De-Grouching With A CHRISTMAS FOR OSCAR–Review and Giveaway!

oscar-bannerHi there! I’m excited to share a review and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M Christmas romance from Alex Whitehall. A CHRISTMAS FOR OSCAR is a novella featuring a Christmas grouch and the chipper craftsman who wins his heart.

Catch the excerpt and get in on the book giveaway below.
christmas-for-oscar-coverAbout the book:
Oscar has never liked the holidays and all the surrounding rigmarole, but that doesn’t stop his best friend from dragging him along for her Black Friday shopping spree. The only perk of the day is that he meets Nathan while he’s there.

With sparkling blue eyes, curly blond hair, and a smile that won’t stop, Nathan is a Christmas elf in the flesh. He even spends his days in a workshop! But Nathan is more than his bright smile, and he may be just the right person for Oscar. Assuming, of course, Oscar doesn’t drive him and his holiday spirit away first.

How about a little taste?

With a sigh, Oscar searched for someone in the store’s dress-coded uniform, and wasn’t sure if it was a blessing or a curse when he spotted the cute guy smiling winsomely, surrounded by a mob of people. The most attractive thing was that his mob was smaller than the mob surrounding all the other salespeople.

Gritting his teeth, he clenched the sweater and elbowed his way over through arguing women, grumbling men, and a few screaming children. And that was only across six feet.

When he finally arrived at his destination, he noticed his salesperson was six inches shorter than him, with curly blond hair, and wearing an elf hat. He had shimmering blue eyes and apple-round cheeks. He couldn’t possibly be real.

The bright-blue eyes flashed up to Oscar with a literal sparkle in his eye, although that had to be the overhead lights. “Hello! How can I help you?”

Despite his elfish appearance, the dude’s voice wasn’t high-pitched. In fact, to keep with the ridiculous metaphor developing in Oscar’s mind, it was more like caramel or hot chocolate. It was almost enough to make him forget where he was.

And then some jackass elbowed him in the back, hard, and he was shoved forward. He growled and pushed back, not taking his eyes off his little elf helper. “Hi. I was wondering if you have more sizes of this in the back? I need a small.” He held up the sweater in question.

The little elf’s lips puckered in thought. “I can check, sir, but I think what we have out is all we have. Wait right here.”

He was gone in a flash, and Oscar was left standing there, blinking at the space where the man had been.

“Ex-scuse me,” a woman lashed out. “Can we not stand in the middle of the aisle, puh-lease?”

He heaved a sigh and stepped back—the six inches he could—to let the woman pass. She scrunched her nose at him and hurried on to the next big sale. Restraining another sigh, he wished he could close his eyes and sink into the floor, or vanish, or at least run the hell out of here. But no, he waited, like a good friend, for the salesperson to return. And it seemed to be taking forever, but he was sure that was his imagination—and frustration—playing tricks on him.

Glancing around, he checked on where Marie was, because today he wouldn’t put it past her to leave without him or the sweater, and found her almost swallowed up in the jewelry section. He nodded and looked back to where his elf had been, only to find his helper had reappeared, cheeks rosier, curls somehow unrulier, and elf hat slightly crooked.

“Good news! There was one small tucked behind another bunch.” He held up a slightly rumpled blue sweater. “Looks like it may have gotten missed when the stock was brought out. It doesn’t look damaged or anything, but feel free to inspect it and let me know…”

The guy trailed off, probably because Oscar was staring at his hat. It shouldn’t have been humanly possible for a disheveled hat to make him that much cuter. But it did. Oscar slung the sweater he was still holding over his shoulder, reached out, righted the salesperson’s hat, and then tucked a particularly rebellious curl under the rim. There. He smiled. Much better.

“Uh, sir?” the guy asked, not quite squeaking, but definitely breathily.

Oscar’s eyes shot down to meet those sparkling blues. “Oh! Sorry. It was… You must have knocked it when you were getting the sweater. So I… It was only right that I help. Thank you. For the sweater.”

Certainly not for the pounding of his heart. He held out his hand for the top.

The elf’s uncertain, wide eyes scrunched up with his grin. “Thank you for fixing it.”

He really had the bluest eyes. It seemed like they would have to be contacts, but Oscar didn’t think even a company could manufacture that pure a blue.

“Ex-scuse me!”

Oh hell, it was the woman from before. Oscar couldn’t move much and was about to tell the woman she could probably go around, but the little elf flashed a customer’s-always-right expression and glided over, clearing the aisle and putting not much between them but the sweater.

Oscar’s breath caught. The little elf beamed up at him.

“Is there anything else I can help you with today, sir?”

Oscar had some ideas. Some very dirty ideas, actually. But then the elf blinked, casting a glance at the chaos surrounding them, and Oscar remembered now wasn’t a good time to be hitting on a salesperson.

And that he was waist-deep in Black Friday. He groaned and slid his fingers around the small sweater, gently taking it.

“I think this will be all. Thank you very much,” he murmured—well, as much as he could murmur and still be heard in this mess.

The elf’s smile widened—if that was possible, and somehow it was—and his eyebrows lifted with the excitement strewn across his face. “Well, I hope you have a good day. And I really hope you come back again sometime.”

My Review:
Oscar is a financial planner who has a major hate on for Christmas. It’s clear that this is a sore subject from his childhood. Despite his frustration with the excesses of the holiday season, he accompanies his friend on a Black Friday shopping spree, and that’s where he meets Nathan, a cheerful, if beleaguered, retail-worker. Nathan’s all smiles and helpfulness, with a bit of encouragement for Oscar to return for another visit.

And, he sort of does. Oscar returns to the mall, but he’s too nervous to go into the store. No matter, Nathan finds him. I loved how sweet their meeting were, and how they both felt that instant spark of attraction that blended into more as they got to know each other. A few weeks of seeming bliss later, Oscar and Nathan have their first big kerfuffle. Nathan wants to celebrate Christmas, and Oscar’s, well, a big grouch. And he makes it bad. And then he makes it worse. But, he really has grown to love Nathan, and he’s determined to make things right between them. Even if it means revealing his sordid, poverty-stricken Christmases-past.

This is a short bit of yummy Christmas confection. I loved Nathan. I thought Oscar was a bit of a freak with his Christmas-hate, but I did understand his distaste for the commercialization of the holiday. I thought he had a worse situation, to be honest, with regards to his family, and that wasn’t as sympathetic a scenario as I’d expected. When the whole truth came out, I found I liked him a bit less than before, but I didn’t hate him, by any stretch. He’s not a bad guy, just a grouch and a Scrooge, who finds love and (eventually) lets that rule his heart. So, happy ending to be had, and some yummy sexytimes, too.

