Taking Love AGAINST THE GRAIN–A Review

Hi there! I’m so excited to get back to my THIRDS fixation. I started this series about a year ago with HELL AND HIGH WATER, then BLOOD AND THUNDER, RACK AND RUIN and I had savored every minute of RISE AND FALL, but it was a while before I got AGAINST THE GRAIN into my hands!

How I missed my sexy shifters! This series follows a squad of THIRDS police agents made up of humans and Therians–who have the power to shift at will into ferocious animals. The first four books of the series focused on the relationship between human Dexter J Daley and his partner and commander, a jaguar Therian Names Sloane Brodie. This fifth book is filled with the love story between lion Therian Ash Keeler (Sloane’s best friend) and cheetah Therian Cael Maddox(Dex’s adopted brother. And it is SOOOOO good.

Against the Grain (THIRDS #5)About the Book:
As the fiercest Defense Agent at the THIRDS, Destructive Delta’s Ash Keeler is foul-mouthed and foul-tempered. But his hard-lined approach always yields results, evident by his recent infiltration of the Coalition. Thanks to Ash’s skills and the help of his team, they finally put an end to the murdering extremist group for good, though not before Ash takes a bullet to save teammate Cael Maddock. As a result, Ash’s secrets start to surface, and he can no longer ignore what’s in his heart.

Cael Maddock is no stranger to heartache. As a Recon Agent for Destructive Delta, he has successfully maneuvered through the urban jungle that is New York City, picking up his own scars along the way. Yet nothing he’s ever faced has been more of a challenge than the heart of Ash Keeler, his supposedly straight teammate. Being in love isn’t the only danger he and Ash face as wounds reopen and new secrets emerge, forcing them to question old loyalties.

My Review:
This books is best enjoyed after reading the previous books in the series. When this book opens, Cael and Ash are still healing from wounds sustained in the previous story. That said, they are finally developing the bonds that Cael has long hoped to build. Sure, they had been the closest of friends, and definitely affectionate, but it had never gone past the occasional tender kiss, or cuddling. Cael wants more, and Ash wants more, but Ash has a long history of self-loathing.

As a child, Ash had feelings for another boy, and a series of tragic incidences chased him far from his love and all the people he held dear. He grew up in a testing facility for cast off Therians, alongside Sloane Brodie. Ash survived the emotional and physical testing to later join THIRDS as one of the first agents in the program. He’s kept his heart held tight, but now he’s thinking there’s one person who would keep it safe: Cael.

This is a definite hurt/comfort story, with both Ash and Cael working toward the kind of relationship they have always desired. In the background we have another diabolical plot hatching–one which had first come to light in BLOOD AND THUNDER but the full extent is only now being revealed. Someone has been developing a drug to control Therians in their animal form–creating drones with ultimate killing capability and no consciousness or conscience to stop them. Ash and Sloane are among the targeted, due to their history as Therian test subjects. It’s a dangerous and covert business, getting control of the drug before it’s used, and might put Cael in specific danger, as well.

I really enjoyed the cafeul relationship building. Just because Ash and Cael have been close for several years, Ash is stunned to learn of Cael’s tragic pre-THIRDS history. Ash knows he needs to tread carefully, but it’s not that long before he recognizes that he can’t be the man Cael needs without taking chances on love. There’s a lot of vulnerability here, and super sweet steps toward coupledom. I think THIRDS fans will be well-satisfied.

Interested? You can find AGAINST THE GRAIN on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press (eBook & Paperback) All Romance eBooks, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Charlie CochetAbout the Author:
Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website | THIRDS HQ | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram | Charlie’s Newsletter | Email: charlie@charliecochet.com

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Finding One’s Self–FIERY

Fiery-Banner
Hi there! I’m getting the word out about a newly-released contemporary YA romance with a transgender main character. FIERY from Alyssa Astra is sure to push the boundaries. It sounds so interesting!

fiery1400About the book:
Aiden Adams, a transgender teen, begins writing in a journal when he moves to a new town named Ashmore and begins “passing.” He is counting on everyone to believe that he is the every bit the male he appears to be. Writing in his journal helps him unclog his brain as he writes about the daily struggles he faces as a transgender teenager, his painful past that he is trying to forget, the new friends he is making, and the beautiful girl named Abby whom he has fallen in love with. Aiden has already come out to his open-minded mother, but will Abby be just as understanding?

