Loving and Family SAILOR PROOF–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M navy romance from Annabeth Albert. SAILOR PROOF is the first book in her Shore Leave series that features naval submarine officers finding love. In this installment, a naval chief looks to upstage his cheating ex and ends up falling head over heels for his best friend’s younger brother. 

About the book:

The sexy Navy chief and his best friend’s adorkable little brother…

It’s petty, but Naval Chief Derrick Fox wishes he could exact a little revenge on his ex by showing off a rebound fling. His submarine is due to return to its Bremerton, Washington, home base soon and Derrick knows all too well there won’t be anyone waiting with a big, showy welcome.

Enter one ill-advised plan…

Arthur Euler is the guy you go to in a pinch—he’s excellent at out-of-the-box solutions. It’s what the genius music-slash-computer nerd is known for. So when he finds out Derrick needs a favor, he’s happy to help. He can muster the sort of welcome a Naval Chief deserves, no problem at all.

Except it is a problem. A very big problem.

When Arthur’s homecoming welcome is a little too convincing, when a video of their gangplank smooch goes enormously viral, they’re caught between a dock and a hard place. Neither of them ever expected a temporary fake relationship to look—or feel—so real. And Arthur certainly never considered he’d be fighting for a very much not-fake forever with a military man.

My Review:

Navy chief Derrick Fox is jealous as hell. His ex was messing around on him with an officer on his submarine–and now that officer has won the coveted First Kiss raffle, which means he’ll be one of the first shore-side men when they dock at Bremerton in days. And, then he’ll have to watch his cheating ex smooch it up all over the place. If only he had someone he could meet up with–not that he has any family to speak of, which is also why he’s so glad to be good friends with Calder Euler, a fellow chief. Calder’s youngest brother Arthur is 25, out and reportedly attractive. Derrick has known him for a decade, but he’d always been young and spindly. With Calder’s assurance that Arthur would not only show up and be a great first-kiss option to try and make his ex and the crappy officer jealous, but he won’t make a fuss about it. Because Arthur has no intentions falling for a navy man.

Arthur’s ready to do a good deed, helping out Derrick. He’d always had a low-key attraction for the man, who is gorgeous. But, neither Arthur nor Calder expected their parents to show up and welcome Calder home. Catching Derrick and Arthur in an intense lip-lock–one that goes viral and does incense the cheating ex–means the world to the folks. They had thought Arthur would remain single a lot longer, and Derrick, to them, is a huge catch. So, now that they think Derrick and Arthur are an item, they want him to join the Euler family retreat.

Ugh. Complication! So, Arthur convinces Derrick to act as his fake boyfriend for the week because then he can get a separate cabin, and not stay with all the nephews and nieces. The Euler family is incredibly competitive, and Derrick is a little taken aback at how they seem to belittle Arthur for not being as physically agile as the rest of his fit military family. They push Arthur into planning the annual kiddos talent show, and he runs with it, with Derrick’s great support, to build every child’s esteem. It’s an almost radical departure from their business-as-usual winner-take-all mentality, and it really makes a big impression on Derrick, who is already pretty enamored with Arthur. The stunning man who met him at Bremerton is not the young, gangly band nerd he’d met years ago while hanging with Calder. No, he’s an accomplished musician with a thriving composing career. Derrick marvels at Arthur’s skill coddling self-conscious kiddos and helping them find their happy places. And Arthur himself thrives on Derrick’s admiration. In fact, well, both men are falling into love while playing out this close-quarters fake boyfriend scheme. So, yeah, they get to have some fun while sharing that tiny cabin with it’s sweet bathtub.

It’s a sweet and sexy story, with the added family drama creating a crucible that melts Arthur and Derrick together. The Eulers are a fun bunch, if a little tribal and low-key toxic. I was so glad to see both Derrick and Arthur call out their competitiveness, and change their viewpoint to some degree. It was so fun watching Derrick, who’s so loving and so isolated, fall so hard for Arthur. Though Arthur’s aversion to being a military partner is strong, his impressions of what it means to be a partner were based on his youthful experience watching his mom put her life on hold for his dad’s career. As an adult, he’s now having real conversations to discover what it would look like to have an enlisted partner. Because, he’s falling just as hard for Derrick, and he wants to support him while also honoring his own needs. 

There is an unexpected separation, but it’s good because that break allows for true reflection and the space to plan for a brighter future, together. I’m eager to see what happens in the next book–because I think Calder’s going to find his true love.    

Interested? You can find SAILOR PROOF on Goodreads, Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and Kobo. I read a review copy provided via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Find Annabeth online on her website, Goodreads, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

All Growed Up LOVE, COMMENT, SUBSCRIBE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing an excerpt and giveaway for a newly released contemporary romance out now from bestselling author Cathy Yardley. LOVE, COMMENT, SUBSCRIBE pairs two YouTube darlings who were frenemies in high school, but grew up well! 

Scroll down for the excerpt and review.

LCS hi resAbout the book:

Back in high school, Lily Wang wanted to be popular, but she considered herself lucky to be part of a tight group of oddballs and honors students called the Nerd Herd. Now, at twenty-eight, she feels like she’s finally on the cusp of succeeding as a beauty influencer—if she can hit five million subscribers, brands will take notice and she could get her own makeup line.

Fellow Nerd Herd alum Tobin Bui has had a lot of success as a YouTube gamer. But the road to online stardom has been rocky. First, he disappointed his parents by dropping out of college, and now, after years of pranks, skits, and playthroughs, he’s struggling to come up with new content to satisfy his ever-growing fan base. His agents say he needs cross-audience appeal, a new twist.

When Nerd Herd frenemy Lily approaches Tobin about teaming up to do a video to bolster her brand and reinvigorate his, he agrees. But when their first collab video goes viral, their relationship heats up too. With the whole internet watching, will these two former misfits finally realize they’re perfect together?

 

My Review:

Lily Wang always wanted to be a popular girl, but alas, those folks never wanted to invite her into that circle–they mostly snubbed her. And, it stung. She may have had good friends in the “Nerd Herd,” graduated high in her class, and gotten a degree in business economics from UCLA, but she never did get over it. Being pretty and petite has been her brand as a beauty YouTuber for several years now, and she’s living on the ad revenue. She has just under four million subscribers and a well-defined strategy, but if she wants to crack the next level–getting makeup companies to release palettes in her brand–she’ll need to up her game from the sedate, and professional, shows she’s known for. 

Tobin Bui was a class clown, but a fellow member of the Nerd Herd back in Ponto Beach with Lucy. He’s a YouTuber as well, successful without the support of his parents, with a channel that favors the kind of harmless silliness, and gaming playthroughs Tobin was known for in high school. In fact, Lily (and Tobin’s parents) barely see that Tobin has grown up–though Lily knows he must be working hard with his high subscriber numbers. And, well, it seems like the universe is leading them into partnership, because each of them needs to diversify their subscriber base to build viewership that will support new and better projects.

Thing is, they are stinking cute together online with their longstanding acquaintance and their pranks-gone-rogue. It’s almost immediate that their fans are “shipping” them. And, well, they have both grown up very well–Tobin is lanky but built and Lily is a delicate-looking rose of a lasy. They have insane chemistry, both on and off camera. As they reconnect–and Lily begins to catch up with the Ponto Beach crowd she’d left behind following college–they each begine to wonder if a relationship is the right thing, for right now. Tobin had been getting burned out from filming before his collab with Lily, and he’s ready to settle down with such a fine, amazing woman–once he gets a bit of a mental break. Lilly, who has always been so prim, proper, and driven, begins to see that Tobin’s laizzes faire approach to Tubing might have merit she wouldn’t acknowledge, before. 

It’s a slow burn though, as they build a real and true love between them–and share a whole new beginning together. I liked that there was some different representation in this story, with Lily and Tobin being first-generation Asian Americans, who have a little more cosmopolitan view of the world. It looks like there will be another book in this series, which would be fun to read.

Interested? You can find LOVE, COMMENT, SUBSCRIBE on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the Author:

Cathy Yardley is an award-winning author of romance, chick lit, and urban fantasy, who has sold over 1.2 million copies of books for publishers like St. Martin’s, Avon, and Harlequin. She writes fun, geeky, and diverse characters who believe that underdogs can make good and sometimes being a little wrong is just right. She likes writing about quirky, crazy adventures, because she’s had plenty of her own: she had her own army in the Society of Creative Anachronism; she’s spent a New Year’s on a 3-day solitary vision quest in the Mojave Desert; she had VIP access to the Viper Room in Los Angeles. Now, she spends her time writing in the wilds of East Seattle, trying to prevent her son from learning the truth of any of said adventures, and riding herd on her two dogs (and one husband.)

Connect with Cathy on her Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or get her Newsletter list.

Connecting Through THE LIGHTS ON KNOCKBRIDGE LANE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M romance from Roan Parrish. THE LIGHTS ON KNOCKBRIDGE LANE takes us back to Garnet Run, Montana (book 3 of the series) with a single father and his precocious child inexplicably wooing a reclusive climate scientist. You might also like BETTER THAN PEOPLE or BEST LAID PLANS which has some connecting characters in this small town life.

Lights Knockbridge coverAbout the book:Can one man’s crowded, messy life fill another man’s empty heart?

Raising a family was always Adam Mills’ dream, although solo parenting and moving back to tiny Garnet Run certainly were not. After a messy breakup, Adam is doing his best to give his young daughter the life she deserves—including accepting help from their new, reclusive neighbor to fulfill her Christmas wish.

Though the little house may not have “the most lights ever,” the Mills home begins to brighten as handsome Wes Mobray spends more time there and slowly sheds his protective layers. But when the eye-catching house ends up in the news, Wes has to make a choice: hide from the darkness of his unusual past or embrace the light of a future—and a family—with Adam.

From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.

My Review:
Adam Mills is licking his wounds in his tiny hometown of Garnet Run, Wyoming, now that his marriage is over. He’s just moved in and is trying to reconnect to his only family who will speak with him, a younger sibling called River. They live and work at a cat shelter as will help out with the care of Adam’s eight year old daughter Gus (August). And, River hooked Adam up with a job at Charlie’s hardware. We learned all about Charlie and Rye in BEST LAID PLANS. Gus is a heck of a handful, and Adam’s reminded of this when she is hauled back home by their surly recluse of a neighbor Westley Mowbray–after she broke into his basement to see his lizards.

Wes is a man living in a run-down house on Knockbridge Lane. He’s nocturnal, and weird, and all the neighbors think he’s a vampire or a witch, but Gus adores him immediately. Because she’s enamored with science and it’s clear to her that Wes is kindred spirit. He’s running all sorts of experiments out there in his home, and Gus absolutely wants to know Wes’s secrets. Wes isn’t sure how he became so fascinating but he’s been alone so long that it’s a bit unnerving to be so wholly welcomed by anyone, and Adam does make him welcome, as long as he leaves his tarantula back at his home.

Getting over Mason, Adam’s ex, has been hard, and he really wants to make Christmas good for Gus now that they are settling into their new home. Her idea of what would make this the best Christmas is to decorate their house with the most Christmas lights ever, and Adam is determined to try and make that happen. He puts out a call for donations of lights on his Instagram, and is happy to receive lights from some nearby folks who can drop them off locally. This means they need Wes’s help attaching them to the house, which keeps Wes in their orbit, to some degree. He’s not super neighborly, at first, but Gus is certainly charming him with her keen interest in all his experiments.

Adam’s more than overwhelmed with his personal issues, and he’s trying to mask it for Gus’s sake, putting up the lights that keep pouring in and sharing pics of the results on his social media. His request for lights goes viral, though, which starts to bring people from all over to take pics of the house, and this spooks Gus and Wes–as well as Adam. Wes has been hiding out in Garnet Run from his own sordid history–once a semi-famous child actor, he’s keeping a super low profile due to anxiety from paparazzos. And it’s building again with the strangers who are appearing on Adam’s lawn.

This is honestly such an amazing read. I’m not actually doing it justice in the review. Adam is a sweetheart, a big ol’ marshmallow trying to cope with his grief and manage the care of his exuberant and precocious daughter. She’s a trip, and I loved how she and Adam were so tight in their bond. Meanwhile, Wes doesn’t want to need anyone, and he thinks being a recluse will facilitate that, but he’s parched earth awaiting a rain–and Gus and Adam are a flood of love. He has no capacity to keep their generosity of hearth and home at bay. That said, there are moments of hurt, and self-preservation, and need. And, sometimes there do not match up well for Adam, Wes and Gus. They each have issues to work through, and it takes a minute or two to find closure and allow healing to happen.

There aren’t a whole lot of steamy moments, but there is joy, and elation, and connection–not only for Adam and Wes, but for Wes and his estranged family, for Wes and his community–that he thought he could live without. Well, Adam may not exactly connect with Bettie, Wes’ pet tarantula, but they do reach an understanding of sorts. And, because this is romance, there will be a falling out and a grand gesture and these guys will connect ever stronger after having that small break. I’m so in love with this series that I STILL wish Garnet Run was a real place so I could be friends with Adam, and chat with Wes and help Gus with her next experiment.

Interested? You can find THE LIGHTS ON KNOCKBRIDGE LANE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. I read a review copy provided by NetGalley.

About the Author:
Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia, where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.

When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique. She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.

You can find Roan online on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Rebound Love THE JOCK SCRIPT– Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new contemporary M/M romance from Lane Hayes. THE JOCK SCRIPT is the third book in her new The Script Club series, and features a genius astrophysicist who inexplicably ends up tutoring a bicurious lacrosse coach in gay sex. You can catch my review for earlier books in the series, FOLLOWING THE RULES and RULES OF PLAY, but this one is fine read as a standalone, too.

Drop down to catch my review and enter for a chance to win a $25 GC.

About the book:

The nerd, the coach, and the hookup…

Asher-

Swipe left, swipe left, swipe left. Sure, the idea of a quick, no-strings intimate rendezvous via hookup app sounds oddly thrilling, but it’s simply not me. Or maybe it is me, because it happened…and I liked it. Until I realized he looked familiar for a reason. A bad reason. Now I’ve made a faux pas with the sexiest man on planet Earth, and my internal karma system requires me to fix it. Help!

Blake-

I may seem like I have it together, but the truth is, I’m a hot mess. I’m so deep in the closet that I can’t remember my real name some days. That’s okay. The benefit of one-night stands is anonymity. Until Asher. Not a total surprise. I’ve always had a thing for geeks, but I’ve never met anyone like him. He’s a pint-sized dynamo on a quest for perfection who can help me come out…if I follow his script.

Hmm. I’m in.

The Jock Script is an MM bisexual, geek/jock romance starring a bowtie wearing nerd, a sexy lacrosse coach, and a shenanigan inducing script!

How about a little taste?

Asher closed his mouth in a tight line and sighed. “We should change the topic. Every time I’m with you, I secure my spot in Hades.”

I threw my head back and laughed. “What’s with you and the guilty conscience? I admire your commitment to honesty, Ash, but I don’t think it’s healthy to punish yourself after the fact. Not to mention, your rules seem arbitrary. They don’t make sense.”

“Sure, they do.”

“Hmph. You say sex is a part of nature, and you’re happy to discuss it until your internal sex-o-meter overloads and you decide you’ve overstepped some invisible boundary. It’s like you want to punish yourself for no good reason.”

Asher opened and closed his mouth. “I don’t do that.”

I polished off my salad, pushed my plate aside, and reached for my wineglass. “Yeah, you do. You should give yourself a break once in a while.”

“Says the devil incarnate.”

“Who me?” I flashed a roguish grin. “I’m not so bad, and you don’t have to be so good. Is this the remnants of a super religious upbringing or—”

“Oh, gosh, no. My mother is a hippie. She’s not judgmental at all.”

“Then why—”

“I’m just weird, Blake.”

His tone was firm rather than sharp and sent a strong message that he’d prefer to drop the subject. In fact, he looked suspiciously eager to greet the waiter when he returned to clear our salad dishes and set dinner plates on the table. I observed his animated hand gestures, his starched collar, and perfectly straight bow tie, wondering what he was hiding under all that armor.

Asher wasn’t weird, he was—okay, fine…he was totally weird. But I had a feeling he was compensating too. Making up for something or glossing over an unseen flaw. Sort of like a kid standing guard over a lamp he’d busted by accident. No one would notice as long as he made sure the unblemished side was never shown.

Call me crazy, but that got me. Yes, I was very attracted to him and definitely wanted to get naked and horizontal with him ASAP. But I wanted to know him too. I wanted to peel away his protective layers and study his quirks. His internal system of checks and balances fascinated me.

I twirled my fork around my pasta and smiled. “You know, I’m no devil and anyone who sucks dick like you cannot be an angel. There’s got to be a good middle ground for us.”

“Yes. As friends.”

“Right,” I agreed, shifting in my seat to adjust my cock when he hummed around a mouthful of pasta. No joke, my dick woke up at the mention of alien sex and was now stretching the seam of my zipper. I sipped my wine and willed my body to get the “friend” memo. “So, buddy…since we’re supposed to be spending time together now, I think you should come to my game next weekend.”

“Game,” he repeated, drawing out the single syllable into two. “The one you coach? Or do you play also?”

“I play with a club team, but our season ended a couple of weeks ago. We’re on a break till summer, which is fine ’cause my kids have finals and my girls’ team is in the last stretch before CIFs.”

“I don’t understand that acronym, but I’ll come to your game and maybe afterward we can do power tool…things.”

“Sounds like a date. The game is at ten at Westgate. I’ll text you the address.”

“Okay. I have questions, like…where do I sit and what should I wear? Also, what are the rules?”

I smiled. “Sit wherever you want and wear whatever you want. The idea is to have fun. Well…and to kick OC Lutheran’s ass. As for the rules…the goal is to put the ball in the net more times than our opponent. You’ll be able to follow along.”

He didn’t look convinced. “I’ll do some research. Now, what about us? Do you want me to be there and not speak or…are you going to introduce me? And if so, what will you say? I need to rehearse my lines.”

“Lines? This isn’t a play, Ash. We’re friends.”

“No, we’re not. We hardly know each other.”

I frowned. “Then we need to fix that ’cause I’m going to introduce you as my friend. It’s less complicated that way.”

“And if someone asks where we met, I’m allowed to improvise, correct?” he teased. taking a big bite of pasta.

Too big of a bite. He slurped a rogue piece of tagliatelle with wide eyes, then covered his mouth with his napkin. It was pretty freaking cute. I pointed at the sauce on his cheek.

When he swiped at the wrong side, I hooked my finger and motioned for him to lean in. I wiped his cheek with my thumb, underestimating the intimacy of the gesture. The strong current of heat and desire sizzling between us threw me off guard, rendering me speechless.

My Review:
Asher is an out-gay astrophysicist with a physical need and a healthy sex drive. He may be a nerd, but he’s definitely got skills, honed by years and years of sexual exploration. He’s never had shame or fear, accepted by his mother, a psychologist, from before he really recognized his attraction. While looking for a no-strings hook-up partner, Asher connects with Blake, a tall, built athletic bed partner, with whom he shares some awesome sexytimes. He’s not sure why he looks so familiar, even if they’d never met before.

He’s not really about repeats, but Blake, a stalwart Star Wars fan and closeted bisexual lacrosse coach, reaches out for a Round 2 and that’s when Asher connects the sense of deja vu with horror: Blake was the closet-case his good friend and housemate Topher fell hard for a year before, only Toph thought his name was Jake… And, boy does Asher give Blake what-for, defending Topher’s honor. But Blake won’t let Asher disappear without explaining his misunderstanding, and well, asking for a big favor.

Blake sees how natural and genuine Asher is, unafraid to live an out life. He wants to learn how to come out, and thinks that Asher can coach him, and they can keep exploring their intense chemistry. Asher’s temper might be a supernova, but Blake has tickled his organization bone, and he’s swiftly assembling a plan, with the help of his mother’s counsel, for Balke to come out. If not for himself, to give support to his goalie who’s recently come out as lesbian. Blake has some struggles with an old female ex, only because he’s not sure how to trust her with his truth–or anyone for that matter. But Asher’s continued coaching is helping him turn the tide. Having a sexy-nerd boyfriend can do that for you.

Expect sweet and sexy moments, with Asher getting way more in deep than he’d anticipated, and Blake loving Asher’s struggle for perfection. They each have a great backstory, and loving families. Their journey into couplehood is swift and engaging. I really liked it and look forward to the next book in the series.

Interested? You can find THE JOCK SCRIPT 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 loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, and 2018-2019 Rainbow Awards.

She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a not quite empty nest.

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