Interested? You can find A CHRISTMAS FOR OSCAR on Goodreads, NineStar Press and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a book from NineStar Press!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
If there are two types of people in the world, Alex Whitehall probably isn’t one of them, despite being a person. Their favorite pastimes include reading, horseback riding, sleeping, watching geek-tastic television, knitting, eating, and running. And wasting time on the internet. And spending glorious afternoons laughing with friends.

While Alex prefers sleeping over doing anything else (except maybe eating), sometimes they emerges from the cave to be social and to hunt for food at the local market. They can be found blogging, searching the Internet for more books to read, and tending after their aloe plant Cornwall. That’s a lie; the single plant has become an entire forest.

Catch up with Alex online on their website, Tumblr, and twitter.

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Happy Book Birthday to INTERLUDE: FIRST NOEL–Review and Giveaway!

interlude-bannerHi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a compelling contemporary M/M romance from Tal Bauer. INTERLUDE: FIRST NOEL is a sweet and touching love story between the President of the US and his former Secret Service protector. This is the second book in a series, and I think people who read ENEMIES OF THE STATE would love it.

Catch the extended excerpt below and enter to win a book in the giveaway!

interlude-coverAbout the book:
Before Ethan returns to DC…
Before he becomes Jack’s first gentleman…
Jack and Ethan share their first Christmas together.

Step back to Jack and Ethan’s first Christmas season and the tentative early months of their relationship under the world’s spotlight.
Three months into Ethan’s transfer-in-exile in Des Moines, Iowa, the pressures of dating Jack, the president of the United States, start to wear Ethan down. His weeks are measured by the days he works in Iowa, chasing counterfeiters and financial crimes, and the weekends he manages to steal with Jack back in DC. The media stalks his every move, he’s isolated by his coworkers, and loneliness hammers at his heart.

In DC, Jack tries to piece together a global alliance to take down the Caliphate, while the world seems focused on tearing apart his personal life. Hostility surrounds him from all corners of the globe, but a surprise offer from President Sergey Puchkov may pave the way for a tentative alliance…and perhaps the beginning of a friendship.

As Ethan finds himself in the middle of an investigation that rubs too deeply against his soul and Jack tries to balance leading the free world and keeping his and Ethan’s relationship going, the two men must face what their love has become…and where they are heading together.

How about a taste?

From the most prestigious posting in the Secret Service―protecting the president of the United States―to puzzling through counterfeiting investigations out of a tiny field office in the Midwest. And giving those investigations up to another agent, a junior agent, and running from the media.

He waited at the stoplight downtown, just before the turn into the Federal Building’s garage, listening to his wipers scrape snow off the window. The red traffic light blurred through the slush on his glass, tinting the inside of his sedan a dark crimson. Christmas lights stretched overhead, arching over the streets and between the buildings. Evergreen garlands clung to the streetlights, and LED wreaths hung at every intersection. Over the weekend, Christmas had descended, just days after Thanksgiving.

If he knew then what he knew now, would he do it all again? Make the same choices? Take the same risks? Kiss Jack―the president, his sworn duty, his job―and throw caution to the wind, going against his very bones, his dedication to his career and the Secret Service?

The wipers slid against the glass again, squeaking, and the light turned green. His tires slipped on the snow, skidding out briefly, but he slogged across the intersection and turned into the underground parking garage.

Of course he would. Those forty-eight hours each week with Jack made everything else worth it. Made bearable the isolation, the intrusive media, the sidelong glares and bitten off conversations that abruptly stopped in his presence.

How his toes would curl as they kissed. Jack’s smile, and the way his eyes lit up for Ethan alone. How Jack had looked at him when he burst into the Oval Office, gunfire cracking the air, taking out Jeff Gottschalk and Black Fox’s operatives. Like Ethan was his whole world, the sun rising in the sky just for him.

Ethan had never loved anyone like he loved Jack. And he’d never been loved by anyone the way Jack loved him. It was still new, just six months old, but that love had remade Ethan’s entire world. So far, he’d put up with anything. Everything. As long as Jack kept looking at him like that. Kept loving him like that.

But, it had been over two weeks since he’d last been with Jack. ‘Every weekend’ had turned into something else. Loneliness scratched at the base of his heart, and whispers of fear snaked down his bones.

Ethan wound through the underground garage and pulled into his assigned space, in the corner beneath the leaking air compressor and next to the dumpster that always smelled like stale piss.

Shepherd’s car was still in his space. Great. He’d probably already seen the news footage of him, playing over and over on the local stations before being picked up by the national news for prime-time replay. He’d be pissed. More than pissed.

Sighing, Ethan badged into the building and onto the elevator, punching the button for the Secret Service’s floor. When the elevator spat him out, he gave Agent Gibson a tight smile as he passed him.

Gibson didn’t smile back.

Ethan badged into the backdoor of the office, heading for his cube and his gym bag. On the way, he passed Shepherd’s open office door.

The TV hanging on the wall in his office was on, images of Ethan driving out of the motel parking lot playing on repeat as the news anchor droned on about how evasive he’d been, how he hadn’t answered any questions. About what his presence at the crime scene might mean. And, of course, wondering why he hadn’t been seen with the president, or in DC, in weeks. They were America’s most scandalous couple, perhaps the world’s. The question had been blaring from every radio, every gossip magazine, every late night talk show host, almost from the moment they’d been photographed kissing on the North Lawn. Were they still together?

Of course, the questions had gotten louder these past few weeks.

Shepherd’s glare fixed on Ethan. Shepherd pursed his lips as he perched on the edge of his desk, arms crossed over his slight pudge, a beer gut in the making. His tie was undone, the first few buttons loose.

Ethan grabbed his gym bag, slung it over his shoulder, and trudged to Shepherd’s door. “Sir, I left as soon as they arrived. She chased me down. I wasn’t trying to get in front of the cameras.”

Shepherd pinched the bridge of his nose. “What did I do to deserve you?”

Ethan stayed silent.

“Thanks to this―” Shepherd gestured to the TV. “—the US Attorney is going to have to answer a million questions about you from the whatever defense these guys cobble together. What you were doing there. Why you were involved.”

“I put the case together―”

“And then it was given to Becker. All of it. The entire thing. Your fingerprints were stripped from it.” Shepherd sighed again. “I don’t want some criminal defense attorney trying to drag the president into one of our cases. Asking about what kind of special favors you get, or what the president is interested in, or how you don’t play by the rules. We have to prove everything you do is one hundred and ten percent above board.”