When Aiden loses his journal, he worries that the secret he is trying so desperately to keep will come out. And if it does, how will everyone react? Will Abby be able to cope with everyone knowing that he is transgender? Will his new friends accept Aiden for who he really is—a boy—or will everything fall apart?

A tasty morsel…

The beautiful eyes belong to the beautiful girl from the library. The one I notice every day for one reason or another. The one I sketched on a page in my journal. I’m such a creep.
“Hi,” she says loudly.
I take out my earbuds and turn off my radio that’s still in my pocket. “Hi,” I say back.
She’s on one knee to be eye-level with me, but she spins and sits down beside me, really close. Wait a minute…
SHE’S GOT ON THE COOLEST BOOTS!
They’re shiny black leather and they go up to her knees. The bottom of them is a three-inch platform, all clunky and sexy—I mean cool. She has black skinny jeans tucked into them.
“I just wanted to make sure you were alive,” the girl says. “Why are you all the way over here, by yourself?”
“I don’t know anyone,” I admit.
She holds out her right hand. “I’m Abby Abernathy.”
I grasp her hand. Handshakes are always awkward. Her hand is really warm or mine is really cold.
“I’m Aiden Adams.”
“Nice to meet you—now you know someone.” She smiles.
“I guess I do.”

Interested? You can find FIERY on Amazon, Amazon UK, All Romance eBooks, and Torquere Press.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win an e-copy of FIERY.
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the author:
Alyssa Astra lives in a mildly haunted house in North Carolina. She started writing stories by hand in high school. Now she types them. When she is not writing she spends her free time attempting art and listening to music.

You can find Alyssa online on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Deviant Art and Tumblr.
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Learning How TO LOVE A TRAITOR–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a new historical M/M Romance from JL Merrow. TO LOVE A TRAITOR is a quiet intrigue set in the immediate aftermath of what was once called “The Great War,” but we now call WWI. I really enjoyed this slow burn, between a man who mourns his brother, and the person who may have been responsible for his brother’s death. I read PLAYED! by this author, and enjoyed her work enough to seek out another book.

To Love a TraitorAbout the book:
Wounds of the heart take the longest to heal.

When solicitor’s clerk George Johnson moves into a rented London room in the winter of 1920, it’s with a secret goal: to find out if his fellow lodger, Matthew Connaught, is the wartime traitor who cost George’s adored older brother his life.

Yet as he gets to know Matthew—an irrepressibly cheerful ad man whose missing arm hasn’t dimmed his smile—George begins to lose sight of his mission.

As Matthew’s advances become ever harder to resist, George tries to convince himself his brother’s death was just the luck of the draw, and to forget he’s hiding a secret of his own. His true identity—and an act of conscience that shamed his family.

But as their mutual attraction grows, so does George’s desperation to know the truth about what happened that day in Ypres. If only to prove Matthew innocent—even if it means losing the man he’s come to love.

Warning: Contains larks in the snow, stiff upper lips, shadows of the Great War, and one man working undercover while another tries to lure him under the covers.

My Review:
Roger George Cottingham is a scourge to his noble family. The younger son, a bookish sort, continually passed over for affection by his parents in favor of his gregarious elder brother, Hugh, Roger knows he’s second best. When it was time to enlist in the war against the Hessians, he balked. No, he didn’t just balk, this Cambridge-educated man who speaks several languages refused to join up–knowing he was unable to kill a man. He was jailed for a miserable year as a Conscientious Objector before he was sprung and worked as a cryptographer for the Navy.

Hugh was killed in a mission that seems quite dodgy on its surface. Roger’s been tasked by Hugh’s bereaved fiance (and Roger’s close childhood friend) to find out if there’s truth to the rumor that Hugh’s espionage mission was leaked to the enemy beforehand. Inquiries have led Roger to a boardinghouse, home to Matthew Connaught, an amputee veteran of the war–and the man who Hugh replaced in the covert mission. Roger takes a room at the house under the pseudonym, George Johnson, in order to befriend Matthew, and glean information regarding Hugh’s death–information which might implicate Matthew as a spy.

