Out now! AN ERIE COLLECTION–Release, Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a release week review and book giveaway for a M/M shifter romance series from V.L. Locey. AN ERIE COLLECTION contains four novellas featuring Templeton Reed, a skunk shifter who inexplicably falls for Mikel Lupei, alpha of the Lake Erie wolf pack. I’ve previously reviewed AN ERIE GARDEN PARTY, but was hungry for more of this fun and engaging shifter world. For those who’ve enjoyed any of the previously-released novellas, this collection includes a fourth novella that is new.

About the book:
You can now have all four of the MM Lake Erie pack novellas in this one reasonably priced collection! Included in the set are the previously released novellas An Erie Halloween, An Erie Operetta, and An Erie Garden Party. To round off this whimsical and romantic shifter set is a brand-new novella, An Erie Uprising!

It’s been one wonderfully romantic year since skunk shifter Templeton Reed met Mikel Lupei, the alpha wolf of the Lake Erie pack. During that year, the two men fell in love and worked side-by-side to solve some tricky murder mysteries. They also opened up Lupei Manor, Mikel’s familial home, to other LGBTQ mystical beings in the Erie area. Sadly, being gay in the supernatural world Templeton and Mikel live in can be a death sentence.

During the past year, the magical world has slowly been coming unraveled. Civil unrest now runs rampant through the community as the lesser breeds revolt against the hateful dictates of the Elder Counsel. The uprising will surely touch every person residing in the magical world beside Lady Erie. Will the flames of unrest and war consume everything and everyone Templeton and Mikel hold dear as well?

My Review:
Templeton Reed is a shy skunk shifter working diligently as a lineage specialist for the shifter world. Given the hierarchy of their world skunks are near the bottom–and lots of the “Lesser” shifters are suddenly disappearing–violently. So, he’s worried, but not truly anticipating the attack of a puma and bear shifter. Some quick thinking, skunk-muskiness, and a determined wolf, Mikel Lupei, is all that keeps Templeton on the “still with us” plane. Two things become clear: Templeton’s attack wasn’t random, and Mikel’s got a hankering for his pungent rescuee.

Thing is, same-sex relations are banned in their shifter community. Likewise, even if homosexuality wasn’t a fatal crime, it’s still not okay for a wolf shifter to have relationship with a lesser (skunk) shifter. Defying the laws and customs of their world Templeton and Mikel find love that surpasses their dreams. Unfortunately, it brings more doemsetic trouble than even Mikel could have predicted.

Their love, and the scope of their relationship, grows in the three following novellas. IN these Templeton has the opportunity to show exactly how fierce a lesser shifter can be, risking certain death to uncover the mysteries of murdered shifters, and rescue Mikel from enforcers of their own community. The writing is whimsical, and there’s plenty of sexytimes to balance the action and intrigue. The first time I read AN ERIE GARDEN PARTY I wanted to know more about Templeton, Mikel and their world. Now that I’ve read the whole series, I totally enjoyed the experience. Highly recommend to fans of M/M shifter romance, especially those who love odd shifters and unusual pairings. The series also features some non-shifter paranormal folk, so expect a vamp, or three, as well as some keen insight into societal inequalities and the fight for equal rights for all.

Interested? You can find AN ERIE COLLECTION on Goodreads and Amazon (US and UK) Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter Giveaway link for your chance to win a backlist book from VL Locey.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.

When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.

You can find her on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads and tsú.

Out now! HONEYMOON FOR ONE–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M romance from Keira Andrews. HONEYMOON FOR ONE is an older-younger odd-couple story about a jilted fiance who tries to enjoy his lonely honeymoon–and finds unexpected new love on his adventure. The setting is Australia–which seems to be a fave for Ms. Andrews as I’ve enjoyed THE STATION and TEST OF VALOR which are both told from down under…

Scroll down for my review and to enter the giveaway!
About the book:
The wedding is off, but the love story is just beginning.
Betrayed the night before his wedding by the supposed boy of his dreams, Ethan Robinson escapes the devastating fallout by going on his honeymoon alone to the other side of the world. Hard of hearing and still struggling with the repercussions of being late-deafened, traveling by himself leaves him feeling painfully isolated with his raw, broken heart.

Clay Kelly never expected to be starting life over in his forties. He got hitched young, but now his wife has divorced him and remarried, his kids are grown, and he’s left his rural Outback town. In a new career driving a tour bus on Australia’s East Coast, Clay reckons he’s happy enough. He enjoys his cricket, a few beers, and a quiet life. If he’s a bit lonely, it’s not the end of the world.

Clay befriends Ethan, hoping he can cheer up the sad-eyed young man, and a crush on an unattainable straight guy is exactly the safe distraction Ethan needs. Yet as the days pass and their connection grows, long-repressed desires surface in Clay, and they are shocked to discover romance sparking. Clay is the sexy, rugged man of Ethan’s dreams, and as the clock counts down on their time together, neither wants this honeymoon to end.

Honeymoon for One is a gay romance by Keira Andrews featuring a May-December age difference, a slow burn of newfound friends to lovers, first-time m/m sex, and of course a happy ending.

How about a yummy taste?

As Ethan walked through the resort on Fraser Island the next afternoon after a tour to gorgeous Lake McKenzie, he finally admitted to himself that he was looking for Clay.

Because he’s nice! He’s fun to talk to. Besides, my harmless crush is just that. Harmless. Why shouldn’t I enjoy it? Nothing’s going to happen. He’s apparently straight and I’m on the rebound. But we can be friendly. I like his accent, and he’s a nice guy.

Of course, Clay wasn’t just nice. He was sexy. His accent? Sexy. The Australian slang he used that made him sound like Crocodile Dundee sometimes? Sexy. His broad shoulders and solid build? Sexy. That he didn’t have chiseled abs and was a little soft around the middle? Sexy. Those blue eyes, and how the auburn in his hair gleamed in the sun, especially in his beard and the hair on his arms, and how he had freckles…

Sexy, sexy, sexy.

But the sexiest thing of all was how thoughtful he was. How he made such an effort to make sure Ethan could hear him when he spoke. How he’d told him the secret of the Mission Bay sunrise. How he’d copied the tour guide notes for him. Even back in Cairns, how he’d held Ethan’s backpack while Ethan was snorkeling and watched over him, then later took him to buy a hat.

Ethan was wearing the hat now, and it gave him a giddy little thrill.

Is he straight though?

The question had been niggling at him. Clay had been married to a woman for years and had kids, but of course that didn’t mean he was straight. He could be bi or pan. Although he’d mentioned the right woman coming along.

Still, when Ethan had touched his arm that morning on Mission Beach and looked into Clay’s eyes, he swore there had been a flicker between them. That unnamed frisson of knowing.

Wishful thinking. Don’t be an idiot.

There were four pools at the resort, and Ethan strolled around the first two. It was sunny, and through his polarized sunglasses, the water, surrounding palm trees, and forest beyond were vibrant. He waved hello to Shiv—who was reading on a lounger since there was nothing planned for the day after that morning’s trip to the lake in four-by-four jeeps—and continued on to a smaller, kidney-shaped pool that was more tucked away, and—

Fuck. Clay.

There he was, stretched out on a chaise lounge under the shade of an umbrella and surrounding trees on the deck at the far end of the pool. There were a few adults in the water paddling lazily, others on the more exposed side of the concrete deck sunbathing. Kids seemed to be in the bigger pools, their splashing and shrieks distant noises now.