“Everything I’ve done here has been completely legal―”

“It’s what you did before you got here.” Shepherd fixed Ethan with another hard glare. “It’s your character. The kinds of rules you break. A good defense attorney would rip you to shreds on the stand.”

Ethan’s chest felt like it caved in. “I have never compromised an investigation for any reason.”

“No.” Shepherd snorted. “You just compromised the president.”

Silence.

“Get out of here.” Shepherd waved Ethan away, dismissing him as he stood. “I don’t know what’s going on with you and the president, and I don’t want to know.” His hand cut through the air, before Ethan spoke. He jerked his chin to the TV, and the reporter musing about Ethan and Jack’s relationship being on the rocks, or worse. “But you’ve gotten grumpier these past few weeks. And that’s saying something.” Shepherd squinted at him. “Go do something about that. If the media is going to hound you everywhere, you don’t want them thinking you’re a half breath away from snapping. Don’t add fuel to the fire.”

Clearing his throat, Ethan nodded once while Shepherd shuffled papers on his desk, dropping a stack of manila folders into his drawer. “Sir, I have a question for you.”

Shepherd arched his eyebrows and grunted.

“I submitted my vacation request for the holidays, but you haven’t approved it yet. Is there a problem?” Ethan had lost vacation time in his demotion, and had used up what he did have flying back and forth to DC. He was scrapping the last days he had to put together a trip back east over Christmas. It wasn’t as long as he wanted, but it was what he had.

Shepherd barked out a harsh laugh, slamming a stack of papers down on his desk. “Why do you do this?”

“Sir?”

“Why do you pretend like you follow the rules? Like they even matter to you? You can break every rule we have and nothing will happen to you.”

“That’s not who I am,” Ethan growled. “I don’t act that way.”

“That’s exactly who you are. And exactly how you acted.”

Ethan’s frown deepened, turning to a scowl. “Sir, I don’t get any special treatment―”

“Of course you do!” Shepherd cried. His hands rose, and then he was shouting, pointing at Ethan as his face turned red. “Why do you even bother coming in? Why do you put up the pretense of being an agent? You’d make it easier for everyone if you just stopped pretending!”

“I’m not pretending!” Ethan roared. “I’m doing my job!”

Shepherd laughed, long and loud. “You stopped doing your job the moment you compromised yourself and the president!”

“I am still an agent―” Ethan seethed.

“You’re a Goddamn pain in my ass.” Shepherd cut him off. “And I have no clue why you’re still an agent. You shouldn’t be. You should have been forced to turn in your badge and your gun and got kicked out of the Service.”

Ethan’s jaw snapped shut, his teeth clicking together.

“Let me be perfectly clear. I don’t give a shit what you do. Come to work. Don’t come to work. Go on vacation for the entire month of December. Run away with the president and get drunk on some beach. I don’t give a shit. Just stop wasting my time, okay?”

Ethan nodded once. “Sir.”

“Get out of my office.”

His hand clenched around the strap of his duffel, and his teeth ground together, but he strode out of Shepherd’s office with his chin held high. Rage roared through him, deep in his veins.

There had better not be anyone in the gym downstairs. He had to get this out, pound it out into a punching bag until his knuckles split and he vomited in the corner. He had to get this out, because in three hours, Jack was going to call him on his computer, and he couldn’t face Jack like this. Not about to fly apart, quaking with too much fury and raw shame. It hurt, God, it hurt. But Jack couldn’t see that. He couldn’t ever see it.

My Review:
This is the second-ish book in a series and likely best enjoyed when read in order.

Ethan Reichenbach is a secret serviceman who had the Presidential detail for Jack Spiers when he was a leading candidate on the campaign trail. Spiers, a long-time widower, didn’t have relationships anymore, but he and Ethan developed a friendship that turned into something more as the election wore on and Jack won. They began a clandestine relationship that was passionate and sweet for both of these lonely men. The previous book describes terrorist plots to assassinate President, foiled by Ethan, and a dramatic back-from-the-dead rescue which ended in the President outing himself on the White House lawn, kissing Ethan in full view.

This book picks up with Ethan and Jack and their developing relationship. Ethan’s breach of ethical conduct resulted in a demotion, and reassignment to Des Moines to investigate financial crimes. Jack, being the president, is on the road for diplomatic missions, and he’s determined to take down the Caliphate terrorist forces in the Middle East that nearly killed both himself and Ethan–as well as taking responsibility for lots of other attacks in Europe and worldwide in the past decade. He needs to marshal international support, and is stunned to find the Russian Federation’s President Pushkin is a possible ally.

As a president, Jack’s facing lots of homophobic backlash from Congress and fellow world leaders, but he’s totally gone for Ethan, so he bears it all with strained patience. Jack lives for his weekends of private loving in the Residence. Ethan, too. He struggles with his reduced role in investigations, especially as he’s a pariah in his Iowa office and hounded by media wherever he goes. Ethan gets side eye and backhand comments all the time, which sucks because their attempts at keeping a low profile foments speculation that he and Jack are on the outs.

While Jack is busy planning an invasion to eradicate the Caliphate, Ethan’s counterfeiting investigation intersects with a murder/mafia human trafficking FBI investigation–and those guys don’t want Ethan’s help, either. Still, he’s determined to do his job to the best of his ability. He’s a man of character and integrity, no matter what people think of his romance with Jack.

As for their romance, it’s hawt. Whenever these guys connect, it’s a supernova of sex and tenderness. They are still exploring each other, and Ethan’s overwhelmed with his deep love for Jack, not forgetting that Jack’s new to same-sex relations, and almost stunned by positive Jack’s physical response to his masculinity. Jack is really amorous, and that’s heady and humbling for Ethan, who’s long been a bit self-conscious. I really felt their connection through the pages, and also grew melancholy whenever one of their weekends was set to end. It’s such a difficult time for them, with the holidays, and political intrigue, and work problems, but Jack and Ethan carve out a sensual and lovely time for each other at Christmas. Seriously, these guys need to get married, toot-sweet. I want them to wake up in each others’ arms every single day.

I haven’t read ENEMIES OF THE STATE, but I gathered enough of that story from the references that I was able to enjoy this one. I think I would have liked INTERLUDE even more had I read it in order, but that’s not saying much, as I really enjoyed this book on its own. The growing pains for Ethan and Jack’s relationship were so well described, and I didn’t feel it was angsty. They have real roadblocks to overcome, but they are all external. People and opinions getting in the way, yet Jack and Ethan remain determined to be the fantastic men they were before anyone discovered their secret love. I loved how being true to themselves yielded them unlikely allies and new opportunities. There isn’t a lot of action in the book. No dramatic car chases, life-changing events, or rescues, just a quiet, lovely romance. I’m fully expecting a proposal in the next book, and can’t wait for the first Presidential wedding.

