Getting Past the Past: CONCOURSE-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a recently released M/M romance from Santino Hassell. CONCOURSE is another chapter Five Boroughs series and catches us up woth a beatuiful socialite who doesn’t feel so gorgeous on the inside. I’ve loved Hassell’s contemporary romances, SUNSET PARK, FIRST AND FIRST, and INTERBOROUGH, so I couldn’t wait to jump into this new book.

About the book:
Ashton Townsend is the most famous celebutante of Manhattan’s glitterati. The black sheep of his wealthy family, he’s known for his club appearances, Instagram account, and sex tape. Most people can’t imagine him wanting for anything, but Ashton yearns for friendship, respect, and the love of his best friend—amateur boxer Valdrin Leka.

Val’s relationship with Ashton is complicated. As the son of Ashton’s beloved nanny, Val has always bounced between resenting Ashton and regarding him as his best friend. And then there’s the sexual attraction between them that Val tries so hard to ignore.

When Ashton flees his glitzy lifestyle, he finds refuge with Val in the Bronx. Between Val’s training for an upcoming fight and dodging paparazzi, they succumb to their need for each other. But before they can figure out what it all means—and what they want to do about it—the world drags them out of their haven, revealing a secret Val has kept for years. Now, Ashton has to decide whether to once again envelop himself in his party-boy persona, or to trust in the only man who’s ever seen the real him.

My Review:
Ashton Townsend, also known as A-Town, is a celebrity of dubious distinction. His family owns a telecom company, but he’s the black sheep known more for his unauthorized sex tape and twitter feed than any of his philanthropy. And that’s okay, Ash supposes. Just because he’s notorious doesn’t mean he can’t help out. Still, Ash knows he’s mostly being used by his hangers on, and expects that’s pretty much all he deserves.

Val is the son of Ash’s former nanny. He’s had a long-standing love for Ash, despite his mixed feelings about Ash and his family. Way back when, Val’s mom sacrificed time with Val and his sister to take care of Ash and his brothers–and that was hard to take. Then, Val was hired by Mr. Townsend on the down-low to help keep Ash out of the tabloids. It was money Val couldn’t turn down–and Val’s still working crap jobs to pay his sister’s college tuition. If he can win a few fights, he will qualify for the Olympic team. Then, he’d have time to do more than work. Being in close proximity to Ash’s life gave Val insight into Ash’s tender nature. Val was ashamed of how few others, including Ash’s own family, really tried to know the tender, loving person Ash was–beneath his glamorous persona. Val has never forgotten. It’s why Val will give up his few hours of sleep to ‘rescue’ Ash from bad situations.

It’s also why Val’s in love with Ash, and now he’s ashamed he ever took money to hang out with Ash, even if he used the money to care for his mom when she was dying. Now he’s not sure what to do. Ash needs his companionship, but the one time they got physical turned bad, fast. Can they build a relationship? Or will A-Town’s circus life upset Val’s training to be an Olympic boxer.

This is a tender romance between long-time friends who are learning how to be lovers. I enjoyed seeing Ash learn he’s worthy of love, even though it was somewhat bittersweet seeing Ash and Val fall for one another. I understood the conflict and why Val held back–both the truth and his love: he didn’t believe he was worthy, either. Expect a good bit of back and forth as Val comes to Ash’s rescue, and Ash learns to stand on his own. They make a good couple eventually, and I liked being in their heads. There are many other characters that interact with both Val and Ash, so now I’m trying to figure out which one might get a book. I’m fairly sure we’ll see one of Val’s toughest opponents find love, soon…. (Fingers crossed!)

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

About the Author:
Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.

Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

You can find Santino online on his website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Out Today: HORATIO SLICE: GUITAR SLAYER OF THE UNIVERSE


Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for an erotic M/M+ space opera by Oleander Plume. HORATIO SLICE: GUITAR SSLAYER OF THE UNIVERSE is a campy, fun erotic romp through time and portals—which emulate space. All it takes is one super fan wishing to bring his rock idol back to Earth…and a whole lot of lube.

About the book:
Horatio Slice is NOT dead.

Gunner Wilkes knows a secret. Heartthrob rock star Horatio Slice is not dead. Sure, Gunner may turn heads with his big brain, good looks, and gym-built body, but his mind is on one thing only: returning his all-time favorite rocker and secret fanboy crush to Earth.

Yes, there are VAMPIRE PIRATES

Fame and stardom were starting to wear thin for Horatio Slice, but when he was sucked through a magical portal while on stage at Madison Square Garden into a jail cell in a strange dimension called Merona, his confusion quickly cleared upon meeting his sexy, dark-haired cellmate, a vampire pirate named Snake Vinter, who filled Horatio in about life in the universe, jumping from dimension to dimension, and craftily avoiding the wrath of gnarly-mask-wearing leather queen King Meridian—a guy nobody wants to cross.

The metal ship is named Frances.

And on Snake’s metal ship live eight identical blond Humerians, who proudly display their cocks and assholes in carefully crafted trousers, as well as a wild assortment of untamable, cock-hungry travelers and stowaways. But someone has hacked into Frances’ mainframe, demanding that Snake and crew deliver Horatio Slice to King Meridian, or feel his wrath.

All the zany magical comedy of Mel Brooks, an adventure not dissimilar to Indiana Jones meets Barbarella, and men, men, horny men, of all shapes and sizes, Horatio Slice, Guitar Slayer of the Universe is wild, fun, pornographic fiction for anyone who loves the masculine, the feminine, and all identities in between. Even more so, it’s for cravers—for aficionados—of big, hard, pounding cock, and anyone who can handle laughs that won’t stop coming.

How about an intriguing taste?

Gunner raced to the machine and squatted in front of the laptop, hands trembling as he typed in an eight-digit password. A red box popped up this time with the words, Open the portal? Y or N. In four more minutes, he would tap the Y key again and hope to hell his invention worked. He willed the clock to move faster while his fingers twitched in eagerness.

At 10:24, Gunner pressed Y, and the room exploded with light and sound.

“Holy fucking shit!”