Oh so casually, Ethan ambled around the pool, stealing glances at Clay from the corner of his eye. The chaises on either side of him were vacant. In fact, that whole shady side of the pool was empty and quiet. There was no music piped in, just the rustle of leaves in the breeze. It was perfect.

Clay wore his sexy-AF aviator sunglasses, navy bathing trunks, and nothing else but his gold-colored watch. It was kind of old-fashioned to wear a watch, and it was sexy. He’d apparently taken a dip, since his hair was wet and darker, and drops of water dried on his skin.

His long, muscular legs were crossed at the ankles. There was a newspaper folded over his stomach, his fingers laced on top of it. His nipples were pink amid the reddish hair on his chest, and as Ethan got closer, he imagined licking those nipples.

Heat roaring through him, he swallowed thickly. This was a bad idea, and he should turn back the way he came. But now he was close enough that if Clay saw him, it might seem rude, like Ethan had turned around and left because he was avoiding Clay. So he kept walking slowly around the curve of the shaded deep end, where one woman in a bikini swam a slow side stroke.

Clay’s chaise was partly reclined, and it was entirely possible he was napping and didn’t have any idea Ethan was even there. Ethan slowed even more so his flip-flops didn’t flap on the concrete.

Okay, if I walk by and he doesn’t notice me, that’s a sign. I’ll keep going and stop being ridiculous.

He was still at least ten feet away when Clay called, “Ethan!” and lifted a hand in a wave.

“Oh, hey!” Ethan replied too loudly. Calm the fuck down. He smiled as he approached. “You found a good shady spot.”

“Yep. Got skin cancer once when I was younger, so I reckoned me and the sun aren’t mates.”

Ethan gaped. “Oh my God. I’m sorry. You said before that you had to be careful, but I didn’t realize.”

“Nah, nah. Don’t be sorry.” He casually motioned to the chaise on his left in invitation. Ethan spread out his striped resort towel and settled in, his heart beating too fast as he took off his hat since they were in the shade. Clay added, “I shouldn’t be so dramatic—it wasn’t melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma. Quite common in Australia. It can’t spread, so it’s not dangerous like other cancers. Still, I had to have surgery to remove it, so it’s not nothing.”

“Wow. I’m glad it wasn’t melanoma. Obviously. Where was it?” he asked before realizing how intrusive that was. Even though Clay really felt like a friend now, Ethan had to remember it was probably mostly in his head. “I’m sorry, I’m being totally nosy! You don’t have to tell me.”

See? This was a bad idea. I’m going to make a fool of myself with this crush. Maybe it’s not so harmless after all.

“No worries. It was on the back of my left shoulder.” Clay leaned forward, angling so Ethan could see. He reached over that shoulder with his right hand, his fingers finding a pale circle of a scar. Just below it was a tattoo, a green sort of shield with a yellow sun rising over a green horizon and five stars dotting the shield. It was a few inches wide and several inches long.

“Cool tattoo.” Ethan had never been compelled to get one, but he enjoyed looking at other people’s. Before he could stop himself, he traced it with his fingertip. Clay’s back was freckled as well, and goddamn, why was that so sexy? The seconds ticked by as he touched Clay, neither of them saying anything.

Finally, Ethan asked, “Does it mean something?” He was still touching, and Clay shivered. Ethan dropped his hand, his mouth dry.

Clay cleared his throat as he sat back. “It’s part of the Cricket Australia logo. On their uniforms there’s a roo on the left and an emu on the right, and ‘Australia’ written underneath.” He laughed and muttered something Ethan missed.

“What was the last part? Sorry.”

“I thought having the full logo was overkill for a tattoo. Didn’t want it too big, but I like having a little something.”

“You really love cricket, huh?”

Clay laughed. “What gave me away?”

Ethan chuckled. “Oh, you were going to tell me about that thing. The…” He racked his brain for the right word. “Ashes?”

“Ah, yes.” Clay tipped his head forward and peered at Ethan over the rims of his aviators with his intensely blue eyes. A thrill of desire shot through Ethan’s veins. Clay asked, “Are you sure you really want to know? No need to humor me, mate.”

“No, I really do!” He laughed, and it came out shaky, so he faked a cough. “I always loved sports when I was younger, and I want to get back into them. Although the Mets were epically bad last season, so I wasn’t very inspired to hop back on the bandwagon.”

“What happened to make you lose your interest? I can’t imagine.”

“Oh. It was…” Ethan motioned to his ears. “I lost interest in basically everything. I was really depressed for, like, four years. But the last year’s been a lot better. I’ve come to terms with it, I guess. But I’m still not the way I was before.”

“Ah.” Clay nodded sympathetically. “I understand. Still finding your footing. It can take a while. When I first moved down to Sydney, it was quite a culture shock. My entire life was upended. Home, work—the whole bit.”

“Yeah.” Ethan hesitated, but the way Clay watched him so patiently and without judgement gave him the confidence to say, “And now, being single again, it’s just so…weird. Like, who am I if… If I’m not with Michael?” Saying his name aloud was painful, but felt good at the same time, to release some of the pressure inside him.

Clay nodded again. “I was half of Mr. and Mrs. Kelly for so long. It hurt to lose that, no mistake.” He smiled sadly. “Hell, I still feel like I’m finding my footing. Thought I should have figured it all out by now, but that’s life for ya, I reckon.”

Warmth filled Ethan’s chest, affection and understanding flowing. “Always full of surprises, right?” And some that were actually good surprises. Like meeting a sexy older man who somehow likes me. Somehow gets me.

“Indeed.” Clay looked at him for a moment. Then he said, “You know, it’s nice to chat about it with someone on the same page. Haven’t really made many mates since I moved, and aside from Facebook, I don’t see the blokes from the Curry. Not that we’d talk much about this sort of thing.”

It made Ethan feel so damn good to be in Clay’s confidence. He had to stop himself from grinning delightedly. Instead, he joked, “Strong silent types in the outback, huh?”

Clay chuckled. “Something like that.” He sipped from a bottle of water. “Glad to have met you.” Then he jolted and looked horrified. “Not saying I’m glad at the trauma you’ve had. It’s awful that your wedding was called off.” He grimaced. “Maybe it’s best for me not to talk about all this after all.”

“No, no. It’s okay. I know what you meant. No offense taken.” He smiled genuinely, relieved when Clay visibly relaxed. But maybe it was time to lighten the subject. Sitting back on his chaise, Ethan said, “All right, tell me all about the mysterious Ashes. Maybe cricket can be my new sport.” And since it was something important to Clay, he really did want to know about it.

Clay grinned. “If you insist.” He sat back and re-crossed his ankles. “What do you know about cricket?”

“Um…nothing? It’s kind of like baseball and takes forever to play?”

Throwing his head back, Clay laughed, exposing his neck. Ethan watched his Adam’s apple. Clay said, “I’ll start at the beginning.”

Ethan nodded and uh-huhed as Clay outlined the basics. Stumps, bats, a wicket, a pitch, creases, bowling—Ethan wasn’t sure he really understood all the info, but he kept nodding, loving the rumble of Clay’s voice.

“Is this making sense?” Clay asked.

“Yes! I mean, it’s a lot to try and take in, but I think I get it.”

“We should watch a match. It’s really the best way to learn.”

Belly somersaulting, Ethan tried to keep his voice casual. “That would be cool, yeah. So what’s the thing about ashes?”

