Fresh Starts in WORKING IT–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary romance form Christine d’Abo. WORKING IT is the first book in her Ringside Romance series published this year, and I liked the odd-couple sweetness of it.

About the book:
Nolan Carmichael is getting a fresh start—new career, new company, new life. The only problem is, he liked his old life just fine . . . until an accident robbed him of his health, his job, his self-confidence, and his ability to go out in public without having anxiety attacks.

Zack Anderson has scared away his last four administrative assistants. So when he hires Nolan on a whim, he’s not too worried, since Nolan will be gone within the week anyway. Two weeks later, Nolan has made himself indispensable, completely reforming Zack’s schedule, life . . . and libido.

But in a company already torn by internal politics, one wrong step could ruin both their careers. And not only are they working to reopen Ringside Gym, Zack’s retreat when he was a troubled teen, but they also can’t help themselves falling for each other. If only the rest of their lives could go as smoothly as things do when they’re alone together.

My Review:
Nolan Carmichael suffered a devastating injury in a terrible car wreck two years ago. A couple of his co-workers didn’t and he lives with the pain of the injuries as well as their loss. It’s time, however, for him to work through his equally-crippling anxiety, and find a new job because his savings is dwindling and his younger sister’s job prospects might cause her to move soon. He goes to an interview as an admin assistant, where he meets a sexy man in the toilets just before he’s brought in for the interview. And, it turns out the sexy man he’d met is the office tornado, Chief Technical Officer and all-around admin terror, Zach Anderson.

Zach’s never had a male assistant before, and he’s chased off more than a few assistants already. His workload is becoming more than he can bear, however, especially if he wants to devote any thine to rehabbing Ringside Gym, the haven where he met his best pals in his youth. The owner had died and the place is a musty albatross that’s only going to become a bigger money pit the longer it sits vacant. But Nolan, despite his quirks, is a hard worker and unwilling to let Zach’s irrational mood shifts tear him down. Plus, they develop a rapport that only heightens their mutual attraction. Nolan’s also unwilling to let Zach’s dream die–and he works overtime to help him find a pathway to his true passion: building an LGBTQ-friendly gym and after-school shelter for kids in the city.

There’s a mess of office politics going on, as their company prepares for layoffs in order to mean a partnership agreement, and Zach is thoroughly upset that one of the jobs on the chopping block could very-well be Nolan’s. The thing is, Nolan is a different man to the one who barely made it to his interview. He still suffers the depression and anxiety, but he’s tested his resilience, and developed a stronger set of coping strategies. Zach’s friends recognize Nolan for the gem he is, and counsel Zach not to screw it up. But will having to fire the man he’s coming to care deeply for spell the end of the romance?

Spoiler: Nope. It’s a sweet and surprisingly tender read, though I was expecting far more boxing in this tale. Instead, there’s the clean-out of a musty gym, and the building of new dreams together. Also, some rather nice sexytimes, including an office scene that steamed up my screen. I look forward to reading on in this series and watching Zach’s pal Max find love.

Interested? You can find WORKING IT on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo.

About the Author:
A romance novelist and short story writer, Christine has over forty publications to her name. She loves to exercise and stops writing just long enough to keep her body in motion too. When she’s not pretending to be a ninja in her basement, she’s most likely spending time with her family and two dogs.

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Smoothing the Kinks in THREE PLAYER GAME-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly-released contemporary M/M menage romance from Jaime Samms. THREE PLAYER GAME features some of the characters featured in HOW THE COOKIE CRUMBLES, also by Samms. Both books are set in the Bluewater Bay universe, like ALL WHEEL DRIVE and GET A GRIP. 3PG features a couple who practice a bit of light BDSM looking for a third, and convincing him they need him as much as he needs them.

About the book:
Vince’s life has improved immeasurably since he moved to Bluewater Bay two years ago. He’s gone from working for a man he hated, to helping found a company he believes in. And he and boyfriend, Pete, have built a delicate balance of power between them that keeps them both grounded and thriving.

Almost, anyway.

Pete’s job on the set of Wolf’s Landing is demanding. He needs lots of downtime off set, and that’s where Vince’s firm but gentle control isn’t always enough. And for Vince, Pete’s constant high-energy needs are turning out to be more than he can handle alone.

It’s no surprise to either of them, then, that sparks fly when Vince’s coworker Lee enters the picture. Outwardly, Lee is tough and confident, but when a bad back confines him to Pete and Vince’s spare room, the cracks start to show and his desire for connection begins to peek through.

Pete and Vince both like what they see under Lee’s prickly outside, but now the three men must learn that love isn’t about beating the game—it’s about balance, trust, and letting each other in.

