These Stories are WILD–A Happy Shifter Halloween Review

Hi there! It’s Halloween and I thought I’d share a review for a set of paranormal romances I picked up recently. WILD is a three-book set from Eve Langlais, Kate Douglas and AC Arthur all have some yummy shifter romances to whet your whistle.

wildAbout the books:

In Catch a Tiger by the Tail by Eve Langlais, Broderick has a job to do—audit the books of a gentleman’s club. Sounds simple, except his company wants him to find dirt linking to the mob, his secret mob employer wants someone to pin the blame on, and the bar manager at the heart of the controversy doesn’t want him—even though she’s his mate.

In Wild Passions by Kate Douglas, six women—friends closer than sisters—head off to an exclusive mountain resort for a week-long bachelorette getaway, where most of the women just wants to know if there are any good men left in the world. There are, and they’re the men of Feral Passions, a unique resort located on a private wolf preserve, owned and run by a pack of sexy werewolves who use it as their own personal hunting ground for mates.

In Her Perfect Mates by A.C. Arthur, Malec Zenta was part of a loving lycan family until his twin brother’s suicide took a piece of his soul. Channing Verdi never knew his parents, but that was fine because at the age of sixteen on the night of the full moon, he realized his purpose. The only pleasure these two betas have managed to find in their life was in the bed with the women they shared. Now, a human woman has entered their lives…a woman who sets their primal instincts on fire, a woman they can’t help but stake their claim on…and give her the ultimate pleasure of being with two shifters at once.

My Review:

The books in this set are all separate works, and have no connection with one another. That said, CLAIMED BY THE MATE features FERAL PASSIONS–which precedes Wild Passions and THE ALPHA’S WOMAN which comes before Her Perfect Mates. I think they make more sense having read the previous books.

To sum up, all the books have male shifters and human females. Catch a Tiger features a M/F romance between a tiger shifter who lives two lives–smart accountant and mob guy. Wild Passions has wolf shifters in search of their mates–mostly this is M/F but there is all a FMM menage. Her Perfect Mates is a MFM menage.

In Catch a Tiger by the Tail by Eve Langlais, Brody finds his mate while investigating a suspected grift at one of his mafia boss’ adult cabaret. Lulu was a waitress at Tail Waggers until her manager disappeared and she got “promoted.” Now, Lycan leader of the city Fabian Geroux thinks somebody’s on the take–and his sights are on Lulu. Brody’s, a lone tiger shifter, in a tight spot trying to prove the sexy redheaded human isn’t scamming Fabian, because falling for a human is bad–falling for one Fabian wants dead is way, way worse. 

In the way of things, it turns out Lulu isn’t who they suspect her to be, but her secrets aren’t necessarily the worst. Nope, the worst is the homicidal maniac who plans to kill her in a quest for revenge against her father. Brody’s a wily cat and ends up saving her from big bad bears and keeping her safe from Fabian, too.

In Wild Passions by Kate Douglas, four women—friends closer than sisters—head off Feral Passions, a resort and “wolf preserve,” for a week-long bachelorette getaway. Werewolves and regular alike inhabit Feral Passions. In this world, all werewolves are male, and they can turn a female with whom they mate. There’s a whole pack of males wishing for mates.

Meg is having second thoughts about her upcoming marriage to Zach, a wealthy entrepreneur. She and Elle, Jules and Darian–best friends from childhood–are planning a sexy retreat and find the men of Feral Passions to be even hotter than the pictures on the website. Elle soon has two wolves in her bed, while Darian and Jules each pair up with a sexy man-beast. Meg, despite her cold feet, is befriended by Trak, the owner of the resort–and his companionship helps Meg to recognize that she’s an attractive woman very much worthy of Zach’s affection and love. Lots of sexytimes for Elle, Jules and Darian–and the men who please them. Gonna need a third book to pair off the rest of the pack, but so far everyone is totes cool with their mate-pairings.

In Her Perfect Mates by A.C. Arthur, Malec hates being a shifter–ever since his twin killed himself. Channing never knew his parents, but his adoptive family was very kind. These two met up with Blaez years ago and they all served in a special ops group in the Marines, alongside Phelan. Now they work and live together in a highly secured compound in the mountains. The previous book was the lovestory between Blaez and his mate Kira. There’s a big shifter war in their world, and they came from different factions. Blaez is a hunted shifter due to his pure werewolf lineage.

Malec meets new-to-town veterinarian Caroline when he brings her a mutilated buck to see if it can be saved. Malec suspects the buck was a message from Hunter shifters after Blaez–he didn’t suspect he’d find his mate at the office however. Malec’s not used to being intimate with women on his own–he always makes up the third leg of a menage, with charming Channing. Thing is, Channing’s also drawn to Caroline, and Caroline wants both men–except that would make her a slut, like her prostitute mother. The real and present danger forces them all close, and it seems like the only way to keep Caroline safe, from predation and gossips, is to bring her into the pack. Also, sexytimes.

In all, I liked WILD PASSIONS best, because it’s sweet and lots of sexy, but the other two are cool, and interesting in their own way. Each will have more stories to come–to resolve the major plot arcs that are still open, and also secure mates for the currently unpaired shifter males.

Interested? You can find WILD on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

Thanks for popping in, and Happy Halloween reading my friends!


New Young Love: PICTURES OF YOU–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a mature YA/New Adult M/M series from Leta Blake. PICTURES OF YOU is the first in a four-part series about young gay people coming of age in 1990s Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s not exactly a romance, though there are certainly lots of sexytimes.

poyAbout the book:
Growing up gay isn’t easy. Growing up gay in Knoxville, Tennessee is even harder.

Eighteen-year-old Peter Mandel, a private school senior—class of 1991—is passionate about photography. Peter doesn’t have many friends, preferring to shoot pictures from behind the scenes to keep his homosexuality secret.

Enter Adam Algedi, a charming, worldly new guy who doesn’t do labels, but does want to do Peter. Hardly able to believe gorgeous Adam would want geeky, skinny him of all people, Peter’s swept away on a journey of first love and sexual discovery. But as their mutual web of lies spins tighter and tighter, can Peter find the confidence he needs to make the right choices? And will his crush on Daniel, a college acquaintance, open a new path?

Join Peter in the first of this four-part coming of age series as he struggles to love and be loved, and grow into a gay man worthy of his own respect.

This new series by Leta Blake is gay fiction with romantic elements.
Book 1 of 4.
Warning! These books contain: New Adult fiction, ‘90s gay life, small city homosexual experiences, Southern biases, sexual exploration, romance, homophobia, bisexuality, and twisted-up young love. Oh, and a guaranteed happy ending for the main character by the end of Book 4.

How about a little taste?

“Should I apologize for earlier?” Adam asked, turning down the stereo.

“It isn’t your fault she showed up.”

Adam grinned at me. “I meant, should I apologize for the kiss, but I guess the answer is ‘no.’”

I twitched nervously in my seat and took a deep breath “I’m gay.”

“No shit.”

I stared. “What?”

“I mean, yeah. You’re gay. I figured that out.”

“So—” I stopped. “Wait. How?”

“I can always tell. I don’t know how.”

“But I thought you said you weren’t gay.”

“I never said that.” Adam frowned. “Honestly, I don’t know what I am.”

My heart trip-hammered for a ton of reasons, but the scariest of them was hope. “What’s the deal then? Uh, with us?”

“Us? We’re friends. Like I said, friends kiss.”

My hope settled into a knot of anxiety.

“Then why hasn’t a friend kissed me before?”

“I don’t know. I mean, who wouldn’t want to kiss you?”

To me, it was definitely more of a question of who would want to kiss me, and, more specifically, just exactly why he had. Especially when I knew how everyone else would view me once we got to school. Maybe living all over the world hadn’t taught him the social skill of self-preservation required to make his way in a small city like Knoxville.

