Needing To Be ROPED IN–A Review

Hi there. Today I’m sharing a review for a sexy cowboy M/M romance novella from LA Witt and Marie Sexton. ROPED IN is an enemies-to-lovers story that pits a skittish closeted cowboy against an eager animal rights activist. Expect skilled roping, of the submissive kind….

Roped InAbout the book:
Graham and his roping partner, Jackson, have been friends since they were boys. They’ve ruled the rodeo scene for ten years running, but lately, Graham’s heart isn’t in the game. He’s tired of the bruises, the cowboy mentality, and the animal rights activists who picket every event. He’s also tired of being in love with Jackson, and nothing’s been the same between them since their disastrous drunken encounter the year before.

Then Graham has a run-in with one of the rodeo protesters, and everything changes. Kaz is young, idealistic, and sexy as hell. But he’s also a know-it-all, animal-loving vegan, bent on saving the world one cow at a time. They have next to nothing in common, but Graham can’t stop thinking about what might happen if they can stop butting heads long enough to give it a try. Unfortunately, no matter how attracted Graham is to other men, he always panics and runs when the clothes start to come off. But Kaz has an idea for getting Graham past his nerves and into bed.

All they need is a bit of rope.
(Note: This is a re-edited second edition of a previously published title.)

My Review:
I really enjoyed this enemies-to-lovers M/M romance.

Graham is a cowboy, or horseman, through and through. He owns his own horse ranch and training stable and competes in team roping rodeo events with his childhood best friend, Jackson. He’s long harbored a crush for Jackson, but he’s been surrounded by super-macho cowboys his whole life, and Jackson–despite one botched, drunken experience nearly a year ago–is staunchly hetero. Plus, there’s tons of homophobia in their circle. Graham is unwilling to come out, but–at 30 years of age–he’s tired of being alone. One major obstacle for him to overcome is his fear of intimacy. Methinks it’s some inbred self-loathing homophobia that keeps Graham from sealing the deal, but he’s never been able to have sex. He’s stricken by a panic attack anytime he gets close to a man–which is why his tryst with Jackson was aborted.

While out at an event, Graham is so upset by the animal rights protesters that are (loudly) picketing the rodeo and spooking his horse, he lights into one of the protesters, Kaz. And, bam! He’s never been attracted to smallish, academic-type men, but something about Kaz strikes an unexpected spark. Kaz later takes Graham up on his offer to meet at a local bar to actually discuss the issues the protesters have with the rodeo. This meeting is enlightening.

Kaz is a grad student learning all about non-profit management. He’s sickened by the inhumane activity of sport rodeo–particularly calf-roping. He agrees to meet Graham and is surprised it’s not a set-up for his own bashing. He hadn’t expected Graham would find him attractive. Graham’s anxiety intrudes, however, and it’s Kaz who takes Graham in hand, er, in rope. Yep, it seems Kaz likes a bit of kink, and Graham thrives under bondage and submission.

This isn’t all sweaty sexytimes, but, there’s lots of those packed into this short novel/novella. No, Graham has some reckoning to make with Jackson–who, man, I can’t give it away, but DANG! It’s so bittersweet!!! I need there to be some resolution to that situation.

Naturally, while Graham and Kaz are of single purpose in the bedroom, they are still divided on the rodeo issue. And, when Graham recognizes Kaz’s unwillingness to budge, he doesn’t bother to tell him when his own feelings change. It looks like Graham might be a forever single, but Kaz reaches out in a moment of equine need–and a new partnership is forged. One in which both Graham and Kaz can equally participate. I really loved how Kaz had to trust Graham’s knowledge and experience regarding the ethical–if sometimes dubious-appearing–treatment of horses. It was a moment of acknowledgement that Graham had doubted ever arriving. (Disclaimer, I’m not necessarily sympathetic to the Animal Rights Movement, so I really identified with Graham in these scenes.)

I so liked how these guys filled a need in the other, and expect that they will make it, though I really would have liked a longer story so I could see how they did fare after their reunion.

Also, I need Jackson’s story. So, uh, let me know when it’s written, k? K.

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

About the Authors:
Lauren Gallagher is an abnormal romance writer who has recently been exiled from the glittering utopia of Omaha, Nebraska, to an undisclosed location in South America. Along with her husband, a harem of concubines, and a phosphorescent porcupine, she remains, as always, in hiding from the Polynesian Mafia. For the moment, she seems to have eluded her nemesis, M/M romance author L.A. Witt, but figures L.A. will eventually become bored with the wilds of Spain and come looking for her. And when that time comes, Lauren will be ready. Assuming L.A. doesn’t have her hands full keeping track of Lori A. Witt and Ann Gallagher, which she probably will.

Visit her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along. Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.

Visit Marie’s website, follow her on twitter, friend her on Facebook, or join her for Coffee and Porn in the Morning.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Learning How PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT–Review and Giveaway

Housemates
Hi there! I’m so excited to share a review and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M New Adult romance from Jay Northcote. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT is the third book in her Housemates series, and can be enjoyed as a standalone. Though, to be honest, I’m sure you’ll enjoy HELPING HAND and LIKE A LOVER, too.

Check out the tasty tidbit, and get in on the giveaway, below.

Practice Makes Perfect (Housemates, #3)About the book:
Getting experience with the guy next door seems like a great idea—until the lines blur.
Dev, a geeky first year physics student, has zero sexual experience and he’s determined to change that ASAP. After a bad time in halls of residence, he’s starting the summer term with different housemates and a new plan of action.

Ewan lives in the house next door to Dev. He’s young, free and single, and isn’t looking to change that anytime soon. When awkward circumstances throw them together, Ewan offers to help Dev out in the bedroom in return for maths tutoring, and Dev jumps at the chance.

They work their way through Dev’s sex-to-do list, but what starts as a perfect no-strings arrangement gets more complicated as their feelings for each other begin to grow. If they’re going to turn their lessons in lovemaking into something more permanent, they need to work out how they feel about each other—before they get to the end of Dev’s list.

How about a little taste?

Dev reached across the table and took the teaspoon out of Ewan’s hand, then tangled their fingers together and squeezed. The sympathetic touch eased the ache in Ewan’s chest. He let his gaze slide up to meet Dev’s and saw understanding there. He gave Dev a tentative smile.

“Well, look who it is!” A loud, mocking voice from behind Ewan made Dev start and drop Ewan’s hand as though it were on fire.

Ewan turned to see a group of three blokes, all with matching mocking grins on their faces as they looked at him and Dev.

“Hey, Devreem.” The same voice as before, belonging to a skinny guy with brown hair, a scruffy half-arsed attempt at a beard, and mean eyes. “You finally found someone with a real dick to fuck, then? Look out, mate,” he addressed Ewan. “This one’s into some weird shit.”

