Battling the CURSE OF THE SPHINX–Review and Giveaway!

Curse of the Sphinx tour banner
Hi there! I’m happy to share a review for a new YA romance adventure from Raye Wagner. CURSE OF THE SPHINX is a contemporary imagining of a world where Greek Gods still rule, immortal demigods and monsters walk among mortals, and murderous Skia keep the balance. It was rather inventive and thoroughly engaging.

Check out my review below, and be sure to enter the giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card.

cursecoverbiggerAbout the book:
How long can a monster stay hidden in plain sight?

Seventeen year-old Hope Nicholas has spent her entire life on the run. But no one is chasing her. In fact, no one even knows she exists. With her mom, she’s traveled from town to town and school to school, barely staying long enough to meet anyone, let alone make friends. And she’ll have to keep it that way. It’s safer.

When her mother is brutally ripped away from her, Hope’s life shatters. Is this the fulfillment of Apollo’s curse, murder from the shadow monsters of the Underworld? Or, have the demigods finally found her? Orphaned and alone, Hope flees again, but this time there’s no one to teach her who to trust—or how to love.

Set in a universe where mythology is alive and well in the modern world, Curse of the Sphinx irresistibly blends action, suspense and romance.

My Review:
This is a fun YA spin on contemporary mythology. The gods of Greece still rule from afar and their sired children, demigods, walk amongst the mortals. They are not many in number, and are often collected into conservatories in order to keep them safe from Skia, the spawn of Hades who hunt them and bring them to the Underworld. All of society understands that gods exist, or did, and kids learn Mythology as a regular subject in school. Much like the demigods of yore, monsters of myth live, too.

Hope is trapped in a curse that spans thousands of years. Her grandmother was the famed Sphinx at Thebes, and each female offspring is immortal, a monster and untouchable by any other than Apollo or his sons. Hope’s mother fell for a mortal and sealed the curse of Apollo–and was punished for it. Orphaned and alone at age 16, Hope must find a way to survive her curse, and also society. She moves to a small town in eastern Washington and endeavors to get past her grief.

It’s not easy. She has plenty of money, thanks to her grandmother’s golden treasure, but she’s never been on her own. She knows she should keep moving, running from the Skia that she sees with more and more regularity, but she has managed to make friends for the first time in her life. Plus, being a vagabond brings another element of vulnerability that Hope cannot truly contend with.

Athan, a new student in school seems to charm everyone–except Hope. She’s upset with the world, though, and his sympathy eventually allows him access to her isolated realm. Expect the usual high school cattiness. I liked how Hope stood up for herself, and attempted to right wrongs. Her grief was deep, and her world so sheltered. She’s not sure what to do with the growing feelings she has for Athan, but she’s not willing to tell him her true secret. When she learns he’s a demigod her brief respite must end. She’s got to get on the road. Now. Or, so she thinks.

I really liked all the supernatural elements of this one. The prose is a mostly effortless read with plenty of tension scattered throughout. Athan’s a swaggering boy, but he drops that act once he gets to know Hope. He could never have guessed her true nature, but he handles the big secret very, very well. It’s not ideal for him to love Hope, mostly because his father, Hermes, has some big plans to use Hope as a frustration to Apollo. That said, Athan acts honorably. This is a bit of YA romance, but it’s completely clean and age-appropriate. Well, if you don’t count the violence. For some reason violence is far more acceptable behavior for teens than sexytimes, but I digress.

All-in-all, the plot is interesting, Hope’s big secret is different from one I’ve read before, and the book ends with new trouble on the horizon. So expect a MILD cliffhanger because the next book seems to be a completely new adventure for Hope. Not a problem for me, as this is a series I’d gladly dive into.

Interested? You can find CURSE OF THE SPHINX on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

raye wagnerAbout the Author:
Raye Wagner grew up in Seattle, the second of eight children, and learned to escape chaos through the pages of fiction. As a youth, she read the likes of David Eddings, Leon Uris, and Jane Austen. Inspired by a fictional character, Raye pursued a career in nursing, thinking to help the world one patient at a time. One summer afternoon, when her then young children were playing in the pool, a plot dropped into her head, and she started writing.

