A Hard Time UNLOCKING THE DOCTOR’S HEART–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new M/M romance from Liam Livings. UNLOCKING THE DOCTOR’S HEART is a sweet and spicy romance between a new nurse and a heartbroken doctor.

About the book:
Headstrong nurse Davie Penrose has moved to London from a small village in Cornwall to start work in the children’s transplant ward. He left to progress his career, but also to escape the painful memories of his ex-boyfriend, a workaholic doctor.

Ambitious Doctor Leo Westbury is in charge of a ward for now, but he has plans to be a medical director soon. Making use of his charm and avoiding commitment due to a painful past, he enjoys temporary relationships with male student nurses.

Clashing over a request to look around the ward before he starts work, Davie thinks Leo pompous, while Leo finds Davie bossy. Becoming friends over a shared passion for helping children on their transplant wards, they get closer through the inevitable ups and downs of caring for sick children. Physical attraction pulls them together; their pasts push them apart.

Both damaged and hurt in different ways, they might just find their happy ever after together.

How about a little taste?

Chapter One
“Davie Penrose, senior staff nurse on Twinkle Ward, starting on Monday,” he said into the phone speaker at the ward’s entrance.

“Sorry, can’t let you in. No ID, no entry.”

“I’ve got this letter.” Davie held the letter to the camera.

“Not the same as a photo ID. They’ll get that sorted for you on Monday.”

“I only wanted to have a look around, see the lay of the land. Where the staff room is, how many beds, that sort of thing.” Davie bit his lip, starting to wish he’d not listened to his friend persuading him to apply for the job in the first place.

“Go on, stretch your wings. You don’t want to be stuck in Cornwall forever do you?” Davie’s friend had said.

Now, that sounded like quite a nice place to be stuck. “Couldn’t you make an exception, ask another member of staff to walk around with me?” Davie held his room key up to the camera. “I’m in the nurses’ accommodation. Room 1004, see?”

After a long sigh, the voice at the end of the speaker went quiet, he was obviously discussing something with another colleague.

A deep, posh, man’s voice came onto the speaker. “Now, let’s see if I can sort this little mess out.” He coughed. “Davie, is it?” Without waiting for a response, he continued, “It’s doctor Westbury here. I’m the senior consultant on call this weekend. I do have other pressing matters to deal with rather than policing the ward entrance.”

Charming! “It won’t take long. If you just look at my paperwork.” Davie held the letter to the camera hopefully.

“One thing at a time, please. Let me finish, will you?”

Disappointed, and frustrated enough to be screaming in his head and wondering who’d died and left this doctor in charge, Davie knew it would be pointless to ask him, because technically as the senior consultant on call, he would be in charge. Instead, Davie said, “I have my passport in my pocket too. Proves who I am. Can’t you check a list somewhere, or something, or other?”

“As I said, one thing at a time. So, I hear you’ve got yourself in something of a situation and you’d like us to bend the rules to let you in.”

“I don’t think it’s bending the rules. Not if I can show you who I am and that I have a job offer here even if I’ve not yet technically started.” Puffing himself up a bit, feeling he was on a bit of a roll now, Davie said, “And besides, I only want a quick look around, see the lay of the—”

“Land, yes, I know. Thing is, see that’s what some old random would say wanting to get inside and make mischief. Or worse. In fact, last week—” Doctor Westbury paused. “—I’m coming out to meet you. Wait there.”

A short while later, after a buzz of the door, Doctor Westbury arrived in a white coat, stethoscope hanging around his neck, brown hair giving the impression he’d just woken. And such deep blue eyes. “Sorry about this, but I can’t bend the rules and let you in.” He folded his arms across his broad chest and shook his head. “I believe you’re starting on Monday, but I can’t take a chance. I don’t know if you noticed, but this isn’t exactly the nicest part of London. Notting Hill it ain’t.” He laughed and raked his hands through his hair. He coughed and looked Davie up and down.

“If I was a random person wanting to get in, why would I have this letter.” Davie waved it theatrically in the air. “And a key to the nurses’ accommodation block.” Jangling it loudly he stared deep into the doctor’s blue eyes. “It’s not bending the rules then, is it? Besides.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his passport. “Look, same name on the letter and passport.”

