite all the odds, as well.

When I read books like this, I try not to anticipate how it will play out, or what the ending will be like (because my rule is it has to be an HEA or I don’t read it!), but I admit I found myself a touch scared that this wouldn’t turn out as I hoped. Not because I didn’t think they would fall in love, but because I didn’t want the ending to be too easy, or weird. It wasn’t. It had my HEA, and even better, it was well thought out. It could happen. You never know what is out there in the world beyond our sight.

I truly loved this book. I loved their relationship. I loved how Casey grew and blossomed with Myles’s love, and how he was able to overcome his depression simply by working through it, finding a loving path to move forward on. I even loved how things ended with Uncle Joe, because I will admit, I had more than a few tears flowing at certain points in the book, but Uncle Joe’s love for his boy? That got me crying again.

This book worked for me on so many levels that even the relatively easy resolution of the bad ex-boyfriend didn’t bother me. I wanted to know more about Casey and Myles, James could go jump in a lake as far as I was concerned. 🙂

Pretty easy 5 pieces of eye candy for me

Lucie Archer is a student of the universe who is obsessed with the stars, in love with beaches, and crazy about dudes falling in love. She tells stories of romance, love, and life, with a little bit of passion thrown in for good measure. Because what’s life without a little pop and sizzle?

When she’s not writing, she can be found tending to her garden, playing with her four-legged children, or procrastinating. Although, she spends a lot of time fending off random plot bunnies that threaten to derail her WIP’s.

Website & blog: www.luciearcher.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/writerluciearcher

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Lucie_Archer


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Believe in the Wish by Christi Snow: Blog Tour, Exclusive Guest Post, Review and Giveaway

TitleBelieve in the Wish

Author: Christi Snow

Publisher:  Self-Published

Release Date: May 11, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: ~55,000 words

Genre: New Adult, enemies to lovers, forbidden love, twins, contemporary romance, mourning death

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I buried my twin sister six months after she found out she had cancer. Her funeral was three months ago. Today is our birthday and it started with delivery of letters from her.

It seems she didn’t trust me to move on after her death. She knows me too well. But how can I go on when my other half is just…gone? That’s not something I can recover from with a snap of my fingers. But I also can’t ignore her instructions even though I’d be perfectly content to cuddle up with my buddy, Johnnie Walker, and call it a year.

She has a list of things for me to do and there are rules attached.

There’s one major problem besides the fact it’s been three months since I left the house. I have to do all these things with her jerk of an ex, Hawk Simmons. He abandoned her shortly after she found out she was sick. If that wasn’t enough to make this a really bad idea, the fact that he makes an appearance in all my nighttime fantasies probably does.

I don’t think I can do this, but I owe it to my sister’s memory to try.

This is a stand-alone male/male contemporary romance novel.

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Building suspense without danger

The very nature of the style means that the reader is always wondering what’s going to happen around the next corner.

But when it came to this book I wanted to try my hand at suspense of a different sort.

No, there’s no danger or hidden attacker in this book.

What there is instead…*author cocks an eyebrow*…are some unanswered mysteries about how these two characters ended up in this situation.

Emma loved her twin brother Ethan.

That was never in question, so he just assumed that when she died he would inherit her half of their home and business.

That wasn’t the case.

Why would she require him to jump through all these hoops?

Impossible hoops.

Hoops like having to play nice with her asshole of an ex, Hawk.

Hawk is another mystery in this story.

The book is told from both Hawk and Ethan’s point of view, but it takes a while for the reader to see things from Hawk’s side of things. That was done on purpose.

I want the reader to question what exactly Emma was thinking here.

Emma knew she was dying.

She knew Ethan wouldn’t handle that well.

In the months leading up to her death, she made a plan.

A plan to make sure Ethan lived even when she didn’t.

 

 

And that’s all I’m going to say…

Happy reading.

Beware! The review ahead may just sound like a commercial for Believe in the Wish or for Christi Snow or for both. And I don’t care.

Let’s start with Christi. She is an author that definitely writes from her heart. She is an avid reader (one of the two or three blogs I watch religiously), and writes her characters with heart. AND, she doesn’t write the same character, just in a slightly different situation. She writes complex characters, that you have to invest time, and emotions into figuring out their motivations, their wants and needs, and where they will be going next. I love the depth of her writing, and I soak it up every single time one of her books hits my e-reader. (Example, she sent me this arc…I forced myself to finish what I was reading, then dropped everything to read this next). Read anything and everything from Christi and you will have a happy ending, and enjoy yourself along the way.

