Beat of Love ROCK HARDEST–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary rock romance from MJ Roberts. ROCK HARDEST is the third book in her Chords Brothers series and features a rocker trying to get his life and band together and the sexy drummer he falls hard for…

Scroll down for my review and to enter the books + $25 Amazon GC giveaway!
About the book:
Cole’s world shattered seventeen years ago. Now he’s got one chance to get his life back on track. Hoping that going back to music will ease his tortured soul, Cole starts his own band. There’s only one problem— he can’t find a drummer.

T.J. Casarez is stuck working in her family’s restaurant until her cousin calls her to audition. Cole’s not expecting a female drummer. Yet from the first beat they sizzle. But there’s no way she’s getting involved with a privileged pretty boy. She’s been burned before, and dating a band member is a recipe for disaster.

Only… it’s not just their onstage chemistry that’s on fire.

My Review:
Cole Chord is the elder brother of Ryder Chord–Ryder is an international rock star, and Cole regrets stepping away from music in his late teens due to a family tragedy. In the intervening years Cole had a drug problem–though he’s been clean for years now. Now, Cole’s 34. It’s 17 years since he left his original band, and he’s a very wealthy real estate tycoon in L.A. Cole is ready to chase his dream of music stardom. He hires a wild and outrageous bassist, Tremor, and a guitarist who might just KEEL you–Spider. With no non-addict + talented drummers showing up for an audition, Spider calls his cousin TJ for an impromptu jam session/audition. TJ turns out to be a sexy and sassy woman–and she makes Cole sit up and take notice.

TJ is in her mid 20s but she still lives in a family-owned apartment above one of her family’s Mexican restaurants. Her brothers and extended family are especially protective, and TJ herself doesn’t want to date any man–not after the last guy–a wealthy white man–broke her heart, their engagement, and left her in deep debt. So, while she finds Cole attractive, she doesn’t want anything physical to happen between them…or does she?

Cole’s real estate empire SHOULD run itself, but a misdirected call for assistance from a disgruntled tenant tips Cole off to a burgeoning problem of fraud that may have been perpetrated by his long-time business partner. Knowing that man has mafia ties makes Cole especially wary. Could this situation torpedo his day-job, or his new chance with his nascent band? The chemistry between the members of Phoenix Rising is growing, helped out a bit by Ryder’s support–and that of his friends, other rock superstars and friends of Cole, too. And, the chance to open up for Ryder’s band on a leg of their European tour really palys havoc with their lives–in a good way.

TJ realizes she needs to stand up to her overbearing family, but the boost she gets from Cole makes all the difference. She could barely resist him as it was, and now she’s swooning. And Cole’s a half-mile ahead of her into complete attraction and maybe true love.

This alternating POV rock romance is heavy on Cole being an absolutely-awesome human who cannot do enough to make his and everyone else’s lives easier, busier and more lucrative. He’s like an angel come to Earth. Meanwhile TJ is as aggravating and unlikable as I can imagine a female lead–without her being a sheer criminal or abusive cheater. She’s all about the tease, and then pull away. She takes gossip for gospel and deliberately hurts Cole time and time again. Instead of having ONE adult conversation, TJ flounders, and nearly squanders, her opportunity with Phoenix Rising. All the supportive folks are on Cole to make things right with TJ and it felt pointless because their biggest conflict was her unprofessional behavior. I didn’t connect with TJ much at all, and for that I struggled to understand the relationship. It seemed superficial and forced. Likewise, the resolution Cole developed to keep TJ from thinking he’d use his money to entrap her was almost ludicrous. Since I seriously couldn’t fathom how Cole became so uber-wealthy in the first place, his plan to fully-woo TJ was especially befuddling.

I haven’t read the other stories in this series, but many of those characters were involved in this story and I was honestly intrigued about those characters falling in love.

Interested? You can find ROCK HARDEST on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****
Click on this Rafflecopter Link to enter for your chance to win a 3-book set of e-books (Rock Hard, Rock Harder and Rock Hardest) from MJ Roberts, or a $25 Amazon GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Fan favorite M. J. Roberts is known for lovable characters, witty dialogue, exciting plot twists, fast-paced action that keeps you on the edge of your seat, and romance scenes that sizzle.

With more than two million copies of stories in circulation worldwide, Roberts is well loved for creating characters who feel as real as your most cherished friends.

M.J. Roberts is the author of seventeen novels, including the popular Rock Hard: Chord Brothers series, and over twenty short stories; she’s won six literary awards including the Literotica Summer Lovin’ Contest 2015 for Risk Your Heart and the April 2019 gold medal from Literary Titans for Rock Hard: Chord Brothers, Book 1.

Roberts is also an editor, songwriter, audiobook narrator, and professor of creative writing. A modestly humble egomaniac with a penchant for superheroes, she’s married to an awesome professional musician (a.k.a. The Rock and Roll God). Her ‘I’m with the band’ status and access to a bunch of real-life alpha bad boys means she’s always saying ‘Anything you say can and will appear in print. Names will be changed to protect the guilty.’

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

Getting Even KARMA’S A BIT*H–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new New Adult M/M romance from Este Holland. KARMA’S A BIT*H a standalone romance for a soon-to-graduate computer science major and a professional karma dispenser.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter to win a copy of KARM’S A BIT*H.
About the book:
Karma’s only a bitch if you’re bad.
Jake Michelson plays it safe. All he wants to do is keep a roof over his head and graduate from NYU in a few months. He can count on three things in life: his job at Dinkin’s Donuts, his best friend Marri, and school.

Archer Ferraro plays by his own rules. The one thing he can’t stand is when bad people get away with doing bad things. He’s dedicated his life to righting the wrongs the police can’t or won’t handle.

When Archer accidentally upsets Jake’s life, he vows to make it right and hires him.

Together, Jake and Archer must work on a new case involving stolen jewelry and a womanizer, deal with a lawyer brother and a jailbird father, and stay out of the cops’ way.

Should be easy…right?

How about a yummy taste?

“Hey!” Everyone stopped to gawk at the smallish, drunk man with his glasses askew. Jake struggled from my hold and staggered off his stool. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” He took a few steps toward the asshole cowboy. “We’re having a good time. You can’t ruin our fun with your stooopid face.” Jake hauled back and punched him.

“Shit!” I lunged and grabbed Jake around the middle, pulling him away before the cowboy retaliated.

The cowboys surged forward, but a piercing whistle ripped through the air and everyone froze. Titus crooked a finger at one of his friends, a guy as big as himself, and pointed at Jake who was once again asleep in my arms.

