TBR Thursday! AS LA VISTA TURNS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a F/F romance from Kris Ripper. It felt good to finally get back to this series, and what an awesome resolution. AS LA VISTA TURNS is the final book in the Queers of La Vista series, and brings closure to the loose-knit community who’d been terrorized by a serial killer in the first four books, GAYS OF OUR LIVES, THE BUTCH AND THE BEAUTIFUL, THE QUEER AND THE RESTLESS and ONE LIFE TO LOSE. It features a spunky lesbian lead who’s desperate to get pregnant, and help her friends heal and grieve those who had been killed.

About the book:
Zane Jaffe has almost lost track of what conception cycle she’s in. (That’s a lie: this is cycle thirteen.) She’s fake-dating her pal Mildred to get her best friend off her back, but judging by how hot it was when they accidentally kissed, her feelings might be somewhat less platonic than she’d thought.

And she’s decided that healing the fractured local queer community can only be accomplished through a party. Or maybe it’s actually a wake. Whatever it is, it’ll take place at Club Fred’s, and there will be alcohol.

Trying to conceive is an unholy rollercoaster of emotions, and Mildred won’t let them kiss again until Zane figures out how she feels. Between the wake (exhausting as hell, and that’s just the fun stuff), the constant up-down cycle of trying to get pregnant, and saving the world in the meantime, Zane has no idea. Fall in love with Mildred isn’t on her list, but maybe it’s time to let go of that rigid future she’s been working toward, and instead embrace the accidents that can lead to something better.

My Review:
Zane Jaffe is a realtor who’s got a list for her life. Right now, the top priority is to get pregnant, though she’s a single lesbian woman. She’s been “fake dating” her friend “Dred” (short for Mildred) a cantankerous black pan-sexual woman who is raising an infant son with the help of her cousin Obie and his boyfriend Everett–who live in a big farmhouse on the edge of La Vista. (Obie and Everett are the couple from Gays of our Lives). Thing is, Zane’s sorta/kinda wanting more than a fake relationship with Dred. Maybe. It’s not on her list though…

After twelve failed cycles of inseminations, Zane’s really down on the prospect of pregnancy. She wants it so badly she’s willing to try some unconventional work–like accepting the donation of a dear friend’s…specimen. And, while all this is coming, literally, to a head, Zane’s determined to create a venue for all her friends to gather and mourn the loss of so many in their community. She’s working hand-in-hand with Keith, Josh and Cam, our menage from ONE LIFE TO LOSE, to be sure this “wake” is tasteful and positive. Add to all this the drama building between Zane and Dred, and well, it’s definitely a soap opera.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this story. I knew there would a romance, but I didn’t expect to be so viscerally engaged in the pregnancy battle. It was such a whirlwind being inside Zane’s head, and connecting with her deep sense of loss when she hadn’t conceived. Hand to God, I think I got sympathetic menstrual cramps as a result. I did get frustrated with Zane’s inability to think about life beyond her lists. It was clear that Dred was reaching out, and Zane’s so keyed into her own headspace that she messed that right up. But, she did make it right, let her iron focus slip, and saw the good of it. Saw the beauty of living unscripted, and finding unexpected love.

This book was a fantastic resolution to the stories in the series. We see all the players as they assist Zane’s efforts with the “wake” and her pregnancy woes. They aren’t features, but their vignettes cap off the stories we’ve experienced with them, and the sense of wholeness is further developed when the wake happens. All these people were touched by tragedy and love, and their lives are all the richer than when we began. I’ve really enjoyed the spectrum of persons in the books, and recommend them to any reader who likes sexually diverse fiction. I hadn’t realized I’d needed catharsis from the first four books, but I’m all the better for it, too. Highly recommend.

Interested? You can find AS LA VISTA TURNS on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy via 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!

Finding Love is NECESSARY MEDICINE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a M/M medical romance from newcomer M.K. York. NECESSARY MEDICINE recounts nearly a decade of desire of one training physician for the sexy silver fox transplant surgeon he falls hard for.