He dove behind the ramshackle fortress head first, as if sliding into home base, wincing when his elbow scraped the rug. He scrambled to his knees and poked his head over the top of the couch, barely comprehending the chaos taking place around him. First, the air sizzled and turned blue. Loud vibrations caused every object in the room to quake. The clamor grew louder and louder until it evolved into a thunderous crack that reverberated through his spinal column. Gunner bit down on a knuckle to stifle his screams of terror when a shimmering circle of light appeared in the ceiling. Right before his eyes, a figure emerged from the portal. Two bare feet, followed by two bare legs, a pair of balls, and a cock—a gigantic, hard cock.

“It’s actually working,” Gunner mumbled around the knuckle still wedged between his teeth, “but where the hell are his clothes?”

Choosing to stay behind the bunker, Gunner rose higher on his knees to get a better view as the rest of Horatio Slice appeared—intact and alive. Once the top of his head cleared the portal, the circle winked out, leaving a ring of what appeared to be soot behind.

“Ow!” Horatio said as he hit the mattress. He sat up and rubbed his neck. “That hurt like a motherfucker.”

And just like that, Horatio Slice was back—stark naked and kind of pissed off.

Gunner almost lost control of his bladder as he watched the hunk rise to full height. The man was a glorious six-and-a-half-feet of chiseled muscle and masculine bravado. A seductive snake tattoo wound over one calf, while another circled his right bicep. Horatio brushed his long, brunette hair out of his eyes and looked around. “Where the hell am I?” he asked.

“Earth,” Gunner said. “New York State, to be exact.” He couldn’t take his eyes off Horatio’s cock. The rumors were true. Horatio Slice sported a behemoth between his legs, a fully erect behemoth dripping copious amounts of pre-come. Gunner wondered what Horatio was up to before he fell through the portal.

“No shit? I’m back home,” Horatio said. “Sweet!”

“You’re welcome.”

“Who said that?” Horatio turned toward Gunner.

“Me. I’m a big fan. Really big. I can’t believe you’re here.” Gunner took a breath. “I can’t believe you’re alive.”

“Of course, I’m alive.” Horatio stepped over a bundle of wires, crossing the six feet that separated him from Gunner in two, long strides. Smiling, he leaned over the bunker and peered down at Gunner, who shrunk back in shock. Was the guy checking him out? “Hello, hottie,” Horatio said, his smile deepening into more of a leer.

While he’d imagined his idol’s homecoming many times, none of those fantasies included Horatio being naked or staring at him with a throbbing erection and a predatory glint in his eyes. He practically melted under Horatio’s piercing blue gaze. “Um, hi,” Gunner said as he crawled out on his hands and knees from behind the sofa. “You made one hell of an entrance.”

“The impact almost shattered my spine,” Horatio said, “but I think I’m okay.”

Gunner took the hand Horatio offered and let the man hoist him to his feet. Instead of flip-floppy, Horatio’s touch turned Gunner’s stomach into an over-inflated basketball that thumped against his ribs. The ball bounced faster when he noticed Horatio eyeballing his crotch. Still holding Gunner’s hand, Horatio pulled him closer and stared into his eyes. “You don’t work for Meridian, do you?”

My Review:
Gunner is a college student with a powerful fan crush on Horatio Slice, singer and guitarist of Monotony. Two years ago, on Gunner’s birthday, Horatio Slice was spirited away through a galactic portal, to become the love slave of Meridian, a king and captain so the police. He was intercepted by Snake, a vampire pirate, first, however. Gunner’s obsession with Horatio led him to construct a rudimentary portal to bring him back to Earth–and that’s where this adventure begins.

Knowing that Meridian will be hot on his tail, Horatio insists that he must return to his sanctuary–with some help from Snake. They convince Gunnar that he needs to come along, or risk Meridian’s wrath.

They dodge through dimensions until they make it back to the safety of Snake’s ship. There Gunnar meets Snake’s partner Sugar, and his nearly identical seven Humerian cohorts. All the while there is sex, nudity, double-crosses, more sex and daring escapes. Lots of orgies, some pirate missions, and tenderness between crew members fill the gaps between avoiding Meridian’s grasp. If you dig whacked out adventure plots, kinky sexytimes, and wise-cracking dudes of any species, this erotic romp is for you!

Interested? You can find HORATIO SLICE: GUITAR SLAYER OF THE UNIVERSE on Goodreads , Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Inktera, and Go Deeper Press.
About the Author:
Oleander Plume lives in Chicago, Illinois, with her husband, two daughters and a pair of obnoxious cats. While she writes in many genres, her favorite is m/m. Or m/m/m. Or m/m/m/m, or … who’s counting, anyway?
Horatio Slice: Guitar Slayer of the Universe (published by Go Deeper Press) is Oleander’s first, full-length novel, but her short stories have appeared in anthologies by Violet Blue, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Shane Allison, Alison Tyler, Neil Plakcy, and F. Leonora Solomon.

Oleander also edited a self-published erotic anthology, titled Chemical [se]X, featuring stories centered around the theme of aphrodisiac chocolates.

For more information, please visit her at website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, or email her.

Excerpt Reveal for THE BEAUTY OF US–Coming Soon!


Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share an excerpt for the next book in Kristen Proby’s Fusion contemporary romance series. THE BEAUTY OF US is the fourth book in this series and will feature a second-chance romance for Riley, one of the five friends who own and run their sultry restaurant, Seduction. I’ve really enjoyed the other three books, LISTEN TO ME, CLOSE TO YOU, and BLUSH FOR ME so I can’t wait to read on. THE BEAUTY OF US releases Aug 22nd, but you can read both Chapters 1 and 2 below!

About the book:
New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby delivers another sizzling novel in her delectable and sexy Fusion series.
Riley Gibson is over the moon at the prospect of having her restaurant, Seduction, on the Best Bites TV network. This could be the big break she’s been waiting for. But the idea of having an in-house show on a regular basis is a whole other matter. Their lives would be turned upside down, and convincing Mia, her best friend and head chef of Seduction, that having cameras in her kitchen every day is a good idea is daunting. Still, Riley knows it’s an opportunity she can’t afford to pass on. And when she meets Trevor Cooper, the show’s executive producer, she’s stunned by their intense chemistry.