The biker smiled, revealing a gold tooth. I returned it with an aborted one of my own. He slid his arm under Jake’s knees, then wiggled his other arm between us. I held his head as the guy lifted Jake like a child. I grabbed Marri’s hand before she could attack, and I hurried after the dude. He entered a door behind the bar and deposited Jake on a sofa.

“Thanks, man,” I said.

“No problem.” He slapped my shoulders and my knees almost buckled.

Breaking glass and shouts came from the bar, and I winced.

A chuckle rumbled in his chest like one their motorcycles kicking on. “Don’t worry. This happens at least once a month.”

“Seriously?”

“Titus doesn’t like homophobes, racists, or conservatives.” He grinned and headed out the door.

Marri and I exchanged glances.

“Are your friends okay?”

“They left. That’s what I was coming to tell you guys.” Marri peeked out at the bar and shut the door fast as glass shattered.

“Shit. Does it lock?”

She pushed the little button in the knob, and I laughed.

My Review:
Jake Michaelson has put himself through college on a combination of scholarships and hard work. His dad is a gambling addict, currently serving time for embezzlement, it’s a sore point that Jake’s dad won’t let him come visit–this is his only family in the whole world. Jake’s months from graduating into the lucrative computer science field, but he’s got to make ends meet first. This becomes more difficult when he loses his donut shop job after selling a sexy stranger a bucket of oil. That stranger, Archer, used it to douse the inside of another man’s prized Camaro.

Archer Ferraro is a one-man karma machine. For a fee, he will bring justice to perpetrators the law doesn’t touch. Like Camaro guy–who beat up his former boyfriend (Archer’s client) but kept sliding away from arrest. Sometimes his fees are a lot, sometimes not–Archer just wants to deliver peace to people who felt violated. And, when he learns that his shenanigan of dumping a 5-gallon pail of oil all over his mark’s prized possession cost Jake his job, Archer wants to make that right, too. And he does so by offering Jake a job researching his clients and the marks for karma delivery. Archer wants to make sure the punishments suit the situation–and that his clients are truly deserving of his assistance.

Jake isn’t sure about this opportunity. Money is great, but he knows how quickly a person can be scooped off to prison. He’s not willing to become a super hacker, and destroy lives, but Archer’s enterprise seems…necessary, and helpful to his clients. Through the bits of vengeance Archer manages those folks gain closure, something that Jake deems admirable. And well, Archer and Jake have a mutual appreciation society growing between them. It’s hard for these young virile men to keep their hands off one another. So, they don’t.

Well, the don’t get busy *right* away, but it’s not too long, either. They meet in January and there is both sex and love by Valentines. It’s a funny and quirky story, with alternating points of view. Jake is nervous that Archer will be upset about his dad, but they cross that bridge with hardly a ripple. And Archer’s so gone over Jake he inadvertently plans to introduce Jake to his mom and nonna within days of their sexytimes. And, the family reunions don’t end there. I though the romance moved a little fast, and I also struggled with how quickly Archer unmasks himself–as a vigilante for hire. He’d kept his anonymity for years, but within the course of a couple weeks of meeting Jake there are like seven new people who know his private business. So much so that one of his mark’s starts stalking and messing with him. That made me pull back a bit, since it seemed like such an inconsistency.

If you like odd couples, and new adult romance with a side of vigilantism, this might be a good pick up for you.

Interested? You can find KARMA’S A BIT*H on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win an ebook copy of KARMA’S A BIT*H.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Este Holland is a writer and reader of all things Romance. She’s also a treasure hunter, a word wizard, a lover, and a fighter. She was born and raised in WV, and now lives in Virginia. She works in marketing during the day. She began writing novels in 2012.

You can reach out to Este on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram.

Taking a Chance on THE CUPID CRAWL–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a M/M romance from Hank Edwards. THE CUPID CRAWL is a book set in the Williamsville Inn universe, so if you’ve read previous stories, it’s be a nice addition. It’s fine to read as a standalone, however, and totally fits with my odd-couple theme this week. I’ve read and reviewed some of the Critter Catchers M/M paranormal romance/horror books in the past. You can check out my thoughts on HORROR AT HIDEAWAY COVE and DREAD OF NIGHT if those titles get your engine running.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter to win an ebook of SNOWFLAKES AND SONG LYRICS.
About the book:
What happens when a confirmed hook-up app user falls for a man who is his polar opposite?

Carter Walsh will be alone on Valentine’s Day, and his plans include a candy sampler of hook ups.

But after learning about the Cupid Crawl—a bar crawl covering a half dozen bars, gay and straight—he changes his plans.

During the crawl, he runs into:
An ex-co-worker nemesis who resurrects—loudly—an unfortunate nickname she bestowed upon him years before.
Several hot men eager for a quick hook up.
And one man absolutely not Carter’s type, but who manages to pique his interest and, possibly, steal his heart.

The Cupid Crawl is a funny, sweet, and steamy opposites attract, slight age gap story that takes place in the Williamsville Inn series world, and features characters from the Christmas stories Snowflakes and Song Lyrics by Hank Edwards and Snowstorms and Second Chances by Brigham Vaughn.

How about a yummy taste?

The organizer, Vic, led the way, squeezing past the men and women standing in the doorway and forging a path for Carter to follow. At first, Carter thought he was way overdressed. The men he slid past were shirtless, some wearing just white loin cloths or even cloth diapers along with feathered wings strapped around their broad chests. These men gave him a brief glance, maybe a quick smile, but were busy talking to each other or women who were also baring a lot of skin. Didn’t these people realize it was February in Boston?

When he reached the bar, Carter was relieved to see people wearing shirts and pants instead of just diapers and short shorts. Vic leaned in over the bar and said to the bartender, “Don, this is my good friend, Carter. Put his first two drinks on my tab.”

“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” Carter insisted. “I have money.”

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Carter,” Vic said. “The first two drinks are on me to help you relax. I’m going to make a round of the bar, but when I return, I hope to find you talking with someone, and not just leaning on the bar all alone.”

“I know how to socialize,” Carter said.

“Oh, I’m sure you do.”

Vic winked again before threading his way through the crowd, greeting people as he slid past them. Carter ordered a beer from Don, and then fished a couple of singles out of his wallet for a tip. He lifted his bottle to salute Don and had just taken a swig when a piercingly high voice shrieked from just behind him. The sound startled him so much he choked on his beer and started to cough. He turned, coughing and sputtering, and squinted through his tears at the woman standing behind him.