“I hear your concerns, but as the consultant in charge it would be on my head were anything to happen as a result of this… infraction shall we say.” Carefully checking the passport, letter, and keys he shook his head and tutted loudly. “Seems a bit odd to me, someone wanting to have a look around before starting. Plenty of time for that after you’re properly inducted into the trust.”

“Can’t you use your judgement? I’m sure it must be pretty sound as a consultant.” It was do or die, and Davie needed something to bring this bloody doctor out of his fixation on the damned rules.

Holding his head high, the doctor said, “Of course. My clinical judgement is second to none. I have a fantastic record here and received the highest clinical excellence award possible for the last two years.”

“Very impressive. Well then.” Was it working? Had he taken the bait?

He adjusted his stethoscope around his neck and flattened the collar on his white coat. “I’m thinking. Considering the facts. You.” He looked Davie up and down with a smile.

“Rules are rules for a reason. I’m sure they are. I do know. I have worked on children’s wards myself. Where everyone has to be police checked and all that. But really, honestly, do I look like a random. Can’t you just use some of this amazing judgement and let me in. Please?” Davie smiled.

“You’re not going to take no for an answer, are you?”

Davie shook his head. He usually never did, so why start now with this high-handed doctor? Why did doctors always think they ran the whole hospital if not the whole world? Thinking better than to voice that out loud, he simply held his letter and keys for the doctor to see. Bringing his judgement into the equation may have just worked…. Davie held his breath.

He sighed, raked his hands through his tousled hair and said, “Tell you what. I’ve looked at the evidence you’ve presented to me and I’m satisfied you are who you say you are. But you’re to stay with me the whole time. No wondering off, all right?”

Davie nodded excitedly. He’d done it! He’d won! One nil to Davie!

Entering the code into the keypad, the door opened, and the doctor opened the door. “After you.”

Now, that’s a surprise, Davie thought, expecting the doctor to be something of a me-first-damn-everyone-else man.

Following Davie through the door, the doctor said, “Now, let’s see if we can’t give you a quick tour. I’ll take the flack if I don’t see you back here Monday morning.” He flashed Davie a smile, and butterflies began to stir in Davie’s stomach.

My Review:
Davie Penrose is a new nurse on a pediatric cancer ward in London, which is a far cry from his home in Wales. It’s a culture and care shock, and he’s made a fast friend in one of the younger physicians, Dr. Leo Westbury. Leo and Davie are both out gay men, but Davie’s been burned falling for a doctor before, and Leo doesn’t want anything serious. Leo’s last real partner was a med student who died when they were both in school. He doesn’t want to make any close attachments since then, and it doesn’t matter if Davie is super attractive.

Davie tries to maintain his distance–being only friendly without physical–and they manage it for a couple months. Leo is a cool friend, willing and able to help Davie get moved into a decent flat, and learn how to build flat-pack furnishings. THey also go out for tours of London–so that Davie gets to see cool parts of the big city. Without Leo’s steady friendship Davie might have pulled up stakes and moved back to Wales.

Still, their attraction simmers. And, then it boils over. But, no strings! Until they’re all knotted up. Both men struggle to make sense of what’s developing between them. Leo has a crisis of conscious knowing he’s fallen for Davie, but unwilling to embrace that sensation–it makes him feel super guilty about truly living his life when his lost-love didn’t get that chance. Davie’s a saint, really, holding off his ire when he could have blasted Leo.

For me, this was an okay read. I thought the POV jumping was abrupt, and sometimes repetitive. That said, Davie is fun to get to know, and Leo tries hard to be a decent man–even when he’s messing everything up. I thought eh medicine stuff was a little weak, but I’ve been around healthcare in the US for twenty-plus years. So, that was a little bit of a miss, but I think other readers won’t be troubled by it. There’s a lot more sex than I anticipated, which I definitely enjoyed. On the whole, it’s a decent read without too much melodrama or conflict.

Interested? You can find UNLOCKING THE DOCTOR’S HEART on Goodreads,NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Smashwords and Kobo.

