New Love STARTING FROM SCRATCH–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly-released contemporary M/M romance from Jay Northcote. STARTING FROM SCRATCH is the fifth book in the Housemates series of New Adult romances set in Bristol, England. I’ve read and enjoyed every one of them, and am always ecstatic when a new one comes out. STARTING FROM SCRATCH is more poignant to me, as a reader, because it features a transgender male character–very well informed by the author’s life experiences. In a time when TG issues are being wholesale discarded by legislators in the US, it’s fantastic to get authentic stories about everyday characters who are trans.

About the book:
Starting over isn’t easy, but Ben is ready to live his life as the man he was always meant to be.

Ben is transgender and back at university after hormone treatment and chest surgery. His new housemates have no idea about his history and Ben would prefer to keep it that way. He’s starting from scratch and his life is finally on track, except in the romance department. The idea of dating guys as a guy is exhilarating but terrifying, because if Ben wants a boyfriend he’ll have to disclose his secret.

Sid is drawn to Ben from the moment they meet. He normally gets what he wants—in the short term at least. Ben’s guarded at first, and Sid’s not used to guys rejecting his advances. He eventually charms his way through Ben’s defences and helps Ben on his journey of sexual awakening.

It doesn’t matter to Sid that Ben is trans. He’s attracted to the whole person, and isn’t worried about what is—or isn’t—in Ben’s pants. They’re good together, and both of them are falling hard and fast, but Ben’s insecurities keep getting in the way. If Sid can convince Ben he’s committed, will Ben finally be able to put his heart on the line?

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

My Review:
Ben is a twenty-five year old transman returning to uni following three years off to undergo trans treatment and surgery. He shares a house with five other guys–out-gay and bisexual men from earlier book in the series–but hides his trans identity, living as a man. It’s fascinating being inside Ben’s head–his fear that he’s not being honest, but also fearing that revealing his history will cause more trouble than he can manage.

Sid is a man wishing for a steady boyfriend. He’s not had any lasting relationships and wonders if he ever will. Meeting Ben while out with mutual friends seems like a perfect opportunity, but Ben rebuffs his overtures. Ben’s not down for a quickie, and doesn’t think he measures up to the standards Sid surely has. Thing is, Jude, their mutual friend, vouches for Sid–and that prompts Ben to reach out and build a friendship. That’s one of Ben’s big goals for the year, be more social and get over his insecurities. So they chat and text and get together for coffee. The more time they spend, the more invested they become. Ben’s nervous about revealing his chest scars–from top surgery–and his manbits are quite different from that of a cismale, but Sid’s not only compassionate, he’s intrigued with Ben for who he is–and their relationship grows openly and honestly.

I was floored by the detail and delicacy of the book. I’ve read a few trans novels and am always happy to learn more about this experience and the triumphs and challenges. The Housemates books are have lots of sexytimes–and there’s no exception here. The author does a great job of bringing Ben to life, and writing a love story that feels sensitive and sexy at the same time. It was easy to feel Ben’s insecurities–and those of Sid as well. He’s a wonderful character, who really investigates his own prejudices and if they pose a risk to Ben’s emotional well-being. I loved the vulnerability of both men, and how Sid doesn’t allow Ben to push him away when he makes a mistake or three. These guys are really interesting on their own, and their interactions with their housemates is as fun as always. Oh, Ben! He wasn’t a trusting sort, but Sid did win him over completely by the end.

Interested? You can find STARTING FROM SCRATCH on Goodreads and Amazon (US or UK).

The whole housemates series is fantastic–and all can be enjoyed as standalones.
Helping Hand (Book #1) Amazon (US or UK)
Like A Lover (Book #2) Amazon (US or UK)
Practice Makes Perfect (Book #3) Amazon (US or UK)
Watching and Wanting (Book 4) Amazon (US or UK)

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.

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.

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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Getting Over It: TEMPT ME–A Review

tempt-me-tour-bannerHi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary erotic romance from J. Kenner. TEMPT ME is a novella in the Stark International series, and features Ryan and Jamie figuring out how to “Say Yes!”

tempt-me_j-kenner_300dpiAbout the book:
Sometimes passion has a price …
When sexy Stark Security Chief Ryan Hunter whisks his girlfriend Jamie Archer away for a passionate, romance-filled weekend so he can finally pop the question, he’s certain that the answer will be an enthusiastic yes. So when Jamie tries to avoid the conversation, hiding her fears of commitment and change under a blanket of wild sensuality and decadent playtime in bed, Ryan is more determined than ever to convince Jamie that they belong together.

Knowing there’s no halfway with this woman, Ryan gives her an ultimatum – marry him or walk away. Now Jamie is forced to face her deepest insecurities or risk destroying the best thing in her life. And it will take all of her strength, and all of Ryan’s love, to keep her right where she belongs…

How about a little taste?