About the book:
With intelligence and humor, debut male/male author M.K. York delivers an emotionally charged slow-burn romance set in a prestigious Bay Area teaching hospital

In the high-intensity world of hospital residency programs, there’s no room for romance. So it’s a good thing for first-year surgical resident Neil Carmona that his crush on the gorgeous cardiologist Eli Newcombe is sheer fantasy. Not only is the sexy doctor Neil’s superior, he’s also recently divorced.

As Neil’s skill as a surgeon grows, so does his friendship with Eli, and his silent, hopeless longing for more. It isn’t until Neil’s final year that Eli at last admits his own deepest desires. But Neil’s joy is short-lived: Eli has no intention of pursuing a relationship. Their positions in the hospital would make it unethical, even if he was emotionally ready for someone new.

Wounded and furious, Neil is determined to forget about Eli once and for all. But when a near-tragedy strikes, a new question arises: Is a life without love—without Neil—a greater risk than laying his heart on the line?

My Review:
Neal Carmona is a med student when his path first crosses with Dr. Eli Newcombe, renown heart transplant surgeon. Neal immediately recognizes that Eli is exactly his type: older, prematurely grey and way-smart. Not like anything would ever come of his attraction; Dr. Newcombe is giving a guest lecture at his university.

Fast forward a couple of years. Neal’s graduated and beginning a residency in the San Fran area. He’s never hidden his sexuality and he’s not going to start now. He wants to find a partner, but his training gets in the way. And that applies when Dr. Eli Newcombe joins the surgical staff. Neal fantasizes that he and Eli share a connection, especially when they begin working together on a diversity initiative to increase hiring of minority physicians at the hospital. Eli is far senior in the pecking order, and Neal knows making a mistake like admitting his attraction could land him in a world of trouble. Neal’s accepted in his field, mostly, but he knows this wouldn’t extend far if a division chief, like Eli, decided he was inappropriate.

I’m going to be honest, this book is a VERY SLOW burn. Eli does have an attraction to Neal, and a burning passion he won’t unleash. He’s very much cognizant of his administrative power over Neal, and he won’t risk impropriety tarnishing Neal’s reputation. They build a friendship that grows into a physical relationship. That then gets scuttled, and reconnected as Neal and Eli work out their dynamic. Eli isn’t gay, per se, and his coming out is complicated.

Having a deep insight into medical training, and having married a med student, I can attest that the trouble and issues the author presents are accurate. Unfortunately, like all training physicians, Neal’s struggle through residency isn’t that interesting. It’s a lot of sleep deprivation and working weird hours and lack of connection and heart, head, and back aches. That’s all very true. I struggled to stay invested with the story at points, however, on account of the pacing. Because that low-level drama is a bit sleepy.

The relationship development between Neal and Eli happens in fits and starts–and I got that. I felt Neal’s frustration. I did like how the supporting cast, notably Neal’s mentor, got them to see beyond the hurdles. The end is a sweet HEA, with Neal and Eli finding happiness together in a way that makes sense and stays true to the context of physicians who fall for one another. I think if you really love medical settings and just a hint of passion, this might be your book.

Interested? You can find can find NECESSARY MEDICINE on Goodreads, Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I read a review copy provided by NetGalley.

About the Author:
Michelle K. York is a medical student on the West Coast with a master’s degree in psychology. Necessary Medicine is her debut novel. Previous work includes fanfiction, as well as academic publications on the social perception of sexual orientation and the intersections of sexual orientation and gender identity with patient experience in the medical profession.

You can find Michelle on twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Hard To Survive CRACKED OPEN–A Review and get a free book!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a fantastic new YA dystopian novel from Susan Kaye Quinn. CRACKED OPEN is the fifth book in her MindJack series and I’m pretty much breathless for the next book already. You can start the whole series with OPEN MINDS, which is free and fantastic, but you absolutely must read LOCKED TIGHT before jumping into CRACKED OPEN.

About the book:
Zeph always knew he was a weapon. He didn’t count on being a spy.

But he made a dangerous bargain with the Director of the Jacker Technologies Division of DARPA–he’d let Wright test his mutant mindjack ability if she’d release his parents. Simple. Occasionally painful. And the screams of his victims fill his nightmares. But it will be worth it as long as she can’t crack open his head and find out his sister, with her super-surge jack-ability, is still alive. And if his parents are finally set free.

