Figuring Out That SCARLET GAZE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary YA M/M romance with magical elements from Foster Bridget Cassidy. SCARLET GAZE features a boy following a cryptic vision to a college where he’s astounded to learn he can wield magic. If only he can use it to save his boyfriend…

About the book:
After a paranormal encounter in his youth with someone from his future, Collin Frey sets his sights on getting to Marke Staple University. Now eighteen and with a full scholarship to the prestigious university, Collin hopes to find an explanation to that life-changing event. Unfortunately, it only leads to more questions.

Finding out he’s there to study magic is the first surprise. The second is his roommate, Terrence, looks identical to the person who started him on the path to Marke Staple.

Collin’s more than willing to sell his soul to get closer to Terrence and uncover all the secrets hidden there. Can knowing a man will change after making a horrible mistake ease the pain of betrayal? Collin is going to find out.

My Review:
Collin Frey has an encounter at the age of 11 or 12 that determines his life path going forward. While on a skiing trip with his family, Collin meets a sobbing man with shining red eyes he doesn’t know, yet who seems to know Collin intimately. This man begs Collin’s forgiveness, and has a gold coin minted with Collin’s name and face on it’s front and “Marke Staple University” on the reverse. He cannot forget the pain in that man’s scarlet gaze, and it drives Collin not only to discover this tiny, private, British university, but to study his booty off and get a full scholarship.

Collin’s also one of only five first year students admitted to the prestigious literature program at Marke Staple. Every student not in the literature program is a business major, like Collin’s roommate, Terrence, who IS the man from Collin’s youthful vision. He’s not sure if he should tell Terrance of their meeting years ago, or if Terrence will think he’s insane. Terrence doesn’t have shining red eyes, and he’s avid about getting to know–and maybe shag–Collin. Terrence is also the son of Collin’s Dean of students–and Collin soon learns that all the literature students and teachers possess magic–including himself. Most of the students in the business program are rudimentary practitioners, but Terrence has a lot of innate talent. He was banished from using his magic years before when he tried to summon a demon in a fit of pique. When a practitioner allies with a demon, their vision goes red–so Collin knows this must be what happens before Terrence goes back in time to meet his child-self.

Collin doesn’t know how to manage the magical world, but the instructors are very sympathetic. His cohort are nice enough, though they wonder how Collin got admitted without knowing he was magically-talented. Collin’s mission is now two-fold. To keep Terrence from making whatever mistake leaves him demon-possessed, and to figure out his talent in magic. Meanwhile, he’s falling steadily for Terrence, who’s bravado is all subterfuge to hide the pain of his youth, his estrangement from his father and his deep longing for connection. And…a little bit of delusions of grandeur. Collin’s talent seems to be in teleportation, a rare gift, and he’s wondering if he can teleport both space and time. He practices the space dimension, using the newly minted pure-gold coins that help practitioners harness and focus their magical abilities. He isn’t allowed to, but he takes Terrence on his teleporting forays. He even teaches Terrence how to teleport, and helps Terrence research how to seek the help of a demon, hoping that he can convince Terrence it’s the worst possible idea. He give Terrence all the rope he needs to hang himself, praying that he will use it to climb back from the abyss he’s manifesting.

This is an interesting romance, with lots of fantastic magical elements. Some of it felt a little convenient, and I wondered if Collin was simply the most gullible man in Great Britain the way he gave all his secrets away. His faith in Terence is almost unbelievable, but I think the most interesting piece of all of this was the connections that Collin made with his cohort and professors–people who wanted to help him save Terrence from himself and his unyielding ambition. There’s a decent amount of family drama, too, with all these high-flying magical teens having very prestigious families and uber high expectations. The way they all leaned on one another was fresh and engaging. For me, I was entertained, and enjoyed how the magical elements worked. I’m a big fan of Harry Potter, so this one scratched that M/M romance + magic + college life itch. It has a little bit of sexytimes, but not overwhelming for an upper YA/New Adult read.

