Double Feature of Charlie Cochet Shifter Books

Hi there! Today I’m highlighting two shifter books from Charlie Cochet that I reviewed over on Joyfully Jay Reviews. You know I’m mad for the THIRDS books, (See reviews of Books one & two, three and four) but this other series is less police procedural and more shifter males finding love.

This new novella series centers around some husky and wolf shifters in eastern Canada just trying to be with their true mates. And, I’m a sucker for fated love…

You can check out BOTH full reviews in one simple click over to Joyfully Jay.

An Intrepid Trip to LoveThe first book in the series, AN INTREPID TRIP TO LOVE, is a sweet tale about two men who have been separated by duty, even though they have known they were true mates for 20 years, and even though they work side-by-side every day. There is some delicious humor and fun sexytimes, though I will tell you it ends on a bittersweet note.

I totally enjoyed it, and it’s totally free, on AllRomance.

Healing Hunter's Heart by Charlie Cochet eBookBook Two, HEALING HUNTER’S HEART, is a little more in terms of both plot, and plotting.

Without spoiling too much, you should know that there has been a rift in the husky pack, and Hunter’s true mate had been left behind. While Hunter recoups from and injury, he plans his revenge–and how to get his delicate Ari free and safe with him.

There are many players here, allies and enemies alike, but the strong characterization comes through. It’s not as humorous and the first book, but the action and drama are intense. I really liked.

You can find HEALING HUNTER’S HEART on Amazon, All Romance, Dreamspinner Press and Barnes & Noble.

Want to read my full reviews? They’re waiting on Joyfully Jay, just for you!

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

 

Drama and Love at CENTER ICE–Review and Giveaway

center ice tour banner
Hi there! Today, I’m joining the blog tour for CENTER ICE, a contemporary YA romance featuring a hockey phenom and the girl who could not care less… ;)
I love sports romance, and Cate Cameron has nailed this one! Check out other stops on the tour here, and don’t forget to enter the Amazon Gift Card giveaway below.

Center IceAbout the book:
The hometown hockey hero won’t know what hit him…

Karen Webber is in small-town hell. After her mother’s death, she moved to Corrigan Falls to live with strangers—her dad and his perfect, shiny new family—and there doesn’t seem to be room for a city girl with a chip on her shoulder. The only person who makes her feel like a real human being is Tyler MacDonald.

But Karen isn’t interested in starting something with a player. And that’s all she keeps hearing about Tyler.

Corrigan Falls is a hockey town, and Tyler’s the star player. But the viselike pressure from his father and his agent are sending him dangerously close to the edge. All people see is hockey—except Karen. Now they’ve managed to find something in each other that they both desperately need. And for the first time, Tyler is playing for keeps…

My Review:
Karen’s a 16 y/o girl from Toronto who has just moved into her father’s plush home in Corrigan Falls, a small town filled with gossips. Is it her fault she was conceived by a man cheating on his then-pregnant wife? Nope. Was it her fault her mother died in a car wreck, forcing her to move in with her dad–whom she had never met–his wife and their three kids? Nope. But, not being to blame doesn’t make living with them any easier.

Tyler’s weeks away from his 18th birthday and high on the prospect ladder for the NHL draft. He plays for the Corrigan Falls Raiders, a team well-known for producing excellent players, and has lived with host families for the past three years, sacrificing his own family time to give everything to hockey. He’s on the cusp of realizing all his (father’s) dreams and this all seems beyond his reach. No matter how good he does, his helicopter father–and his agent–are ringside waiting to tell him how he needs to step up, work harder, do this, do that. Meeting Karen while on his morning runs is a breath of ultra-fresh air. Here’s a girl who just is. She wants nothing from him–not even his attention. It’s catnip for Tyler, who has, for the past three years, been aggressively pursued by “puck bunnies” girls (and women) who want to bag a rising star for a bit of horizontal distraction. Tyler loves just being a “normal” guy with Karen, but that mystique wears off quick–especially so when Karen finds out one of the horde of Tyler’s sexual partners is her own half-sister, and mean girl extraordinaire, Miranda.