Trouble is, Matthew is a fantastic man. He’s upbeat, and lovely, and he and George immediately hit it off. Not only that, George is attracted to Matthew–and it seems that Matthew may return his interest. For George this is a revelation that is fraught with pain. Could he possibly be falling for the man who had a part in Hugh’s death?

All of his instincts say no, that Matthew is too kind and honest a man to have been a spy, but the deeper he gets involved, the more he recognizes that Matthew has some deep secrets–and he knows more about Hugh’s death than George could have predicted.

I absolutely enjoyed this book. Do not expect a lot of steam–though there is some, for sure. George has a day of reckoning in his future, and his inquiries result in peace for more than one family–though it causes a significant amount of distress for Matthew, and himself. For his part, Matthew finds himself in more than one uncomfortable position, and his confessions are a balm to George, as well as Hugh’s fiance. I ached for George throughout. He’s been abandoned and cast off his whole life, and Matthew provides the compassionate friend and partner that George has been too afraid to admit needing. This is a true hurt/comfort story, with an HEA for men who’ve suffered much, and carry on in the face of grief and loss. Plus, the historical details were a delight. I truly felt as if transported to that era, and was glad for it.

Interested? You can find TO LOVE A TRAITOR on Goodreads, Samhain Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novella Muscling Through was a 2013 EPIC Award finalist, and her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy. Her novel Relief Valve is a finalist in the 2015 EPIC Awards.

Find JL Merrow online on her website, Twitter,  and on Facebook.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Hiding OUR LITTLE SECRET–Review & Giveaway

OLS BT bannerHi there! Today I’m sharing a review for OUR LITTLE SECRET, a contemporary YA romance from Ashelyn Drake. This one is quite the quandary: the best friend, or the boyfriend…

Make sure to pop down and enter the Amazon gift card and book swag giveaway!

OLSAbout the book:
Becca Daniels needs a passing math grade…but what she wants is to spend more time with Toby Michaels. The only problem is Toby is her best friend’s twin, and Tori has a very firm “no dating the brother” policy.

But Becca’s grade has hit rock bottom and she needs a tutor. It just so happens that Toby is a math genius and more than happy to help—lucky her! Working so closely with the handsome, popular Toby, Becca can’t hide her attraction, and it soon becomes obvious he feels the same way.

Becca doesn’t want to lose her best friend, but she isn’t willing to give up Toby either.

At first, sneaking around is fun, stealing kisses right under Tori’s nose. But things take an ugly turn when Toby’s ex-girlfriend Meredith catches them together. Meredith demands Toby take her back and restore her reputation, or she’ll tell Tori their secret. Do they dare tell Tori the truth? Or would that just make things worse?

Surrounded by secrets and knee-deep in deception, something has to give. How far is Meredith willing to go to keep Toby and Becca apart?

And how much is Becca willing to risk to keep…Our Little Secret?

My Review:
Becca is a junior in high school, as is her BFF Tori and Tori’s twin brother, Toby. Becca has known the twins for more then ten years, and has been best friends with Tori nearly that long. She’s grown up with Toby and can’t help appreciating all the ways he has grown up, too. Toby’s a fit boy, captain of the basketball team and an all-around popular kid. He’s always been nice to Becca and Becca has a secret crush–one that she can never reveal to Tori, because Tori will dissolve their friendship. It’s happened before with other girls. Plus, Toby’s popular and Becca’s not–he’d never go for her…

Then, Becca’s risking failure in trig, and Tori insists that Toby help Becca out. It’s heady, being alone with him, even if it is to study trig. But that not all that’s happening behind Toby’s closed bedroom door. Nope. He’s admitting to having feelings, and they decide to “try out” dating in order to see if it’s worth upsetting Tori over. They keep it behind closed doors, but Tori’s suspicious of Toby’s excellent mood, and Toby’s ex-girlfriend Meredith is ALWAYS turning up to cajole Toby back. Well, until Meredith learns that Toby and Becca are together. She’s had a mean streak over Becca for years, and seizes the opportunity to hurt Becca while also getting Toby back.

