Enchanted by SPEEDY REWARDS–Review & Giveaway

speedy-fb copy
Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for a fantastic contemporary M/M romance from Jeff Erno. SPEEDY REWARDS is an ensemble story that captivated me from the first page. The story weaves between characters in and around the Speedy Mart, a gas station/convenience store, set in an economically depressed area of rural Michigan. What these folks get up to in such a small space! Outlandish, and yet fully believable.

Scroll down to check out the totally NSFW excerpt and enter the giveaway, too!

Speedy Rewards (Working Class #1)About the book:
Phil Mitchell pours his heart and soul into his job as manager of Speedy Mart, a local convenience store. He loves his work and he loves his fellow employees, but when it comes to his personal life, Phil is lonely and depressed and still pining for his long-departed ex.

He embarks upon the week from hell where anything that can go wrong does. It begins with a truck crashing into his outdoor sign and only goes downhill from there.

Add an asshole homophobic boss hell bent on seeing him fired and Phil realizes he needs to put into place a plan to save himself and his job.

First step in his plan… do something about his love life.

Meanwhile, Ezra, one of Phil’s team members, is dealing with his own roller coaster ride of a week.

As is Brandon, the local cop…

And Mark, the homophobic boss…

Perhaps, with a little… luck, the next week will be better.

How about a little taste?

Esdras Manuel Covington, aka Ezra, smiled as he slid behind the wheel of his 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix.

“Bitch, you better start,” he said in his most sincerely threatening voice as he slid the key into the ignition. As he turned the key, the engine chugged to life, sluggishly at first, until he depressed the gas pedal, revving the motor.

Wham!

Ezra about jumped out of his skin. His head snapped toward the passenger sideof the car where two palms pressed against the window. The smiling face of a familiar customer beamed between the outstretched hands.

He powered down the window. “Jesus Christ, Jeremy! You scared the fuck outta me.”

The twenty-something he-man grinned mischievously, the corners of his mouth curled upward as his lips peeled back to reveal a row of gleaming white teeth. “Yo motherfucka. Wassup?” With his forearms resting against the ledge, he leaned in. “You off work, man?”

“Yeah, I just got out.”

“I got something,” Jeremy said, lowering his voice. “Special fucking delivery.”
Ezra straightened his posture just a bit and raised his eyebrows. “Dude, that was fast.” He jerked his head slightly, motioning for Jeremy to get in the passenger seat.

Jeremy stood about six foot three inches with broad shoulders and the build of a bouncer. Actually, he did work as a bouncer on the weekends at some nearby club. Of course, that wasn’t his main gig. He also worked security at the Fashion Warehouse, a women’s clothing outlet in one of the nearby strip malls. He definitely put the “body” in “bodyguard”, with his rippling, muscular pecs and abs, and bulging biceps.

“Gonna pull around back,” Ezra said as Jeremy adjusted the seat, sliding it back to accommodate his long legs. “Dude, I didn’t expect you to deliver so quick.” He shifted into gear and backed out of his parking space then pulled around to the rear of the building.

“I told ya, man. I’m hooked up.” He slid his hand into the pocket of his leather jacket and pulled out a baggie.

Ezra parked where he could clearly see if any other vehicles were approaching, but made sure he was not in plain sight of the Speedy Mart patrons. “I… uh….” He turned to face his friend.

“Man, I don’t get paid till tomorrow. I had the cash, but….”

Jeremy’s smile never faded, and with a shrug he tossed the bag of weed into Ezra’s lap. “I know you’re good for it, man. You won’t be playin’ me.”

“Dude, this is like… man, you don’t gotta trust me.”

“Oh, I don’t trust nobody.” He reached into the inner chest pocket of his jacket and removed a pack of Marlboro Reds, flicked one out, and seized it with his lips. He fired it up with a Bic then released a stream of smoke out the open window. “Never said I trusted you. I said I know you’re good for it.”

“Oh. Well, thanks.”

Again, he shrugged. “That’s what friends are for, right? You scratch my back, I scratch yours.”

“Right.” Ezra nodded then stared down at the dope. “This ain’t no eighth,” he said.

“Quarter,” Jeremy said. “Consider it a blue-light special. Since you’re a first-time customer, ya know.”

Ezra grinned. “Really? So, it’s like, same price?”

“Pretty much.” He turned in his seat, not just tilting his head, but shifting his entire upper body, and placed his fingertips against Ezra’s cheek. “Of course, it’d be cool if you—ya know—expressed your gratitude.” He patted, then gently slapped, the cheek a couple times, staring into Ezra’s eyes.

Ezra’s heartbeat quickened as his gaze locked onto Jeremy’s. Though he wanted to speak, to reply in the affirmative, he suddenly couldn’t find his voice. So he simply nodded.

Jeremy slid back, reaching down to locate the control to recline the seat. Ezra stared at his long legs, now spread, and the sight triggered a ripple of fluttering in his own lower abdomen. A familiar tingling, undoubtedly operant conditioning. Jeremy didn’t have to be more specific or cajole him in any way. Ezra already knew. He sensed what Jeremy was after. He could feel it in his gut.

He slid a slightly trembling hand onto Jeremy’s thigh.

Jeremy’s laugh alone could have seduced Ezra, low and sultry. Evil? Well, at least tempting. He took a long drag from his cigarette and then flicked it out the window before settling back in the seat and unbuttoning his fly.

It felt like a dream or a movie, certainly not real. Ezra had chatted with Jeremy numerous times in the store. They’d established a rapport, which in turn had facilitated the transaction that just transpired. Though Ezra at times allowed himself to get overly flirty, he’d never deliberately come onto Jeremy. To Ezra’s knowledge, he’d offered Jeremy no clue of his orientation.