I decided to tell him. He really did deserve to know, and besides, if it was going to be an issue, I wanted to be hurt now, not later.

“I’m a huge loser, you know.”

Adam glanced over at me like I was insane. “What?”

“I’m not popular. In school. In life. In anything.” I turned my head and looked out the window, worrying my lower lip. “I just thought you should know. I mean, you don’t want to start out at a new school being friends with someone who’s just going to drag you down.”

Adam actually laughed. “You’re crazy. Did you know that?”

My throat tightened. It hurt he wasn’t taking me seriously. “I’m telling you why I’ll understand when you decide we can’t be friends anymore.”

“Look, you haven’t even started at this school and you’ve already decided that as a friend you’re not worth being first string? What’s up with that?”

I shrugged. “I’m just being realistic. I mean—look at me.”

In my peripheral vision I saw Adam do just that. He looked at me long enough that I worried about the car staying on the road. “Yeah. I’m looking. I still like what I see.” He lifted his hand to the back of my neck and squeezed. “I’m serious.”

A strange rush of emotion flooded my stomach and chest, and I wanted to tuck my face between my knees. Instead I just crossed my arms and frowned.

Adam brushed his fingers through my hair, catching in my frenzy of curls. It felt intimate and almost more real than the kiss. I shivered when he let go to grip the steering wheel again.

“But enough of that,” he said sternly. “Get my book bag out of the backseat. I’ve got a surprise for you.”

Happy to be leaving the uncomfortable topic of my gay dorkitude behind, I reached around and grabbed the blue, nylon book bag.

“Open the front pocket.”

I unzipped it, fished around, and pulled out a driver’s license. It was Mo’s, and I had to stifle a laugh at the typical bad license photo that made him look like a serial killer.

“I’ve got a fake ID that Sean got for me, but I liberated that one for you.”

I tapped the picture. “You think this will get me into the club? I look nothing like your brother!”

“Don’t be such a defeatist! You just hold your thumb over the picture when you show them your ID.”

“Adam, that isn’t going to work.”

“We can always try,” he said, lifting his shoulders dismissively.

“They’ll confiscate the ID. How’s Mo going to feel about having to get a new license made?”

That got through to him. “Oh. So, huh. I guess that won’t work after all.”

I snorted. “Uh, no.”

Adam just smiled. “We’ll figure something out.”

“We could see what’s going on at the under-21 shows on The Strip.”

“No. I want to go to Tilt-a-Whirl. I read it’s the best gay bar in town and has, and I quote, ‘the best drag queens in the area.’”

“If the area is East Tennessee, then yeah, it probably does. And why do you want to go to a gay bar so much? I mean, this is a small city. Word gets around.”

Adam narrowed his eyes. “This last-minute resistance is futile, padawan.”

“Trek and Wars in the same breath. That is very wrong. Very, deeply, truly wrong.”

“It is,” Adam readily agreed.

“You’re a total dork.”

“Shh. It’s a secret. Don’t tell the jocks when school starts. I wouldn’t want my nerdiness to drag us down and all.”

I started to laugh, but stopped, struck by an uncomfortable thought. I picked at my blue jeans a little, toying with a loose thread, before asking quietly, “So the kiss is a secret?”

Adam looked over in obvious surprise. “Of course. I mean, like you said, this is a small city.”

“And it’s the South. And the Bible Belt. And generally homophobic, yeah.”

I bit down on my lip. I didn’t know what I was expecting. It wasn’t like he was wrong. We couldn’t be boyfriends—not here, not now. Not out in the open or anything. It was just that I wanted so much more already. And he’d kissed me.

Adam’s hand clasped the back of my neck again. “Hey, listen. You’re my friend. And you happen to kind of turn me on with your glasses, and your camera, and the way you walk.” He gripped his fingers in my hair again and gave my head a little shake. “That’s enough, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. So—the drag show. How do we get in?” I hoped my voice sounded light because if in Adam’s world friends kissed, I didn’t want to do anything to ruin our friendship before I found out what else he thought friends might do.

My Review:
Peter Mandel is an 18 y/o closeted gay teen growing up in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1990. He’s a new transfer to a small private school because he’d been terrorized by bullies for being queer. His parents seem to ignore all the evidence of homosexuality, instead believing him to be a late bloomer. He is, rather, being small and slight, unfit for sports and artsy in photography, but Peter is still only for the dudes.

Peter meets twins Adam and Sarah at orientation. They are half-Iranian, and their parents have some type of consulate business that keeps them in Jordan at the moment. Fomenting aggression caused their parents to send Adam and Sarah to the states to complete high school; their elder brother, Mohammed, is a college student at UT and their custodian.

Adam wastes no time connecting with Peter, who’s never even kissed a person before. He’d hoped to fly under the radar, but beautiful, skilled, sexy Adam is more that willing to school Peter in sex. Their courtship is fraught with issues–mostly keeping everything on the super down-low. Sarah and Mo know immediately that Adam and Peter are having sex, and they aren’t happy about it–mostly because they know how their strict father will react if he learns of this unnatural behavior.

When school starts, Sarah is determined to get them all well-situated into the best social strata. She’s aggressive and Adam’s charismatic and soon they cobble a tight group of friends, including Leslie, who’s overjoyed to be Adams’ girlfriend. Yep, the best way to hide Adam and Peter’s sexytimes is to get a beard–and Adam’s bisexual, so he pulls this off. But the rumors don’t stop.

The book spans a nine month period–all of senior year. It’s not a happy time for Peter. He’s captivated by Adam, who wants him terribly, but upset at hiding his love affair from everyone. Plus, he likes Leslie. She’s a sweet friend, and Peter dies a bit inside when he sees them cuddling, and knows they a real and true couple, having just as much sex as he and Adam do.

During this time Peter relies on unlikely friends, notably a drag queen that he met while out on his first date with Adam. Renee/Robert knows about staying closeted, and he’s a sweet and caring person. He offers Peter a job helping with his drag shows, and taking pictures for publicity. It’s through Renee/Robert that Peter meets Daniel, an architecture student at UT. There’s an immediate connection, but Daniel won’t get involved with a high school student.

The book, as a whole, is really bittersweet. It’s about yearning and choices and the struggle for love and acceptance in a time that was rife with homophobia, in a place that’s not eager to embrace homosexuality now–twenty-five years later. It’s the height of the AIDS epidemic, and Peter’s (mostly disinsterested) parents are just as scared of gay cancer killing him as they are of homophobic bigots killing him. They have some experience with the latter, as Peter learns close to the end of the book. It’s not a typical romance, and Peter’s mostly broken-hearted accepting a half-love from Adam, who won’t just let him go. For his part, Peter knows that he’s not able to protect himself from the bigotry inherent in his world, but he makes a grudging peace with it, until he can walk away clean: graduation.

There’s a bit of hope on the horizon, with Daniel, who may be willing to be monogamous and not hide Peter. His parents are resigned to his sexuality, and seem to be supportive; his father in particular. His mother suffers depression and struggles to care for herself, let alone her son. Peter’s a good kid, and the stage seems set for him to have a better life within a tribe of his choosing who will care for him. Being that this is more a gay fiction series, I’m sure we’ll have more ups-and-downs as Peter learns to navigate his dangerous world. There is a promised happy ending for Peter, I suspect, in the fourth book. Until then, we have a really rich world with regular historical touchstones for readers to connect.