Trevor’s sole intention is to persuade Riley to allow Best Bites TV to do a show on her restaurant. But when he walks into Riley’s office, he stops dead in his tracks. The professional, aloof woman on the phone is incredibly beautiful and funny. But can he convince her that he’s interested in Riley for himself? Or is he using the undeniable pull between them to persuade her to agree to his offer?

Don’t miss the first chapter of THE BEAUTY OF US!

Click here to read it!

My yummy taste…is Chapter 2! Trevor’s POV

I didn’t sleep worth shit last night. I waited for a response to my e-mail from Riley for a while; I’m not exactly sure why. I just don’t like the thought of her being embarrassed.

Because she has no reason to be. She didn’t know who I was, and it was closing time. She was venting to her friends. It’s really no big deal.

But I could see the mortification in her big blue eyes when she realized who I was, and that doesn’t sit well with me.

When no response came, and for all I know she hasn’t even read the e-mail yet, I sat down for a game on the PS4. I don’t travel anywhere without it. Some people read to unwind. Some go to the gym, and there are times I do the same. But to truly relax, I enjoy gaming. I have since I was a kid.

So I settled in the apartment the network has rented for me this month and played online with my friends, talking about our days and shooting the enemy.

We played well past midnight, and I usually would have gone right to bed afterward, but my mind was still turning, making falling asleep impossible. The restaurant is better than I imagined through my research on their website and customer reviews. It’s visually stunning, the food is fantastic, and they’ve hit the mark on the sexy factor.

But added to that, the five women who own the place are all beautiful, smart, and will make for great TV. Viewers will eat this show up, pun intended.

I lean over the sink and wash my face, not bothering to shave today, and as I dry off, I reach for my phone.

I have several new e-mails.

The most recent is from Riley Gibson.

Trevor,
Thank you for your kind email. I apologize again for the conversation last night. I would like to promise that we don’t always talk like that at work, but that would be a lie. At least we keep it to closing time over a glass of wine.

Enjoy Portland,
Riley

I grin and sling the towel over my bare shoulders. Riley isn’t what I had pictured in my head before I got here. I knew that she was pretty because their photos are on their website, but she’s much prettier in person.

And animated.

Working with her will be fun.

And a test to my libido. Because Riley is fucking sexy. I’ve never mixed business and sex before, and I don’t plan to start now, but keeping my hands off her will be a test of wills.

And that too should be fun.

After my run this morning, I stopped by a bagel place to eat and read a newspaper, came back to the apartment for a shower, and I think I’ll go to Seduction for lunch. I hadn’t planned to go back there until my meeting with Riley tomorrow, but I also haven’t had lunch there yet.

I dress quickly in jeans and a red T-shirt and walk the six or so blocks to the restaurant.

They’ve just opened, so they’re not busy yet. The atmosphere is calm, the lighting a bit brighter than last night, making it a fun spot to meet with colleagues or friends for lunch.

I’m seated on the far side of the restaurant, where it meets the bar, and I can see Riley and the other women sitting around a high table, talking.

Loud enough for me to hear.

“So, he’ll be here tomorrow. Filming doesn’t start for another week, unless the timetable has been moved up,” Riley says, studying her iPad and checking things off a list. “It would be great if we could watch our language.”

“Right,” Mia says, rolling her eyes. “Because that’s gonna happen.”

“Just watch the F-bombs then,” Riley says with a grin. “And I’ll do my best not to vent to him about my horrible dating experiences. Not that I’ll be having any more of those.”

“I wish I’d been here for that,” Addie says with a smile. “It’s hilarious.”

“No, it’s not,” Riley says, but smiles and covers her lips with her fingers. “Okay, it’s a little funny. I’ll be working from home today.”

“Why?” The blonde speaking, I presume Cami, asks.

“Because I have a roofer coming today,” Riley says. “But if you need me, just call. I can come back after he leaves.”

“Go.” Mia waves her off. “We’ve got this.”

The girls all stand, about to go their own ways to get their day started. They’re clearly good friends, which will come across well on film.

Riley walks out of the bar and glances up, spotting me.

“Hi.” I offer her a smile and motion for her to join me. She sits, sets her iPad aside, and squares her shoulders.

I love a woman with grit.

“Why are you here?” she asks.

“I’m having lunch,” I reply, and gesture to the salad sitting in front of me. “It’s delicious. Adding the brussels sprouts is smart.”

“I’ll pass that along to Mia,” she says, and then laughs. “I guess you heard the part where I asked the girls to not swear.”

“I did,” I reply, and patiently butter a piece of warm bread. “Don’t worry about that stuff. They’re adults.”

“With potty mouths,” she says.

“And we can bleep stuff out, or ask them to rephrase. You’ve already got the gig, Riley. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. This isn’t an audition.”

“I know.” She sighs and reaches over to take a piece of my bread, surprising and delighting me. “I just want things to go smoothly.”

“Perhaps you should order lunch too.”

“I don’t have time,” she says, and then her blue eyes widen as she realizes what she just did. “I’m so sorry. I eat when I’m stressed out, and I didn’t—”

“No.” I hold my hand up to stop her. “It’s fine. I like that you’re relaxed with me. I think you need to relax more often.”

“What are you, my life coach now?”

“If you like. Did you cancel those dating sites like I suggested?”

She bites her lip and looks to the side, then nods. “I did.”

“Good.” I take a bite of salad and nod. “Are you sure you don’t want some food?”

“I rarely have time to eat,” Riley says, and checks the time on her phone. “In fact, I should go. I have to meet the roofer at my house.”

“What’s wrong with your roof?”

“It’s old,” she says with a shrug. “That’s what happens when you buy an old house. I’m fixing it up a little at a time.”

I nod, and find that I don’t want her to go quite yet. I want to talk more, to learn more about her.

“Why don’t you come to my apartment tonight and I’ll cook you dinner?”

She pauses and stares at me for a moment. “Why?”