Auburn hair done up tall, bright green eyes that could be nothing other than colored contact lenses, a pert, upturned nose, and a broad mouth filled with teeth laser-whitened to solar flare level.

Carter’s heart stuttered with surprise and dread as he struggled to clear his airway.

“I saw you walk in and had to come over and see if it was really you!” she exclaimed.

With a final clearing of his throat, Carter managed a smile and said, “Lizzie. Hello! What a treat to see you.”

Lizzie’s smile widened even further and she crossed her arms. It was then Carter noticed she wore what looked like a sports bra with a pair of white wings strapped to her shoulders, and a sheer white shift around her waist that showed off a pair of black panties trimmed with lace.

“As I live and breathe,” Lizzie said with a shake of her head. “Carter the Farter.”

My Review:
Carter is an out-gay man who’s pining just a bit for a steady guy. Approaching thirty, he’s had plenty of fun with hook-up apps but his bestie Will has recently gotten married to a sexy out singer, Rex, and their goo-goo eyes are causing Carter to lament his no-strings life.

He’s expecting to spend his first Valentine’s alone in a long time. Carter and Will usually went out together to get some drinks and keep one another company, but Will is out of town with Rex this year. So, instead of going out alone, Carter plans to make a 3-day weekend of Grindr hookups. He’s all set until his very married and harried co-worker talks up an event she used to attend as a single: The Cupid Crawl. It’s a bar crawl of some Boston spots–straight and gay-friendly–with giveaways and the opportunity to meet like-minded singles. Carter isn’t really feeling it, but when he awakens on Valentine’s Day he learns that most of his go-to Grindr pals are otherwise occupied. Out of sheer loneliness Carter opts to join the Cupid Crawl.

And, boy is he regretting it. He runs into an old co-worker, Lizzie, who dubbed him “Carter the Farter” years ago, and she’s pretty much drunk and obnoxiously shouting this all around the bar. Humiliated from the start, Carter isn’t in a mood to make nice with Lizzie’s “keeper,” an unstylish, platonic friend called Harry. Turns out Harry (and his waxed porn-mustache) is pansexual, and a decent guy. Carter’s not a fan, at first, even as friendly and engaging as Harry is. Carter has an acerbic humor and Harry gives him a lot of challenging chat, when Carter isn’t hopping on Grindr and hooking up with dudes on the crawl.

This book didn’t read as romantic, at first. Carter’s really a bit self-centered, and he’s so used to getting his sex-fix without it meaning much more than mutual release. Harry is SO not his usual guy, what with his middle-part hair and barely-trying t-shirt, but the more that Carter finds vapid men, or selfish hook-ups, the more he begins to appreciate the real-talk he gets from Harry. And, it’s clear that others are seeing how Harry is into Carter–more so than Carter does, in any case.

Carter wants to ditch this whole nightmare, especially once he’s humiliated and left hanging by a couple of hook-ups. Will chats to him via FaceTime, trying to keep his spirits up, and Vic, the crawl organizer, is promising awesome raffle prizes the longer Carter stays. Carter keeps believing his hype, that he and Harry can’t be suited for one another, and he even tells another guy to go for Harry. Much to his regret. Lonely of his own making, Carter FINALLY gets the idea that he’s letting a good man walk off for superficial reasons, perhaps because he’s a bit commitment-challenged from a bad relationship some years before. It’s a Cupid miracle that Carter makes the right moves before the end of the crawl. Still, there’s conflict. Much like the time-honored story, this Cinderfella doesn’t know how to contact his possible prince once the night comes to an abrupt end.

It’s a fun ending, with Grindr “coming” to the rescue. And, plenty of cameos from other Williamsville heroes. Again, totally fine to read this as a standalone. Carter begins being judgey and not super-likable, even as we can empathize with his loneliness. His antics on the Crawl are funny and cringey, and he gains some sympathy points just for his erotic misfortunes. It’s clear that Carter has self-esteem issues, and it was good to see him grow past that a bit on that crawl. The juxtaposition of meaningless hookups with passionate kissing (and later lovemaking) really drove the romance arc forward in the second half of the book. I was definitely rooting for Carter to get his head screwed on correctly and accept the interest and affection of a good man–even if he didn’t tick off all the attraction markers on the first meeting. His attraction for Harry wasn’t instant, but it grew and grew with each connection. I liked Carter a LOT more in the end, when he finally let down his guard and started honestly examining his life choices. There is totally a happy ending waiting, as well as awesome reconnections with other characters from the series for readers who’ve been following along with the previous books.

Interested? You can find THE CUPID CRAWL on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win an ebook of SNOWFLAKES AND SONG LYRICS–the previous book in this series.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Hank Edwards (he/him) has been writing gay fiction for more than twenty years. He has published over thirty novels and dozens of short stories. His books fall into many sub-genres, including romance, rom-com, contemporary, paranormal, suspense, mystery, and wacky comedy. He has written a number of series such as the suspenseful Up to Trouble, funny and spooky paranormal out for you gay romance Critter Catchers, Old West historical horror of Venom Valley, the erotic and funny Fluffers, Inc. series, and the funny and thrilling Lacetown Murder Mysteries series co-written with Deanna Wadsworth. No matter what genre he writes, Hank likes to keep things sweet, steamy, and fun. He was born and still lives in a northwest suburb of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan, where he shares a home with his partner of over 20 years and their two cats.

You can reach out to Hank on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram.

New Love and Life OUT IN SPRING–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new New Adult M/M romance from Lane Hayes. OUT IN SPRING is the sixth book in her Out in College series, and features a college hockey player grabbing the courage to meet and romance the nerdy-bookish man he’s crushed on for four years. Catch my reviews for OUT IN THE DEEP END, OUT IN THE END ZONE, OUT IN THE OFFENSE, and OUT ON THE ICE for more on this sweet and sexy series.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
About the book:
The jock, the nerd, and a little spring fever…
Ned
I don’t understand hockey at all. Or any sport. Attending a team party with my best friend might be a mistake. As an out and proud geek, I admit that hanging out with a bunch of jocks and their admirers isn’t my idea of fun, but getting kidnapped by a sexy hockey player who claims to have a crush on me is definitely a highlight. And finding out that Logan St. James is bisexual makes everything more interesting.

Logan
Keeping my big bi secret hasn’t been easy. I have a couple of months of college left and one more game to play. I’m determined to make the most of it and spend as much time as possible with the sexy guy I’ve had a crush on since freshman year. I don’t want this to be over. There must be a way to come out in spring.