This is a high-stakes high school romance that is pretty clean. I really liked both Becca and Toby, who want to find a real connection without the interference of sisters and exes and best friends, but it’s just not meant to be! Tori and Meredith are not nice girls, in this book. Meredith is the worst kind of conniver, and is set up to be the truly bad guy, but Becca makes plenty of dumb decisions, like going along with Meredith’s mean spirited plans. At first.

Toby’s caught in the crossfire. He’d happily reveal all, and see if he and Becca can withstand the pressure, but he caves to Becca’s needs–Tori isn’t just her best friend, she’s her only real friend. Losing Tori is not an option, at least, until the decision is taken from her.

I really did like the high school cattiness, to an extent, because it was so high school drama. That felt painfully real, but it carried on a bit long for me, and the resolution was super dramatic, with an auditorium reveal that is straight out of a sit-com. Meredith’s ultimatums were a tad too mean-spirited and hinted at illegal. That said, there were plenty of real emotions of the page. Becca never wants to hurt anyone, and FINALLY that included herself. I loved when she got over her self-sacrificing for Tori and began living her own life; it made the final pages much better, for me. I liked that Toby was a good, human, kid. He’s not perfect, doesn’t pretend to be, but he acts maturely throughout. He’s a good boyfriend to Becca, and a good brother to Tori–who is a spoiled rotten queen of a girl who only wants more social power. I really didn’t care much for her until the very end, and then only a little.

Interested? You can find OUR LITTLE SECRET on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a swag pack and $10 Amazon gift card.
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Goodl luck and keep reading my friends!

KHauthorphotoAbout the Author:
Ashelyn Drake is a New Adult and Young Adult contemporary romance author. While it’s rare for her not to have either a book in hand or her fingers flying across a laptop, she also enjoys spending time with her family. She believes you are never too old to enjoy a good swing set and there’s never a bad time for some dark chocolate. She also writes speculative fiction under the name Kelly Hashway. She is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

Catch up with Ashelyn online on her website, blog, Facebook, twitter, Amazon Author Page, and Goodreads.
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Love With EYES WIDE OPEN

LucyFelthouse_EyesWideOpen_BlogTour_WebBanner-750_final copyHi there! I’m so excited to share my review and awesome extras on a new ménage romance from Lucy Felthouse! EYES WIDE OPEN pairs a determined young woman with two men that share kink and compassion. It’s hot, and fun!

Make sure to check out the excerpt, author insight and giveaway!

EWOAbout the book:
An ordinary girl catapulted into an extraordinary world meets two even more extraordinary men—but what will she do when she discovers their sexy secret?

Fiona Gillespie moved to London shortly after graduating to take advantage of the opportunities the capital could offer. However, months later, she’s still living in a horrid flat and working in a grimy East End pub. The problem is, she doesn’t really know what she wants to do, career-wise. So when she happens upon an advertisement for a job at a plush Mayfair hotel, she jumps at the chance. A great deal of determination and a spot of luck land Fiona her dream role.
But working at the Totally Five Star London is just the beginning. She adores the role and flourishes, impressing her bosses and making her increasingly determined to climb the career ladder.

While her career is flying, though, her love life is non-existent. She hasn’t even thought about men, never mind met or dated one for months, so when she bumps into two gorgeous businessmen in the hotel, she’s surprised to find her head has been well and truly turned. Even more surprisingly, they flirt with her—both of them! She’s drawn to James and Logan, despite feeling that they’re way out of her league.

When a misunderstanding leads Fiona to James and Logan’s sumptuous top-floor suite, she has no idea what she’s about to uncover. Scenes of people-trafficking, drug-pushing and wild sex parties all appear in her active imagination. Yet what she actually sees is something she’d never even considered before, something that piques her interest.
After discovering their sexy secret, what will she do with this new-found knowledge?

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of anal play, spanking, sex toys and bondage.