“The Ashes is a test series between England and Australia. Test matches can go five days, as opposed to an ODI—” He cut off. “You’re going to be bored shitless if I go into the overs and innings and all that. In a nutshell, England and Australia play a series every year or so of five matches. It’s very competitive. Lots of patriotic pride tied up in it. The name comes from the late 1800s, when we beat England for the first time over there. Being beaten by the colonies on English soil was quite a shock for the poor pommies, bless their hearts. Our bowler went fourteen wickets for ninety.”

“I have no idea what that means, but it sounds good?” Ethan laughed. Clay laughed as well, and God, he was so hot.

“It was very good. So one of the London papers published a mock obit for English cricket after we won. At the end it said, ‘The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.’ The Brits were determined to get the ashes back, and over the years, mumble mumble.”

A chattering couple walking by made the last part impossible to hear, but Ethan guessed, “Over the years that became the name of the tournament?”

Clay frowned after the couple, who thankfully kept walking. “You’ve got it. Legend goes that when England came back to Australia to play, a lady gave the captain an urn with the ashes of a burnt cricket ball inside. That urn’s in a museum at the MCC in England, but now the winning team gets a crystal version of it to keep until the next series.”

“Are you serious?”

“Mate, I never joke about cricket. Ever.”

Ethan grinned. “I love that the trophy is an urn. That’s awesome. Thanks for explaining all that.”

“I’d give you an ear-bashing all day about cricket if you let me.”

I’d let you do so many things to me.

Before Ethan’s mind could veer too far down the path of wondering what Clay’s beard would feel like against his face if they kissed, Clay said, “Tell me about baseball. Your Mets aren’t doing so well?”

“Not last season. But there was one year when I was a kid? We didn’t make the World Series, but it was still amazing. You know, when everything seems to go right during the season, and the players are all awesome guys and you feel like you know them, and you’re rooting so hard for them. And when they win, it’s just the best feeling in the world.”

Clay grinned. “Nothing like it, mate.” Then he laughed, his shoulders shaking.

“What?” Ethan laughed too. “You get it, right?”

“Absolutely.” Clay looked like he was trying to stop laughing but couldn’t manage it.

What?” Ethan nudged Clay’s bare arm with his fist, resisting the urge to flatten his palm over the firm, hair-dusted muscles. He groaned as he thought back over what he’d said. “Oh, I see. ‘Rooting so hard.’ You know I didn’t mean it like that. ‘Root’ doesn’t mean sex in the US.” He giggled, because he and Clay were apparently twelve.

As they laughed together over the silly joke, Ethan’s hearing aid battery beeped in his left ear. That meant the right likely would go soon too. Grimacing at the loud beep, he said, “Sorry, I need to go change my hearing aid batteries. They beep to let me know.”

“No worries. I’ll try to compose myself. Of course now my mind’s full of stupid jokes.”

Ethan grinned. “Tell me one before I go.”

“Well, did you know Australian’s don’t have sex?”

Hearing the word “sex” come out of Clay’s mouth had Ethan’s balls tingling and his head going light. His voice sounded too high as he said, “No? What do they do?”

“They mate.”

Ethan burst out laughing, and Clay joined in. Sure, it was childish. But he didn’t give a shit. It was fun. Michael would have rolled his eyes because he was always too snobby for puns. And wow, Ethan realized he and Michael hadn’t had goofy fun in a long, long time.

He’d missed feeling so relaxed. Like, he didn’t have to worry about what Clay would think if he made a dumb joke or announced, “that’s what she said” after a double entendre. Because Clay would laugh along with him.

Because Clay was awesome.

My Review:
Ethan is a 27 y/o out gay man who has been battling through depression over the loss of his parents and his hearing all in the past few years. He struggled since college, but now he has a job he likes and he and his college boyfriend, Michael, are one day away from wedded bliss! At least, until Ethan arrives home early on the night of the rehearsal dinner and finds that Michael is…uh, occupied, with another lover. Ethan is devastated to learn the depth of Michael’s betrayal, but he’s unwilling to go along with Michael’s new poly plan, even if he does understand that their relationship had been floundering before Michael accepted his proposal.

Having lost out of the boy of his dreams, Ethan’s set on not missing his honeymoon trip to Australia. It was a promise he’d made to his dying mother to visit the land down under, and though he’s heartbroken and miserable, Ethan takes it. There he meet’s Clay, the big and burly bluey (redhead) from the outback. Clay is in his mid-40s and recently divorced. He has two adult children, and is constantly being pestered by his ex-wife and daughter to find a new woman to share his life. Clay isn’t really interested in dating, but he can’t stop noticing Ethan. And not only because he’s young, fit and single. Clay has a huge protective streak in him, and he’s called into action to help Ethan nearly from the beginning. Learning Ethan’s tale of woe, and knowing how hard he’s found it to cope with becoming hard of hearing, keeps Clay on guard to pitch in.

They spend extra time together, and Ethan revels in it. Unfortunately, Clay’s worldview takes a big shift when he discovers a level of attraction he’d never anticipated. He’s never even thought about being with a man–it wasn’t done in his small outback town. His only experience with gays has been slurs and hate crimes he’d overheard. The very idea of being with Ethan…that way…is terrifying, but he’s also terrified of Ethan walking away and taking the only spark of attraction Clay’s had in years back the States.

I really liked the emotional balance in this one. It starts out pretty melancholy, what with the betrayal and Ethan coming to terms with yet another abandonment situation. He’s trying to make the best of things but he hadn’t really traveled much since he got the hearing aids, and there are so many new situations it’s hard for him to cope. Every thing, every experience, seems colored or filtered through a lens of what Michael would have done, or wanted, and it takes Ethan some time to bust free of those negative sentiments. Clay is a tantalizing bit of eye-candy, but the more intimate they become the more they recognized how unfulfilled they were in their relationships. It’s a wild ride for straight-Clay, who is likely somewhere in the demisexual spectrum. He doesn’t want to come out, but he doesn’t want to let go of Ethan. He has some intense internalized homophobia that he’s able to work through with patience, and listening, from Ethan. While this initially had vacation fling written in bold letters and red ink, this new connection is too good to let languish. Ethan’s still ready for a new beginning, and Clay is poised for starting over. With their lack of ties, it makes a global move possible, one that ties an HEA onto this story. It was kinda cool how that all worked out, without seeming obnoxious, or contrived.

Interested? You can find HONEYMOON FOR ONE on Goodreads and Amazon (US and UK).

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

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

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

Out today! FRACTURED HONOR Release Blast and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a release blast and giveaway for a new contemporary veteran romance from Kaylea Cross. FRACTURED HONOR is the first book in her new Crimson Point series and it packs a big emotional punch.

Scroll down of a tasty tidbit, and to enter the book giveaway!

About the book:
An elite warrior struggling to find his place in the civilian world.

Weary from his years on the battlefield, SF Captain Beckett Hollister has returned home to Crimson Point to take over the family business for his dying father. But adjusting to life outside the military is harder than he imagined, and being back home forces him to confront things he’d rather not face. Including the one woman he shouldn’t want and can’t have—his best friend’s little sister.

A love that was always meant to be.
Town vet Sierra Buchanan has known Beckett her entire life. She’s crushed on him for years, but because of his relationship with her family, the stubborn man refuses to see her as more than the girl he grew up with. As tragedy brings them together, neither of them realizes that the sins of Beckett’s past have come home to haunt him. When Sierra becomes the target of his unforeseen enemy, Beckett must vanquish his demons to save her.