Once that happens, he’s gone. Even if it means giving up everything he’s just now getting back. A home. Friends. A girl who believes in peace and love even when the world is falling apart.

My Review:
This is the fifth book in the MindJack series where humans have evolved the ability to broadcast their thoughts–but the new wrinkle is mindreaders who can hijack your brain. These “mindjackers” are a super powerful minority, being hunted for experimentation and extermination. And Zeph, a “locksmith” mindjacker who can lock and unlock the toughest minds, will do whatever it takes to keep himself and his family safe.

In LOCKED TIGHT, book four, Zeph allied himself with some horrifying persons in the government and private enterprise–people who truly want to hunt down and kill “jackers”–in order to find his missing sister and parents. He’s also infiltrated the jacker population, attempting to get close to the young, powerful and charismatic jacker senator. Hiding his jacker nature from readers has made Zeph a loner, by necessity, and his plan to rescue his family and go back on the run is upset by the new connections he’s made. What if there could be a balance between the jackers and the readers? Could he then find sanctuary instead of isolation?

In CRACKED OPEN, the battle lines have been clearly drawn. His employer, a MindWare developer who hired Zeph as a bodyguard to his daughter, believes Zeph’s a reader, and shares all sorts of anti-jacker tech with Zeph, by way of relating how it will help Zeph be a better guard. The government’s shadow lab, run by Dr. Wright, is preparing a jacking operation on the highest levels of government–to destroy any sympathy the President or populace might have for jackers. Once Zeph recognizes how dangerous all of this has become, he reaches out to Kira Moore, one-time spokesperson for the defunct Jacker Freedom Alliance, to offer his services as a mole.

Zeph had rescued his sister in the previous book, but things aren’t all quiet on that front. Her powers are raw and untrained, making Olivia a fourteen-year old walking weapon. Now, Zeph’s trying to find his mom, and he knows Wright has her locked up somewhere. In fact, Wright agrees to release her if only he’ll assist with the grand scheme she’s cooked up. Zeph knows it’s a bad job, but he has no choice if he wants his mom freed. This time, however, he’s got friends who can assist him–and he calls them.

Fundamentally, the MindJack series is about discrimination, and surviving intact after the powerful have sought to crush you. It’s an allegory to the current political climate where discrimination by the government (of any marginalized community) has been lauded by a segment of the population who allow themselves to be led by fear, instead of community. For readers, it’s a chilling journey into discovering what the experience might be for a marginalized population, if the government ideologically decided that (insert your personal minority) was Public Enemy Number One, and needed to be studied and eradicated. And yet, throughout, it’s a humanizing story. One of hope and desperation, and succeeding against all odds against your most feared, armed, bully.

CRACKED OPEN marks the midpoint of Zeph’s three-book story and clearly articulates his rage and fear at the situation he’s in for no other reason than being born different. But mostly, it’s filled with Zeph’s resolve to save his family, and to help all the other jackers out there lead whole lives, not the half-life he’s lived. For being roughly 17-18 years old, Zeph’s survived a lot of bad, bad stuff. And that’s formed him into a weapon. Unlike a gun, however, Zeph has the presence of mind to keep his targeting mechanisms on the bad guys, to ensure he does the most good. Expect things to go from bad to worse, however, and for Zeph to make mistakes–because he’s working within a narrow framework. The day might be lost, but the battle continues. Cannot wait to get my hands on the next book!!

Interested? You can find CRACKED OPEN on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo and GooglePlay.

Get yourself a FREE book!
The MindJack universe began with OPEN MINDS, the story of Kira Moore, a sixteen year-old jacker learning about herself and prejudice she’s been born into. Kira is a strong MC, and her steadfast commitment to doing the right thing, even if it’s hard, gives readers a protagonist worthy of respect. It’s a super-fast read that tackles real societal problems with grace and confidence. I read this book in a day. Mostly because I couldn’t stop until I knew Kira was safe.

The great thing? OPEN MINDS is a FREE on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, GooglePlay and Kobo. OPEN MINDS is the first in a trilogy, but has a satisfactory ending that resolves completely while leaving room for the companion books to develop.

About the Author:
Susan Kaye Quinn is a rocket scientist turned speculative fiction author who now uses her PhD to invent cool stuff in books. Her works range from young adult science fiction to adult future-noir, with side trips into steampunk and middle grade fantasy. Her bestselling novels and short stories have been optioned for Virtual Reality, translated into German, and featured in several anthologies.

She writes full-time from Chicago, inventing mind powers and dreaming of the Singularity. You can find out what she’s up to by subscribing to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!).

Catch up with Susan on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

New Beginnings With THE SUMAGE SOLUTION–Review and Exclusive Excerpt!

Hi there! I’m so excited to share a review for a new paranormal M/M romance releasing tomorrow from Gail “G. L.” Carriger. THE SUMAGE SOLUTION, the first in a new San Andreas Shifters series, is a contemporary story which is very different from the previous books of hers that I’ve read, and I loved what she brought to the this genre. I got hooked on Gail’s YA steampunk books (Manners and Mutiny, WAISTCOATS AND WEAPONRY) and her Victorian adult romances (ROMANCING THE INVENTOR) among many others, but a M/M romance with mages and shifters and an analogue of the California DMV? I was thrilled!

Catch my exclusive excerpt and a short interview below, too.
About the book:
Can a gentle werewolf heal the heart of a smart-mouthed mage?
NYT bestseller Gail Carriger, writing as G. L. Carriger, presents an offbeat gay romance in which a sexy werewolf with a white knight complex meets a bad boy mage with an attitude problem. Sparks (and other things) fly.

Max fails everything – magic, relationships, life. So he works for DURPS (the DMV for supernatural creatures) as a sumage, cleaning up other mages’ messes. The job sucks and he’s in no mood to cope with redneck biker werewolves. Unfortunately, there’s something oddly appealing about the huge, muscled Beta visiting his office for processing.

Bryan AKA Biff (yeah, he knows) is gay but he’s not out. There’s a good chance Max might be reason enough to leave the closet, if he can only get the man to go on a date. Everyone knows werewolves hate mages, but Bryan is determined to prove everyone wrong, even the mage in question.

A delicious taste!

Set up: Our werewolf main character, Biff, is stuck in the DURPS waiting room (kind of like the supernatural version of the DMV) when trouble brews between two other shifters…

Biff didn’t think a bear shifter could change during daylight, not without his pelt, but they were anger-triggered. And this was an aggravating environment. He wondered if the guy was an Alpha.

So, Biff sat and waited patiently, tried not to sneeze, and kept his eye on the twitchy Norse god in front of him.

It got physical way faster than Biff thought it would. Frankly, he didn’t think DURPS was as prepared as it should have been either. For quintessence attack, yes, but not for a physical confrontation.

The berserker must have taken offense to something the barghest said or did, because the dog shifter suddenly had a fist in his face. Since both were confined to human skin by the sun, it quickly became a two-man punch-and-grapple match…in the waiting line of a government department. The Plugs at the doors had no idea what to do. They were trained for mage casts and shifting forms, not macho idiots.

Biff stood up. Stretched languidly and extended his Beta power outward. Calm down. No contest here. No one’s after your territory, No one’s after your mate. Relax.

He wasn’t sure it would work. After all, he was a wolf, wrong species.

He moved in closer.

Biff was big, but nowhere near as big as the berserker. The bear shifter clocked in low for a bear, four hundred pounds and six foot seven or so. The barghest was about half that but way quicker. The two men were clinched together, almost wrestling, which would give the bear the advantage. It was a weirdly erotic, horribly violent embrace.

Biff reached up and grabbed each man by the scruff of his neck. It worked great on the pups in his old pack. Then he shook them gently, grip firm and slightly on the edge of pain.

“Be still,” he barked, and pushed at them with his Beta power. Settle.

Touch was good, touch helped. It usually did. Biff centered himself, grounded himself, shooting out calmness like a weapon. Blanketing them with it, as those little flowers had blanketed the parking lot when he arrived.