Ewan pushed his chair back with a screech and squared up to him. “What’s your fucking problem?”

Beardy Guy’s attitude shifted immediately to unease. Ewan was taller, bigger, and angrier than he was, and he suddenly looked as though he realised he was picking on the wrong guy. “I… uh….”

Ewan continued in a menacing tone. “I don’t know who you are, and I don’t give a shit because you’re not worth my time. But you and your friends are interrupting us, so why don’t you fuck off before I break your nose.”

Ewan had barely been in a fight in his life, but he’d played rugby at school and was pretty sure he could handle this twat. Beardy Guy’s two sidekicks were already backing off, so it didn’t look like he was going to get much support from them.

“It’s okay, Ewan. Just drop it.” Dev was standing behind him now, and he put a hand on the tense muscles of Ewan’s shoulder.

Ewan looked around and realised that all eyes in the café were on the unfolding drama.

“Yeah, you should piss off like he says,” called a girl from a couple of tables over, glaring at Beardy Guy. “Take your homophobic bullshit elsewhere.” A few murmurs of assent and the arsehole flushed, taking on the look of a hunted animal.

“Whatever. It was just supposed to be a bit of a joke.”

“Well, nobody’s laughing, Matt.” Dev said sharply. “I see your idea of what’s funny hasn’t developed since last term.”

“Yeah, whatever.” Beardy Guy—Matt—was done. “Come on, guys, let’s hit the bar. We don’t want to hang out here anyway.” He glared at Ewan again. “Losers.”

Ewan remained standing with Dev beside him until the three had gone. Then he let out a long breath and turned to Dev. “What the fuck was that about? You know him?”

Dev sighed, his face tense and unhappy. “Long story.”

My Review
This is the third book in the Housemates series and can be enjoyed on its own–though I HIGHLY recommend the previous two books, as well.

Dev is a nerdy, gay virgin away at uni and hating his life in the dorms–mostly due to some seriously homophobic hallmates. He’s a physics major and ultra capable with to-do lists, computing, and maths (it’s Plymouth, England, folks. “Maths” it is…) but not so competent at people, or relationships. After a disastrous event he confides in a workmate, IT supervisor Reuben from LIKE A LOVER, who helps him let a room in his boyfriend Josh’s old house. There he meets Jez and Mac, from HELPING HAND, and Dev finally feels settled.

Ewan lives next-door to Dev and they meet by chance on the sidewalk. And then, again, when Ewan opens a package that was misdelivered. A box that contains a rather nice sex toy. Ewan’s only a little ashamed at the awkwardness–he’s a bit turned on to determine that the doe-eyed boy next door bats for his team. And, well, his attraction turns to alarm when he finds Dev’s “shy virgin seeks experience” profile on Grindr.

To save Dev from (literally) getting reamed by the creepers, Ewan proposes a partnership; he helps Dev safely gain sexual experience and Dev helps him not fail statistics.

Break out the lists and the lube.

OMG. Such a fun and soul-affirming read. These guys are so tender and kind, really eager to help the other learn. And still, funny and compassionate. I just loved it from the beginning to the end, except that it ended and I wanted to keep on going…so that part was bollocks. Bollocks aside, and there are plenty of those on the page, their arrangement spans several weeks and involves not just their Friday night “study” sessions, but also some coffee/milkshake dates, and widens to include mid-week cooking lessons for Dev–which double as foreplay.

Lookit, the whole series rocks. I’m a goner for these helper-to-lover plots, and Practice Makes Perfect is a bit like Helping Hand, but with a definite Like A Lover quid pro quo. I loved the cameos from the other books’ characters and how all of these people interacted naturally. It was so fun to have the typical housemates squabbles and also the knowing looks–because Dev and Ewan collect A LOT of knowing looks from their amused (and not so amused) housemates.

I got the book, I read the book–shoving aside other planned reading–because I’m just that excited about this author’s work.

Looking forward to reading and reviewing Housemates #74, the good lord willing.

Interested? You can find PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT on Goodreads, and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****
Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 gift card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her husband, two children, and two cats. She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story–just to see if she could–and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.

You can find Jay on her website, Twitter, Facebook Author Page, and Amazon.

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Happy Book Birthday to HARD TO SERVE–Excerpt & Giveaway!

Hard To Serve - RDL banner
Hi there! I’m sharing the love for a new erotic series from Laura Kaye. You know I’ve really enjoyed her HARD INK books, and I was excited to hear that she’s spinning into a new BDSM series, involving the Masters who run Club Blasphemy. HARD TO SERVE is the first of many stories to come, and boy is it HAWT.

Catch an excerpt below and be sure to enter to win Amazon gift cards, too!

11_1001_2016_Laura Kaye_300dpiAbout the book:
To protect and serve is all Detective Kyler Vance ever wanted to do, so when Internal Affairs investigates him as part of the new police commissioner’s bid to oust corruption, everything is on the line. Which makes meeting a smart, gorgeous submissive at an exclusive play club the perfect distraction…

The director of the city’s hottest art gallery, Mia Breslin’s career is golden. Now if only she could find a man to dominate her nights and set her body—and her heart—on fire. When a scorching scene with a hard-bodied, brooding Dom at Blasphemy promises just that, Mia is lured to serve Kyler again and again.

As their relationship burns hotter, Kyler runs into Mia at work and learns that he’s been dominating the daughter of the hard-ass boss who has it in for him. Now Kyler must choose between life-long duty and forbidden desire before Mia finds another who’s not so hard to serve.

A tasty teaser…

Mia found herself alone with a kinda pissed-off looking Master Kyler. He wore angry well. As in, the harshness of the set of his jaw and the tight press of his lips and the narrow cut of his eyes—they were all hot, especially coming from a Dom. But she didn’t understand it.

“Um. Hello, Sir,” she finally said when he didn’t say anything.

“Mia,” he said, his gaze raking over her. “You look absolutely stunning tonight.” His voice was like gravel, rough and strained.

“Thank you. Are you okay, Sir?” she asked.

He shook his head. “I don’t…I don’t know.”

“Do you want to sit and talk?” Mia asked, concern for him flooding her.

Suddenly, Kyler pinned her to the cool wall. He braced his hands on either side of her head, and he was erect against her belly. She wanted to drop into a crouch and take him into her mouth. “Do you want vulgar honesty or watered-down politeness?” he asked.

The promise of those words made her core clench with need. “Vulgar honesty.”

He nailed her with a blue-eyed stare. “I don’t want to sit and talk. I want to fuck. Hard. I want to be aggressive. Maybe I even want to be a little mean.”

Mia’s heart was suddenly a runaway train in her chest. Because, sign her up! She let out a shaky breath. “That sounds…like someone’s going to have a good night,” she managed.