It’s always fun to read a book set in a time that has just faded from our collective consciousness. It’s an era of no cell phones, landlines, people walking out their door and being unreachable, film cameras, developing rooms, word processors… Peter is a contemporary of mine, being one year older, chronologically. So his experience is mine–from a cultural standpoint. He and I share those moments, watching GHOST on the big screen, contemplating The Cure, even photography–though I was limited to a point-and-shoot due to being broke. I got Peter, and I struggled with him. I wanted Adam to stand up for them–even if it wasn’t coming out. Even if it was them still hiding, but hiding together. The conflict was really tense, and I hope that we’ll get some respite–though it’s the dawn of the Iraq War, and Adam, being half-Iranian, has many struggles to come. As for the book, and series, I think readers who enjoyed the Something Like series by Jay Bell will enjoy it. I liked it lots, and enjoyed the immersive experience of suddenly being back in high school.

Interested? You can find PICTURES OF YOU on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the Author:
Author of the best-selling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

You can find out more on her website, Facebook and twitter.


Cephalopod Coffeehouse Oct 2016–BEAUTIFULLY UNIQUE SPARKLEPONIES-A Review

0ed81-coffeehouseHi 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.

This month I’ve read a wide variety of books, from paranormal, to YA to erotic to gay, and mostly those were all romance. It’s my comfort zone, and I like to be comfortable. Who doesn’t, right? Well, I’ll be honest, I’ve been pretty uncomfortable about the elections coming up. If you haven’t guessed, I’m a liberal. That’s my prerogative. I’m a college educated woman with two degrees in science. My family wasn’t wealthy; neither of my parents completed college, and really only had a handful of courses between them–all taken later in life. Despite having seriously awesome need-based financial aid, I just had my twenty year reunion, and I’m still paying back student loans.

As a woman in science, I’ve seen some great and not-so-great things, but I’ve been in a professional role that is generally more egalitarian and merit-based than most other professions. I’m also trained to gather evidence and make measured judgments. When all the “revelations” regarding Donald Trump began coming to light–that he’s essentially lecherous and likely a sexual predator–I was drawn back to the writings of Chris Kluwe. You may remember his impassioned essays in the days before marriage equality, invoking a juggernaut of rational, honest and logical arguments in favor. His piece on Locker room talk reminded me how much I enjoyed his straight-talking sense-making pieces, and so I picked up his BEAUTIFULLY UNIQUE SPARKLEPONIES. It’s not necessarily a political book, but it certainly has a lot to say regarding…well, everything.

busMy Review:
I hardly review non-fiction. It’s not my thing. But I do love thoughtful, insightful essays which I tend to pick up in my daily quest for “What’s happening outside of my house?” information. BUS is a large collection of essays ‘on myths, morons, free speech, football and assorted absurdities.’ In short it’s a hodgepodge of really fascinating topics that were immediately relevant a few years ago, yet still provoke thought today–mostly because they are still part of the big mix of ideas and activities we know exist, but don’t focus on day-to-day.

There are a number of essays about the need for marriage equality. Court victories have brought this to pass, but with the rumblings of Republican candidates talking about instituting new bans, and overturning recent court decisions, it’s still important to focus on the underpinnings and moral conflicts inherent in disenfranchising a significant portion of our population based on their sexuality. I echo his sentiments here, and hope that we can work toward gender/sex equality forthwith. No reason men should get paid more than me for doing the same work after all. I have a family to support, too, folks.

Further, there’s lots of discourse on privacy, chiefly the illusion of it, our collective laziness as a society, and building ourselves echo chambers that amplify and reinforce our beliefs. I’ve certainly seen this in several venues this election cycle, with people clamoring over (non-existent) election fraud–evidenced because everyone they know and speak with is voting for a particular candidate, ergo that person must win. If not, it’s rigged I tellz ya!! Being a scientist, and having friends and family in both camps, I see more than one side, even if I don’t agree with both sides equally. And, I think that’s a big part of Kluwe’s book: being open to many facets of experience in life. Being empathetic, and just. Making learned, informed decisions. Being active in life, not simply reactive.

There’s also some ‘assorted absurdities’ which are entertaining and fun. He’s a quick wit, and doesn’t hesitate to self-deprecate. Kluwe’s candid about his nerd life, his obsessive reading, and his cluelessness regarding girls as a younger man. He also readily questions his role in society, how he–as a pro football player–lived in a rarefied space, and why? There’s a lot about religion, and the guiding principles that don’t apply to people who do not ascribe. I felt a lot of resonance there.

While non-fiction isn’t my bag, per se, I’m super glad I finally picked this one up. It gave my brain some excellent gymnastics, and ironic ‘entertainment’ to ponder. Kluwe’s brand of creative swearing is a hoot, but even when he’s not profane he makes a shit-ton of sense. Fans of George Carlin, Louis Black, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Samantha Bee will certainly find this book to be worth their time. If nothing else, I’ll always remember Kluwe when I consider reclining my airplane seat.

Interested? You can find BEAUTIFULLY UNIQUE SPARKLEPONIES on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and libraries everywhere.

Thanks for popping in, and be sure to check out my fellow Coffeehouse reviewers as they share thoughts regarding their fave book for October.

Cover Reveal and Giveaway for ALPHA BARMAN!

Hi there! Today I”m sharing a cover for a tantalizing new M/M romance from Sue Brown. ALPHA BARMAN is a reconnection romance for two military vets who were torn apart by tragedy.

Catch the book giveaway below, and be on the look out for ALPHA BARMAN November 24th!

alphabarman_ebookAbout the book:
Jake Tyler walked out of Special Ops two years ago, a devastated, broken man after he discovered his sister brutally murdered by her husband, Riley. Since then he’s found a kind of peace running a rural bar. The last thing Jake Tyler expects is his former team to turn up with grim news. Jake’s ex-brother-in-law has escaped from prison and is heading Jake’s way. The team is here to protect Jake, whether he likes it or not – a decision reluctantly shared by their leader, Jake’s ex-lover Mitch Mitchelson.

Mitch is angry and hurting. The man he trusted – the man he adored more than anything – abandoned both his team and Mitch. Jake never gave Mitch a chance to help or come to terms with his desertion. Regardless of mission protocols, Mitch isn’t about to open his heart again to that kind of pain.

But the strong attraction between them can’t be denied. How are they ever going to work together when Mitch still resents Jake’s disappearance, and to Jake, the team represents everything that destroyed him in the first place? And meantime they wait for Riley to find them… and to settle the threat once and for all.


Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a backlist book of your choice from Sue.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn’t following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot, and has become an expert at ignoring the orders.

Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favorite television series. She had an Aha moment and put pen to paper that same day. Sue may be late to the party, but she’s made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.

Find Sue on line on her website, blog, Facebook and twitter.
signal boost

Growing Up PANSIES–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly released contemporary M/M romance from Alexis Hall. PANSIES is also an enemies-to-lovers romance that is lush and beautiful. I’ve also loved FOR REAL, LOOKING FOR GROUP, and WAITING FOR THE FLOOD from this author, so I couldn’t pass the chance to pick up PANSIES.

pansiesAbout the book:
Alfie Bell is…fine. He’s got a six-figure salary, a penthouse in Canary Wharf, the car he swore he’d buy when he was eighteen, and a bunch of fancy London friends.

It’s rough, though, going back to South Shields now that they all know he’s a fully paid-up pansy. It’s the last place he’s expecting to pull. But Fen’s gorgeous, with his pink-tipped hair and hipster glasses, full of the sort of courage Alfie’s never had. It should be a one-night thing, but Alfie’s never met anyone like Fen before.

Except he has. At school, when Alfie was everything he was supposed to be, and Fen was the stubborn little gay boy who wouldn’t keep his head down. And now it’s a proper mess: Fen might have slept with Alfie, but he’ll probably never forgive him, and Fen’s got all this other stuff going on anyway, with his mam and her flower shop and the life he left down south.

