Cephalopod Coffeehouse August 2015–IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT by Judy Blume

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Hi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

In the Unlikely EventThis month I’d like to share my review for IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT newly released by Judy Blume. I am a girl who grew up devouring Blume’s coming-of-age stories and needing that frank honesty in a world I didn’t quite understand. I had the chance to attend a lecture by Ms. Blume, as part of this book’s launch. It was a wonderful evening; a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.

As for the book:

It is a piece of historical fiction. The first I believe she has ever written. It centers on Elizabeth, NJ in 1951-52 dubbed “Plane Crash City” because three commercial aircraft crashed there within 58 days of each other. Ms. Blume was living in Elizabeth at the time, a little younger than the book’s main protagonist, Miri Ammerman, a 15 y/o Jewish American girl whose world seem to split at the seams in the wake of these tragedies.

The story is an ensemble piece, built on short news articles and longer vignettes from probably 15 different characters, though the main voice is that of Miri. She is a girl who has never known her father, raised by her mother, grandmother and uncle–and they barely make ends meet. Her best friend, Natalie, is from a well-off family; her parents are married and her dad is a dentist.

Miri and her mother are eye-witnesses to the first crash, as is Miri’s Uncle Henry, a reporter. He ends up making a name for himself, as the story winds on, covering all the investigations and the subsequent crashes. Miri’s friends all speculate as to the causes of the crashes–aliens, sabotage, Commies–it’s a freaky time to be a young person. Historically, WWII has barely ended and thousands of soldiers are still dying in Korea. Public awareness and political leanings of are fixated on McCarthy hearings and the Red Scare is very real. In Miri’s day-to-day, people she knows are killed in the crashes, as the planes sometimes strike homes and apartments in the closely-packed suburban area, and nobody can explain why.

The strain of identifying dead bodies by the dental records drives Natalie’s father a bit round the bend, and Natalie’s sure she can hear voices of the dead and dying. I was struck by the deft interleaving of narrative arcs. Miri’s falling for a young man, Mason McKittrick, an Irish boy who is not a suitor of whom her Jewish grandmother would approve, then Mason becomes a hero in one of the crashes–and he’s seen on his own merit. The affair between them them is intense for both, but it’ s not enough–for reasons only Mason can explain.

Meanwhile, Natalie’s family is falling apart, and Miri’s family is so deeply entrenched in that debacle that their friendship suffers greatly. Looming overhead is the constant prospect of another plane falling from the sky. The public backlash is fierce, even causing the closure of Newark Airport for a time, while the runways and airline patterns are rebuilt/rerouted.

It’s an engrossing read that kept me up well past a reasonable bedtime. The story spans thirty-five years–from late 1951 to early 1987, so we get to see how many of the players fared in the wake of such tragedy. The actual events of the crashes were meticulously researched by Ms. Blume, and the detail of the story is so rich–down to the “archaic” practices of 50s fashion (putting angora sweaters in the fridge!) I was captivated.

I will always love the YA fiction of Ms. Blume and my childhood, but this all-grown-up story was fascinating and uplifting, even at it’s lowest.

Interested? You can find IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and most other stores and libraries.

Thanks for popping in, and don’t forget to check out the reviews from my fellow Coffeehousers!

Living Through RECKLESS HOPE–Review & Giveaway

RH bannerHi there! Today I’m sharing my review for a contemporary New Adult M/M romance, RECKLESS HOPE, by j. leigh bailey. This is the second book in the Letting Go series, about young men who find love when they are least looking for it. I really enjoyed NOBODY’S HERO, and I found RECKLESS HOPE to be a touching story about living through loss, and making the best of bad circumstances.

CARINA_0815_9781459290068_RecklessHope.inddAbout the book:
What’s life without a little risk?
Or a lot of risk, if you’re Sebastian Carlisle. He’ll never live up to the legacy of his dead brother, so why try? Being the wild child in a family of stuck-up rich snobs suits him just fine.

Until he meets Micah Burke, and everything changes.

Micah’s got too much going on for a relationship. Even if he could trust Sebastian, a distraction—a sexy, reckless distraction with a death wish—would only derail his carefully scheduled life. If it were just Micah, maybe that would be fine, but his mother and sister depend on him, and he can’t let them down. Or at least that’s what he tells himself.