Kyler dropped his head to her shoulder on a groan. He knocked his forehead against the bone there once, twice.

“Did I say the wrong thing?” she asked. Because he was totally confusing her.

“That’s the thing, Mia. I don’t know.” He lifted his gaze to hers again.

“How can I help?” she asked.

For a moment, he closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, and when he opened them, it was like he’d centered himself and made some kind of resolution. “Are you game for what I just described?” He fingered the chunky silver-and-gold choker she wore around her neck.

Heat swept over her, her body already answering, already preparing. “Yes, Sir. I am.”

He gave a tight nod and backed up a step. “Let me show you the room I have in mind.” Taking her hand, he led her down the long hallway that shot off the side of the nave. She wasn’t sure if this was still part of the church building or something else, but she didn’t have long to wonder before Kyler stopped at a door and keyed in a code.

Lights came on as the door opened, and Kyler guided her inside with his hand at the small of her back.

Just the room’s theme turned Mia on. Concrete floor. Cinder-block walls with peeling paint. Light thrown from bare light bulbs surrounded by little cages. An iron cot bed with only a white fitted sheet. Rusted metal cabinet at the side that undoubtedly held a variety of toys and supplies. It looked like a basement or a warehouse—a place where a woman in a beautiful cocktail dress had no business being. A role started taking shape in her mind.

“Do you see where my head is tonight, Mia?” Master Kyler asked, his body almost rigid with tension.

God, she was going to enjoy helping him work out whatever had him so wound up. “Yes, Sir.”

Some thoughts from author Laura Kaye…

So many readers asked for more stories in my bestselling Hard Ink series, and I’m so excited to be able to give you just that in my new, super sexy HARD TO SERVE!

HARD TO SERVE is an edgy stand-alone love story about a Baltimore police detective whose red-hot BDSM relationship with a new submissive seems like the perfect distraction from a trumped-up investigation against him until he learns that the woman is his boss’s daughter. Talk about sparks flying! I had so much fun writing this book, and I can’t wait for everyone to read it!

And if you enjoy it, you might like to check out the whole Hard Ink series, now complete! Happy reading!

Interested? You can find HARD TO SERVE on Goodreads and Amazon.

Join the Hard to Serve FB Party on June 28! (5-8pm CDT)

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win one of five Amazon gift cards.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

Laura Kaye - author picAbout Laura Kaye:
Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense, including the Hard Ink and upcoming Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

Catch up with Laura on her website, Facebook, Twitter, or her newsletter.

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DANIEL & ERIK’S SUPER FAB ULTIMATE WEDDING CHECKLIST–Excerpt & Giveaway!

BannerTemplate(26)Hi there! I’m so excited to highlight a new contemporary M/M romance from K.E. Belledonne. DANIEL & ERIK’S SUPER FAB ULTIMATE WEDDING CHECKLIST is sure to charm.

Be sure to drop down and check out the excerpt and get in on the giveaway for a $25 Interlude Press gift card, or one of 5 first prizes of an e-copy of Daniel & Erik’s Super Fab Ultimate Wedding Checklist!.

Checklist 1600px (Smashwords, Amazon)About the book:
When Daniel gets caught up in the demands of a cheeky wedding planning app, his fiancé Erik grows frustrated with his preoccupation with adhering to heterosexual traditions. Will Daniel’s groomzilla ways give them the wedding of their dreams, or ultimately lead to their relationship’s demise?

How about a little taste?

“I think Aurora is disappointed in me.”

“What?” Erik rubbed at his eye. It wasn’t even early morning, judging by the weak light coming through the blinds from the streetlights. “Who?”

“Aurora. The wedding planning app.” Daniel lay on his back, wide awake and staring up at the ceiling.

“The wedding planning app is not a sentient being. It has no feelings or opinions.”

“I feel like she’s judging me. I’m sorry if I woke you up.”

“Oh my god, go to sleep.”

“I can’t. I’m never going to sleep ever again.” Daniel tugged the blanket higher up his chest, folding his arms over it and exhaling heavily.

“You’re being dramatic.”

“I’ve got too many things buzzing in my head. There’s too many things I’m going to forget to do.”

“I thought that’s why you had that damn app, so you don’t have to remember anything; it’s all right there saved on your tablet.”

“Yes, but I have to remember to put everything in it.″ Daniel rolled over. ″She doesn’t just know everything—”

“A: She is not a she. It is an it. B: What are we doing tomorrow?”

“Oh my god, what is the point of sharing the app calendar if you’re never going to look at it?” Daniel wailed.

“I look at it. It’s just crammed so full of everything that I have no idea what’s going on when.”

Daniel blew out his breath. ”Look, I know you don’t like the calendar. We’ve been over that, but I don’t know how else to keep track of all of these appointments and deadlines.”

“I told you, we could color-code them, or something,” Erik rolled to his side and punched at his pillow.

“Aurora doesn’t give you that option.”

“Well, it should.”

“I agree, but there’s nothing I can do about that.” Daniel bunched his pillow up under his head. “Tomorrow, we have four appointments to meet with caterers: two in the morning, two in the afternoon.”

“Why so many in one day?”

“It’s the only day we both have available this week, and I am not going to make any decisions about the food at our reception without you there to discuss it.”

“Seriously, you could just make a choice, and I’ll live with it.” Erik rolled over.

“I don’t want you to just ‘live with it,’ Erik.″ Daniel tried to keep his voice neutral, but failed. ″This is our wedding. I don’t want you to just ‘live with it.’”

“Why are you getting so worked up about it?”

“We only get one chance at this. Everything needs to be perfect.”

“You’re going to drive us both crazy, you know that, right?” Erik tugged the blankets back up over his shoulder.

“Well, then, we’ll both be crazy.” Daniel squinted up at the ceiling. He was so tired of making these decisions. Why were there so many options? Why were there so many decisions? The planning was getting on Erik’s nerves; he was getting on Erik’s nerves. Erik was getting on his nerves. They were both just a pile of irritated nerves because the to-do list didn’t seem to be getting any smaller.

Daniel’s phone chimed with another notification from Aurora.

New Private Message from: MommyMargie.

His mother probably had another ludicrous suggestion for the reception, or a passive-aggressive reminder of the hymn that she and his father had had played at their wedding, that their grandparents had had played at their wedding and that she expected to hear at his wedding. Or maybe his parents had decided to paint the living room green. Who knew?

Oh, wow! These guys!

Some thoughts from Ms. Belledonne…

Is there a character in your books that you can’t stand? And what makes them someone you don’t like?