I laugh and set my fork down. “Because I asked you to. We’re going to be working closely over the next few weeks, we might as well get to know each other a little better. Also, we can discuss my new duties as your life coach.”

“Well.” Her lips twitch as she thinks it over for a moment, a myriad of emotions moving across her beautiful face, and finally she says, “Okay. Do you mind texting me the address and the time?”

“Not at all,” I reply, and immediately pass her my phone. “Plug in your number and I’ll text you this afternoon.”

She complies, passes it back, and smiles. “Okay, see you later.”

And with that, she’s off. Her ass swaying enticingly in her tight skirt, calves flexing from the height of her heels, and the food I’m currently chewing immediately tastes like cardboard.

Jesus.

And I just voluntarily offered to spend time with her. Alone.

I’m a fucking glutton for punishment.

* * * * * * * *

“I’m starving,” Riley immediately says as I open the door. She’s in jeans and a well-loved University of Oregon sweatshirt, her hair is pulled up in a ponytail, and she looks like she could be a co-ed herself. “I forgot to eat today.”

“Does that happen every day?” I ask as I gesture for her to come inside and close the door behind her.

“Most days,” she admits. “Is this one of those bad choices that you’re gonna coach me through?”

“Yes,” I reply, and lead her into the kitchen. “You have to eat.”

“I know, I just get focused on other things, and the next thing I know, the day is gone and I’m starving.” She passes me two bottles of wine. “I didn’t know what we were having, so I brought red and white.”

“Thanks.” I grin and set them both on the counter. “I made salmon and asparagus with baby red potatoes. What goes best with that?”

Her eyes light up. “The white. Holy shit, are you a chef yourself?”

“I went to culinary school,” I reply, and squeeze some lemon on the salmon before plating it. “But I discovered I was better at a desk job.”

“That’s unusual,” she says, her head tilted to the side as she listens. “Most people fight to get out of a desk job.”

“Not me. I have a ton of respect for Mia, because being a chef isn’t easy, and pleasing people sucks.”

“True.” Riley nods. “She doesn’t get many plates sent back to her, but there are a few. Can I pour you a glass?”

“No thanks,” I reply, and reach in the fridge for a bottle of water. “I don’t drink alcohol.”

“Oh.” She frowns. “I’m sorry. I can drink water too.”

“It’s fine,” I reply, and pat her shoulder. “I don’t mind if you drink. I just don’t.”

“But last night, you were drinking Jack and Coke.”

“Nope, just Coke.”

She sits at the table, still frowning. “I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry for.” I set our plates down. “I’ve been sober for ten years. I’m not the kind of alcoholic who can’t be around others having a drink. It was never that bad for me. I’m just a better person if I don’t drink.”

“Good for you for knowing that,” she says, holding her glass out to clink against my water. “This looks delicious.”

“You sound surprised.”

“I expected pizza or Chinese takeout,” she says. “Honestly, that’s probably what you would have gotten from me. I’m also surprised that you’re not staying in a hotel.”

“I’m here long enough that the network sprung for the apartment. They usually do when I’m somewhere longer than a week or so.”

“You must travel a lot for this job,” she says, eating her food like a starving child. I don’t know if she even tastes it, she’s eating so fast.

“I travel often,” I reply, and grin when she takes the last bite. “Are you going to lick the plate?”

“Maybe,” she says with a grin. “I’m not even embarrassed that I ate that so fast. It was delicious.”

“I’m glad you liked it. There’s more.”

“No, I’m good,” she says, and reaches in her bag, pulling out a pad of paper and a pen. “You can eat while I interview you.”

“For what?”

“For the position of life coach,” she says with a sassy grin. I want to kiss that grin right off her face, but instead I take a bite of potato and gesture for her to begin.

“Okay, first question: What qualifications do you have that make you a good fit for this position?”

“Well, I have a few years on you, so I would say wisdom with age.”

She tilts her head to the side, the way she does when she’s turning something over in her head. “You can’t be that much older than me.”

“I’m thirty-seven.”

“Seven years,” she says, rolling her eyes.

“A lot can happen in seven years,” I reply, and sip my water.

“Okay, I’ll give you that.” She checks something off on her paper.

“Did you really write down questions?”

“Of course. I’m the queen of lists and the roofer was at my house forever.” She bites her lip as she looks at her list. “How many women have you life-coached in the past?”

“Well, I didn’t have an official job title, but I have two younger sisters, and an ex-wife, so I would say three.”

“But the wife is an ex, so maybe that did go well?” Riley asks. “And are your sisters productive members of society?”

“As opposed to being in jail?” I ask, laughing. “You’re hilarious, Riley.”

“You didn’t answer the question.”

“My sisters are great. The older one is married, a stay-at-home mom with two kids, and the younger one is a waitress.”

“But the ex-wife thing didn’t work out.”

“She’s not a mess, we just both decided that she shouldn’t be my wife anymore.”

“Why?”

I sit back in my chair and wipe my mouth on my napkin. “Because she thought it was a good idea to have sex with other men.”

Her eyebrows climb on her forehead and she blinks twice. “That’s a good reason.”

“I thought so.”

“Okay, next question.” She checks something on her paper and looks up at me with a smile. “How do you intend to be compensated for your work?”

“I’m working pro bono,” I reply with a wink.

“Why?”

“Because I’m going to be here anyway, and why not.” I shrug and finish the food on my plate. “What else do you want to know?”

“Is my coming to a virtual stranger’s apartment by myself one of the bad decisions you should have coached me on?”

I smile and set my plate aside so I can lean on the table. “Did the girls tell you that coming here by yourself was a bad idea?”

“I only talked to Cami and she thought I should come. Plus, I have a concealed carry, so I feel pretty confident that I’m safe.”

I raise a brow and cross my arms over my chest. “You carry a gun with you?”

“Hell to the yes,” she replies, and offers me a sweet smile. “I’ve been meeting strange men on the Internet. You bet your ass I’ve been armed.”

“Good idea,” I reply with a nod. “There are a lot of crazies out there.”

