Happy Book Birthday to RAPID RESPONSE–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing an excerpt and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M romance from DJ Jamison. RAPID RESPONSE is the eighth book in the Hearts and Health series, but fully enjoyable as a standalone. Other books I’ve enjoyed by this author include LOVE BY NUMBER and FULL DISCLOSURE, so I’m looking forward to reading this one!

Scroll down for the excerpt and to enter the $10 Amzzon GC giveaway!
About the book:
A confused straight guy and a gay hookup artist walk into a bar…
Firefighter Sean Connolly is straight — until one impulsive night changes everything. He tries to dismiss it as a fluke, but when a fire rescue leads him back to the guy who blew his mind, he’s thrown into a chaos of confusion and want. He gives in to curiosity, exploring a new side to himself — not just his attraction to a man, but his desperate need to please.

Paramedic Jace Gillespie is a hookup pro, never letting anyone get too close. When he meets Sean, though, he feels a connection right away. An ill-advised threesome seems to kill a friendship in the making, but when they’re thrown together by work, it doesn’t take long for passion to reignite. Sean calls to something in Jace he never knew was there, and together, they explore a dynamic that fulfills them both.

But as feelings deepen, doubts surface. Sean is in the closet, and Jace struggles to trust his promise that it won’t last forever. With family conflict and his career in the balance, Sean finds it difficult to picture his life without secrecy, but if he doesn’t find a way, he may lose the one person he most wants to please.

Rapid Response is the longest novel of the Hearts and Health series at approximately 92,000 words! It can be read as a standalone.

How about a little taste?

Sean glanced into the mirror, and though he looked like the same guy on the outside — dark hair, dark eyes, unremarkable face — he didn’t recognize the one on the inside. And that was scary.

“I’m sorry,” he scraped out.

“For what? Staring at my mouth, or for hiding from yourself?” Jace asked caustically.

Sean swallowed hard. His traitorous eyes found Jace in the mirror, locking on the mouth in question. Pink, full lips. Jace had been a good kisser. A good … sucker.

“Yeah, just like that,” Jace said.

Sean jerked his gaze to Jace’s eyes, which bored into him, their power not diluted in the slightest by the mirror acting as their go-between. Could Jace see what was inside? If he could…

“Sorry,” Sean whispered. “I didn’t realize I…”

“What, Sean? What didn’t you realize?”

“That I, um. That I…” He couldn’t get the words out.

“That you like my mouth? That you want it on you again? That you—”

Sean spun around. “Shut up.”

“Make me.”

His breath caught. “What?”

“You heard me,” Jace said. “Make me shut up. You know exactly how to do it.”

Sean hesitated, and Jace smirked. “Yeah, I didn’t think so.”

Frustrated and frazzled, Sean acted on instinct, doing exactly what Jace had asked. He grabbed the front of Jace’s shirt, spun him around, and shoved him against the counter containing the row of sinks.

Then he kissed him.

Hard.

To make him shut up.

It was the only way to get him to stop talking. Gloating. Jace had practically ordered him to do it, the bastard. And Sean needed to shut up the doubts in his head, too.

He closed his eyes, blocking out all thought, and sank into the feeling of Jace’s perfect, hot mouth on his again.

My Review:
Firefighter Sean Gillespie thinks he’s supporting his newly out bisexual brother when he attends a drag night at a gay club. Only, his brother doesn’t show up. Still interested in the show, he’s cajoled into hanging out with Jace and his female bestie. They share beers and chat, Sean admitting to his confusing attraction to the performers. Jace thinks Sean is hot, but gets that he’s not gay, still, he lets his gal pal talk Sean into more drinks at Jace’s apartment. And once there she puts the moves on Sean–convincing him to let Jace pleasure him. It seems to go great, but Sean panics in the end, leaving Jace frustrated.

A couple months rolls by and Jace and Sean reconnect at the scene of an apartment fire. Sean carries a missing girl to safety, but is injured at the scene. Jace is the paramedic who treats him. The girl’s mother is overjoyed by the rescue, and her letter to the paper sparks a PR outreach that catalogues Jace and Sean on outings with the girl and her mother. The more time Jace and Sean spend together the more the attraction grows between them. Jace is just a little bit dominant and that stokes an unknown service kink for Sean.