Honestly, I don’t write characters that I don’t genuinely like in one way or another. The antagonist in this story is a Swedish woman named Annika, and she’s not an awful person – she’s just more abrupt with her opinions than Daniel (and his friends) are used to, and she doesn’t really care if you agree with her or not. She’s difficult for the Americans to get to know and to appreciate, but she’s not a “bad guy”.

I love Annika just as much as I love all the other characters.

Is there message in your novel that you hope readers grasp?

One theme that I hope come through, but that I tried not to beat my readers over the head with was that of identity – how much do we let other people influence what we, ourselves, define as our own identity, and whom do we allow, or choose, to do so. Daniel thinks that he’s been forging his own path and identity, but it becomes clear that he has been doing many things that he feels are “expected” of him, even as he thinks he’s been rebelling the conventions he grew up with.

Interested? You can find DANIEL & ERIK’S SUPER FAB ULTIMATE WEDDING CHECKLIST on Goodreads, Interlude Press, Amazon, Barnes & NobleiTunes, AllRomance, and Indiebound.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this a Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win a $25 Interlude Press gift card, or one of 5 first prizes of an e-copy of Daniel & Erik’s Super Fab Ultimate Wedding Checklist!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the author:

K.E. Belledonne is a writer, editor and translator. A native New Englander, Kat spends her spare time listening to Glenn Miller records, reading history books and cheering on her beloved Red Sox. Her first novel, Right Here Waiting, was published by Interlude Press in 2015.

Catch up to Ms. Belledonne on her blog, Facebook, twitter and Pinterest.
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Hitting a Dinger: FAST-PITCH LOVE–Excerpt and Giveaway

Fast-Pitch Love blitz bannerHi there! I’m helping spread the word on a contemporary YA sports romance from Clay Cormany. FAST-PITCH LOVE sounds like a fun read, with a boy who wants to catch the eye of a girl–by coaching her sister’s softball team.

Catch the “hot” excerpt below and be sure to enter to win one of 3 Amazon gift cards.

FastPitchLove coverAbout the book:

What does a high school boy do if he thinks the girl of his dreams will be an assistant for the softball team his mother coaches? Easy! He volunteers to be an assistant, too. That’s what Jace Waldron does in Fast-Pitch Love. It might be his only chance to make a move on Stephanie Thornapple while her boyfriend is away.

But Jace’s plans go awry, and soon he faces the double challenge of coaching a team of mischievous preteen girls and learning there is more to romance than physical attraction.

Praise:
“The book has some unexpected twists and turns as the likeable but somewhat hapless Jace grows into a young man who takes responsibility for his life and his choices. Softball aficionados will have a particular affinity for this book because its game descriptions are extensive and detailed. Those who don’t know softball will come to like and admire the young protagonist.” Gretchen Hirsch, author and book doctor

“I enjoyed this young adult novel by Clay Cormany. The story told from a guy’s perspective made it especially interesting. I think a lot of young women would enjoy seeing romance from a guy’s point of view. I also liked that the novel was innocent without gratuitous sex or swear words.” Paulita Kincer, author of The Summer of France and Trail Mix

“Like the spin on a fastball, Fast-Pitch Love puts a new spin on the age old boy meets girl phenomenon. And what a wonderful spin it is. Clay Cormany weaves together the twin themes of teenage infatuation and a girls’ softball team. Along the way he does a wonderful job of mixing the excitement of youth sports with the impending showdown between two suitors of the same pretty girl.” The Dane

“Fast-Pitch Love is an unusual coming-of-age story since it’s told from the guy’s point of view. The characters are likeable and believable; the action well paced. You don’t need to be a softball player, or even an athlete, to thoroughly enjoy Fast-Pitch Love.” Louise

How about a little taste?

Jace ran behind the backstop where his mitt rested on the ground. After putting it on, he had the strange feeling that something soft and gooey was on his fingers. What could it be and how did it get there? No time to think about it. He trotted out next to Lauren as Sylvia prepared to hit the next ball. It went toward Angela in right field, but Jace didn’t see her catch it, because his eyes were riveted on his glove. Something was happening inside of it, something bad. The gooey feeling was still there, but now there was also a feeling of heat that grew more intense by the second. The next ball off Sylvia’s bat went toward center field, but Jace didn’t see that one caught either. He was too busy tearing at his glove, flinging it away, and clawing at his hand, which felt as if it were on fire. He stumbled to his knees.

“Arrrrrgh,” he bellowed, as he rubbed his hand back and forth on the grass, trying to remove the slimy substance.

“What’s the matter, Jace?” Martha cried out. “Why are you –”

“Success!” shouted Heather.

“Sweet revenge!” echoed Dana.

“What do you mean?” said Sylvia, as the two girls jumped up and down with glee. “What did you do to him?”

“Nothing much,” said Heather with a grin. “Just put some capsaicin cream in his glove when he wasn’t looking.”

“Why?” asked Martha, who seemed more curious than upset.

“For nearly killing us with that ball he hit last week, that’s what for,” answered Dana.

“Yeah, we figured we’d teach him a lesson,” said Heather.

“But that was an accident, girls,” said Martha. “What you did was deliberate.”

“He won’t die,” said Heather, pointing at Jace, who continued to rub his hand on the grass. A small circle of girls assembled around him, faces glowing with smirks and hands restraining laughter.

Oh, boy. Those girls are diabolical!! I sure how Jace can handle it.

Interested? You can find FAST-PITCH LOVE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo and Smashwords.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this a Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win .
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:

Before writing Fast-Pitch Love, Clay Cormany spent over 20 years as a writer and editor for Ohio’s State Board of Education. His creative work has appeared in numerous central Ohio publications, including the Columbus Dispatch and Spring Street, Columbus State Community College’s literary magazine. He has also edited numerous books, including a three-volume biography of Christopher Columbus and A Death Prolonged by Dr. Jeff Gordon, which received coverage in the New York Times and on PBS. Fast-Pitch Love reflects the two years Cormany spent interacting with softball players and coaches both in practice and competition. He contributes the earnings from sale of the book to girls softball programs in central Ohio and elsewhere.

Catch up with Clay on his website, Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Learning To Be FIERCE & FABULOUS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M romance from Elizabeth Varlet. FIERCE AND FABULOUS is a sexy match between an androgynous male dancer and a seemingly straight construction worker.

Catch my review and enter the giveaway for a chance to win $25 below!

Fierce & Fabulous (Sassy Boyz, #1)About the book:
The first book in a scorching new male/male series by Elizabeth Varlet. Behind the Sassy Boyz’s seductive smiles and sinful dance moves are desires that will leave readers breathless.

Fitch Donovan never thought a lap dance could change his life, but from the moment the gorgeous dancer’s lips touch his, his world comes screeching to a halt. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t shake the desire that rocks him to his core. He’s longed for this passion all his life—he just never dreamed he’d find it with another man.