My Review:
Vince and Lee are co-workers for a newly-formed company that’s planning to make a videogame about Wolf’s Landing. The two of them came to work for Blaire Caruthers. Blaire’s father was an overbearing prick, and they are all glad to be rid of him. Plus, Vince is dating a director’s assistant on the set of Wolf’s Landing, Pete, who is willing to direct some scenes they can use in the rendering of the video game. It seems they have an inside track on this plan, and life is finally going well for Vince–and mostly Lee. Well, Lee suffers from a chronic back injury. He’s laid up in a Vancouver hotel with a flare-up, and being cared for by Vince when the book opens.

Vince has long thought Lee was attractive, but he’s with Pete, and that’s totally cool. In fact, it’s a great partnership. Pete has a stress-filled job on the TV show set, and he struggles to relax in his off hours. Vince’s firm hand and creative loving calm Pete’s manic beast. That said, it’s a lot of stress on Vince, and he’s getting a bit worn from caring for Pete’s emotional and sexual needs. They are fully aware of this, and have been considering asking another man to join them; both Pete and Vince are attracted to Lee, but nervous about approaching him. Lee’s need for care as he recovers from his back troubles seems a perfect fit for their cozy cottage–and lifestyle. One huge snag, Lee’s back was originally injured by a careless Dom, and he wants no more kink in his life.

However, the longer Lee spends with Pete and Vince, the more he comes to realize how very lonely he is in Bluewater Bay. And how bonding with VInce and Pete, only to have them someday move on and leave him behind, could be too crushing to manage.

I liked this one. I’m a fan of poly relationships in fiction, and this one had an interesting spin, for me. The purported triad wasn’t necessarily all about attraction. Vince and Pete had deep needs in their relationship that weren’t being completely met. They are really invested in one another, and want to satisfy the other, too, but there are strains. Pete is a health-mind-body type of guy, and needs a place for balance. When his schedule is thrown off, it can take Vince hours and hours to calm him, and get him to re-center. He knows this is a challenge most men wouldn’t take on, and he loves Vince for all his care, which is by turns tender and kinky. Expect some bondage and light BDSM.

Lee is afraid to engage in kink, to be that vulnerable again, but Pete and Vince are excellent at caring for him. It’s unsettling how cherished they make him feel. Yet, he struggles with Vince, who was the previous office lackey, being dominant at home. Lee’s conflicts in the work place become petty, and illustrate how immature Lee has acted in relationships during adulthood. It’s only once he walks out that he recognizes all he’s given up–and wants back. The sexytimes aren’t burn the sheets up steamy, but they are engaging nonetheless. The power plays and dynamics of navigating a kink-laced, three-way love fest are always tricky. That said, these scenes add a lot of tender moments to a story line already brimming with compassion and self-sacrifice.

Interested? You can find THREE PLAYER GAME on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble iBooks and Kobo. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author: in Jaime Samms’ words…
With most of the hours in the day taken up by a part time job and the full time occupation of raising and schooling two kids, writing is somewhat of an indulgence, but it’s the indulgences that keep us sane, right? When not otherwise occupied, like most writers, reading is my relaxation method of choice, and you can find my reviews at Kuriousity.com and Dark Diva Reviews to let you know what I liked (and occasionally, what I didn’t). And just in case there are an extra few minutes in the day, I also help out the admin team abelong to a writer’s critique group: Dreaming in Ink. After all, idle hands and all that.

Catch up with Jaime online here: website | blog | Facebook | twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Out Today! DIGNITY Review and Giveaway!


Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a brand-new contemporary romance from Jay Crownover. DIGNITY is the second book in her The Breaking Point series, and the sequel to HONOR. Like most Crownover series, this one features interlocking characters and each book is a new romance arc. This one features a reclusive computer genius and the homeless  woman who picks a fight with the biggest dog in the yard. Expect gritty moments and love that transcends living on the edge of the law.

Scroll down to enter the giveaway for a $25 Amazon GC and a set of five signed books!
About the book:
Looks can be deceiving.

I knew that most people took one look at the ink and the impossibly big and strong body it covered and decided I was a brawler…a bruiser…a beast. However, I was hardwired to be a thinker, not a fighter.

I should have chosen to use my brain and talents to be one of the good guys, a hero, a man with dignity and worth.

I turned my back on dignity and sold my soul to the highest bidder, deciding to dance with the devil, instead.

I couldn’t figure out how to help myself, so there was zero chance I knew how to save someone else.

That someone else was Noe Lee. She was the unkempt, unruly thief who was just as smart as I was and twice as street savvy. She was annoyingly adorable beneath the dirt and grime, and she was in trouble. In way over her head, I told myself it wasn’t my job to keep her from drowning. In the Point, it was sink or swim, and I wasn’t the designated lifeguard on duty.

I shut the door in her face, but now she’s gone…vanished…disappeared without a trace. It took less than a second for me to realize that I wanted her back.