About the Author:
Liam Livings lives where east London ends and becomes Essex. He shares his house with his boyfriend and cat. He enjoys baking, cooking, classic cars and socialising with friends. He has a sweet tooth for food and entertainment: loving to escape from real life with a romantic book; enjoying a good cry at a sad, funny and camp film; and listening to musical cheesy pop from the eighties to now. He tirelessly watches an awful lot of Gilmore Girls in the name of writing ‘research’. Published since 2013 by a variety of British and American presses, his gay romance and gay fiction focuses on friendships, British humour, romance with plenty of sparkle. He’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and the Chartered Institute of Marketing. With a masters in creative writing from Kingston University, he teaches writing workshops with his partner in sarcasm and humour, Virginia Heath as http://www.realpeoplewritebooks.com and has also ghost written a client’s 5 Star reviewed autobiography.

You can catch up to Liam on Facebook or Twitter.

He was her DRAGON CLAIMED–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly-published dragon-shifter romance from Donna Grant. DRAGON CLAIMED is a novella in her Dark Kings series, (Book 14.5!) and really best enjoyed when read in order. I’ve liked SMOKE AND FIRE, FIRESTORM, BLAZE, and DRAGON BURN, so I’m eager to reach the “climax” of this sexy series.

About the book:
Born to rule the skies as a Dragon King with power and magic, Cináed hides his true identity in the mountains of Scotland with the rest of his brethren. But there is no respite for them as they protect the planet and the human occupants from threats. However, a new, more dangerous enemy has targeted the Kings. One that will stop at nothing until dragons are gone forever. But Cináed discovers a woman from a powerful, ancient Druid bloodline who might have a connection to this new foe.

Solitude is sanctuary for Gemma. Her young life was upended one stormy night when her family disappears, leaving her utterly alone. She learned to depend solely on herself from then on. But no matter where she goes she feels…lost. As if she missed the path she was supposed to take. Everything changes when she backs into the most dangerously seductive man she’s ever laid eyes. Gemma surrenders to the all-consuming attraction and the wild, impossible love that could destroy them both – and finds her path amid magic and dragons.

My Review:
Cináed is a Dragon King who has a talent for learning any skill with ease. He’s working on looking for any clues to the shadowy folks who’ve been trying to reveal and destroy the Dragon Kings to the world. While searching old newspapers for oddities, he comes across the story of a young girl who was found abandoned on a deserted isle off the Scottish coast. Cináed is captivated by the story, and asks some of the other Dragon Kings to assist him in finding out what happened to her.

Little Gemma had been trying to flee their island from a dangerous storm, but she returned to land to save their dog. The boat disappeared and she knew it was due to a great evil force–one she felt when she returned to her abandoned house. She was rescued a few weeks later–with no sign of her parents or brother. She grew up in foster care, and now makes a living as a freelance researcher. Cináed tracks her down to, unbelievably, the town just outside of Dreagan’s distillery and it’s there they connect.

Gemma’s drawn to Cináed like no other man she’s known, but she’s not willing to trust anyone with her secrets–until Cináed reveals some of his own. Then, Gemma finds herself on the hunt for answers to where her family disappeared to–and what being might have been the cause of it. Cináed is sure there’s a link to Usaeil, the Queen of the Light Fae, but Gemma’s past is still murky, yet important. Gemma must face her darkest fears, and the truth of her past, to ever find happiness in the future.

I liked this one. It’s a quickie of a read, with Gemma and Cináed realizing they are fated mates after a few interactions. Gemma’s childhood trauma made for a suspenseful opening and closing, with plenty of intrigue mixed in once Cináed found out her true name–and powers. It was an entertaining novella, and sure to please the fans of the series.

Interested? You can find DRAGON CLAIMED on Goodreads and Amazon.

donna_grant_newAbout the Author:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant has been praised for her “totally addictive” and “unique and sensual” stories. Her latest acclaimed series, Dark Kings, features a thrilling combination of dragons, Fae, and immortal Highlanders who are dark, dangerous, and irresistible. She lives with her two children and an assortment of animals in Texas.

Catch up with Donna on her website, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Tumblr, Audible, and Tantor.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

ANTON Risks it All–A Review


Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary hockey romance from Brenda Rothert. ANTON is the first book in her Chicago Blaze series, and it’s a great start. Star pro hockey player Anton Petrov has one woman on his mind–the one he’s remained celibate for for over two years. Too bad she’s married to his teammate…

About the book:
He’s known as Father Anton to his teammates—the brooding, sexy captain of the NHL’s Chicago Blaze has a reputation for…not having a reputation. Just like his diet and sleep routines, celibacy is part of Anton Petrov’s on-ice mojo. Or so they say. Anton stays mum on the subject. If the world thinks he chooses to abstain from sex, so be it. Better that than the truth getting out: there is a woman he burns for, but he can never have her. She’s his teammate’s wife, after all.