She enjoys baking, puzzles, Tae Kwon Do, and the sound of waves lapping at the sand. She lives with her husband and three children in Middle Tennessee. Origin of the Sphinx, a novella detailing the story leading up to the creation of the mythological creature, is her first publication. It is the beginning of the Sphinx series.

You can catch up to Raye online on her website, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

ef137-yabounktourbutton

Going For It: LOVERS LEAP–A Review

Hi there! I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M romance out today from JL Merrow. I’ve loved several of her books already–OUT! PLAYED! and To Love A Traitor–so I jumped at this one. LOVERS LEAP is a funny odd couple romance between a young budding chef and the big, burly, gift from Poseidon he rescues from the waters off the Isle of Wight.

Lovers LeapAbout the book:

If they looked, would they ever leap?

Good-looking, confident, and doted on by his widowed mum, Michael is used to thinking only of himself. Getting shoved off an Isle of Wight pier by an exasperated ex ought to come as a wake-up call—but then he meets Rufus and he’s right back to letting the little head take charge. Rufus is cute, keen, and gets under Michael’s skin in a disturbing way.

Would-be chef Rufus can’t believe his luck when a dripping wet dream of a man walks out of the sea on his birthday, especially when Michael ends up staying at the family B&B. Life is perfect—at least until Michael has to go home to the mainland.

Rufus can’t leave the island for reasons he’s entirely neglected to mention. And though Michael identifies as bi, breaking his mum’s heart by coming out and having an actual relationship with a guy has never been his plan. With both men determined to keep their secrets, a leap of faith could land them in deep water.

My Review:
4.5 Stars for this humorous and heart felt contemporary M/M romance.

Michael is the youngest of four children, by a ten year margin, and the only son. His father died before Michael was born, so he’s been highly sheltered and protected by his mother and three older sisters. Micheal is a closet bisexual, as he’s sure his mother won’t approve of him with a bloke. Michael is visiting the Isle of Wight in February with his girlfriend of three weeks, Trix, and deciding right then that he’s rather tired of her–at which point she pops The Question. His stammered refusal results in Michael swiftly plummeting off Sandown Pier and into the water.

Rufus Kewell is a leapling–a child born on Leap Day and he’s strolling under Sandown Pier when he crosses a dripping Michael–clearly a gift from Poseidon for his “fifth” (20th!!) birthday. There’s some humorous banter and it’s not long before Michael’s forgetting all about his wet adventure in bed with dear young Rufus. Rufus was born and raised on Wight, and stays on as cook for the B & B that his father and stepmother run. In order to keep it afloat, Rufus has turned down all offers to leave the island to go train as a chef in restaurants on the mainland.

During the course of several days Rufus and Michael get tightly acquainted. But Rufus won’t leave Wight (he claims fear of the water crossing) and Michael won’t tell his mother about having a boyfriend. For these two, they need to take a leap of faith to make it work.

This is such a rollicking, sweet tale, with aggressive, obnoxious and obtuse Michael swaggering his way in to Rufus’ life. And, for Michael, Rufus’ tender charms and selflessness make him want to reach beyond his self-centeredness and be a stronger man. There were some tough love moments carried by Rufus’ best friend, Liz, and even Trix as they both try to convince Rufus that Michael is no good for him. Also, Liz wants Rufus to man-up and go to culinary school. And, there’s a poignant and difficult ordeal with Michael’s staunchly Catholic mum.  I really liked the sentiment and comedy of errors that this plot followed. Plus, a Love Shack was not only located, it was employed. Such fun.

I pretty much inhaled the book in one early morning read. The one thing I might have loved more: more sexytimes. Things got a bit subdued on that front early. *tuts* That said, it’s a fun one filled with delightful Briticisms, great banter and a few praises to Poseidon. Take the leap!

Interested? You can find LOVERS LEAP on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. 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.

JL Merrow is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Finding Love: SEARCHING FOR SHELTER-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for the newest release in the Sin City Uniforms series by Morticia Knight. SEARCHING FOR SHELTER is a standalone book that features a teen shelter worker falling for a search and rescue officer.

searchingforshelter_800_2About the book:
Teen shelter volunteer Rich searches for love until Diego, from LVMPD Search and Rescue, finds him.