When a woman comes along that melts all the frozen, hard things you’re made of; you’ll do anything you have to, to bring her home.

What you see is not always what you get…and with a man like me, what you get is more than anyone ever bargained for.

How about a little taste?

Protective and possessive instincts coiled around my gut and rage felt like it was going to choke me. I was so used to being cold and numb, I didn’t know what to do with the fire that was licking at my insides.

“I saw him take her out of the trunk when they got to the docks. He moved like a cop. Not the kind who is there to actually protect and serve, but the kind who pulls you over for no reason and slaps cuffs on you to prove a point. I was locked up for a lot of years, boy genius. I know what a dirty cop looks like. He had a busted-up nose and stitches on the side of his face. Should be pretty easy for Titus to identify him.”

Titus King was Bax’s half-brother and the only law enforcement officer in the entire city any of us slightly trusted. He was one of the few men the Point hadn’t tainted. He was a good guy, trying to do right by the people in our city, and he wouldn’t hesitate to throw Goddard’s dirty cop under the bus. But I didn’t want anyone going after the Mayor. His sadistic ass was all mine.

“Do you think they made it out of the container after you hit it with the truck?” That had been my idea. Nassir was only sending in Booker and Benny to get Noe out, but I didn’t think it was enough fire power. Since he refused to let me go, even siccing Chuck on me as a babysitter until the job was done, I made Benny go over the plan with me no less than a hundred times until I came up with a better one. Knocking the container sideways with one of the big semi-trucks that littered the area would give Benny the time he needed to get Noe out and distract the outside security detail enough that Booker could do his thing. It was a risk because the people inside the container—including Noe and Benny—might have ended up injured when the thing flipped, but the odds of them making it out were much higher than if Benny tried to take on everyone on his own.

“If Benny made it out, we won’t hear from him again. That was the deal he made with Nassir. He would get your girl and then disappear, so he can go and live happily ever after with his. As for the rest of them,” he shrugged, “I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Your girl said someone had a gun, so if they were shooting at Benny, he would do whatever he could to make sure they stopped. He’s not about to catch a bullet for any of us. I know you want that asshole alive for your own reasons, but honestly, it’s better if Benny popped him.”

It was better, but it wasn’t what I wanted. A bullet between the eyes was way too easy for a guy like Goddard. People would bemoan how bad the Point had become, how Goddard had been a staunch supporter of crime prevention measures. He would die a martyr and a legend. I couldn’t stand the thought of that. I wanted who Goddard was, who he really was, out in the open. I wanted his mansion doors flung wide open and every skeleton inside the walls exposed and thrown out on the perfectly manicured lawn for the entire world to see. I hated people who hid behind the law. I hated when men in any position of power got off on using their elevated status to jerk the helpless and hopeless around. Death wasn’t the answer. Devastation was.

I closed my eyes and squeezed the cold, still hand that was clasped in mine. Failure weighed heavy on my shoulders and fury lit up my blood like popping and sizzling firecrackers.

“When do we ever end up with anything that’s better for us?” That wasn’t how the Point worked. That wasn’t how we worked.

Booker grunted and I felt him move behind me. “It happens. It doesn’t seem like better should be able to find a foothold in this place, but despite all odds, it does.”

My Review:
Snowden Stark was a good kid with an amazing talent for writing code. His parents and twin sister were his whole world, but a series of unfortunate events–not likely random–left him isolated with his intellect and a huge grudge against the government. He grew up in the wealthy part of The Point, fast friends with Nassir, the man who rules the crime-ridden enterprises that drag it down. With no one to trust, he stuck with Nassir, and they’ve made life hard for folks who deserved it. Think of him as a digital Robin Hood, of a sort.

Noe Lee is a Korean runaway from a horror of an adopted family. She’d rather live on the streets using her wits than return to their unholy embrace–but she won’t leave The Point either. She makes cash by creating new identities for people who desperately need them, and one of her recent customers was the 16 y/o pregnant stepdaughter of The Point’s crooked Mayor Goddard. Oh sure, he looks squeaky-clean to his constituents and donors, but he’s a bad, bad dude in a city filled with them. Noe’s on the run, and wants Snowden Stark’s help–which he refuses to give. At first. But when it comes to a rescue, this man can bring the fire.

Stark takes Noe in to his world, and she’s as committed to bringing Goddard to justice as Stark seems to be. An abuse survivor herself, Noe recognized the pattern with Goddard and helps flush out many other victims. Meanwhile, Stark and Noe have an attraction that won’t be stopped. They understand life on the fringes, and have the ability to smooth each other’s rough edges. But, Stark’s sense of duty is a little strong, and his single-minded pursuit of Goddard leaves Noe feeling a bit cold. Good thing Stark has a pal who won’t let him let a good woman slip away.