Sharing a soul-shaking kiss with a straight boy is the kind of drama Ansel Becke just doesn’t need. Spotlights aren’t made for two and Ansel prefers to keep things on a one-night-only basis. So when Fitch shows up asking for an encore, Ansel knows he should send his gorgeous ass packing.

Though Ansel tries to pretend that what’s between him and Fitch is far from fabulous, there’s something about the big, burly contractor that makes Ansel’s world sparkle in a way no amount of glitter ever could. And Fitch will do whatever it takes to convince Ansel that when the thing you need most in the world falls right into your lap, you’d be a fool to let it go.

My Review:
This is the first book in a series that features a five-man gay burlesque-type dance troupe, the Sassy Boyz.

Fitch is out at a gay club in Manhattan celebrating his beloved (lesbian) sister’s 21st birthday when he’s struck by the beautiful lead dancer in a risque set. Fighting an attraction to an androgynous male dancer was not part of his designated driver duties…but his sis buys him a lap dance with Ansel, and that’s a worldview-shaking event for Fitch. Big burly and macho, Fitch’s never even fantasized about being with a man before; nearing thirty he’s been disappointed in love-a bunch. Still, he can’t get Ansel out of his brain.

Ansel Becke was a homeless teen, brutally abused by his German mother for his cross-dressing activity as a child. Unable to tolerate the abuse he ran away, turning tricks to stay alive on the streets. In the past five years he’s had some better turns, meeting four other out-gay runaways at a shelter and building the Sassy Boyz together has given him and income and a purpose. Still, the past never quite goes away; Ansel self-medicates with booze and drugs. Meeting Fitch is too good to be true. How could a decent man, a straight man, have a serious interest in a former hooker and current hedonist, amiright? It’s not like Ansel even screws the same man twice… Still, Ansel is intrigued by Fitch’s interest and sincerity. For a short time he even cuts out the booze–just so he can fully enjoy all of his delicious experiences with his enchanting construction foreman.

It seems like everything is going great for Ansel, really, he even reunites with his younger brother who seeks him out while on a trip to NYC, but it’s really too good to be true–in Ansel’s head. The past never really leaves us, does it? And for Ansel, his history is especially painful. I really loved how Fitch sought the truth of Ansel’s backslide. And, how he wouldn’t let Ansel’s self-loathing destroy what they had built. I was also really stoked that Fitch came clean about his new lover–even if that lover was a man–to his conservative friends and family. He acknowledged his bisexuality without being on the hook, at all, in many ways. The reaction of his confidantes was mixed, but not horrible. My god. When Fitch took Ansel to “meet the ‘rents” I just completely fell into everlasting love with Fitch. He’s the Best Boyfriend Ever. #Certified

This book sets the scene for four more books, I expect, one for each of the dancers in Sassy Boyz. The femme vibe is strong with these young men, and it’s an interesting dynamic. I liked how they all had an interest in women’s fashion and they seemed to be very well-recieved within their gay community. There was some bashing, particularly when Ansel sought out straight men while in his female attire and make-up. There are several plot threads open for conflicts in future books, but this one ends with an HEA. Expect Ansel and Fitch to make it happen and make it werk.
Or twerk.
Probably both.
Looking forward to the next book in this series!!!

Interested? You can find FIERCE AND FABULOUS on Goodreads, Carina Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter Giveaway Link for your chance to win a $25 Amazon GC or a copy of FIERCE & FABULOUS!

Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:

Elizabeth Varlet is a nerd at heart and spends way too many hours binging on episodes of her favorite television shows. If you love Doctor Who, Supernatural, Stargate, Star Trek, Sherlock, or Firefly you are already her best friend.

She started writing stories in high school and hasn’t stopped. Now, her characters like to get frisky under the covers – or the stars, they’re not picky. She’s a thirty-something, newly married, world traveler who devours books like they were candy.

You can catch up to Elizabeth online on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Sharing the Love For UNDERCOVER BOYFRIEND–Review & Giveaway!

Undercover Boyfriend Blog Tour BannerHi there! I’m so excited to share a review for a new contemporary M/M romance from Jacob Z. Flores. UNDERCOVER BOYFRIEND is a sweet read that I reviewed for Joyfully Jay Reviews this past week. I super loved it, and highly recommend.

Catch the excerpt and snippet of my review below, and be sure to enter to win one of 10 eBooks from his backlist or a $50 GC!

perf4.250x7.000.inddAbout the book:
Two men, one lie, and a whole bunch of trouble.

Marty Valdez is in serious trouble. His sister’s wedding is around the corner, and everyone expects to meet Marty’s super-successful underwear model boyfriend—whom Marty invented. Now Marty has to produce a half-naked hottie or suffer the worst humiliation of his life.

FBI agent Luke Myers is in serious trouble. He’s been working undercover to take down a dangerous drug cartel, but his cover’s blown and he needs to disappear. Luckily, a geeky yet intriguing comic book artist gives him the perfect opportunity. Luke just has to pretend to be his boyfriend, and pretending is what he does best. But between Marty’s mother and his ex, Luke might’ve bitten off more than he can chew, and Marty’s knack for finding trouble might ruin more than just his sister’s wedding.

How about a little taste?

“My God. Were you always this much of a fucking asshole?”

“Whoa!” Christian threw up his hands as if he had no clue he was being a fuckwad. “Why the name-calling? I just called you cute.”

“He is cute. Isn’t he?”

Tim suddenly appeared at Marty’s side. He slid his hand around Marty’s waist and pulled him close. “I know I thought so from the first moment I laid eyes on him over the punch bowl.”

Marty opened his mouth to speak, but surprise had stolen his voice. Did Tim really think he was cute? No, that couldn’t be true. It was part of the act. It had to be.

Christian’s nostrils flared. “So, Jim. How long are you in San Antonio for?”

“It’s Tim,” Tim replied with one arched eyebrow. He pulled Marty closer and locked gazes with Christian. Why did Marty suddenly feel as if this was going to turn into a pissing match? “And I’ll be here until after the wedding.”

Christian nodded as if he expected that answer. “Well, I’m glad you could finally make it. I was starting to wonder if you even existed.” He dragged his gaze from Tim to Marty, and a knowing grin suddenly materialized. Did Christian suspect this was a ruse?

“Oh, I’m real,” Tim replied. “Just busy.”

“Ah yes.” Christian nodded. “I’m sure prancing around in your underwear is a tough gig. I know it wears me out whenever I come home from the courthouse and walk around half-naked in my Calvin Kleins.”

“Calvin Klein makes a good pair of underwear,” Tim said. “But they’re not for me.”

“Too stylish?” Christian asked, brushing a stray piece of lint from his sleeve.

Tim shook his head. “Too small for my junk.”