Now, the book. I read the blurb, and knew immediately that my heart was going to be ripped out. How could you not? And right from the first paragraph you see what a mess Ethan’s life has become since Emma died. They were everything to each other, and when she died, well Ethan felt he should have died instead. Watching his struggle, even in the first chapter, was difficult. He had taken grief to a level that is difficult to fathom, and the reader couldn’t help but bleed along with him. Then to find out that his sister had “betrayed” him and hadn’t really left him the house and business without stipulations. That’s a pain that can’t be measured.

As we move through the book, we find, of course, that Emma has a plan, and if Ethan and Hawk go along with her plan, Ethan will get what he had expected at the end. However, first Ethan has to walk through the fires with Hawk, and learn that maybe not everything with Emma was as open as Ethan had thought. The bitterness Ethan experiences with Hawk is what one would expect in that situation, and even when they have fun times, Ethan feels guilty because he has always wanted the man than Emma loved.

There was so much guilt tied up in Ethan’s feelings, and the author portrays is so beautifully. Guilt is a complicated emotion, and when Ethan enjoys himself with Hawk, he feels guilty. When he realizes that Emma is dead, and he is alive, he feels guilty. All these emotions that are wrapped up in how he feels about the two people he cared about the most, and getting past that isn’t easy. It takes time and patience, and maybe some smoldering hot kisses from a sexy man. 😉

The rawness of all the emotions Ethan portrays was difficult to read sometimes. You will cry. Grab tissues, and keep them handy. Christi does an amazing job of giving the reader just enough information and emotion to catch you and drag you in, while forcing you to hold on to all that, and wait to see what comes next in Emma’s plan.

I absolutely loved this book. If a book can make me cry, smile, laugh, and give me a happy ending, it is going to be a thumbs up. But when the author can make me believe that all these emotions are coming from a living, breathing human being, that’s a keeper and a re-read. Without question, one of the best reads I’ve had this year. The book hangover was worth every precious second. (And there was a bonus happy little note in there about Found At the Library, another Christi Snow fave of mine, that made me giddy!)

5 pieces of eye candy

Katya ended her call and promptly pushed the ‘away’ button for receiving phone calls. “I’m sorry. No more calls. They may not think so, but they can survive without me for an hour or so while we have our chat.”

Ethan’s stomach rolled over. That brought them to the question of the hour…chat about what? But he was almost afraid to ask at this point. Instead, he redirected. “Do you have your own firm, or do you work for someone else?”

She raised an eyebrow at him, but with a slight tilt of her head she must have seen something in his expression because she answered, “I own my own firm. When I graduated from law school, I went into a partnership that was later dissolved when I bought my partner out. It’s all mine now, which keeps me very busy.”

He grimaced. “And that’s further complicated by hermits like me who refuse to answer phone calls or mail deliveries. Sorry about that.”

“No.” She shook her head. “It’s time for you to stop apologizing. This is a hard time for you and that’s okay. To a certain extent, that’s the way it should be…”

She hesitated for a moment. “At least for a little while. You’re allowed to grieve. But Emma knew this would be an issue for you, so she made plans.”

“What kind of plans?”

Katya reached into her briefcase and pulled out a file. She reached inside and pulled out an envelope that she handed to him. On the front was his name, written in Emma’s handwriting. Suddenly it was hard to breathe.

“What is this?” he whispered.

“The first of your instructions. You need to open and read it.”

He didn’t want to. He didn’t know why, but he really didn’t want to. “I’d rather wait until I’m at home.” At his house, if he fell apart, he could do it without witnesses.

She shook her head kindly. “No, that won’t work. She was very specific in how she wanted this all to go. I need you to open it now.”

Ethan swallowed against the huge lump in his throat as he tried to find air to breathe. His heart pounded in his chest. Surely, everyone around them could hear that.

“It’s okay,” she said softly. “I promise.”

“That’s where you’re wrong.” He glanced up at her. “It’s never going to be okay again.” His voice cracked.

She lowered her lids, and her lips compressed into a tight line as if his grief was too much for her.

His hands shook as he turned the envelope over, lifting the sealed flap. It had to be his imagination, but he could have sworn that he smelled a faint whiff of the strawberry lotion Emma always liked to wear.

For just a moment, he shut his eyes and tried to calm down his emotions going haywire. He didn’t know whether to be angry that she’d done this to him, sad that she wasn’t here to tell him whatever information this letter held, or scared at whatever Emma had cooked up for him.

Throughout her life, she’d kept him hopping. As the exuberant, outgoing twin, she’d always dragged him into trouble when all he’d wanted to do was stay home. In that regard, this whole scheme of hers was very apropos.