Interested? You can find INTERLUDE: FIRST NOEL on Goodreads, NineStar Press, and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a free book from NineStar Press.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:

Tal Bauer writes LGBT fiction and romance, bringing together a career in law enforcement, trauma medicine, and international humanitarian and disaster relief work to create dynamic, strong characters, intriguing plots, and unique, exotic locations. Tal’s stories weave together pulse-pounding adventure, cunning intrigue, and sweeping romance. Tal is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America.

Catch up with Tal on their website, Facebook and twitter.
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Light in the Darkness: BONFIRE-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a paranormal M/M romance novella from Irene Preston and Liv Rancourt. BONFIRE is the sequel to VESPERS, which you know I really liked. Sara and Thad are back and need to solve a mystery in their own backyard.

bonfireAbout the book:
Silent night, holy hell.
Thaddeus and Sarasija are spending the holidays on the bayou, and while the vampire’s idea of Christmas cheer doesn’t quite match his assistant’s, they’re working on a compromise. Before they can get the tree trimmed, they’re interrupted by the appearance of the feu follet. The ghostly lights appear in the swamp at random and lead even the locals astray.

When the townsfolk link the phenomenon to the return of their most reclusive neighbor, suspicion falls on Thaddeus. These lights aren’t bringing glad tidings, and if Thad and Sara can’t find their source, the feu follet might herald a holiday tragedy for the whole town.

My Review:
This is the second book in a series, and really should be read in order.

Thad and Sara are getting used to being a couple, planning a quiet, somewhat cheerful Christmas at Thad’s home in the bayou. Though a nominal Hindu, Sara’s parents celebrated a secular “American” Christmas, and he’s a little homesick missing his family. Thing is, weird lights are appearing in the mist, and leading people out into the murk. It even grabs hold of Thad, who (as a vampire) is totally light-sensitive, but it doesn’t affect Sara for unknown reasons. As such, Sara is a super important part of the investigation, which irks Thad–he wants Sara to stay home, be safe.

So this novella packs a lot of emotional punch. We see how Thad’s emotionally dependent on Sara, and that’s really endearing. They’re also working on their intimacy, which Sara loves and Thad’s trying not to treat as if it’s sinful. Hard for him what with being raised that way.

…I half carried him upstairs to our bed.
Our bed.
The bed I would share with him as long as he’d have me. Though at times my inner conflict still raged, Sara was a sin I couldn’t help but commit.

#Swoon, really. Because what’s more romantic than completely setting aside your biased, yet ingrained, religious beliefs to embrace love.

This mystery unfolds slowly, but has a big wallop of conflict. The “natives” aren’t happy about outsiders in the bayou, and are quick to blame the witch lights–visions of light that naturally appear and are dismissed as “swamp gas” but are instead serving as a beacon–on Thad, as he’s such a recluse that many feel he could be a malevolent force. Some of the townsfolk try to intimidate him into leaving. Then, a young girl goes missing and it’s pretty much torches and pitchforks time.

All of this is happening alongside the Christmas season, and the festive spirit that Sara’s trying to cultivate is dimmed by the mounting mystery. The climax is intense, with Thad and Sara combing the bayou for the missing girl, and the source of magic behind the light-beacons. I really enjoyed this, and loved that Thad embraced his human roots more. The affection growing between Thad and Sara is delightful, and I just can’t wait to read more of their adventures.

Interested? You can find BONFIRE on Goodreads and Amazon. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Authors:
Irene Preston has to write romances, after all she is living one. As a starving college student, she met her dream man who whisked her away on a romantic honeymoon across Europe. Today they live in the beautiful hill country outside of Austin, Texas where Dream Man is still working hard to make sure she never has to take off her rose-colored glasses.

You can find Irene on her website and twitter.

About Liv Rancourt…

I write romance: m/f, m/m, and v/h, where the h is for human and the v is for vampire…or sometimes demon. I write funny. I don’t write angst. When I’m not writing I take care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether I’m at home or at work. My husband is a soul of patience, my dog is the cutest thing evah(!), and we’re up to three ferrets.

I can be found on-line at all hours of the day and night at my website & blog Liv Rancourt, on Facebook, or on Twitter. Come find me. We’ll have fun!

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Love and Loss for THE NEXT COMPETITOR–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary New Adult sports M/M romance from Keira Andrews. THE NEXT COMPETITOR isn’t a Christmas book, but it features fantastic male figure skaters, and that’s wintry to me! Plus, I’ve recently gotten hooked on YURI!!! ON ICE, a lovely new anime with respectfully-portrayed gay characters, so I was jazzed to read this one.

And that cover! #Swoon…

tncAbout the book:
If he risks his heart, can he keep his head in the game?
To win gold, figure skater Alex Grady must train harder than the competition morning, noon, and night. He’s obsessed with mastering another quadruple jump, and due to the lack of filter between his mouth and brain, doesn’t have a lot of friends. As for a boyfriend, forget it. So what if he’s still a virgin at twenty? The Olympics are only every four years—everything else can wait. Relationships are messy and complicated anyway, and he has zero room in his life for romance.

So it’s ridiculous when Alex finds himself checking out his boring new training mate Matt Savelli. Calm, collected “Captain Cardboard” is a nice guy, but even if Alex had time to date, Matt’s so not his type. Yet beneath Matt’s wholesome surface, there’s a dirty, sexy man who awakens a desire Alex has never experienced and can’t deny…

Note: This gay romance from Keira Andrews features opposites attracting, new adult angst, sexual discovery, and of course a happy ending.

This new version has been extensively rewritten, updated, and expanded into a new adult romance with explict on-page sex.

My Review:
This is a strongly-written New Adult M/M sports romance which features elite amateur skaters.

Alex Grady is a taciturn skater determined to win gold at the Olympics. He came to skating late, but has worked really, really hard to make it to the top, winning US Nationals in the previous season. He has a new coach, Mrs. C, who is a former Russian champion, and gives Alex the tough instruction he needs. It’s an Olympic year and he’s training in Toronto, isolated from his family in New Jersey, making few friends of his training mates.