“I knew a joint wasn’t the only thing you liked to smoke,” Jeremy teased.
Ezra slid his hand farther up Jeremy’s inner thigh. “No. I like a nice fat blunt occasionally.”
Another bout of rumbly laughter escaped Jeremy’s throat as he looked into Ezra’s eyes. “I definitely got a fat one for ya, boy. You have such soft, pouty lips.” He extended his arm, pressing against Ezra’s mouth with his index finger. Ezra parted his lips and sucked in the digit, barely an inch then slowly retracted.

“Aw, fuck yeah,” Jeremy moaned.

Ezra felt the throb of a growing bulge beneath the fabric of Jeremy’s cargos. His pulse pounded, throbbing in conjunction with his own hard-on. He shifted in his seat, maneuvering his position to work around the gearshift, and carefully unzipped Jeremy’s fly.

Whew! Well, I guess you figured out that this is NOT a kiddo book… I loved every minute of it. I got chills, actually, reading that piece because Ezra’s about to get a real eye-opener in that scene.

My Review:
This is an ensemble cast book, with intersecting points of view centered around the Speedy Mart, a small-town convenience store/gas station in rural Michigan. If you are a fan of LOVE ACTUALLY, the cult-classic CLERKS, or PULP FICTION (sans the murders) you will love this story.

The main character of the entire story is Phil, manager of the Speedy Mart. He is a 35 y/o, out gay man who has worked in retail his whole life. His tenacity and compassion as a boss helps his eclectic team of workers thrive. Among the employees at the Speedy Mart is an aging drag queen, a secret-drinker Wiccan BDSM Domme, a glam boy, and a gruff–former-alcoholic-former-homeless assistant manager. The Monday morning rush at the Speedy Mart is no joke, and it’s further complicated when Ezra (the glam boy) is nearly hit by a Coke delivery truck. The driver, Vince, makes a heroic save resulting in minimal property damage, which brings Phil’s overbearing and homophobic manager Mark to the scene.

It is now that Phil’s professional life begins to unravel. And it isn’t helped when Ezra is held up at gunpoint the following day. Mark has an ax to grind with Phil, and it’s of a deeply personal nature. His solutions for Phil’s store: fire everyone, including Phil, but Mark can’t make that happen without some HR documentation, so he turns the screws tight waiting for the Speedy Mart to topple. With the turmoil at work, Phil is unlikely to find respite, but he does–with Humberto, a young, suave Mexican-American handyman.

Meanwhile, having two near-death experiences turns Ezra into a mess. His best friend, Jeremy, is not much help–going through some intense relationship issues with his “open relationship” live-in boyfriend, Vince–the Coke deliveryman.

There are further and deeper connections between the many characters in this story, but they all flow seamlessly via the multiple points of view. I developed such love for this quirky cast, and wanted everyone (excepting Vince) to have an HEA. I was really, really close to getting that wish-come-true. Even Mark was redeemed, and in the sexiest way possible.

Speaking of sexy, I did like the sexytimes. The book likely has more per-capita oral action than I’ve read before (if you recall the excerpt above…), but there are some rather tender scenes blending in there, too. I really felt emotionally engaged the whole time. Expect to laugh, swoon, shake your head, and wish to punch out a character, or two. *evil-eyes Vince*

I was captivated by the close interactions this “work family” displayed–and how they banded together to support Phil in his professional and personal life. My one complaint? I didn’t get to experience the company picnic! These people are a total hoot, and I was sad to turn the final page.

Interested? You can find SPEEDY REWARDS on Goodreads, and get 40% through 6/21 at Wayward Ink Publishing. Regular price on Amazon (US, UK, DE and AU), Barnes & Noble and AllRomance.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win one of several prizes including a $20 WIP Gift Card, a $10 WIP Gift Card, or an ebook copy of Speedy Rewards
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the author:
JEFF ERNO began writing LGBT fiction in the late 1990s. Although an avid reader and amateur writer from a very young age, Jeff pursued a career as a retail store manager in Northern Michigan. When his first gay-themed novel was published, he was shocked that anyone would even want to read it. So far, he’s published over thirty novels. Jeff lives in Southern Michigan, where he works part time at a convenience store.

Jeff’s writing credits include a variety of themes and sub-genres including male romance, Young Adult, Science Fiction, erotica, and BDSM. He is the winner of a 2012 Rainbow Award and an Honorable Mention in 2011. His style is unpretentious and focused upon emotionally-driven, character-based stories that touch the heart. Jeff is especially passionate about young adult literature and combating teen bullying and youth suicide.

You can catch up with Jeff on his website, Facebook, Twitter, or by email.

Big Secrets Between DAISY AND THE FRONT MAN–Review and Giveaway

daisy and the front man bannerHi there! Today I get to share my review for DAISY AND THE FRONT MAN a contemporary teen romance from Rebekah Purdy. This is the third story in the new Backstage Pass series coming out of Entangled Teen Publishing–one about each member of a boy band falling in love. I recently read and liked MIA AND THE BAD BOY, the second book. Though it’s a series, each book is a standalone, swoony tale. I’ve read other books by Ms. Purdy (HOW TO UNBREAK-UP and THE ROMEO CLUB) and enjoyed her breezy style, so I was anxious to get my hands on this one! Don’t forget to scroll down and enter the $50 Amazon gift card giveaway!

Daisy and the Front Man (Backstage Pass #3)About the book:
Hell hath no fury like a fangirl scorned…

When Daisy Morris finds out she’s spending the summer with her dad, bodyguard for Seconds to Juliet—the hottest boy band around—she knows it couldn’t be more perfect. But not because she’s a fan. Oh, no. Because ever since front man Trevin Jacobs completely humiliated her by standing her up for homecoming, Daisy is out for a little revenge. Yup, Trevin Jacobs is goin’ down…

When one of his bandmates bets Trevin he can’t make Daisy—the gorgeous but surprisingly ice-cold daughter of their bodyguard—fall in love with him, it’s a bet he can’t resist. Sure, Daisy won’t give him the time of day for reasons he can’t understand, and her dad’s hell-bent against his little girl spending time with a superstar. But the terms are set, and Trevin is determined to make Daisy fall…hard.