Out in Spring is a low-angst MM, bisexual awakening staring a hunky hockey player, a sweet-natured geek, and a little college fun. This story is part of the Out in College series, but each book can be read as a stand-alone.

How about a yummy taste?

“Let’s see how many times we can go across the monkey bars without stopping. In other words, go to the slide and back until your arms give up on you. Winner chooses the next contest and—”

“Hold on. That’s not fair. We both know you’re going to win.”

“Yeah, that’s true. I’ll collect the first prize. Something easy…like you have to answer a truth or dare question. Ready?”

“No, you already owe me, remember?”

I did a quick trip across the bars, then dropped to my feet and brushed my hands off. “You’re right. What would you like?”

“Uh…I don’t know.”

“Come on. Think of something. It has to be reasonable, though. I don’t have a million bucks or a year’s supply of M&M’s in my truck,” I warned.

Ned lifted a brow. “Really? You have T-shirts and sweatshirts. Why don’t you have M&M’s?”

“That’s a genius question. I need to fix that ASAP. Truth is, I live out of my truck. Not literally, but I’ve got a lot of necessities…shoes, socks, water, a first aid kit, lube, a box of condoms.”

He wrapped his arms around himself and shivered. “How about a blanket?”

“Yep. Wait here. And watch out for fairies.”

I ran to my SUV, pulled a wool plaid blanket from the trunk, and hurried to find Ned sitting on the pirate ship with his legs dangling off the edge. I climbed the short set of stairs and draped the blanket over his shoulders.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Cozy up, ’cause this could take a while.” I flexed my knuckles and started to reach for the first bar, but paused instead. “Or do you want to go first?”

“No, thanks. I’m not good at anything that requires coordination. And those bars are germy. I have Purell in my pocket, but when I fall—”

“I’ll catch you,” I intercepted. “YOLO, Nedster. I don’t want to go back to that party, and I don’t really want to go home. And you don’t either.”

“I don’t?”

“Nope. You’d rather hang out with me.” I waggled my brows comically.

I jumped from the pirate ship before he could argue, then pointed at the bar above me and motioned for him to get moving.

“What about the blanket?” He chuckled when I rolled my eyes. “Okay, fine. But I want to change the rules. If I get to the other side without falling, I should get another prize.”

“Another one? That seems kinda greedy, but all right,” I teased, crooking my forefinger.

“Here goes nothing.” Ned sighed as he stood, glancing from the row of bars to me and back again. He clutched the first one with both hands…and immediately fell.

I caught him around his waist and held him closer than necessary, so he brushed my chest before his feet hit the ground. I didn’t let him go. I stared at his mouth and licked my lips. “It’s okay. Try it again.”

“Um…all right.” Ned let out a nervous chuckle as he set one hand on my shoulder and the other on the bar.

I let go when he gripped both hands around one bar, then reached for the next. And the next. At the halfway mark I cheered him on with a loud whoop, pumping my fist in the air and counting down the bars left. Five, four, three, two…

He dropped like a lead balloon…and sure, I caught him again. But let’s get something straight. Ned wasn’t a small person. Sure, he was on the skinny side, but he was at least six feet tall. I didn’t exactly “catch” him. It was more a matter of pulling him against me and holding on. I fully admit that my maneuver was premeditated. But my goofy, off-the-cuff quest to steal a few more minutes with my crush backfired big time. I didn’t count on my body’s reaction.

I swallowed hard and brushed my sleeve over my nose. “Maybe we should, um…”

He nodded, but he didn’t move. And neither did I.

My Review:
Logan St. James is a college senior on the hockey team at Long Beach State. He’s bisexual, and open about it with his accepting family, but he’s mostly only dated women at school. He’s had a crush on a fellow student he caught sight of way back in freshman year, Ned Bailey. Logan notices the studious boy at freshman orientation, and has noticed him many times over the years–most recently when Ned got his book order together for this final semester. Logan’s last “girlfriend” Kelly was way more serious than he was–thinking they were headed for marriage after college, even getting her father to offer Logan a job, but

Logan is pretty blase about it all. He doesn’t want a job with strings, and he’s not really sure what he wants to do with his communications degree. Or his future. Which is rather unsettling to Ned, who is hyperfocused on his future as an engineer. Also, it’s odd for Ned, who sees himself as a thin, nerdy guy, to find himself attractive to a strong, athletic, attractive partner.

What was a chance encounter at a hockey team party–where Ned got dragged by his BFF who’s a hockey groupie–turns into an odd-couple romance. This is complicated by Logan wanting to keep everything on the down-low because he doesn’t want to rock the boat before his charity game in May. Also, Kelly’s still avidly pursuing Logan, and occassionaly making a nuisance of herself. That’s a drag for both Logan and Ned–Ned because he doesn’t want to out Logan. And the pressure is kind of getting to Ned, in truth. He’s worked up about getting a good position at a firm, and his falling for Logan is becoming a complication. He shouldn’t really base his job choice on whether he’d be able to see Logan, right?

This novella is a quick peek into love for Logan, who’s coming out in the spring. He’s been hesitant to do it, but now that he and Ned are going strong, he’s ready to take that step. It’s so sweet seeing Logan fall hard for his crush, and introduce Ned to the important people in his life. My biggest complaint was I wanted more! I just adore these stories and I would have enjoyed seeing Ned and Logan in their growth toward coupledom. There’s some steamy sexytimes, a little pondering about the future, and a happy ending. Pretty much just enough to keep you entertained on a rainy afternoon.

Interested? You can find OUT IN SPRING on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

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

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

Falling For THE VIRGIN KING–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a M/M royal erotic romance from John Michael Curlovich. THE VIRGIN KING features a city-slicking playboy who get yanked to a random eastern European country where he meets and later falls for the newly installed virgin king of Bulvania.

Scroll down to open the link for a copy of THE VIRGIN KING in a giveaway!
About the book:Something is rotten in Bulvania. When the old king dies mysteriously, a young monk named Raymond is called to take his place.

On the other side of the world, Logan, a handsome photographer, is pulled away from his charmed life to assist his father–Bulvania’s newest American ambassador.

As Raymond struggles to balance the weight of his new crown and the dark past adorning it, he must also struggle with his new love for Logan, who may already have his hands full with a variety of strapping military men.