A hot moment leads to a hot night leads to a connection neither of them are ready for. And when a crisis hits Micah’s family hard, Sebastian will have to shed his bad-boy image and decide whether he can be the man Micah needs—and Micah needs to decide whether he’ll let him.

How about a little taste?

“I thought I knew what kind of person you were.”

“Yeah, you made that pretty clear.”

Micah cringed, but kept going. “You take for granted everything I work my ass off to achieve. It’s easy for you. And now I know there’s more to you than that. I don’t understand your choices, or the need for an adrenaline rush you seem to have.” He held up a hand to keep Sebastian from saying anything. He scooted up, resting his back against the handlebars. “I don’t have to understand. It’s part of who you are.”

“Somehow I don’t think this discussion is heading in a direction I’m going to like.” Sebastian drew his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms around them.

“The thing is, you’re a bad influence on me.”

“I don’t—”

“You don’t even have to do anything. Take tonight, for instance.”

“Tonight?”

“I have a midterm tomorrow. I should be studying. Or even sleeping. Instead I’m here. I never have trouble doing what I’m supposed to do. Setting aside my ‘want tos’ to do my ‘have tos.’ Except around you.”

“I’m not trying to make your life harder. I’m just trying to be part of it.”

“That’s what I don’t get. You could have almost anyone. You could find someone a hell of a lot less complicated than me.”

“You may not believe it, but I don’t mind complications.”

My Review:
This is the second book in a series, but is fully enjoyable as a standalone.
4.5 Stars.

Micah Burke is 19 going on 62. He is the guardian for his 14 y/o sister and caregiver to his paraplegic mother. Two years ago his alcoholic parents were responsible for a car wreck that killed his father, paralyzed his mother, and killed three others. Since then he has had to take on two jobs and the role of parent. He barely makes ends meet and only goes out one night a month–one night of dancing–where he meets Sebastian Carlisle.

Sebastian Carlisle is as rich as they come. He’s a sophomore at Northwestern and an entitled prick with a sad history–his twin died of leukemia four years ago. His parents have pretty much moved to Europe and his only remaining family is his wealthy, but strict, grandfather–who absolutely does not approve of Sebastian’s risky life choices. Since then, Bas has lived his life on the edge, never showing his tenderness or vulnerability to anyone. Something about staid and sober Micah calls to Bas, reminds him of his conscientious and caring brother. The closer Sebastian gets to Micah, the more Micah tries to push him away–at first.

Micah has no time for a flighty boyfriend, but he can see that Sebastian isn’t a relationship guy. This is (at first) a problem–Micah doesn’t do casual, but then again Micah doesn’t do…anything. The close contact Micah and Sebastian have while working at the Carlisle Gardens Nursing Home (Micah as a CNA and Sebastian as a volunteer) keeps tempting Micah to take Sebastian up in his offers of fun. And casual sex…

This is a definite hurt/comfort story of two lonely young men looking for a partner who can be a support, not a burden. Micah is the first guy Sebastian has met in a long while who wants nothing from him–not money or contacts or anything, except a bit of fun now and then. Micah is sure being with Sebastian is a mistake–that he will let Micah down, just as everyone else in his life has. He’s so sure that he continually pushes Sebastian away, even when he truly needs his help.

I did like when Micah opened up, and asked Sebastian for help. And Sebastian’s response was way past stellar. I loved how Sebastian just meshed with the most difficult people–cantankerous old men and wild teens. He saw pieces of himself reflected in others and decided that he didn’t need to live up to his brother’s memory–rather he could behave like someone his brother would have been proud to know, and love. It was a very touching coming-of-age. These guys are young for all the tragedy in their lives, but the end speaks of happier days and a brighter future together. Expect a bit of angst and a decent amount of sexytimes.

Interested? You can find RECKLESS HOPE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win ebook copies of both book sin the Letting Go series.
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About the author:
j. leigh bailey is an office drone by day and the author of New Adult and Young Adult LGBT Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of… well, everything…but some habits aren’t worth breaking. She’s been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She’s a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending.

She wrote her first story at seven, which was, unbeknownst to her at the time, a charming piece of fan-fiction in which Superman battled (and defeated, of course) the nefarious X Luther. She was quite put out to be told, years later, that the character’s name was actually Lex. Her second masterpiece should have been a best-seller, but the action-packed tale of rescuing her little brother from an alligator attack in the marshes of Florida collected dust for years under the bed instead of gaining critical acclaim.