But every front man should know never to trust a girl with a pretty face…

This Entangled Teen Crush book contains adult language, sexual situations, and seriously hot boys. It may cause swoony daydreams involving a certain super-cute front man.

My Review:
Daisy is a fangirl scorned. She won a contest for the band Seconds To Juliet and her prize was a date to homecoming with S2J’s front man Trevin Jacobs–thing is, the dude stands her up–in front of half her town. Yep. She’s a pariah.

So, she’s more than toying with the idea of humiliating Trevin when she joins her father on the S2J tour. He’s the chief bodyguard for the band, and Daisy has unlimited access.

Trevin is a bit of a jackass. He’s a narc on his bandmates and charged with keeping everyone in line, even though he’s only 18. Still, meeting Daisy has him re-considering the S2J “no girlfriends” policy, and fellow songwriter, Ryder, challenges Trevin to the ultimate bet: if Trevin can get Daisy to fall for him, then he can get special songwriting privileges for the band. It’s Trevin’s dream-come-true—get a pretty girl to love him and he’s set!

Thing is, Daisy is not at all inclined to swoon for Trevin. She’s too bitter. Trevin can’t understand why his normal schtick isn’t working and actually tries to get to KNOW Daisy–he’s smitten, and feeling rather crappy regarding the bet.

For her part, Daisy sees how kind and considerate Trevin is, and thinks maybe her revenge plan is not the way to go. Plus, reconnecting with her dad after several years’ absence gives her a better perspective on life. She thought all men would leave her abandoned: Trevin, her dad, her dead Gramps. Trevin seems earnest in his pursuit of her friendship (and More!) until Daisy learns about The Bet.

So, this is a clean read with just a few make-out sessions. Daisy and Trevin are both young and foolish, making bad choices they regret and seek forgiveness for. It’s a solid YA romance with relatable, imperfect MC’s who make amends and build a real relationship. There is plenty of caustic banter and some definitely swoony moments. I enjoyed.

Interested? You can find DAISY AND THE FRONT MAN on Goodreads, Amazon, Entangled Teen and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

rebecca purdyAbout the Author:
Rebekah was born and raised in Michigan where she spent many late nights armed with a good book and a flashlight. She’s lived in Michigan most of her life other than the few years she spent in the U.S. Army. At which time she got a chance to experience Missouri, Kansas, South Carolina, and California. Rebekah has a business degree from University of Phoenix and currently works full time for the court system. In her free time she writes YA stories, anything from YA Fantasy to YA Contemporary Romance. Rebekah also has a big family (6 kids) she likes to consider her family as the modern day Brady Bunch complete with crazy road trips and game nights. When not hiding at her computer, Rebekah enjoys reading, singing, soccer, swimming, football, camping, playing video games, traveling, and hanging out with her family and gazillion pets.

You can catch up with Rebekah online on her website, Facebook and twitter.   ef137-yabounktourbutton

Changed by a RITE OF SUMMER–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for Tess Bowery’s newly released M/M historical, RITE OF SUMMER. It’s actually an all-male menage, but that’s only part of the story. It’s set in England, in 1810, and brings in some really scary homophobic issues–as well as packing some incredibly tender and erotic moments. It was a great read.

Rite of Summer (Treading the Boards, #1)About the book:
There are terrors worse than stage fright. Like falling in love.

Violinist Stephen Ashbrook is passionate about three things—his music, the excitement of life in London, and his lover, Evander Cade. It’s too bad that Evander only loves himself. A house party at their patron’s beautiful country estate seems like a chance for Stephen to remember who he is, when he’s not trying to live up to someone else’s harsh expectations.

Joshua Beaufort, a painter whose works are very much in demand among the right sort of people, has no expectations about this party at all. Until, that is, he finds out who else is on the guest list. Joshua swore off love long ago, but has been infatuated with Stephen since seeing his brilliant performance at Vauxhall. Now he has the chance to meet the object of his lust face to face—and more.

But changing an open relationship to a triad is a lot more complicated than it seems, and while Evander’s trying to climb the social ladder, Stephen’s trying to climb Joshua. When the dust settles, only two will remain standing…when they’re not flat on their backs.

Warning: Contents under pressure. Contains three men, two beds, one erotic piercing, and the hottest six weeks of summer the nineteenth century has ever seen. (m/m/m – m/m).

My Review:
Evander and Stephen have been together for nearly a decade, living the gay life in London. Evander is a composer and Stephen a violinist. Evander has a patron, the Earl of Coventry who invites Evander and Stephen for a six week holiday at his country estate. Stephen doesn’t want to go, he hates being confined in places where he can’t be himself, and being openly gay is not possible on the earl’s estate. Plus, he has to suffer the constant company of ‘his betters’ which is aggravating. But, if Evander demands he go, Stephen goes. Plus, Stephen knows their livelihood is dependent on Coventry’s whim and funding so he goes… The only upside is beautiful Joshua, a talented painter who is the distant relation, and personal painter, of one of the noble guests.

Joshua has been without a lover since his beloved sailor sank with his ship two years before. He is terribly attracted to Stephen, and cannot understand why Stephen lets Evander lead him around so much. He is startled to observe Evander and Stephen en flagrante delicto in the dead of night, and is even more surprised when Evander invites him to share their bed. Once.

But once is not enough for Stephen who had secretly desired Joshua, or Joshua. They continue until the party is overtaken by news of catamite (homosexuals) arrests in London. Stephen and Evander are shattered–some of the men taken into custody and hung were friends and former bedmates. Joshua wants to comfort Stephen, but his ability to do so is hampered by the suspicions of their hosts and patrons.

The book is a careful study in the emotional lives of both Joshua and Stephen, who share the POV. Stephen is routinely belittled and abused by Evander, and he knows no other life. Joshua calls to Stephen, supports him in a way Evander never has (or hasn’t in years) and Stephen wants to be with Joshua, but cannot due to Evander’s control.