After declaring his love life officially dead, Rich wonders if maybe he should stick with his shifter book boyfriends instead. It’s not as if he has much free time to date anyway. Between working long hours at a coffee shop, guarding his sodas from his hygienically challenged roommates, and running the programming at the Vegas LGBTQ teen shelter he founded – how could there ever be space for love in his life?

Diego Espinoza enjoys taking his downtime from working Search and Rescue, at the Lucky Cup coffee shop. He can set up his laptop, peruse good sport climbing spots and observe the blond barista he’s been pining over for a while. He imagines that the pretty boy has more offers than he knows what to do with, so it takes Diego time to work up the nerve to approach him.

Rich isn’t so sure about the rough looking Diego – even if he’s always thought he was hot – but once he decides to gives Diego a chance, there’s an immediate heat and connection that takes him by surprise. As they learn more about each other and try to find the way to a future together, strange and scary things start to happen.

It isn’t until Rich is injured in a bizarre accident that it becomes clear that there’s someone out there who not only doesn’t want Rich to find love – they want him dead.

My Review:
This is the 6th book in a series and can be fully enjoyed as a standalone.

Rich is a 26 y/o hard-working barista in a Vegas coffeeshop. He is also the morning manager there, and in his spare time he organizes LGBTQ-friendly programming in a homeless shelter. His whole life is work and shelter, but he longs for a steady relationship.

Diego is one of the regulars to frequent Rich’s shop, and one morning he arrives early to make his bid for a date with Rich. Diego’s a little older, 37, and he works for Vegas’ Search and Rescue unit as a climber. He’s had a few serious relationships in his life, and his last ended tragically when his partner died on a free climb. He’s been watching Rich a long while, and likes how careful and meticulous he is. Their first date is pre-empted by some pre-date connections, which was nice.

The love story grows intense quickly–perhaps too quickly. That said, Rich finds himself in a jam–through no fault of his own (wrong place at the wrong time issue)–and is soon in very serious trouble. Trouble that requires police protection which Diego is not at all opposed to giving personally.

I liked the book. It’s a solid romance with two decent guys. All the problems come from outside the relationship, and result in some domestic disputes with homophobic family. Also, a homicidal maniac. Rich and Diego click and they enjoy each other’s passion. Diego is without question one of the filthiest lovers I’ve read in a while. Boy does he love him some A$$. O.O And Rich is equally freaky about…Pepsi. 😉 There’s a whole lotta sweet and sexy, down and dirty, for these boys and a guaranteed HEA. Enjoy.

Interested? You can find SEARCHING FOR SHELTER on Goodreads, Pride Publishing, Amazon (US and UK) GoogleBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy of this book via Goodreads.

Morticia KnightAbout the Author:
Author Morticia Knight spends most of her nights writing about men loving men forever after. If there happens to be some friendly bondage or floggings involved, she doesn’t begrudge her characters whatever their filthy little heart’s desire. Even though she’s been crafting her naughty tales for more years than she’d like to share – her adventures as a published author began in 2011.

Once upon a time she was the lead singer in an indie rock band that toured the West Coast and charted on U.S. college radio. She currently resides on the northern Oregon coast and when she’s not fantasizing about hot men she takes walks along the ocean and annoys the local Karaoke bar patrons.

You can find Morticia online on her website, Goodreads, Totally Bound, Amazon, Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Fun and Flirty, Fresh and Dirty: SUBMISSIVE SEDUCTIONS-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new erotic BDSM romance from Christine d’Abo. SUBMISSIVE SEDUCTIONS is a fun book that follows a novice sub as she explores the world of kink with Gareth, a widower who’s not quite sure what he’s in for, I think…

Submissive SeductionsAbout the book:
Sometimes getting what you want…makes you crave something more

Purchasing a Dom from a charity auction was the wildest thing Liz had ever done. The chance to bring her secret fantasy to life, to be a submissive—even just for one night—was worth any price. And Gareth was everything she wanted in a Master. He touched, he taught, he tantalized. He opened her world to pleasures she’d never imagined. But was it enough?