Now she writes New Adult and Young Adult LGBT Romance novels about boys traversing the crazy world of love, relationships and acceptance.

You can find j. leigh online on Facebook, her Facebook Author Page, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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Meeting COLETRANE Head On–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for the final book in Rie Warren’s Bad Boys of Retribution series. As you know I’ve followed the other three stories with glee! HUNTER, BO, and KINKAID were all yummy biker guys finding solid, sexy women, and COLETRANE is no exception. While this is a part of the series, it can be read as a standalone.

Coletrane (Bad Boys of Retribution MC #4)My Review:

Coletrane is a new member of the Retribution MC. He’s a level-headed college grad, working as a tattoo artist, and trying to keep his past at bay.

Then he meets Sinclair Chatham, sexy socialite he should steer quite clear of–but he can’t and it’s bringing him a world o’ hurt.

Sin, as he calls her, is a good girl who likes it bad. She’s headstrong and heartstrong and sure she can tame Cole’s inner beast, but Cole’s brand of lovin’–BDSM of a fashion–is as intoxicating as his sultry voice.

Cole’s past isn’t pretty. He ran around with the wrong folks, and had little direction from his mom who was always looking for the next big take. He barely survived when his sister OD’ed. His mom had a mental breakdown, and he’s been shouldering a lot of blame over the past several years. Between Cole and Sin the heat is intense. He’s falling hard and fast for this strong woman, but her dad isn’t best pleased–and his former friends see Sin as a gravy train they’d like to skim.

As with all the other Retribution books, we get the men of Retribution MC coming together for a tense showdown, the hero being a real hero, and so much sexytimes it’s a guaranteed HEA. I liked how Cole took Hunter’s advice and put his degree to real use, and made amends over his past at the same time. It was also cool that everything didn’t work out perfectly for Cole, keeping it real for us readers. Sin is the sexiest and most forward of all the gals bound to Retribution men, so far. Her daring was fun to experience.

Interested? You can find COLETRANE on Goodreads and Amazon.

Rie WarrenAbout the Author:
Badass, sassafras Rie Warren is the author of Sugar Daddy and the Don’t Tell series—a breakthrough trilogy that crosses traditional publishing boundaries beginning with In His Command.

She lives in gorgeous Charleston, South Carolina with her small family where she basks in the sunshine during the day, and adjourns to her woman cave at night. A nocturnal creature, she stays up way too late talking to herself, her characters, and anyone who will listen. She’s all about writing with heat, heart, and a hint of the dark, and she doesn’t shy away from the impossible.

Rie’s work has been called “edgy”, “daring”, and “some of the sexiest smut around”.

You can find Rie online Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Happy Book Birthday COWBOY VALENTINE–Excerpt & Giveaway

Cowboy Valentine RDLHi there! Today, I get the pleasure to welcome a new book into the world. COWBOY VALENTINE by Mia Hopkins is a New Adult erotic romance fresh off the press over at Samhain Publishing. And it is yummmmmmmy. Don’t forget to scroll down and enter the giveaway!
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About the book:
Forget chocolate and flowers. This homegrown honey is all the sweetness he craves.
Small-town life is nothing but a waiting room for eighteen-year-old honor student Corazón Gomez. Work and school leave little time for love, but with a full-ride Ivy League scholarship and a one-way ticket out of the boondocks, who needs it?

The answer appears on Valentine’s Day when her old cowboy crush ambles into the ice cream parlor where she works, inviting her to go on a late-night ride in his truck. For the first time she wavers between staying on the straight and narrow, and going off-road with the handsome heartbreaker.

After four years working on ranches all over the country, Caleb MacKinnon is back on the family farm helping out his mom and brothers while his father fights cancer. The one bright spot: smart, funny, and wickedly sexy Cora.

From the start, they both know this blazing-hot love affair can’t last. But when autumn comes and Cora has to leave for the East Coast, Caleb must find a solution to keep himself—and his heart—from falling apart.

Warning: Contains hard, cherry-poppin’ sex in a pickup truck and a cowboy charmer who talks dirty in two languages.

How about a little taste?