I was really glad to see the unraveling in this dysfunctional relationship. Stephen really grew in terms of his emotional well-being. Joshua, did not grow so much as curl inside himself. He has lost in love before, and is rather brutal with Stephen in order to prevent being hurt again. He wants Stephen terribly, but won’t accept him if Evander is a part of the deal–forcing Stephen to re-evaluate his relationship, and make choices that are healthy instead of comfortable.

The end was a little too drawn out for me. I liked the story, but wanted it to progress a little bit faster. The characters were all well-drawn and felt very realistic in their goals and behaviors. I really enjoyed the depictions of actual historical events–namely the famous London raids–and how it affected the characters. Expect an HEA and some super sexytimes involving both M/M and M/M/M.

Interested? You can find RITE OF SUMMER on Goodreads, Samhain Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Tess has been a fan of historical fiction since learning the Greek and Roman myths at her mother’s knee. Now let loose on a computer, she’s spinning her own tales of romance and passion in a slightly more modern setting. Tess lives on the east coast, with her partner of fifteen years and two cats who should have been named ‘Writer’s Block’ and ‘Get Off the Keyboard, Dammit.’

You can connect with Tess on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Cover Reveal and Giveaway JACK GETS HIS MAN

Hi there! Today I get to spread the word on a soon-to-be-released contemporary M/M romantic comedy, JACK GETS HIS MAN, from DE Haggerty.


About the book:
Jack’s life is awesome. His store is making money hand over fist and his best friend has found love. So what if he’s feeling a bit restless and put out about his upcoming birthday and his ex is being a pain in his fabulous behind? That’s nothing he can’t handle. But then his smoking hot new bookkeeper discovers things at the store aren’t actually as they seem.

Someone is playing fast and loose with the finances. Jack’s bestie and his gal pals, the gray-haired knitting detectives, jump at the chance to solve Jack’s problems. When they aren’t re-enacting scenes from spy thrillers, they’re setting Jack up on dates and generally insinuating themselves into his love life. They’re determined to find love for Jack as well as his missing money. Will Jack catch a thief or find love? Either way Jack’s going to get his man.

How about a little taste?

“Hands in the air. Drop to your knees,” was shouted at them. Blinded by a flashlight, it was impossible to identify the speaker.

Martha huffed. “There is no way I’m going to my knees, young man.” She yelled at the light.

“Me either. I’ll never be able to get up again.” Ally agreed and put her hands on her hips in protest.

Jack shook his head but quickly dropped to his knees. Only he would get caught while snooping with two grandmas who refused to listen to the police. He hung his head and pretended he was somewhere else, anywhere else.

The cop lowered his flashlight and brought out a pair of cuffs. He started walking towards the group but stumbled when he took in Ally and Martha. He shook his head. “Are you ladies willing to go quietly into my squad car?” He asked.

Ally and Martha took one look at the cop and nodded. “Wherever you want to go officer,” Martha responded. Oh great. Now they were flirting with the arresting officer. Jack waited patiently on his knees until the cop reached him. He was cuffed and then dragged to his feet.

“Come on ladies,” the officer stated while pulling Jack to the cop car.

There were two squad cars in Damien’s driveway. Betty, Rosemary, and Rose were already sitting in the backseat of the other car. They waved as Jack passed with Ally and Martha in tow. Jack shook his head at them and looked for Izzy. She sat in her car and mouthed sorry but didn’t make a move to help them. Jack knew it wouldn’t help anything if Izzy got out of the car. She’d just get arrested as well but still he stuck his tongue out at her. The cop scanned the area to see where Jack’s tongue was pointed. Izzy immediately started up the car and, with a squeal of the tires, took off. Jack chuckled.

“Aren’t you going to turn on the siren,” Martha asked once the cop was back in the patrol car and they were headed to the police station. Ally bobbed her head in excitement. Jack hung his head.

The cop chuckled. “Normally perps don’t like the siren on.”

“Why not?” Ally leaned forward to get a better look at the officer.

“They don’t want to be seen being hauled to the police station,” was the officer’s perfectly acceptable answer.

Ally and Martha huffed. They leaned back and crossed their arms across their chests. “Well, that’s just boring,” Martha said to Ally. Ally nodded in agreement.

The quiet didn’t last long. “So, officer,” Martha began. “Are you single?” Jack tried to make himself disappear at this point but unfortunately closing his eyes and wishing he was anywhere else in the world but in the back of a cop car that smelled like piss with two elderly troublemakers turned matchmakers was a bust.

“I’m single ladies,” the officer readily answered. “But don’t get your hopes up for your granddaughters. I’m also gay.” Jack prayed for a hole in the floor of the sedan to open up and swallow him whole.

Ally and Martha clapped in glee. The officer turned around in surprise before quickly returning his attention to the road. The quick look was all Jack needed. It appeared that he’d been arrested by a man hot enough to be Mr. January in the police calendar. Although it was dark in the car, he couldn’t miss the curly brown hair and eyes the color of rich chocolate. He’d bet the man was made of muscles as well. He nearly sighed but caught himself just as he saw Ally and Martha looking at him for a response. He buried his face in his chest. Luckily, they had arrived at the police station.

Interested? You can pre-order JACK GETS HIS MAN on Amazon. Release is scheduled for 7/1/15.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a $15 Amazon Gift card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
I was born and raised in Wisconsin, but think I’m a European. After spending my senior year of high school in Germany, I developed a bad case of wanderlust that is yet to be cured. My flying Dutch husband and I have lived in Ohio, Virginia, the Netherlands, Germany and now Istanbul. We still haven’t decided if we want to settle down somewhere – let alone where. Although I’ve been a military policewoman, a commercial lawyer, and a B&B owner, I think with writing I may have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. That’s assuming I ever grow up, of course. Between tennis, running, traveling, singing off tune, drinking entirely too many adult beverages, and reading books like they are going out of style, I write articles for a local expat magazine and various websites, review other indie authors’ books, write a blog about whatever comes to mind and am working on my sixth book.