Marty snorted while Christian bared his teeth.

“Come on, babe,” Tim said, looking down at Marty with wide, adoring eyes. “Let’s find a place to sit. It’s almost time to eat.”

Marty nodded. He didn’t dare try to speak. If he did, he’d bust out in laughter.

My Review:

I was amused and engaged in this one from the beginning. I love the fake boyfriend trope, and thought it was well executed, especially as Marty and Luke are strangers who end up falling for one another. That part was also well done. Marty’s family is the type that won’t quit–and their tenacity was honest and well-meant, even if they are meddlesome and overbearing–in the “I love you so much I’m going to ENSURE you have a good life” way, which was more charming than chafing, to me. There’s a lot of action in the book, with the wedding and the shake down of the baddies, so the pace is hopping. It’s the beginning of a series, and I’d totally grab the next book.

If you want to read more of my review, pop over to Joyfully Jay.

Interested? You can find UNDERCOVER BOYFRIEND on Goodreads,
Dreamspinner Press (Ebook, or paperback), Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and GooglePlay.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a backlist book from Mr. Flores (ten winners!) or a $50 GC (1 winner!)
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

Jacob Flores - Author PicAbout the Author:

Jacob Z. Flores lives a double life. During the day, he is a respected college English professor and mid-level administrator. At night and during his summer vacation, he loosens the tie and tosses aside the trendy sports coat to write man on man fiction, where the hard ass assessor of freshmen level composition turns his attention to the firm posteriors and other rigid appendages of the characters in his fictional world.

Summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts, provide Jacob with inspiration for his fiction. The abundance of barely clothed man flesh and daily debauchery stimulates his personal muse.

When he isn’t stroking the keyboard, Jacob spends time with his daughter. They both represent a bright blue blip in an otherwise predominantly red swath in south Texas.

Catch up to Jacob on his website, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, and Tumblr.

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Cephalopod Coffeehouse June 2016: Tough Choices, POISON OR PROTECT?

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

Hi there! I’m so excited to share a review for a new adult steampunk romance out from Gail Carriager. While I loved all the books in her YA Finishing School series, (Etiquette & Espionage, Curtsies & Conspiracy, Waistcoats & Weaponry, Manners & Mutiny, ) I was totally excited to check out an adult read, see if the transition to an older audience would happen, or if it would feel too young… Reading POISON OR PROTECT, I was not disappointed!

Poison or Protect (Delightfully Deadly, #1)About the book:
Can one gentle Highland soldier woo Victorian London’s most scandalous lady assassin, or will they both be destroyed in the attempt?
Lady Preshea Villentia, the Mourning Star, has four dead husbands and a nasty reputation. Fortunately, she looks fabulous in black. What society doesn’t know is that all her husbands were marked for death by Preshea’s employer. And Preshea has one final assignment.

It was supposed to be easy, a house party with minimal bloodshed. Preshea hadn’t anticipated Captain Gavin Ruthven – massive, Scottish, quietly irresistible, and… working for the enemy. In a battle of wits, Preshea may risk her own heart – a terrifying prospect, as she never knew she had one.

Warning: Contains men pleasing women, and ladies who know what they want and ask for it, sometimes in detail. May also contain plaid, appearances from favorite characters, and the strategic application of leather gloves.

My Review:
This is the first book in a series, and features an accessory character from the Finishing School Young Adult book series who is all grown up now. It’s an adult romance, set in a 1870s England Steampunk world, rife with political intrigue, assassins, vampires, werewolves, and mechanicals.

Preshea Buss is a four-time widow, mostly by choice. Trained as an assassin in her Finishing School she accepted the favor of a high-ranking vampire, Lord Akeldama, who proceeded to get her ingratiated to men who needed dispatch. Well, not the last one. He was just old, and not very troublesome. Dubbed the “Mourning Star” by the tabloids, she’s never met a man who’d claim her heart. She’s been contracted to destroy the budding romance of a plain, but well-fortuned woman, Lady Violet, and her erstwhile, penniless suitor, Mr. Jackson, by Lady Violet’s father, the Duke of Snodgrove. It’s not really Preshea’s cup of Darjeeling, but the reward will enable her to ruin the one man who decimated her heart: her dastardly father. Plus, there are concerns the Duke is in grave danger of assassination. Preshea can protect the Duke while she manages Mr. Jackson…

Captain Gavin Ruthven is a recent retiree from Her Majesty’s service. The tall, broad Scotsman would normally never be interested in a wee lass like the Mourning Star, but they are thrown together for three weeks while he attends his longtime friend, Jack (Mr. Jackson) on his quest for Lady Violet’s hand. It’s a good cover for the captain’s other mission: ensure the Duke isn’t killed. Is the noted widow there for pleasure, or will she seal the duke’s death?

I was drawn to this author because of her quirky and fun YA steampunk books. While we are still in that world per se, this novella is fully adult, with zinging banter, scandalous repartee,  and steamy interludes. It’s not a kids book, by any means, and I really enjoyed this slow-burning romance. Preshea has never been touched with love. Abused as a child, and a married woman, she has no need for another man in her life. She’s well-settled due to her many inheritances, and Captain Ruthven–while attractive–initially appears the epitome of a lumbering brute. Yet, the more time they spend the more she is captivated and intrigued by his quiet nature and compassionate conversation. Gavin has little interest in the staid ladies of the ton, even if he were a catch. He’s done well financially, making a decent fortune in investments, but he needs a woman who would take him well-in-hand. In short, he’s a submissive, and he lives to pleasure women with his compliance, as well as his body.

Expect mischief and mayhem, and the employment of dirigibles to both assassination and seduction. As with previous books, the story is rollicking with a pace that sweeps the reader into falling for unlikely heroes. Gavin is perfectly edible, and Preshea is a lonely woman who never understood all that she’d missed growing up so isolated. Not only does she gain a lover, she makes dear friends. Poor Mr. Jackson, is, however, broken-hearted….for a time.

Interested? You can find POISON OR PROTECT on Goodreads and Amazon.

Thanks for popping in, and be sure to visit my fellow Coffeehouse reviewer, to see if they have a book you might fancy.

Looking For A SUMMER OF IRREVERENCE–Review and Giveaway!

Summer of Irreverence tour bannerHi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary romance from Cathrine Goldstein. SUMMER OF IRREVERENCE marks the beginning of her New York Artists series, and is a tale of two lonely hearts finding solace, when they think they are only having a fling.

Drop down to read an excerpt, my review and enter to win one of several prizes including books, a $20 gift card, and jewelry!