While Tyler and Karen take fledgling steps toward coupledom, the complicated plot gets murkier. Her parents are finally acknowledging the serious problems in their marriage. There had long been rumors of infidelity, but Karen is a physical testament to them. Clashes between Karen and Miranda aren’t just verbal cattiness–blows get thrown! Tyler’s parents are pressuring him to take out loans to support them–and his agent is working every angle to box Tyler into a contract that is not in his best interest.

I liked the plot dynamics, and Karen’s stepmother, Natalie, is a really great character. Her life is no picnic, raising four kids with a skirt chasing husband has to be really trying, yet she makes good decision for her kids, and her family. I wanted to kick Karen’s father right in the neck, on several occasions, but he is extremely human, and is kind and attentive to his children, and even to Natalie–despite his infidelities. Karen is likable, if a bit impulsive. She owns up to her frailties, and makes more good choices than bad. Tyler is a great guy, one I think readers will enjoy. This is a redemptive story for him, and he succeeds at being honest and decent.

The growing pains in both families felt very real, and approachable. This is an upper teen read, perhaps, due to frank discussions about sex, and the MC’s do have a physical relationship. The descriptions are all very soft and off-the-page, however. I did like this one, for its realism and its honesty. A solid YA romance.

Interested? You can find CENTER ICE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and iBooks. I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift card
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Cate Cameron grew up in the city but moved to the country in her mid-twenties and isn’t looking back. Most of her writing deals with people living and loving in small towns or right out in the sticks – when there aren’t entertainment options on every corner, other people get a lot more interesting!

She likes to write stories about real people struggling with real issues. YA, NA, or contemporary romance, her books are connected by their emphasis on subtle humor and characters who are trying to do the right thing, even when it would be a lot easier to do something wrong.

You can find Cate online on her website, Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Tough Love With the SACRATI–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for the newly-released M/M fantasy novel SACRATI by Kate Sherwood. I really loved her contemporary M/M romance, MARK OF CAIN, and was eager to see how Ms. Sherwood wrote fantasy. I stepped into a richly-textured world of war and strategy, with a delicious slow burning romance.

SacratiAbout the book:
As an elite Sacrati fighter in the mighty Torian military, Theos is blessed with a city full of women who want to bear his children, and a barracks full of men proud to fight at his side and share his bed. He has everything he needs—until he captures Finnvid on a raid.

Finnvid is on a secret mission to prevent the Torian invasion of his homeland Elkat. Being enslaved by Torian soldiers wasn’t in his plans. Neither is his horrified fascination with the casual promiscuity of the Sacrati warriors. Men should not lie with other men—and he should not be so intrigued when they do. He definitely should not be most intrigued by the leader of the soldiers who captured him and plan to invade his home.

For Theos, everything would have been easier if the infuriating, lying, bewildering Elkati had never come into his life, but he can’t stay away. When betrayal and treachery threaten both their nations, they must work together to stop a war that could destroy their homes forever—even as they begin to question everything they’re fighting for.

My Review:
4.5 stars for this intriguing M/M fantasy romance.

Theos is a Sacrati, the fiercest of warriors in the Torian army. Torian society is communal–the men fight and conquer new lands, and protect the women and children who live within sheltered cities in a collection of valleys in this world. Men and women do not marry in Torian society, they meet rarely for procreation, but otherwise are separate. The prized warriors, like Theos, have many invitations to copulate with women, to produce offspring, but most of the time, the men are game to take care of their sexual needs with their comrades (as do the women!).

As a sacrati, Theos is above a lot of the menial army business. His warlord, however, has been acting mighty shady. Under Theos’ command, a band of Elkati men are captured well within the Torian borde. It is clear they were attempting to return to neighboring Elkat valley, but Theos knows the value of a good captive–his men will all get a cut for selling them as slaves. And, Theos has the right, as commander, to choose a slave of his own from the captured. Not that he plans to, however. Keeping a slave is expensive and he would do better to claim the slave’s selling price for himself.

