Betting On Love SINK OR SWIM–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M navy romance from Annabeth Albert. SINK OR SWIM is the second book in her Shore Leave series that features naval submarine officers finding love. In this installment, a landlocked submarine logistics chief finds his big win of an idyllic cabin really nets him a family, instead. This book follows SAILOR PROOF, and features Arthur’s brother Calder getting past his competitiveness and into a cooperative relationship.

About the book:

Winning and losing are subject to sexy interpretation…

Navy chief Calder Euler loves to win big. His latest score? A remote mountain cabin. Checking it out is supposed to be a quick trip, but Calder’s luck abruptly turns when a freak injury and a freakier snowstorm leave him stranded.

Oh, and the cabin isn’t empty. A silver fox caring for two young girls claims that the property is his, but Calder’s paperwork says otherwise.

Felix Sigurd is on a losing streak, and his ex-husband risking the cabin in a reckless bet is only the latest in a series of misfortunes. He’ll tolerate the handsome stranger for a couple nights–even care for his injuries—but that’s it.

Calder doesn’t know a damn thing about kids, but making pancakes for Felix’s girls is a surprising delight. Trapped in the cabin, the four of them slip easily into the rhythms of a family. But when the ice melts, they’ll have to decide if a future together is in the cards.

My Review:

Navy chief Calder Euler is about to be blindsided. He’s driving in to the Cascades to view his “new” cabin, that he’d won in a high-stakes poker game. As a submarine logistics manager, Calder is notorious for his organizational spreadsheets, and gambling. He’s always prepared to make a calculated risk, but this time, the dude he was playing didn’t actually own the collateral he’d offered up. Nope, the cute snowbound cabin had been in his ex-husband’s family for generations, and the guy thought it would be another fun way to stick it to his ex, Dr. Felix Sigund.

Felix knew his marriage was falling apart, but adopting his orphaned nieces was the final straw for his happily childfree ex. But, the settlements of their “joint” property–read Felix’s inheritance–have cost Felix a good bit of cash. He’s happy for a weekend escape to his woody cabin, until his young nieces scream about the stranger inside calling it his own. Startled, Calder falls down the stairs and twists his ankle nastily. It’s a tough blow since he’s still recovering from a concussion suffered on his last sub deployment. It’s why he was even stateside to “win” the cabin. As frustrated as Felix is for this unexpected drama, he’s not about to force an injured Calder into a dangerous car trip–which is moot, since the roads soon snow over. 

During the weekend, Felix and Calder develop a few sparks, and Felix indulges going along with Calder’s easy-going attitude. Thing is, Calder recognizes that Felix is a pretty great guy, and awesome parent, and he’s drawn to Felix’s care-taking nature. He’s been a bit melancholy missing his best-friend (Derrick) who moved cross-country with his younger brother (Arthur) several months back. (Derrick and Arthur are the couple in Book One of this series.)  Bisexual Calder rarely has strong connections or successful hook-ups, but Felix is amazing at putting him at-ease, and turning him completely on.

Calder guesses Felix doesn’t want to continue seeing him, he’s super focused on his parental responsibilities, but Calder has plans to ensure he’s able to connect with Felix over and over again. First, he insists on helping him settle his ex’s machinations, and secondly giving Felix a friends-with-benefits offer that’s too good to be true. An indispensable Calder means Felix has some fun, too. And, well, Calder’s not averse to kids; he just hasn’t really been around kids much since he was one. That said, he’s all about plans and his careful attention to detail gives him insights that cause Felix’s nieces to trust him pretty quickly. It’s Felix who’s been burned too much, and Calder pretty much never figured on a committed relationship–until he’s nearly smack in the middle of one with Felix and his small family. 

I really loved how Calder woke up and realized he had a toxic obsession with winning. He’d heard it from Derrick and Arthur, and he’s trying to turn over a new leaf, in that regard. He’s got plenty of opportunities to grow into a better man through his developing relationship with Felix, but Felix is just struggling to be 100% independent and berating himself if he needs to accept help. He can’t deny that the girls need a bigger circle of folks who love them, and Calder (plus his large family) is an unexpected support. Felix’s difficulty with responsible delegation of parental duties really hit home for me, and he was such a caring and dedicated person. He is truly a man worth Calder’s deep love, and their meet-cute was adorable. 

Highly recommend!

Interested? You can find SINK OR SWIM 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!

A Diver’s Nightmare–BODY AT BUCCANEER’S BAY–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M cozy mystery from Josh Lanyon. BODY AT BUCCANEER’S BAY is the fifth book in the Secrets and Scrabble series, and I’m a huge fan! Previous titles include: MURDER AT PIRATE’S COVE, SECRET AT SKULL HOUSE, and MYSTERY AT THE MASQUERADE, and SCANDAL AT THE SALTY DOG, and this episode has Ellery Page, bumbling bookseller and outsider in a small town, caught in another mystery when he and his boyfriend, Chief Jack Carson, find a body wearing 19th century dive gear, but lurking in 20th century shipwreck. I’ve also enjoyed MAINLY BY MOONLIGHT and I BURIED A WITCH if you’re interested in magical realism M/M odd-couple romance from this author.