“Yes. But I think that if you’re gonna meet a crazy, it could be anywhere. Online, in a bar, at the gas station. They’re everywhere.”

“That’s true too,” I reply, and nod. “Well, I’m glad you’re being cautious.”

“I’m nobody’s victim,” she says, as casually as if she’s telling me her shoe size.

That’s fucking sexy.

“Do you have any other questions?”

“Not really,” she says, and shrugs. “I didn’t really write anything down. But it was fun to interrogate you a bit.”

“Now I have questions,” I reply, and smile when she cocks her head and purses her lips. “Do you really think you need a life coach?”

“No, I have my shit together,” she says with a grin.

“Why were you really on all of those sites?”

She shrugs. “Because it’s not easy meeting people. And sometimes a girl wants to go out on a date.”

“You don’t need me,” I reply, and smile. “But I’ll be around for a while, just in case.”

“Just in case I slip and fall back into the online dating?”

“That, or if you just want to have dinner, or chat. And I think we should watch a marathon of Star Wars. Your lack of knowledge is cause for concern.”

“It’s kind of a guy thing,” she says.

“I know many women who like Star Wars.”

“Well, I would watch one or two.”

“You need to see them all to understand what’s happening.”

“That’s a lot of hours of my life that I’ll never get back,” she says with a frown. “Aren’t there CliffsNotes somewhere? A speedy way to get caught up?”

“No,” I reply, and fist my hands in my lap so I don’t reach out and tuck her hair behind her ear.

Or yank her against me so I can kiss the fuck out of her.

“Are you okay?” she asks.

“Are you always this observant?”

“I’m an overthinker,” she says. “So yeah, I’m an observer.”

“I’ve been labeled an overthinker too,” I say with a grin.

“Would you say it’s an accurate assessment?”

“Oh yeah,” I say with a nod, and stand to clear our plates away. She stands to help. “I’ve got this.”

“No way, you cooked, so I’ll help clean.”

She walks ahead of me, her empty glass in one hand and her plate in the other. “Do you use the dishwasher, or do you wash by hand?”

“There are people who still wash by hand?”

“I’ve heard of them, but I’ve never seen them in the wild,” she says, and smiles up at me when I join her. “So I guess that means we use the dishwasher?”

“Yes.” She rinses and I load, and a few short minutes later, we’re done.

“Well, I suppose I should go,” she says, and checks the time on her phone. “Oh, Cami texted. I guess I should reply so she doesn’t think you killed me after the entrée.”

She smirks and types on her phone, then turns it off and looks up at me.

“Thanks for dinner.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

Unfortunately, it won’t be in my bed.

“You will.”

“Okay.” She gathers her bag, notepad and pen, and walks to the door. “Sleep well tonight.”

I grin and congratulate myself for not dragging my fingertips down her cheek.

You sleep well tonight, Riley.”

“Okay. Bye.”

She leaves and I close the door, letting out a slow breath. Jesus, she’s sexy and funny and smart as fuck.

And I’m not going to touch her while I’m here.

How the fuck am I going to do that?

I seriously can’t wait to read this one! Look for my review next month.

In the meantime you can find THE BEAUTY OF US on Goodreads, and pre-order it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

The book releases August 22.

Author Pic_MontanaAbout the Author:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Kristen Proby is the author of the popular With Me in Seattle series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong characters who love humor and have a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type—fiercely protective and a bit bossy—and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves. Kristen spends her days with her muse in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys coffee, chocolate, and sunshine. And naps.

Visit Kristen online on her website, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, or sign up for her newsletter.
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Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

TBR Thursday! AS LA VISTA TURNS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a F/F romance from Kris Ripper. It felt good to finally get back to this series, and what an awesome resolution. AS LA VISTA TURNS is the final book in the Queers of La Vista series, and brings closure to the loose-knit community who’d been terrorized by a serial killer in the first four books, GAYS OF OUR LIVES, THE BUTCH AND THE BEAUTIFUL, THE QUEER AND THE RESTLESS and ONE LIFE TO LOSE. It features a spunky lesbian lead who’s desperate to get pregnant, and help her friends heal and grieve those who had been killed.

About the book:
Zane Jaffe has almost lost track of what conception cycle she’s in. (That’s a lie: this is cycle thirteen.) She’s fake-dating her pal Mildred to get her best friend off her back, but judging by how hot it was when they accidentally kissed, her feelings might be somewhat less platonic than she’d thought.

And she’s decided that healing the fractured local queer community can only be accomplished through a party. Or maybe it’s actually a wake. Whatever it is, it’ll take place at Club Fred’s, and there will be alcohol.

Trying to conceive is an unholy rollercoaster of emotions, and Mildred won’t let them kiss again until Zane figures out how she feels. Between the wake (exhausting as hell, and that’s just the fun stuff), the constant up-down cycle of trying to get pregnant, and saving the world in the meantime, Zane has no idea. Fall in love with Mildred isn’t on her list, but maybe it’s time to let go of that rigid future she’s been working toward, and instead embrace the accidents that can lead to something better.

My Review:
Zane Jaffe is a realtor who’s got a list for her life. Right now, the top priority is to get pregnant, though she’s a single lesbian woman. She’s been “fake dating” her friend “Dred” (short for Mildred) a cantankerous black pan-sexual woman who is raising an infant son with the help of her cousin Obie and his boyfriend Everett–who live in a big farmhouse on the edge of La Vista. (Obie and Everett are the couple from Gays of our Lives). Thing is, Zane’s sorta/kinda wanting more than a fake relationship with Dred. Maybe. It’s not on her list though…

After twelve failed cycles of inseminations, Zane’s really down on the prospect of pregnancy. She wants it so badly she’s willing to try some unconventional work–like accepting the donation of a dear friend’s…specimen. And, while all this is coming, literally, to a head, Zane’s determined to create a venue for all her friends to gather and mourn the loss of so many in their community. She’s working hand-in-hand with Keith, Josh and Cam, our menage from ONE LIFE TO LOSE, to be sure this “wake” is tasteful and positive. Add to all this the drama building between Zane and Dred, and well, it’s definitely a soap opera.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this story. I knew there would a romance, but I didn’t expect to be so viscerally engaged in the pregnancy battle. It was such a whirlwind being inside Zane’s head, and connecting with her deep sense of loss when she hadn’t conceived. Hand to God, I think I got sympathetic menstrual cramps as a result. I did get frustrated with Zane’s inability to think about life beyond her lists. It was clear that Dred was reaching out, and Zane’s so keyed into her own headspace that she messed that right up. But, she did make it right, let her iron focus slip, and saw the good of it. Saw the beauty of living unscripted, and finding unexpected love.