SummerofIrreverenceTheRockStar_w10818_750About the book:
Straight-laced, veterinary surgeon, Summer Wynters is ready to break the rules. And who better to break them with than the most irreverent of all men, mega rock star Malcolm Angel? With one last summer free from work obligations, Summer moves to New York City, and at the coaxing of her friend, pretends to be a model so she can spend one wild night with Malcolm.

Rock star, Malcolm Angel, tortured by a dark past, may be the poet laureate of romance, but he, like science-minded Summer, has never believed in romantic love. How could he? With his history, he doesn’t deserve to be loved.

When Summer’s honesty, kindness, and exuberance for life changes his perspective, the two discover they are in deeper than either dreamed possible. But when Malcolm discovers Summer’s been perpetuating a lie, will he forgive her? Even if forgiveness is possible, can a man immune to love teach someone else to believe in it?

How about a little taste?

“How did you go through life with that name…?” Malcolm’s eyes flashed with happiness. “I mean, if I wrote it, people would crucify me. What were your parents thinking?”

Summer froze.

“I mean, do they love you at all?” Malcolm chuckled.

Summer’s feet refused to move, and her arms lay limp at her side.

“Summer?” Malcolm’s smile faded. “Sum?”

The sound of her nickname spoken by Malcolm did her in. She desperately fought the mounting tears.

Malcolm stared at her. “It’s not your name you’re upset about, is it?”

Summer clenched her jaw and shook her head.

“I’m sorry.” His voice was low and modulated.

She nodded, looking at Malcolm, and wanting, for the first time ever, to have someone make it all okay. To have him make it all okay.

Malcolm grew quiet. They stood there for whole minutes. “I’m sorry if I touched on a sore subject. Really.”

Summer stared at him—this man who had everything except the answer she needed. How could he be so closed off? How could he care so little about the pain of another living creature?

He stepped forward then, as if reading her mind, took her hand gently, and leaned over, speaking quietly into her ear. “It’s not that I don’t care.”

Those few words found a place deep in Summer’s soul.

Malcolm stood tall, and Summer’s eyes followed him. He reached out and stroked her cheek. “But I’ve got nothing more to give than today.”

My Review:
Summer Wynters, improbably-named veterinary surgeon, is fresh out of her training and fresh off a break-up with Dr. Brad, her former professor and future practice partner. Summer wants a summer of flings, to bed a bad boy before she falls into the staid life. Her sights are set on mega star Malcolm Angel, an acquaintance of her childhood friend, Jeannette.

Meeting Malcolm comes with a caveat: he’s a one-night only guy who only dates models. That’s it. Take it or leave it. Summer will have to pose as a model in order to attract his attention, despite how uncomfortable she in in her own skin. Still, she does take it, but Summer leaves it, too, when she thinks Malcolm’s making it kinky far past her boundaries. It’s a misunderstanding. One that challenges Malcolm, and causes him to seek out Summer for an apology: hers. They get on well together, and, as the weeks pass and their friendship grows, Malcolm begins to confide in Summer about his tragic past. Unfortunately, she doesn’t reveal her true profession, and when it comes out–rather spectacularly in truth–Malcolm’s shattered by the deception. By then they had moved way past friends into a blossoming romance far beyond either’s expectations.

So, I had a little trouble getting into this book. Summer didn’t come off as warm or friendly to me, mostly because she’s super analytical about love not being real. I’m a trained scientist, and it still felt a bit pretentious, which is not my bag, baby. That said, I stuck with it and really enjoyed the slow-burn. I also wasn’t a fan of how Summer hid her education from Malcolm. He’d really shared a whole boatload of secrets, and her profession seemed quite trivial in comparison. There’s a bit of a snit between Summer and Jeannette, pretty much stemming from jealousy and pettiness, that needs to get worked out, and Dr. Brad is not the harmless dude he’s first described as, which made me lose the initial sympathy I’d had for him. That was good because her mild descriptions of him made Summer look more callous than she was–part of why I didn’t really warm to her, in the beginning.

The building bonds between Summer and Malcolm are sweet to experience, and the resolution is so tender. I’m a sucker for a man who loves dogs, and Malcolm is that. If you like rock romances, I think you’ll probably like this one. It’s got a bit of steam, and two folks who find their perfect fit.

Interested? You can find SUMMER OF IRREVERENCE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Wild Rose Press, Kobo, AllRomance and Romance Reviews.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win one of several prizes including books, a $20 gift card, and jewelry!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Cathrine Goldstein is a bestselling author, and a NYC girl at heart. She writes “gritty romance,” in the genres of YA, NA; women’s fiction; and romance. She’s also the author of The Letting and The Coupling, books 1 and 2 of The Letting series. She began her career as an award-winning playwright, and is a proud member of RWA, PAN, with a BA in English and my MA in Theatre.

She is a fan of Luna Bars, decaf coffee, yoga, Hemingway, and Bukowski—and the loves of her life are her husband and two young girls.

Find out more about Cathrine on her website, blog, Goodreads, Facebook, twitter, and Pinterest.

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Finding Out if LOVE CAN’T CONQUER–Review and Giveaway!

Love Can't Conquer Blog Tour BannerHi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a fantastic contemporary M/M romance from Kim Fielding. LOVE CAN’T CONQUER kept me turning pages long into the night. It features two mature men finding a forever connection…perhaps.

Check out the excerpt, my review and get in on the big giveaway, below!

LoveCantConquerFSAbout the book:
Bullied as a child in small-town Kansas, Jeremy Cox ultimately escaped to Portland, Oregon. Now in his forties, he’s an urban park ranger who does his best to rescue runaways and other street people. His ex-boyfriend, Donny—lost to drinking and drugs six years earlier—appears on his doorstep and inadvertently drags Jeremy into danger. As if dealing with Donny’s issues doesn’t cause enough turmoil, Jeremy meets a fascinating but enigmatic man who carries more than his fair share of problems.

Qayin Hill has almost nothing but skeletons in his closet and demons in his head. A former addict who struggles with anxiety and depression, Qay doesn’t know which of his secrets to reveal to Jeremy—or how to react when Jeremy wants to save him from himself.

Despite the pasts that continue to haunt them, Jeremy and Qay find passion, friendship, and a tentative hope for the future. Now they need to decide whether love is truly a powerful thing or if, despite the old adage, love can’t conquer all.

How about a little taste?

Night had fallen some time ago, and the black sky spit cold, stinging raindrops, making Qay shiver as he descended from the loading bay onto the street. He had to walk a couple of blocks to his first bus; he’d be soaked and miserable by then. Wouldn’t it be nice if someday he could afford a car? Although he’d always lusted after muscle cars, he’d be happy with even the most basic little econobox as long as it ran and kept him dry. He certainly didn’t need anything as burly as the dark SUV parked a few yards away.