He took a deep breath and pulled out the single sheet of paper and unfolded it. At the very first words on the paper, his eyes filled with tears.

Happy Birthday, baby brother.

He glanced up in disbelief at Katya. “It’s May fifteenth?”

At her silent nod, he gazed down at the paper in his hands, his eyes filling with tears. It was their twenty-fifth birthday. The first birthday he’d ever celebrated without her. She’d only been twenty-four when she’d died. How unfair was that? To her. To him. To the world that missed out on everything she had to offer it.
Emma’s handwriting wavered in front of his eyes, but he continued to read, not knowing what else to do. His other option—sobbing in the middle of the restaurant—would be mortifying.

I’m sorry I’m not there to go out partying with you. Remember when we were little and you didn’t want to share your birthday with me? Now you get your wish.

He’d been a horrible person. The tears overflowed his eyes. He’d made that wish more years than he even wanted to remember. How selfish was that? How could he have wished for a life without her in any way? She’d been his light.

Katya shoved a tissue into his hand.

Right. He was in public. Time to get it together.

My bad. It was probably too soon for a joke like that.

I love you, Ethan.

I know I didn’t say that enough—you know emotional displays and I didn’t mix—but beyond anything else that happens over the next few weeks, KNOW THAT. I love you, and if I could have figured out a way to stay, I would have…for you.

But God obviously had different plans for me, so now I’ll just have to content myself with being your guardian angel for the next seventy-five years. I’ll have your back, bro. I promise.

And in the interest of having your back, that’s why Katya is here.

I know you. You’re stubborn, and right now, I imagine that you’re more than a little sad. I get that, but that doesn’t mean you stop living. My death means you have to live twice as much because you have to do it enough for both of us. I’m counting on you.

But, again, I know you, so I’ve enlisted some help from my friends just to get you going.

Make a Wish, Ethan. Believe in it. It’s time to live.

~Emma

When Ethan finished reading, he took several deep breaths. The sobs had welled in his throat, and it was all he could just to hold them inside.

“You okay?” Katya asked.

“Yeah.” His voice sounded husky, but he’d managed to say the word, so he figured that for a win.

“Then it’s time for step two.”

He looked up just as she held a flaming lighter to the candle on top of a cupcake. She pushed it in front of him. “Make a wish and blow. All you have to do is believe.”

As he sat there, looking at the flickering candle, it occurred to him at just how sad this was. His twin was dead, and he was at some bizarre birthday celebration with someone he’d never even met before. Even from the grave, Emma was working to pull him out of his shell.

So he closed his eyes and blew as he made his wish.

I wish I wasn’t so alone.

But when he opened them, nothing had changed. He was still sitting in a restaurant with a woman he didn’t know, mourning the twin sister who’d died. Not that he expected a miracle, but Emma wanted him to believe.

Believe.

How was that even possible? She’d been the one who believed in the magic of things like wishes and fairy tales. What had that gotten her? She’d died before she’d even had the chance to live. What kind of magic could he possibly believe in with that kind of reality?


As an avid reader her entire life, Christi Snow always dreamed of writing books that brought to others the kind of joy she felt when she read. But…she never did anything about it besides jot down a few ideas and sparse scenes.

When she turned 41, she decided it was time to go after her dream and started writing. Within four months, she’d written over 150,000 words and hasn’t stopped since.

She’s found her calling by writing about sexy, alpha heroes and smart, tough heroines falling in love and finding their passion. She’s truly living the dream and loving every minute of it.

Her tagline is… Passion and adventure on the road to Happily Ever After. She’s loving this adventure!

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Tour Schedule

5/11 ~ Hearts on Fire Reviews

5/11 ~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

5/12 ~ MM Good Book Reviews

5/13 ~ Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

5/14 ~ Dog-Eared Daydreams

5/15 ~ Happily Ever Chapter

5/16 ~ Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy

5/16 ~ MM Book Escape

5/17 ~ Book Reviews Janisf & Leisha

5/17 ~ BFD Book Blog

5/18 ~ Dirty Books Obsession

5/19 ~ Reviews for Book Lovers

5/19 ~ Love Bytes Reviews

5/20 ~ Bayou Book Junkie

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Broken Wings by Houston Michaels: Release Day Review

Proud to have served his country, Gabriel O’Roarke returned from war unable to recognize the man he had become. While war was hell, it was the aftereffects that were slowly eating away at his soul. Returning to civilian life after surviving events that should have killed him, he struggles to adjust and find himself again. Suffering from PTSD, he is without hope, until a chance encounter with one of the men who saved his life changes things.