Matt Savelli, one-half of a partners team, is an attractive man, one that Alex can’t help but notice. Looking is all Alex really wants. He’s known he was gay for most of his life, but he’s never had a boyfriend. Alex’s out to his family, but he keeps his sexuality private, fearing some judges may lower his scores out of prejudice, especially with hypermasculine skaters tearing up the ice with all their huge jumps. Plus, dating someone would just take time away from training, and Alex can’t afford it. His family’s financial situation is very much dependent upon Alex’s performance.

Still, as Alex interacts with Matt, he recognizes that Matt’s not the model of perfection he projects. Their friendship grows, a bit. And, when a tragedy occurs on the ice and Matt’s partner is injured, Alex is there to pick Matt up from his depression, encouraging him to skate singles for the first time in years. Not only that, they connect in a way Alex never has with a man before. The competitive atmosphere is exciting as Alex and Matt both strive for their personal Olympic dreams. At the end of the day, however, Alex is focused on winning gold, and he messes up with Matt, big time.

I really enjoyed all the skating bits. I’m (at best) a casual figure skating fan–I appreciate its beauty, but it’s not really my thing–yet I didn’t feel lost, or overwhelmed with the sport bits. The story is one of setting goals, and reaching for them over all other parts of life, and that self-sacrifice is something I do really connect with. Alex’s life has a combustive energy, with his no-filter mouth and his solitary habits. He’s socially-awkward and abrasive, as a result. Matt stayed away at first because of that, thinking the Alex was a big jerk. He isn’t, really, but his shell is tough to crack, and he’s petulant at times with a horrid habit of lashing out when frustrated. That said, he does make amends, and his tender heart is revealed in lovely ways over the second half of the story.

There’s also a sweet bit of sexual exploration here, because Alex begins the book as a virgin, and Matt takes care of that bit of business. Both sweet and tender, and hot and dirty, loving are on the menu, folks. There’s also some heartbreak, and a lot of personal growth in store for Alex. I loved that he began the book as a prickly young man, and ended as a freaking teddy bear.

Interested? You can find THE NEXT COMPETITOR on Goodreads and Amazon.

Keira AndrewsAbout the Author:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

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

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Love Doesn’t Pull RANK–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new M/M military romance from Richard Compson Sater. RANK is a May-December romance between a second Lieutenant in the Air Force, and his commanding officer: a one-star general.

rankAbout the book:
Integrity.
Service before self.
Excellence in all things.
The U.S. Air Force core values matter to Second Lieutenant Harris Mitchell, out and proud since the military ditched its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. But though the Air Force may be gay friendly, Harris isn’t so sure about his demanding new boss, Brigadier General Seamus O’Neill—unit commander, cargo pilot, perfectionist, infidel—hiding behind bluster, a magnificent mustache, and a secret. Harris is certain that General O’Neill hates him. So what’s a lieutenant supposed to do when he discovers that he’s fallen in love?

My Review:
Air Force Second Lieutenant Harris Mitchell had no idea what would happen when he reported to the office of Brigadier General Seamus O’Neill. Certainly not finding the love of his life.

Harris had enlisted previously, but only served his enlistment. He went into teaching, and only returned to the Air Force when Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed. Because Harris is gay, and he wants to be out in all aspects of his life. His commanding officers all know, and he’s quick to bring this to the attention of General O’Neill when he’s interviewing for a new aide. The general seems unperturbed, and Harris is soon reassigned.

Harris is in the direct firing line of O’Neill’s ire, and also center of a betting pool. See, none of the General’s aides in the past two years has lasted more than two months of the year-long assignment. This hostile work environment lights a fire under a bored Harris, and presents him a challenge he’s been waiting for. Plus, the general is a fit specimen for being just over fifty.

This novel reads more like a “memoir,” with lots of description regarding the Air Force, DADT, and a protocol-flaunting general. Harris has a developing attraction for the general, but thinks it’s moot: the general isn’t gay. Thing is, he is, and while he returns Harris’ interest, the general is unwilling to come out.

I really liked the quiet humor and touching moments. There is a lot of heart here, and a little bit of heat. Harris and Seamus make a sweet May-December couple, but they aren’t very realistic, as Harris’ parents are quick to point out. Plus, Harris is in a far different position than his paramour. He’s out-and-proud, and Seamus isn’t. Won’t. Wants no part of that business. That’s not acceptable to Harris, really, nor to his parents.

I could really sense the inherent danger of their relationship, that both men will lose rank if they are discovered. That they each face dishonorable discharge is made very clear. Harris is a great character, with a sweetness that belies his station. He’s thirty, so it’s not like he’s being taken advantage of, but he’s not jaded. I did enjoy their love story, and liked all the intricacies of the military protocol that make up the plot. Watching The General squirm under cross-examination by Harris’ mother was beyond delicious. She’s a feisty gal who cares not one whit for rank, if it’s going to harm her son. Huzzah for military mothers! She did you proud.

The ending is really a little more open than I’d hoped for. It felt realistic, though, with each man making plans for a future together, even if the Air Force separates them for stretches of service. It’s a long time coming, however, and Seamus and Harris have a lot of steps to take to get there.

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Rebuilding Love IDLEWILD–Review and Giveaway!

idlewild_fbHi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new contemporary interracial M/M romance from Jude Sierra. IDLEWILD is a quiet and tender romance between a white widower restauranteur and the captivating, young black waiter he hires. It’s been named a Kirkus Best Book of 2016, and I really liked it.

Catch an excerpt below and be sure to get in on the giveaway for a $25 GC or on of five free books!

idlewild-coverAbout the book:
Asher Schenck and his husband John opened their downtown gastro pub in the midst of Detroit’s revival. Now, five years after John’s sudden death, Asher is determined to pull off a revival of his own. In a last ditch attempt to bring Idlewild back to life, he fires everyone and hires a new staff. Among them is Tyler Heyward, a recent college graduate in need of funds to pay for med school.

Tyler is a cheery balm on Asher’s soul, and their relationship quickly shifts from business to friendship. When they fall for each other, it is not the differences of race or class that challenge their love, but the ghosts and expectations of their respective pasts. Will they remain stuck, or move toward a life neither of them has allowed himself to dream about?

How about a little taste?

Today when Asher greets him, he seems more present. Tyler knew this place was in dire straits, but if he needed confirmation, the harried expression on Asher’s face when they first met was it.