The cigarette calmed her down some, so she turned back to the shop to finish closing. When she reached for the handle of the door, a pair of headlights lit up the storefront and a big engine shuddered into Park behind her.

She stubbed out her cigarette on the rim of a trash can and turned around. The driver’s side door squeaked open and shut.

“We’re closed,” she said to the figure who walked up to her, a tall man in jeans, a plaid shirt and a cowboy hat.

He looked up in the faint light coming from the store window. “That so?” he drawled. His voice was deep.

“Afraid so.” Cora squinted at him. “Do I know you?”

The man stepped farther into the light. “Maybe.”

He was about six feet or so, with high cheekbones and a clean-shaven chin. His skin was tanned and freckled, as though he spent long hours in the sun. He tipped his hat back, and at once Cora saw his eyes—green but with pupils rimmed in gold. He was handsome as hell.

“You’re a MacKinnon kid,” she said, although she knew full well which one he was, and that he was no kid.

“Caleb.”

“I remember you from school. You graduated like three, four years ago.”

He looked down at her. His scrutiny scorched her cheeks. “I want to say I remember who you are, but I can’t,” he said at last. “What’s your name?”

“Cora. Corazón Gomez.”

Caleb put a boot on the parking block and hooked his thumbs onto his belt. “Wait. I think I remember you too. You were that really smart one. The freshman in my chemistry class who knew all the answers. I think I had you in Spanish too. The teacher always made a big deal about your name meaning… What was it?”

“Heart. Corazón means heart.”

His eyes locked on hers and he nodded slowly, in no hurry to respond. To keep from fidgeting, she put her hands in the pockets of her uniform, wondering if he was going to say anything more. In the quiet, the wind rustled through the ocean of sagebrush that grew across the road.

“Well, I have to finish closing up.” She tried to sound casual. “Nice seeing you again, I guess.”

He still hadn’t stopped staring at her, but when she broke eye contact with him and turned toward the door, he cleared his throat. “Um, any chance I could get a sundae? I’ve had a hell of a night. I’d appreciate it.”

“I don’t think I’m supposed to let you in after closing time.”

“I won’t tell anyone. I promise.”

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I can tell you right now, that this book is a steamer! Watch out for my review next week.

Interested? You can find COWBOY VALENTINE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Samhain Publishing, Books-A-Million, and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win books from Mia!
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

HEADSHOT(1)About the author:
Mia Hopkins writes lush romances starring fun, sexy characters who love to get down and dirty. She’s a sucker for working class heroes, brainy heroines and wisecracking best friends.

When she’s not lost in a story, Mia spends her time cooking, gardening, traveling, volunteering and looking for her keys. In a past life, she was a classroom teacher and still has a pretty good “teacher voice” and “teacher stare.” She lives in the heart of Los Angeles with her roguish husband and two waggish dogs.

Catch up with Mia online on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.
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New Dangers in THE DUALITY BRIDGE–Review & Giveaway

Singularity 2
Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share my review for THE DUALITY BRIDGE, a YA sci-fi book about artificial intelligence and the quest for immortality from a fave author Susan Kaye Quinn. This is the second book in a series, and you should read THE LEGACY HUMAN first. Don’t forget to scroll down and enter the $25 GC giveaway.

Duality BridgeAbout the book:
What does it mean to be human? Elijah Brighton is the face of the Human Resistance Movement. He’s the Olympic-level painter who refused an offer of immortality from the ascenders—the human/machine hybrids who run the world—in solidarity with the legacy humans who will never get a chance to live forever.

Too bad it’s all a complicated web of lies. Worse, Eli’s not even entirely human. Few know about the ascenders’ genetic experiments that left him… different. Fewer know about the unearthly fugue state that creates his transcendent art—as well as a bridge that lets him speak to the dead. But the Resistance is the one place he can hide from the ascender who knows everything the fugue can do. Because if Marcus finds him, he’ll either use Eli for his own nefarious purposes… or destroy him once and for all.

The Duality Bridge is the second book in the Singularity series and the sequel to The Legacy Human. This thrilling new young adult science fiction series explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world.

How about a tiny taste?