Gabriel never imagined Nickolas Tanner would be into the lifestyle, so running into him at a BDSM club is a surprise. The patient and caring Dom is exactly what Gabriel needs, but everything he fears. After suffering captivity, Gabriel struggles to let himself go, to submit to another man. He craves regaining that part of himself, but worries it is forever lost. Nickolas’ steady domination gives him something he has thought lost long ago – hope.

Can a broken submissive, damaged by captivity and torture, learn to fly again?

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I was really looking forward to this one. I hadn’t read a BDSM book in a while, and to add the effects of PTSD on top of it, I was very intrigued. I really wanted to see how a relationship with a man that had saved his life would be able to develop.

The relationship between these men, I thought, was very realistic for the situation they were in. Gabriel had unimaginable horrors inflicted on him, and watched his team die around him. To be able to come back and even begin to live again, much less get back into the lifestyle would have been awful. And Nickolas was adamant about the things that Gabriel needed to do, in order to allow their relationship to work, as well as for him to heal.

However, I kept getting thrown out of the story by what to me was a “how-to” on BDSM. There were explanations in the book that, as a reader, I felt were either unnecessary, or “fluff”. I may not be in the lifestyle, but you can bet that anyone that picks this book up, knowing it is BDSM, has also likely read a previous BDSM book, and likely knows what a St. Andrews Cross is, and doesn’t need an explanation of the alternate name that no one knows it by. It gave the impression that knowledge was trying to be imparted onto the reader, which is not what the reader is necessarily looking for. It drew me out of the story, and made it difficult to focus on the relationship of these men.

It also ended a little faster than I wanted (which I thought was a good thing), because I felt like it was beginning to catch its groove. Maybe there is a second story ahead for these men. I’d consider reading it.

2.5 pieces of eye candy

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Two for Trust by Elle Brownlee: Release Day Review and Giveaway

A fairy-tale vacation—if he can get the ending right.

American nurse Finch Mason steps beyond the comfort of his orderly life and takes a dream trip to England, complete with a National Trust Pass so he can visit numerous historical sites. At the first one on his list, he’s warmly welcomed—and told he bought a pass good for two.

Finch doesn’t hesitate to offer the pass to Benedict, a handsome Brit also there on an outing. They spend a magical week touring the countryside, and while it’s too soon to get attached, Finch wishes their time together would never end.

Then Finch finds himself stuck abroad with no money, and he has no one to turn to but Benedict. Benedict is happy to help, but he also owes Finch some answers—such as who he really is and why he was at the estate where they first met.

Title: Two for Trust
Author: Elle Brownlee
Release Date: May 15, 2017
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 252

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I do love the Dreamspun Desires series. I’ve said it before…I love it because it reminds me of reading Harlequin’s as a teenager.

I really enjoyed the premise of Two For Trust. That Finch decided, after being turned aside by the evil doctor at his work, to take himself on the adventure of a lifetime by taking the trip to England that he’d been dreaming about. This all despite the fact that he had to quit his job in order to do it, he was brave enough to jump on a plane and not look back. Meanwhile, serious, but sweet, Benedict found excuse after excuse to keep Finch near him, and not let him leave the country. Not really know what it was he wanted, he at least knew he didn’t want Finch to leave.

Finch was nerdy, and dorky about history, and it was adorable as could be. He didn’t care that he was seen as a geek for knowing all the little things he did. He loved everything about where he was going, and what he was seeing, and wasn’t afraid to show it. Still presenting that courageous front, of being willing to step forward and try something new. The two men certainly made “opposites attract” a perfect phrase.

One thing I really liked about the book that was original was the setup in the chapters. For about 3/4 of each chapter it was told from Finch’s POV completely. Then at the end, the last 3-7 paragraphs or so, it was from Benedict’s POV. It moved the story forward in a different way, gave the reader a little mystery that would unravel in the next chapter, and was nice to see how Benedict was moving forward. I really enjoyed the originality of this idea.

This one was probably a little two sweet for my normal tastes…(small spoiler ahead), as the two don’t really kiss until about 85% into the book. It doesn’t have to have sex, but the back and forth was a touch more than I normally like. I never was sure that Benedict actually wanted Finch, until the very end. He was truly the stoic Britishman. It left me feeling a little frustrated at times in the book.

All in all, a book I enjoyed…and all the English historical and geographical information was amazing! I now want to go have high tea in England, and explore every little thing (which I do any way during travel).

3.5 pieces of eye candy

 


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The Master Will Appear by L.A. Witt: Pre-Release Review

Dr. Mikhail “Misha” Budnikov takes one look at fellow fencer Ryan O’Connor and instantly knows his type. The undisciplined hothead is all ego with no finesse and even less control. In short, Misha’s pet peeves personified. To put the arrogant kid in check, Misha challenges him to a sparring match, which he predictably wins.