After one night turned into a blurred-line relationship, Liz’s feelings for Gareth went beyond desire. Yet the kink, no matter how hot, had her wondering if she could ever have a normal relationship. Her Dom was a man with a tragic past and he’d put rules in place from the start.  If Liz chose to break them would she lose the intense passion she’d just discovered—as well as the man she loves?

My Review:
Liz is a young, professional woman who believes she *might* be into kink. Her bestie/apartment mate is a confirmed sub engaged to a Dom. Connie has invited Liz to her regular BDSM club for a charity Dom/sub auction. Connie’s hand-picked a Dom for Liz to bid for, and Liz is stunned to learn that the beautiful man she admired backstage, Gareth, is the same man Connie was hoping she’d win.

Liz does win Gareth, a slightly older man who happens to be a widower, and is having his first foray into the scene since his wife/sub died tragically four years ago. Liz and Gareth bond, and share a scene, but is this the end?

The book is written in three parts, the auction, the chase and the submission. It’s all told from Liz’s POV, which is fine. She’s brash and funny and her internal thoughts made me laugh out loud. She wants to explore a real and true relationship, but must proceed slowly because Gareth is reluctant. He’s still grieving. I really liked how Liz turned the tables on Gareth, how she was assertive in her desires. It’s always refreshing when a sub is a bit bratty, and Liz is definitely that!

I think this book is strong because the relationship develops over the course of several months. It’s thoughtful and considerate. Neither Gareth nor Liz are 100% confident 100% of the time, and that’s refreshing. They acknowledge their shortcomings and their fears, which allows the reader to step inside this dynamic easily. I love how uncertain Liz is, regarding BDSM. I love that she questions her desires, wonders if they are real, wonders if they are appropriate. It felt very genuine. Her reliance on both Connie and Gareth as guides in these new experiences felt natural, as well.

Having read a number of books in this genre, I have to say I liked this one. It’s fun and flirty, and fair-minded.

Interested? You can find SUBMISSIVE SEDUCTIONS on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
A romance novelist and short story writer, Christine d’Abo has over thirty publications to her name. She loves to exercise and stops writing just long enough to keep her body in motion too. When she’s not pretending to be a ninja in her basement, she’s most likely spending time with her family and two dogs.

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Coming soon! OVER THE LINE–A tasty excerpt

OTLinebanner1Hi there! I’m sharing a sneak-peek of Lisa Desrochers’ new contemporary adult mafia romance coming out April 19th. OVER THE LINE is the second book of the On the Run series. You know I liked OUTSIDE THE LINES, so I’m anxious to read this one.

overthelineAbout the book:

The USA Today bestselling author of Outside the Lines once again explores love on the edge in an explosive new romance about obsession, betrayal, and a killer attraction.

Lee Delgado never planned on falling in love with the irresistible Oliver Savoca, son of a Chicago crime lord. Considering that their families are rivals, she knew it could never work. And now that both their fathers have been nabbed on racketeering charges, any real chance at a future with the man she loves has been shot to hell. But a greater blow is yet to come.

Not only does Lee learn that a contract is out on her life, she has reason to believe that Oliver is behind the devastating betrayal. Now she’s working closely—very closely—with Federal Agent Sean Callahan to help bring her man down. But however she’s come to feel about Callahan, Lee is still deeply, hopelessly, unabashedly in love with Oliver.

How about a little taste? from Oliver’s POV…

I want Lee to know, no matter where she goes, I will find her.

At the thought of her betrayal, rage rises up and wraps like an iron cloak around my heart, threatening to crush any bit of humanity left there. I close my eyes and hold my breath until it passes.

And I see her as she was before everything that came after—that first day of business law class at Kellogg, nearly two years ago.

She was starting her first year. I was in my second. I was already seated near Angela Bagglio, who I had a passing interest in due to her loose family ties to the Delgado organization. Her brother was a wiseguy wannabe, little more than a glorified gofer within the Delgado machine. But I’d discovered, sometimes it was the smallest details that led to the largest victories.