This is a dark story and abuse survivors should be warned that there are graphic descriptions of molestation experiences. It’s a bit Batman, too, with all the gadgets and tech warfare. I liked how they plotted their revenge, and unmasking Goddard was a sweet, and very dangerous, enterprise. It’s always good when the bad guys get taken down, even if it’s merely in fiction. The world is well-described enough that the more unseemly sides of it seem perfectly commonplace. Corrupt, pedophile mayor? Sure. Computer geniuses who live in the shadows doing white hat work? Yep! Big, mean bouncer/enforcers who have a soft side? Why not! The juxtapositions are interesting, and the delayed gratification of the sexytimes was in-character for Stark, at the very least. It’s a twisty ride to love, but it does happen.

Interested? You can find DIGNITY on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men and The Point series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

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

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Super Sequel NOT YOUR VILLAIN–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new YA LGBTQ-friendly superhero novel from CB Lee. NOT YOUR VILLAIN is the second book in her Sidekick Squad series and is a fantastic follow-up to NOT YOUR SIDEKICK. Both books are set in the US, a little over a century into the future, when superheros and villains take center-stage in the world…and Bells is a master of his future.

Check out the excerpt and be sure to enter the $25 GC and book giveaway below!

About the book:
Bells Broussard thought he had it made when his superpowers manifested early. Being a shapeshifter is awesome. He can change his hair whenever he wants and, if putting on a binder for the day is too much, he’s got it covered. But that was before he became the country’s most wanted villain.

After discovering a massive cover-up by the Heroes’ League of Heroes, Bells and his friends Jess, Emma, and Abby set off on a secret mission to find the Resistance. Meanwhile, power-hungry former hero Captain Orion is on the loose with a dangerous serum that renders meta-humans powerless, and a new militarized robotic threat emerges.

Sometimes, to do a hero’s job, you need to be a villain.

How about a little taste?

Captain Orion walks into view, dragging a machine on a cart behind her. “I don’t like that smirk he’s giving you. Shame we couldn’t get the audio on that feed to work. Step aside, let me get a look at him.”

Bells has only seen Orion in holovids and during that one, frenzied encounter at Abby’s house. It’s startling how different she looks now from the shiny, polished hero who graced comic book covers. Her hair is tied in a messy ponytail; her bangs fall limp across her forehead. She’s wearing her usual blue-and-white supersuit, but Bells has never seen it this dirty or in such a state of disrepair; there’s a patch ripped in the leggings, and her knee is poking out. Orion’s cape trails behind her; the edge is frayed and riddled with dirt. The cart she dragged in rolls onto it, causing her to stumble. Orion yanks her cape free of the cart, straightens up, and glares at Bells, as if she’s daring him to laugh.

Bells recognizes the machinery sitting on the cart; it’s one they used at the training center to measure the power levels of meta-humans.

He remembers the last time he was tested. All the other students had taken care not to use their powers all day so they could get an “at rest” rating and be sure that the League could see their full potential. He kept his Barry shift on all day, so that by the time he was measured, he’d be so tired out he’d get a low rating.

What does Orion want with me?

The former hero looks down her nose at Bells. “Well. The famous, talented Chameleon. The League was all about you. The next me, perhaps. Or maybe that was just what they were filling your head with. Did they promise you glory? Greatness?”

“Free lunch,” Bells says. “And travel. To the training center for three summers. Got to see a lot of places. I liked Baja, but the last one was pretty cool. The North is awfully pretty. Lots of trees. Huge, like giants. And last year I got to go to the beach all the time, so—win.”

“I don’t think you understand the gravity of your situation, Barry.” Orion grins like a feral cat. “I’ve got your file right here.”

Orion flips through the thick sheaf of papers. Bells takes a deep breath when he spots the word Broussard, followed by a photo of the restaurant and even a picture of him and Simon as kids. The file must have been important for Orion to print them on actual paper. Or maybe Orion can’t connect to the Net anymore.

How long has she been on the lam? What was she proposing to Stone? The League obviously doesn’t know where she is, since they still claimed she was in Corrections.

Even if she doesn’t have the League behind her, she’s still dangerous, especially if she knows who he really is.

My Review:
Bells has grown up in Andover, a smallish town in the Nevada desert, several hundred miles from what remained of Los Angeles, after the Disasters and World War III are just stories in history books. Nearly 100 years ago, when humanity was still fighting to survive, there was a series of large solar flares that caused cataclysmic events, and generated the first generation of meta-humans, humans with super powers, of any type.

Bells is a black transboy with the power to alter his appearance, and that of anyone or anything he touches. He’s dealing with the meta-human stuff pretty well for a kid whose parents run a black market agribusiness. Oh, and who also has a long-time crush on his best friend Emma. In the beginning he keeps his identity as “Chameleon” one of the newly inducted member of the Heroes League of Heroes. Unfortunately, Jess, who has an undetected super power recognizes that Bells has been made a pawn in the game of heroes vs. villains. Jess noticed that the “villains” that Chameleon was impersonating on a series of “training missions” all had characteristics of her good pal, Bells, and Jess reveals the bigger plot that surrounds a group of missing villains, and Captain Orion, leader of the Heroes League.