Delphina is watching me from outside the holo matrix… along with Kamali, whose wide brown eyes hold silent judgment for the things she thinks I’ve done. Forbidden things, like being a love toy for my ex-patron and current-rebel-ascender, Lenora. Who happens to be standing right next to her. While Kamali’s graceful dancer body is hidden under the black military garb of the resistance, Lenora’s perfect bodyform is barely covered in scintillating ascender-tech fabric. The thing is, I’ve never so much as kissed Lenora. Except in my dreams, which really shouldn’t count against me. Any seventeen-year-old guy would have those kinds of thoughts. But the truth is Kamali’s not wrong to judge me.

My feelings for Lenora have always been… complicated.

My Review:
This series of books takes place in a future Earth where humanity is the minority of the population and the Ascenders are humans who long ago put their knowledge and consciousness into a computer matrix called Orion. They exist in artificial bodyforms are are essentially immortal–replacing parts but not awareness over the years. Eli is a legacy human, part of a cultivated population comprised of the progeny of people who chose not to ascend over a hundred years ago. He has earned a modest living as an artist due to the payments of his Ascender patron Lenora, but his true goal was to win Ascendance at the Olympics that just ended. His goal was two-fold: he would be ascender and could pursue Lenora, for whom he always pined, and his mother, who is sick with lymphoma and unable to be cured with the limited medicines humans are allowed to take, would also ascend and she would be cured in the process.

In the previous book, THE LEGACY HUMAN, Eli’s plans did not succeed. And, he has learned that his humanity–which he ofttimes cursed–is not complete. Lenora had a hand in Eli’s conception, with a number of other Ascenders who were hoping to determine if Ascenders in fact had souls. Eli has fits, fugues, where he loses his active consciousness and sees scenes that may be future or past. He paints within these fugue-states creating art that is transcendent, but he now realizes that his visions in the fugue are far more than art–they are communion with Orion, outside of Ascendency.

Eli is a poster child for the Human Resistance, factions of humans who want Ascendency to be a right, not a privilege to “win” but, at the moment, Eli isn’t a believer in their cause. He isn’t human, but his sick mother is–and the rebels are willing to cure his mother for his cooperation. Unfortunately, their camp is compromised and Eli is singled out as a security risk. Eli and his friend Kamali (a human girl he’d like to actually date) fight to save the captured members of their camp, while also keeping Eli’s secret. It’s getting harder and harder to keep his genetic origins secret, however, especially as they are captured by human True Believers–God worshippers in the darkest sense–and other Ascenders, including Marcus, who believe Eli’s origin to be a mistake that needs to be rectified.

The plot takes amazing twists, between the harsh reality of human life in New Portland and the surreal nature of Eli’s fugues which are becoming more frequent and more detailed. Eli’s able to discern the true nature of all creatures he meets in the fugue, and his fears over some are more warranted than others. He’s also forced to make alliances that do not best suit him, in order to save the people he loves–sacrificing himself is not a viable option for his protectors and friends, however.

I really enjoyed the detailed world-building and the depth of the plot, which (naturally) features a character bent on world domination. Shame this character has such close ties to Eli. The characters within the story are fantastically crafted, with real motives and drives that cause alliances that are not always permanent. The secondary characters, Kamali, Cyrus, Lenora, Marcus and others, have true roles to play in Eli’s journey. The resolution of this novel is sufficient to remove any cliffhangers, but readers know there is more of the story to come. Can’t wait!

Interested? You can find THE DUALITY BRIDGE on Goodreads and Amazon.

legacy human
The Legacy Human by Susan Kay Quinn

What would you give to live forever? Seventeen-year-old Elijah Brighton wants to become an ascender—a post-Singularity human/machine hybrid—after all, they’re smarter, more enlightened, more compassionate, and above all, achingly beautiful. But Eli is a legacy human, preserved and cherished for his unaltered genetic code, just like the rainforest he paints. When a fugue state possesses him and creates great art, Eli miraculously lands a sponsor for the creative Olympics. If he could just master the fugue, he could take the gold and win the right to ascend, bringing everything he’s yearned for within reach… including his beautiful ascender patron. But once Eli arrives at the Games, he finds the ascenders are playing games of their own. Everything he knows about the ascenders and the legacies they keep starts to unravel… until he’s running for his life and wondering who he truly is.

The Legacy Human is the first in Susan Kaye Quinn’s new young adult science fiction series that explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world… and how technology will challenge us to remember what it means to be human.
You can find my review for the THE LEGACY HUMAN here and pick up the book on Amazon.