Alfie just wants to make it right. But how can he, when all they’ve got in common is the nowhere town they both ran away from.

My Review:
Highly recommend! This is a fantastically lyrical, deeply emotional story of two unlikely lovers and their complicated history.

Alfie Bell is a big beast of a man, nearly thirty and only recognized his gayness two years ago. He’s from the north Atlantic coast of England, a rundown beach village called South Shields. Having been smart he did his schooling, got a masters and took a job in investment banking. He’s fabulously wealthy, living his openly gay life in London, and quietly caring for his family up north. He’s had a falling out with them, over his sexuality, and he really wants everything to be normal in his life. He wants a committed relationship, and a family some day. His ambitions are much simpler than his profession might indicate. And, ultimately, Alfie’s been feeling rather empty of late, wishing he had stronger connections and feeling disenchanted with London’s shiny veneer.

While on a rare trip home, Alfie inadvertently outs himself to his best friend–while at his wedding. It’s a mortifying event, and Alfie takes a drive to clear his discomfort. Popping in to a nearby bar, Alfie spots a slight, slim man with silver-blonde pink tipped hair and the most gorgeous body…ever. He offers to buy the man a drink, and the reaction he gets is not welcome. Fen, as he calls himself, doesn’t believe that a strapping man would ever find him sexually attractive, but they do get on with an interesting evening adventure–which turns out really good, as far as Alfie is concerned. Until Fen reveals his full identity the next morning–that Fen was the shy gay boy that Alfie and his mates all tormented throughout grade school. Alfie’s world shifts. He’s not the same uncouth boy who did those horrible things, and those memories are terrifying related through Fen’s point-of-view.

When he returns to London, Alfie simmers on this new development. He’s filled with shame, and wants to make amends however he can. He books some time off to make the long trip north again, and turns up at Fen’s business–a flower shop called Pansies that used to belong to his late grandmother and mother. Life hasn’t gone to Fen’s plan much; he’s only running the shop (into the ground) out of grief for his mother’s early death. It’s a way of connecting to her, even as it meant giving up his own career, breaking it off from his boyfriend, and losing his half of their mortgaged flat. Alfie knows none of this, he only wants to be near Fen. The encounter isn’t much better than their recent meeting, ending with a comic spectacle in Fen’s run-down bath that requires repairs. Alfie, always the fixer, attempts to make that right, too. And ends up needing his own rescue. From his estranged family.

Fen, honestly, has a very conflicted experience with his former tormentor. He was bizarrely attracted to Alfie as a teen. He was so strong, and sure, and manly, yet still had a softer side, like rescuing trapped butterflies. Seeing Alfie so committed to helping him in his suffering now is turning all the right switches, awakening long-buried attraction. Alfie is tender and compliant in a way Fen had imagined in his deepest adolescent fantasies–you know the type: getting one over on your nemesis, only with sexytimes.

As they spend time together, Alfie recognizes that he’s really falling for Fen. He also loves the idea of being back home. There’s so much familiarity, and he envisions being a partner to Fen in more than just Fen’s broke-down futon. He convinces Fen to let him look over his finances and help with the flower shop. It’s not easy for Fen to let go–and Alfie’s continually blundering when it comes to the homophobic incidents that they keep getting involved in. See, Fen’s not even gay, exactly, (probably pansexual though Fen calls himself queer) and yet he endured a lifetime of teasing and abuse for his queerness. And, Alfie’s only been out in London, where there’s less of an in-your-face homophobia. He can’t bear to have himself and Fen called out for just existing. It’s all very chilling, for Fen. He wants a lover, not a felon–and he knows how dangerous it can be to engage with homophobes in groups. Plus, part of Alfie’s issue is his own internalized homophobia. Fen helps him to tease apart all the “masc” constructs that have really been lead weight surrounding his neck for thirty years. Alfie is so utterly vulnerable, and deeply in love with Fen after a couple of weeks–and that’s when it’s got to end.

Fen’s not meant to stay in South Shields, nursing his memories for a dead mother–even his father thinks so. And, while Alfie would be happy to give up his posh London life and build a new one with Fen, Alfie’s pretty-well decided he wants to do it in his hometown. It’s not fair!! There’s a kerfuffle, and a break, and more grand gestures to win Fen back–and I can’t actually do any justice at all to this without giving away too much. The book is so lush, and the writing so lyrical. I’ve never been to England, and yet I feel like I moved into Fen’s shop, and got insulted by Gothshelley, and ate finger-burning chips on the beach and curried paneer at Raj’s Indian restaurant. I could see the spun silk of Fen’s silver-pink-blonde hair, and hear the creak of pain in Alfie’s voice when he tried, once again, to connect with his baffled father. There’s an all-encompassing accessibility to Alfie’s point-of-view that absolutely dropped me into his brain, and his experience. His youthful regrets are intense, and his determination to quietly fix all and sundry is unquestionably endearing. The book has a sweet HEA that is sure to please any romance fan.

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

About the Author:
Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret. He did the Oxbridge thing sometime in the 2000s and failed to learn anything of substance. He has had many jobs, including ice cream maker, fortune teller, lab technician, and professional gambler. He was fired from most of them.

He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car. He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.

Catch up with him on his website, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!


Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a sweet YA romance from Tara Eglington. HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU is a fun and witty spin on teen love–with a girl bent on getting her first kiss from a boy who is worthy of her.

kissingyouAbout the book:

Executor of the Find a Prince Program™ and future author, sixteen-year-old Aurora Skye is dedicated to helping others navigate the minefield that is teenage dating. Counsellor-in-residence at home, where her post-divorce ad-agency father has transformed into a NAD (New Age Dad) intent on stripping his life bare of ‘the illusionary’ (i.e. the removal of home furnishings to the point where all after-hours work must be done in lotus position on a hemp cushion) Aurora literally lives and breathes Self-Help.

When the beginning of the school year heralds the arrival of two Potential Princes™ who seem perfect for her best friends Cassie (lighthouse beacon for emotionally fragile boys suffering from traumatic breakups) and Jelena (eye-catching, elegant and intent on implementing systems of serfdom at their school) it seems as if Aurora’s fast on her way to becoming the next Dr Phil.

As Aurora discovers, however, Self-Help is far from simple. Aurora’s mother arrives home from her extended ‘holiday’ (four years solo in Spain following the infamous ‘Answering Machine Incident’) throwing the NAD into further existential crisis. With Valentine’s Day drawing closer and the new Potential Princes not stepping up to the mark, Aurora is literally forced to take to the stage to throw two couples together. However, being cast opposite Hayden Paris (boy next door and bane-of-Aurora’s life) in the school production of Much Ado about Nothing brings challenges of its own. Not only does Hayden doubt that Cupid is understaffed and thus in dire need of Aurora’s help, but playing Beatrice to his Benedict throws her carefully preserved first kiss for a Prince into jeopardy. As Aurora races to save love’s first kiss and put a stop to the NAD’s increasingly intimate relationship with her Interpretive dance teacher (guilty of putting Aurora on detention for a ‘black aura’) she is left wondering who can a self help guru turn to for help? Can she practice what she preaches? And can long-assumed frogs become Potential Princes?

My Review:

Aurora Skye tells a charming tale of a girl who wants to meet her Prince, and gift him with her very first kiss. In the meantime, Aurora doesn’t want any frogs stealing that kiss away, and that includes her infuriating neighbor–and former best friend–Hayden Paris.

See, at 16, Aurora wants a real true love, not like her parents marriage which dissolved horribly when her mom up and left one day four years ago. Oh, mumzy’s back, as of a year ago, with her Spanish boyfriend and little time to call Aurora, unless it’s to check and see if she’s ready to begin modelling.