This book was a fantastic resolution to the stories in the series. We see all the players as they assist Zane’s efforts with the “wake” and her pregnancy woes. They aren’t features, but their vignettes cap off the stories we’ve experienced with them, and the sense of wholeness is further developed when the wake happens. All these people were touched by tragedy and love, and their lives are all the richer than when we began. I’ve really enjoyed the spectrum of persons in the books, and recommend them to any reader who likes sexually diverse fiction. I hadn’t realized I’d needed catharsis from the first four books, but I’m all the better for it, too. Highly recommend.

Interested? You can find AS LA VISTA TURNS on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a toddler, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and has no pronoun preference, but the z-based pronouns are freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.

Catch up with Kris on zir website, Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Finding Love is NECESSARY MEDICINE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a M/M medical romance from newcomer M.K. York. NECESSARY MEDICINE recounts nearly a decade of desire of one training physician for the sexy silver fox transplant surgeon he falls hard for.

About the book:
With intelligence and humor, debut male/male author M.K. York delivers an emotionally charged slow-burn romance set in a prestigious Bay Area teaching hospital

In the high-intensity world of hospital residency programs, there’s no room for romance. So it’s a good thing for first-year surgical resident Neil Carmona that his crush on the gorgeous cardiologist Eli Newcombe is sheer fantasy. Not only is the sexy doctor Neil’s superior, he’s also recently divorced.

As Neil’s skill as a surgeon grows, so does his friendship with Eli, and his silent, hopeless longing for more. It isn’t until Neil’s final year that Eli at last admits his own deepest desires. But Neil’s joy is short-lived: Eli has no intention of pursuing a relationship. Their positions in the hospital would make it unethical, even if he was emotionally ready for someone new.

Wounded and furious, Neil is determined to forget about Eli once and for all. But when a near-tragedy strikes, a new question arises: Is a life without love—without Neil—a greater risk than laying his heart on the line?

My Review:
Neal Carmona is a med student when his path first crosses with Dr. Eli Newcombe, renown heart transplant surgeon. Neal immediately recognizes that Eli is exactly his type: older, prematurely grey and way-smart. Not like anything would ever come of his attraction; Dr. Newcombe is giving a guest lecture at his university.

Fast forward a couple of years. Neal’s graduated and beginning a residency in the San Fran area. He’s never hidden his sexuality and he’s not going to start now. He wants to find a partner, but his training gets in the way. And that applies when Dr. Eli Newcombe joins the surgical staff. Neal fantasizes that he and Eli share a connection, especially when they begin working together on a diversity initiative to increase hiring of minority physicians at the hospital. Eli is far senior in the pecking order, and Neal knows making a mistake like admitting his attraction could land him in a world of trouble. Neal’s accepted in his field, mostly, but he knows this wouldn’t extend far if a division chief, like Eli, decided he was inappropriate.

I’m going to be honest, this book is a VERY SLOW burn. Eli does have an attraction to Neal, and a burning passion he won’t unleash. He’s very much cognizant of his administrative power over Neal, and he won’t risk impropriety tarnishing Neal’s reputation. They build a friendship that grows into a physical relationship. That then gets scuttled, and reconnected as Neal and Eli work out their dynamic. Eli isn’t gay, per se, and his coming out is complicated.

Having a deep insight into medical training, and having married a med student, I can attest that the trouble and issues the author presents are accurate. Unfortunately, like all training physicians, Neal’s struggle through residency isn’t that interesting. It’s a lot of sleep deprivation and working weird hours and lack of connection and heart, head, and back aches. That’s all very true. I struggled to stay invested with the story at points, however, on account of the pacing. Because that low-level drama is a bit sleepy.

The relationship development between Neal and Eli happens in fits and starts–and I got that. I felt Neal’s frustration. I did like how the supporting cast, notably Neal’s mentor, got them to see beyond the hurdles. The end is a sweet HEA, with Neal and Eli finding happiness together in a way that makes sense and stays true to the context of physicians who fall for one another. I think if you really love medical settings and just a hint of passion, this might be your book.

Interested? You can find can find NECESSARY MEDICINE on Goodreads, Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I read a review copy provided by NetGalley.

About the Author:
Michelle K. York is a medical student on the West Coast with a master’s degree in psychology. Necessary Medicine is her debut novel. Previous work includes fanfiction, as well as academic publications on the social perception of sexual orientation and the intersections of sexual orientation and gender identity with patient experience in the medical profession.

You can find Michelle on twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Hard To Survive CRACKED OPEN–A Review and get a free book!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a fantastic new YA dystopian novel from Susan Kaye Quinn. CRACKED OPEN is the fifth book in her MindJack series and I’m pretty much breathless for the next book already. You can start the whole series with OPEN MINDS, which is free and fantastic, but you absolutely must read LOCKED TIGHT before jumping into CRACKED OPEN.

About the book:
Zeph always knew he was a weapon. He didn’t count on being a spy.

But he made a dangerous bargain with the Director of the Jacker Technologies Division of DARPA–he’d let Wright test his mutant mindjack ability if she’d release his parents. Simple. Occasionally painful. And the screams of his victims fill his nightmares. But it will be worth it as long as she can’t crack open his head and find out his sister, with her super-surge jack-ability, is still alive. And if his parents are finally set free.

Once that happens, he’s gone. Even if it means giving up everything he’s just now getting back. A home. Friends. A girl who believes in peace and love even when the world is falling apart.