How about a little taste?

Beckett focused on her, the impact of that deep brown gaze setting off a sizzle of heat in Sierra’s belly. His quiet intensity drew her with a power she wasn’t strong enough to resist.

Against her will, her gaze dipped to his mouth. His features were harsh, even foreboding, but his mouth looked so soft. She’d imagined those full lips on hers so many times, wondered if his quiet intensity would translate to the bedroom.

She was willing to bet it did.

The thought made her heart skip and her blood race, imagining what it would feel like to be on the receiving end of that intensity in bed. To feel that hard, powerful build against her, on top of her. His strong, capable hands holding her in place as he caressed and licked every sensitive spot on her body, then driving into her with urgency. Something told her Beckett would be unlike any other lover she’d had.

He wouldn’t be emotionally closed-off then.

I’ve already finished reading the review copy I was sent, and I liked it. Look forward to a full review from me next week. In the meantime…feel free to pick up a copy or jump into the giveaway. Or both!

Interested? You can find FRACTURED HONOR on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter Giveaway link for your chance to win one of FIVE copies of FRACTURED HONOR.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author Kaylea Cross writes edge-of-your-seat military romantic suspense. Her work has won many awards, including the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence, and has been nominated multiple times for the National Readers’ Choice Awards. A Registered Massage Therapist by trade, Kaylea is also an avid gardener, artist, Civil War buff, Special Ops aficionado, belly dance enthusiast and former nationally-carded softball pitcher. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband and family.

Catch up with Kaylea on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Instagram.

Falling for PROFESSOR ADORKABLE Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a release week review and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M romance from Edie Danford. I’ve reviewed a few of Edie’s books for Joyfully Jay, and I’ve liked all of them. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her latest release, PROFESSOR ADORKABLE, because it features a nerdy Czech physics professor and the adorbs housekeeper who helps him feel brave and desirable. It’s such a sweet odd-couple, friends to lovers story.

Catch an excerpt and enter to win in the $10 Amazon GC giveaway down below.
About the book:
What happens when a star-gazing professor falls for his hot young housekeeper? One heck of an earthy explosion…

Professor Marek Janos’s genius at analyzing stellar explosions doesn’t apply to his own disordered world. Forgetting to eat, sleep, and leave his lab has triggered some epic personal disasters. When his family insists he hire live-in help, he discovers home life has awesome benefits. His new housekeeper’s smile sparks more energy than a supernova. And the way he moves? It rocks Marek’s galaxy.

Pete Schulz took a tough fall from his high-flying life in Hollywood. But how does a guy whose best skill is getting dirty clean up his act? His new gig with Domesticated Inc seems like a great first step. Keeping house for a nerdy young astrophysics professor is exactly the low-key, no-chance-for-trouble job he needs, right?

Living together is surprisingly easy for both men. And fun. And more than a little hot. It’s when they’re faced with the idea of living apart that the truly messy work begins…

How about a little taste?

“I made the mess,” I tell my housekeeper. “So I will clean it up.”

“Yeah, I know you can clean it up if given several hours,” Pete responds, his smile crooked. There are no signs of exasperation on his face or in his tone. No signs that he’s upset I’ve woken him up with the sound of breaking glass, and that his once-pristine kitchen floor is now covered with a mess I could have easily avoided if I’d been paying attention. “But it’s my job. Tomorrow morning your job is to go teach a class. You’ll sleep until eight, eat a good breakfast, and then be off.”

I raise my eyebrows. “That is exactly how it will happen?”

“I’ll make sure of it.”

“What if I want to negotiate?”

“Negotiate?”

“Yes. Things can be negotiated in a democratic household, yes?”

“Democratic?”

I smile. “We have no dictators here. Or kings or queens.”

“Well.” He snorts. “There is that matter of your uncle signing my paycheck. But I get what you’re saying, I guess. What were you interested in negotiating?”

“Tonight I feel…antsy? Unable to relax.” I move my shoulders up and down to show him all this tension I’m experiencing. “I’ll go upstairs and sleep, but first I would like company. To hang out with you. For a while.”

His mouth droops as he folds his arms across his bare chest and stares at me. “So you’re saying you’ll let me do my job. But only if I give up my free time for you?”

“Um.” It’s cool in the kitchen, but my face suddenly becomes steam-burn hot.

Damn. I’m incredibly bad at talking to him—or any guy—I find attractive. Doesn’t matter where I am—Prague, Pasadena, Chicago. My language barrier isn’t about Czech versus English. It’s about my head versus my tongue.

What I want with Pete is complicated, not simple. But, as usual, I’ve said words that could be construed as—

God, I don’t even know what.

“You suck at negotiating, Marek.” He says it with a kind note in his voice.

“Yes.” I clear my throat. “I do.”

He sighs and runs his hand over his short hair—hair I want so fucking badly to touch. Is it bristly, soft? Would it sift through my fingers easily, or would it be like my hair and cling to my skin?

“I suppose we could listen to one Harry Potter chapter,” he says, lacking his usual enthusiasm for the idea. “But just one. And if you fall asleep or if I fall asleep or if we both fall asleep, it will be your job to wake up and go back to bed. No sleepovers. That’s a rule that’s not allowed to change.”

I swallow. Ordinarily I would give him shit about the unreasonableness of his request—if we’re asleep, how will we know we’re asleep and thus breaking his rules?

But I keep quiet tonight. I know I’m pushing him. I know he’s beginning to figure out I want more than just his company. So much more.

If this were a work-related matter, I would get my way with a few basic words. Logic applies in my lab. When it comes to my personal life, however, logic rarely applies. Basic words never seem to work.

If I tell Pete what I really want—to take him into his room, to put him on his comfortable bed, to kiss his clever mouth over and over and over, to blow him until his sweet hotness spills down my throat, to hold him tightly and use friction to excellent effect (inside or outside our bodies, I don’t care) until we both come—then he would say “no” quickly and firmly, and quietly shut that detestable door in my face. And I’ll be lucky if he’s still around in the morning.

The situation between us is confusing. I hope this is more than just his workplace. We are friends. He’s my best friend, actually. And he’s the one who makes this place a home.

Occasionally, I have a hard time understanding…what had my language tutor called it? Nuance. Nuanced meanings. Pete and I have a lot of nuances happening between us.

“One chapter would be good,” I tell him. “Chapter Twelve. ‘The Tri-wizard Tournament.’ I need to know all about it.”

He nods and tips his head toward the open door to his suite. “I’ll meet you in there.”

My heart bounces around in my chest—more zaps from that ionizer—but my head doesn’t like the take-care-of-business look on Pete’s face. No smile, no teasing, no dancing notes to the way his boots clap against the tile floor. He checks the locks and the deadbolts on the back door and walks toward his room.

He glances at his doorway and then me, his eyebrows rising. He looks as though he’s holding his breath, maybe holding back a sigh.

Maybe it would be better to give him space tonight. Better for me to be apart from what I want so much, but can’t have. I should walk away, go back to my room without bothering Pete.

My damp toes stick to the cold floor. I want to be more than a job for him. I want to be more than some guy he feels sorry for, some guy who can’t even say what he wants.

I walk over to the sink and retrieve a glass from the nearby cabinet. I fill the glass half full at the tap and then drink. I set it down carefully. The water is cold, but my skin feels hot. I can feel Pete watching me, waiting.