This story overlaps NOT YOUR SIDEKICK and picks up with Jess, Bells, and their other pals trying to rescue Jess’ girlfriend Abby’s parents from captivity. Abby has a super power, but she’s been given a serum by Captain Orion to negate her mechanopath abilities.

Just as Bells is getting a handle on his powers and his feelings for Emma, life gets in the way. Ema finds her own boyfriend, and Chameleon’s activity in rescuing Abby’s mom leads to him being listed as Public Enemy ! by the Heroes League. That said, he finds some comfort in pals that didn’t have strong enough powers to make it into the League–and his mission to unmask the REAL villains of this world (think grown-ups in the government) brings some results. To a degree. If nothing else, Jess’ superhero parents take their mission seriously, and superheroes and villains are uniting to defeat the actual bad guys and bring justice to those who need it.

I love the multicultural cast, and the world is beautifully rendered. All to locales jump off the page, and Bells’ plight, in life, love and activity, is a sympathetic one. I love his sweetness, and his commitment to do the right thing even when it’s really, really difficult. It seems as if Bells’ perserverance wins him both the respect and validation he sought when he hungered to be a hero, and I was happy for that. I wonder who will lead us to eventual victory in book three. It feels like Jess’ sister Claudia is a strong candidate. This is an excellent book series for teens who are identified, or questioning, in the LGBT spectrum, as the relationships are all affirming and fluid. Bells is trans, Jess is bi, but seriously dating a girl, Emma has two moms, and there are many other examples of queer life, too. This world posits that nothing is unusual about those connections, and that felt pretty super, too.

Interested? You can find NOT YOUR VILLAIN on Goodreads, Interlude Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, Book Depository, and Indiebound.

****GIVEAWAY****

Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 GC to Interlude Press, or one of FIVE e-books of NOT YOUR VILLAIN.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
C.B. Lee is a bisexual writer, rock climber, and pinniped enthusiast from Southern California. A first-generation Asian American, she is passionate about working in communities of color and empowering youth to be inspired to write characters and stories of their own. Lee’s debut novel Seven Tears at High Tide was published by Duet Books in 2015 and named a finalist in the Bisexual Books Awards. This summer, C.B. was named to Lambda Literary’s Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices.

You can find C B online on her website, Goodreads, Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

Mixed Messages WORTH WAITING FOR-A Review

Hi there! Toady I’m sharing a review for a recently released contemporary M/M romance from new-to-me author Wendy Qualls. WORTH WAITING FOR is a reconnection romance for college more-than-friends who connect professionally at the conservative Georgia college where one of them teaches.

About the book:
A small-town in the Deep South isn’t where most gay men would choose to go looking for love. But open hearts will find a way…

Growing up in the Bible Belt, Paul Dunham learned from a young age to hide his sexuality. Now he’s teaching psychology at a conservative college in Georgia—and still hiding who he really is. If Paul hopes to get tenure, he needs to keep his desires on the down-low. But when an old college crush shows up on campus—looking more gorgeous than ever—Paul’s long-suppressed urges are just too big for one little closet to hold . . .

Brandon Mercer has come a long way since his freshman year fumbling’s with Paul. Now he’s confident, accomplished, proudly out—and the sexiest IT consultant Paul’s ever seen. When Brandon asks Paul to grab some coffee and catch up, it leads to a steamy reunion that puts their first night of passion to shame. But when Paul’s longtime crush turns into a full-time romance, he receives an anonymous email threatening to expose their secret to the world. If Paul stays with Brandon, his teaching career is over. Yet if he caves under pressure, he risks losing the one true love he’s been waiting for…

My Review:
Paul and Brandon connected in their freshman year of college. It was a conservative school, and Paul was scared into the closet, lest his secret attraction for another man cause him to be expelled for indecency and out him to his family–who he expected would disown him. He’s had one pseudo-relationship sicne, with a self-loathing man who was deeper int he closet than himself. Brandon moved on to a different college–one that was more open to diversity, and he’s been an out-gay man since.

Fast forward several years. Paul’s seeking tenure at the same university, and Brandon has been dispatched there by his IT company to manage some data security issues. Brandon thinks it’s an inside job, and recognizes that some important people at the university were terribly lax in their security protocols. Paul is assigned the task of helping him investigate the audit for the Psych department, and their camaraderie persists. Paul has long wondered what happened to Brandon, and how out gay men live in society. He’s not really ready to come out, but he has plans to do so when he gets tenure…if he finds another position.