My Review:
The king of Bulvania has died in a tragic industrial accident. Though his widow wants to ascend to the head of state, but there is a distant cousin of the king that still lives–Brother Juniper is a sheltered monk in one of the remote mountain monateries. The Royal Guard, consisting of a cadre of extremely fit and sexually agile men, collect Juniper for his coronation as King Raymond XL. He’s about 20, and completely naive to court and it’s deadly intrigue.

Logan Bockwein is an unapologetic single gay man who’s always looking for his next good time. He’s an accomplished photographer, and has recently had an exhibition of erotic art at a renown D.C. gay art gallery. Then had some fun multipartner action including his ex, a State dept undersecretary. Logan’s dad is PT Bockwein, president and CEO of Zinc, Inc–a tin and zinc mining company. The Bockweins have some Bulvanian heritage–which is rather uncommon as Bulvania is a really small eastern European nation and nearly no one has heard of it. The biggest export of Bulvania is cuckoo clocks, but the country also has a large unmined resource of tin. And, PT Bockwein, as the only influential American with Bulvanian heritage, has just been named as the US Ambassador. He’s insisting Logan come along. And, Logan is NOT happy about it.

Logan is less than impressed with the monk-king, who still dons his shabby robe and hasn’t cut his beard or hair….ever. But Raymond/Juniper is captivated by the cultured, young, and sexy Logan. The king’s guards make for way better playmates, in Logan’s opinion, but Alex, the captain of the guard convinces Logan to become a friend to the king, who is in grave danger from the same folks who likely murdered his royal cousin.

This book is truly a romp into the erotic, with Logan literally having sex with virtually any and every man who is not the virgin king for the first 90% of the book. Alex sees that Raymond’s attraction is growing desperate, and he wants to facilitate a relationship that would benefit Raymond and Bulvania. The grand plan is an absence makes the heart grow fonder situation, with Logan in forced celibacy while the new king tours Europe. It’s really a funny bit that Logan–who has unparalleled powers of attracting bemates can’t get anyone to sleep with him for more than a month. And, when Raymond returns, well, Logan is more than fond of the made-over king.

If you are into kinky, gay erotica that has a strong sense of knowing its plot is silly and a little ludicrous, then you will smirk along like I did at Logan’s tale of love. I liked it, taking the humor and puns and outlandish situations in the style of Monty Python meets a gay bath house. There’s some plotting and evil folks, and lots of dudes getting it on. And, in the end, Raymond finds peace in his new roles as both King and lover.

Interested? You can find THE VIRGIN KING on Goodreads, Riverdale Avenue Books, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this link and enter for your chance to win a copy of THE VIRGIN KING, courtesy of the Erie Gay News!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
John Michael Curlovich also writes under pseudonyms: Michael Paine and J.M.C. Blair.

Daring Escape in THE ARTIST’S MASQUERADE–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a M/M fantasy romance from Antonia Aquilante. THE ARTIST’S MASQUERADE is the second story in her Chronicles of Tournai series. I really enjoyed THE PRINCE’S CONSORT, so I was eager to read this sequel.

Scroll down for an excerpt, my review and to enter the $10 GC giveaway.
About the book:
As the first-born son of a royal duke and cousin to the prince, Cathal has always put his duty to family and country first, even when it conflicts with his own wishes. When Cathal’s father arranges a marriage between him and Velia, cousin to the emperor of Ardunn, without consulting him, he sees no alternative but to go along with his plans for the good of Tournai. But it’s Velia’s companion, Flavia, who fascinates Cathal from the moment he first sets eyes on her. Cathal doesn’t know Flavia is really Flavian, an artist masquerading as a woman to escape Ardunn, a restrictive and repressive place where Flavian’s preference for men is forbidden.

Even when Cathal discovers Flavian’s identity, even as he struggles with his obligations and duty, he cannot fight his attraction to the sharp-tongued artist. Flavian is intrigued by him as well, but Cathal is still betrothed to Velia, and Flavian worries he is more taken with the feminine illusion Flavian presents than the man beneath it. He came to Tournai to start a new life—a safe one—as an artist, and an inconvenient attraction to his friend’s betrothed, a man who happens to be a member of the royal family, is not a part of his plans. While both men battle their longings for each other, spies from Ardunn infiltrate the capital, attempting to uncover Tournai’s weaknesses and secrets. They are also searching for Flavian, who possesses a magical Talent giving him the ability to see the truth of a person just by painting their portrait—something that would be invaluable to Ardunn’s emperor.

How about a yummy taste?

“It’s time you took a wife.”

Cathal managed to keep his surprise hidden with some difficulty. That blunt statement was not what he’d expected when he received the summons to his father’s office. A discussion of family business, perhaps, or questions about happenings at the palace, even a diatribe about one of his cousin’s choices—since Father seemed to hate every one of them since the prince’s marriage to Amory—was what usually precipitated a call to Father’s presence.

He’d never imagined Father would bring up marriage. Cathal had seen no indication Father was even thinking in such a direction. Father had said plenty as he’d pushed the prince to marry, and plenty more when Philip had married a man of his choosing instead of the woman Father would have chosen, but he’d never said a word about his own sons’ need to marry.

Cathal probably shouldn’t have been so surprised. He was twenty-five years old and his father’s heir, and Father was a royal duke and dynastically minded. Producing an heir for the dukedom was Cathal’s duty, despite the existence of his younger brothers. He’d always known it, and he would never think of shirking that duty.

“Yes, Father.” He wasn’t interested in anyone in particular, but there were plenty of women who would make him a suitable wife in Father’s eyes. He was certain he could find someone who wouldn’t make the duty a chore. “I will begin looking for a wife immediately.”

“No need. It’s all arranged.” Father returned his attention to the papers on his desk, as if what he’d just said was of no particular consequence. As if he hadn’t just told Cathal his entire life was about to change and taken Cathal’s last bit of choice away at the same time.

Cathal snapped his mouth shut when he realized it was hanging open. “It is?”

“Of course.”

Of course it was. Cathal should have expected that as well. Father would never leave such an important choice—a family alliance, a mother for future dukes—up to Cathal. He should have done so, or at least he should have asked for Cathal’s opinion. Cathal was of age and had proven himself trustworthy time and again, or he thought he had. It left a sour taste in his mouth to think Father respected him so little.

“May I ask whom I will be marrying?” He immediately regretted his tone as Father arched a single brow.

When Cathal didn’t jump to apologize quickly enough, Father let out a huff that expressed his disappointment more eloquently than a hundred words would have, but he answered anyway. “She’s a cousin of the emperor of Ardunn. Velia is her name. Beautiful, by all accounts, and accomplished, but the connections are the important part.”