Mia Marceau is finally on her own. Now that she and her husband are living apart, she’s finding the peace she was desperate for. She spends her days in classes and late nights bartending, making her own way in the world at last. After what she’s been through, as long as her husband leaves her alone, she doesn’t plan to rock the boat. He still has the power to hurt those dearest to her, and she can’t demand a divorce with such a high cost.

A chance encounter with Mia has Anton hoping for a shot he never thought he’d get. And while she’s drawn to the intense, serious hockey center, Mia’s leery about playing with fire. That’s all Anton has ever known for Mia, though—a living, burning desire that won’t be denied—no matter the cost.

My Review:
**Trigger warning–this book contains scenes of emotional and physical domestic violence.

Anton Petrov has had a challenging life. Born in Russia, he and his twin Alexei were shipped to Michigan for hockey training at the age of five. Anton had to work twice as hard to perform at the same level as Alexei, who has natural talent he barely nurtures. Alexei is on a rival team, but the brothers are very close. Anton is nearly Spartan in his approach to life–no booze, bad food or late nights when he’s in season. It’s been easy to keep away from entanglements, since the only woman who’s caught his eye in the past three years is Mia Marceau–wife of his teammate, Adam. Out one night with Alexei, Anton finds Mia working as a bartender at a dive bar in Chicago’s south side. How could Adam let this happen? Unless, they’ve split up…

Mia’s finally free of Adam’s emotional abuse, but she doesn’t have access to any of their money–he froze her out the second she left, and now he refuses to divorce her and extorts the funds to care for her beloved grandpa–he won’t pay unless she gives him sex. As destitute as she is, she can’t refuse Adam’s demands and risk her grandpa being put on the street. Though mired in Alzheimer’s disease, her gramps raised her when her mother flaked and Mia’s his only family. Even though Adam won’t grant Mia a divorce, she’s moved out and is taking night classes to complete her degree. She won’t be beholden to another man. Ever.

Meeting Anton at the bar is cataclysmic. Mia’s afraid that Anton will reveal her workplace to Adam, but he wants no part of that. All Anton wants is to be close to Mia–as a friend if that’s all she will allow. Not that he wants to break up her marriage–or will make a move on her while she’s still married. He hates that she walks home from the bar late at night, and starts popping by to give her a ride. They chat, and Mia begins to confide in Anton as a friend. Learning the depth of Adam’s abuse makes problems for Anton–he can’t respect Adam and it nearly comes to blows. When Anton needs a sitter for his adopted uncle, a foul-mouthed veteran who’s suffered two strokes, he reaches out to Mia–and she jumps at the chance to help because the salary is way more than she made at the bar. BOnus, she gets to be near Anton, who’s open admiration are a balm to her broken spirit.

This is a bittersweet romance for two lonely souls that are hungering for real love. Anton watches the shenanigans of his teammates and brother, but knows that’s not the life for him. He honors his commitment to be Mia’s friend, and he does this to the letter–even helping her find a pro bono attorney to help with her divorce. Adam’s emotional and financial abuse escalates when it looks as if Mia might escape his control once and for all, and that leads to some really huge conflicts in the book. I liked how this worked out–with Mia’s friends coming to her aid, but with her being a much stronger person and taking back the control Adam tried to steal. For me, there was a bit of repetitiveness in the book that bogged the pace, and it’s a REALLY slow burn due to Anton and Mia needing her divorce to happen and her to become mostly independent in order to feel able to take Anton as a lover. In the meantime there’s hockey and personal tragedy, and a super strong bond that only grows the longer they wait.

There’s just a bit of sexytimes near the end, and they are most satisfying. I love how supportive Anton is, without pushing Mia around with his wealth. I liked Mia a lot, and–as I am a South Side girl as well–I admired her independence and pragmatism. I was disappointed with Mia’s character development, because she’s a described as mixed-race black woman but she could have been any-woman. There is a lack of anything culturally-relevant in her character or mannerisms. That was a short-coming for me. Ultimately, the romance is sweet, the bad guy gets what’s coming to him, and there’s more hockey romance headed our way soon….for two side characters in this story.