You can catch up with DE Haggerty online on her website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

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Ending Up SIDE BY SIDE–Review and Giveaway

Side by Side Banner
Hi there! Today I’m joining the blog tour for a contemporary romance from Wendy Louise. SIDE BY SIDE is her first novel and it features a couple separated by violence in childhood only to regain each other via cage fighting in adulthood. Make sure to pop down and enter the giveaway for a prize pack that includes a $50 gift card and a bunch of swag.

Side by SideAbout the book:

What would you do if your childhood best friend, your soul mate, and the one person that means more than anyone else in the world was suddenly in front of you after disappearing from your life ten years ago?

Would you risk your stable life, to allow them back in to your heart, even after they had left you without any explanation?

Katy Lou Reynolds needs to make a choice. She can either ignore the fact that Elijah Trent is standing in the middle of the cage about to fight, or she can face him and demand answers as to why he left her.

Is it worth risking her heart for her one true love even though she knows it may get broken again, or is it better to let him walk away?

***

When Katy Lou tags along with her boyfriend to an Underground Cage fight, the last thing she expects to find in the ring is her childhood best friend, Elijah. Seeing him again brings back distant memories – a drunken mother, an absent father and relentless school bullies. Most of all, it re-awakens the feelings she had for him. Elijah has always held her heart; but after he left her when they were fourteen, without a word, can she risk everything to let him back in to her life again?

Elijah is a great fighter. He channels all the aggression he suffered at the hands of an abusive father in to every fight, every time. His success feeds his lifestyle of new cities and endless women, eager to spend time with him. His one regret has always been leaving behind his best friend, Katy Lou. There’s nothing he wouldn’t give to see her again, but if he does, would she forgive him for leaving her and risk her heart?

My Review:
This is a contemporary reconnection story about childhood friends Katy Lou and Elijah. They were the best of friends with super messed up families–Katy Lou’s mother was an alcoholic and dad was gone, while Elijah’s father was abusive. One night he and his mother disappeared, seemingly without a trace. Nearly ten years later, Katy Lou sees Elijah fighting in what seems to be an underground cage fighting ring–and she has to see him again. She is seriously involved with another man, Jacob–her date at the cage fight–but when she and Elijah reconnect, she knows her relationship with Jacob is well and truly done.

We get some connection between Elijah and Katy Lou, until his miserable father returns needing cash, and threatening Katy Lou. You can catch my full review on Goodreads.

Interested? You can find SIDE BY SIDE on Goodreads, iBooks Australia, iBooks US, Amazon Australia, Amazon US, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble (Nook).

***GIVEAWAY***

Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a prize pack including a $50 giftcard, tote bag and other swag!
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

Wendy-Louise-Headshot-small-300x200 (1)About the Author: (in Wendy’s words…)
Hi, I’m Wendy Louise. I’m a wife and mum living in Melbourne, Australia. I love to read and write, and I somehow managed to fit writing this book in between my regular day time duties, which include a full-time job and life in general with two busy children.

Two years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After many surgeries and treatments, I learnt that life is short and you need to grab it while you can. I always wanted to write, and I realised that it was now or never.

You can usually find me with a few books on the go at once – whether that be reading them, or writing them. I love chocolate and trashy reality TV. It’s not unusual for me to combine all these and attempt to write, while watching an episode of the Kardashians or The Bachelor, and devouring a block of Cadbury Dairy Milk…..

I am so excited to bring ‘Side by Side’ to you all. It has been such a labour of love for me. I presently have four other novels nearing completion, so I am excited to follow this up with many more. I hope you enjoy reading Elijah and Katy’s story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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

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At What Cost For FAMILY JEWELS–A Review for Joyfully Jay

Hi there! Playing a bit of catch-up shouting out my review for MJ O’Shea’s FAMILY JEWELS. I am a total swooner for Brit men, and especially the underdog. This book has a bit of both. It features an Interpol art crimes inspector and the thief who steals his heart!

Family JewelsAbout the book:

Corbin Ford, aka the Nightwatchman, named for the antique pocket watches he leaves behind at jobs, has been in the cat-burgling business for years. His father was. His grandfather was. His mother is still one of the most renowned thieves. Corbin likes his high-profile heists, priceless paintings from private collections, artifacts from museums, but his favorite? Jewels. Sparkly, beautiful jewels. If they’re famous, better yet.

Interpol agent Luke Eldridge has one goal and one goal only: to catch the Nightwatchman. Luke’s been after him for months, but getting the slip time and again is getting embarrassing. Luke has never even laid eyes on the bastard, but he’d happily strangle him. And then arrest him.

When Luke meets Corbin, the man of his dreams, he falls hard and fast… only to catch Corbin red-handed with his hand in a jewelry case at the scene of the highest-profile murder that’s rocked the international world in years.

I really enjoyed the tension that built between Luke and Corbin. They had some real chemistry. Plus, they made themselves so vulnerable. They are together for several months before the inevitable happens–long enough to know their relationship is real, and worth fighting for. Even when Luke knows all about Corbin, he’s torn between duty and his heart’s desire.

You can check out my entire review over on Joyfully Jay.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

DINNER AT FIORELLO’S Is Delicious–my review on Joyfully Jay

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my love for Rick R. Reed’s contemporary M/M romance DINNER AT FIORELLO’S over on Joyfully Jay’s Book Reviews. This was an especially tender romance between a new-graduated high school boy, Henry, and an executive chef, Vito, who doesn’t want to fall in love.