Although his clothes hint that he’s tried to put himself together, his hair is a mess. It’s longish, with a hint of curls and is the kind of tousled only some men can pull off. Though deep brown, Tyler can see some gray at the temples. Asher has dark eyes and sports the shadow of a beard. Despite the pallor of his skin that indicates he hasn’t gotten sun in a long time and his slightly sloppy appearance, Tyler can’t help but notice how handsome he is. He’s taller than Tyler by a few inches—most men are. He has no idea how old Asher is—it would hardly be polite to ask—but he thinks maybe in his thirties. That’s hardly old, but it’s older than he; that’s never been an attraction. But, it’s working right now. Tyler swallows and smiles.

“So,” Asher starts. He sits at the same table. It’s just as covered in paperwork. “What are your thoughts about working here?”

“Are…” Tyler eyes him. “Are you hiring me?”

“I am strongly considering it.” Asher doesn’t smile but his eyes are friendly.

“It would be great to work here,” Tyler says. “Really. This building has a vibe.”

“Oh, I don’t know. Something here feels right.” He wonders if he’s making a fool of himself. Tyler sometimes can sense the energy of a person or place. It’s nothing he seeks—but some people and places he’s encountered just feel right.

Empty, Idlewild brims with potential. It’s a building with great bones, long but narrow, with high groin-vaulted ceilings and a bar that curves down the length of the front-of-house floor. Cream-colored wainscoting lines the bottom of the walls—he sees it running up the stairs to the second floor—and the walls are a rich deep red that’s brightened and warmed by an eclectic assortment of antique lighting fixtures. Wide wooden steps with carved spindles lead to the second floor seating area. The dark wood and walls are offset by light through the large glass window.

“Well, I hope so.” Asher looks around, then shrugs. “Or that I can make something of it.”

“Just you?” Tyler asks. “That sounds exhausting.”

Asher tilts his head with a tiny smile quirking his lips.

“Well, if you wanna take a chance on me, which I recommend, I want to help you with that.” Tyler smiles as warmly as he can and is gratified when Asher’s eyes catch his. They share a second of eye contact that leaves Tyler short of breath. He looks away quickly.

My Review:
Mired in grief over his dead husband, John, Asher’s trying to restart his life by restarting their restaurant, IDLEWILD. His depression and grief caused him to pull back the reins, and his staff had gotten lax and disaffected in those five years. So, he fires his staff, sells his condo and pours all that money into hiring all new personnel, from busboys to chefs. Tyler, a young, intriguing black man has the kind of spark that catches peoples eye–even Asher.

Tyler’s been dating Malik for a couple years, but they’ve been off-and-on, and Tyler’s pretty sure that Malik’s not as captivated, no matter how much Tyler tries to catch his eye. They’re in different places in life, too. Malik’s still in college, and Tyler’s newly graduated–and revising his career plan which had included med school. Taking the job at Idlewild opens Tyler in a way he’d been looking for. He senses the energy of the place, and thrives in the community he forms in the restaurant. Malik isn’t happy–he thinks all the folks “revitalizing” Detroit’s Downtown are doing a disservice to the people who’d lived here for decades, whose efforts are often overlooked.

When Malik feels that Tyler’s a bit too enchanted with his boss, Asher, he cuts out–it’s not personal. Malik wants to be free, and he recognizes that there’s a good chance Tyler and Asher could build a solid relationship. Asher’s responsive to Tyler’s needs, and they seem to connect very well–but each man’s putting up a brave front. Tyler wants to be whatever his partner needs, often overlooking his own needs in the process. Meanwhile, Asher still hasn’t come to terms with the loss of John, he’s a shell of a man; Tyler’s breezy personality is so attractive to him, yet brings on the guilt, too.

I really enjoyed the book, which has a lovely cadence to the prose. The story had more issues regarding class than race, with Tyler educating Asher that “lack” isn’t necessarily “deficient” and privilege isn’t always the best filter for decision-making. The class-struggles of urban Detroit are similar to those I’ve observed growing up in/near Chicago, so this was very relatable, for me. Tyler’s developed a facade of being a bright spark, to hide his innate insecurity, which was bittersweet to experience. I was really glad to see him open up and tell Asher how he truly felt, and how Asher’s unwillingness to move on from John was a life of survival, not actual living. Asher isn’t sure he can give himself fully to another man–especially such a young one as Tyler; he thinks Tyler’s just biding his time before finding a younger, more suitable, partner. Nonetheless, these guys are sweet with each other. They are also hungry, and desperate to find a person who can fill their emptiness. The resolution is comforting and lovely, with both Asher and Tyler expressing their needs, and building a much stronger rapport. The success of Idlewild isn’t an accident, and it seems Asher’s new life is one John would have been proud to share.

Interested? You can find IDLEWILD on Goodreads, Interlude Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Book Depository, AllRomance, Smashwords and IndieBound.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for a chance to win a $25 GC from Interlude Publishing or one of FIVE copies of IDLEWILD.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Jude Sierra first began writing poetry as a child in her home country of Brazil. Still a student of the form, she began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007, and in 2011 began writing in online communities, where her stories have thousands of readers. Her previous novels include Hush (2015) and What It Takes (2016), which received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly.

Connect with Jue on her website, Facebook and on Twitter.

Cover Reveal for VOLLEY BALLS by Tara Lain

banner-crb-volley-balls-by-tara-lain
Hi there! Today I’m sharing a cover reveal for a new contemporary M/M sports romance coming soon from Tara Lain. VOLLEY BALLS is the first book in her new series, and looks to be a yummy, competitive, sexy book!

The book releases January 11th, so catch the excerpt below and see if it piques your interest!

volleyballs400x600About the Book:
A double dose of alpha male might be better than one. Tara Lain’s popular novella, Volley Balls, is now expanded and revised.
Despite just getting out of an abusive relationship with an asshole alpha, David Underwood’s wandering glance lands on two hot members of the Australian volleyball team on Laguna Beach and gets him harassed again. Still, when the delicious Gareth Marshall proves his interest by coming out to his team, David succumbs to his attraction. But Gareth’s volleyball partner, Edge, who’s equally hot, makes the lovers’ lives miserable.

For Gareth, a lifetime of hiding his orientation—and his attraction—from his best friend, Edge, as well as everyone else around him, adds up to hurt and frustration. David’s the first man to ever compete with Edge for Gareth’s passion. But Edge has secrets of his own, and David’s ex-lover will never be happy without David under his fist. With everything stacked against him, can a gay Laguna man find happiness with an alpha male–or two?

How about a little taste?

As he approached the gallery, a figure stepped away from the building. He sucked wind, stopped, and slapped a hand over his heart. Shit.Not Phil. Not Phil. He swallowed hard.

The Aussie stepped closer. “Sorry to scare you. Are you okay?”