Aurora wants to help all her friends find their Perfect Prince, too, and decides that going for the school play might help couple up her best gal, Cass, with Scott, a new boy who’s friends with Hayden. Hayden is a perennial thorn in Aurora’s side. He’s always seated near her, and is ultra-competitive, and basically in her face, even witnessing her graceless attempts to keep her dates from swooping in for The Kiss. While Aurora wants a secondary part in the MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING production, she and Hayden are cast as the leads–with a kiss in the script! How will Aurora deflect this? And why is Hayden suddenly being so nice to her? Is it because she has a secret admirer?

I liked the back-and-forth of this one. Aurora, for all her desire to be a Love Coach, is a blissfully ignorant young girl. Her quaint idea of having a special first kiss is endearing, and sweet. I liked how she and Hayden had a troubled history, that was partly explained by Aurora’s dysfunctional relationship with her mother. Her father’s given up on the materialistic aspects of his life, becoming New Age Dad (NAD for short), and is currently dating a horror of a woman, much to Aurora’s chagrin. There are some fun bleed-throughs of the Much Ado storyline into the book, with the cattyiness, rumor-mongering and issues with True Love. I will also say that I found the idea of only giving kisses (or any affection) to a partner who is worthy of you to be a very sex-positive and life affirming message for teens. One of the main messages is: you can CHOOSE who gets a piece of you, which is a lesson I feel is underrated in society today.

It’s readily apparent that Hayden is a decent guy, and his continued attempts to befriend Aurora eventually bear fruit. He’s her constant defender against nasty boys trying to sully her name, and a super-duper cat finder when she needs one. The detached parentals were a little convenient, and the lack of proper grounding of the story was a bit irritating to me, as I’m all about setting.  I pretty much had to guess that she was in Australia, based on some buried clues, which later became rather nutty–her dad’s going to NYC for a business trip and returning in a day? Not bloody likely, mate. I really enjoy books set in other countries, and felt the generic descriptions detracted from what could have been a lush read. That said, the book makes up for poor setting with sweet romance.

Aurora does meet her Prince, but really, it’s not when she wants. See, she’s already fallen for Hayden before her Secret Admirer can step forward. Can she accept a kiss from someone she hardly knows–even with his splendid poetry and taste in flowers? Or, should she follow her heart and kiss Hayden before anyone else can get in the way?

Aurora makes the only choice she can–and I liked how lovely it all was. Quite the storybook romance for these previously star-crossed love birds.

Interested? You can find HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and libraries everywhere.

About Author Tara Eglington:

I’m an Australian based author who grew up LOVING YA books. One summer when I temporarily ran low on my reading list, I created my own: ‘How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You.’ The narrator Aurora Skye, bounced onto the page with her tips and tricks for romance, taking on a life of her own as the creator of the ‘Find a Prince Program.’ She’s been so popular with readers that she featured in the sequel ‘How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You.’

My third YA novel ‘My Best Friend is a Goddess’ will be released in Australia in October 2016 by Harper Collins Publishers and tells the story of best friends Emily and Adriana.

‘How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You’ will be published in the US and Canada by St Martins (Macmillan) in October 2016, with ‘How to Convince’ to follow in 2017.

Catch up with Tara online on Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, or email.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Teaser Time! Looking for THE LOST CODEX

codexteaserrevealbannerHi there! I’m so excited to share a little teaser for a new urban fantasy from Heather Lyons. THE LOST CODEX is the fourth book in the Collecters’ Society series, which features fictional characters from well-known books being warriors against censorship and book destruction. It’s all very enthralling… I really loved THE HIDDEN LIBRARY and THE FORGOTTEN MOUNTAIN, so I’m looking forward to THE LOST CODEX which comes out November 7th. You really must read this series in order…so you’ve got a bit of time to catch up!!

thelostcodex_ebook_450x675About the book:
Allies, once inseparable, splinter until they break apart.

An insidiousness carves its way through Wonderland, challenging the land’s very existence.

Battle lines will be drawn as pages, long languishing in darkness, are finally illuminated.

Swords will clash, blood will be spilled, and lives will be lost.

For what is written can still be erased.

Just to recap, the Collector’s Society is a series that pulls characters from storybooks into our daily lives. Alice, Queen of Wonderland, is a heroine of the first order, as she gave up her true love in Wonderland to assist the Librarians to take down rogue agents who seek to destroy entire fictional worlds. She’s partnered with Finn, think: Huckleberry, who is another true match, and boy howdy to the get it on…but they ALSO work together to take down the most nefarious enemy the Librarians have ever faced: the Pied Piper.

There’s much more to the story, but if this intrigues you, check out my reviews for THE HIDDEN LIBRARY and THE FORGOTTEN MOUNTAIN.

THE LOST CODEX comes out Nov 7th. Here’s a little teaser…
codexteaser3Catch up on the series here….
THE COLLECTORS’ SOCIETY can be found on Amazon (US and UK) iBooks and Kobo.

THE HIDDEN LIBRARY is available on Amazon (US and UK) Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo.

You can find THE FORGOTTEN MOUNTAIN on Goodreads, Amazon (US and UK), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks.

About the Author:
Heather Lyons
Heather Lyons writes epic, heartfelt love stories and has always had a thing for words. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. She and her husband and children live in sunny Southern California and are currently working their way through every cupcakery she can find.

Catch Heather on her website, Goodreads, twitter and Facebook.

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Learning How in SUNSET PARK–A Review

Hi there! To day I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M romance from Santino Hassell. His fourth Five Buroughs novel, INTERBOROUGH, releases today, and it’s a pick up from book two, SUNSET PARK. While all these stories have related characters that come in and out, the main couple in both SUNSET PARK and INTERBOROUGH is Raymond, a closeted, bisexual Puerto Rican man and David, a white-bread Connecticut out-gay man. So, essentially, I wanted to make sure I knew lots about how this odd couple got together, before I got snared in their struggles. Having started this series on book three, FIRST AND FIRST, I’ve pretty much been ridic reading out of order…

sunset-parkAbout the book:
Raymond Rodriguez’s days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend, so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.

David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation, since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.

Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.

My Review:
This is the second book in a series, and is probably best enjoyed when read in order. Raymond Rodriguez is a 26 y/o Puerto Rican man in Queens just holding on in life. He’s the youngest of two boys, and his elder brother Michael is a semi-closeted gay man. Michael wants to live with his best-friend/lover Nunzio, but he can’t make rent on the apartment and pay his half of the mortgage on their late-mother’s home. So, Michael tells Ray he needs to move out so they can clean up the house and rent it.

Ray’s always been shiftless. He’s an habitual pot smoker, and just got fired from his Longshoreman gig because he didn’t show up, or answer calls for work. Mostly because he was high. He’s not a bad guy, really, but he comes from a place where no one expects anything, and he didn’t expect anything from himself. He’s a man-child, and Michael’s tired of floating him along. Adrift, Ray can’t deal, but his close friendship with David–a teacher in Michael’s school who’s become a confidant–gives him some hope. See, David’s a sweet guy, small, and twinkish, and out and friendly. David has an idea: they should live together.

Ray’s not opposed. He’s had bicurious feelings for a while, and he likes how David looks at him, how David cares for him. Ray’s comforted by David’s enthusiasm, and his nearness–they often cuddle, even if it’s all platonic. But, that’s not all either man really wants it to be. David has had a not-so-secret crush on Ray from the start, and their moving in together brings all of this to a boil. Still, it’s not easy. Because David’s fell for straight boys before, and gotten burned. What if he loses his heart to Ray, who decides he’s done experimenting after a few go-arounds? David has an on-again-off-again thing with Caleb, a rich white slightly-older man, but it’s not fitting him at all. While they look great on paper, there’s no chemistry, and Caleb’s sexual appetite isn’t in the same hemisphere as David’s. Caleb’s moving on David, and being kinda wrong to Ray–in his own house no less, but what David and Ray had started is too tenuous for either of them to really commit to. It’s a real rush to see the levels of their jealousy, as each tries to figure out what to do, and whom to do it with.