When Lee Delgado sashayed into the classroom, I’d like to say I was unaffected. I’d like to believe I was in complete control of everything that happened then and after.

But I’d be kidding myself.

Her bright hazel eyes surveyed the room, and when they caught for a second as they passed over me, I felt a shift in gravity itself. There were times reading nuances in expressions and actions was all that came between me and a slug in my head. That hitch in her perusal of the room left no doubt she was aware who I was.

From that second on, I was helpless to take my eyes off her.

Her sandy brown waves cascaded over the shoulders of her cream-colored silk blouse to an open collar that hung loose, revealing a hint of cleavage. Her burgundy pencil skirt hugged the round curves of her hips and ass and ended above the knee, giving me a glimpse of a pair of toned thighs and calves. She had a killer body and knew it. I had to respect a woman who knew her strengths and wasn’t afraid to use them to her advantage.

She took a seat in my row, but on the opposite side of the classroom. I was barely coherent when the professor started lecturing. I couldn’t tell you the first thing he said.

As she listened, she lifted a hand and combed through her waves with her fingers, separating out a strand and twirling it around her finger. A rush shuddered from my tailbone up my spine to my brain, and even though I had no clue why, that was the moment I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stay away.

The rest, as they say, is history.

If she thinks she can hide from me, she’s got another thing coming.

Mob controlled gambling has always been a huge racket, with better payouts because we don’t pay taxes like the legal betting sites. Back in the day, bookies were involved and actual cash changed hands. Now nearly everything is electronic. Bets are collected directly from our clients’ online accounts and payouts are distributed back into them. Payout is calculated after each event based on outcome versus the spread. It’s one of the parts of my job that I truly enjoy.                   I’m always in the program, tweaking and modifying. But, suddenly, the week before Christmas, two days after Lee and I returned from our weekend in Aspen, I noticed the spread didn’t factor anymore and our payouts went through the roof. I thought maybe I’d screwed something up and tried to get into the program to check it. Ended up throwing my laptop against the wall when my pass code wouldn’t get me in.

It took me the next two days, and the fact that Lee wasn’t answering my texts or calls, to put together what had happened. Though I’m not sure exactly how she managed it, I know it had to have been her who hacked into my program and changed the payout ratios. I’ve looked at it from every angle and there are no other feasible possibilities. And it makes sense. I had an ulterior motive when we started hooking up, and I had no doubt she had one of her own. But as we got deeper into each other, things shifted and I lost focus. I let down my guard and gave her too much, and she took advantage of the opening.

I knew I wouldn’t be seeing her over the holidays because her siblings were all coming back to the family home in Wilmette, just outside of Chicago, for Christmas. It took me another day to decide I had no choice but to go there.

But when I got to the house, the place was swarming with cops and Feds, and yellow police tape was strung across the pillars at the front door. The reports the next day said it was believed the Delgados had fled to Europe after a “gangland style attack” on their home.

The online gambling leg of our business has been bleeding cash at the rate of nearly a hundred grand a month since Lee fucked with the program. Every month it gets worse as word spreads of our big payouts. The guy who designed and encrypted the program is dead; a casualty of my father’s wrath when he made the mistake of telling Victor he’d corrected a system glitch that had cost us a couple hundred grand over the first year of implementation. I’ve done everything I can to break Lee’s pass code, but considering the illegal nature of the account, and the fact that I couldn’t enlist anyone who might report back to Victor what happened, my resources to resolve the issue have been severely limited.

So I put my time and energy into another avenue. Finding Lee.

Like everyone else in Chicago, I assumed that my father was responsible for the contract on Lee and her family. I talked to his guys. Tried to see if any of them had a bead on the Delgados’ location. I couldn’t find anyone who was even looking.

So, as much as I dreaded it, I went straight to the source.

I was dead to my father. He’d made that clear. But that day, for the first time since I’d crossed him, Victor looked at me with pride in his eyes when he asked, “You purchase that special delivery for our friends up in Wilmette?”

And that’s when I knew it wasn’t us. It’s also when I knew I was a dead man unless I could find a way out of this mess on my own.