My eyes shift to the hallway. But my feet carry me toward Pete.

My Review:

Marek Janos is a certified astrophysics genius. He’s 26, with two PhDs and a professorship at University of Chicago–yet he struggles with the day-to-day business of life. Sure, part of this is due to him being a Czech transplant to the States but mostly it’s him being out-of-step with real life. He’s an adult, but a bit naive, with a history of being taken advantage of–mostly recently by his ex-boyfriend who quite literally took him for all he was worth. Homeless, living in his lab, and ill weren’t what his family wished to see, so his uncle took it upon himself to find Marek a house, and housekeeper, when he moved from California to Chicago.

Pete is a 23 y/o out gay man trying to live without being fabulous for a change. He’s recently returned from a life and scene in LA where his assistant job for a TV studio exec had an “anything goes” policy–and apparently anything went… Ashamed of his callow life, and burning off the fumes of Insta-fame gone stale, Pete is happy to be a domestic assistant, and Marek’s home is an ideal place to work. Doesn’t matter that Marek is “adorkable;” Pete is remaining celibate, and steering clear of blurring any lines in his professional capacity. He’s got a bunch of rules to keep him free of sexy entanglements, and he doesn’t want to risk being fired due to the clause in his one-year contract that will keep him from contacting Marek, who has become his friend.

Pete likes Marek. A lot. He’s also suspicious why Marek’s uncle insisted on hiring him–specifically he was looking for a “worldly gay man” to manage Marek’s household–because reasons. Did he expect Pete to be more than a housekeeper? Or was he simply concerned that Marek would need someone to help him out of his shell. It’s confusing, and Pete needs clarity. Of course, Marek and Pete have been getting closer and closer as the months have passed. They spend time talking, and listening to audiobooks of Harry Potter cozied up in Pete’s room. Pete takes the time to make special treats for Marek, and this makes Marek feel special. Comfortable. Interested.

Marek’s not so good with nuance, but he’s definitely able to be direct. He makes no mistake about how he wants Pete to be more than his housekeeper. His friend, his lover. These are the roles Marek wants to see Pete in. There are some complications regarding family, and Pete’s desire to be with Marek without messing up his life again. They make an agreement that Pete will be a test subject in Marek’s exploration of the Chicago gay scene. Pete only agrees to some level of intimacy–well more intimacy–if Marek will date other, suitable men. See, Pete, due to his history of being a boy toy, doesn’t feel worthy of being loved by Marek. Meanwhile, Marek decides to up his game, calling Pete’s old friends for make-overs that turn Pete’s head nearly off his body. The urge for each man to take care of the other is both tender and strong. Marek never doubts that Pete is good enough; he only fears he won’t be brave enough to do what is necessary to prove he’s capable of surviving on his own so Pete doesn’t feel as if Marek’s “love” is just misplaced need. Not that Pete thinks Marek will take advantage of him.  Pete has the resources to walk away from Marek, as it turns out. But, should he?

I really loved how these guys interact. They are so careful, and thoughtful, with one another. Pete’s tentative nature about slipping into bad patterns is interesting, and admirable. Marek’s naivete is charming, as is his calculating mind. He approaches problems head-on now, which shows a lot of growth over his previous experiences in Cali. His absolute steadfast belief that he will win Pete’s heart and mind is endearing. Pete, despite his youthful foibles, is really being a bit too hard on himself, and Marek helps him recognize this. Marek’s Czech-accented English felt more charming than stereotypical, and the boys all seem to swoon for Marek, but he’s only got eyes for his Pete. The Chicago realities–including the crap weather in January and the crap traffic any dang time of year–were spot on, for me. As a Chicago native, I loved those details and look forward to seeing more of it in books in this new series. I liked the secondary characters, especially Marek’s gal-pal Zoe, who’s an outspoken teen girl who works in his lab. She’s got gumption, and is willing to help Marek tailor his experiments to get the desired results: Pete loving Marek…forever.

Interested? You can find PROFESSOR ADORKABLE on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter Giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends.

Meet the Author
Edie lives in Vermont with her husband, two sons, and random creatures that might or might not be pets. She loves libraries (where she’s found play, work, and love since she was a kid), long walks (unless ice is involved), lewd language (in the right context), luscious romance (of any variety), and alliteration.

Catch up with Edie on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Out today! STARTING OVER–Release Day Blitz and Giveaway!

Hi there! I’ back with a release day blast and giveaway for a new book and series by C.J. Baty. STARTING OVER is the first book in her Knights Club series, but is a spin off from the Warfield Hotel Mystery books. I’m looking forward to sharing a review for it next week.

Scroll down for more info and enter to win an ebook in the giveaway.
About the book:
Xavier Knight was starting his life over. A new city. A new club. The past was gone, and he had everything to look forward to… except… love. That ship had sailed, never to return. He was too old to play the games or stack up the one night stands. Until, an old enemy’s son walked into his club and his heart.

Sebastian Brady was through. Through with hiding who he was. Through letting his brother officers dictate his life. And completely through, with his family telling him who he was. He turned his back on his badge and his family’s heritage in the Atlanta police force. But, he never imagined that he’d be serving drinks in a gay bar and working for the hottest silver fox he had ever seen in his life.

Xavier and Seb have a lot to learn from each other. Hopefully, their growing love will survive Xavier’s past, Seb’s family, and a host of characters with secrets of their own, who all work at the Knights Club.

Insights from the Author:

The Knights Club (formerly the Gentleman’s Club) first appeared in the Warfield Hotel Mysteries Series. It was owned by Stony Whitecastle and is located in Atlanta, GA. At the beginning of the Knights Club/Starting Over, Stony is selling the club to Xavier Knight. He renames the club the Knights Club and instead of a private club opens it the public. Some patrons still hold membership though.

This series involves Xavier and his crew of employees and their involvement with a local police family. We meet Sebastian Brady in Starting Over along with his dysfunctional family. Seb’s struggle with his homophobic oldest brother and the shadow of his dead father, Detective Delmonico Brady, haunts Seb as he tries to make a new life for himself.

Occasionally, a character from the Warfield Hotel series will pop up but they are not central to the story line. Everyone who works at the Knights Club has a past and secret they are running from. They are mixed bag of people who have been suffered many things. The Knights Club is their home and the people who work there are their families. But, even families don’t like each other all the time…

The Knights Club Series Release schedule:
Bk. 1 Starting Over September 18, 2018 Today, yo!
Bk. 2 Letting Go October 2018
Bk. 3 Coming Out November 2018
Bk. 4 Learning Trust December 2018
Bk. 5 Deserving Forgiveness January 2019

Interested? You can find STARTING OVER on Goodreads and Amazon US and UK.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter Giveaway link for your chance to win an ebook of STARTING OVER.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the author:
C. J. Baty lives in southwest Ohio. Her heart, however, lives in the mountains of Tennessee where she hopes to retire some day. The mountains have always provided her with inspiration and a soothing balm to the stresses of everyday life.

The dream of writing her own stories started in high school but was left on the back burner of life until her son introduced her to fan fiction and encouraged her to give it a try. She found that her passion for telling a story was still there and writing them down to share with others was much more thrilling than she had ever expected.

She has a loving and supportive family who don’t mind fixing their own meals when she is in the middle of a story, and a network of friends who have encouraged and cheered her on in her quest of being an author.

One thing she has learned from life and she is often heard to say is: “You are never too old to follow your dream!”

Catch up with C.J. on her website, Facebook or twitter.