Only, it doesn’t go that way. The leader of the Elkati, a fair man called Finnvid, is a healer and a scholar. Theos is especially wary of the strange way his warlord watches Finnvid, and desires him. His suspicions are further augmented when the warlord is enraged by Theos’ decision to keep Finnvid, rather than let him be transported through a mountain pass for sale at the onset of winter. Finnvid is not like the men Theos knows. He is verbally opposed to the idea of men having sex with each other–in Elkat such a thing is despised. Moreover, Elkati have monogamous marriages, and this seemingly random copulation within Torian society is as foreign to him as Chinese is to me. It turn out that Theos has 46 children, with more than a dozen women in the city–and more on the way. Finnvid = Mind Blown.

Still, Finnvid is a secret keeper of the highest order, and the most significant is his BROTHER is the Elkati King. Returning him to Elkat is imperative, but there are so many secrets and lies, that the politics is nearly as dangerous as the winter mountain passage.

There are double crosses, and double standards and murder most foul. Throughout, Finnvid must come to terms with the most hated part of himself–the part that desires men sexually, and Theos in particular. I was fully engaged in this fantastic world. I felt like I was taking icy steps through the snowy mountains, or sweating in the ice huts and soaping up in the bath house. All the secondary characters are beautifully detailed, having real experiences that impact the story. The political machinations were fascinating, and I really found myself drawn into the story–hoping that Finnvid and Theos would find themselves alive, and together, when the final page came.

While this is not a traditional romance, and not even a traditional ‘slave’ romance, there is a constant expectation that Finnvid and Theos will work things out between them. In the meantime, I was rather relieved with how decent Theos was–he had no dearth of sex partners, and he never forced Finnvid to become one of them. They spend a significant amount of time together, and the rapport that develops is quite natural feeling, as are the experiences of regret and loss when they are separated. Still, I had to laugh at how stubborn they both were.

The book ended in such a way that I don’t anticipate a sequel, but man! I’d like to see how all change in Torian society shakes out…

Interested? You can find SACRATI on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Kate Sherwood started writing about the same time she got back on a horse after almost twenty years away from riding. She’d like to think she was too young for it to be a midlife crisis, but apparently she was ready for some changes!

Kate grew up near Toronto, Ontario (Canada) and went to school in Montreal, then Vancouver. But for the last decade or so she’s been a country girl. Sure, she misses some of the conveniences of the city, but living close to nature makes up for those lacks. She’s living in Ontario’s “cottage country”–other people save up their time and come to spend their vacations in her neighborhood, but she gets to live there all year round!

Since her first book was published in 2010, she’s kept herself busy with novels, novellas, and short stories in almost all the sub-genres of m/m romance. Contemporary, suspense, scifi or fantasy–the settings are just the backdrop for her characters to answer the important questions. How much can they share, and what do they need to keep? Can they bring themselves to trust someone, after being disappointed so many times? Are they brave enough to take a chance on love?

Kate’s books balance drama with humor, angst with optimism. They feature strong, damaged men who fight themselves harder than they fight anyone else. And, wherever possible, there are animals: horses, dogs, cats ferrets, squirrels… sometimes it’s easier to bond with a non-human, and most of Kate’s men need all the help they can get.

After five years of writing, Kate is still learning, still stretching herself, and still enjoying what she does. She’s looking forward to sharing a lot more stories in the future.

You can catch up with Kate online on her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

She Is THE OCCASIONAL DIAMOND THIEF–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing in the blog tour of JA McLachlan’s THE OCCASIONAL DIAMOND THIEF. This YA SciFi adventure is a well-written tale about a girl who makes the best of the worst in her life–her lack of family and love. You can check out other stops on the tour here for even more good stuff including excerpts, reviews, vlogs and author and character insights. Make sure to drop down and get in on the giveaway!

The Occasional Diamond ThiefAbout the Book:
What if you learned your father was a thief? Would you follow in his footsteps, learn his “trade”? If you were the only one who knew, would you keep his secret?