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

About the Author:
Brenda Rothert is an Illinois native who was a print journalist for nine years. She made the jump from fact to fiction in 2013 and never looked back. From new adult to steamy contemporary romance, Brenda creates fresh characters in every story she tells. She’s a lover of Diet Coke, chocolate, lazy weekends and happily ever afters.

You can find Brenda on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Wattpad, Amazon, or sign up for her newsletter.
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Finally LIVING ON THE INSIDE–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M romance from Londra Laine. LIVING ON THE INSIDE pairs two young-ish men who’ve had pretty intense lives, to-date. Micah is an ex-con trying to turn his life around and re-establish a relationship with his teen son, while Adrien is fighting inner demons of inadequacy after surviving an abusive relationship. Can they find the trust to make it work?

Scroll down for an excerpt, and to enter the $25 GC giveaway!
About the Book:
Micah Grayson lives in his baby mama’s guesthouse. It’s unconventional and awkward, but he’s happy for a chance to reconnect with his teenage son. He doesn’t have time for other distractions—no matter how sexy, independent, and compassionate that distraction might be. Besides, he’s not good enough for more than a fling—no one would ever take him home to meet their parents.

Adrien Darling has book smarts, but no street savvy—at least that’s what his family says. And after a heart-breaking betrayal by the man meant to love and protect him, Adrien believes them. But then a gorgeous guy with a defeated look in his eyes walks into Adrien’s coffee shop and makes him want to take a chance.

After years of living on the outside as two misfits looking in, both men are afraid to reach for more. But in each other’s arms, Micah and Adrien find out what it’s like to live on the inside. As their tender bond grows and blossoms, old insecurities bubble to the surface. Will their commitment crumble under the pressure? Or will the two find the strength to fight for each other.

***Please be aware that this book contains a flashback of and several references to domestic abuse that may be triggering to some readers.***

How about a little taste?

“Is that what we are?” Micah asked quietly. “Friends?”

“Yeah,” Adrien answered. “I hope so.”

Then he was surrounded by Micah’s body. Adrien hesitated for a moment before returning the other man’s embrace, locking his arms around Micah’s torso. A few seconds into the hug all the reasons why he needed to pull away from Micah—now—raced through his mind. But he couldn’t make himself do it.

Adrien had been fighting his attraction, but the man had slipped past Adrien’s defenses. Micah’s earnest joy at making progress with his son. His trust in Adrien as he shared his insecurities. His nonjudgmental attitude. Their growing friendship. All those things made him feel strong and needed. Adrien wanted more of that feeling. He leaned into Micah.

Micah sighed as he squeezed Adrien tighter, and Adrien’s body sagged against him, the fight against his attraction to Micah leaving his body. He tucked his head into the crook of Micah’s shoulder, and gave in to defeat, breathing in the salty sweet scent of Micah’s skin, running his palms up the man’s back.

The scent and feel of Micah was heady, and Adrien’s head swam as he let his eyelids flutter shut, let his lips graze the exposed skin between Micah’s neck and shoulder. Micah tensed against him and his breath hitched, making Adrien wonder if he’d gone too far. But then Micah’s palm slid up Adrien’s neck, cupping his nape, grazing a thumb along his hairline.

Micah moved his other hand lower, resting it right above Adrien’s ass, his fingers lightly grazing the swell below Adrien’s hips.

“Adrien,” Micah grated out. Adrien pulled back, slowly opening his eyes. Micah licked his lips, his eyes skimming Adrien’s mouth, and then he leaned forward.

Adrien met him halfway, their lips connecting in a kiss. The light brush became a firm press then flared, hot and wet, as Adrien ran the tip of his tongue against the seam of Micah’s lips. Micah submitted to Adrien’s silent request, parting his lips to give Adrien access to his tongue and mouth.

Then a loud honk made them jerk apart as a car sped past them, headlights bright and blinding. Their chests heaved, and Adrien took in Micah’s disheveled hair and damp lips and wondered if he looked nearly as enticing to Micah.