Praise for The Legacy Human:
“This book is Hunger Games (without the violence or controversy) meets Divergent.”
“This story is so intense I felt I couldn’t get a proper breath.”
“Science fiction with philosophical depth!”

$25 Blog Tour giveaway

$25 Blog Tour Giveaway

Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a $25 Amazon eGift Card or Paypal Cash.
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SusanAuthor Susan Kay Quinn
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the Singularity Series, the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, and the Debt Collector serial, as well as other speculative fiction novels and short stories. Her work has appeared in the Synchronic anthology, the Telepath Chronicles, the AI Chronicles, and has been optioned for Virtual Reality by Immersive Entertainment. Former rocket scientist, now she invents mind powers, dabbles in steampunk, and dreams of the Singularity. Mostly she sits around in her PJs in awe that she gets to write full time.

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Learning WHEN TO HOLD THEM–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for a new contemporary M/M romance from GB Gordon. WHEN TO HOLD THEM is a book in the Bluewater Bay universe–which is loosely connected to the other books in the series (STARSTRUCK, LONE WOLF, HELL ON WHEELS, THE BURNT TOAST B & B, and WEDDING FAVORS)  but fully enjoyable as a standalone. I’ve loved other GB Gordon books, SANTUARIO and THE OTHER SIDE OF WINTER, so I was excited to read this one!

When to Hold Them (Bluewater Bay, #9)About the book:

Doran Callaghan doesn’t know when to fold ’em. His gambling has landed him in debt and in jail, and now it’s got him stuck in the sticks in a reintegration program. He wants to turn his life around, but old habits come knocking, and some creditors are harder to shake than others.

Xavier Wagner cares more about the National Park he works in than the people around it, until a stranger awakens desires he didn’t know he had. Doran’s natural submissiveness turns Xavier’s ideas of how to treat a lover upside down. But Doran doesn’t seem to know about boundaries — or even to have any — and Xavier’s not sure that Doran will say no if he needs to. Which means someone’s going to get hurt.

While Xavier struggles with his principles, Doran’s past comes calling. Trusting each other is suddenly a matter of life or death, but Doran has to decide whether counting on Xavier — or himself — is a gamble he’s willing to take.

My Review:
Doran is 22 y/o man with a gambling addiction. He ran up some substantial debt to a card shark, and then embezzled money from his uncle’s clients in order to pay it back. This was doubly hard to do as Doran respects his uncle greatly–he took Doran in after his mother disowned him for being gay. Doran tries to comply with his parole agreement, attending GA sessions and working at his job in the tourism office redesigning the Bluewater Bay website and travel brochures. He sets aside some of his weekly allowance to repaying his uncle, but the urge to gamble is strong. In fact, the only urge that even compares is Doran’s obsession with catching sight of a local forest ranger whose truck appears at the gas station across the street from his office every Sunday afternoon.

One Sunday Doran’s too overwhelmed to simply observe–he enters the gas station to buy his lunch at the same time Officer Xavier Wagner is chatting up the attendant. And, a few days later, Doran can’t help sneaking a peek inside Xavier’s truck. It’s a miracle to him that Xavier is polite.

Xavier is a man between worlds. Son of a German emigre and a black woman, he’s not “black enough,” and he’s not “straight enough” for his mother’s conservative church. He lives in a cabin in the woods, preferring solitude–though he’d make an exception to bringing home the man-child he caught snooping in his truck. The desires that awaken when he’s near Doran almost scare Xavier–he wants to have him, to own him, and Doran is (even more frightening) into it.

Xavier doesn’t tolerate secrets or lies, so he’s put off when Doran’s evasive about his personal history. Doran’s so anxious to not be a cast off that he comes to terms with his inner steel, and stands up for himself, which was great to see. The dynamic that is developing here is one of limited D/s with many hints at it going further as more trust develops. The gambling addiction made for a nice character development with Doran–his ability to be so “all in” with Xavier, his impulsiveness, his remorse and “getting it” about chasing the thrill. All of those rounded Doran out nicely.

I had wanted a bit more steam. The sexytimes were nice, but felt whitewashed and ephemeral, removing me from the players which was mildly disappointing. Still the mountainside hunt was an interesting plot point. I appreciated how Xavier took great care of Doran, and left the story feeling as if these two were going to make it long-term. Yay!