When 16-yr-old Kia is training to be a universal translator, she is co-opted into traveling as a translator to Malem. This is the last place in the universe that Kia wants to be—it’s the planet where her father caught the terrible illness that killed him—but it’s also where he got the magnificent diamond that only she knows about. Kia is convinced he stole it, as it is illegal for any off-worlder to possess a Malemese diamond.

Using her skill in languages – and another skill she picked up, the skill of picking locks – Kia unravels the secret of the mysterious gem and learns what she must do to set things right: return the diamond to its original owner.

But how will she find out who that is when no one can know that she, an off-worlder, has a Malemese diamond? Can she trust the new friends she’s made on Malem, especially handsome but mysterious 17-year-old Jumal, to help her? And will she solve the puzzle in time to save Agatha, the last person she would have expected to become her closest friend?

Kia is quirky, with an ironic sense of humor, and a loner. Her sidekick, Agatha, is hopeless in languages and naive to the point of idiocy in Kia’s opinion, but possesses the wisdom and compassion Kia needs.

My Review:
This an interesting SciFi YA adventure, and I loved that it features a MC of color. The worldbuilding is cool, too. Kia is a native of the dry arid planet Saffara. He father owns a tradeship, and has mastered many languages in his role as captain, but he’s been ill since he returned form a far-flung rescue mission to Melam, twelve years ago. In his fever dreams he speaks Melamese, and Kia learns this language in order to help her father–only it has the opposite effect: hearing the language makes him distraught and on his death bed he confesses the location of a rare treasure–a Melamese diamond he is forbidden to possess. On Melam the diamonds are a personal treasure, passed only to an infant from his/her parents. An Off-worlder caught with one would be executed.

Kia believes her father stole this diamond, and she begins to “steal” other jewelry to pawn for money to go to language school. She is determined to get the heck away from her emotionally-distant mother, but ends up stealing more in order to provide for her mom when a medical emergency arises–which puts Kia smack into the grasp of the religious Order of Universal Benevolence. Agatha, a Select of the OUB, is a confidante and peacemaker of this intergalactic organization, one charged with brokering and assisting peace. She is also trained to seek the truth in all situations.

Agatha encounters Kia in the midst of a theft, and encourages her…to make more benevolent choices. Still, it is Kia who is chosen to accompany Agatha to Melam, site of her father’s illness and the planet where she will undoubtedly be killed if they discover her father’s Melamese diamond. Oh, and the Melamese are supremely distrustful of Off-worlders ever since factions from a neighboring planet deliberately unleashed a virus that decimated their population–the same virus that afflicted Kia’s father.

Melam is a cold, wet, gray world–nothing like sunny Saffara–and Kia never plans to stay with Agatha when they arrive. I really enjoyed the banter between Agatha and Kia. Agatha’s a bumbling language learner, and Kia’s desperate not to be killed by her faulty phrasing. Observing the Friday afternoon Justice on their second day on Melam–including a mutilation for theft and a beheading for treason–Kia is even MORE freaked out. But the queen has taken notice of her, and the High Priest has taken notice of the the queen’s notice. Yep. We got a classic power struggle on Melam.

While Agatha seeks to guide the Melamese past their grief, Kia is the girl in the middle–and often in the middle of a cozy cell. She does manage to make some important friends who help her get free, and Kia directs the bulk of the action, which was great. She’s not the most likable character, but she is honest…for a thief. Her skills as a safecraker/lock picker come in handy quite often especially while saving sick children, and the daring Agatha.

The pace of the book was a bit slow, at first, but really picked up steam as the ship landed on Melam and both Agatha and Kia were embroiled in the political stew. There are elements of a romance, but no love story. Expect double-crossing priests, courageous Melamese, a bitter queen, and a stalwart Select whose skill at interplanetary relations far outshines her fluency in Melamese. Kia was great, and I did enjoy her. She is comfortable in her outsider role, yet broke through and made lasting connections to people who believe she matters. The story ends, but it’s clear the door is open to another Kia-Agatha buddy tale.