Sean is struggling with his sexual identity–because he has homophobic crew mates in the firehouse, and his eldest brother has seemingly disowned their middle brother for coming out as bisexual. Still, he’s falling hard for Jace, and takes to spending more and more time with Jace, if only to escape the trouble he’s facing after he takes his eldest brother in off the street–his wife kicked him out for being an insufferable pig and a drunk.

Jace hasn’t had any relationships in a long time, and what’s happening with Sean is feeling like it could be a relationship, if only Sean would come out. Because he won’t well, they fight. And it’s a short bit of heartbreak. I liked the cast of characters here. Both Sean and Jace are decent guys, and they fall hard for one another. Jace knows how much crap Sean will get for coming out publicly, as he’s experienced it firsthand. He won’t push Sean to action, but he also can’t live a shadow-life of happy times behind his apartment door. It felt really realistic, and understandable. The climax, however has some definite heartbreak. Sean figures out what he needs to do, but the timing is complicated. And there’s some family drama and tragedy that he needs to work out. The grand gesture at the end is sweet, and leaves the door open for the next romance in the series. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for that one.

Interested? You can find RAPID RESPONSE on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
DJ Jamison is the author of more than a dozen m/m romances, including the Ashe Sentinel series and the Hearts and Health series. She writes a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual, with a focus on telling love stories that are more about common ground than lust at first sight. DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction. She spent a lifetime reading before that, and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, two fish and, regrettably, one snake.

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

Finding the Path to a BETTER PLACE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M romance newly released from Jay Northcote. BETTER PLACE is the third book in his Rainbow Place series set in Porthladock, Cornwall. It’s a fun series, though this book features a man in an emotionally abusive relationship finding the courage to seek a new and better love.

About the book:
Joe deserves better. Meeting Dylan helps him see that.
After a recent redundancy, Joe takes a few months off to try and make it as a writer. His partner, Harry, is less than supportive but Joe is used to that after ten years together, just like he’s used to Harry’s controlling nature and his drinking habit.

Dylan, a server at Rainbow Place, is fascinated by Joe as he sits in the café and works on his laptop. His attempts to flirt are met with awkwardness at first, but gradually Joe opens up. Dylan is disappointed when he learns Joe isn’t single. As their friendship develops he begins to worry about the nature of Joe’s relationship, especially when he witnesses Harry’s behaviour in person. Abuse isn’t always physical, and Dylan knows that from experience. His concern helps Joe see his relationship for what it is, and gives him the courage to end things with Harry.

Free to act on their mutual attraction, Joe and Dylan dive headlong into something that becomes serious fast. Joe revels in the passion and intimacy he’s been missing out on for so long, but Dylan is worried that Joe is on the rebound. He puts on the brakes, knowing that they need to slow down to make this last. For this new relationship to work, Joe needs to show Dylan that he’s ready to move on from the past.

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

My Review:
Joe and Harry have been monogamous partners for the past ten years. Recently, Joe was laid off from his position at the university, and he’s taking several months before looking for a job to write a novel. This decision was agreed upon by Harry, but Harry’s not totally happy about it. He feels Joe is wasting his time on a lark, and he’s not shy about letting his feelings known–even in public.

The time off has allowed Joe the opportunity to see how skewed the roles have become in their relationship, and he’s not happy about Harry treating him like an errand boy and housekeeper–these are two men in their forties. While in the Rainbow Place cafe writing, Joe meets Dylan, a server. Dylan’s totally attracted to Joe, and he makes some attempts to let Joe know this–which makes things awkward.

Dylan, a survivor of an abusive partner, sees the dangerous situation Joe is in, before Joe does. Joe had thought himself simply dissatisfied, but Harry’s drinking, coupled with his controlling behavior and spiteful outbursts, are steps along the abuse continuum. Dylan speaks up as a friend, and Joe takes a critical look at his life. He’s not married to Harry, but they split the bills and their living arrangement. For Joe, it’s become little more than a roommates situation, as the emotional connection between he and Harry has withered–and is being ripped apart with each new fight. Joe makes the decision to separate…but he can’t really leave. This only feeds Harry’s growing rage, and leaves both Dylan and Joe vulnerable. Especially once Joe and Dylan begin dating.