Couldn’t quite catch his breath. He nodded, but his inhale sounded in his ears.

“Jesus, I’m sorry, David. I keep fucking this up. I should just leave you alone like you asked me.” He shook his head, turned, and started walking away down Forest.

“Wait!” Shit, did he just say that?

The guy stopped and turned. “Yeh?” The word turned up on the end—hopefully.

“I have to give you points for not giving up. After me being such a shit and all.”

“I deserved it. I just—” He shrugged. “—don’t have much experience. None with guys, you know? I’m pretty bad at it.”

“You guarantee you’re not an ax murderer?”

The guy’s perfect lips in his perfect face turned up. “Do American ax murderers admit their profession? Must make policing damned easy.”

“Yep. All the cops are busy eating donuts as we speak.”

“So no, I’m not an ax murderer.” His face sobered. “Or anyone who means you harm.” He extended his hand. “Hello. I’m Gareth Marshall.”

David shook his hand. Big. Very callused. Very warm. “Okay, Gareth.” David crossed his arms. “What’s a nice guy like you doing with a homophobic asshole like that big blond?”

All kinds of emotions flashed across his face—anger, hurt, and embarrassment seemed uppermost. “He’s my volleyball partner.” He took a breath. “And actually my best friend.”

David frowned. “So he harasses every other gay guy, but not you?”

“He doesn’t know I’m gay.”

“Uh, sorry to tell you, but in the dictionary where it says ‘best friend,’ it says ‘guy who you tell all your secrets to.’”

“I know. But we’ve been friends since we were kids. He thinks he knows everything about me.”

“He’s missed a few sucked cocks, I gather.”

Gareth did that shrug thing. “A few.”

“So where do we go from here?”

He flashed a slightly saucy smile. “Where do you want to go, mate?”

“You’re the one lurking in doorways.”

I’m intrigued, to say the least! Gareth sounds like he’s got some big secrets and problems to resolve.

Interested? You can find VOLLEY BALLS on Goodreads, and pre-order it on Dreamspinner Press. The book releases January 11th.

About the Author:
Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 23. Her best­selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.

She lives with her soul­mate husband and her soul­mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

You can find Tara at:

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Learning to Love (Again) THE BUTCH AND THE BEAUTIFUL–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary F/F romance from Kris Ripper. THE BUTCH AND THE BEAUTIFUL is the second book in Kris’ Queers of La Vista series and centers on a butch lesbian high school teacher whose fear of abandonment has stunted her ability to find a long-term gal. I really liked GAYS OF OUR LIVES, so I decided to read on in the series.

butch-beautyAbout the book:
Jaq Cummings is a high school teacher who really wants a committed relationship—as long as it doesn’t keep her out late on school nights or interrupt Sunday mass with her dad. She is absolutely not about to fall for the hot-mess divorcée she hooks up with even if said hot mess pushes all her buttons. Jaq’s white knight days are over.

But one hookup with Hannah becomes two, then coffee, then more incredibly hot sex. And unlike most of Jaq’s exes, Hannah’s not looking for someone to come on strong. In fact, Hannah comes on plenty strong enough for both of them. But she’s just out of a disastrous marriage, she’s in the process of moving across the state, and Jaq can’t take a chance on yet another relationship where she defaults to being a caregiver instead of a partner.

Just when Jaq decides her relationship with Hannah is far too precarious, a crisis with a student reminds her of her priorities and makes it clear that sometimes, you have to take big risks to get what you really want.

My Review:
Jaq is a butch lesbian in search of Ms. Right, perhaps. She’s never had a long-term relationship, and her loving father and close friends all believe it’s because Jaq is afraid to really love someone, with the possibility of losing them–like her mother who died of cancer when Jaq was a child.

This is the second book in a series, and I think it reads fine as a standalone, but two threads carry over from the previous book: the unsolved murder of a transvestite entertainer, and the (nearly incestuous) interconnectedness of the queer community in La Vista, a small Frisco-Bay-area suburban town. Prime example? Jaq and Hannah meet because they are both exes of brides at a wedding. Hannah’s a sexy attorney going through a bitter divorce, and not averse to a hot time with Jaq. Their one night stand becomes more when Hannah reveals she’s moving to La Vista, to escape the LA scene, where her ex is a clebrity chef, and shacking up with one of her employees.

Jaq likes Hannah, but their mutual friends, and Hannah herself, warn Jaq that Hannah’s a bit crazy. Thing is, Jaq soon recognizes that she likes Hannah’s crazy, because it’s a wild and aggressive sexy streak. Jaq swoons for her, but questions if this is the right thing to do: build hopes and dreams on Hannah. Hannah’s still battling with her ex over the sale of their house; she can’t possibly want anything serious.

The book is a low-conflict read, with Jaq being a bit of a jerk when Hannah flakes, once, on their plans. She’s always looking for a reason to dump a gal, which is pointed out with brutal honesty, and then Jaq needs to make amends. There also some nice subplots regarding Jaq’s position as a high school teacher, and how she supports the school GSA, and the kids who she knows are falling through the cracks. Her relationship with her father is so lovely, and her baby-wanting bestie is a tough love champ. The characters all read like I’m watching them in real life, and that’s the sign of a good book, for me. There’s lots and lots of sexy moments, and it’s all very steamy. And sticky, because vegan whipping cream is apparently just as fantastic as a sexytimes aid as the bovine-made stuff. Yum.

I liked that Jaq made things right between her and Hannah, and that Hannah was willing to listen. She’s a very human character, willing to share her sordid past, and work to build something special. Their compatibility was palpable, and I liked that the whole “crazy” notion was really more “eccentric and excitable” than serious-meds-are-required. Not that I’m opposed to characters who are disturbed, just that Jaq didn’t seem able to begin a relationship with a partner who had a mental illness. We got some more insights into the La Vista queers, and I’m sure interested to find out more about this world.

Interested? You can find THE BUTCH AND THE BEAUTIFUL on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance. I read a review copy courtesy of NetGalley.

About the Author:
Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a toddler, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and has no pronoun preference, but the z-based pronouns are freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.

Catch up with Kris on zir website, Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Out now! ALTERATIONS Book Blitz and Giveaway!

alterations-teaser-image-book-blitzHi there! Today I’m spreading the word on a new YA contemporary romance from Stephanie Scott. ALTERATIONS features a fashion-creating loner who stitches herself into a romance and trouble.

alterations_fc_fnlAbout the book:
If anyone saw the prom boards Amelia Blanco makes on her favorite fashion app, they’d think Ethan Laurenti was her boyfriend. They wouldn’t know that all the plans she’s made for them are just dreams, and that she’s the girl who watches him from the kitchen while her parents cook for his famous family.