Some thoughts from author Lucy Felthouse!
Ever since Totally Bound Publishing first mentioned they were launching the Totally Five Star imprint, I fancied having a go at writing a novel for it. I had (as usual) several projects in my to-write queue, so it wasn’t something I could start straight away. In order to “reserve” my location (each standalone story is set in a different city location around the world) I had to submit a synopsis which would need approval before I started writing.

Therefore, I had to start being specific about what I was going to write! Sometimes, I don’t really know what I’m going to write until I start, but I didn’t have that option this time. And so I put my mind to it… what and who would I create this time?

Because the action in Totally Five Star books has to be centred around a hotel, I figured it would make sense to have the lead character work there. And so Fiona was born—she does (or should I say ends up doing) a job I know a fair bit about, being in PR & Marketing myself, and some of her back story in the lead up to her career is similar to mine (i.e. her degree, her ending up in PR almost by mistake…).

Lead character decided, I needed to figure out who she would meet, where and how. And my brain decided that Fiona, in spite of her innocence and naïveté, should end up with not one man, but two! Just to add another layer of complication, they’re in a committed relationship… with each other. Fiona is well and truly thrown in at the deep end, meeting two gorgeous guys with lots of kinky, sexy secrets. But how will she deal with them? I’m not telling… you’ll have to read the book and find out! 😉

Perhaps needless to say, my inspiration isn’t always particularly kind to my characters. But then, if nothing much happened, it wouldn’t be a very exciting book, would it?

How about a little taste?

Continuing to surreptitiously peer at the men over the rim of her glass, it hit her that this was the first time in months that she’d looked at a man with interest, much less two men—and at the same time! But, ready to snatch her gaze away if one of them happened to glance at her, she realized that it wasn’t surprising that the pair had attracted her attention.

The tailored business suits would draw the eye even on an ugly guy. But on these two, the fine clothing was practically an orgasm for the gaze. They sat opposite each other, and their angle to her meant that she had a view of both their profiles—lucky her.

The one to her right had very dark, almost black hair, with a bit of a curl to it, a long straight nose, a trimmed goatee and, if she wasn’t mistaken, deep blue eyes. It was hard to tell for sure from this distance and perspective.

The one on her left had lighter, shorter hair, stubble that by some magical feat still looked smart, and the most sinful lips she’d ever set eyes on. And speaking of eyes, she thought perhaps his were green. What she wouldn’t give to go and check both of them out close up, preferably naked.

Shocked at her own sudden lustful thoughts, she inhaled more than drank another sip of the juice. Unfortunately, it hit her throat all wrong and she almost slammed the glass down as she started to cough. She tried so hard to suppress the cough, eager not to draw attention to herself, that she made it worse. Snatching up the thick linen serviette from the table, she held it to her mouth as she spluttered in a most embarrassing manner, and tears began to roll down her cheeks. By now, she was sure that the whole damn restaurant was staring at her, and she wished the tablecloths reached the floor, like the ones in the restaurant upstairs, so she could hide under the table until she regained her composure.

Swallowing repeatedly to try to soothe her irritated throat, she gasped as a gentle hand laid on her shoulder, which set her off all over again.

“Oh God,” came a voice. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to make you jump. I just wanted to make sure you were all right. See if I could help.”

Unable to speak, Fiona waved a hand to try to signal that she’d be okay, but unless the guy was a mind reader, he’d have no luck figuring that out. Blinking through the tears that marred her vision, her urge to hide underneath the table grew stronger. Christ, it was only the hottie with the blue eyes. And, if she wasn’t mistaken, his sexy friend with the green eyes was also hovering close by, concern etched into his handsome features.

Managing to drag in a breath, she huffed out, “Thank you.”

Just then, Jeremy arrived with a carafe of water, complete with ice, and poured her a glassful. “Here you go, Fiona. Drink this. Are you all right? Anything else I can get you?”

My Review:

Fiona’s a struggling uni grad, working in a tavern and wondering what to do with her degree in creative writing when she finds a job listing for a PR associate. It sounds like she’s a perfect fit, but the application period closed the day prior! Undaunted, she sends in her resumé, and is ecstatic to learn she got an interview. And, soon, she’s being whisked off to posh Mayfair as the newest member of the Totally Five Star London staff.