Adrien’s gaze skittered away, and he grimaced, embarrassment replacing the intense need he’d felt moments ago. What was he doing? He knew better than this. He’d been down this road before. He couldn’t get involved with an employee again.

Then a terrible thought occurred to him. What if Micah felt like he had to hook up with Adrien? Had Adrien pressured him in some way? Shit. Negative thoughts tumbled through his mind, making him dizzy. He had to nip this in the bud.

“Micah, about what just happened—”

“Our kiss?” Micah moved closer to him.

Adrien’s eyes wandered, unable to meet Micah’s. “Yeah, the kiss. I’m sorry—I didn’t mean to—I’m sorry.” He shook his head and Micah stopped the motion by gripping Adrien’s chin between his forefinger and thumb. He lifted Adrien’s face to his.

“I’m not sorry.” Micah’s voice was quiet in the night.

My Review:
Micah is nearly thirty and recently released from prison for drug offenses. He’s moved into his ex’s guesthouse so he can be close to their son, Caleb. Micah had gotten his childhood best friend, Rhina, pregnant when they were in high school, but he realized in prison that he’s really gay–not that he’s “out” about that. Right now he only wants a job so he can pay his way and maybe contribute child support. Rhina wants him to find true happiness, and is an awesome mom and support to Micah, but he’s been looking for a job nearly three weeks now, and his spirits are low.

Adrien is an out gay black man in his late twenties, but he’s owned his own coffee shop for five years. A year ago his abusive ex was killed in a car wreck, and Adrien isn’t sad. They’d been engaged for a year that had turned hellish by the end. Not a small man, Adrien is ashamed that he let his lover physically and emotionally abuse him–and his family’s criticisms cement Adrien’s low self-esteem where his personal decisions are concerned. Still, Adrien’s dad struggled to land a job when he was released from prison back when Adrien was a teen, and he sees the same hunger in Micah, so he offers him a job. It doesn’t hurt that Micah is gorgeous and seems to play for his team. But, Adrien has dated employees before an it always went bad–so this time he’s absolutely, positively not going to fall for the tall, sexy, broken man who works extra hard and desperately wants to be a hero to his son.

Okay, this is a little bit of a slow-ish burn. The pacing is good, and we see how Adrien and Micah both grow into a friendship with deep attraction as Adrien trains Micah to be a stellar barista over the course of a couple of months. Their attraction simmers, but both men set it aside for weeks on end because of their own insecurities. Adrien helps counsel Micah about how to deal with Caleb, and their relationship begins to grow from bratty teen pissing on his loser dad to a bit more of a closeness. The joy Micah exudes is catnip to lonely Adrien, and they start having movie nights–for company–about this time. Their mutual isolation leads to some explorations, and a quiet companionship. But they are still both wary, and Adrien’s family is concerned about him falling for the wrong guy again. Moving into the holiday season, they decide to go public with what seems to be a growing romance, but there’s more complications when the families get involved.

I really loved the tenderness and tentative nature of this romance. Each man has deep scars, and they are willing to take it very slow so they don’t mess up what’s good in their lives. Micah’s family are estranged–but had been most of his life. He was a late-in-life child and pretty much left to fend for himself. He desperately wants to be on the inside of a family–and Adrien is the first person who makes him feel important and needed. But it’s strained by keeping their relationship secret–and Micah must decide if he’s willing to potentially upset Rhina and Caleb by coming out. Adrien’s been in survival mode, until he and Micah connect–and though his family sees the good changes, they are still concerned. There were suspicions that he had been abused by his ex, but Adrien kept it all inside and the super-protective natures of his family are engaged. This leads to some tough confrontations, and a bit of heartbreak. I liked how they worked this out–and how the support of their families was pivotal to their reconciliation and eventual happiness. It’s a happy ending, and there are some yummy sexytimes to enjoy in their journey.

Interested? You can find LIVING ON THE INSIDE on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Londra has loved reading since she figured out how to do it. She writes to give her guys the happy ending she wishes everyone––no matter their race, religion, gender, or orientation––could experience in real life.

Londra makes money as a communications manager. She is a former journalist, a runner and a mezzo soprano. In 2010, she moved from her native California to New York City where she lived in Harlem for nearly eight years. In early 2018 she relocated to Seattle with her spouse.