Add to this mess Ray’s insecurity. He’s an uneducated, barely-scratching-by Puerto Rican. He did find a job, but he hates it, and doesn’t know how to move into a career. David’s this shiny teacher with a good degree and loads of potential. His wealthy boyfriend is always sniffing around, and Ray’s sure David will move on when he’s done slumming. Ray’s brother and Nunzio stick their noses in, pretty much warning Ray not to get involved with David–they have their own complicated history which involves a drunken one-nighter and awkward work history.

There’s a lot of confusion, and hurt feelings as these two knock around trying to make it happen. I had read FIRST AND FIRST already, so I already knew how things were bad between David and Caleb, and why they really weren’t a good fit for each other. Life for Ray and David is nothing but complicated. Ray is surly and a serious introvert, he struggles with authority, after having an abusive drunk for an absentee father. This is a big clash from David, who’s very outgoing, a little snarky, but a fixer. Ray struggles with David discussing their personal life with his friends, and really doesn’t like to examine himself, or deal with David’s examination, either. David’s in absolute fear that Ray will never come out, as a bisexual even, and David will remain a dirty, closeted secret–mostly because Ray’s brother lives two lives, keeping his gay relationship from his entire extended family. It’s a future that David can’t envision, no matter how off-the-charts emotionally and sexually satisfying it is to finally be with Ray.

The end comes with some hard truths, as Ray would say. It’s time to grow up, and own himself–and he does this even before the big blow-out with Caleb. I loved how Ray fixed his head, and followed his heart, and how David made better choices and stopped fretting. He’s a bit of a mess, and that’s still true in their next book, but he’s an acceptable mess. The kind of neurotic that can be endearing, and is really born from standing up for himself, and his right to be loved honestly. There’s a Happy For Now ending, I think, but it’s certainly upbeat and honest. All the books I’ve read from this author have that quasi-HEA where the reader knows: these guys are all going to make it, even without the rainbows and rose bouquets. They’re sturdy and dependable, and honest, even a dope-smoking man-child. He gets it right in the end, and I really enjoyed watching that happen. I’ve already finished reading INTERBOROUGH, their next book, so expect a review from me in the coming week.

Interested? You can find SUNSET PARK on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance.

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

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

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

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Lessons in Love and Art: THE TUTOR–Review, interview and Giveaway!

tourbutton_thetutorHi there! Today I’m sharing a review, giveaway and special insights from KD Grace on her newest erotic contemporary romance. THE TUTOR is a different kind of story, and weaves a bit of sensual magic for the reader, as well as the characters.

thetutor_coverAbout the book:
Struggling writer, Kelly Blake, has a secret life as a sex tutor. Celebrated sculptor and recluse, Alexander ‘Lex’ Valentine, can’t stand to be touched. When he seeks out Kelly’s advice incognito, the results are too hot to handle. When Kelly terminates their sessions due to what she considers her unprofessional behavior, Lex takes a huge risk, revealing his identity to her at a gala exhibition, his first ever public appearance. When Kelly helps the severely haphephobic Lex escape the grope of reporters and paparazzi, rumors fly that the two are engaged, rumors encouraged by well-meaning friends and colleagues.

The press feeding frenzy forces Kelly into hiding at Lex’s mansion where he convinces her to be his private tutor just until the press loses interest, and she can go back home. They discover quickly that touch is not essential for sizzling, pulse-pounding intimacy. But intimacy must survive the secrets uncovered as their sessions become more and more personal.

Some fab thoughts from Author K D Grace…

Thanks so much for hosting me on The Tutor blog tour and giveaway, V! It’s a pleasure to be back at your lovely blog again and celebrate the release of The Tutor with your fabulous readers!

In so many ways The Tutor is all about making substitutions. We all know what it feels like when we can’t get exactly what we want, so we make do with something less than. We know it’s only a stop-gap but we do what we have to. Still, let’s face it, celery and carrot sticks will never satisfy the longing for chocolate, and an hour sweating it out in the gym, or a cold shower will never scratch the itch for good raunchy and rowdy sex.

In Alexander ‘Lex’ Valentine’s situation, though, a substitute will just have to do. Lex is a renowned sculptor, who leads a reclusive life. His work is praised for its sensuality, for his ability to breathe life into marble. What the world doesn’t know about Lex Valentine is that the man is severely haphephobic – has been ever since the car crash that killed his mother and nearly took his life as a young boy. The truth is, no one even knows who Alexander Valentine really is. They know him only from his exquisite work. Lex remembers little of the accident other than the snippets from the nightmares that visit him regularly, but since the crash, Lex has been unable to touch another human being and unable to tolerate being touched. Both cause severe physical reactions. This means he’s lived the better part of his life without human touch. Thus the substitution. Lex infuses the power of touch, the touch he cannot experience himself, into his sculptures. His work is his vicarious life, sensual and expressive in ways his real life can’t be.

Writing The Tutor made me think a lot about the substitutions all writers make when we write a story. The tale we tell is always a life lived vicariously. Though it’s not an effort to experience human touch which, fortunately, we don’t lack, it’s very much an effort to feel, to experience, to involve ourselves in what we’ve not experienced – what we may not even want to experience in real life. Still, to write about it, to bring it close enough to us that if fills our imagination and makes our heart race and our palms sweat, is to experience vicariously something we would never otherwise know.

Lex has come to view his art this way. He has no reason to think he’ll ever have a normal life and, at least, he has something. But like many creative people, Lex has a powerful sex drive – one he can do nothing about. When his best friend, and PA, Dillon, suggests he talk to a sex tutor, Kelly Blake enters his life. The spark between them is immediate, but so is the obstacle course of his haphephobia. For Lex and Kelly the attraction between them and the journey to intimacy is a dance of substitution – very creative substitution, substitution that just might lead to the real thing. Here’s a little excerpt.

When physical touch is impossible, intimacy may become a powerful work of art or a devastating nightmare—but, above all, it’s an act of trust.

And how about a taste of this intriguing story?

Art and Sex:

She nabbed a cookie and came to stand behind him while he drew, but when his efforts on the curve of her cheek slowed and then stopped, she stepped back. “I’m sorry, am I making you uncomfortable?” she managed around a mouthful of cookie.

He shook his head. “It’s not that. It’s just that, well as lovely as you looked, in that dress tonight, stunning actually, it wasn’t the real you. It was all show for the event and for this nebulous Alexander Valentine you were expecting to meet.” He waved the piece of charcoal in the air dismissively. “Black tie affairs are no less masked ball just because you can see peoples’ faces.”

“True,” she said, plopping down in the chair. “My feet may never forgive me for those damn shoes.”

“You’re real now.” He chuckled softly and looked down at the charcoal gripped delicately in his fingers. “Everyone’s a bit more real in the darkest hours of the night. And a lot more vulnerable.” He shuddered.

“Nightmares, you mean?”

He nodded, but then made a dismissive grunt. “I don’t sleep much.”

“Dreams about what happened at the gallery?” She asked, slumping in the chair so that her feet hung over one arm and her shoulder rested low on the other.

“Oh no,” He offered a flirty smile that surprised her. “If I’d been dreaming about that, the dreams would have been far from nightmares.”

She felt his words like a caress, and a tingle ran down her body as though her skin were bathed in the expensive Champagne from the gallery’s party. “Then I’m sorry that you weren’t dreaming about the gallery.”

“Me too,” he said, and then he flipped the sketchpad to a blank page. “Is it all right if I sketch you? Like you are now, I mean.”