As all staff members are able to live in the hotel’s discount employee quarters, Fiona’s really on her way. She loves her job, and she’s making new friends–among them a pair of wealthy guests who are regulars of the exclusive penthouse suites.

James and Logan are delicious. Women and men alike are drawn to them, but they are also funny and sweet–well they charm Fiona, at first. She recognizes that they are a couple, and cannot figure out what they’d want with a woman, but it turns out the James and Logan are bisexual, and have a strong desire to add a third every now and then. If only Fiona will have an open mind…

What she finds upstairs, however, isn’t the tawdry business she suspected. Instead, she finds a kinky tableau that intrigues her, opening her eyes to a wider world of sensuality. I really enjoyed how her expectations were completely flipped, and also how she fit so well with Logan and James’ dynamic. There are some mild scenes of BDSM, but they are not the focus of the action. Instead, it’s more of a passport to a new sexual freedom. As she and the boys explore their kinky sides, she’s excited, but also saddened. It’s tough being a third wheel…but is she really, or is that how she sees herself?

I liked that Fiona was a strong, independent woman. She went after what she wanted, be it a new job, a promotion, or a kink education. She was fearless, and I think that’s what really drove James and Logan to dig their hooks in–she was an equal part of their experience by the end, and a happy threesome they made.

It’s smoking hot, and (bonus!) has a plot. *swoon*

Interested? You can find EYES WIDE OPEN on Goodreads, Pride Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click here to enter Pride Publishing’s September giveaway.

Lucy_Felthouse (2)About the Author:
Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house.

She owns Erotica For All, and is book editor for Cliterati. Find out more at her website, join her on Facebook and Twitter, or even subscribe to her newsletter.

Being Loved JUST THE WAY YOU ARE–Excerpt & Giveaway

imageHi there! Getting the word out on E.E. Montgomery’s contemporary M/M romance, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. This sounds a like such a powerful book! It’s about a domestic violence survivor, and the love he needs to give himself.

Check out the excerpt and giveaway below!

imageAbout the book:
After ten years in an abusive relationship and a near-fatal knife wound, Jonathan Watson is finally free. Unused to being able to make even the smallest decision and smothered by family and well-meaning neighbors, he’s floundering in the real world. Jonathan is afraid of falling into another relationship too quickly and realizes he needs time to rediscover who he is before he attaches himself to another man.

He never counted on meeting Ben Urquhart, though. Ben tempts Jonathan to forget everything and take a leap. For Ben, it’s love at first sight, and he doesn’t want to take it slow. He wants to build a life with Jonathan, free from harm and full of laughter. But before they can take the next step, they must protect Jonathan from his possessive, threatening ex. Jonathan must find the courage to confront him and break the chains of his past before he can be truly free to build a future with Ben.

How about a little taste?

JONATHAN SHIVERED in the early morning air but not from the chill. He wrapped his arms around himself and groaned as his wound tugged against the movement. He relaxed slowly as the pain eased. From where he stood, he could see between the two apartment blocks to where the sun glinted off the Brisbane River. Five years ago he used to watch the ferries puddle their way up and down the river, dropping passengers here at Hamilton and across the way at Bulimba. He’d missed that view for a long time. He wondered if he’d miss the house now that he was leaving it.

The house was gray—morning gray, Anthony had called it, but it had always looked like unwashed, neglected underwear to him. The lines of the house were precise and symmetrical, unlike the yard. The front lawn bore scars, just like his chest. They were from his Cruiser skidding to a stop the night Anthony had sent him to kill Mark. His eyes burned as he thought how close he’d come to doing what his boyfriend told him to.

At the time, he didn’t think he had any other choice. It was kill or be killed. Literally. By the end of that night, Mark had been the only one left uninjured. Liam’s leg had thankfully healed quickly where Anthony had stabbed him. Anthony was still in hospital with a self-inflicted knife wound to the stomach, and Jonathan… Jonathan was done with that life. Anthony’s knife in his chest—so close to his heart it was clearly intended to be fatal—had cured him of whatever delusions he’d held onto that let him believe he was in love with the man. Even Anthony’s assertions that Jonathan was responsible for him being in a wheelchair since the car accident two years before wouldn’t get him to stay.