Out Now! LOVE SPELL Review and Giveaway

Hi all! Well, it’s been a long break. I seriously fell into a blog-time-out for health and sanity reasons…mostly I couldn’t keep up the blogging with the pressure of THREE part-time jobs, finishing my third degree, and job-hunting for a stable position. But, all that’s just a blip in my history, and I hope to be blogging more regularly going forward.

Today I’m sharing my review for LOVE SPELL by Mia Kerick. This is a contemporary YA M/M romance which is wholly clean and really compelling. Chance is a gender-fluid teen–that means he’s as likely to dress male or female. He’s confident that he’s gay, and 58% (or so) sure that he’s not transgender, but he really doesn’t want to think about it. Or talk about it. He just wants to find the right guy, and he’s pretty sure (probably 95%) that this right guy is Jasper.

About the book:
Chance César is fabulously gay, but his gender identity—or, as he phrases it, “being stuck in the gray area between girl and boy”—remains confusing. Nonetheless, he struts his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug-in-all-the-right (wrong)-places orange tuxedo as the winner of this year’s Miss (ter) Harvest Moon Festival. He rules supreme at the local Beans and Greens Farm’s annual fall celebration, serenaded by the enthusiastic catcalls of his BFF, Emily Benson.

Although he refuses to visually fade into the background of his rural New Hampshire town, Chance is socially invisible—except when being tormented by familiar bullies. But sparks fly when Chance, Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper (Jazz) Donahue, winner of the Pumpkin Carving King contest. Chance wants to be noticed and admired and romantically embraced by Jazz, in all of his neon-orange-haired glory.

And so at a sleepover, Chance and Emily conduct intense, late-night research, and find an online article: “Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love With You.” Along with a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure, it becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz’s heart.

But will this “no-fail” plan work? Can Chance and Jazz fall under the fickle spell of love?

This is a second edition of the novel–originally published in 2015.

A yummy taste…

Chapter One: Shine On, Harvest Moon

Just call me brazen.

It occurs to me that brazen—unabashedly bold and without an inkling of shame—is the perfectly appropriate word to describe moi right about now. It is, however, the only perfectly appropriate part of this evening. Which is perfectly appropriate, in my humble opinion. So get over it.

I lift my chin just enough to stop the stiff orange spikes of glitter-gelled hair from flopping forward onto my forehead. Who can blame me? These spikes are razor sharp—best they stay upright on my head where they belong. And gravity can only do so much to that end.

Okaaaayyyy…sidetracked much? Forces rebellious thoughts on business at hand.

Chance César is a brazen B.

I stare ’em down, but only after I pop the collar of the blinding “Orange Crush” tuxedo I’m rockin’ and shrug my shoulders in a sort of what-the-fuck fashion. Rule of thumb in this queen’s life—first things must always come first.

Pop, shrug, and only then is it kosher to stare. I clear my throat.

“Eat your ginger-haired heart out, Ed Sheeran.”

Based on the buzz of scandalized chatter blowing about in the crisp evening breeze, I’m reasonably certain that nobody in the crowd heard me speak. And although several of the girls currently gawking at me may do double backflips over my red-haired counterpart across the pond, they don’t give a rat’s ass about Chance César. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that they view my atomic tangerine locks as more reminiscent of Bozo the Clown than of the smexy singer-songwriter.

They are, however, completely unaware that this carrot top is going to make Harvest Moon Festival history tonight.

Refusing to succumb to the impulse to duck my head, I take a single shaky step forward onto the stage that’s been set up on the dusty ground beside a vast—by New England standards—cornfield. The stage doesn’t wobble, but my knees sure as shit do. Okay, I’m an honest diva and I tell it like it is. And I’m what you might call a freaking wreck.

Nonetheless, this brazen B takes a deep breath, blows it out in a single gush, and starts to strut. This boy’s werkin’ it.

Smi-zeee!! Yeah, my smile is painted on, just like my trousers.

Chance, you are by far the edgiest Miss Harvest Moon this ramshackle town has ever had the good fortune to gaze upon. I am a major fan of positive self-talk.

Using the feigned British accent I’ve perfected—thanks to long hours of tedious practice in my bathroom—I dish out my next thought aloud. “I wish I’d put in a tad more practice walking in these bloody heels before going public in ’em.” And despite one slight stumble—a close call to be sure—the clicking sound my pumps make is crisp and confident. I saunter out onto the catwalk.

#TrueConfessions: Faking foreign accents is a hobby of mine. I can yammer it up in improvised French, German, Mexican, Russian, and plenty more accents, but I don’t mimic Asian languages, as it seems too close to ridicule. My plan for the rest of the night is to continue vocalizing my abundant thoughts in Standard British, with a hint of Cockney thrown in for charm. After all, New Hampshire is the “Live Free or Die” state, and I’ll do what I laaaa-like. Yaaasss!

“Introducing this year’s lovely…or, um, handsome Miss…ter…Harvest Moon. Let’s hear an enthusiastic round of applause for Chance César!” Mrs. Higgins always speaks using a lolling Southern twang, although I’m sure she’s lived her entire life right here in less-than-gentile, way-too-many-dirt-roads, Fiske, New Hampshire. (Like, can you say backwoods Fiske without it sounding too much like backward Fiske?) TBH, I’m thrilled: it seems I’m not the only one with an affinity for a colorful accent. But the applause is disappointingly, but not surprisingly, scattered.

“Woot!” A solitary hoot splits the night—it’s quite impossible to miss— and I recognize an undeniably shrill and nasal quality in the sound. I know without a doubt that the hooter is my best (only) friend, Emily Benson. In my not so humble opinion, Emily’s hooting for my benefit is as liberating a sound as Lady Gaga bellowing “Born This Way” live on the Grammy Awards after emerging from a large egg.

My Emily is everything! Not to be dramatic, but whatevs.

In any case, the single, supportive hoot is followed by mucho expected heckling. “Chances are, Chance César is gonna moon the crowd!” It’s a girl’s voice, for sure. I do not have a lot of female fans here in Fiske.

“Come on, Miss Harvest Moon, bend over and flash us your full moon!” A dude mocks me next. I’m proud to say I’m an equal opportunity victim of harassment.

I don’t blink once in the face of the jeering. This type of inconvenience is par for the course in my life, and thus, I consider it a challenge of stoic endurance. I simply place one fine pointy-toed pump in front of the other, my eyes focused on the mountain in the distance. I’m especially proud that, amidst the chaos, I remember to offer the crowd my best beauty queen wave.

Yeah, this is some beauty pageant realness.

“Thank you, lovelies, for coming here today.” I speak in my most Princess Diaries-esque tone.

“Werk it, girlfriend—werk hard!” Yes, it’s Emily again. And like always, she’s got my spectacular back.

“Aw, shit, we must be havin’ a lunar eclipse or somethin’.” It’s another pubescent male voice, and a deep one at that. “There ain’t no moon to be seen ’round these parts!” The heckler is a douche I know too well from school named Edwin Darling—whom I less than fondly, and very privately, refer to as “Eddie the Appalling.” I watch as he looks away from me to take in the full moon in the dark night sky and shrugs.

The lunar eclipse one-liner is actually fairly humorous. I toss out ten points for creativity in Edwin’s general direction by allowing a restrained smile, but I never remove my eyes from the single treeless spot on Mount Vernier.

Time for a mental detour. Why is this one spot bare-assed of all trees?