Interested? You can find THE OCCASIONAL DIAMOND THIEF on Goodreads and Amazon. EDGE Publishing has a Thank You gift for anyone who buys the print version of the book. If they send an email to events@hadespublications.com with their Amazon receipt, they will receive a copy of a short story that features Kia.

More praise for The Occasional Diamond Thief by J. A. McLachlan
“J. A. McLachlan is a terrific writer — wry and witty, with a keen eye for detail. I’ve been following her work with interest and delight since 2003. In a world where young-adult fiction is booming, The Occasional Diamond Thief propels McLachlan to the front of the pack.”
Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of FlashForward

“The story is full of humor, danger, fun, and adventure. This is Science Fiction anyone would love.” — J. Jones, VINE VOICE

“Flawless–The Occasional Diamond Thief was one of those rare stories where I found myself hanging onto every word. McLachlan delivers a fast-paced, unpredictable story with perfectly-executed twists. Descriptions were succinct and epigrammatic with no room for boredom. It felt so real, it was almost like being in the theater with a surprise treat at the end. Much like the theater, once the credits have started to roll and the crowd starts to thin, there was a snippet at the end that you do not want to miss.” — BittenbyBooks.com

“Loved it! I haven’t read a heroine I loved this much since Katniss Everdeen. McLachlan’s Kia is smart, tough and hilarious, and pairing her with serene, forgiving Agatha left me laughing long after I finished the story. The settings were vivid, the plot raced along, and the themes kept me turning pages. McLachlan combines her love of science fiction, ethics and good, old-fashioned storytelling in The Occasional Diamond Thief, and the results couldn’t be better. I loved every page.” — < b>Amanda Darling, Screenwriter

“J. A. McLachlan is a remarkable creator of worlds, a remarkable creator of character, a master of suspense. In short, a remarkable storyteller. You don’t have to be a young adult to love this book.” –
Sheryl Loeffler, Writer, A Land in the Storytelling Sea

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a $10 Amazon giftcard.
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author

J. A. McLachlan was born in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of a short story collection, CONNECTIONS, and two College textbooks on Professional Ethics. But speculative fiction is her first love, a genre she has been reading all her life, and The Occasional Diamond Thief is her second in that genre, a young adult science fiction novel, published by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. After over a decade as a college teacher, she is happy to work from home as a full-time author now.

You can find Jane online on her website Goodreadstwitter, and Facebook.

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They Both Have a HOT HEAD–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for a book voted one of the Top 100 romance reads on Amazon: Damon Suede’s HOT HEAD. And, coincidentally, it’s on SALE for $1. Yep. I ponied up my buck for this delicious M/M firefighter romance. A small caveat, the book was published in 2011–which was the ten year mark following the Sept 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in NYC. The plot reflects living through this horrific experience and the ten year gap.

Hot Head (Head, #1)About the book:

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire…”

Since 9/11, Brooklyn firefighter Griff Muir has wrestled with impossible feelings for his best friend and partner at Ladder 181, Dante Anastagio. Unfortunately, Dante is strictly a ladies’ man, and the FDNY isn’t exactly gay-friendly. For ten years, Griff has hidden his heart in a half-life of public heroics and private anguish.

Griff’s caution and Dante’s cockiness make them an unbeatable team. To protect his buddy, there’s nothing Griff wouldn’t do… until a nearly bankrupt Dante proposes the worst possible solution: HotHead.com, a gay porn website where uniformed hunks get down and dirty. And Dante wants them to appear there-“together.”

Griff may have to guard his heart and live out his darkest fantasies on camera. Can he rescue the man he loves without wrecking their careers, their families, or their friendship?

My Review:

This book is a head rush! Grif is a lonely man. His mother died when he was a child, and his father, a Fire Inspector, is not a demonstrative man. Grif essentially raised himself, and in high school got sucked into the large and lively Anastagio family. They became his surrogate parents and siblings, with Dante his best friend since fire school. He was married shortly before the attacks on 9/11, but his grief and PTSD from being a first responder rendered him moody and uninterested and his wife left him.