Interested? You can find WHEN TO HOLD THEM on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
G.B. Gordon worked as a packer, landscaper, waiter, and coach before going back to school to major in linguistics and, at 35, switch to less backbreaking monetary pursuits like translating, editing, and writing. Having lived in various parts of the world, Gordon is now happily ensconced in suburban Ontario with the best of all husbands.

You can reach GB online here: website, Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook.

Moving Beyond WHAT HE LEFT BEHIND-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a super sexy M/M/M ménage romance newly-released from LA Witt. WHAT HE LEFT BEHIND is a book about married friends helping a friend recover from abuse. My goodness, it was a swooner! I’ve loved these other books from LA Witt, ON THE CLOCK, LONE WOLF and STARSTRUCK, and jumped at the chance to review this one. So glad I did.

What He Left BehindAbout the book:
Can you ever have a second first time?

Josh Carver thinks it’s just another lunch with his best friend, Michael—until Michael confesses he just turned down a date with his hot veterinarian crush. It seems Michael’s abusive ex left him more scarred than Josh realized.

Josh and his husband, Ian, have done their best to help Michael leave his horrific past behind, but even Josh is stunned when Ian suggests that Josh help Michael with his fear of physical intimacy. After all, it isn’t like it would be the first time—Josh and Michael were once each other’s firsts.

A hesitant first kiss, and Josh and Michael’s natural attraction eases the way. But with Michael still balking at the prospect of sex with someone new, Ian steps into the breach.

Everything is fine and dandy until emotions become so entangled, their friendship—and a marriage—could be at risk.

Warning: Contains three guys who will do anything for each other, a hot tub that’s always the right temperature, and a cat with an attitude problem.

My review:
This is a “melt your e-reader” erotic, contemporary M/M/M ménage story that can be summed up thusly: sex, and feels, and sexy feels.

Michael was in a long term relationship with an abusive partner, Steve, for five years. It has been roughly five years since Michael escaped Steve’s abuse, and he’s been working with a therapist all this time, but he still cannot bear to be touched, and has had no sexual relations with any partners in all that time. Each time Michael tried to initiate something with a potential partner he suffered panic attacks and PTSD episodes. He’s in his mid-thirties and completely, miserably, celibate.

Josh is Michael’s friend from childhood. They grew up together and shared all their first sexual experiences. They were besties with benefits, for a long time, but haven’t had any sexual relations in more than a decade–not since Josh met and married Ian. Ian and Josh have a stable, satisfying monogamous marriage, and a close friendship with Michael. When Michael confesses his fears over having sex with a new partner, it is Ian who suggests that Josh offers himself to Michael. That’s right. Ian is so sure that Josh can give Michael sexual healing–without damaging their marriage–that he urges Josh to help Michael get it on.

Through fits and starts, Josh is able to coach Michael to open up sexually. They are slow and tentative with each other, and it’s shattering Josh’s confidence, always wondering if he’ll push Michael too far, while also worrying that he is pushing Ian away.

I’m just gonna say that this is one of the most tender, most honest, and most absolutely scorching ménage stories I’ve read in a long time. The feels! My god! I wanted to weep whenever Michael clenched up and panicked. And Josh is an absolute mess inside. He tells the story, so we are constantly privy to his conflict. Ian is spectacular. Honest, and compassionate, and unrelenting as a sexual partner. When Michael becomes comfortable with Josh, and his anxiety over new partners is the last hurdle, Ian is steadfast. And hot! I almost chuckled when Josh began watching them interact and realized, ‘Hey! Why am I WATCHING when I could be joining in!’ I was cheering these guys on from this side of the screen for sure.

Of course, all good things come to an end, and Michael needs to find himself a stable partner, opening up the next round of conflict between the three of them. Turns out so, so good! It’s an HEA all the way.

Interested? You can find WHAT HE LEFT BEHIND on Goodreads, Samhain Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance.

About the Author:

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who, after three years in Okinawa, Japan, has recently relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a three-headed clairvoyant parakeet named Fred. There is some speculation that this move was not actually because of her husband’s military orders, but to help L. A. close in on her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who has also recently transferred to Omaha. So, don’t anyone tell Lauren. She’s not getting away this time…

Visit her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in my friends, and keep reading!