Bucaneers Bay coverAbout the book:

Dead Men Tell No Tales

Mystery Bookshop owner Ellery Page and Police Chief Jack Carson are diving for the legendary sunken pirate galleon Blood Red Rose when they discover an old fashioned diver’s suit, water-damaged and encrusted with barnacles. Further examination reveals the 19th Century suit contains a 21st Century body.

Who is the mysterious diver? No one seems to be missing from the quaint and cozy town of Pirate’s Cove. Was he really diving for pirate’s gold? And if not, what exactly did he do to earn that bullet hole in his skull?

My Review:
Screenwriter and former actor Ellery Page is finally settling into quaint but active Pirate’s Cove on Buck Island, off the coast of Rhode Island. His steady beau is Police Chief Jack Carson, with whom Ellery goes scuba diving, and together they find an unidentified body. The body isn’t only out of place, it’s seemingly out of time with the wreck. Jack is continually challenged by Ellery’s penchant for getting caught up in murder plots in real life. In fact, Ellery’s exploits have earned him a potential stalker–someone who’s willing to send him anonymous threatening letters. Jack wants Ellery to get more security at his home and bookshop, but money’s tight. It seems he might get a windfall, if he accepts the disingenuous role as an amateur sleuth investigating the attempted murder of a visitor to the area, Odette Wallace. Odette and her late-husband’s family used to visit Buck Island–and she’s convinced one of his adult children are behind a few shady situations that could have killed her if they hadn’t been otherwise thwarted. She and her partner, Mr. King, a longtime acquaintance of the Wallace family, are visiting for Yacht Race Week, as are all three of Odette’s stepchildren.

Mrs. Wallace is unwilling to go to the police. Turns out there was a contentious situation where her terminally-ill, yachtsman husband died alone aboard ship–prior to demanding a divorce, according to his children. It was so inexplicable that Odette was officially arrested under suspicion of murder, but was later released when there was insufficient evidence. Now, she’s convinced that one of the step-children wants her dead to collect their father’s trust. Could this be connected to the boyd Ellery found? Or, to the stalker who’s breaking into Ellery’s home and business? Will Ellery’s sleuthing help keep Odette safe? And, will Jack ever speak to Ellery again when he learns Ellery’s accepted Odette’s retainer to help solve her attempted murder mystery?

This is a fast-paced story that gives us a LOT more info on Ellery, as his mom and step-father visit. Unlike the acrimonious situation with the Wallaces, Ellery loves his parents, and wants them to love Jack, too. The misdirection is frantic, and Ellery’s confidence in Jack’s affection is waning as the long days wear on, and the danger moves closer to Ellery than anyone–especially Jack–likes. This is a conflict, of course, because Jack can’t protect Ellery if he’s on duty all the time, and Race Week has all the officers on overtime. The Wallace children are all haters of Odette, but one of them might be more effectively lethal than then other two. Expect an explosive ending, blowing away the conspiracy theories and pairing Jack and Ellery together in solving these cases.

I love seeing Ellery and Jack get closer to one another, and develop a deeper bond. Ellery is an absolute hoot, and I adore his narrative voice. I flew through this story, much like the previous books in this series, and I recommend it to fans of cozy mysteries, especially those starring LGBTQ characters.

Interested? You can find BODY AT BUCCANEER’S BAY on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Josh Lanyon is the author of over sixty titles of classic Male/Male fiction featuring twisty mystery, kickass adventure and unapologetic man-on-man romance.

Her work has been translated into eleven languages. The FBI thriller Fair Game was the first male/male title to be published by Harlequin Mondadori, the largest romance publisher in Italy. Stranger on the Shore (Harper Collins Italia) was the first M/M title to be published in print. In 2016 Fatal Shadows placed #5 in Japan’s annual Boy Love novel list (the first and only title by a foreign author to place). The Adrien English Series was awarded All Time Favorite Male Male Couple in the 2nd Annual contest held by the 20,000+ Goodreads M/M Group. Josh is an Eppie Award winner, a four-time Lambda Literary Award finalist (twice for Gay Mystery), an Edgar nominee and the first ever recipient of the Goodreads Favorite M/M Author Lifetime Achievement award.

Josh is married and lives in Southern California. Catch up with Josh’s new on her website, Facebook or twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

More than learning to LISTEN–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M romance from RJ Scott. LISTEN  is the fifth book in the Single Dads series, and features a widowed gay man hoping to adopt a special needs child, and the daring teacher who could help, or hinder, him. I loved SINGLE, TODAY, PROMISE, and ALWAYS. Nick has made some cameos in SINGLE and ALWAYS, but this story is really all about his family, and how he’s coped with loss–for better or worse.

ListenAbout the book:

He only wanted to make the best home for his new daughter; he never meant to fall in love with the man who might steal her away.

Nick and his husband had always wanted a big family, but when cancer took Danny six years ago, Nick was left a single dad of three. He never considered his broken heart would heal enough to add to his family, but as soon as he meets Teegan he knows he wants to adopt the little girl. Born profoundly deaf, Teegan has been rejected twice already in the adoption process and hasn’t found her forever home. Nick wants to be her hero—her dad—and create a world that is safe and happy for her. He knows he wants to make her life perfect—he doesn’t know how to go about it or understand the best thing to do for his family, and he needs help. Enter Elliot, and Nick finds himself falling for the frustrating, sexy, inspiring, and caring teacher who can make things right.

Elliot is wary of helping the man who appears more interested in public opinion than the needs of his own family. But, learning that Nick, wealthy and entitled, is now adopting a deaf child, Elliot knows this is a step too far and strides into battle. As the child of deaf adults, Elliot knows he is the best person to advocate for little Teegan and, if needed, he is determined to intervene and halt the adoption. Nothing and no one will get in Elliot’s way when it falls on him to protect Teegan.

This single dad story features a widower struggling to make things right, a teacher battling for a child’s wellbeing, an adorable toddler, three loving siblings, a home with a view of the ocean, and families standing behind them both.

My Review:

Nick Horner is a widowed gay man, still mourning his late-husband Danny going on 6 years now. They had a daughter, Hannah, via surrogacy, and later adopted two orphaned brothers, Mason and Caleb. Danny was a stay-at-home dad while Nick did investigative reporting, selling his stories for big sums. Anyway, it Nick a long time to get beyond his depression and grief, and be a solid father to his children, after Danny’s death. He’s just sold his interest in his production company, and is committed to building the bigger family Danny always wanted, beginning with adopting Teegan, a deaf toddler in foster care. Nick is committed to ensuring Teegan will thrive in their family, but he’s struggling to learn sign language. He reaches out to his children’s school to see if they have any discreet resources, after an online “educator” tried to blackmail him. Nick’s so committed to being the best dad he can to all his kids–including Teegan–that he’s willing to seek the help of Elliot Curtis–the only man to turn his head since Danny’s passing.

Elliot Curtis is an English teacher at St. Josephs elite private school for the wealthy and privileged. He taught Nick’s daughter Hannah a couple of years back, and is still stinging from the problem he had convincing Nick (at first) to get evaluations and services for Hannah, who he suspected had ADHD. Well, that and the big one-sided crush he had on Nick, fueled by an unexpected kiss Nick gave him two years ago. But that’s all in the past, right? Now, Elliot is being tasked to assist Nick learn ASL so he can better communicate with the young girl he hopes to adopt. Elliot, a Child of Deaf Adults (CODA), is convinced that Nick’s adoption of Teegan is just some sort of publicity stunt, and he’s dead set against facilitating this, but his side project, a safe space for Deaf children and families to congregate and learn, could use the hefty donation Nick will make, in return for Elliot’s help.

This book seemed to start as a twist on an enemies-to-lovers type of romance, but without any solid enmity. Nick is embarrassed to be attracted to Elliot, as if he’s disrespecting Danny’s legacy to find another man attractive, and he’s mortified about how he acted on that attraction. Elliot is frustrated to still find Nick honorable and sexy, even after their confrontation over Hannah’s needs. Teegan is at the heart of their current situation. Elliot knows first-hand the challenges that persons in the Deaf community face. Can Nick actually provide a loving and supportive family? Should Elliot interfere with the adoption, if he thinks Nick won’t be a good parent? It’s not like many Deaf people are looking to adopt.

Elliot and Nick have a lot of history to uncover and rehash, but their inconvenient attraction brings more struggle to the situation. I loved how patient Elliot was, teaching Nick ASL, but also more about how to navigate the Deaf community. And Nick’s so vulnerable and open, with Elliot, but also with his children. He’s a committed parent, and is willing to do the work to make himself a better person–having years of therapy supporting this mission. It’s a tender romance, with Elliot bringing out the best in Nick, with the kids being overjoyed at the dad’s new happiness, and with Teegan finding a forever home with a big family that will love and support her. Expect a bit of drama with the birth mom, and a scam artist hoping to profit off Nick’s good will. Other than that, there isn’t too much angst. I loved how Nick’s happy ending began with a new beginning, and laying to rest his ghosts. Very sweet.

Interested? You can find LISTEN on Goodreads and is available on Amazon and BookBub.

About the Author:
RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

Catch RJ on her website, Facebook, Goodreads, twitter and LibraryThing.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!