I had previously enjoyed Reed’s LEGALLY WED, and was anxious to read more of his work. I was just as charmed as before with his characters and the lush setting descriptions. As a native Chicagoan I could see my hometown in the pages, with startling clarity. I, too, sweated along with Henry on sultry walks and sweating ‘L’ rides. I’ve had his same sun-baked feet too exhausted to go forward. I haven’t had his sudden lack of home and family, but Henry never squawks. He’s determined to make his life his own, even when the convenience he’s had growing up is suddenly yanked away.

imageAbout the book:
Henry Appleby has an appetite for life. As a recent high school graduate and the son of a wealthy family in one of Chicago’s affluent North Shore suburbs, his life is laid out for him. Unfortunately, though, he’s being forced to follow in the footsteps of his successful attorney father instead of living his dream of being a chef. When an opportunity comes his way to work in a real kitchen the summer after graduation, at a little Italian joint called Fiorello’s, Henry jumps at the chance, putting his future in jeopardy.

Years ago, life was a plentiful buffet for Vito Carelli. But a tragic turn of events now keeps the young chef at Fiorello’s quiet and secretive, preferring to let his amazing Italian peasant cuisine do his talking. When the two cooks meet over an open flame, sparks fly. Both need a taste of something more—something real, something true—to separate the good from the bad and find the love—and the hope—that just might be their salvation.

You can find my full review on joyfully Jay.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

LOVE, EXES AND OHS–Review & Excerpt

LEObannerHi there! Today I’m sharing my review of Violet Duke’s contemporary romance LOVE, EXES AND OH’S which is a sweet reconnection/friends-to-lovers romance between Xoey and Isaac. While this is part of the Cactus Creek novel series, it can be enjoyed as a standalone.

Love, Exes, and Ohs (Cactus Creek, #4)About the Book:
He may very well be the perfect ex…
Isaac McKnight has had enough loss in his life to know never to take anything for granted. So when the perfectly-imperfect-woman-for-him puts an end to their relationship out of the blue, it’s Isaac that makes sure they remain friends. Now a year later, whether it’s at his gym or her brewpub, or the dog park they visit every weekend–though neither of them own a dog–he and Xoey are steadily getting sucked deeper into buddy-zone galaxy, with its dangerous proximity to watch-me-settle-down-with-someone-else abyss. It’s a reality he’s resigned himself to. That is…until one drunken confession changes everything.

But she’s looking for the perfect oh…
For Xoey Montenegro, history has taught her that sometimes, it’s Prince Charming who vanishes without a trace. And fairytale love? Highly overrated. Heck, give her a real and perfect ‘oh’ over that fantasy any day. So as far as rock-solid tequila-fueled plans for her love life go, coming up with a match-finding formula based on the qualities of the men responsible for her three most epic ohs seems brilliant. Except for the fact that one-third of her genius little man-quation is all about her friend Isaac. Actually, more than a third if Xoey were being honest with herself–which she’s not. Because full honesty would require thinking not just about how perfect Isaac really is, but also about how perfect the fourth epic oh she’s kept buried deep in her past once was.

An easy enough thing to keep ignoring…until her past isn’t past tense anymore.

How about a little taste?

“The man ate his Caesar salad with a knife and fork, Isaac.”

Isaac McKnight tried—really tried—not to grin over that one but he was wholly unsuccessful. “I’m sure that’s not nearly as pretentious as it probably looked,” he reasoned graciously, before adding without any remorse whatsoever, “Or maybe the good doctor has been hiding a really small mouth under that bushy beard, and he needs to take dainty little bites.”
Yep, just call him Saint Isaac, Patron of Grace.

Xoey’s immediate burst of laughter over the phone line, which neither confirmed nor denied his guess, instantly had Isaac wondering which of her killer smiles she was wearing right now. He’d bet good money it was the one that lit up those deep mahogany-rich bedroom eyes of hers with pure mischief—the one that hinted her own thoughts were at least twice as sinful as anyone else’s in the room. And three times as unapologetic.

God, he loved that smile. For a few quality seconds with that smile, he’d gladly pony up with all the zingers he’d been storing regarding her most recent Mr. Wrong. But he managed to restrain himself. The last thing Isaac needed was to give karma more reasons to run his ass over.

He was, after all, one of Xoey’s Mr. Wrongs as well.

The reminder was an effective buzzkill that silenced the ticker tape parade that had been playing in his head all morning over Xoey’s latest love life development…an extraordinary showing of self-control for him that lasted a whole ten seconds. Maybe eleven.

A personal best.

With that new shoulder-patting record under his belt, he was already reaching up to switch the phone call over to his truck’s Bluetooth so he could listen to Xoey’s deal-breaking grievances from her date last night the way it was truly meant to be heard.

In stereo.

What could he say? The woman brought out all his ruthless, miserable-sonofabitch possessive tendencies. As far as he was concerned, hearing Xoey’s throaty voice take over his truck’s speakers with a list of reasons why the ‘third date’ she’d gone out on last night would in fact not be resulting in a fourth date—aka sex—with the pharmacist she’d met a few weeks back? Grammy-worthy music to his ears.

He simply didn’t see himself evolving any time soon.

My Review:
This is the 4th book in a series, but can be read as a standalone.

Xoey’s had some hard times, but she’s worked hard and now serves as the part-owner of Ocotillo’s, a brewpub she manages with the other owner, and her good friend, Dani. Xoey wants to find Mr. Right, and has searched for him for the past decade–ever since her first Mr. Wrong, a one-night stand who left Xoey considerably worse for the wear.

Isaac is Xoey’s ex. She’s collected a lot of them on her search for Mr. Right, yet Isaac’s the only one who’s stuck around to be a friend, too. In fact, he’s a very close friend to Xoey, and he’d like to be more.

They share a lot of close times, but no physicality ever since Xoey broke it off. She’s got some pretty romantic ideas about Mr. Right, and Isaac just missed the mark. Still, over the course of the year he’s been a great friend and confidante, and she’s attracted to him. Now, however, she doesn’t want to risk their friendship. So all her girlfriends make a plan to set her up with potential Mr. Right blind dates–and they sorta sabotage them….so Xoey can see that the best man in her life is the man who’s been the caretaker of her heart: Isaac.

Trouble erupts unexpectedly, however, and Xoey becomes the temporary guardian of a child she never intended to care for–with Isaac right by her side. They make a great team, until Isaac gets a wake-up call, and Xoey breaks it all off, again.