Since then, Grif has been a shadow brought to life with the Anastagio’s, Dante in particular. For years now, he and Dante have caroused, “satisfying” NYC’s plethora of willing women wishing for the thrill of bedding FDNY hunks. Dante is a vibrant love-’em-and-leave-’em guy–with the face and bod of an Italian god. He’s generous to a fault, always opting to help a friend in need, and rehabbing a run-down brownstone that’s way too expensive for his three job income.

Grif’s hunger for Dante develops over years, but at this point in the story it is enormous–so much so that, when Grif learns Dante’s plan to do a bit of solo porn for cash, well, Grif’s about to explode–with lust. He thinks finding another man, on the SUPER down-low, will help him get over the lust for Dante. (He’s super guilty about this attraction, BTW, constantly thinking: How messed up is he that he lusts for his pseudo-brother, right?)

The hard truth Grif must face is that he LOVES Dante, and that is in the biblical sense. Dante’s money troubles are so great that one “shoot” isn’t enough–and he begs Grif to “help him out” on camera. Grif cannot say no. What remains is a love story that captivated me. The sexytimes are so hot. The firemen are so hot. There are gorgeous subplots, and jealous lovers. Coming out in the FDNY is a dangerous prospect, but so is loving your best friend, as Grif learns. I almost died in the big fire scene–and so did one of the characters!

The language of this book is bold, brash and in-your-face. Grif pulls no punches about FDNY, 9/11, fire bunnies, Dante, and even his emotionally distant father. He also has some of the funniest in-head swearing I’ve ever read. And about 800 euphemisms for male self-pleasure. I adored all of them! Even if Grif wasn’t a 6’3″ Scots-American who wears his kilt while bouncing the door at his local watering hole, I’d have loved him to pieces. The fact that I have THAT visual only makes me love him more…

It’s no doubt that I’ll be recommending this book for long time. It is all the best of romantic fiction, with great leads I cheered for the entire book. Definitely a Top 100 pick!

Interested? You can find HOT HEAD FOR $1 RIGHT NOW on Goodreads, Amazon, Dreamspinner Press and Barnes & Noble (<–Not on sale!).

Damon SuedeAbout the Author:

Damon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. He has lived all over and along the way, he’s earned his crust as a model, a messenger, a promoter, a programmer, a sculptor, a singer, a stripper, a bookkeeper, a bartender, a techie, a teacher, a director… but writing has ever been his bread and butter. He has been happily partnered for over a decade with the most loving, handsome, shrewd, hilarious, noble man to walk this planet.

Though new to gay romance, Damon is an award-winning author who has been writing for print, stage, and screen for two decades, which is both more and less glamorous than you might imagine. He’s won some awards, but he counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year.

Damon is a proud member of the Romance Writers of America and the Rainbow Romance Writers. He would love to hear from you… you can get in touch with him here: Email,  DamonSuede.com, Facebook, Twitter, Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and The Romance Reviews.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Finding Love THE YEAR WE FELL DOWN–A Review and FREE BOOK!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a New Adult romance from Sarina Bowen. I absolutely loved THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR, which is book 3 of the The Ivy Years series, so I jumped at the chance to pick up book 1, THE YEAR WE FELL DOWN, when it was on sale. The series follows hockey players on the Harkness College team, so it’s totally appropriate for Stanley Cup season… ;)

The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years, #1)About the book:
The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else.
What now?

She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.

Also, he’s taken.

Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.

They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.

But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.

My Review:
Corey Callahan is a freshman like no other on the campus of Harkness College. She’s recently disabled due to a hockey injury which has left her with little feeling below the knees. She is in a wheelchair most of the time, but is gaining strength with braces and crutches. She has significant difficulty navigating many areas of her historic campus. Still, she wanted out her home where her parents can’t stop hovering, and is overjoyed that her roommate, Dana, is cool. And, it doesn’t hurt that the most delicious man on campus, hockey star Adam Hartley, is just across the hall.