So I looked harder for Lee, dug a little deeper into the Delgado family tree. I didn’t find her, but I managed to stumble on some other useful information during my search. And then, finally, the stroke of luck that led me here: Rob showing up in Chicago.

I’ve been able to keep everything under the rug since she left, but underground betting has always been the Savoca business’s bread and butter. If Victor or anyone else in the organization discovers the hemorrhage of cash that our gambling ring has become, it’s my head my loving pop will want on a spike.

I told the guys I had some personal business in Vegas; gave Al a direct order to park his ass at my apartment and not to move until I got back. I took a flight to Vegas, and from there, traveled to Florida on an ID I pinched off of a guy we rolled in Little Italy for not making book. He’s dead now, courtesy of Al, so he won’t be divulging my alter ego to anyone.

My family doesn’t know this particular alias. They’d have a hard time tracking me. Once I find Lee, things should move pretty fast. But I have to find her first.

So here I am.

Man, that guy’s really got his work cut out for him, doesn’t he? Little bit of Romeo and Juliet, Chicago-style, methinks…

Interested? You can pre-order OVER THE LINE on Goodreads, Amazon, iBooks and Barnes & Noble.

lisaauthorAbout the Author:

Lisa Desrochers is the author of the USA Today bestselling A Little Too Far series and the YA Personal Demons trilogy. She lives in northern California with her husband, two very busy daughters, and Shini the tarantula. There is never a time that she can be found without a book in her hand, and she adores stories that take her to new places and then take her by surprise.

Connect with Lisa on her website, her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

InkSlinger PR Blogger Banner - New

Cephalopod Coffeehouse Feb 2016–A GIRL’S GUIDE TO MOVING ON–A Review

0ed81-coffeehouse
Hi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

I’m so excited to share a review for a newly-released novel from best-selling author Debbie Macomber. A GIRL’S GUIDE TO MOVING ON is a bittersweet book about two women rebuilding their lives after leaving their cheating husbands.

A Girl's Guide to Moving On (New Beginnings, #2)About the book:

In this powerful and uplifting novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber, a mother and her daughter-in-law bravely leave their troubled marriages and face the challenge of starting over. Leaning on each other, Nichole and Leanne discover that their inner strength and capacity for love are greater than they ever imagined.

When Nichole discovers that her husband, Jake, has been unfaithful, the illusion of her perfect life is indelibly shattered. While juggling her young son, a new job, and volunteer work, Nichole meets Rocco, who is the opposite of Jake in nearly every way. Though blunt-spoken and rough around the edges, Rocco proves to be a dedicated father and thoughtful friend. But just as their relationship begins to blossom, Jake wagers everything on winning Nichole back—including their son Owen’s happiness. Somehow, Nichole must find the courage to defy her fears and follow her heart, with far-reaching consequences for them all.

Leanne has quietly ignored her husband’s cheating for decades, but is jolted into action by the echo of Nichole’s all-too-familiar crisis. While volunteering as a teacher of English as a second language, Leanne meets Nikolai, a charming, talented baker from Ukraine. Resolved to avoid the heartache and complications of romantic entanglements, Leanne nonetheless finds it difficult to resist Nikolai’s effusive overtures—until an unexpected tragedy tests the very fabric of her commitments.

An inspiring novel of friendship, reinvention, and hope, A Girl’s Guide to Moving On affirms the ability of every woman to forge a new path, believe in love, and fearlessly find happiness.

My review:

4.5 Stars for this double heartbreak, double romance story.

The title is completely accurate.  Leanne and Nichole are women who suffer the same ailment: cheating husbands. Leanne is Nichole’s mother-in-law who suffered 35 years in a loveless marriage to a philandering husband, Sean. When she learns that her son Jake is following Sean’s misguided footsteps, she informs Nichole, stay-at-home mother to her only grandchild Owen. Nichole does what Leanne never had the strength to do: walks away. And this gives Leanne the courage to get a divorce as well.