Cathal hardly heard anything after Ardunn. Cousin to the emperor of Ardunn? What was Father thinking? And how had he even managed it?

Father looked up again, and this time his huff held more than a little annoyance. “Why are you staring at me that way?”

Cathal didn’t know how he was looking at his father. Usually he had more control, but incredulity seemed to have obliterated it. “Ardunn, Father? I don’t understand. Why—?”

“Don’t be stupid. If your cousin isn’t going to do his duty and marry for the good of this country, then it falls to you to take up where Prince Philip failed.”

And that statement made even less sense. “But, Father, you negotiated a marriage contract with the emperor of Ardunn. Does Philip know?”

His cousin couldn’t know. Cathal had damaged their relationship and weakened the trust Philip had in him—he knew and regretted it—but Philip wasn’t vindictive enough to keep something so big from Cathal, especially considering the prince’s hatred of arranged marriages. Though how a prince came by such a view, Cathal would never know. Nevertheless, Philip would have said something, which meant Father had been negotiating with someone in Ardunn without Philip’s knowledge or consent.

Father scoffed. “He’ll know soon enough.”

“But, Father, negotiating with Ardunn…what did you—?”

“Are you questioning my ability to negotiate a marriage for my son?” Father snapped.

“No, sir.” Just the prudence of doing so with a powerful foreign emperor without the knowledge of their own ruler. “But—”

“This is the marriage your cousin should have negotiated for himself, but since he wouldn’t do his duty, we have to do it for him. For the good of Tournai and this family.”

“But, Father—”

“No more.” Father slapped a hand down on the wooden surface of the desk. “It’s done, and when she arrives next month, you will marry this woman. We’re finished discussing it.”

Cathal gritted his teeth against further protests and gave a sharp nod.

A few moments later, dismissed by his father, Cathal dragged in a lungful of crisp air. Spring was taking hold, but the mornings were still cool. At the moment, he was thankful for the gulp of bracing air.

That had been unexpected.

He shook his head and strode down the steps into the garden. The home where Cathal had grown up was probably the largest in the city. Constructed generations ago of pale-gray stone, the house had three stories surrounding the inner courtyard and the garden it contained. He’d played in the garden as a child with his brothers and cousin, chasing each other, hiding among the statuary and bushes. As he grew older, he’d come here when he needed a moment of peace. These days, he spent most of his time at the palace, and the garden was the domain of his mother and younger sisters, who often sat on the benches near the central fountain to do their needlework.

He didn’t linger, couldn’t have if he wanted to. Cathal couldn’t even go up to the palace and inform Philip of the betrothal, because he was due at the port to inspect improvements to the harbor defenses. Taking the most direct route from Father’s office to the front of the house, he strode through the garden and ducked inside again and then made for the entrance hall without slowing.

His sister’s melodic laugh and the quiet murmur of his mother’s voice floated back to him. Smiling, he stepped from the corridor into the grand room. His mother and sister stood at the polished table in the center of the large room. At his first step onto the red marble floor, both women looked up from where they were arranging early spring flowers in a large vase. Identical smiles of welcome lit their faces. His youngest sister looked remarkably like Mother, though Meriall was just fourteen. She was the only one of them to inherit Mother’s golden-brown hair and not Father’s much darker locks.

Each time he saw Meriall, he was surprised at how grown up she was becoming. It seemed just yesterday she was trailing after their brother Etan and getting into scrapes and jumping on her brothers whenever she saw them. Now she was a young lady. The oldest of his three younger sisters was married, and his second sister was nearly seventeen. Cathal might have expected, if he’d thought of the subject at all, Father to be negotiating a marriage for Ottilie, not for himself.

Meriall and Mother were still smiling at him, and they left off fussing with the flowers and greenery as he approached. When she was younger, Meriall would have flung herself at him. She’d learned more appropriate behavior since then, but a part of him missed her enthusiasm. Then again, she would probably still throw herself at Etan. They’d always been closer.

“Cathal.” Mother held out her hands to him and tilted her head for his kiss to her cheek. “I didn’t know you were here.”

He brushed a kiss over Meriall’s cheek as well. “Father wanted to meet with me.”

Because he was watching, he saw the flash of concern in Mother’s warm-brown eyes. Did she know her husband’s plans for Cathal? “Is everything all right?”

No, he didn’t think she knew. He doubted Father would have consulted her anyway. He flicked his glance at his sister, wondering if he should speak in front of her, but everyone would know soon enough. “Father wants me to marry.”

Mother blinked, once, twice, the only sign of surprise in a serene face. “I didn’t realize, but you are getting to be of an age to. There are many lovely girls you could meet and consider. Perhaps we can have a party and invite some of them.”

“Actually, Father has it all arranged already.”

“Oh. Well.” Mother fussed with the flowers before dropping her hands to smooth her skirt. “I didn’t realize you and your father had chosen someone. I wish you’d told me.” The statement wasn’t much of a rebuke, not the way she said it, but from his gentle mother, it was still censure.

“I wish he’d told me.” He bit back impatience. His ignorance of Father’s actions wasn’t Mother’s doing. “I only just found out myself, Mother. She arrives in a month. I assume we’ll all meet her then.”

“Arrives? From where? Who is she?”

He didn’t blame Mother for her bewilderment. “Father says her name is Velia. I only know she’s a cousin to the emperor of Ardunn.”

“The emperor? Does His Highness know?” Mother had been the wife of a royal duke for nearly thirty years. She could see the implications as well as he could.

“It doesn’t appear so.” He glanced from Mother, who was admirably controlling her surprise and concern, to Meriall and her avid, undisguised curiosity. Well, he shouldn’t be talking about Philip’s lack of knowledge of Father’s actions anyway. “You’ll have to ask Father for more information. I don’t know anything else.”

Mother frowned. “Will you tell your cousin?”

“I can’t now. I’m due at the port, and I may be tied up there for most of the day.” And he didn’t want to put this information in a note. Still, someone needed to tell Philip, and Cathal wasn’t sure when Father would. “I’ll tell him when I return to the palace later.”

She nodded. “I’ll speak with your father. We’ll see you soon?”

“Of course.” He took his leave of his mother and sister and strode out through the large front doors into the morning sunlight again. A servant appeared immediately with his horse. He mounted up and guided the horse out through the imposing gate, open in anticipation of his departure. He needed to hurry if he was going to be on time for his appointment, and he refused to be late. He would sort out the rest afterward, including informing the prince.