Hartley, as everyone calls him, is an all-around decent guy with one giant problem–his leg cast. He busted up his leg falling off a rock-climbing wall–while drunk. He’s mentally furious, and physically challenged, but he and Corey make friends quickly–and, despite all Corey’s fervent wishing, they will remain friends. Hartley has a super-wealthy, super model-esque, girlfriend, Stacia, who is soon to depart for a study abroad quarter in Europe. No way Hart-throb will toss the girl for a gimp, right?

Okay, I’m just in awe of this book. There are so many great things to say, like, I really loved Corey. She wasn’t perfectly positive, but she was absolutely determined to make it in college. She struggled, as I think many wheelchair-bound people do, with the way she was treated. As if she was fragile, or simple-minded, or couldn’t make decisions for her own self. She was, in her own way, extremely capable. She planned, and researched, every trip she needed to make. She was shy, at first, but really struck out on her own a lot. Plus, while this is fiction, I know that many colleges struggle with being ADA-compliant. Even if they are, to some degree compliant, there are parts of a campus that can’t be accessed by wheelchairs, and yet, Corey broke through those boundaries time and again–she shattered her own emotional boundaries alongside.

Yes, she adores Hartley. Who wouldn’t? He’s funny and kind and loyal, and his precious Stacia is…not. She’s an ice princess, off enjoying all that Europe has to offer, including the men. It baffles Corey how Hartley can tolerate it, especially as stoically as he does. He isn’t naive, he’s just got different priorities–growing up the poor, unknown, bastard child of a trust-fund brat will do that to you, I suppose. He’s a bit starry eyed over Stacia’s immense wealth.

Things evolve between Corey and Hartley in the space of a semester. Their comfortable friendship becomes more fraught. This is only complicated by Stacia’s return just before term’s end.

I’m not gonna lie, this was a thinking book. I had a lot of information about disability–and ability –to absorb, and yet, it was easy. Though Corey complains that she’s a whiner, I didn’t feel that way about her when reading her POV. Her desire to be seen as a person of value, and a whole person–not just a wheelchair-bond “problem”–was endearing. As Hartley soon learned, Corey, who was honest and real, was so much easier to love than his airbrushed, waxed/dyed, high maintenance Stacia. But not only was it easy to love Corey, it was easy to respect her, to treasure her, to have real and meaningful conversations with her.

The end of this book left me wanting to know more about Corey and Hartley, which is always a great indicator for me. It’s the first book in a series, but each book is about a different hockey player at Harkness, so we only get snippets of the other books’ characters going forward.

Interested? You can find THE YEAR WE FELL DOWN on Goodreads, AND IT’S CURRENTLY FREE on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

About the author:

Sarina Bowen writes steamy, angsty Contemporary Romance and New Adult fiction from the wilds of Vermont. She is the author of The Ivy Years, an award-winning series set amid the hockey team at an elite Connecticut college.

Waiting for more Ivy Years? You can read more about upcoming volumes in the four book series at http://www.sarinabowen.com/theivyyears

Also, the Gravity series.

Sarina enjoys skiing, espresso drinks and the occasional margarita. She lives with her family, eight chickens and more ski gear and hockey equipment than seems necessary.

To be kept abreast of new releases, please feel free to sign up for the mailing list at http://www.sarinabowen.com/contact.

Or visit the her Facebook page, or tweet her @sarinabowen.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Traveling Through THE PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for Jordan Castillo Price’s near-future Sci Fi M/M romance, THE PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY, first book in the Mnevermind series. It’s a very compelling read for people who enjoy intellectual Sci Fi or virtual reality experiences–with just a dash of romance.

The Persistence of Memory (Mnevermind, #1)About the book:
Every day, Daniel Schroeder breaks his father’s heart.