“I adore all of the women in my life,” he says. “I’d do anything for them.” He’s looking at me as he says it, and my heart flutters in my chest. But I’m not sure if he’s including me in that group, or if the hint of meaning I hear in his voice is nothing more than my imagination.

I shake my head as I frown, trying to clear my thoughts.

“You okay?”

“Fine,” I say, though it’s not true. Our rhythm is off, and it’s scaring me. We’ve always been in sync, even before we were dating. And now—well, now it almost feels like he’s deliberately keeping me off balance.

I want to get back to normal, and I don’t know the path, and my lack of confidence is frustrating me.

“Are you heading home?” Ryan asks.

I shake my head. “Oh, I don’t know. I haven’t decided. You?”

“Moira and I are taking Mom back to the hotel.”

I wait for him to invite me along, and when he doesn’t, I say, “It’ll be nice for you guys to have time to chat in the car. But she usually crashes early, doesn’t she?”

“Usually. Why?”

“Oh. Um.” I lick my lips. “Because I was wondering if you wanted to meet me somewhere. We could get a drink. We could talk.”

“Talk,” he repeats. He meets my eyes, and I see the question in them—have I changed my mind? Am I going to say yes?

I glance down at the floor.

“Talk,” he repeats. “No, I’m sorry. I can’t do that.”

I look up, frustrated. “But, Ryan, I just—”

“I have plans. I’m going to Westerfield’s.”

“Oh.” Westerfield’s is one of the hottest clubs in town. It’s also a Stark property, which means when Ryan goes he gets the full VIP treatment. Something that never fails to snag the attention of the female patrons. Most of whom are usually drunk. And wearing outfits that are barely big enough to keep a Barbie doll modest.

“Oh,” I repeat.

I wait for him to suggest I join him there, but all he says is, “It really was great that you came.” Then the bastard leans in and kisses my cheek. He kisses my f*cking cheek.

My Review:

Jamie is a woman who’s sure marriage is not for her, even though she’s totally committed to her lover, Ryan Hunter. Thing is, Jamie’s seen how deep people can fall in love: case in point, her parents who pretty much thought of her as a sidebar to their deeply affectionate marriage.

Ryan wants to get married. Now. He’s been patient, he knows Jamie’s scared, but hasn’t her proved how he’ll be there for her forever? It’s literally been years, and they get on like a house on fire.

Still, when Ryan pops the big question, Jamie hesitates. Sure, she was influenced by the sudden new sof her parents separating, but she isn’t them. Ryan and Jamie are rock-solid. Until Ryan confesses that he needs that reassurance of a marriage, or he’s gone. And when Jamie recognizes all she’s poised to lose, her whole worldview is set to change.

It’s a sexy interlude of a story, with lot sof sex, and a mixed-up woman who needs to open her mind to the possibility of marriage. I kind of didn’t get jamie’s reticence, but I liked how she worked it out in her head–and heart. Ryan’s a good guy who knows how to make his point known without being overbearing. It’s a quick, breezy read that will please readers of the series.

Interested? You can find TEMPT ME on Amazon, Amazon UK, Print, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play.

About the Author:
J.Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 International bestselling author of over seventy novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.

Though known primarily for her award-winning and international bestselling erotic romances (including the Stark and Most Wanted series) that have reached as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, JK has been writing full time for over a decade in a variety of genres including paranormal and contemporary romance, “chicklit” suspense, urban fantasy,  and paranormal mommy lit.

JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations” and by RT Bookclub for having “cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swoon for them.” A five time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 of her Stark Trilogy). Her Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series (as Julie Kenner) is currently in development with AwesomenessTV/Awestruck.

Her books have sold over three million  copies and are published in over twenty languages.

In her previous career as an attorney, JK worked as a clerk on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and practiced primarily civil, entertainment and First Amendment litigation in Los Angeles and Irvine, California, as well as in Austin, Texas.  She currently lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and two rather spastic cats.

website, Facebook, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, YouTube, and her Amazon Author Page
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WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | YouTube | Amazon Author Page

Written In The Stars: LEO LOVES ARIES–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly released M/M contemporary romance from new-to-me author Anyta Sunday. LEO LOVES ARIES is a New Adult romance between college students who might have a little help from their horoscopes. It’s a sweet slow burn, and I really enjoyed it.

leo-loves-ariesAbout the book:
A new person will enter your life in the early year, Leo. Look past any moments of frustration they might bring and laugh—this could be the start of a thriving friendship.

Theo Wallace usually laughs at the horoscopes his mom sends. Still hung up on his ex-girlfriend and practically friendless, this one begs him to reconsider. Because a friendship that stuck, that thrived…

Well, that would be a reason to leave past pains behind and look to the Bright Future.

When his sister Leone challenges him to find her the perfect date for a spring wedding, Theo uses it as a chance to make new friends. Theo’s ex economics tutor and newest roommate Mr Jamie Cooper seems to be a possible and convenient match. Real convenient. Like written in the stars, convenient.

All he has to do is make sure this Jamie is good enough. Could really be the one for her, and the friend for him.

But watch out, Leo, the stars have a surprise in store…

My Review:
Theo and Leone are fraternal twins who are attending college in Pittsburgh, PA. They share their old family home now that their parents have relocated to Minnesota. This makes it easy for Leone to live virtually unassisted–she’s been legally blind since her late teens. They also share a mutual heartbreak. Leone had dated Derek and Theo had dated Sam(antha) for each about two years. But, a year ago, Sam and Derek broke up with each of them, and began dating each other. And, the wedding announcements are out.

Vowing to not be sad sacks, Leone and Theo decide to find each other a hot date with whom to attend the June nuptials. In the meantime, they need to find a new roomie, to offset their costs. And, Theo’s former econ tutor–Jamie–seems to be a perfect match. Jamie is a little older, a master’s student in economics, Theo’s chosen filed of study. Theo had been a bit of a jerk at the beginning of their mutual coursework, but they settled into a rapport before term’s end. Now, Theo’s jazzed that Jamie might help him ace his applied economics class. He’d actually sought out Jamie for tutoring, and the roommate thing just happened.

Jamie gets along so well with Leone–and their mother, a horoscope and divination fanatic, has advised her Leo children that their perfect love match would come with an Aries–which is Jamie’s sign. As they all build camaraderie, Theo’s sure that Jamie and Leone would have a great chance with each other. And, Theo–who’s felt isolated because he believes his mutual friends with Sam have deserted him–is grateful for the deep bond he and Jamie are building. They discuss economics, and Jamie insists on getting both Leone and Theo to eat healthy meals he cooks for them, and they just fit. Which is why it irks Theo that he’s a wee bit jealous of his sister getting the best of his best friend, ever. Not that any of that has been happening. Theo just imagines it’s a foregone conclusion.

Thing is, neither Leone nor Jamie got this memo. And Jamie goes a mite colder when Theo talks about going out on the blind date Leone has set up. It’s a sweet and slow burn with just enough bread crumbs for readers to recognize that Jamie and Theo aren’t on different pages–their reading different books. Jamie makes it clear that not only is he gay, but that he quite fancies Theo. And Theo’s…not averse. Well, Jamie is an attractive, fit, well-put-together man. And, he cares quite a lot for Theo. As a friend. Maybe experimenting wouldn’t be a bad idea? Oh, Theo! I wanted to shake him half a dozen times. He’s really a great, clueless guy, but their developing relationship is really tender and sweet, and he makes it all great with some gestures that aren’t exactly grand, but do mean an awful lot to smitten Jamie.

The book reads very cleanly, but I certainly heard the undertones of British-English author. It caught me off guard more than three times. That said, I really liked the story. Expect a horny adventurer, a sparkling HEA and two guys to find their soulmates were written in the stars.

Interested? You can find LEO LOVES ARIES on Goodreads and Amazon. You can also find a freebie short story LEO TOPS ARIES on Amazon. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About Anyta Sunday: (in her own words…)
A bit about me: I’m a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. I love to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of my favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, GFY/OFY, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

I write a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy.

If you’d like to check out more of my stories, check out my website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Cover Reveal for BLUSH FOR ME!

Hi there! I’m so excited to share the cover for the next book in Kristen Proby’s contemporary romance Fusion series. You know I really enjoyed LISTEN TO ME and CLOSE TO YOU, so I can’t wait to get my hands on BLUSH FOR ME. Alas, it’s not out until March 2017, so I’ll have to wait.

At least I have a swoony cover to keep me interested!!
blushforme_pb_rev

About BLUSH FOR ME:

New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby continues to delight the senses with the latest novel in her delectable Fusion series.

As the take-charge wine bar manager of Seduction, Portland’s hottest new restaurant, Katrina Meyers is the definition of no-nonsense, and she isn’t afraid of anything. Well, almost anything: she hates to fly. When she’s forced to travel on a death trap with wings, the turbulence from hell has her reaching for any safe haven—including the incredibly handsome guy sitting next to her.

Ryan “Mac” MacKenzie hasn’t been able to get his sexy seatmate out of his head. The way she clung to him stirred something inside him he didn’t think existed: tenderness. As the owner of a successful wine touring company, Mac thinks he’s got a handle on what life can throw at him and he’s not prepared for any surprises, especially in the feelings department. And when he brings a tour into Seduction, he sees the petite spitfire he just can’t forget.