This is a fun contemporary friends-to-lovers story with a twist I didn’t see coming–probably because it bent the line of coincidence way out of proportion. Excepting that, however, I liked it. Somewhat breezy, and a quick read. A bit of a steamer, too.

Interested? You can find LOVE EXES AND OHS on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Google, and Kobo.

Violet DukeAbout the Author:
NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY bestselling author Violet Duke is a former professor of English Education who is ecstatic to now be on the other side of the page writing wickedly fun contemporary romance novels. Her NYT and USA Today bestselling books have been Top 10 bestsellers across the major eretailers both in the US and internationally. When she’s not writing or feeding her book-a-day reading addiction, Violet enjoys tackling reno projects with her power tools, trying pretty much anything without reading the directions first, and cooking ‘special edition’ dishes that laugh in the face of recipes. A born and raised island girl, she spends her days getting into creatively fun trouble in Hawai’i alongside her two cute kids (daughter Violet & son Duke) and similarly adorable husband.

You can catch up with Violet on her website and twitter. Find the latest on her books and fan giveaways on her Facebook page.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Getting Over it With a TOY BOY–A Review

Hi there! Today, I’m featuring a review of a contemporary romance from Lily Harlem. TOY BOY is a touching story about an inadvertent cougar and the younger man with whom she falls in love.

Toy BoyAbout the book:
Getting something unexpected can be a shock, but it can also be a wonderful treat, if you allow yourself to indulge, that is.

Kay is bubbling with excitement. She’s booked a sailing holiday of a lifetime in Greece with a man she’s fallen for hook, line and sinker. They met on the Internet. She’s from Oxford, he’s from Washington State. She’s a business lecturer, he runs his own successful business.

They’re perfect for each other, and she can’t wait to meet him and spend time in and out of his bed, allowing him to seduce her for real and not just with softly spoken words over the telephone.

But when she arrives in the idyllic port of Fiscardo, she’s in for a shock. There’s a reason Sullivan’s photographs were grainy, and it’s not because he’s sporting a potbelly or balding as she’d suspected. It’s because he’s over a decade younger than her and could rival any Greek god in the looks department. What’s more, his sex appeal and lust for her is off the scale.

Should Kay take what she can with her ‘toy boy’ and have some fun in the sun or hop on the first plane back to England? It’s a tricky decision for a woman who believed she couldn’t be surprised by life anymore.

My Review:
Oh! The INTERNET!!!

Kay is a 42 y/o widow who has been having an online relationship with Sullivan, a man she thinks is her perfect match. They are both successful people–she’s a business management prof at Oxford, and he owns his own company in Washington State. They have spent countless hours online and on the phone revealing their hearts and souls to each other, and Sullivan has finally convinced Kay to meet him in person, in Greece, for a week-long holiday on a sailboat. Just the two of them.

She is beyond excited to share air with this man who has her fragile heart in his palm. But, the Internet strikes!

See, Kay has only seen Sullivan’s picture once in all the months they have chatted, and it was not the best pic. It was grainy and Sullivan was all covered in his winter garb. She’s a bit nervous that he might not be representing himself honestly, but she’s in love with the MAN, not his face, right? He could be balding under that winter beanie, or hiding a paunch under his navy parka, but that’s okay because he is her soulmate.

She’s so shattered when he steps off the boat to greet her. No! NONONONONO! How? Who?

Sullivan isn’t balding, our paunchy. He doesn’t have any horrible scarring or facial piercings. He’s actually stunning. And he’s 28 years old.

Devastated by his shell game, Kay wants to return to Oxford, with haste, but she’s in Greece and has no immediate resources–again the Internet FAILS her, with no service in this remote port and the travel agencies having closed for the evening. With nowhere to stay Sullivan, who’s pretty broken over Kay’s complete refusal to entertain any discourse regarding his age and her uninvited cougar status, convinces Kay to sleep in the boat’s cabin for the night. And then, he sets sail at daybreak effectively shanghai-ing her back into her planned vacation.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS.

I had a lot of trepidation over Sullivan’s shadiness, but his desperation to win Kay over was as forthright as it comes. He never expected she’d be so put off by his age, and he craves her wisdom and steadfastness–she’s a well-settled woman who doesn’t need his money and isn’t looking for a meal ticket. She’s smart and they have fascinating conversations. Sullivan is convinced they will be happy together, if only Kay will give him he opportunity to prove it.

I was so glad she did. The emotional back-and-forth Kay puts herself through is pretty enlightening, and speaks volumes about society’s mores regarding partnerships where a large (in this case 14 years) age difference exists, and the double-standard of that regarding older women. Truth is, I was enchanted by Sullivan, and it took Kay less than 24 hours to recognize that, truly, she fell in love with the man–not his age. The HEA is spectacular, and the sexytimes are as delish as the descriptions of beautiful Greece and its delectable cuisine. Yum.

Interested? You can find TOY BOY on Goodreads, Totally Bound, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

About the Author:
Lily Harlem lives in the UK and is an award-winning author of contemporary erotic romance. She writes for publishers on both sides of the Atlantic including Ellora’s Cave, HarperCollins, Totally Bound, Xcite and Sweetmeats Press. Her HOT ICE series regularly receives high praise and industry nominations.

Before turning her hand to writing Lily Harlem worked as a trauma nurse and her latest HarperCollins release, Confessions of a Naughty Night Nurse, draws on her many experiences while nursing in London. Lily also self-publishes and The Glass Knot, The Silk Tie, Breathe You In (USA Today Reviewer’s Recommended Read of 2013) and Scored have been blessed with many 5* reviews since their release.

Lily also co-authors with Natalie Dae and publishes under the name Harlem Dae – check out the Sexy as Hell Box Set Trilogy available exclusively on Amazon – The Novice, The Player and The Vixen – and That Filthy Book which has been hailed as a novel ‘every woman should read’.