My Review:
This is the fifth book in the MindJack series where humans have evolved the ability to broadcast their thoughts–but the new wrinkle is mindreaders who can hijack your brain. These “mindjackers” are a super powerful minority, being hunted for experimentation and extermination. And Zeph, a “locksmith” mindjacker who can lock and unlock the toughest minds, will do whatever it takes to keep himself and his family safe.

In LOCKED TIGHT, book four, Zeph allied himself with some horrifying persons in the government and private enterprise–people who truly want to hunt down and kill “jackers”–in order to find his missing sister and parents. He’s also infiltrated the jacker population, attempting to get close to the young, powerful and charismatic jacker senator. Hiding his jacker nature from readers has made Zeph a loner, by necessity, and his plan to rescue his family and go back on the run is upset by the new connections he’s made. What if there could be a balance between the jackers and the readers? Could he then find sanctuary instead of isolation?

In CRACKED OPEN, the battle lines have been clearly drawn. His employer, a MindWare developer who hired Zeph as a bodyguard to his daughter, believes Zeph’s a reader, and shares all sorts of anti-jacker tech with Zeph, by way of relating how it will help Zeph be a better guard. The government’s shadow lab, run by Dr. Wright, is preparing a jacking operation on the highest levels of government–to destroy any sympathy the President or populace might have for jackers. Once Zeph recognizes how dangerous all of this has become, he reaches out to Kira Moore, one-time spokesperson for the defunct Jacker Freedom Alliance, to offer his services as a mole.

Zeph had rescued his sister in the previous book, but things aren’t all quiet on that front. Her powers are raw and untrained, making Olivia a fourteen-year old walking weapon. Now, Zeph’s trying to find his mom, and he knows Wright has her locked up somewhere. In fact, Wright agrees to release her if only he’ll assist with the grand scheme she’s cooked up. Zeph knows it’s a bad job, but he has no choice if he wants his mom freed. This time, however, he’s got friends who can assist him–and he calls them.

Fundamentally, the MindJack series is about discrimination, and surviving intact after the powerful have sought to crush you. It’s an allegory to the current political climate where discrimination by the government (of any marginalized community) has been lauded by a segment of the population who allow themselves to be led by fear, instead of community. For readers, it’s a chilling journey into discovering what the experience might be for a marginalized population, if the government ideologically decided that (insert your personal minority) was Public Enemy Number One, and needed to be studied and eradicated. And yet, throughout, it’s a humanizing story. One of hope and desperation, and succeeding against all odds against your most feared, armed, bully.

CRACKED OPEN marks the midpoint of Zeph’s three-book story and clearly articulates his rage and fear at the situation he’s in for no other reason than being born different. But mostly, it’s filled with Zeph’s resolve to save his family, and to help all the other jackers out there lead whole lives, not the half-life he’s lived. For being roughly 17-18 years old, Zeph’s survived a lot of bad, bad stuff. And that’s formed him into a weapon. Unlike a gun, however, Zeph has the presence of mind to keep his targeting mechanisms on the bad guys, to ensure he does the most good. Expect things to go from bad to worse, however, and for Zeph to make mistakes–because he’s working within a narrow framework. The day might be lost, but the battle continues. Cannot wait to get my hands on the next book!!

Interested? You can find CRACKED OPEN on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo and GooglePlay.

Get yourself a FREE book!
The MindJack universe began with OPEN MINDS, the story of Kira Moore, a sixteen year-old jacker learning about herself and prejudice she’s been born into. Kira is a strong MC, and her steadfast commitment to doing the right thing, even if it’s hard, gives readers a protagonist worthy of respect. It’s a super-fast read that tackles real societal problems with grace and confidence. I read this book in a day. Mostly because I couldn’t stop until I knew Kira was safe.

The great thing? OPEN MINDS is a FREE on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, GooglePlay and Kobo. OPEN MINDS is the first in a trilogy, but has a satisfactory ending that resolves completely while leaving room for the companion books to develop.

About the Author:
Susan Kaye Quinn is a rocket scientist turned speculative fiction author who now uses her PhD to invent cool stuff in books. Her works range from young adult science fiction to adult future-noir, with side trips into steampunk and middle grade fantasy. Her bestselling novels and short stories have been optioned for Virtual Reality, translated into German, and featured in several anthologies.

She writes full-time from Chicago, inventing mind powers and dreaming of the Singularity. You can find out what she’s up to by subscribing to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!).

Catch up with Susan on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

New Beginnings With THE SUMAGE SOLUTION–Review and Exclusive Excerpt!

Hi there! I’m so excited to share a review for a new paranormal M/M romance releasing tomorrow from Gail “G. L.” Carriger. THE SUMAGE SOLUTION, the first in a new San Andreas Shifters series, is a contemporary story which is very different from the previous books of hers that I’ve read, and I loved what she brought to the this genre. I got hooked on Gail’s YA steampunk books (Manners and Mutiny, WAISTCOATS AND WEAPONRY) and her Victorian adult romances (ROMANCING THE INVENTOR) among many others, but a M/M romance with mages and shifters and an analogue of the California DMV? I was thrilled!

Catch my exclusive excerpt and a short interview below, too.
About the book:
Can a gentle werewolf heal the heart of a smart-mouthed mage?
NYT bestseller Gail Carriger, writing as G. L. Carriger, presents an offbeat gay romance in which a sexy werewolf with a white knight complex meets a bad boy mage with an attitude problem. Sparks (and other things) fly.

Max fails everything – magic, relationships, life. So he works for DURPS (the DMV for supernatural creatures) as a sumage, cleaning up other mages’ messes. The job sucks and he’s in no mood to cope with redneck biker werewolves. Unfortunately, there’s something oddly appealing about the huge, muscled Beta visiting his office for processing.

Bryan AKA Biff (yeah, he knows) is gay but he’s not out. There’s a good chance Max might be reason enough to leave the closet, if he can only get the man to go on a date. Everyone knows werewolves hate mages, but Bryan is determined to prove everyone wrong, even the mage in question.

A delicious taste!