Interested? You can find SCARLET GAZE on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and Kobo. I read a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
FOSTER BRIDGET CASSIDY is a rare, native Phoenician who enjoys hot desert air and likes to wear jackets in summer. She has wanted to be a fiction writer since becoming addicted to epic fantasy during high school. Since then, she’s studied the craft academically—at Arizona State University—and as a hobby—attending conventions and workshops around the country. A million ideas float in her head, but it seems like there’s never enough time to get them all down on paper.

Her main support comes from her husband, who reminds her to laugh. Mostly at herself. Their partnership may be difficult to grasp when viewed from the outside, but seen from the inside they are a perfect match. He’s helped her though surgeries and sicknesses and is always willing to wash her hair when she can’t do it on her own.

Their children have four legs and fur and will bite them on occasion. One snores loudly.

For fun, Foster likes to take pictures of her dachshunds, sew costumes for her dachshunds, snuggle her dachshunds, and bake treats for her dachshunds. In exchange for so much love and devotion, they pee vast amounts on the floor, click their nails loudly on the tile, and bark wildly at anything that moves outside. Somehow, this relationship works for all involved.

While not writing, Foster can usually be found playing a video game or watching a movie with her husband. While not doing any of those things, Foster can usually be found in bed, asleep.

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

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Infatuated With HOW TO QUIT YOUR CRUSH–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary YA romance from Amy Fellner Dominy. HOW TO QUIT YOUR CRUSH features an adopted girl striving for perfection, and a boy grieving the loss of his dad planning a memorial quest. And the summer after graduation can start, just as soon as they get over one another…

About the book:
Mai Senn knows Anthony Adams is no good for her – no matter how hard she might crush on him. She’s valedictorian; he’s a surf bum. She’s got plans, he’s got his art. Complete opposites in every way. Vinegar and baking soda, they once joked. A chemical reaction that bubbled.

Yeah, they bubbled. Maybe still do.

Good thing Anthony’s got the perfect plan: two weeks to prove just how not good they are together. Whoever can come up with the worst date—something the other will seriously hate, proving how incompatible they truly are—wins.

Like taking a snake-phobe to the Reptile House at the zoo (his idea).

Or a cooking class where they don’t even get to eat the food (her idea).

It’s all about the competition, and it’s meant to help them finally crush their crushes. But it wasn’t supposed to be so hot. Or so fun. And when Mai’s future becomes at stake, will she be able to do the right thing and quit Anthony forever?

My Review:
Maya “Mai” Senn is the valedictorian of her Phoenix-area high school. She was adopted by two high-flying parents, people who are highly educated and want their children to be highly educated as well. Mai’s older brother was also a valedictorian and attends an ivy league college out east. Mai is accepted to a prestigious college in California, and has a great summer research internship all lined up to being in a few weeks. First, she’s going to spend two weeks grooming a trail in the Phoenix area as part of her parents’ philanthropy. Oh, and she’s also going to get over the baseball jock that she inexplicably connected with during spring break. To Mai’s mixed feelings Grant, a family friend she’s had feelings for off and on, has joined her work crew. Grant is getting over the break up of a long-term relationship, but he and his girlfriend are going in different directions. It’s smart to break up now, right?

Anthony Adams watched his dad die of cancer in his sophomore year. Since then, he’s stopped trying to really connect with people, or plan out his future. Why, when that future could easily be dashed by illness or injury. Better to go with the flow. He has friendships, especially with his teammates, so it’s really odd how drawn he was to Mai back in spring break. Their connection was short-lived though. Mai broke it off, knowing that Anthony was not the kind o boy her parents would accept. And now, with the end of school Anthony’s only mission is to make a biking pilgrimage to the campsites his dad had wanted make in the years prior to his death. Anthony is planning to take his bike, and his dad’s ashes, and find the right place to leave the ashes. Instead of heading right out, though, Anthony makes the impetuous decision to join Mai’s work crew just to spend some time with her. And, Mai’s mad.