Not so predictably, Ryan asks him to be a mentor and show him how to fence. Startled by the moment of humility, Misha agrees.

What begins as fencing lessons becomes something much hotter, and before they know it, Misha is giving Ryan an entirely different kind of education. Dominance, submission, pain, pleasure—at the hands of an older, experienced man, a whole new world is opening up for Ryan.

As the trust deepens and their bond strengthens, though, Ryan retreats because that sham called love left him jaded long ago. Cynical beyond his years, he’s not letting his guard down, least of all for a thrice-divorced man twice his age.

Now Misha has to find a way to crack through those defenses…or accept defeat and walk away from the submissive who might just be the love of his life.

This novel is approximately 120,000 words.

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It’s safe to say The Master Will Appear is the first book I’ve read that combines fencing and BDSM. Okay, so it was my first fencing book, but the tie in to BDSM was definitely interesting.

The book started a bit slower than I’d have cared for. Honestly, had it been anyone other that someone like LA Witt, who I know writes her words for a reason, I may have given up. Sure, the banter was great, but much like Ryan, I was tired of the beginner level fencing.

But just as Ryan came to understand Misha’s motivations, I understood LA Witt’s, and the book came together nicely. I will admit I’ve cut way back on my BDSM reads because they tend to fall either to the cliche “OMG, that’s so hot” kinky sex side or they read like a how-to guide so the author can prove how knowledgable they are and how much they respect the lifestyle. I’m happy to say this book worked perfectly as far as the BDSM.

And despite my early frustration, as I read the last page of the book, I was ready for more.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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….1990

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Have you discussed names?” the nurse asked.

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

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

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

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

“You think?”

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

“Yeah.”

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

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

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

“Yeah, we’re fine.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Gabriel. It’s a lovely name.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Love you back.”

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

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

Oh how I loved this book.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pieces of Candy: 4.5

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Setting the Hook by Andrew Grey: Release Day Review and Giveaway

It could be the catch of a lifetime.

William Westmoreland escapes his unfulfilling Rhode Island existence by traveling to Florida twice a year and chartering Mike Jansen’s fishing boat to take him out on the Gulf. The crystal-blue water and tropical scenery isn’t the only view William enjoys, but he’s never made his move. A vacation romance just isn’t on his horizon.

Mike started his Apalachicola charter fishing service as a way to care for his daughter and mother, putting their safety and security ahead of the needs of his own heart. Denying his attraction becomes harder with each of William’s visits.

William and Mike’s latest fishing excursion starts with a beautiful day, but a hurricane’s erratic course changes everything, stranding William. As the wind and rain rage outside, the passion the two men have been trying to resist for years crashes over them. In the storm’s wake, it leaves both men yearning to prolong what they have found. But real life pulls William back to his obligations. Can they find a way to reduce the distance between them and discover a place where their souls can meet? The journey will require rough sailing, but the bright future at the end might be worth the choppy seas.

Title: Setting the Hook
Author: Andrew Grey
Release Date: May 12, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 200

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Dreamspinner Press

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Andrew Grey‘s books are a must-read in the m/m romance genre. He simply knows how to write, and gives the reader stories about everyday people living everyday lives. These aren’t necessarily model beautiful men, rich billionaires whose only problems are which company to buy up. No, these are real men with problems that every person who reads will be able to empathize with.

I loved that William and Mike were attracted to each other from the start, but for five years, only saw each other twice a year for a day outing of fishing. A long distance romance of wishes and dreams. Neither acknowledged the attraction, until Mother Nature decided to give them a little shove together. Once they had the push, they jumped in with both feet, willing to see what would come of a few days together, then later two weeks together.

I do love when Andrew sets up a ready-made family. The loner William, who felt as if no one understood him, felt comfortable with all of Mike’s family, not just the man he’d been waiting for. And Andrew always gives us sassy kids, and moms with attitude. (Both Mike and William’s moms showed they weren’t just grandmothers, but women too!)

There were a couple things that played out a little neater than I expected, but it didn’t detract from the story at all. It simply would have given it a little more tension, in my eyes. And Andrew always gives us the happy ending we waited for. 🙂

4 pieces of eye candy


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Passion’s Pride by Piper Kay: Release Day Blitz, Excerpt and Giveaway

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Let the Sparks fly” “Sometimes we need to lose ourselves and become invisible to the outside world. It’s the only way I know to find me again and drown out all the negatives.

[Read more…]

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.5 pieces of eye candy

 

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

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


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“I want to show you something too.”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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