Catch up with Londra on her Facebook, twitter, Goodreads and Queer Romance Ink.

Out now! HONEYMOON FOR ONE–Review and Giveaway!

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

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

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

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

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

How about a yummy taste?

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

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

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

Sexy, sexy, sexy.

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

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

Is he straight though?

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

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

Wishful thinking. Don’t be an idiot.

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

Fuck. Clay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What was the last part? Sorry.”

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

“You really love cricket, huh?”

Clay laughed. “What gave me away?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is this making sense?” Clay asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you serious?”

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

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

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

I’d let you do so many things to me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“They mate.”

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

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

Because Clay was awesome.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out today! FRACTURED HONOR Release Blast and Giveaway!

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

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

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

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

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

How about a little taste?

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

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

She was willing to bet it did.

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

He wouldn’t be emotionally closed-off then.

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

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

****GIVEAWAY****

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

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

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

LEANING INTO FOREVER–Audiobook review

Hi there! Going back into my WAY BACK mode, I missed this M/M romance from Lane Hayes, which came out several months back…but it recently dropped as an audiobook! LEANING INTO FOREVER is the seventh book in her Leaning In series, and follows the love story of Geordie, a grieving widower and partner to Wes at Conrad Winery. He’s vowed to never find another man to fill his heart, but retired baseball player, Levi, unexpectedly slides past his defenses. I really liked LEANING INTO THE FALL, LEANING INTO ALWAYS, LEANING INTO A WISH, LEANING INTO THE LOOK, and LEANING INTO TOUCH, so I was eager to round out my experiences with these Bay-area romances.

About the book:
Geordie de la Rosa is a legend among wine lovers in Napa Valley. His ultra-fabulous style paired with a penchant for leading impromptu sing-a-longs has made him a star attraction at Conrad Winery. Co-owning a well-respected winery was never Geordie’s aspiration but he likes the niche he’s made for himself. He won’t deny that his job and his friends have helped ease his heartache and grief after the death of his longtime partner.

Levi Yeager excels at the art of reinventing himself. He’s been a minor league baseball player, a college coach and now a restaurant owner. The problem is he doesn’t know a thing about the food business. And when his chef quits unexpectedly, he’s afraid his new venture is doomed. But Levi isn’t a quitter. It may be the only thing he has in common with the beautiful, sassy man from the neighboring winery who agrees to help get his new business up and running. Neither man counts on their fast friendship or the wild attraction they feel for each other. However, they know they won’t stand a chance until they let go of the past and lean into forever.

How about a little taste?

“My game is coming back. If I keep talking and you keep listening, you’ll eventually warm up to me. Where was I?”

“The psychology of alliterations,” I deadpanned.

“Right. Your tone is imperial, you use alliterations like a poet and you dress like a diva. You’re pleasant to strangers but you hold them at bay. You’re kind but controlled. Most likely you were an elite member of a royal family in a former life.”

“You’re probably right,” I said, amused in spite of myself. “Since you have me figured me, let me see if I can do the same.”

“Be my guest.” Levi made a sweeping motion with his left arm before resting it on his steering wheel. The casual gesture was ripe with potent masculinity. And I hated that I noticed.

I tore my gaze from his stubble jaw and cleared my throat. “You’re a newly out sports enthusiast at a crossroad.”

“Sports enthusiast at a crossroads,” he repeated with a laugh. “I guess that’s better than has-been athlete looking for a new gig.”

“As you said, I do have a way with words and I’m a firm believer it’s crucial to accentuate the positives.” I set my hand over his without thinking then pulled back when a familiar spark of awareness skittered along my spine.

Levi smirked. “You’re weird. I like you.”

“Thanks. I like you too. Platonically of course,” I added.

“Of course. What exactly is my crossroad?”

“I’m not sure. Perhaps you quit your job to try a new venture with this lover who dumped you and now you’re heading to LA to woo him back—”

“Not a chance,” he snapped.

I raised a brow at his vehemence. “Or…you’re going on a fact-finding mission to salvage what you can of your original idea and determine what comes next.”

Levi nodded. “Closer.”

“Have you thought about selling the diner?”

“Yes. But I’m not going to.”

“Why not?”

“I have nothing to lose. And you know what? It’s kinda liberating. No net required ’cause I’m already free falling. Have you ever felt that way before, Geord?”