Mai is a girl who has planned out her whole life based on her family’s high expectations. She lives in fear of getting lost, and being left behind–in part due to a traumatic experience as a child, and in part because of insecurity due to being an adopted child. Anthony refused to plan much beyond the next few days or weeks. He’s an artist, using recycled and reclaimed bits and turning them into sculpture is one way to pass his time. It’s not like it’s a lucrative skill, right. They are complete opposites, so why does stepping away feel so hard? Mai decides they need a plan to get over one another. Over the course of the two weeks they remain in the area they will meet at the library parking lot–because Mai’s parents think she’s going to study in advance of her summer research internship–and go on dates that are sure to be terrible. They won’t tell anyone, and they surely won’t kiss. They should be over one another in no time…

Except they aren’t. And their perfectly planned “terrible dates” get them deeper into one another than before. Mai’s parents keep pushing her to connect with Grant, and don’t understand why she won’t. Anthony is a force of his own, and instead of pulling away, he wants to pull Mai closer. Two weeks might not be enough time for Mai and Anthony to quit this crush.

I really liked this romance. It’s sweet and sassy. Neither Mai nor Anthony can figure out why they can’t move on, but they can’t. They get jealous, and they make impetuous choices. Like sneaking around and confessing their deepest secrets. Their bond strengthens and soon enough they are changing plans, or making plans to keep seeing one another. The vulnerability they both show, plus the hard conversations they make with their parents. Mai especially had a lot of difficult conversations that she floundered through, In the end, she made things right–but not before she made things bad between herself and Anthony. This story is a bit coming-of-age, and I liked how Mai finally got past her fears of abandonment, which fed her untenable perfection complex. Anthony learned that not thinking about his future was a way of closing off his life, not living it. Anthony was an easier character to like straightaway, but Mai was definitely sympathetic under her prickly exterior.

Interested? You can find HOW TO QUIT YOUR CRUSH on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and Kobo. I read a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Hi! I’m the author of novels for teens and tweens as well as picture books for toddlers. I love writing stories that will make you laugh, sigh, swoon…and if I break your heart I promise to patch it up by the end. 🙂 Coming May 4th in YA Romance, the follow-up to Announcing Trouble: HOW TO QUIT YOUR CRUSH. May the worst date win!

I live and sweat in Phoenix, Arizona with my hubby and a puppy who is training us.

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

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

The Songs of Love: RAZE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M rock romance from Roan Parrish. RAZE features and up-and coming singer who falls hard for the staid bartender that keeps him level. Catch my reviews for RIVEN and REND to find out more about this series. Some of those characters return in this book, but it’s a standalone romance, too.

About the book:
Sometimes the walls we build to save ourselves have to come tumbling down.

For the last ten years, Huey has built his life around his sobriety. If that means he doesn’t give a damn about finding love or companionship for himself, well, it’s probably better that way. After all, the last thing he wants is to hurt anyone else. Until Felix Rainey walks into his bar, fresh-faced, unbearably sweet—and, for some reason Huey can’t fathom, interested in him.

As the eldest of five kids, Felix Rainey spent his childhood cooking dinner, checking homework, and working after-school jobs. Now in his twenties, he’s still scrambling to make ends meet and wondering what the hell he’s doing with his life. When he meets Huey, he’s intimidated . . . and enamored. Huey’s strong and confident, he owns his own business—hell, he’s friends with rock stars. What could he ever see in Felix?

As Huey and Felix get closer, the spark catches and soon they can’t get enough of each other. But Huey’s worked hard to avoid intimacy, and Felix threatens his carefully constructed defenses. Huey realizes he needs to change if he wants to truly put his past behind him—and build a future with Felix.

My Review:
Felix Rainey has assisted in the care and support of his mother and younger siblings since he was 15 years old. Right now, he and his sister Sofia share a tiny apartment in New York. Felix works at a bagel shop but has dreams of making dioramas for the Natural History museum. He and Sofia sing at Huey’s bar one Tuesday night–karaoke is not Huey’s thing but it draws a crowd–and their duet of a Riven song has Huey calling his dear friend Caleb Blake Whitman—and Theo Decker, former lead signer of Riven. The band is looking for a new frontman, and Felix seems to have the chops.

Felix, however, has stage fright and he gets Theo and Coco, Riven’s guitarist, to listen to Sofia sing the heck out of a couple of Riven songs. That lands her a formal audition and Felix is overjoyed. Things move quickly for Felix and Sofia after that–Sofia gets hired and is constantly with the band, leaving Felix alone for pretty much the first time in his life. He resolves to do something for himself, and the first thing he can think to do is go back Huey’s bar and strike up an acquaintance. Maybe ask him for a date. He nearly chicken’s out, but Huey’s commpassionate care helps Felix find his courage. And, they make a date.