One thing you can be sure of, whatever book you pick up by Ms Harlem, is it will be wildly romantic and down-and-dirty sexy. Enjoy!

You can catch Lily on her website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Author Page, Pinterest. She’s also got a newsletter, Goodreads and Google +.

Check out her blogs on Raw Talent, BritBabes, and Hockey Romance!

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!
 

Creating Love With The WEDDING FAVORS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for Anne Tenino’s WEDDING FAVORS, a contemporary M/M romance. I’ve fallen for the Bluewater Bay series,which has been pretty interesting.

Wedding Favors (Bluewater Bay, #7)About the book:

Lucas Wilder’s best friend is a traitor. First, Audrey moved back to their hick-infested hometown, Bluewater Bay, and now she’s marrying a local. His own brother, in fact. And as her Man of Honor, Lucas gets coerced into returning for an extended stay. Although, between his unfaithful ex-boyfriend and his artist’s block, going home isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Even if the Best Man is Gabriel Savage, Lucas’s first crush, first hookup, and first heartbreak.

The only reason Gabe hasn’t been waiting for Lucas to return to Bluewater Bay is because he never thought it’d happen. Not that it matters now that Lucas is back—Gabe’s still a logger who’s never been anywhere (Canada doesn’t count), and Lucas is now a famous sculptor who’s been everywhere twice. Plus, there’s that shared past.

When Audrey asks Lucas to make her wedding favors, the only place to set up a kiln is at Gabe’s tree farm. Soon, they pick up where they left off twelve years before, then blow past it, discovering why neither of them forgot the other. Now they have to choose how much of their history they’ll repeat, and what future they’ll make together.

My Review:

4.5 stars for this reconnection M/M romance. This is part of the larger Bluewater Bay series, but can be read as a standalone.

Lucas has just finished moving his belongings out from the home/studio he shared with his long-time boyfriend in LA when his BFF, Audrey, calls from Bluewater Bay to tell him not only is she getting married in 6 weeks, but also that she’s marrying his brother, Zach. Lucas is not ecstatic–he loves Audrey, but he hates their hometown, and doesn’t want to return for the nuptials. And he’s especially frustrated to learn that Audrey wants him to be her Man of Honor…so his brother’s Best Man is none other that Gabe Savage, the boy who broke him 12 years ago.

Gabe Savage has carried a torch for Lucas Wilder ever since high school. He loved him, secretly, but never owned it because he knew even then that Lucas was meant for the big wide world–he was a promising artist in school and had been accepted to college states away. Meanwhile, Gabe knew the only place he’d ever live was on his 5th generation family tree farm. Gabe took one forbidden taste of Lucas back then, and learning that Lucas is coming home for the wedding kindles a hope for…more.

Lucas, unfortunately doesn’t harbor any warm, fuzzy feelings for Gabe. He sees, instead, the person who touched him once–he thinks for sport. Gabe wasn’t particularly adept at expressing himself (this hasn’t changed) and made it clear all those years ago that Gabe and Lucas was just a “one off” leaving Lucas feeling foolish and used, and more than eager to flee Bluewater Bay. Gabe was afraid Lucas would stay for him, back then, and it would ruin Lucas’ chances, but he never intended to hurt Lucas for real. Now that they see each other at all the wedding-related events Gabe has a chance to explain; Lucas isn’t thrilled, but he does admit that he may have let that sour memory sit too long.

Working on sculptures for Audrey’s wedding favors requires Lucas to spend time out at Gabe’s farm–where the is plenty of wood, space and, yes, horse manure to power Lucas’ kiln. He’s also inspired by Gabe, who is ever-present and ever-helpful. I really loved how they worked hard to talk this time around. Sturdy Gabe is a taskmaster, which is very much appreciated by Lucas–who has a bit of a humiliation kink. Their romance is really excellent. They have a true affection growing, and are bashful of the repercussions: Lucas is only supposed to stay until the wedding, but he’d consider staying longer if Gabe asked. Gabe wants, with his whole heart, for Lucas to stay, but he’d never ask–he won’t clip Lucas’ wings. On the flipside, the podunk town Lucas hated is better seen with his older, more experienced eyes. Bluewater Bay has developed some in all the years and it’s not long before Lucas imagines himself staying…or at least settling not far away and visiting Gabe….often.

The whole second half is a delicious ramp up to an HEA ending that has all the right feels. There’s a little bit of domination, but it’s never the focus of the lovemaking. Lucas is kinda endearingly odd, as a person, falling into artistic fugues and getting consumed by his vision for hours on end, but his genuine appreciation of Gabe as a man–from the heady rush of body hair, to loving his body scents and firm musculature, was something I could really appreciate. 😉

Gabe was so loving and tender, having the deepest affection and yet being willing to sacrifice it for Lucas’ best interest. I could have smooched him longtime.

There’s a little bit of angst, but it’s downplayed. This book is a smooth ride and a feel-good for any type of day.

Interested? You can find WEDDING FAVORS on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance. I received a review copy courtesy of NetGalley.

About the Author:

Raised on a steady media diet of Monty Python, classical music and the visual arts, Anne Tenino rocked the mental health world when she was the first patient diagnosed with Compulsive Romantic Disorder. Since that day, with her trusty psychiatrist by her side, Anne has taken on conquering the M/M world through therapeutic writing. Finding out who those guys having sex in her head are and what to do with them has been extremely liberating.

Anne’s husband finds it liberating as well, although in a somewhat different way. He has accepted her need for “research”, and looks forward to the benefits said research affords him. He thinks it’s kind of cool she manages to write, as well. Her two daughters are mildly confused by Anne’s need to twist Ken dolls into odd positions. They were raised to be open-minded children, however, and other than occasionally stealing Ken1’s strap-on, they let Mom do her thing without interference.

Anne’s thing is writing gay romance and erotica.

Wondering what Anne does in her spare time? Mostly she lies on the couch, eats bonbons and shirks housework.

Check out what Anne’s up to now by visiting her website, Facebook or twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!