Every fucking day.

Silence fell like a blanket between us. Soft and warm and safe.  I didn’t want to break the quiet but I couldn’t allow myself to be pulled under either.

I licked my lips and whispered, “Yes.”

Suddenly, I couldn’t move and I couldn’t look away. Maybe I was a sucker for ruggedly handsome men who weren’t ashamed to reveal their vulnerable sides. I admired that he made free-falling sound like an adventure. I’d been doing it for nearly four years and my outlook was nothing like Levi’s. I worked my ass off to make sure no one knew how tired and raw and afraid I felt every damn day. I clung to the best parts of my past like a lifeline, hoping my ghosts would ease the inevitable ‘splat on the concrete’ nosedive I had coming my way.

Levi’s story was certainly different, but I recognized something in him I knew too well. A desperate spirit that wasn’t quite ready to give up. I’d like to think that sense of acknowledgment was why I leaned across the console, closed my eyes and pressed my lips against his.

My Review:
Geordie is a mature man who’s suffered the loss of his long-time partner, Mike. Geordie remains a partner in the Conrad Winery, that Mike and his best friend (and former lover) Wes Conrad founded together. Wes and Geordie didn’t get along at first, but Geordie’s brash, in-your-face diva role from his years as a drag queen mellowed during his ten years with Mike, and now the four years since his death. He still entertains at the winery, belting out show tunes while expertly pairing food and wine, though, and Wes volunteers Geordie to assist a new cafe owner in setting up a pairing menu–now that the cafe will feature only Conrad wines exclusively.

Levi Yeager is a retired baseball player in his late thirties, but he’s only newly out in the gay scene. His dream to return to the family cafe he grew up in is in jeopardy, now that his head chef–and former lover–has decided not to relocate to Napa from L.A. Levi’s pretty-much immediately taken with Geordie, who feels he’s a decade past his prime, but can’t help feeling flattered by the admiration of such a strong, sexy younger man. Levi proposes a partnership–Geordie helping him with translating his grandmother’s cookbook–written in Spanish–and he’ll show Geordie there’s more life to be lived.

As much as Geordie struggles to let go of his grief, he’s also aware that he is still alive, and that Levi doesn’t treat him like the broken man he’s felt like since Mike passed. It’s bittersweet how Geordie feels compelled to maintain his celibacy, and constantly talk to Mike as if he’s listening. Levi takes it all in stride, getting Geordie to open up and experience some new and old things–like riding a motorcycle for the first time, and riding a Vespa again after two decades. Geordie’s friends see the changes for the better, and this gives Geordie the confidence to let Levi in when he would not normally do so. Levi is tender, and patient. He cherishes the struggle Geordie fights to take a chance on love again. It’s kinda funny how they struggle with jealousy issues to a small degree.

I liked the audiobook, and valued the narrator’s gravitas when rendering Geordie’s voice. Both men seem to have problems with starting over, but Levi’s are centered in falling for the wrong man again, while Geordie’s stem from guilt over “forgetting” Mike. Thing is, Levi’s okay with Geordie’s love for Mike, and thinks it’s perfectly fine for him to grieve and find new love. It was so wholly accepting, and gave Geordie the courage to start again. They have a bit of sexytimes, and it’s both sad and celebratory. I really enjoyed the depth of emotions in the book, and I felt it came through is a big way because the narrator’s voice carried the pain of loss, and the hollowness of the shell he’d become to mask his grief. It was endearing to watch him open up and accept Levi’s love. I really enjoyed.

Interested? You can find LEANING INTO FOREVER on Goodreads, Amazon ebook, and Audible (audiobook).

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

Catch up with Lane on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.

About the Narrator:
Nick Russo is an award winning narrator with a fan following for his work in fiction, specifically in the romance genre. His performances in two of Amy Lane’s books, Beneath the Stain and Christmas Kitsch, made him the recipient of Sinfully M/M Book Review’s Narrator of the Year – 2015. When he’s not in the booth, Nick enjoys spending time with his wife, Jessica, and kids, (aka their beagle Frank and cat Stella), drumming in his cover band, exploring rural back roads with his wife on his motorcycle, or being enthralled in a tabletop role playing game with his friends.

Catch up with Nick on Facebook and Twitter.