But, the temptation to stay away from Brandon proves too great. Plus, Brandon is more that willing to keep it casual–or so he says at first. It seems as if he’s willing to extend their getting to know you times into, well, a lot more. There’s some plot shenanigans regarding the data breaches, peeping toms and nasty exes, which all lead to existential threats to Paul’s career. For his part, Paul begins to recognize that if he’s going to lose his chance for tenure, he might as well enjoy it. So he does. A lot. With Brandon.

For me, the book was okay. I didn’t hate it, and I wasn’t too challenged by the reading. I expected to be more engaged–I usually am enthralled with reconnection romances, and coming out stories, but this one fell a little flat. I did enjoy Paul’s wonder at “being out” in Atlanta, where his anonymity gave him cover, and wondered why he never really tried this before. Lots of folks do… His vulnerability with Brandon was also sweet. Though, it was a bit of a seesaw with the hiding and the being sure no one could possibly connect them romantically. Steam-wise there’s lots of sexploration going down, and I mean the puns, folks. The political machinations of the story, and the questions regarding who’s doing the spying, and who’s wrecking Pual’s professional chances, seemed a little out there. At least, considering Paul’s early perspectives. It wasn’t completely illogical, just complicated in ways that didn’t suit me. That said, I liked the story, and think it’s fine if you’re interested in a quick, and sexy, read. Expect an HEA.

Interested? You can find WORTH WAITING FOR on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

About the Author:
Wendy Qualls was a small ­town librarian until she finished reading everything her library had to offer. At that point she put her expensive and totally unrelated college degree to use by writing smutty romance novels and wasting time on the internet. She lives in Northern Alabama with her husband, two girls, two dogs, and a seasonally fluctuating swarm of unwanted ladybugs. Wendy can be found on Twitter as @wendyqualls. She is represented by Moe Ferrara of BookEnds Literary Agency.

You can connect with Wendy on her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Picture-Perfect Family in HIGH BALLS–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a contemporary M/M romance from Tara Lain. HIGH BALLS is the fifth book in her Balls the Wall series and features a sweet romance between a young, single father and a tattooed man of many talents. While this is a standalone read, there is a lot of investment from Rod and Hanson, the boys of FIRE BALLS. Expect cameos from pals we met in FAST BALLS, VOLLEY BALLS and BEACH BALLS, too.

Catch an excerpt and enter the $15  GC giveaway below.
About the book:
Though only twenty-six, single father Theodore Walters lives with his head in the clouds and his feet firmly planted in reality. At the center of his life is Andy, his seven-year-old son, with whom he shares no DNA, though nobody—including his religious-fanatic in-laws—knows that, and Theodore will do anything to keep them from finding out. Theodore works hard to get his PhD and the tenure and salary that might follow to make a better life for Andy—but the head of his department thinks his dissertation on Jane Austen and romance novels is frivolous.

Theodore’s carefully planned life goes off the rails when he walks into a popular Laguna Beach bar and meets the bartender, “Snake” Erasmo, a pierced and tattooed biker who sends Theodore’s imagination—and libido—soaring. Snake has even more secrets than Theodore and couldn’t be a less “appropriate” match, but he might be the only guy with the skills to show Theodore that happily-ever-after is for real.

How about a sweet taste?

“Mr. Walters, please explain the methodology of your research.”

And so it began. The words flowed across his tongue—the thousands of questionnaires and over a hundred personal interviews showing the education, expertise, and experience of romance writers, their use and extension of techniques pioneered by Austen and other major literary figures. He discussed tropes and their application in so called “fine” literature as well as genre fiction. Quoting verbatim from scholars he’d interviewed, he showed how many academics dismissed romance fiction purely because of its association with female readers.

Dr. Willamette said, “How large is the romance market, Mr. Walters?” She actually seemed interested.

“It’s a moving target and difficult to pin down due to the vastness and fluidity of the ebook market, but well over a billion dollars, for sure. It’s the largest book market in the world by double over the next genre.”

“Oh my. Wouldn’t it be nice to bring those people more actively into the field of literature? More teachers and more students?” She smiled.

“My point exactly.”

Ashworth sputtered, “You want to bring these illiterate, uncultured old maids and housewives into the literary tent? You must be joking.”

Dr. Willamette’s face fell, and Theodore worked to ungrit his teeth.

Dr. T. tried to keep the tone upbeat, but every time Mr. Karl or Dr. Willamette asked a good question or seemed to show interest in his research, Ashworth would find a way to belittle their opinions. They practically shrank in their seats. The chances they’d stand up to the chairman? Zilch.

Theodore kept fighting, but he felt like a salmon on a dammed-up stream.

Dr. T. said, “Why did you undertake this research, Mr. Walters? What do you feel it contributes to the future of literature?”