While forgetting your problems won’t solve them, it does seem like it would make life a heck of a lot easier. Daniel thought so once. Now he knows better. He and Big Dan have always been close, which makes it all the more difficult to break the daily news: the last five years were nothing like his father remembers.

They’re both professionals in the memory field—they even run their own memory palace. So shouldn’t they be able to figure out a way to overwrite the persistent false memory that’s wreaking havoc on both of their lives? Daniel thought he was holding it together, but the situation seems to be sliding out of control. Now even his own equipment has turned against him, reminding him he hasn’t had a date in ages by taunting him with flashes of an elusive man in black that only he can see.

Is it some quirk of the circuitry, or is Daniel headed down the same path to fantasy-land as his old man?

My Review:
4.5 stars for this is SciFi M/M romance set in our world with a new technology, mnemography. Mneming (read: MEEM-ing) is the process of having a virtual reality experience, only a bit better. A mnem is a temporary memory implanted in a person’s brain.

Daniel Schneider, and his dad, Big Dan, own Adventureworks, a small mnemography studio in Madison WI. Daniel runs the show now, after Big Dan suffered a persistent mnem (replaced memory) testing out a program that Daniel had authored. Now, Big Dan can’t remember that he’s been divorced for five years and Daniel lives in shame over what happened to his dad. His confidence in mnem-coding is shattered and his business is failing. He works a second job for a competitor mnem studio to make ends meet, where he is friends with Larry.

Daniel is gay, and while guiding a client’s mnem, he meets another man in the mnem. This has never happened before–the guides (called sherpas) aren’t really a part of the program, they exist outside of it, but there is no doubt that the tall, pale man who recurs in another client’s mnem is real.

Okay, there’s some doubt. Daniel is constantly convinced he’s hallucinating, or worse–mneming–his stranger into existence. Larry is able to convince Daniel that the mysterious Elijah is real however. And they track down Elijah–to find he’s straight and autistic, but brilliant at mnem. His invention allows him to slip into running mnem programs as far as 100 miles away. While this is stunning to Daniel, he’s even more fascinated by Elijah. Daniel has never been one to fall for a straight guy, but there’s something curious about Elijah–and it seems likely that Elijah hasn’t had much experience with sex, at all, not just with male partners. They struggle to connect, on account of Elijah’s autism, but the manage to work it out…a bit.

I must say, I was thrilled by the world-building and character-development here. The world is much like ours, so it was easy to visualize, but the tech aspect was well-done. I really had the sense of the mnem a–to me they seem like VR. Big Dan was such a touching, tragic figure, perpetually defending his (estranged and ex-) wife’s absence, and urging Daniel to mend fences–only to be continually confronted with copies of his divorce papers. Tired, defeated Daniel struggling to keep his business running while scared he’ll mess up even more, facing his delusional father everyday and knowing his program upset the balance, he makes such a compelling character. Elijah and Larry are two scene stealers. Loved them. My only complaint is: more. I wanted MORE pages. I loved where this was going and didn’t want it to end.

As for the heat, there really isn’t much, but what there is, is deeply emotionally satisfying, IMHO. I want them to get together, for real. For keeps. They seem like a match intellectually, as well as physically. I received this book via Goodreads’ Don’t Buy My Love program in exchange for an honest review. I have the sequel loaded up on my iPad and can’t wait to work it into my reading schedule.

Interested? You can find THE PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance.

About the Author:
Author and artist Jordan Castillo Price is the owner of JCP Books LLC. Her paranormal thrillers are colored by her time in the midwest, from inner city Chicago, to small town Wisconsin, to liberal Madison.

Jordan is best known as the author of the PsyCop series, an unfolding tale of paranormal mystery and suspense starring Victor Bayne, a gay medium who’s plagued by ghostly visitations. Also check out her new series, Mnevermind, where memories are made…one client at a time.

With her education in fine arts and practical experience as a graphic designer, Jordan set out to create high quality ebooks with lavish cover art, quality editing and gripping content. The result is JCP Books, offering stories you’ll want to read again and again.

You can find Jordan online on her website, Goodreads, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!