She nodded to the collection of female nudes tacked to a corkboard along one wall. “As long as I don’t have to take my clothes off.”

This time his smile was positively wicked. “If you take off your clothes, woman, I won’t be able to concentrate on sketching at all, and I’m not really in the mood to discuss my self abuse problems right at the moment.”

She laughed and shook her hair back over her shoulders. “Self abuse, oh pa-lease.” She shifted again to get more comfortable and the hoodie slipped down off her shoulder leaving her neck and clavicle exposed along with the swell of one braless breast.

“Leave it,” he said, when she started to zip the offending garment a little higher. “I want to sketch your erogenous zones.” And fuck if it didn’t feel like he had just touched her there along the nape of her neck and traced a calloused finger over the her collar bone and down onto the top of her breast.” He chuckled knowingly at the trail of raising goose flesh along the path she had just imagined his hand following. “Did you feel that? My sketching you there?”

“You have eyes,” came her breathless reply. Then she caught a little breath and shivered. “Jesus, how do you do that?”

“There’s a connection between what I see and what I sketch. It’s a brain thing. That’s why people who are paralyzed from the neck down can still draw even without the use of their hands. But I think there’s a much bigger connection than simply exceptional hand-eye coordination. I think it’s the ability to translate into physical form what we perceive and how it affects us. I’ve read your books, Kelly. You do the same thing, only your vision is all internal, but it’s no less magic when you elicit the feeling you want in your reader.”

She shivered again and her nipples hardened. “I’ve never made a reader feel this.”

“Oh, I imagine you have,” he said. The look on his face was something beyond concentration, something very much like Kelly had seen in the eyes of lovers in good romantic films when they made love.

“It’s a substitute for touch,” she managed in a breathless gasp.

“Of course it’s a substitute for touch,” he said. “It’s the connection to the flesh that I’m no longer capable of having in the real world. It’s tactile voyeurism. It’s everything I can’t experience, but dream about.” He huffed out a little breath. “When I’m not having nightmares, that is.”

“Jesus, That’s … that’s uncanny.” She was suddenly struggling not to squirm in the chair. “Do you do this with all your models?”

“God no! Of course not. I don’t know them. They don’t know me. I … ” He stopped sketching for a second and looked around the room as though searching for the right words, and Kelly felt the disconnect as surely as if he’d been caressing her breast and then stopped. “I have no intimacy with them. When I sketch models for a given commission for which I have a deadline, I sketch them … I don’t know … once removed. It’s not personal. It’s a job. They do theirs, and I do mine, and it’s as if we’re all working with a barrier between us. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t feel that with you?” He began to sketch again and she leaned back and closed her eyes as the Champagne bubble feeling returned in force. She might have moaned. Just a little. And he might have done the same in return.

“You know what you said about self-abuse,” she finally managed, struggling to breathe.

He only grunted in reply, his hand moving at speed over the sketchpad, which he didn’t look at. His eyes remained locked on her.

“Well, what happened at the apartment when we were together …”

“There’s a connection, Kelly. That’s all I know. I know you aren’t the kind to take advantage. I knew that from what Dillon’s nephew said. You gave me the first true intimacy I’ve had since the accident. Does that sound like taking advantage to you?” He laid the charcoal down on the easel and began to stroke the sketch with his ring finger, blending and shading and she practically came out of the chair, the response of his touch was so strong. Her nearness to orgasm was startling and a little bit frightening.

“Are you fucking feeling this?” she gasped. “How can this be? How can I feel what you’re doing on that sketchpad?”

“Of course I’m feeling it. How could I look at you, at your response and not?”

“Jesus, Lex. Jesus!” His eyes were on her but his finger still stroked the paper on the easel. “If you don’t stop.”

“Do you want me to stop?” His voice cracked with the last word. From where she sat, she couldn’t tell if he had a hard-on, and though his voice was as tight and breathless as her own, he clearly wasn’t touching himself. One hand gripped the edge of the sketch pad and the other made strokes and circles on the paper, blending, shading, evening out the tone. She knew that, of course she knew that, so why the hell did it feel like what he was doing to a simple charcoal drawing, he was doing to her body?

“Of course I don’t want you to stop,” she hissed, shifting against the phantom sensation of what she imagined his fingers were doing to the sketch of her. “Oh … Oh God! I definitely don’t want you to stop!”

The room dissolved in the sound of heavy breathing and moans and grunts –some hers, some his, all blended together. In the beginning, she might have been posing on the chair, but the situation had devolved to the point that she could not have held still if her life depended on it, and there was no other word for what she was now doing in the chair but writhing.

From behind the easel, Lex stood and gave the stool a hard shove, knocking it over with loud kathunk on the floor that resulted in a hissed curse. He mantled the sketch of her like a hawk over its prey. When she could focus through the growing fog of arousal, she saw that he once again sketched with the charcoal, his hand moving with a motion not unlike how she would want him to stroke her right now, with her so close. How she had fantasized about him stroking her since that night in the apartment, even though she tried not to. And she couldn’t keep from wondering if he were stroking the drawing there, right where she needed it. His other hand still rendered and smoothed and shaded and moved across her body, until the only thought she could hold in her head was the thought of his hands drawing her, drawing her, drawing her ever closer until she could stand it no longer, and then she arched her back. With a startled cry, she dragged a breath into her lungs as though it were her last. She tumbled out of the chair hitting the floor hard with her ass, bruising an elbow and thumping her head on the stone tiles as she convulsed and shivered, and the world dissolved into pinpoints of light behind her tightly clenched eyes.

She heard the deep-chested groan followed by a hard thump from behind the easel and, when she opened her eyes again, he was on his knees beneath it, one hand cupped to the front of his shorts, the other braced against the floor as though he feared gravity would disappear and it would toss him into the void. His eyes were wide, darkened with lust and with, quite likely, the same look of shock mirrored in her own. His bare chest heaved and shuddered over and over again. Kelly couldn’t stop watching him, couldn’t take her eyes of the quiver of muscle, the sheen of perspiration, the clench of charcoal dusted fists, and for an instant, she wished like hell that she could draw him.

My Review:
Lex Valentine is a reclusive sculptor, renown for his beautiful marble renderings, even if no one has seen him. Romance author and personal sex tutor, Kelly Blake, is a big fan of Mr. Valentine, but had no idea that she’s tutoring him directly–because he uses a pseudonym. See, Lex is haphephobic, a person who cannot bear to be touched, or touch others. This is the result of a horrific car wreck which killed his mother and left him scarred physically as well as emotionally as a young child.

Lex is referred to Kelly by a mutual friend. She’s a sweet lady, who only wants to help her clients find their way to better sex, but she’s a “hands off” instructor, and is blindsided by her attraction to Lex, even before she learns his true identity. She breaks off their lessons, and Lex can’t abide. He hasn’t had any intimacy with anyone, and their two sessions were breakthroughs, in his mind. He concocts a scheme to meet Kelly in person–at one of his gallery events. It means going public, and possibly being accosted by his fans–something akin to volunteering to be boiled in oil for a haphephobic. Kelly recognizes his distress and rescues him, making a powerful enemy in the process.

It’s fun and sweet that Kelly’s bestie and Lex’s bestie con everyone into believing Lex and Kelly are engaged to be married. While the hubbub dies down, Kelly hides out at Lex’s secluded mountain estate. There she learns all about his tragic history, and builds a secure rapport with Lex. It’s so sweet, and with a few kinky turns. He still can’t touch her, at first, but the connection they develop certainly fosters an intimacy that’s new for both Kelly and Lex. The more time they spend together, the more they are able to connect, until Lex has his first voluntary physical contact with another person in twenty-five years.