Some thoughts from Gail Carriger:

What brought you into this world/story?
This is one of those books that woke me first thing one morning and just HAD to be written. I was supposed to be taking a break between contracts, but Max’s voice in my head was so strong and demanding. Max is Biff’s love interest in The Sumage Solution, and he is kinda *like* that – demanding. I shouldn’t have been surprised.

If you could have any paranormal ability, what would it be?
Ooooo. Well I always wanted gills, so I’m going with mermaid. Plus the way I have merfolk set up in the San Andreas Shift universe the species is female dominated, lives in pods, mostly deals in subverting organized crime (off shore accounts, you see), and assists the coast guard. I’m down with all those kinds of shenanigans.

Stranded on a desert island–three books you’d need to maintain your sanity until rescue…
My first and forever answer is THE FORGOTTEN BEAST OF ELD by Patricia McKillip. My second choice (if I’m allowed to take a series) is the DAUGHTER OF THE EMPIRE trilogy by Raymond Feist & Janny Wurts. Finally, right now, I’m picking a new comfort read. I’ve really been into m/m romance (obviously, since I just wrote one) and I love sci-fi and culture clashes so I’d take CLAIMINGS, TAILS, AND OTHER ALIEN ARTIFACTS by Lyn Gala because it has all three of these things plus a little dose of BDSM if one bends in the kink direction. I feel like this is a good spread across all my different tastes and preferences as a reader, and would keep me occupied until rescue.

My Review:
Bryan, called Biff by his packmates, is a wolf shifter whose small pack of gay-spectrum wolves has relocated from the east coast to the San Fran Bay area. Biff is a beta wolf, and in this world it means he’s the patient one, the one who assists the alpha in negotiations and keeps the peace. His younger brother is his alpha and they pretty much fled the homophobia and heartache of their previous pack once his brother came out and took a merman as his mate. So, Biff knows his pack would accept him if he came out as gay–but he’s still a private kind of guy, and he doesn’t want to have the pack watching/gossiping about his every step.

Biff meets Max when he goes to the local DURPS office–imagine an agency like the DMV, only serving paranormals and ten times pettier–to register their pack and help get them permanent housing. Right now, there are seven werewolves and a merman taking refuge in the two bedroom apartment of the traveling drag queen friend of their beloved house ghost. (So, you can see there’s lots of shenanigans happening…) Max is a sumage, kind of the opposite of a mage in that he absorbs the magical resonance of actual magic wielders instead of turning his own tricks (ba-da-bum). It was the final disappointment to Max’s powerful and power-hungry mage father, long dead and little missed in the ensuing ten years. Max works at DURPS as another slam on his dear-old-dad, and makes no effort to tamp-down his gayness, either.

Max and Biff have an immediate attraction, and it is this which tips Max into accepting Brian’s number, calls, and request for a date. It seems like everything is going fine, even if Bryan is confused why Max won’t reveal his body to him–at first, and sets off the first bit of conflict. What I loved about the book is Bryan’s steadfastness. Max is used to abuse and scorn, and he can’t believe that Bryan could possibly find him attractive–sumages have distinct body issues and Bryan’s careful love helps Max regain his absent self-confidence. Also, there are some unique and different challenges that present themselves as Bryan and Max begin to build a life together–not least of which is Bryan’s protective Alpha brother. There are mages out for artifacts in Max’s father’s home, and protecting those potential weapons brings forth Max’s true power–shocking everyone.

I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot, because it’s fantastic and so very different, but I want to mention that it’s got the same fast-paced, witty movement as all the other books I’ve read by the author. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Bryan and Max have some emotional set-backs that they need to work through, but they do that very well, and the book ends with an HEA. There’s some yummy sexytimes, too!

Interested? You can find THE SUMAGE SOLUTION on Goodreads and pre-order it in advance of the 7/18 release on Amazon.

About the Author:
Gail Carriger writes comedies of manners mixed with paranormal romance (and the sexy San Andreas Shifter series as G.L. Carriger). Her steampunk books include the Parasol Protectorate, Custard Protocol, Supernatural Society, and Delightfully Deadly series for adults, and the Finishing School series for young adults. She is published in many languages and has over a dozen NYT bestsellers. She was once an archaeologist and is fond of shoes, octopuses, and tea.