Huey–which is a nickname of his last name Hughes–is a recovering pain pill addict. He’s been a sponsor for NA for years now, and he’s been sober going on a decade. He was Caleb’s sponsor a few years back and that’s how they became such good friends. He’s used to locking down his emotions, but he’s really supportive of the needs of people he meets–to the point that his life is more about others than himself. The idea that a beautiful man like Felix could want him is…puzzling. But, the bond between them grows steadily. Felix is irrepressible and his light is a foil for Huey’s deep and brooding facade. The truth is, Huey needs Felix the same way Felix needs him. They are two lonely souls who’ve sacrificed themselves to help others: Felix for his mom and younger siblings and Huey for the people he might be able to help overcome their addictions. It’s hard for them to think of themselves first, and to ask for what they truly need.

They do get some thing right from the start. The sexytimes are yummy and their conversations move quickly form stilted to comfortable. They can spend time with one another and just be–but the abandonment Felix is experiencing as Sofia prepares for her tour is exacerbated when Huey’s also taking care of the people he sponsors. They struggle a bit, but it’s not super intense. Neither Felix nor Huey is happy with being apart, and they each push the other into new and uncomfortable society–with good results. Felix befriends Matt, husband of Rhys from REND, and that helps with his issues of loss now that Sofia’s gone. Huey realizes that he’s overextended himself both with the bar and as a sponsor. It’s interfering with him taking care of himself–and Felix.

These guys have found their One at just the right moment, but it’s still hard for them to take anything for themselves. Huey’s sure his sobriety has been maintained by rigid control, and he’s afraid that his upset schedules to accommodate visits with Felix might cause a relapse. I liked how they worked through it with Felix being brave for himself–taking chances both professionally and personally–and Huey taking the sage advice of people he’d often counseled. The story is a little heavy on description and backstory, which made pacing a bit slow in the front end. These are two regular “famous-adjacent” guys just figuring things out, messing up, and figuring them out again, which was a nice twist for this series. I loved that Huey literally carved space into his apartment to make Felix feel more welcome, and I loved how Felix just fit Theo, and soothed his battered heart and Sharpie-d flesh.

This book brought a good sense of closure to the Riven stories, having three solid couples finding three stellar HEAs. I really enjoyed all of them.

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

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

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

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

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

The State of Love REND–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a Throwback Thursday review for a contemporary M/M rock romance from Roan Parrish. REND features a married couple battling abandonment issues and depress to build a more stable relationship. I liked the first book in this series, RIVEN, and was glad to see some of those characters play a role here. It’s a perfect pick for my rock romance bender, too!

About the book:
After a whirlwind romance, a man with a painful past learns to trust the musician who makes him believe in happy endings.

Matt Argento knows what it feels like to be alone. After a childhood of abandonment, he never imagined someone might love him—much less someone like Rhys Nyland, who has the voice of an angel, the looks of a god, and the worship of his fans.

Matt and Rhys come from different worlds, but when they meet, their chemistry is incendiary. Their romance is unexpected, intense, and forever—at least, that’s what their vows promise. Suddenly, Matt finds himself living a life he never thought possible: safe and secure in the arms of a man who feels like home. But when Rhys leaves to go on tour for his new album, Matt finds himself haunted by the ghosts of his past.

When Rhys returns, he finds Matt twisted by doubt. But Rhys loves Matt fiercely, and he’ll go to hell and back to triumph over Matt’s fears. After secrets are revealed and desires are confessed, Rhys and Matt must learn to trust each other if they’re going to make it. That means they have to fall in love all over again—and this time, it really will be forever.

My Review:
Matt Argento and Rhys Nyland are a married couple. They met and filled a need the other had–Rhys loved to save a man, and Matt needed saving. Rhys is a musician and singer, and the book starts about 1.5 years into the marriage, so it’s not about how they fall in love. No, it’s about staying in the moment, and trusting that love is real–and that you deserve it. Why? Because Matt is a foster system product who has abandonment issues.