Mac is determined to discover what else they have in common besides fine wine and the inability to keep their hands off each other. But what will it take for two stubborn people to realize that what they have is so much more than a hot chemistry between the sheets and to admit to falling in love…?

Interested? You can find out more about BLUSH FOR ME on Goodreads, and pre-order it in advance of it’s March 21st release on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.

And Don’t Miss the First Two Novels in the Fusion Series, LISTEN TO ME and CLOSE TO YOU!

Author Pic_MontanaAbout the Author:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Kristen Proby is the author of the popular With Me in Seattle series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong characters who love humor and have a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type—fiercely protective and a bit bossy—and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves. Kristen spends her days with her muse in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys coffee, chocolate, and sunshine. And naps.

Visit Kristen online on her website, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, or sign up for her newsletter.
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Cover Reveal for BEDMATES!

Hi there! I’m sharing a cover for a new contemporary romance form best-selling author Nichole Chase. I really liked FLUKES and THE ACCIDENTAL ASSASSIN, and BEDMATES looks like it’s going to be a good one!

BEDMATES_CoverAbout the book:

Everyone makes mistakes, especially in college. But when you’re the daughter of the President of the United States, any little slip up is a huge embarrassment. Maddie McGuire’s latest error in judgment lands her in police custody, giving the press a field day. Agreeing to do community service as penance and to restore her tattered reputation, Maddie never dreams incredibly good looking but extremely annoying vice president’s son, Jake Simmon, will be along for the ride.
Recently returning from Afghanistan with a life-altering injury, Jake is wrestling with his own demons. He doesn’t have the time or patience to deal with the likes of Maddie. They’re like oil and water and every time they’re together, it’s combustible. But there’s a thin line between love and hate, and it’s not long before their fiery arguments give way to infinitely sexier encounters.
When Jake receives devastating news about the last remaining member of his unit, the darkness he’s resisted for so long begins to overwhelm him. Scared to let anyone close, he pushes Maddie away. But she isn’t about to give up on Jake that easily. Maddie’s fallen for him, and she’ll do anything to keep him from the edge as they both discover that love is a battlefield and there are some fights you just can’t lose.
Interested? You can find BEDMATES on Goodreads, for now! It releases in October.
About the Author:
Nichole Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Suddenly Royal and Recklessly Royal. She lives in Georgia with her husband, toddler, superhero dog, Sulcata tortoise, and two cats. When not devouring novels by the dozens, you can find her writing, painting, crafting, or chasing her daughter around the house while making monster noises.

You can catch up with Nichole on her website, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Cephalopod Coffehouse July 2015–LOVE SPELL–A Review

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Hi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

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

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

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

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

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

Interested? You can find LOVE SPELL on Goodreads, Amazon, Cool Dudes Publishing, and Barnes & Noble.

Thanks for popping in! Don’t forget to check out my fellow Coffeehouse reviewers, too!

Getting Real in A CASUAL THING–My Review for Joyfully Jay

Hi there! Today I’m back with a book I recently reviewed for Joyfully Jay. It’s a New Adult M/M romance that’s a lot sweet and a bit spicy. This is the first book I’ve read from Annabelle Jacobs, but it won’t be my last.

A Casual ThingAbout the book:
Patrick Mason travels to Bristol to spend the summer with his brother, Ben. He’s cat sitting for the first two weeks while Ben goes on holiday. But Ben neglected to tell him he wouldn’t be doing it alone. Will Adams—Ben’s mate and Patrick’s long-time crush—is staying in Ben’s guest room while he waits to move into his new house after a breakup.

Against his better judgment, Patrick convinces Will that a little no-strings fun is just what they need. Patrick doesn’t want to get involved with a guy on the rebound, and Will isn’t interested in starting something serious with a student. But Patrick’s never been good at separating sex from feelings, and this time is no exception. As their weeks together draw to a close, they need to decide if they have something worth pursuing or if it’s really just a casual thing.

I really enjoyed this novel. It’s short and sweet, perfect for an empty afternoon. And that cover is really perfect, as the entire romance kicks off with a simple dropped towel… 😉

Expect some steam, some regret, and some break up to make up–HEA style.

You can check out my complete review over on Joyfully Jay. Pick up the book on Amazon, All Romance or Amazon UK.

About the Author:

Annabelle Jacobs lives in the South West of England with her husband, three rowdy children, and two cats.

An avid reader of fantasy herself for many years, Annabelle now spends her days writing her own stories. They’re usually either fantasy or paranormal fiction, because she loves building worlds filled with magical creatures, and creating stories full of action and adventure. Her characters may have a tough time of it—fighting enemies and adversity—but they always find love in the end.

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!