You can find Gail online on her website, Facebook and twitter. Gail has a fun newsletter: the Monthly Chirrup, sign up here.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Dodging Bigots and FAST BALLS–Review & Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a contemporary M/M romance from Tara Lain. FAST BALLS is the fourth book in her Balls the Wall series and features an odd-couple romance between two firefighters, one who needs to come out of the closet. We’ve met both of these guys in FIRE BALLS, but expect cameos from pals we met in VOLLEY BALLS and BEACH BALLS, too. It was awesome to watch good-guy Jerry finding love!

Catch an excerpt and enter the GC giveaway below.
About the book:
Can two men with skewed self-images see their true reflections in each other’s eyes?
Jerry Wallender—firefighter, surfer, and occasional nude model—knows he’s no rocket scientist. So why does he keep choosing intellectual guys who make him feel dumber? He worked his buns off to overcome his reading disability and pass the firefighter’s test, and he loves everything about the job. Well, except for Mick Cassidy, the big, blond, hunky homophobe who harasses Jerry for being gay. But Jerry is smart enough to realize it’s not hate driving Mick, but the pain of a very unhappy upbringing.

Mick Cassidy, Firefighter Assist and Search Team, fights fires, but he can’t fight his attraction to the kindest, most generous—and sexiest—guy he’s ever met. Does that make him gay? If it does, he just might get himself killed by his gay-hating preacher father—and take Jerry down with him.

How about a sweet taste?

“Sure. I can’t think of anyone else I’d want to be with forever.”
“Why?”
Mick smiled and took hold of Jerry’s hands. “That’s easy. You’re kind, and good, and funny. And so damned smart I’d be learning new stuff from you forever. Hell sounded pretty good with you in it.”
Jerry just shook his head back and forth.
He sighed. “But I guess hell would have been the easy way out.”
Jerry nodded. “It’s harder to live than to die.”
Mick sat on the floor at Jerry’s feet. “I was thinking I’d leave here. Go somewhere and start over. Leave my father and that whole gang behind.”
Jerry’s voice was very soft. “And me? Leave me behind?”
Mick looked up into those bluer than blue eyes. “That’s the hard part. That’s why I’m still here. I don’t want to leave you.”
“Why?”
“You’re sure full of whys. Because you’re my friend. My best friend.”
Jerry ran a hand across Mick’s cheek. It felt so nice. “I am your friend. Am I your lover?”
Mick’s breath caught. Weird. Half horror. Half delight. “I don’t know.”
Jerry’s fingers roamed into his hair, and he pressed his head against Jerry’s palm. “Wherever you go, you have to decide. Are you gay, Mick?”
“You said I am. Jezebel says I am.”
“We may think so, but you have to decide for yourself.”
Mick frowned. “I thought it wasn’t a choice.”
“It’s not, but there are plenty of guys walking around pretending they’re not gay. A lot of them end up freaking out their wives and kids when they get caught in some bathroom fucking a twink.”
Mick stared at the floor. “People hate you because you’re gay.”
“Yep.”
Mick took in a big breath. Suddenly that moment in the fire washed over him. “But God doesn’t hate you.”
Jerry shrugged. “I guess that depends on who you ask.”

My Review:
This is the fourth book in the Balls to the Wall series and might be better enjoyed after reading the second book, FIRE BALLS.

Jerry is a surfer-turned fireman. He lives and works in Laguna Beach and has one guy on his crew who’s a bigoted homophobe. Mick is big and burly and a decent fireman, but he’s been reprimanded for his attitude and his drunken misadventures. In FIRE BALLS he was a bit of a tormentor for Hunter and got put in his place directly by Rodney, but Jerry’s a different kind of guy. He smiles past the comments and treats everyone with respect, even if they don’t merit any.

This goes a long way toward breaking through Mick’s coarse shell; he’d been raised by a grotesquely bigoted “preacher” of a father. Yes, there’s a cult involved. In fact, Mick is “betrothed” to a teen girl is his father’s congregation. The idea of marrying this girl is really upsetting for Mick, as is his interest in Jerry. Mick’s just never had a friend before and Jerry’s friendliness is so necessary–it makes him reconsider all the hateful lessons he’d absorbed at his father’s church.

Jerry doesn’t know what to make of Mick. The guy is a set of contradictions, but Jerry’s happy enough to try and get to know him better, if it’ll help quell the animosity that’s been a problem in their firehouse. This effort isn’t helped by the advent of some new blood in the firehouse who subscribe more to Mick’s father’s attitudes. One of them had been a disciple of the church, and this scares the bejesus out of Mick; what if his dad learns how friendly he is with Jerry? Considering how militant their stance is about homosexuality, Mick fears Jerry could be put into danger.

They have a sweet quiet romance, with Jerry assuring Mick that his desires are natural and not a problem. Mick, for his part, finally feels as if he’s experiencing the kind of physical contact he’s desired all along. It’s bittersweet, honestly, to see his internalized homophobia tear him apart, but Jerry’s a good guide into self-awareness. There’s a bunch of drama that involves spiteful firemen and a lunatic preacher, but all ends very well. I really enjoyed this one! A nice mix of steamy bits and heartfelt loving.

Interested? You can find out more about FAST BALLS on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

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!

Cleaning Up a CHIEF’S MESS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly-published M/M romance from L.A. Witt. CHIEF’S MESS is the third book in her Anchor Point Navy-romance series, and features two men who’ve struggled to find love, and have some serious work necessary to make it possible now. I really liked JUST DRIVE and AFRAID TO FLY so I couldn’t wait to read this one.

About the book:
Anthony Talbot is in Anchor Point to visit family, but after two days of strife, he needs a break. A local gay bar is calling his name.

When Chief Noah Jackson sees that red head stroll into the club, he immediately wants him. They’re perfectly matched, and before long, they’re burning up the sheets. Noah can’t get enough. Anthony can’t stay in Oregon for long, but as soon as he leaves, he’s counting down the days until he can fly back for more. And between his increasingly frequent visits, there’s always phone sex, sexting, webcams . . . anything they can get.

But Noah’s got a carefully crafted façade, and Anthony can’t help noticing the slowly forming cracks. The scent of alcohol in the middle of the day. The extra drinks at dinner. The hint of red in his eyes. Anthony knows what it means. He doesn’t want to believe it, but he’s seen this before, and there’s no denying it. If Noah doesn’t get his downward spiral under control, he’s going to lose both his career and the first man he’s ever really loved.

My Review:
This is the second book in a series and is likely BEST enjoyed after reading AFRAID TO FLY (book 2), but can be enjoyed as a standalone.

Anthony only came to Anchor Point as moral support to his sister, who’s ex-husband wants to spend time with their children. Travis (from AtF) has been sober for three years, and is rebuilding his life with his new partner, Clint, but Anthony doesn’t trust Travis as far as her could toss him. Still, if Anthony’s sister is happy, then Anthony will accept her judgment. Even if he’s sure that Travis is still a lousy drunk…

Frustrated by the tension of the experience, he goes trolling for some prime Navy “seamen” at a bar in the small town. That’s where he meets Noah, and it’s a hawt time in the bunks. Noah hasn’t ever had a long term relationship, though he’s nearing forty, and Anthony’s captivated by him. Their tryst turns in to a weekend, and then travel between his home in Denver and Anchor Point. Each time Noah and Anthony get together it’s better than the last time, but there’s a situation developing between them:  Noah drinks. Anthony can’t fathom how much, because they only spend a few days together every few weeks, but it’s starting to creep into their phone calls and video chats.

Noah doesn’t believe he has a problem, but it’s becoming clearer each day that his heavy drinking affects his work and relationships. Especially when Anthony is (emotionally) hurt bad due to Noah’s own (drunken) negligence. The alcoholism issue between Anthony and Noah took a long time to develop, and that felt realistic. Lots of people can be functional alcoholics, especially in isolation. Noah’s few friends didn’t necessarily see his problems, and they worked with him daily. That said, Anthony reached out for help regarding his own prejudices with alcohol, and it helped bring healing for him, too. I liked how Travis and Clint proved to be great guys and important parts of both Noah and Anthony’s story, in the resolution. The story started out with dirty, dirty sexytimes, and I liked how this transitioned into a more tender romance. Anthony and Noah both showed a lot of vulnerability, and that really made them endearing, although Anthony came off as a jerk initially.