Matt loves Rhys, but Matt struggles with depression. He has a long history of being left behind, and the idea of Rhys going on tour is fanning the flames of his anxiety. Rhys, for his part, is a super lover, and a huge caretaker–but he can’t fix Matt. Only time, patience and Matt’s own willingness to believe that he is worthy of Rhys’s boundless affection can solve this conundrum. Be ready with the tissue, y’all.

I loved the deep and brooding moments as much as I loved the intensity of their lovemaking. Matt can’t be whole until he opens his heart and mind to the possibility that Rhys loves all his brokenness. And, Rhys is just amazing at loving Matt. Like, nobody could do it better. The pacing is a little slow in the beginning where the reader is following Matt through his sometimes exhaustingly mundane narration, but the second half is a big emotional lift, and I felt really connected through the climax. And speaking of climax, there’s a LOT of sexytimes in this book.

We met these characters briefly in RIVEN, the first book in this series, but honestly, we know NOTHING about them other than they are married, and Rhys was once Caleb’s boyfriend. I loved getting to see this couple interact with Theo and Caleb and how their friendships only grew stronger. It’s a way darker book than RIVEN, but it’s also so rewarding to see this established couple work on their relationship, and build a love that is strong and real, well beyond the early love infatuation that first brought them together.

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

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

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

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

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

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.

Finding Family THE EDGE OF THE WORLD–An Audiobook Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing an audiobook review for a contemporary M/M romance from Garrett Leigh. THE EDGE OF THE WORLD connects an rocker and a filmographer in the hunt for one’s heredity. I recently reviewed KISS ME AGAIN, which is performed by the same narrator. I thought this story would be a great kick-off to a string of rock-romance reviews.

About the book:
Shay Maloney is living his dream—on tour with his pirate/folk-rock band. But you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’re from, and that’s where moody filmmaker and researcher Ollie Pietruska comes in.

The band’s management persuades Shay to let a television company film a documentary about his roots beyond his adoptive Irish family, and Ollie comes into his life knowing more about Shay than Shay’s ever known about himself.

But while Ollie holds the key to Shay’s past, he’s also hiding deep scars. Even as the hardships of the tour bring them closer, Ollie’s demons threaten the blossoming romance. They might both reach the breaking point before Ollie realises he’s been standing on the edge of the world for too long, and it’s Shay who holds the key to his future.

A friends-to-lovers, rock star, road-tripping romance, with a guaranteed happily-ever-after.

My Review:
Shay Maloney is in his late 20s and the front man for a rising pirate/folk/rock band touring the UK. He’d been adopted as a young child by a generous and loving Irish couple, raised well and proud of his family. So he doesn’t think much of the offer his manager makes to have a documentary made about his life–assuming it’s about his adoptive family. But the filmmaker is all about the geneaology research, and his job was finding Shay’s birth heritage.

Ollie Pietruska has had some issues growing up in a family of Polish immigrants in London. He seemed to have a very promising career in film making but a car accident a couple of years ago has shaken his world-view. His burned body has healed, but Ollie suffers depression and anxiety, especially when riding as a passenger. Why he agreed to spend three weeks touring with Shay’s band is a question he asks himself nearly hour by hour. Still, he’s attracted to Shay’s magnetic personality, and the idea that he can reveal Shay’s hidden past–many of which seemed tied to Shay’s starry nature and music-making capabilities–are opportunities for a deep connection to grow. Ollie’s missed connecting with people for some time now, and though his physical scars often pain him it’s the mental scars that have kept him celibate and emotionally separate for these years.

Shay and Ollie have an almost instant attraction, and Shay’s curiosity about his heritage grows because he’s so in tune with Ollie as a guide through the process. Ollie seems to know how to present tantalizing bits to Shay to keep his interest, and keep him wanting to know more. As they travel together, Ollie sees the caring nature of the band, and how the members act as an extended or surrogate family. Shay is the leader, but he’s also their heart, and Ollie longs to have the closeness that would allow him to care for Shay, too. Shay’s diabetes plays a bit of a role in facilitating this, when Ollie get to come to the rescue at some key times. Shay’s a generally sober man to help maintain his health, but his performances are so energetic and intense it plays havoc with his blood sugar management. The bond between Ollie and Shay grows by bits and pieces as Ollie learns to share himself and his history in much that way he’s sharing Shay’s genealogy story.