When Amelia’s abuelita enrolls her in a month-long fashion internship in NYC, Amelia can’t imagine leaving Miami–and Ethan–for that long. As soon as she gets to New York, however, she finds a bigger world and new possibilities. She meets people her own age who can actually carry on a conversation about stitching and design. Her pin boards become less about prom with Ethan and more about creating her own style. By the time she returns to Miami, Amelia feels like she can accomplish anything, and surprises herself by agreeing to help Ethan’s awkward, Steve-Jobs-wannabe brother, Liam, create his own fashion app.

As Liam and Amelia get closer, Ethan realizes that this newly confident, stylish girl may be the one for him after all . . . even though he has a reality TV star girlfriend he conveniently keeps forgetting about. The “new and improved” Amelia soon finds herself in between two brothers, a whole lot of drama, and choice she never dreamed she’d have to make.

Interested? You can find ALTERATIONS on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes and Google Play.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $20 Amazon GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

stephanie-scottAbout the Author:
Stephanie Scott writes Young Adult stories about teens who put their passions first. She’s an active member of Romance Writers of America and its online YA chapter YARWA, and mentors writers in online pitch contests. She loves dance fitness and cat memes, and Pinterest is driving her broke. She lives outside of Chicago with her tech-of-all-trades husband. Her debut novel, ALTERATIONS, is about a fashion-obsessed loner who reinvents herself. She’s also a contributor to the young adult short story anthology WELCOME HOME out in spring 2017.

You can find Stephanie online on her website, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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Authentic Love? Or, CLICKBAIT–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M romance from EJ Russell. CLICKBAIT is an odd-couple interracial romance for two younger men who really need a strong connection.

clickbaitAbout the book:
After the disastrous ending of his first serious relationship, Gideon Wallace cultivated a protective — but fabulously shiny — outer shell to shield himself from Heartbreak 2.0. Besides, romance is so not a priority for him right now. All his web design prospects have inexplicably evaporated, and to save his fledgling business, he’s been compelled to take a hands-on hardware project — as in, his hands on screwdrivers, soldering irons, and needle-nosed pliers. God. Failure could actually be an option.

Journeyman electrician Alex Henning is ready to leave Gideon twisting in the wind after their run-ins both on and off the construction site. Except, like a fool, he takes pity on the guy and offers to help. Never mind that between coping with his dad’s dementia and clocking all the overtime he can finagle, he has zero room in his life for more complications.

Apparently, an office build-out can lay the foundation for a new relationship. Who knew? But before Alex can trust Gideon with the truth about his fragile family, he has to believe that Gideon’s capable of caring about more than appearances. And Gideon must learn that when it comes to the heart, it’s content — not presentation — that matters.

My Review:
I’m going to call this a redemption romance, because one of the main characters is a brilliant dope at Humans 1.0, and he learns how to interface well with others by the end.

Gideaon Wallace is a prima donna web content designer. He freelances web design, and has a knack for building tasteful, engaging content. Unfortunately, in his personal life he’s all about the flash, the appearance, and content isn’t always important. HE never dates a man more than twice, and most hardly get that much of his time. He’s cultivated close friendships with his two roomies, but one is moving out and the other’s really occupied with her family, of late, so he’s a bit lonely. And, when his freelance clients begin to delay on their contracts, Gideon’s in danger of not making his rent. He bids on a hardware install job, as a last-ditch effort to make a positive cash flow, and is almost disheartened to win it. Because it’s a bad job. And the contract is a rotten. If he doesn’t complete the installation in time for go-live in three weeks, he doesn’t get paid. And, he can only work certain hours of the day, due to access restrictions. Gideon is in big, big trouble.

Alex Henning. He’s a stand up man, who feels like he let his adoptive family down. While he was gallivanting around with a new beau instead of doing his assigned chores, his father fell off a ladder and had a severe head injury. No one has said that led to his dad’s early-onset dementia, but Alex is sure it played a big part. Though he’s thirty, Alex still lives at home. He’s a burly man, and is able to physically restrain his father when fits of rage take over. Being black, unlike his adoptive family, Alex’s father confuses Alex for a recollection of an old work mate named Hank. It’s a heartbreaking scenario, but they don’t want to commit him to an institution, because a good one is too expensive. And a bad one is too dismal. So Alex dedicates himself to earning as much money as he can to meet the family’s many bills.

Alex met Gideon a few years back at his younger sister’s, Lin’s, birthday party. Lin has spoken about her svelte roomie many times, and Alex has always been intrigued, but not in Gideon’s two-date policy. He wants a steady man, so he can build a family. But, when Gideon turns up on his jobsite, wholly unprepared for dealing with a fresh build-out, Alex strikes a bargain. Frazzled Gideon’s unable to refuse Alex’s help prepping and installing servers if he’s going to fulfill his ridiculous contract. Even if it means having THREE dates with the behemoth electrician. Gideon’s a bit of a priss, too, so dating a working class man is a hard blow for him. Especially when he finds the company boss so attractive.

I loved Alex, and all his overwhelming selflessness. He’s a good man, and he’s in a bad spot. The anguish of his home life is really severe, and I think readers who have ever had to manage care for a demetia patient will find his plight so relatable. Gideon, on the other hand, is arrogant, and snobby. He’s a self-involved hipster techgeek, but there’s substance behind that veneer, thank goodness. I really liked how he changed his tune, by working hard, and seeing Alex’s hard work. Plus, Alex is a surprising date. He’s not the rough-and-tumble man Gideon mistakes him for. And admitting his prejudices and took a lot of Gideon’s sharp edges off. I loved how he grew into being a stronger man, one who’s willing to invest deep relationships, and to be part of a family, even if it’s hard. Gideon hasn’t had the easiest life, and I loved how he reached out to his estranged father to cope–and got an even bigger surprise. While Gideon got an upgrade, Alex got a partner. And, unexpected help for his father–that made the whole family better. The ending is sweet, and there are some nice sexy moments, including jobsite shenanigans.

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

****GIVEAWAY****

Hop on over to my good friend Tammy at TTC Books and More who has some more deets about this book, and leave a comment there to be entered to win $25 in Riptide Books cash.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
E.J. Russell writes romance in a rainbow of flavors — from M/F stories grounded in absurd contemporary reality to M/M tales splashed with the supernatural — but you can be sure that while the couple makes their way to HEA, they’ll never stray too far into the dark.

You can catch up with Ms. Russell on her website, Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.