I’ve loved this series from the beginning, and I Look forward to more sexy Navy men, and all their military issues, finding love in the future.

Interested? You can find CHIEF’S MESS on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

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

Visit her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Growing Through LESSONS IN FALLING–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary YA romance from Diana Gallagher. LESSONS IN FALLING is a story about growing up and making your path, even if it means outgrowing some relationships.

About the book:
LESSON ONE: Playing it safe beats taking chances.

After an injury ends Savannah’s dream of a college gymnastics scholarship, she quits
despite her parents’ protests. She won’t risk breaking her body—and heart—again.

LESSON TWO: Catch your best friend when she falls—or regret it forever.

Rules are meant to be broken, according to Savannah’s best friend, Cassie—and it’s more fun to break them together. But when Cassie attempts suicide, Savannah’s left wondering how well she really knows her.

LESSON THREE: Leaping forward, not knowing where you’ll land, is the hardest of all.

Falling for Marcos wasn’t part of the plan. Not only did he save Cassie’s life, he also believes Savannah can still achieve her dreams. Except Cassie thinks Marcos and gymnastics will only break Savannah’s heart.

As Savannah tumbles and twists through toxic friendships and crushing parental expectations, she realizes you never know who will be there when you fall.

My Review:
Savannah is a sixteen year-old former gymnastics champion who’s still recovering from the knee injury she suffered six months ago. She’s had surgery and physical therapy, and can’t imagine going back to gymnastics because she can’t be perfect.

She lives in a small coastal New York town that’s having a social crisis over the large number of immigrant Mexicans and DREAMers who’ve taken up residence in this locale. Savannah’s always been sheltered by her family–her father’s a teacher at her high school, an d her best friend, Cassie–who’s loud and audacious. Cassie stayed at Savannah’s bedside as she recovered from injuries and surgeries, and shes’ struggling hard, but Savannah’s too caught up in her own misery to really notice, until Cassie attempts suicide.

Then, Savannah starts to question all their interactions, Cassie’s newer friendships with kids from the migrant community, and why Savannah can’t just get past her paralyzing fears. Part of this is re-envisioning her life, and letting in new people, like Marcos, who help Savannah see that sometimes the relationships we hold dearest aren’t the most healthy.

For me, this was an okay read. I liked the parts where Savannah challenged herself to get back on the pommel horse and rehab completely. She had more friends in her life than she’d first let on, and Cassie was a good-ish friend, I thought. She struggled, sure, but her affection and compassion were unquestioned. Savannah seemed way more self-centered than I was comfortable with, and Marcos urged her to be even more so. I wasn’t really upset about that, because it is important to find one’s own path, but Savannah’s actions came off as callous and borderline negligent. I do understand that some friendships are co-dependent and unhealthy, I get that, but the manner of Savannah’s reckoning and reconciliation were awkward and unkind. Considering how attentive Cassie had been to her, Savannah’s own actions felt mean by comparison.

The subplot of anti-immigrant sentiment and violence was odd, and Savannah’s interaction on this front was, uh, nutso? That’s probably not a clinical term, but how she behaved was beyond rational and the resolution of that crisis was entirely too convenient.  I also had an issue with elements of the timeline. Savannah’s family life was weird, and her brother’s experience in the military was intimated to be far longer than the actual year that it would have been, if a reader (like me) did the math. There’s a little bit of romance, and lotta bit of rehab–both physical and emotional–with Savannah finding her true path back to her old life. This time she has some new pals, a boyfriend and a college plan. It’s got heartwarming moments, even if Savannah reads as analytical and cold.

Interested? You can find LESSONS IN FALLING on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and your local library. I read a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Though Diana Gallagher be but little, she is fierce. She’s also a gymnastics coach, writing professor, and country music aficionado. She holds an MFA from Stony Brook University and writes about flipping-related activity for The Couch Gymnast. Her work has also appeared in The Southampton Review and on a candy cigarette box for SmokeLong Quarterly. She’s represented by Tina Wexler of ICM Partners.

You can catch up with Diana on her website, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!