Just as he realized that he recognized the SUV, the driver’s door opened and a big man in a green uniform slid out. Qay froze in place. The man walked over until he was just out of arm’s reach, and then he stopped.

“You worked late,” Jeremy said.

“What… what are you doing here?”

“Waiting for you.”

“But…. Why…. How did you…?” As usual, Qay was eloquent when flustered.

Jeremy’s grin was small and tight, but it was there. “We’re getting soaked. Can we have this conversation in my car? I’ll crank the heat.”

Not trusting himself with words, Qay simply nodded. When Jeremy held the passenger door open, something lively fluttered in Qay’s chest.

They sat silently in the SUV for a long time, fogging the inside of the windshield. The radio was off, but the fan blew full blast. Qay watched rain droplets fall from his hair onto his lap. They left little circles of darker blue on the denim.

“Stuart is an asshole,” Qay finally said.

“Your supervisor?”

“Yeah. That’s why I worked late.” He snuck a peek at Jeremy from the corner of his eye. “Have you been here since five?”

“Four thirty, actually. And I’ve had to pee for at least half an hour.”

“I could probably talk the security guard into letting you into the factory. The bathroom’s pristine. I just cleaned it.”

“I guess I can hold it a little longer.”

Qay nodded. He glanced at Jeremy’s right hand, which lay on the console between them, and saw that the knuckles were scabbed and slightly swollen. “What happened?” Qay asked.

“Stupidity.”

They were quiet again, the pause dragging on long past awkward. Then Jeremy cleared his throat. “How did the exam go?”

Qay couldn’t stop a wide smile. “I aced it. The prof even kept me after class to tell me I’m brilliant.”

Jeremy looked as happy about this news as Qay felt. “Hell yeah, you’re sharp as broken glass.”

“Appropriate comparison.”

“I tried.”

A little of the tension between them eased. Qay picked at a thread on his slightly frayed jeans, then stopped himself and drummed on the armrest instead. “Why are you here?” he asked, looking through his window into blankness. “And how?”

“I used to be a cop, remember? You told me you work at a window factory in Northwest, which narrowed it down. I made some phone calls.” He snorted a laugh. “Didn’t want to get you in trouble or let you know what I was up to, but I remembered Stuart’s name and asked for him. I found him yesterday. Pretended I was a bill collector when he came to the phone. He was just about in tears—kept insisting he’d paid what was due on his credit card.”

The thought of Stuart nearly crying over an imaginary unpaid debt cheered Qay more than it should have. “So that’s the how. What’s the why?”

“I have… questions. And an apology, if I can man up enough to spit it out.”

“Apology? For what?”

Jeremy gave him a long look. “Let’s go somewhere, okay? I can piss and we can eat and… and we can talk.”

Maybe he was courting disaster, but Qay nodded. “All right.”

My Review:

Jeremy is a 43 year old single out-gay park ranger in Portland, Oregon, who’s tired of being single. He’s had two serious relationships in his life, one in college and one that ended six years ago, when he kicked out his longtime lover, Donny. Donny was a fellow officer when they both served on the police force, but Donny was a self-destructive alcoholic and Jeremy needed to save himself, after a while. Jeremy is a widely respected ranger, known for rescuing many of the homeless in the parks he patrols.

Donny turns up on Jeremy’s doorstep one night, bleeding from superficial stab wounds. While Jeremy won’t let himself get pulled into Donny’s drama, he does help him out. His discussion of the crazy night to his good friend, Rhoda, is overheard by Qayin Hill, a patron in Rhoda’s coffeehouse.

Qayin (Hebrew for Cain) is a drifter, ex-junkie who’s been clean seven years and is trying–at 45 years of age–to rebuild his life. He wasn’t always that way. Once he was an abused kid who sought refuge in a suicide attempt–and hails from Jeremy’s home town. In fact, they knew each other way back when. Qayin’s ashamed of his past, but he’s attracted to Jeremy, who really grew up from the short, pudgy boy that was teased mercilessly in school. Qayin hides his true identity from Jeremy, but only for a short while.

This proves a small setback in the courtship. Bigger issues press, like when the guys who messed up Donny decide to toss Jeremy’s apartment, and bodies begin to turn up. While Jeremy isn’t a cop any longer, this does have elements of a police romance. Bad guys on the distant edges are a constant threat, but the real danger is the emotional investment of Jeremy and Qay. They have a lot of scars that they wouldn’t generally share, but they do, creating an intimacy that is more valuable than sex–which they decide to postpone for several dates–despite a significant attraction.

I really liked how these guys made themselves vulnerable. Qay has so much shame over his past, and still owns it. He’s a depressive, who’s had more than one suicide attempt, and admits his recovering addictions (to prescription and illegal drugs) on their first meeting; Jeremy is only ever supportive. Jeremy has a bit of a hero complex, and he knows it can be overwhelming. His life really has been in the service of others, which is why it’s so crappy that Donny brought huge problems to his doorstep. No matter what, Qay won’t add more burdens to Jeremy’s back. Even if it means walking away from the only man he ever loved, and who loved him in return.

The book spans several tumultuous weeks, which seems a little fast for a true love to develop, but these guys have a history of attraction. Once Jeremy gets over his initial shock, he remembers that Kevin (Qayin’s birth name) was his first crush. For all the guilt and terror that Qay still carries of his childhood, he recognizes that young Jeremy Cox was a bright spot. Their intense attraction and deep confessions lead to a strong emotional bond. Plus, these guys are in their mid-forties. They have learned a lot of the world, and are open-minded about past mistakes.

Trouble comes, as it is wont to do, and Qay is as rock-solid as he can manage to be. Especially as Jeremy is in very bad shape. That said, it is the growth of their relationship that most distresses Qay. He’s never had a stable relationship, and he feels unworthy to Jeremy’s goodness. I think I knew where, specifically, this book would take Jeremy, Qay, and me, but I wasn’t a bit put off by the journey. There are some ghosts that can only be laid to rest by confrontation. It was a fairly spectacular reunion, and a sweet epilogue. I’m quite sure that readers will disagree with the title. While romantic love may not conquer all, in this story it was pretty close. In the end self-love, for Qay, won the day.

There are some great secondary characters here, most notably Rhoda, Patron Saint of Caffeinated Beverages, but also Nevin Ng, another close friend of Jeremy’s who has the mouth of a drunken trucker, despite being an awesome cop. Trigger warning, there are lots of discussions of depression, suicide and abuse. Also, a brief scene of graphic violence and torture.

Interested? You can find LOVE CAN’T CONQUER on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press (ebook or paperback), Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and AllRomance.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win an E-copy of Rattlesnake, Audiobook of Good Bones, and $30 Dreamspinner gift card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
venicebigKim Fielding is the bestselling, award-winning author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.

After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.

Catch up to Kim on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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