I really felt in tune with Lex’s POV, and his serious problems with intimacy. The excitement he feels with Kelly–as if he’s experiencing a whole new life–is so poignant and tender. They take the tiniest steps, and still move forward. The book has a lot of viewpoints, mostly Kelly and Lex, but also their friends and a big nemesis. There is a catty reporter who’s bent on ruining the fledgling couple, if she can. I liked how this got resolved, and how Lex really grew into his own skin, and moved past such trying emotional scars.

Its a bit of a slow burn, and there’s a lot of “alternate” type sexytimes. They do get it on, in the end, and talk about sweet. It’s a whole different type of erotic romance, and I really dug the flipped script. I’ve not read a book with a character that’s has such a severe phobia to physical contact before, so getting inside this person’s brain was really interesting. And, his joy at having even somewhat normal contact is really a rush. Kelly is a great gal–always conscientious of Lex’s needs, and considerately managing his fears. Plus, she’s totally falling for this sweet, damaged man. I really liked the story, and definitely recommend it for readers who are willing to experience and “out there” type of romance.

Interested? You can find THE TUTOR on Goodreads, Totally Bound Publishing, Amazon (US and UK), Barnes & Noble, iBooks (US and UK), Google Books, and Kobo.


Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $30 (or £20 if you’re in the UK) Amazon GC. Catch other stops on the tour to increase your odds of winning.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About Author KD Grace/Grace Marshall:
Voted ETO Best Erotic Author of 2014, and a proud member of The Brit Babes, K D Grace believes Freud was right. In the end, it really IS all about sex, well sex and love. And nobody’s happier about that than she is, otherwise, what would she write about?

When she’s not writing, K D is veg gardening. When she’s not gardening, she’s walking. She walks her stories, and she’s serious about it. She and her husband have walked Coast to Coast across England, along with several other long-distance routes. For her, inspiration is directly proportionate to how quickly she wears out a pair of walking boots. She also enjoys martial arts, reading, watching the birds and anything that gets her outdoors.

KD has erotica published with Totally Bound, SourceBooks, Xcite Books, Harper Collins Mischief Books, Mammoth, Cleis Press, Black Lace, Sweetmeats Press and others.

K D’s critically acclaimed erotic romance novels include, The Initiation of Ms Holly, Fulfilling the Contract, To Rome with Lust, and The Pet Shop. Her paranormal erotic novel, Body Temperature and Rising, the first book of her Lakeland Witches trilogy, was listed as honorable mention on Violet Blue’s Top 12 Sex Books for 2011. Books two and three, Riding the Ether, and Elemental Fire, are now also available.

K D Grace also writes hot romance as Grace Marshall. An Executive Decision, Identity Crisis, The Exhibition, Interviewing Wade are all available.

Catch up with K. D. on her website, Brit Babes page, Facebook, and twitter.

Dangerous Love: GIRL ON THE BRINK–Review and Giveaway!

girl-on-the-brink-tour-bannerHi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary YA romance with a dark storyline from . GIRL ON THE BRINK deals honestly with domestic abuse for a teen girl experiencing her first relationship.

Catch my review and enter below to win a $10 GC in the giveaway!

girl-brinkAbout the book:
The summer before senior year, 17-year-old Chloe starts an internship as a reporter at a local newspaper. While on assignment, she meets Kieran, a quirky aspiring actor. Chloe becomes smitten with Kieran’s charisma and his ability to soothe her soul, torn over her parents’ impending divorce. But as their bond deepens, Kieran becomes smothering and flies into terrifying rages. He confides in Chloe that he suffered a traumatic childhood, and Chloe is moved to help him. If only he could be healed, she thinks, their relationship would be perfect.

But her efforts backfire and Kieran becomes violent. Chloe breaks up with him, but Kieran pursues her relentlessly to make up. Chloe must make the heartrending choice between saving herself or saving Kieran, until Kieran’s mission of remorse turns into a quest for revenge.

Advance Praise:
“An engrossing tale of a dangerous teen romance.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Girl on the Brink is a must have for every high school and public library.” – Isabelle Kane, Wisconsin high school librarian

Abusive relationships are widespread, cutting across socioeconomic, racial and ethnic, religious and gender preference lines. One in three high school girls experience dating violence, while more than half of college-aged women reported experiencing controlling behavior in a relationship. Eighty-nine percent of female college students said they were unable to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship, and a third of teens involved in intimate partner violence ever told anyone about it.

For more information, please head to Break The Cycle.

My Review:
Soon-to-be high school senior Chloe is a girl who’s world is in flux. Her father recently moved out of their New Jersey home to live with his girlfriend in Manhattan. Her mother’s depressed, alternately taking anti-anxiety meds or alcohol to cope with her sudden heartbreak. Chloe’s brother is away at summer camp, as is her best friend. It’s a virtually empty home, and it’s unsettling. Even if her mom’s there, she’s withdrawn or asleep.

Chloe has an internship at her town’s weekly newspaper, and she meets Kieran while out doing an interview for the paper. He’s two years older and seems engaging and charming. He sympathizes about her family issues, confessing his own youthful trauma, and they bond quickly. Also, Kieran isn’t like other boys who seem to only want sex. He woos her with dates and conversation, shares his grand dreams to become an actor and makes Chloe feel wanted and loved at a time where she’s feeling lonely and abandoned by family.

Soon, however, Chloe begins to notice that Kieran is constantly shielding her from her friends, and he’s cajoling her into doing what he wants all the time. He’s attentive in a way that’s becoming problematic–stalking her physically or via phone calls at work. Whenever Chloe attempts to assert herself, or her independence he’s right there, convincing her how much he loves her, and how they really fit together emotionally. They are physical with each other, and Chloe believes Kieran’s “truth,” but it gets difficult to manage his mood swings. He’s erratic, and jealous, and gets angry quickly, followed by dramatic apologies and presents.

Each time Chloe recognizes that Kieran’s love for her is obsessive, he convinces her to make more and more sacrifices for his wishes. She has so few ties at this point, that his sabotage easily severs her flailing friendships. All along there’s been small instances of physical abuse, beginning with intimidation and escalating into pushes, shoves and one harrowing weekend where Kieran essentially keeps Chloe prisoner in her own home.

It’s then that Chloe finally reaches out. Her mother’s able to be responsive, and act as an advocate, though the problems haven’t ended. I liked the story, and felt like it was an important one to tell. Also, it’s written in an accessible way, seeing how slowly domestic violence can creep into a relationship. Chloe is a good student, and good kid. Her family is middle class, and her friends are normal. She’s an Everyday gal, who can’t comprehend the danger she’s in until she’s literally running for help.

Part and parcel with Chloe’s situation is her embarrassment that she could be dating an abuser. She often wonders how she could have been foolish enough to fall for Kieran, but she also misses the way he made her feel cherished and loved. He’s two people in her mind: Sweet Kieran and Mean Kieran, which is a common experience for abuse victims. There’s a lot of honest self-reflection in the story, and guides the reader to understand the underpinning signs of abuse, and emotional manipulation. Chloe’s lucky that she was able to get help when she did, but she makes further (common) mistakes in how she shuts Kieran down. People wonder why women don’t report abuse, or why they allow their abusers to return–some of this complicated cycle is very plainly demonstrated in the book, and that’s a powerful object lesson for younger readers, in particular.

Interested? You can find GIRL ON THE BRINK on Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo.


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

christinahoagauthorheadshotAbout the Author
Christina Hoag is the author of Girl on the Brink, a romantic thriller for young adults (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, August 2016) and Skin of Tattoos, a literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld (Martin Brown Publishing, September 2016). She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald and worked as a correspondent in Latin America writing for major media outlets including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. She is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014). She resides in Los Angeles.

Catch up with Christina on her website, Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook.