They Both are STARTING FROM ZERO–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new contemporary M/M romance from Lane Hayes. STARTING FROM ZERO is a spin-off from her Out in College series, specifically featuring Rory’s older half-brother Justin from OUT IN THE OFFENSE. This new Starting From series seems as if it will feature other members of the band Zero, which Justin is forming.

Drop down ot catch an excerpt, my reivew and enter for a chance to win a $25 GC.
About the book:
Justin Cuevas is going through a rough patch. A broken relationship, a scandal, and the demise of his band have shaken the aspiring rock star’s confidence. Working two jobs and sleeping on his friend’s sofa isn’t ideal, but Justin isn’t ready to give up yet. With a little luck, he’s hoping to re-launch his music career in LA with his new band, Zero. The key is to stay focused, and not get distracted by his past…or the sexy songwriter he can’t get out of his head.

Gray Robertson has written dozens of hits and worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. But he’s never met anyone like Justin. The younger man is fiery, passionate, and smart. A powerful voice for a new generation. Other than an unforgettable one-night stand and a passion for music, the two men have nothing in common. Or do they? Justin knows the out-of-the-blue challenge to write a quintessential love song is a huge opportunity. And it’s the ultimate test for someone who’s doesn’t believe in happily ever after. When sparks fly, Justin and Gray realize they have a shot something special if they start from zero together. Maybe even love.

How about a yummy taste?

Justin turned to me with a fiery expression and gestured toward the glittering lights below. “Everyone here wants more than what they have. And I guess I’m the same. I don’t need recognition and I sure as fuck don’t want love, but I wouldn’t say no to a few bucks,” he commented with a laugh. “What about you?”
I did a double take. I was two steps behind, struggling to keep up, and if possible, memorize every word he’d said. I hadn’t been around anyone so raw or so honest in a long time. He made rules and broke them with at whim, letting me in and then shutting me out. He had a way of revealing himself that made me feel as though he was holding a mirror to me, daring me to acknowledge my broken pieces too. He was either slightly insane or incredibly gifted. I suspected it was the latter. The cadence of his speech lured me in…and made me want more. I’d tell him anything he wanted to know, just to be near him and this intense spark of…newness, creativity, and wonder.
“What about me?” I asked in a low raspy voice.
“What do you want to accomplish before you leave the planet?”
“I want to write the perfect song,” I replied unthinking.
“There’s no such thing.”
“Maybe, maybe not. But it would be nice to leave something that felt special.”
Justin held my gaze then inclined his head in agreement. “Yeah. I want that too.”
We stared at each other. Whispers of conversation floated from the far corners of the rooftop deck. We weren’t alone, but we might as well be. I couldn’t remember ever feeling so intimately connected to someone I’d never really touched. It was puzzling and enchanting at the same time.
He shivered when the breeze kicked up. I took it as a sign from above and pulled him against me. I had to feel him. I studied the sexy indentation in his bottom lip before giving into impulse and resting my hands on his hip. Justin gave me a funny look but he didn’t push me away.
“You shouldn’t be anonymous. You have too much to share. Too much to say,” I said.
“What are you doing?”
“I…I’m not sure. Is this okay?”
“Yeah. It’s good.” Justin nodded and snaked his arms around my waist.
We were still for a while. He was so close I could feel his breath on my lips. The lingering quiet was deceptive. A casual observer might have mistaken us for old lovers engaged in a tender moment. Or maybe they’d guess we were tentative strangers anxious to make the right moves. Not too fast, not too slow. Neither was correct. There was no quiet here. An electric current sizzled and hissed between us. Intense sexual awareness and something more. Something fiery and passionate. He was wild and rough with jagged edges and a sharp mind. Instinctively, I knew I should proceed with caution because walking away wasn’t an option.
“I want to kiss you,” I whispered, inching closer so our noses brushed.
Justin gave me a crooked smile and tugged at my belt loop. “Then do it.”
I tilted my chin slightly and pressed my lips to his. He was deceptively tender at first. He closed his eyes and hummed into the connection. When I licked at the corner of his mouth, he let me in without hesitation. I couldn’t get enough. He tasted like gin and nicotine with a hint of peppermint. All the things I apparently couldn’t do without.
I pulled him closer, cupping the back of his neck to kiss him harder and deeper. Our tongues twisted in a growing frenzy until everything and everyone around us dissolved into white noise. Justin lulled me into complacency and let me think I was in control. I pushed him back slightly and wrapped my fingers around his neck to keep him in place when he leaned forward to nip my bottom lip. He grinned like a madman and then lowered his eyelashes in a show of faux subservience. I didn’t trust him to stay still or obey for a second. Justin was wild and headstrong. He wasn’t going to do anything that wasn’t either his idea or a bad idea.
I should have known then that I’d met my match.

My Review:
Justin Cuevas is a 26 y/o, bisexual musician trying to start a new band, Zero. His last band had a big falling out when Justin broke up with his lead singer girlfriend, and then their guitarist revealed Justin was now having sexytimes with the band’s male drummer–Tegan. Justin’s mom has been shutting out her younger son, Rory, for nearly two years–ever since Rory came out as bisexual and began exclusively dating a man. Justin doesn’t want to rock that boat again, and yet he finds himself terribly attracted to a silver fox stranger at his latest gig. Without revealing their names or the pasts, he and his mysterious stranger have a hot encounter in the bathroom of an upscale bar.

Gray Robertson is forty-four and used to being on his own. He had a loving partnership with Seb, a big-wig movie studio producer more than twenty years ago, but it was too hard to keep the love alive when they were constantly denying their sexuality–and married to beards. Gray was essentially a second father to Charlie, Seb’s biological son, and both Seb and Charlie have a big place in his life. But, Gray won’t go back to Seb again. He can’t recapture that love he once had, and thinks it’s best if they stay best friends instead. Seb had brought Gray to Justin’s gig, trying to see if Gray would be willing to work with Justin on writing some songs for the soundtrack of the action movie he’s producing. Gray is intrigued by Justin’s vivaciousness and creativity, but he’s willing to be a one-night stand if that’s all he can get. Seb learns of Gray and Justin’s sexy night together and seems even more determined to get Justin to work for him–maybe so he can keep an eye on Justin. When Seb can’t get Gray to reach out to Justin, he gets Charlie involved.

Thing is, Charlie likes Justin as a musician. As a social media influencer, and a master’s student in talent management, Charlie sees his opportunity to launch Zero into stardom. But Justin isn’t easily caught, and he’s not sure what working with Gray or Charlie will do to, or for, him. Unfortunately, Justin’s broke, working two crappy jobs and living on his drummer’s sofa. It’s important for him to get a break for Zero, but not at the expense of his pride and creativity.

This dual POV story is a great jumping off point for a new series. Justin is sweet and earnest and scattered–trying not to fall in love, because love is big lie that just breaks you into pieces. At least that what he witnessed in his mom’s life. Gray has felt deep love for Seb, but the constant deceit they both had to maintain killed the ardor. He knows Seb’s machinations, however, and tries to stay a few steps ahead of Seb’s schemes. Charlie had the right side of it, knowing his father never stopped loving Gray, but Charlie is his father’s son–always looking for the best deal. For him, it’s Zero’s success, and he won’t allow Seb to crush the band for the quest for a movie soundtrack. At the heart of all these intersecting schemes is Justin and Gray, who are falling hard for one another. They spend time scoping out scenes of romance in the wild, trying to find inspiration for the love song Seb wants them to write. Gray is proud of Justin’s desire to make music on his own terms, and to own his truth. Justin takes strength in his convictions, realizing how destructive it was for both Gray and Rory to hide their true loves for the sake of convenience. It provokes a hard conversation with his mother, that could lead to healing or separation.

The end is happy, with Gray and Justin, and Zero, finding a rhythm and audience for their stories. There are many hot and sexy moments, with lots of positive moments. Gray and Seb have a reckoning that I think will lead to Seb finding love eventually. Meanwhile, Tegan and Charlie are great side characters and I’m sure each will have his own love story–maybe even together, but that’s way to soon to tell. In any case, I’m ready for the next verse in this aria and look forward to more blockbuster love.

Interested? You can find STARTING FROM ZERO on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter Giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won First Prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

You can reach out to Lane on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Finding Love at FAMILY CAMP–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share a review and giveaway for a new M/M romance from Eli Easton. FAMILY CAMP is a contemporary romance that features a closeted pro baseball player and a single gay man raising two foster kids. These guys turn out to be soulmates, and their growing love is sweet and sexy to witness. I have loved all the Eli Easton books I’ve read, including MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. MIGGLES, her HOWL AT MOON books, SECOND HARVEST, FIVE DARES and ROBBY RIVERTON: MAIL ORDER BRIDE.

Scroll down to catch my review and enter the $25 GC giveaway!
About the book:
When Geo signs up for Family Camp, he envisions nature hikes, s’mores, and a chance to win over his recalcitrant new foster kids, Jayden and Lucy. He’s tried to become a dad for so long, and he hopes the three of them can be the family he’s always wanted. What he doesn’t anticipate is the prickly and gorgeous camp counselor who constantly comes to his rescue.

Travis spends a week every year at Camp Evermore, the camp his adoptive parents own. As a pro baseball player, his presence guarantees a full campground and excited campers. He has one rule: never, ever mess around with anyone at camp. His profession demands he stay in the closet. But one sweet and funny new dad is about to test all his resolve.

Sparks fly for Geo and Travis, and not because of the nightly campfire. Having been a foster kid himself, Travis is drawn to Geo’s sincerity and big heart and to his kids. The four of them just fit. But will this be a summer romance? Or can they find a way to be a family long after Family Camp is over?

How about a little taste?

Sixth inning. Geo was ready for the game to be over. It was fucking hot on the ball field, all open and exposed, the sun baking down. And he was also not sure how much more Travis-watching he could take—him with his silky burgundy gym shorts and a sweaty Camp Evermore green shirt stretched over those muscles. His long legs were tanned and well-defined from hours at the gym.

Those thighs could fucking crack walnuts. Dude.

Damn, but that was one fine-looking man. Geo knew he should lay off, though. Travis had made himself clear.

Only he hadn’t. At all. One minute, Travis seemed into him him. He sought out Geo’s company, like the way he kept coming by the cabin at night. And the next minute, he’d put distance between them, ignoring Geo or closing himself off behind a granite-like expression and those eye-hiding shades. And Travis had laid a clear line in the sand. Not at camp. Not gonna happen.

Yup. That was fine. Sure, Geo hadn’t been mutually attracted to a guy that hot in ages. Or ever, really. But Geo hadn’t come to camp to fool around. He had other priorities.

It did make him wonder though. Bridget had said Travis wasn’t out. A quick Google search last night had confirmed that. In fact, Geo had been shocked to discover there’d never been an out baseball player in the major leagues. Like, in the history of American baseball. Which was tragic. No wonder Travis was in the closet. It had to suck monkey balls living like that. Especially with all the women who threw themselves at him constantly. There were a dozen women on the sidelines right now that looked ready to have his babies. That had to be weird for a gay guy. Didn’t it?

Geo himself was always super uncomfortable when women came on to him. He felt compelled to blurt out “I’m gay!” in the first five minutes. It was just too weird otherwise.

Then again, Travis’s love life was none of Geo’s business. Maybe the guy was bisexual. Maybe he liked dating women just fine.

Jayden came up to bat. Geo focused on his son, clapping hard. “Come on, Jayden! You’ve got this!”

Jayden took a wide stance beside the plate, both hands gripping the bat, choked up a little. Travis had spent a few minutes with Jayden at the start of the game, showing him how to stand, and Jayden copied him exactly. The kid was a great mimic. He’d been nervous at first, tense and defensive. But by now he just looked focused. He stared, narrow-eyed, at Frank as Frank pitched an easy ball.

Geo loved that about this game, that everyone tried to give the kids easy wins, and no one took the competition seriously.

Jayden hit the ball hard. It flew through the air a short ways then plonked to the ground and skipped along fast. It was heading right down the center line, though a bit more towards third base and Travis’s side of the field.

“Go Jayden! Go!” Geo shouted. He went after the ball. In his peripheral vision, he saw Jayden round first base and keep running.

Travis was going after the ball too, dodging low. He scooped it up. He was going to throw it to third base, keep Jayden back on second. Geo couldn’t let that happen.

He dove in front of Travis, crowding him, holding an arm out to block Travis from throwing the ball.

Travis snorted, bemused. “What are you doing? You’re on my team.” He backed up, trying to get away from Geo.

“Blood before bros, man,” Geo said with fake seriousness. He kept up with Travis, step for step, grabbing Travis’s right arm in a firm grip so he couldn’t raise the ball.

“Stop it!” Travis laughed. “Dork. That’s not legal.

“Don’t care.”

They took three steps back, like they were dancing. Geo held Travis’s right arm, staring him down. Travis met his gaze, a goofy smile on his lips. Back and back they stumbled. Suddenly, Travis got a sparkle in his eyes. He wrapped his left arm around Geo’s waist and picked him up, swinging him around so he ended up behind Travis.

Geo was still finding his feet as Travis drew back his arm and sent the ball sailing.

Right to home plate. But Jayden got there first. Umpire Cindy made the motion with her hands, safe.

Geo laughed and raised his arms in triumph. “Yeah, baby! Great job, Jayden! Home run, whoo!”

Then he realized everyone was staring at them. On the sidelines, there were a dozen cameras raised, filming.

Oh. Er. Hmm. Geo wiped his face, feeling sheepish.

That’s when a piercing scream rent the air.

My Review:
Geo is determined to be a good father–with or without a partner. He’s out, and he has a good job as a middle-school history teacher. After years of applications, interviews and preparation, he’s finally building a family, with Jayden, a pre-teen boy, and Lucy, a 5 year old girl. Both of these kids have emotional scars and Geo is trying his hardest to get them to open up. He’s had foster custody for about 6 weeks, but his plan is to adopt them, if he can wrangle the legal hoops.

Travis is a pro baseball pitcher who knows his years in the big leagues are coming to an end. He’s gay, but closeted, even to his family. Travis was adopted as a teenager, and has a complex about losing the love of his large adoptive family if he comes out–plus there are no openly gay players in the pros, so he doens’t want to be a standard bearer. He works the family camp week at his family’s camp–as it falls during the all-star break and he likes to lend a hand.

Travis and Geo meet en route to the campsite, when Travis rescues Geo who’s car had run out of gas. He gets that Geo’s a new foster dad, and he’s irrationally angry with his misapprehension of the situation. Still, while Travis might think Geo’s just his type, believing that he’s not in parenthood for the long haul tweaks all Travis’ childhood apprehensions. Travis goes out of his way to be cool to Jayden and Lucy, but give Geo the coldest of shoulders.

On the campground, however, they strike up a tentative truce, which crackles with mutual attraction. Travis’ older sister notices and she confronts him–setting this man “straight” on some home truths he’d long forgotten. I really loved the women in this story who each have texture and personality, beyond the “confidante” sketch. Jayden, who is often belligerent, warms to kids at the camp, and listens to Travis’ counsel about how much Geo cares about him. Having a role model who understands the foster system allows Jayden to build a strong relationship with not only Geo (who is over the moon!) but also kids his own age, and Travis. Little Lucy, who is emotionally delayed, makes big strides toward connecting with Geo and others–thanks to Travis’ sweet dog. THe kids, like the female characters, are well written and feel like whole people–who’ve survived trauma and are afraid to be hurt yet again. Travis and Geo both connect well with these two, and their entire dynamic during the week appears more than friendly–which makes space for the night time interludes Geo and Travis are soon angling to pursue.

Naturally, there’s conflict due to Travis’ career and fear of coming out. Geo doesn’t know how to manage it–and they live about 250 miles apart–but when the major situation gets resolved it leaves the MCs searching for a deeper connection, and a family of their own. It’s sweet, with a slow burn. I liked it bunches and highly recommend.

Interested? You can find FAMILY CAMP on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****
Click on this Rafflecopter Giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 GC.
Good luck, and keep reading my friends!

Eli EastonAbout the Author:
Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, and organic farmer, Eli has been a m/m romance author since 2013. She has over 30 books published.

Eli has loved romance since her teens and she particular admires writers who can combine literary merit, genuine humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, bulldogs, cows, a cat, and lots of groundhogs.

In romance, Eli is best known for her Christmas stories because she’s a total Christmas sap. These include “Blame it on the Mistletoe”, “Unwrapping Hank” and “Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles”. Her “Howl at the Moon” series of paranormal romances featuring the town of Mad Creek and its dog shifters has been popular with readers. And her series of Amish-themed romances, Men of Lancaster County, has won genre awards.

Catch up with Eli on her website, Facebook, and twitter.