The book opens two years after this marital discord, with Leanne and Nichole having apartments in the same building and having built a close and loving relationship. Leanne dotes on Owen and assists with childcare as Nichole struggles to provide for herself. Her divorce has not been finalized because Jake has blocked her at every step, in the effort to wear her down and coax her into returning to him. Sean had no compunctions regarding the loss of his marriage; couldn’t wait to get Leanne out of his life and home. They’d maintained separate bedrooms for years.

In order to stay focused on the positive, and not get mired in depression, Leanne and Nichole build a “guide” of four tenets to see them through. They have to let go of their hurt, to volunteer, to build new friendships, and be open to new experiences. These principles form a strong foundation, but can’t keep out all the hurt.

That said, it is through these outreaches that both Leanne and Nichole find new love for themselves and with new partners. Men who are completely different from their suave, wealthy, cultured ex-husbands are able to turn Leanne and Nichole’s heads by being kind, compassionate, honest and sincere. The road to happiness is long, arduous and littered with missteps, however. I really admired these characters and how they kept their cool amid some contentious encounters. Jake is a selfish manipulative jerk who is unsettled by Nichole’s desire to start over. His double standard is classic and nearly comical. Sean’s got no interest in Leanne until he witnesses another man finding her attractive. And, yet, Leanne has some unfinished business with Sean that can only be handled with time and careful attention.

This is a heavy read. There is hope and heartbreak, in roughly equal measure. The ending is well done, with characters who make positive choices for themselves and find healing and happiness again. It was interesting to notice the details that were important to these women. Having been lied to to and cheated on, how they interacted with other men was measured and guarded. That felt so incredibly real, and approachable, as a reader. The love stories that build here are very sweet and so tender. That said, it’s a squeaky-clean romance, with constant attention to religious interest–so I expect this will be a bestseller for the Christian readership. I had wished for a little more intimacy, to be truthful. Part of the book read like a journal, with both Nichole and Leanne speaking directly to the reader. It didn’t unsettle me, as I prefer first-person close POV, but it might be an issue for other readers.

Interested? You can find A GIRL’S GUIDE TO MOVING ON on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other discount book outlets like Target, WalMart and your library, undoubtedly. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

Thanks for popping in. Be sure to check out my fellow Coffeehouse reviewers sharing their fave books of the month. And, keep reading my friends!

Disaster Awaits FINDING NORTH–Review and Giveaway

RB Banner(2)Hi there! I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M romance from Carmen Jenner  that really gets raw–and that’s not the best thing. FINDING NORTH is a reconnection romance between childhood loves that were separated by hate, but not distance. It’s a real struggle for these soulmates to find peace together in their homophobic corner of Australia.

Catch an excerpt, my review and get in on the $50 Amazon Gift Card giveaway below.

Finding North Ebook CoverAbout the book:
Red Maine’s blue-collared bad boy, North Underwood, has a dirty little secret—Will Tanner.

Friends since kindergarten, North had been the one to jump first, and his fall into Will’s bed ten years ago had been no exception. Will and North had been inseparable, but things change, people grow apart, and even a blazing flame can dwindle to a dying ember over time.

The more things change the more they stay the same.
After a run in with a bottle of Bundy rum, Will and North find themselves in a compromising and all too familiar position. Blurred lines, bad decisions, and one wrong foot after another lead these two down a spiral of sarcasm, secrets, and sex, but when North’s hetero status is called into question he can’t figure up from down. And despite Will telling himself he wouldn’t fall again, he’s head over heels and wandering without a compass.

Love is love.
Love is truth.
Love … shouldn’t be this damn hard to figure out.

How about a little taste?

I push my glass towards him for another refill, downing the shot of liquid courage. “You ever think about what might have been?”

Will scoffs and sets his glass down. “You’re seriously asking me this?”

“What?” I say, getting pissy now, because he acts as though he’s the only one who lost something. “I can’t ask a question?”

He takes another sip, avoiding my gaze. The humour has left his face; his mouth forms a tight line as he stares down into his drink. “You can’t ask that question.”

“Okay then,” I say, agitated that he’s calling the shots. I ask a question I’ve been wanting the answer to for a very long time. “Why didn’t you leave?”

“Jesus, not you too.” Will shakes his head. “You sound like Josh.”

“Who the hell is Josh?”

He slams back the rest of his drink and beats his fist against his chest. “Fuck buddy.”

“You have a fuck buddy?” I clench my jaw. I’m starting to see why Bundy has a bad name. Right now, I’d like to find Josh and beat his fucking head in.

Will laughs. “Look at you getting all jealous.”

Is he fucking kidding me?

“How long?” I say through my teeth.

“How long have I been fucking him? Or how long is his cock? It’s about five for both.”

“Five what?” I snap. “Days? Weeks?”

“Months.” He rests his elbow on the bar, dangling his glass from his long fingers. “And inches.”

“You been fucking this Josh for five months, and you didn’t think to mention it?”

“I’ve fucked a lot of men in the last twelve years, North. Why would I mention any of them to you?”

“I kissed you.”

“Yeah, and I didn’t ask for it,” he says, swirling the liquor in his glass. “How many women have you slept with in the past twelve years?”

I don’t have an answer for him. I don’t even remember half of their names, only that I was fumbling around in a drunken stupor, trying to grab onto just a little bit of happiness. On the outside I have all my shit together, but inwardly I’m hollow. I’m the worthless piece of shit my father always told me I was, and I’d bury my dick in anyone in an attempt to find something that made me feel even half of what Will had that summer.

My Review:

Will and North are two thirty year old men who grew up the best of friends in Red Maine, Australia. They were inseparable and Will was hopelessly in love with North. Growing up in this small, working-class town, both Will and North were raised by their fathers–North’s mother committed suicide when he was young, and Will’s mother abandoned them. While Will’s father was kind, compassionate and loving–accepting Will’s sexuality with nary a complaint, North’s father was an abusive drunk, and a homophobic bigot. Time changes nothing in Red Maine.

Will and North are enemies as adults. North cast Will out, refusing to associate with him any more after they turned 18 and Will’s sexuality became common knowledge. Will works hard at his family’s bar, picking up the brunt of the labor since his father’s stroke. He keeps a low profile and speaks absolutely never to his old mate, North. Thing is, North has been putting himself in Will’s way of late, and it seems that he wants to get physical. Something Will hates himself for wanting, after twelve years of silent seething over North’s complete betrayal.

This is a fantastic enemies-to-lovers, second-chance romance. Will is so frustrated, with North and himself, and he’s not simply going to let North off the hook for wanting to “play gay.” As the story unfolds the reader get’s both Will and North POVs recollecting their lives in the past and present, with their first steps toward embracing the passion that they share for one another.

The dynamics between Will and North are appropriately strained for two men who’ve had such a troubled past. Add to that North’s abusive relationship with his father and we see that the narrative Will had embraced for the past twelve years has been tainted by his own shame and loss. Will is reasonably skeptical that North will ever be able to embrace a real relationship with him. And North is not ready to come out, at all. Their world is sheltered, bigoted, and dangerous–and North has had first-hand experience with violence his entire life. Even as a man grown, he’s knows better than to indiscriminately poke his bear of a father.

This book contains disturbing scenes, from dubious consent to domestic violence to a violent hate crime. It is raw in it’s portrayal of this romance, and kept me riveted due to the nagging fear that this was all going to go very,very wrong. The end was spectacular, a happy ending that befitted the rotten start Will and North had in life and love.

Interested? You can find FINDING NORTH on Goodreads, Release Day Sale of $.99 on Amazon (US, UK, CA, and AU), iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Carmen Jenner is a thirty-something, USA TODAY and international bestselling author of the Sugartown, Savage Saints, and Taint series.

Her dark romance, KICK (Savage Saints MC #1), won Best Dark Romance Read in the Reader’s Choice Awards at RWDU 2015.

A tattoo enthusiast, hardcore MAC addict and zombie fangirl, Carmen lives on the sunny north coast of New South Wales, Australia, where she spends her time indoors wrangling her two wildling children, a dog named Pikelet, and her very own man-child.

A romantic at heart, Carmen strives to give her characters the HEA they deserve, but not before ruining their lives completely first … because what’s a happily ever after without a little torture?

Catch up with Carmen online on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.