Theodore gazed at the carpet for a minute. “When my wife was dying, I would read to her. Classics and current literary fiction felt so cold and helpless in the face of death. Only love prevailed. So I bought a romance novel, just for diversion. I was amazed at the true literary value the book possessed. I tried another and another. Yes, I found bad ones, but then that can be said of any type of literature. Gradually I came to realize that what I’d been taught about romance fiction was bull. Here were truly gifted writers, more of them than in any other type of fiction, toiling away with not only no recognition, but also actual denigration, and still producing exceptional work. I decided to find out why.”

He looked up at each member of the panel, even the sneering Ashworth. “I think if I can encourage or inspire even one of these excellent authors to persevere and have some of their work recognized, my research will have succeeded.”

Dr. T. said, “Thank you, Theodore. I wish to add that the dissertation reader agrees with Mr. Walters. She states that the paper has done more to legitimize one of the most popular forms of world fiction than anything she’s seen. She highly recommends the paper for publication.” He looked down the panel. “If there are no more questions, Mr. Walters can go and we can determine the time for our deliberation.”

Ashworth said, “I have one more. Walters, do you really expect us to take this dissertation seriously?”

Theodore stood. “Yes, sir, I do.” He looked down the table. “Thank you all for your consideration.” He turned and walked from the room with a straight spine.

My Review:
This is the fifth book in the Balls to the Wall series and reads fine as a standalone.

Theodore Walters is a widower and caregiver to his 7 year old “son” Andy. Few people in this world know he isn’t Andy’s biological father, but Theo married his BF when she got pregnant at the end of high school, and was a rock as she wilted and passed of cancer two years ago. Her loony parents, however, are wealthy religious bigots and can’t push Theo to finish his PhD dissertation defense fast enough so their grandson won’t have to live in the relative squalor of their two bedroom apartment. If they knew Andy wasn’t Theo’s son, they’d angle to adopt him outright, and Theo can’t bear the thought of losing his son.

While out on one of his rare child-free nights, Theo meets Snake Erasmo. Pierced, tattooed and glorious, Snake somehow finds nubile Theo attractive. Snake is not the type of person his in-laws, or the stodgy academics at his private religiously-affiliated college, will welcome as a partner to Theo–but the attraction is there. Snake assures Theo he cleans up well, and sleeves hide lots of tattoos, don’t they? Bowing to Theo’s need to keep things on the way-down-low, they take to eating in, and Snake and Andy hit it off immediately. Mostly, because Snake is a fantastic guy. But, he’s a guy who has unexplainable talents, for being a somewhat-drifter-turned-bartender. And Theo’s friends love Snake, but can’t figure out what he truly does for a living.

With the threat of his thesis being rejected, and the increasingly troubling interactions Theo’s having with Andy’s grandparents, he’s just not ready for what is shaping up to be a serious relationship. It’s a bit charming how Andy reaches out for Snake for help with his grandparents and to keep work-worn Theo happy, and how Snake lifts countless burdens from Theo’s shoulders. And the sex is off the chain. Theo LOVES that not all Snakes piercings are facial…

For me, I loved the tenderness, and interactions between Theo, Andy and Snake. It’s a fun juxtaposition, this strapping biker-ish guy and the curious child, but they make great co-conspirators. Snake loves his “Teddy Bear” and he’s set to prove it any way he can. And, he’s not afraid to go to Theo’s friends and ask for their help, either. All the boys of the Ball to the Walls books assist Theo or Snake as they ensure Theo’s thesis gets fair treatment, and Andy’s paternity is affirmed. It’s a feel-good romance with a sweet HEA to enjoy.

Interested? You can find out more about HIGH BALLS on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $15 Amazon GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 23. Her best­selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.

She lives with her soul­mate husband and her soul­mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

You can find Tara at:

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Replacing AN UNSUITABLE HEIR–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for the final episode in historical M/M mystery/romance series from KJ Charles. AN UNSUITABLE HEIR is the third book in her Victorian Sins in the City series, and should be read after AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION and AN UNNATURAL VICE. Third book, third pair of seemingly mismatched lovers who are on the run from, or hunt for, a murderous scoundrel.

About the book:
A private detective finds passion, danger, and the love of a lifetime when he hunts down a lost earl in Victorian London.
On the trail of an aristocrat’s secret son, enquiry agent Mark Braglewicz finds his quarry in a music hall, performing as a trapeze artist with his twin sister. Graceful, beautiful, elusive, and strong, Pen Starling is like nobody Mark’s ever met—and everything he’s ever wanted. But the long-haired acrobat has an earldom and a fortune to claim.

Pen doesn’t want to live as any sort of man, least of all a nobleman. The thought of being wealthy, titled, and always in the public eye is horrifying. He likes his life now—his days on the trapeze, his nights with Mark. And he won’t be pushed into taking a title that would destroy his soul.

But there’s a killer stalking London’s foggy streets, and more lives than just Pen’s are at risk. Mark decides he must force the reluctant heir from music hall to manor house, to save Pen’s neck. Betrayed by the one man he thought he could trust, Pen never wants to see his lover again. But when the killer comes after him, Pen must find a way to forgive—or he might not live long enough for Mark to make amends.

My Review:
4.5 Stars for this historical M/M romance set in Victorian-era London. This is the third book in a series and is likely best enjoyed when read in sequence.

The first book, AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION, featured the mystery, mischief and murder that befell Clem Tallyfer, bastard son of his Grace, the (late, late) Earl of Moreton as he managed a lodging house, and fell in love with Rowley Green, one of his lodgers. The second book, AN UNNATURAL VICE continues the investigation of whomever killed one of Clem’s lodgers, Reverend Lugtrout, and also Clem’s half-brother, Edmund, then the earl. Lawyer and journalist Nathanial Roy is working hard for Clem to ensure he doesn’t get put out of his lodging house by his uncle, an mean elderly man who is claiming the title as Edmund had no legal offspring. But spiritualist Justin Lazarus met Edmund’s secret wife, and knows a son was born. They spend most of their book on the run from London’s killer fog, and a real-live killer, while they hunt down the rightful Earl of Moreton.

We already know the identity of the apparent earl by the end of the second book, and he’s not what anyone expected. Pen, and his twin Greta, christened Repentance and Regret after being born in a religious sect where their mother took refuge when her scoundrel of a husband married her, had his merry way, and discarded her at the age of 16, are now performers. And Pen likes it that way. He and Greta have a good life where Pen can allow some room for his…unusual and generally unacceptable behavior.

See, Pen is gender dysmorphic. He’s not happy in men’s clothes all the time, and he’s also not happy in women’s clothes either. He has long, lush hair, and often paints his face to match that of Greta–and not only for their performances. There are days he can’t bear to look as his naked form, and his broad, strong hands–tools of his trade–horrify him in their masculinity. In the musical hall, he can dress in ways that are counter to society’s dictates and pass it off as a lark, or the eccentricity of a performer. And he likes it too much to give up for some stuffy title. There’s no way he could mask his nature for the twenty–or fifty–years he’d need to as an earl. And the idea of marrying a woman to sire an heir? *Pen shudders*

Mark Braglewicz was born to a Polish anarchist, and endured life with only one arm. He’s an enquiry agent, what you might call a private investigator in today’s terms. His dear friends Clem and Nathaniel need his help tracking down the missing twins, and there’s no shortage of death and destruction that follows this search. Already three men are dead, and two properties were either burned or vandalized. It’s actually not hard for Mark to find Pen, nor is it hard to woo him. Pen hasn’t found a man before who had such flexibility in his desires. Mark finds Pen’s gender-bending appeals to him far too much, and he’s in a bad spot. He’s falling for Pen, but the murderer is still on the loose. It’s with no other choice than to save his friends and protect Pen from the murderer that he reveals Pen to be the rightful Earl of Moreton.

Pen is furious at the betrayal. And he’s not happy with the process of investigation. As his great-uncle and cousin dispute the situation, Pen and Greta are sent to pass the time at the family seat in the country. With their new “relations.” It’s uncomfortable, and unnerving, for Pen to be scrutinized so. Clem and his half-cousin Tim, also make the journey and they are good companions. Greta seems so happy on her walks with Tim, and Pen can’t escape his title, though he desperately wants to do so. Once the lawyers finish their investigation, he’ll be sealed into the title forever. And, man, is he mad with Mark for this burden!

Though, it wasn’t Mark’s fault. It was his rotten father’s fault. If Pen is destined to be this earl, then he’s going to make things right within this whole dysfunctional family, by golly! Well, if he lives that long. It’s clear the danger didn’t remain behind in London, and Pen’s fears that he’s being stalked are only assuaged when Mark turns up at the country estate to search for a possible killer among the house staff and visitors. And, Mark’s able to win back his beloved Pen.

The mystery was, as in the previous books, slowly revealed and had a great twist. The open love between Mark and Pen is tender and thoughtful. I could see why both men were so conflicted. If Pen is a earl, Mark has no hope of sharing any sort of love, clandestine or not, with him. But, the story ends happy–and realistically so. Pen is a quick thinker, and when his chance appears to make his life as he sees fit, he grasps that lifeline with both his strong hands and runs like the devil chased him. This is a fantastic mystery-romance series with just the right amount of intrigue and affection and a beautifully-rendered historical setting.

Interested? You can find AN UNNATURAL VICE on GoodreadsLoveswept Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat.

KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there. She specialises in editing romance, especially historical and fantasy, and also edits children’s fiction.

Find her on twitter, Facebook, join her Facebook group, or contact her here. She is represented by Deidre Knight at The Knight Agency, and published by Loveswept.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!