He was out of it now, or at least he would be as soon as the removalists came and took his stuff away. Then he could begin to heal. The first step had been to learn to breathe again after his lung collapsed when Anthony stabbed him. The next step… he didn’t know what the next step after this was. He wasn’t going to admit it to anyone, but he was just as terrified now, starting a life of his own—on his own—as he was when he thought he was going to die.

The trembling began again. Dizzy. Couldn’t catch his breath. He leaned beside the front door and forced himself to bring his mind back to the here and now and looked around again. There was a new section of fence now, and the Cruiser had been repaired and sat at the curb, waiting for him. His cousin must have had the damage repaired while Jonathan was in the hospital—learning how to make his lung work again after his boyfriend had tried to kill him. He shook the thoughts from his head. He had to stop thinking like this or he’d go mad.

Sleep last night had been impossible. The house had been cleaned, but nothing was going to completely remove the blood splattered on the white carpet. His blood.
A low rumble burbled through the air, and a truck turned onto the street. Jonathan’s heart raced. “You can do this,” he whispered, although he wasn’t quite sure which part of “this” he was talking about. It could be dealing with strangers on his own, or it could be leaving Anthony—finally. He pressed the heel of his hand over the dressing on his chest. Staying with Anthony was no longer an option.
The truck stopped and turned to reverse into the driveway. The high-pitched beeping made Jonathan jump and, to calm himself, he focused on the two men sitting in the cab. The driver looked young and blond, the passenger older and shriveled, his hair sticking out in unkempt tangles.

“Two people. Not Anthony. You’re outside, everything’s marked. You don’t need to go inside with them at all if you don’t want to. You can do this.” He counted his breaths in and out. The beeping stopped, the engine cut out, and the driver’s door opened.

Long, well-formed legs slipped from the cab, by-passing the step completely as a muscled body slid to the ground. Khaki cargo shorts bunched enticingly around a spectacular package before settling loosely around slim hips as the man’s boot-clad feet landed on the ground and he stood away from the truck. Jonathan moved his gaze up the body. The worn T-shirt did nothing to hide the trim stomach and prominent pecs and the sleeves framed the rounded deltoids perfectly. Jonathan sighed as he lifted his focus higher to see the man’s wide smile.

Interested? You can find JUST THE WAY YOU ARE on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press, Amazon,

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About the author:
E E Montgomery wants the world to be a better place, with equality and acceptance for all. Her philosophy is: We can’t change the world but we can change our small part of it and, in that way, influence the whole. Writing stories that show people finding their own ‘better place’ is part of E E Montgomery’s own small contribution.
Thankfully, there’s never a shortage of inspiration for stories that show people growing in their acceptance and love of themselves and others. A dedicated people-watcher, E E finds stories everywhere. In a cafe, a cemetery, a book on space exploration or on the news, there’ll be a story of personal growth, love, and unconditional acceptance there somewhere.

Where to find the author:
You can contact E E Montgomery on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter.
pride

Surviving in a BANE New World

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for Amelia Gormley’s BANE, out today. This is the next (and perhaps last) book in the Strain M/M romance, post-apocalyptic series. As you know I read and loved STRAIN and JUGGERNAUT, and those books must be read first in order to properly enjoy BANE.

Bane (Strain, #2)About the book:
The weapon that nearly destroyed humanity may be their only salvation.

Rhys Cooper’s unique immunity to all three strains of the virus that nearly annihilated humanity has brought him the unwanted attention of Clean Zone scientists. They’ve summoned him for testing—ostensibly in the hopes of finding a vaccine—but Rhys’s partner, Darius Murrell, has good reason not to trust any government. He and his comrades in Delta Company were unwitting test subjects for Project Juggernaut, the military experiment that gave them superhuman abilities and unleashed the pandemic. Doubting the government’s intentions, Delta Company refuses to let Rhys go alone.