There was a lot of great emotional connection points for readers in this one. Joe’s predicament, falling into a lackluster rut with a longtime partner, felt very real. As many times as he tried to address his feelings and needs with Harry was as many times as he was shut down and belittled. He was truly sympathetic, and I didn’t even mind how he was connecting so strongly with Dylan at this point. It felt very realistic for Joe to be introspective about his relationship with Harry when he’s being admired by a younger, sexier, man. He tried hard to mend things with Harry, but it wasn’t meant to be–and that’s just life. Dylan’s history of abuse was poignant, and allowed the reader to imagine how difficult it would be to fall for another person after the one you thought loved you became physically abusive. Personal judgment is really high on Dylan’s priorities, and he can’t rely on the excitement of new love to support him in the long run. Using his skills gained in years counseling, Dylan’s able to set reasonable boundaries that protect both him and Joe from careening into emotional disaster. Dylan’s boss and friends at Rainbow Place play a role in making life easier for Joe, especially. I expect to see more of all these guys in future stories.

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

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Out Today: FINDING MERCY Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a release day review for a new contemporary police romance from Riley Edwards. FINDING MERCY is the third book in her Next Generation series, and features two longtime colleagues finding love at the right time.

About the book:
DEA agent Jason Walker became a widower at twenty-eight. Two years later he’s still torturing himself with guilt. They’d married young, and she’d been his first love, but her illness changed everything. They’d fought a losing battle and he’d held her to the very end. Now he just wants to be left alone with his misery and memories.

Mercy James is no stranger to grief and loneliness. Her brother’s death of a drug overdose, and her police officer father’s death in the line of duty were the driving forces behind her pursuit of a career in the DEA. In spite of—or maybe because of—her past, Mercy doesn’t believe in feeling sorry for others, or for herself.

When a case brings Jason and Mercy together, and their attraction heats up, can her tough, straightforwardness help Jason learn to live in the light again? He’d lost his first love, but is he ready for a forever love?

My Review:
Mercy James and Jason Walker are DEA agents who’ve known each other for several years. Mercy was aware that Jason’s wife died of cancer a couple of years ago. She’s seen how he’s closed himself off, but they get along okay, and that works when they are assigned to the same case: strange, toxic drugs working their way through the local high schools.

Jason’s felt guilty about his failed marriage long before his wife–his childhood sweetheart who grew apart–died. Jason had married straight out of college, and his young bride got cancer within the first few years of marriage. Though they were great friends, the romance died following her cancer’s remission, and that drove a deeper wedge between them. They’d been planning to separate when her cancer returned. Jason grieves his best friend, and feels like he can’t move on or he’ll taint her memory.

That’s why he’s confused about his unexpected attraction to Mercy. They’ve had a great working relationship…but now everything feels charged. Mercy, who has no living relations, had to deal with heaps of grief throughout her life, and lives her life with no regrets now. She notices how Jason looks at her, and she pushes him to get back to living his life.

The case is heating up as well, with some inside tips from Jason’s younger sister–a teacher at a nearby high school. Kids are taking the tainted drugs and turning up dead, so she’s eager to help out.

This is a well-paced police-romance with good balance between the case work and the romance. At first, Mercy and Jason agree to a no-strings arrangement, and it’s incendiary. Neither of them have had a regular partner in years, and they both agree it’s not just the novelty. For Jason, this is the first truly adult sexual relationship he’s had–he and his wife were platonic since he turned 23, and he’s now thirty. Meanwhile, the more they interact, the more they fit. They have movie nights, and text chats and Jason’s family wants to meet the girl who has him captivated.

While Jason comes to terms with his guilt he hurts Mercy pretty bad, but it also drives a wedge back between himself and his family. THat leasd to the big climax where Mercy has to save the day. There’s some catastrophic issues and injuries that propel us int the next book in this series. I loved how that was a good side plot, and the main plot was totally focused on Mercy and Jason. I could feel Jason’s grief and empathize. Mercy is a rock, and a realistic character. Both of these characters have real issues, and experience real emotions. I liked this book, and it’s drawn me in to the series. I’ll be looking for the next book for sure.

Interested? You can find FINDING MERCY on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Riley Edwards is a bestselling multi-genre author, wife, and military mom. Riley was born and raised in Los Angeles but now resides on the east coast with her fantastic husband and children.

Riley writes heart-stopping romance with sexy alpha heroes and even stronger heroines. Riley’s favorite genres to write are romantic suspense and military romance.

Catch up with Riley on Facebook, twitter, BookBub, Amazon and Goodreads.

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.