Set up: Our werewolf main character, Biff, is stuck in the DURPS waiting room (kind of like the supernatural version of the DMV) when trouble brews between two other shifters…

Biff didn’t think a bear shifter could change during daylight, not without his pelt, but they were anger-triggered. And this was an aggravating environment. He wondered if the guy was an Alpha.

So, Biff sat and waited patiently, tried not to sneeze, and kept his eye on the twitchy Norse god in front of him.

It got physical way faster than Biff thought it would. Frankly, he didn’t think DURPS was as prepared as it should have been either. For quintessence attack, yes, but not for a physical confrontation.

The berserker must have taken offense to something the barghest said or did, because the dog shifter suddenly had a fist in his face. Since both were confined to human skin by the sun, it quickly became a two-man punch-and-grapple match…in the waiting line of a government department. The Plugs at the doors had no idea what to do. They were trained for mage casts and shifting forms, not macho idiots.

Biff stood up. Stretched languidly and extended his Beta power outward. Calm down. No contest here. No one’s after your territory, No one’s after your mate. Relax.

He wasn’t sure it would work. After all, he was a wolf, wrong species.

He moved in closer.

Biff was big, but nowhere near as big as the berserker. The bear shifter clocked in low for a bear, four hundred pounds and six foot seven or so. The barghest was about half that but way quicker. The two men were clinched together, almost wrestling, which would give the bear the advantage. It was a weirdly erotic, horribly violent embrace.

Biff reached up and grabbed each man by the scruff of his neck. It worked great on the pups in his old pack. Then he shook them gently, grip firm and slightly on the edge of pain.

“Be still,” he barked, and pushed at them with his Beta power. Settle.

Touch was good, touch helped. It usually did. Biff centered himself, grounded himself, shooting out calmness like a weapon. Blanketing them with it, as those little flowers had blanketed the parking lot when he arrived.

Some thoughts from Gail Carriger:

What brought you into this world/story?
This is one of those books that woke me first thing one morning and just HAD to be written. I was supposed to be taking a break between contracts, but Max’s voice in my head was so strong and demanding. Max is Biff’s love interest in The Sumage Solution, and he is kinda *like* that – demanding. I shouldn’t have been surprised.

If you could have any paranormal ability, what would it be?
Ooooo. Well I always wanted gills, so I’m going with mermaid. Plus the way I have merfolk set up in the San Andreas Shift universe the species is female dominated, lives in pods, mostly deals in subverting organized crime (off shore accounts, you see), and assists the coast guard. I’m down with all those kinds of shenanigans.

Stranded on a desert island–three books you’d need to maintain your sanity until rescue…
My first and forever answer is THE FORGOTTEN BEAST OF ELD by Patricia McKillip. My second choice (if I’m allowed to take a series) is the DAUGHTER OF THE EMPIRE trilogy by Raymond Feist & Janny Wurts. Finally, right now, I’m picking a new comfort read. I’ve really been into m/m romance (obviously, since I just wrote one) and I love sci-fi and culture clashes so I’d take CLAIMINGS, TAILS, AND OTHER ALIEN ARTIFACTS by Lyn Gala because it has all three of these things plus a little dose of BDSM if one bends in the kink direction. I feel like this is a good spread across all my different tastes and preferences as a reader, and would keep me occupied until rescue.

My Review:
Bryan, called Biff by his packmates, is a wolf shifter whose small pack of gay-spectrum wolves has relocated from the east coast to the San Fran Bay area. Biff is a beta wolf, and in this world it means he’s the patient one, the one who assists the alpha in negotiations and keeps the peace. His younger brother is his alpha and they pretty much fled the homophobia and heartache of their previous pack once his brother came out and took a merman as his mate. So, Biff knows his pack would accept him if he came out as gay–but he’s still a private kind of guy, and he doesn’t want to have the pack watching/gossiping about his every step.

Biff meets Max when he goes to the local DURPS office–imagine an agency like the DMV, only serving paranormals and ten times pettier–to register their pack and help get them permanent housing. Right now, there are seven werewolves and a merman taking refuge in the two bedroom apartment of the traveling drag queen friend of their beloved house ghost. (So, you can see there’s lots of shenanigans happening…) Max is a sumage, kind of the opposite of a mage in that he absorbs the magical resonance of actual magic wielders instead of turning his own tricks (ba-da-bum). It was the final disappointment to Max’s powerful and power-hungry mage father, long dead and little missed in the ensuing ten years. Max works at DURPS as another slam on his dear-old-dad, and makes no effort to tamp-down his gayness, either.

Max and Biff have an immediate attraction, and it is this which tips Max into accepting Brian’s number, calls, and request for a date. It seems like everything is going fine, even if Bryan is confused why Max won’t reveal his body to him–at first, and sets off the first bit of conflict. What I loved about the book is Bryan’s steadfastness. Max is used to abuse and scorn, and he can’t believe that Bryan could possibly find him attractive–sumages have distinct body issues and Bryan’s careful love helps Max regain his absent self-confidence. Also, there are some unique and different challenges that present themselves as Bryan and Max begin to build a life together–not least of which is Bryan’s protective Alpha brother. There are mages out for artifacts in Max’s father’s home, and protecting those potential weapons brings forth Max’s true power–shocking everyone.

I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot, because it’s fantastic and so very different, but I want to mention that it’s got the same fast-paced, witty movement as all the other books I’ve read by the author. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Bryan and Max have some emotional set-backs that they need to work through, but they do that very well, and the book ends with an HEA. There’s some yummy sexytimes, too!

Interested? You can find THE SUMAGE SOLUTION on Goodreads and pre-order it in advance of the 7/18 release on Amazon.

About the Author:
Gail Carriger writes comedies of manners mixed with paranormal romance (and the sexy San Andreas Shifter series as G.L. Carriger). Her steampunk books include the Parasol Protectorate, Custard Protocol, Supernatural Society, and Delightfully Deadly series for adults, and the Finishing School series for young adults. She is published in many languages and has over a dozen NYT bestsellers. She was once an archaeologist and is fond of shoes, octopuses, and tea.

You can find Gail online on her website, Facebook and twitter. Gail has a fun newsletter: the Monthly Chirrup, sign up here.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!