That’s when the music starts, and I’m more than glad for the downbeat. It helps me focus, plus it’s much easier to sashay to the sound of a jazzy snare drum than to the unpleasant clamor of heckling. Not that my backside won’t wiggle righteously to any sound at all. Because, rest assured, it will.

“Shine On, Harvest Moon.” Whoever is in charge of the sound system plays the Liza Minnelli version, which may be the silver lining to this farce. For as long as I can remember, it’s been the more traditional, not to mention folksy, Four Aces version for Miss Harvest Moon’s victorious stroll up and down the creaky runway. I will say that tonight is a first for the Liza rendition, and I’m curious as to whether it is coincidental.

But who really cares? Ring them sparkly silver bells for Liza M!

On a side note, I wonder: Is it a good thing or a bad thing that Liza Minnelli’s voice brings out the dramatic streak in me? Okay, okaaaayyyy…so maybe it doesn’t take more than a gentle nudge to get me going in a theatrical direction. But, hey, drama ain’t a crime. My mind is pulled to the back of my bedroom closet (how ironic), where my flapper get-up hangs. Panic sets in… Should I have worn that instead? But it’s a muted peach—not a vivid orange—as seems fitting for a pumpkin festival. And then there’s the whole not-a-single-soul-except-Mom-Dad-and-Emily-has-yet-seen-Chance César-in-full-female-garb thing that held me back from rockin’ the vintage coral dress with its spectacular tiers of flesh-colored fringe.

Tonight is Beans and Green Farm’s Annual Harvest Moon Festival, and for northern New Hampshire, this is a big freaking deal—the whole town shows up for cheesy shit like this. In light of this recognition, I confirm that pumpkin orange attire is mandatorbs. I mean, I went so far as to dye my hair for tonight’s festivities; the least I can do is choose garments that enhance my Halloween-chic style.

At the end of the catwalk, I indulge the audience by providing them with their deepest desire. I stand there, still as a scarecrow—for ten seconds, give or take—so they can drink in the sight of me, from spiky glittering head to pointy patent leather toes. I allow them this rare opportunity for freeze-frame viewing pleasure. Whether they admire me for having the balls to strut around ultraconservative Fiske wearing a scandalously snug-in-all-the-wrong-(right)-places orange tuxedo and four-inch black pumps—which I will admit is a public first for me—or they wish the shining harvest moon would fall on my house and crush me while I sleep, what they all really want most is a good long moment to study me.

To twerk or not to twerk, that is the question.

When the spectators finally start to squirm, I throw out a few of my best vogue fem moves to the tune of some subtle arm, wrist, and hand action, followed by several full-body poses, avoiding the death drop move as I haven’t yet mastered it in pumps. And when it’s time to once again get this glam show on the road, I pivot on my toes and strut briskly—America’s Next Top Model style—back to the stage where my boss, the owner of Beans and Greens Farm, stands nervously clutching my crown.

Mrs. Higgins is a tall glass of water, in the manner of a large-boned Iowa farm girl, but she’s accustomed to crowning petite high school junior girls, not nearly grown senior boys in four-inch heels. I crouch beside her politely and, I dare say, delicately, and she carefully nestles the crystal-studded crown in my spiky mop of neon-orange hair.

“Be careful, Mrs. H,” I warn beneath my breath. “Those spikes might look harmless, but they’re sharp enough to slice off your little finger.”

She offers me half of a crooked smile, for which I give her credit. I, Mrs. Higgins’ very own “boy with the bad attitude on cash register three,” have broken about every rule Beans and Greens has established for its hordes of Fiske High School summer workers, right down to the “no jewelry at work” clause. But a couple of points go to the lady because she manages to force out a grimace that could be mistaken for a smile…if your standard for smiles is on the low side. Besides, I’m not about to remove my nose ring. It in no way impedes my ability to count, ring up, and bag cucumbers.

This is when I spin on a single heel to face the crowd.

“You don’t happen to have any…very brief…words of wisdom for our audience, do you, Chance?” Mrs. Higgins asks, speaking into an oversized microphone. But despite the laid-back accent, I can tell she’s wary. Like a rat in a corner.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.” My clipped British accent momentarily stuns the woman, and I take the opportunity to snatch the microphone from her less-than-dainty hand. Realizing it’s now in my possession, Mrs. Higgins shudders. “I just want to thank you all, my beloved coworkers at Beans and Greens Farm, for voting me in as this year’s Miss Harvest Moon.” I wipe imaginary tears from my eyes with my wrist, sniff for added effect, and, of course, I employ a most gracious, high-pitched tone of voice. “I am so honored to represent you all here tonight.” I sound like Eliza Doolittle in the stage play, My Fair Lady.

The crowd is silent. Maybe it’s a stunned silence. I sincerely hope so.

I follow dainty sniffling with my best duck-faced lip pout. Mrs. Higgins makes a sudden grab for the microphone, but I’m more agile. I only have to twist my shoulders ever so slightly to the left to block her move. She eyes me with a new respect.

And then I lower my voice so it’s all man—momentarily losing the delightful British inflection—and pose my question to the crowd.

“So you thought voting for me as Miss Harvest Moon would humiliate me—dull my shine or rain on my parade, perhaps?” I wag one well-manicured finger at the crowd while swishing my ass back and forth in matched rhythm. “Well, in your face, my sorry backwoods homies, cuz I’m here and I’m queer and I’m shining on—just like that big ol’ harvest moon!”

Without hesitation, I bend, just enough to grab Mrs. Higgins around the waist, and lift her off her size eleven feet (by my best visual estimate) and swing the lady around, probs ’til she’s seeing more stars than the ones in the dark Harvest Moon sky.

I’d bet my ahhh-mazing ass that no other Miss Harvest Moon has ever given Mrs. Higgins a joyride like that!

My Review:
Chance Cesar is an out gay teen, a senior in his rural New Hampshire high school and the new Miss Harvest Moon. That’s right, he was voted to be the pageant queen, as a cruel joke, but he werks it, strutting down the aisle in an orange tux and black pumps. That’s how we meet Chance, and henceforth his fabulousness cannot be denied.

Chance has always known he’s attracted to boys/men, but he’s still not clear on his gender identity. He struggles with his daily wardrobe–dress or pants–and he wants a boyfriend. A nice boyfriend. He kinda has his heart set on a boy from the vocational school, Jasper Donahue. “Jazz,” as Chance dubs him, is a burly boy with lots of responsibilities. He works to help support his mother and sister, and when he isn’t working, he’s babysitting his sister so his mom can work. Still, Chance is smitten, and he’s not even sure if Jazz swings his direction. Jazz seems to invite Chance’s attention, but there is no clear movement into Boyfriendland. All the discussions and intimate moments could be construed as simple friendliness.

So, Chance comes up with The Plan–well it’s more like The List for The Plan–of ten things to do to capture the heart of a boy. He spends weeks getting to know Jazz, hooking him in–if he can–and having hilarious misadventures. At the heart of this is a serious connection that Chance needs to make with himself, coming to terms with his gender and how that might affect a potential partner. Chance is a reliable narrator, and his narration is funny. He’s a diva, and his brilliance is often overwhelming to his objective: getting Jazz to love him. Thing is, he is super insecure, and that softens his manic edges. It’s a lot Notting Hill, with a boy standing in front of a boy, asking him to love him. This is a completely innocent book, sexually. The romance appears to be completely one-sided but it develops into a very tender friendship as Chance learns to love, and to give love, for no other reason than to help Jazz find happiness. Also, I enjoyed how Chance saw Jazz’s life, and how his privilege of money didn’t make for near as happy a home as Jazz’s criminally broke but bursting with love family.