Philip was not going to be pleased.

My Review:
This is the second book in a fantasy series, and likely best enjoyed when read in sequence, though it can be read as a standalone.

Cathal is the eldest son of a Grand Duke in Tournai, a small but wealthy country with a bustling port in the capital city of Jumelle. Cathal’s cousin is the Crown Prince Philip, and Cathal is his advisor and personal secretary. Cathal is 25 and is startled to learn that his father has arranged a marriage for him, to a cousin of the Emperor of Ardunn. This marriage proposal was arranged without both Cathal, or Philip’s, knowledge or consent. Politically, this was a huge overstep by Cathal’s father, because Ardunn is a warring nation bent on conquest, and offending the Emperor by breaking this betrothal could be an encitement to war. Also, emotionally, Cathal has been a dutiful and respectful son, though his father laments his “lack of ambition”. His father has recently created some large protocol offenses regarding Philip’s marriage to his husband and consort Amory. Philip is concerned his uncle is hatching some power play for the control of Tournai.

Flavian is an Ardunnian artist with the Talent to read the heart of any person that he draws in a portrait. The Emperor, who trusts few of his advisors or court, planned to make ample use of Flavian’s magic, and Flavian knew he could not live in that capacity. Also, matches between men are illegal in Ardunn, and a man cannot make his own way in the country until he is 30 years old, so for all these reasons Flavian decided to run from Ardunn. He is a good friend to Velia, the woman betrothed to Cathal–and they hatch a plan to transport Flavian to Tournai, disguised as a female companion to Velia, when she leaves to Tournai. It’s upsetting and humiliating for Flavian to masquerade as Lady Flavia for the three-week boat journey. He cannot wait to escape as soon as they make land. However, Flavian’s plans are scuttled when their party is not lodged in a house in Jumelle, but is instead welcomed by Princess Elodie, Philip’s younger sister, and taken to the palace to stay. Escaping the palace is not easy trick and Lady Flavia is expected to accompany Lady Velia to all of her attendant parties and excursions in the palace. It’s especially hard for Flavian to continue his ruse under the scrutiny of Cathal–who develops and unwanted attraction to the mysterious Lady Flavia.

So, it’s a mismatch, and an intrigue. Philip and Cathal are hunting Ardunnian spies, and a chance encounter first puts Lady Flavia in their sights. Even Cathal’s growing attraction would not save Flavian if he were a spy–which he is not. Flavian is nearly consumed with jealousy for the acceptance of male-male pairings in Tournai, and wants to find a loving partner, and to get his life back as soon as possible. Because of the intrigue, he must continue his masquerade, but Cathal’s love grows and shelters Flavian in many ways.

Cathal wants out of his betrothal, and Philip is working to find out the specifics of the marriage agreement to see how he can disentangle his dear cousin from Velia–who seems to be a decent woman, but not one that Cathal truly loves. She’s aloof and Cathal’s attempts to develop a rapport are shut down with courtly manners and meaningless flirtations. While Velia is the perfect partner for Cathal–in his father’s eyes–Cathal is almost despairing what he feels will be a loveless marriage–and for what reason? He’s a grown man, and his father has never respected him as a man–and even less in his duties for Prince Philip.

I really liked the comparisons between Flavian and Cathal’s circumstances. These men are near each other in age, but have less common experiences. Flavian knows that he will be summarily despised in Ardunn for just being himself, and is willing to take drastic steps to find a way to live his life in freedom. Cathal has been duty-bound since birth to be an advisor to his Prince, and to raise heirs for the dukedom. Yet, when he falls for Flavian he isn’t put off by his masculinity. Cathal has had two years of observing the close and loving relationship between Philip and Amory, both of whom he respects quite keenly. He was prepared to sacrifice his personal happiness for his father’s ideals, but not once he developed such a strong bond for Flavian–and not when he cannot really bear his betrothed. Cathal is prepared to abandon his life, and build a new one, when fate intercedes.

There are a lot of nice relationship and world-building elements in this story–with a bit of magic and some shifter activity, though it is a small part of the story. Court intrigue and spies are big parts of the conflict here. The physical attraction for Cathal and Flavian picks up at their first meeting. They develop a more intimate friendship than is proper for their difference in station and circumstances. We have a front row seat to Cathal’s growth as a man. He has to value himself above his father’s opinion, and he has to reorganize his thinking about the attractions he’s had toward men–and always Suppressed. Flavian is sure that Cathal only likes him in women’s clothes, and that his attraction is sure to be short-lived. What man of Cathal’s position could truly love an asylum-seeker with a regrettable Talent that could bring the ire of Ardunn’s emperor. And, Velia’s taunts later reinforce Flavian’s doubts.

There are certainly a lot of twists, though I kind of expected the biggest one. The climax is appropriately thrilling, and the love story for Cathal and Flavian is difficult, due to circumstances being less than ideal. They have frantic assignations, and use secret passageways to maintain their secret trysts. The bond between them grows out beyond attraction into affection and eventually love. The whole story takes place over a couple of months–but the passage of time was a little hard to gauge at times. The end is definitely happy and resolved in a way that we can accept Cathal and Flavian are building a future together. I have enjoyed both books in this series, and am hopeful there will be another.

Interested? You can find THE ARTIST’S MASQUERADE on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent—they all end in happily ever after.

She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats (which she shares with friends and family), and of course, reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to e-books, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Antonia is living there again after years in Washington, DC and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.

Catch up with Antonia on Facebook, and twitter.

Compromised Love? LEGALLY WED–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share a review and giveaway for a contemporary M/M romance from mega-writer Rick R. Reed. LEGALLY WED features a single gay man who’s deepest desire to be married leads him to take desperate action.

Scroll down to catch my review and enter the $10 Amazon GC giveaway below!
About the book:
Love comes along when you least expect it.
That’s what Duncan Taylor’s sister, Scout, tells him. Scout has everything Duncan wants―a happy life with a wonderful husband. Now that Seattle has made gay marriage legal, Duncan knows he can have the same thing. But when he proposes to his boyfriend Tucker, he doesn’t get the answer he hoped for. Tucker’s refusal is another misstep in a long line of failed romances. Despairing, Duncan thinks of all the loving unions in his life―and how every one of them is straight. Maybe he could be happy, if not sexually compatible, with a woman. When zany, gay-man-loving Marilyn Samples waltzes into his life, he thinks he may have found his answer.