The audiobook was really captivating. At just under 6 hours, the pace seemed right. The narrator, Dan Calley, was able to capture Ollie’s gruffness and Shay’s more melodic voice admirably. I could sense the pain and anxiety in Ollie’s thoughts as he worked through his fears of traveling as a passenger. And his fascination with Shay was really clear and present. It sometimes affected his ability to do his job, and that tentativeness was evocative in the audio. Shay’s musings are often more introspective than Ollie’s but his struggles maintaining his energy and sugar balance while on the road do erode some of his balance. He’s not eager to lean on Ollie, but he won’t stand on false pride. Plus, he really connects with Ollie, and the warmth and openness he finds the deeper their bond grows is really palpable in the audio. It’s not too heavy on the sexytimes and at times the filmography gets lost in the tour details, but it’s still a strong love story with a happy ending. Definitely recommend!

Interested? You can find THE EDGE OF THE WORLD on Goodreads, Amazon, Audible audiobook or iTunes audiobook.

About the Author:
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.

Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.

Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.

Otherwise you can find her on her website, twitter or Facebook.

Building a Community in RAINBOW PLACE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a Throwback Thursday review for a contemporary M/M romance from Jay Northcote. RAINBOW PLACE is the first book in his Rainbow Place series set in Porthladock, Cornwall. I really enjoyed SAFE PLACE, BETTER PLACE MUD & LACE and HAPPY PLACE, so I finally got time to re-read and post about the book that started it all… Meet Seb Radcliffe, entrepreneur setting up a LGBTQ-friendly cafe in Porthladock, Cornwall, finds himself in a tough situation when homophobes come a-calling.

About the book:
Can Jason find the courage he needs to be the man Seb deserves?

When Seb Radcliffe relocates to a seaside town in Cornwall, he feels like a fish out of water. He misses queer spaces and the sense of community he enjoyed when he was living in the city, and decides to open an LGBT-friendly cafe-bar.

Jason Dunn is the builder Seb hires to help renovate the rundown space where the cafe will be housed. Jason is also gay, but unlike Seb, he’s deep in the closet. He’s never had a relationship with another man–only allowing himself the occasional hook up with guys who are prepared to be discreet.

The attraction between the two men is instant and impossible to ignore. But while Seb is out and proud, Jason is terrified of being exposed. With the grand opening of Rainbow Place approaching, tension is growing among some locals who object to Seb’s plans. When things escalate, Jason is forced to choose whether to hide in the shadows and let Seb down, or to openly support the man he’s fallen so hard for.

Although this book is part of a series, it has a satisfying happy ending and can be read as a standalone.

My Review:
Seb Radcliffe has moved to the quaint seaside town of Porthladock, Cornwall with the express plan of opening a queer-friendly cafe and bar. As an out-gay man, Seb knows how valuable it is to have queer-friendly spaces, and he dreams the Rainbow Place cafe will be a beacon to LGBTQ folk and their allies in the area.

Seb hires local builder Jason Dunn to renovate the cafe space, and the two men do hit it off quite well, though Jason has been closeted his whole life. He’s part inspired and part intimidated by Seb’s attitude and compassion. The plans to open are going excellently–Jason’s a carpentry whiz–but days before the cafe opens the worst happens. Vandals attack and the cafe seems ruined. It’s a crucible moment for the community, and the call for help brings folks from unexpected quarters to the haven of acceptance. We get to meet some of the characters who factor into the later stories, as they find unexpected love in Rainbow Place. Jason, for his part, decides that having the solid love of a good man is worth taking those first steps into the light and leaving the closet behind.

There are delicious sexytimes, and heartfelt moments of joy, grief and relief. It’s a very uplifting story, with two good men finding happiness when they least expected to do so–and a community finding a welcoming space for the LGBTQ folk that had existed only in the margins before. The grannies are a hoot, and I liked getting a sneak peek at main characters to come. I’m a fan of the whole series, and recommend it to people who enjoy M/M romance.

Interested? You can find RAINBOW PLACE on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the Author:
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

You can find Jay on his website, Twitter, Facebook Author Page, and Amazon.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

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