Fear of infection has kept Zach Houtman and his lover Nico Fernández apart for a decade. They meet rarely, just long enough to coordinate their spying on the head of the government’s virus research division. Secretary Littlewood is a vicious predator, and they suspect he’s trying to acquire the strain of the virus that would make him superhuman. To stop him, they need the perfect bait: Rhys.

For Rhys, helping them might cost him his relationship with Darius—or his life. For Zach and Nico, even if their plan succeeds, they still face the ultimate question: can infected and uninfected people ever live together safely?

My review:
This is the third book in the STRAIN world and should absolutely be read after JUGGERNAUT and STRAIN. It picks up the story where both JUGGERNAUT and STRAIN left off, bringing their romantic pairs (Rhys and Darius from STRAIN and Zack and Nico from JUGGERNAUT) in direct contact to save what is left of the world.

This series of books is set approximately 100 years in the future after a military-developed supervirus decimated the population. People left on the planet? Estimates are in the ten thousands–the majority of them uninfected survivors living in small-to-large enclaves, the largest a settlement in Colorado Springs. The others are experimentally-treated soldiers, Jugs, who help comb the country to kill the lingering revenants–ravenous, Bane Gamma infected zombie-like persons.

Rhys is a survivor who is likely to be immune to all three strains of the Bane virus, and the scientists who remain in Colorado Springs want to test his blood and determine if a vaccine can be developed. Rhys’ partner, Darius, is a Jug who will not leave Rhys to the whims of the scientists. The Jugs are outcasts, and rather bitter about it, due to their lethal blood. He and several other jugs travel from the Seattle area to keep Rhys safe.

They encounter Zack in Colorado, as he is a health worker for the scientists–this meeting is scarring for Rhys who was the subject of abuse from Zack’s father and brother for nearly half his life. Over the course of testing, however, they build a rapport, and Zack confides in Rhys, Darius and the other Jugs about the disappearances in the compound, and how he knows that there are real scary things going down–likely due to the machinations of the sadistic Secretary Littlewood.

There are lots of political issues with the still developing society in Colorado, not least of which is a forced breeding program. Zack enlist Rhys’s cooperation to help discover the secret lab of Littlewood, and the chase–quite literally–is on.

If you were hoping Zack and Nico would work things out, they do, but it’s not pretty–for a long time. I just marveled at the deft plot twists and fantastic use of character in this book. I could honestly see and feel the scenes unfold. The love between Rhys and Darius is as harsh as their world, and it’s erotic and delicious, too. Expect extreme monogamy. Yay! Also, expect the Jugs to save the freaking day, yet again. I hate to say it, but this book is frighteningly on-point with contemporary issues (think: corporations buying up the natural park lands) and with the supramilitaristic response when faced with the viral outbreak.

Rhys was a child when the outbreak occurred, and his adult insight–as he travels past burned out hospitals and tenements where the infected were locked down and incinerated alive–is poignant. Darius’ constant love is engaging, Zack’s commitment to his purpose (to remain Bane Alpha-free) is as noble as it is frustrating. Nico has known for years that he could sexually transmit safety to Zack, but Zack feels called to remain unprotected. His faith has a surprising reward and gave me the ability to breathe again–after holding my breath so long in fear that Zack would become infected and turn revenant.

The series is phenomenal, and I cannot love it more.

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbout the Author:

Amelia C. Gormley may seem like anyone else. But the truth is she sings in the shower, dances doing laundry, and writes blisteringly hot m/m erotic romance while her son is at school. When she’s not writing in her Pacific Northwest home, Amelia single-handedly juggles her husband, her son, their home, and the obstacles of life by turning into an everyday superhero. And that, she supposes, is just like anyone else.

Her self-published novel-in-three-parts, Impulse (Inertia, Book One; Acceleration, Book Two; and Velocity, Book Three) can be found at most major ebook retailers, and be sure to check http://RiptidePublishing.com for her latest releases, including her Highland historical, The Laird’s Forbidden Lover, the The Professor’s Rule series of erotic novelettes (co-written with Heidi Belleau), and her upcoming post-apocalyptic romance, Strain.

You can contact Amelia on Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!