I think the Love Spell part of it was rather short, and not the main focus, at all. It was great to walk through Chance’s gender-fluid shoes and get a better sense of the insecurity and frustration of not really KNOWING if he was a he-girl or a she-boy or somewhere in the middle, and I’m certain it will resonate with questioning teens. This was the second LGBTQ YA novel I’ve read from Ms. Kerick and the characters are always intense and sincere with real life plights that are honestly told. It took me a little time to settle into Chance’s voice because he’s got a flamboyant speech pattern, which is part of his quirky charm.

Interested? You can find LOVE SPELL on Goodreads, NineStar Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter link for your chance to win a $10 gift card to NineStar Press.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty-two years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships, and she believes that physical intimacy has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, and CreateSpace for providing her with alternate places to stash her stories.

Mia is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights, especially marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Where to find Mia online: Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Being True to LOVE YOU SO MADLY–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M romance from Tara Lain. LOVE YOU SO MADLY is the second book in her Love You So series and features a successful business man who unexpectedly falls for the office handy-man. I’ve really loved a bunch of Ms. Lain’s odd-couple romances including VOLLEY BALLS, BEAUTY INC and THE LORD OF A THOUSAND STEPS to name a few.

Scroll down for an excerpt, my review and to enter the $10 Amazon GC giveaway!
About the book:
Ben Shane has it all… and he’d like to give some of it back. While he loves his job heading a foundation that funds worthy causes around the world, his engagement to one of America’s wealthiest men leaves him feeling more like a trophy wife than a valued partner. The first warning that his relationship might not be designed to last is his irresistible lust for Dusty Kincaid, the golden-haired, bright-eyed handyman for his company.

Though Dusty is odd for a twenty-three-year-old—no liquor, no sugar, and he can’t even drive—the more Ben gets to know Dusty, the more he admires him. But is Ben going to give up a guy who drives a Ferrari for one who takes the bus? He must be mad. Dusty knows he and Ben can never work.

After all, Ben’s perfect… and Dusty isn’t. But Ben might surprise everyone with proof that he’s only madly in love.

How about a little taste?

In the car Dusty said, “Can we listen to that nice music again?”

He’d noticed. “Sure.” Ben flipped on the Chopin.

For a few minutes, they rode in music. Ben cleared his throat. “Dusty, do you mind if I ask how old you are?”

“Oh sure. I’m twenty-three. How old are you?”

Ben almost laughed. As an executive in a top firm, nobody ever asked him that. But turnabout was fair. “I’m twenty-nine.”

“Wow. You’ve done a lot in your life.”

“Thank you.” Ben glanced at Dusty.

“I haven’t been able to do so much, but I’m working at it.”

“That’s what counts. Keep moving toward your dreams.”

“I like that idea a lot.” He leaned his head back and closed his eyes.

“So your dad doesn’t live at home?”

“No. Never has. My mom’s taken good care of me, though.”

“Has she always been a nurse?”

“No. She had to work so hard. She was only sixteen when she had me, but she never gave me up, no matter what anyone said.” He took a deep breath and let it out in a long exhale. “And no matter how hard it was.”

“She sounds amazing.”

“She is.” He looked out the window. “It’s hard for her to, you know, let me do stuff, but she’s the best mom.”

“So you’re not married?” Ben chuckled.

Dusty mirrored the chuckle. “Not yet.”

“Have a girlfriend?” Oh, very subtle, Shane.

“No.”

“Not yet, huh.”

“Not ever. I’m gay. But I don’t have a boyfriend yet. I’d like to, though.”

Well, okay. Ben swallowed. “You would?”

“Sure, wouldn’t you?”

“I’m, uh, engaged.” Shit. Shit. Shit. When did I decide to become Mr. Purveyor of Truth?

The passenger seat became deeply silent.

Ben glanced over. Dusty’s eyes were closed, and he seemed to be breathing deeply.

“You okay?”

“What?” His eyes fluttered open.

“Sorry. Just asking how you’re doing?”

“Good, thanks. Just drop me on the curb over there.” He pointed to one of the entrances to Orange Coast College.

“How will you get back to my place?”

“Bus.” He smiled, but his glance scampered all over the place as he opened the door. “Have a great day.”

Ben couldn’t stop. He put a hand on Dusty’s arm—his sinewy, muscled, hot-as-fuck arm. “Dusty, what’s wrong? Come on, tell me.”

“Nothing, honest. Just sometimes it’s hard not to wish I was somebody else.”

My Review:
While this is the second book in a series, it’s easily enjoyed on it’s own.

Ben Shane is a 29 year-old manager of a foundation that oversees corporate donations. He matches donors with worthy causes that align with the person’s, or corporation’s, missions-slash-beliefs. Philanthropy is a huge part of Ben’s mindset, and it’s partly why he’s struggling with his new fiance, Alan Ashland–sole heir to the Ashland fortune. See, Alan can’t wait until they get married and spend weeks on end traveling for their honeymoon. While Alan seems to have a deep affection for Ben, he also wants a trophy husband who will make all his society dinners and be able to jet-off…whenever for whatever. There’s a lot of tension there, and also over BEn’s unwillingness to sell his cottage in Laguna that’s currently being re-habbed.

Ben has mixed feelings about his life plans, and it doesn’t help that he’s more than a little intrigued by Dusty, the genial, hard-working IT-fixer and general handyman in Ben’s office. Dusty is 23, yet he lives at home with his overprotective mother, can’t drive or drink alcohol. He’s fastidious about his diet, and he’s eager to help Ben out–in whatever capacity Ben needs. Dusty fair swoons for the man, and is deeply disappointed to learn Ben’s engaged. Still, Dusty accepts the offer of a part-time job managing the construction project at Ben’s home, and that’s where things get messy.

Having Dusty in Ben’s home really crosses their wires. The pressure between Ben and Alan has reached crucial levels, and the simplicity of hanging around with Dusty makes it plain that he’s not happy in his relationship. The chemistry is fantastic, but Dusty’s big medical secret is a barrier–perhaps. I liked how the reveal was made, with Dusty and Ben finding more than common ground in ways neither expected. It was intriguing how Dusty’s welfare dove-tailed with BEn’s business plans, and also helped connect these two when it seemed unlikely they would find happiness together. Dusty is a sweet guy, and Ben is in the middle of a personal crisis. Some readers might not like how Ben isn’t exactly honest about his feelings, but the timeframe seemed to allow the flexibility for Ben to recognize that Dusty was the man for him, even as he needed to carefully disentangle himself from Alan.

The happy ending came in a way that Dusty could hardly believe, but felt right for the story. I liked the plan to work with Dusty’s medical situation, and also how he was much more than his disease. If you didn’t read the dedication, well, you wouldn’t know what was going on with him until Ben was half-way in love. For me, that’s important, and I liked how the character was a person who managed his life, not one who was controlled by his medical issues/history. There are some fun side characters here, including a raucous, wealthy woman whose down-home wisdom helped Ben with his life-changing decisions. Also, cameos from the MCs of the first book in this series will likely please readers. There isn’t a lot of steam, but the feels are right out on the page.

Interested? You can find LOVE YOU SO MADLY on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.

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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 on her website, blog, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.