Determined to settle, Duncan forgets his sister’s wisdom about love and begins planning a wedding with Marilyn. But life throws Duncan a curveball. When he meets wedding planner Peter Dalrymple, unexpected sparks ignite. Neither man knows how long he can resist his powerful attraction to the other. For sure, there’s a wedding in the future. But whose?

How about a little taste?

Same-sex marriage had just become legal in Washington State, and Duncan Taylor didn’t plan on wasting any time. He had been dating Tucker McBride for more than three years, and ever since the possibility of marriage had become more than just a pipe dream, it was all Duncan could think of. He thought of it as he gazed out the windows of his houseboat on Lake Union on days both sunny and gray (since it was late autumn, there were a lot more of the latter); he thought of it as he stood before his classroom of fourth graders at Cascade Elementary School. He thought of it when he woke up in the morning and before he fell asleep at night.

For Duncan, marriage was the peak, the happy ending, the icing on the cake, the culmination of one’s heart’s desire, a commitment of a lifetime, the joining of two souls. For Duncan, it was landing among the stars.

And for Duncan, who would turn thirty-eight on his next birthday, it was also something he had never dared dream would be possible for him.

Now, too excited to sleep, he was thinking about it—hard—once again. It was just past midnight on December 6, 2012, and the local TV news had preempted its regular programming to take viewers live to Seattle City Hall, where couples were forming a serpentine line to be among the first in the state to be issued their marriage licenses—couples who had also for far too long believed this right would be one they would never be afforded. Many clung close together to ward off the chill, but Duncan knew their reasons for canoodling went far deeper than that.

The mood, in spite of the darkness pressing in all around, was festive. There was a group serenading the couples in line, singing “Going to the Chapel.” Champagne corks popped in the background. Laughter.

Duncan couldn’t keep the smile off his face as he watched all the male-male and female-female couples in the line, their moods of jubilation, of love, of triumph, traveling through to him even here on his houseboat only a couple of miles north of downtown. Duncan wiped tears from his eyes as he saw not only the couples but also all the supporters, city workers, and volunteers who had crowded together outside city hall to wish the new couples well, to share in the happiness of the historic moment.

And then Duncan couldn’t help it; he fell into all-out blubbering as the first couple to get their license emerged from city hall. Eighty-five-year-old Pete-e Petersen and her partner and soon-to-be-wife, Jane Abbott Lighty, were all smiles when a reporter asked them how they felt.

“We waited a long time. We’ve been together thirty-five years never thinking we’d get a legal marriage. Now I feel so joyous I can’t hardly stand it,” Pete-e said.

It was such a special moment, and it was all Duncan could do not to pick up the phone and call Tucker and casually say something like, “Hey honey, you want to get married?”

But he knew he had to wait even if patience was a virtue Duncan had in short supply. On Sunday, when the first marriages would take place, he planned on bringing Tucker to their favorite restaurant, an unpretentious little joint on Capitol Hill called Olympia Pizza. There, amid the darkened and—for them—romantic interior with the smells of garlic, basil, and tomato sauce surrounding them, Duncan would propose, saying something clever like:

“I’m thinking about changing my Facebook relationship status to ‘engaged.’ Would you mind?”

In his mind, Tucker would chuckle and then rub at the tuft of blond hair that grew from his chin, regarding Duncan with his dark-blue eyes. Duncan could see the flicker of the candle lighting up his man’s features as he held the silence for a few moments, building the suspense. Then he would say something like, “I think I’ll change mine too.”

That would be one way it could play out—very twenty-first century.

Duncan would then imagine all his friends and family congratulating the newly minted fiancés with “Likes” and words of encouragement and shared happiness. Maybe he could get their waiter to take a picture of them, holding hands over a sausage and mushroom pie, right after the moment when they went from two guys dating to two guys anticipating…marriage.

Duncan found himself wiping yet another tear from his eye. Sunday was going to be perfect.

My Review:
Duncan Taylor is an out-gay man in his late 30s who is watching his dream come true play out on TV: same-sex couples in his very own Seattle, Washington are finally allowed to register for a legal marriage, not a partnership. It’s a watershed experience for him, and he’s prepared to ask his boyfriend of the past three years, Tucker, to marry him.

And, Tucker says no. Not now, and not ever. Which is a deep blow to Duncan. He’s so convinced that finding a man to be his monogamous husband is an out of reach dream he goes and does the previously unthinkable. He puts an ad on Craigslist for a female partner. Yep, Duncan figures he’s always had better female friends, and he could marry a woman for the companionship part of it–and having kids as long as they use IVF. Because Duncan really doesn’t want a wife for a sexual partner.

It’s preposterous, right? That’s what Duncan’s sister Scout says. She’s disappointed he’s giving up on finding a truly compatible partner. And yet, Duncan’s ad gets replies. Most are cranks and crack pots, but one extra-salty response has potential, from Marilyn Staples. She’s an older urban woman with a long history of hanging out with gay BFFs. Meeting Duncan is a bit fraught becasue she’s sure this sexy man is yanking her chain. And, she’s had just as bad luck with men as Duncan. They have common goals and interests and they develop a deep friendship. It takes some convincing, but Marilyn does come around to Duncan’s plan.

And then they hire a wedding planner. Peter Dalrymple is a ginger bear who is as gay as they come. He is sweet, sexy, and professional–and mortified to be attracted to a client. It’s a conundrum, and a big wrench in this ludicrous plan. I really loved all the characters here, and could feel their struggle. Duncan is such an earnest guy, who really wants a loving marriage and kids and whatever his het family and friends can get–he thinks–so easily. What Duncan didn’t realize was how deeply such a relationship could hurt both himself and Marilyn. Seeing Peter, and working on the details of a wedding to a person who is only really going to be a friend is like sucking raw lemons while a full pitcher of lemonade sits at your elbow. Duncan’s determination to follow through on his promise to Marilyn in the face of his attraction to a man who appears to finally be “the one” creates some extra conflict of conscience, and very nearly three super unhappy people.

Marilyn can see the writing on the invitations, though, and the platonic love she’s built with Duncan gives her confidence to set him free–she’s made a strong acquaintance with a great (straight) man from Duncan’s past and they have a spark that could grow past the ember stage. What was almost an honest, but dysfunctional, marriage, turns out to be two happy endings. I loved the story, and the angst, and how these folks work out their drama with grace. I read this one years ago, and the re-release is not demonstrably changed. So if you have an older copy, maybe give it a re-read. It’s worth it.

Interested? You can finhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53246365-legally-wed” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at http://www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

Catch up with Rick on his website, Facebook, twitter and Instagram.